Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer 1838, Progress Report, Part 2 of 5

The Founding of the Homeplace
Summer 1838, Progress Report
Part 2 of 5

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga will continue here on every other Friday during August and September. This is a serial presentation of the story, beginning in 1833, when four families decided to settle the land, the valley, that would become the setting of the first two books in the The Homeplace Series: "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited" and subsequent series stories, set in 1987 and 1996, to date. The underlying premise of this series is the desire of the family matriarch to retain the family farm in the southern Missouri Ozarks in whole and in the family. 

[See Story 1 (Parts 123, and 4), Story 2 (Part 123, and 4), Story 3 (Part 123 and 4), Story 4 (Part 123 and 4), and 1838 Progress Report (Part 1) earlier.] 

Characters in this series become actively involved in the study of their family history and snippets of that research appear, from time to time through the series (one example). This serial presentation begins to share that ‘research’ in Story Form, and, some of the Stories represent 'writings of the family' that were ‘discovered’ in the process of that research. Each Story is an essay or report of the activities of the initial four families and their descendants that settled the Homeplace – the farm and the surrounding valley.

Summer 1838, Progress Report

In this episode, we share "Part 2 of 5"

           From the second year in the valley, Henry and Harry McDonald had established a regular bi-monthly ‘freight trip’ back over the mountains to the northwest to the lumber camps region to exchange hides and extra produce for basic supplies, staples, and general goods supplied through the general store. It started as a small operation, as planned, but had grown as the number of residents in the valley had increased. As that second year passed by, the trail was continued to be widened so that four-wheel wagons could easily navigate the entire trail, essentially becoming a poor grade road, allowing more freight and people to move each way.
          The Baldridges had gotten their mill in full operation for the second season of crops, in 1834. They had proceeded slowly and methodically. Robert had examined the area very carefully, usually with his son, David, and often accompanied by Jake Patton, as well. They wanted to assure the best location for the mill taking into account the water flow, the rock formations, and the stability of the soil and the rocks in the area. They initially were able to construct a large stone foundation on the valley side of the pool at the base of the falls. For the gristmill, the single story millhouse was constructed of hand-hewn posts and beams, from the trunks of carefully selected tall pine and oak trees. Owen Olson was able to contribute much labor to this effort. They constructed the wooden waterwheel on a horizontal axis. It was fed by a well-conceived millrace system from the top of the falls. Robert could vary the waterpower to the waterwheel via a series of gates on the millrace. With just two buhr stones, this mill could produce corn meal or whole-wheat flour from wheat. More complex milling would wait until later. 
          From time to time, Robert had made several trips back over to the lumber camps to acquire and bring back the various materials and manufactured parts that were required for the mill construction. Often times, Jake used his blacksmithing skills to adapt materials obtained to the specific needs of this new mill operation. After the gristmill was completed, they immediately moved ahead to construct a sawmill in front, powered by the same waterwheel, making optimum use of the power generated by the falling water on the waterwheel through use of necessary belts and gears. While continuing as an apprentice to Jake, Owen also contributed to the construction and operation of the mill, as needed. Cooperation among the families of the valley was a hallmark of the success they enjoyed.

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