Friday, August 2, 2013

The Founding of the Homeplace: Summer 1838, Progress Report Part 1 of 5

The Founding of the Homeplace
Summer 1838, Progress Report
Part 1 of 5

"The Founding of the Homeplace" saga will continue here on every other Friday of 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), and Story 4 (Part 12, 3 and 4) 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 1 of 5"

Laura McDonald gave birth to a boy on July 18, 1838, sixteen years, to the month, after the birth of her first son, Harry.  This was a cause of cautious optimism among their family, friends and neighbors across the Oak Springs valley. This was her third pregnancy since arriving in the valley, and the first to go full term. Laura and her husband, Henry, named the boy Daniel. 

Life on the farm had been good, as hard as it was. Each year since they had arrived was better than the year before. They had survived snow in the winter and hot spells in the summer. But, the crops in virgin soil had been thriving for the McDonald family. 

Henry and Harry gave first priority on their time to their crops and the animals they depended upon for tilling the soil and agricultural pursuits. In their second year, they found that they could spare the time, and benefit from making regular freight runs over to the lumber camps and back, benefiting the other valley residents as well as themselves. Although still a teenager, Harry developed a special interest in caring for their animals and looked to adding to their number.

The Truesdales, Hugh and Victoria, had given birth to a daughter, Jane, the year before. The Olson’s had added two children to the population, a boy, four-year-old Liam, and a girl, one-year-old Allison. The population of the valley had also increased with five additional families arriving, each settling in the western part of the valley, three along the western stream (Campbell, Rhodes, King) and two along the center stream (Bartlett and Dodson), above, north of the Patton’s place.

Hugh Truesdale also put a priority on developing and adding to his agricultural pursuits. He was pleased to help with construction on the mill because that would help make his crops more valuable. 
Jake and Kate Patton had been able to follow their original planning fairly closely. Jake now had his blacksmith shop and gunsmith business in full operation. He had built an addition onto the Blacksmith Shop for his gunsmith business where Jake specialized in three models. The first one used a .38 caliber ball and had a 34 inch-barrel. It weighed 17 pounds. The second was the common Kentucky flintlock, .45 caliber ball, with a 44-inch barrel. The third was the newest model, a .32 caliber percussion squirrel rifle that only weighed 9 pounds.

Nearby, to the east of the Blacksmith Shop, they built a small General Store building that was Kate’s pride and joy. Her daughter, Victoria Truesdale, enjoyed helping out in the store as well. In the summer of 1837, Jake and Kate also officially purchased the 320 acres directly north of the Shop and Store. They had been keeping their horses there, in the pasture area just north of the woods, but they had now made it official. At this early date, Jake was thinking ahead to the future developments in the valley. The north edge of this new land fell along the road from the west and also ran along the south edge of his property that Hugh Truesdalae farmed as well as the south edge of the McDonald land. Jake could already envision a town being built on the ground north from their General Store, perhaps even someday reaching that east-west road. He could see, perhaps, the main street running from the front of the General Store straight north to the main road. The freight wagons were already using that path. It was a natural path, it seemed, that followed the natural contours and gently rolling landscape.

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