Friday, May 30, 2014

The Civil War Short Story - Part 2 of 4

The Civil War Short Story
Part 2 of 4

The following excerpt is from Part III of the forthcoming Short Story Collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

The "Civil War Short Story" is considered by the author as the Feature Presentation of the book.

Statue of a Civil War Soldier at Gettysburg
Source: user smithwil

The Civil War Short Story - Part 2 of 4:     [If you haven't read Part I, go here]

McDonald men were not typically physically large and strong like the Truesdale men were. I was even small for a McDonald, and, I was already using reading glasses when I was 12 years old. I loved to read, and strained my eyes a lot. 

Once I remember, during that time, I was 12 or 13, and a bunch of rebels came through on horseback. They were ‘recruiting’ and looking for any boys or men-folk left in the countryside. When they approached me, I convinced them I was ‘blind as a bat’ and would be more nuisance than I was worth. When that worked once, I used it a couple more times, when the occasion arose. I wasn’t really neutral on the war, I just wanted to be left alone on our farm. If I’d gone off with any of them, I knew I would be dead in weeks, if not sooner, so it really shouldn’t have mattered to them. Fortunately, it worked out ok, in the long run.

Colonel Jake Patton was our blacksmith, and his wife, Kate, she ran the General Store over west of the Homeplace. With his political connections up north and over in St. Louis, he got an Army commission and helped raise troops for the Union Army. Kate and their daughter, Victoria Truesdale, held out as long as they could here. But then, a bunch of raiders came through and burned his shop and the General Store building. Escaping with their lives, they immediately left for the north to join Victoria’s husband, Hugh. Hugh had left earlier with his mules and the Patton horses to become a private contractor and consultant for the army.

Here in the valley we began hoarding part of our crops and other valuables up in the caves above Oak Creek. We even hid some of our equipment, like the plow, hoes and such, in one of the caves. GranPa knew where they could be hidden, and I began helping him a lot. He taught me how to stay out of sight and how to keep the entrances to the caves covered and not be noticeable. He also taught me how to do things like they had back in the mid-30s when they had first settled this valley. I was small, but I was wiry and became much stronger as he depended more on me. By the time ma and pa and the girls decided they had to leave, GranPa Henry and I talked them all into letting us stay behind, to ‘look after the property.’ 

Cousin David Baldridge, his family had the mill, stayed on as long as he could, but when another bunch of raiders finally burned the mill, he left too, and signed up with the Union forces. 

So, through the fall of 1862, GranPa Henry and I harvested what we could from the fields that had been planted in the spring and hoarded at lot of if, but left enough out in the open and in the cribs that were left so that raiders thought they were getting ‘everything’ we had left. The raiders were rarely ever the same people, so that helped fool them. Sometimes we would recognize who they were but most of the time, especially later on, we just disappeared and let them take what they wanted. 

We survived the winter of 62-63 living in the caves. All our houses had been burned by then. GranPa Henry and I had learned to hunt and fish in the old ways, and we got by surprisingly well.  

In the spring of 1863, of course, we didn’t know what to expect except that things would probably be much the same. And, they were. We stayed out of sight, pretty much stayed out of the valley where the raiders would pass through if there were any. We hunted mostly in the woods, up on the ridge. As it was time for planting, we had saved seed so we set about locating ‘out-of the way’ places we could plant, that would not likely come to the attention of the raiders. We used the old pioneer method of putting a fish in the hill with the seeds and putting the seeds in easy to dig spots, not putting them in rows. That way, they fit in nicely with their surroundings. We knew where they were. We would be harvesting them, individually, by hand, with no animals or wagons, so it really didn’t make any difference where they were. We also harvested what we could from the orchards around the valley. Looking back, in a way, since we did survive, it was kind of fun.

It had come down to just the two of us, as you can tell. The whole year of 1863 this valley was desolated and slowly returning to nature. Before the war there had been 25 or 30 houses plus a number of barns, cribs and other out buildings. By the fall, if you came through the valley, you would hardly have known any settlement had existed there. In a way, I suppose, we were kind of hoping it was that way. Wildlife continued to be available for hunting, but sign of bear and mountain lion also increased, so we lived the way that GranPa had lived in this place in those first years, about thirty years earlier.

To be continued...  to Part 3 ...

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Civil War Short Story - Part 1 of 4

The Civil War Short Story
Part 1 of 4

The following excerpt is from Part III of the forthcoming Short Story Collection:

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

The "Civil War Short Story" is considered by the author as the Feature Presentation of the book.

Statue of a Civil War Soldier at Gettysburg
Source: user smithwil

The Civil War Short Story - Part 1 of 4:

[This short story was first published by William Leverne Smith as “My Home Town During the Civil War,” in Echoes of the Ozarks,, Volume Nine, An Anthologyy Publication of the Ozarks Writer’s League, November 2013, p. 9-19.]

Alex McDonald on “Saving the Homeplace” during the Civil War

My name is William McDonald and I am writing this story as it is being told to me by my cousin, Alex McDonald, for our American Centennial project at my school. He is also one of my teachers. He has asked me to write the story as he tells it to me. This year is 1876 and Alex has finally agreed to talk to me about what happened during the Civil War years here on our McDonald Homeplace, and the surrounding valley, in northwest Shannon County, Missouri. I was not born until 1864, so much of this happened before I was born.

We will start in 1861 when Alex was about 12 years old like I am now. This is what Alex told me:

In the late spring of my twelfth year, the great Civil War was begun in the United States. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States and the south seceded.  Southern interests fired on the Federal installation in Fort Sumpter, South Carolina and the war began. Here in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri, we were caught right in the middle of the conflict. Folks to the south and southeast of us were for the south and hated Lincoln. Folks to the west and north of us were mostly sympathetic to the Union and supported LIncoln.

Even our family was split. My earliest actual Civil War-related memory, and I can now only assume it was true because it is still so vivid in my mind, was of my two older brothers screaming at each other, out in the yard:

"Lincoln is a dictator! He is the Devil!" Patrick could not control himself. He whacked Thomas on the shoulder. "How could you even think of joining the Union Army! Traitor!" 

Patrick was only 14, while Thomas was 16. Patrick had become friends with some other fellows his age and a little older that lived just to the south of us, and they all became Rebels, including Patrick. My mother and father tried to get him to change his mind. But, one day shortly thereafter, he just took off with those friends and we never saw or heard from him again.

Then, my brother Thomas, likewise, when the word came down that the Union army was recruiting up in Houston, he packed his knapsack and set off on foot to sign up. He was killed at Shiloh along with thousands of others on both sides.

My older sister, Caroline, was planning to marry Lewis Truesdale, but the war interrupted those plans. Lewis did join the Union army as well, and survived. When things really got bad here, she left with my pa and ma, Harry and Sarah, and my younger sisters, Mahala and Rebecca, and went to live near Jefferson City. Your mother, Jane Truesdale, joined them when your father, Daniel, left along with Lewis to the Union army. Jane lived with her Truesdale grandparents who had moved there several years earlier. Lewis and Daniel each ended up spending most of the war stationed in the central Missouri area, so that worked out well, for them. And for you, too, I suppose, since they got married and you were born during this time.

My GranPa Henry and I continued to stay here. These decisions were made over a period of time, of course, as local circumstances changed. No one but the boys signing up for the armies made those decisions quickly.

During the rest of 1861 and most of 1862, we did our best to do some farming and keep food on the table, but it became a real struggle. As time passed, everyone left here in the valley did what they could. We cut back on the size of our crops so we could handle them successfully. We all worked together, but it got harder and harder to survive. We could get few outside supplies - there just were not any available. From time to time, small groups of soldiers, or outlaws... mostly saying they were for the rebels... it was often hard to tell which they were... came through the valley. They almost always did some damage to property and occasionally people were actually killed. From time to time, houses, barns, shops and other buildings were burned. The raiders always took something with them that they ‘needed’ - whether it was food, clothing or mules or whatever they saw that they wanted and could carry away.

To be continued... next Friday... [Go there, now]

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Today's Thoughts on… Part III, of the Founding Book

Today's Thoughts on…
Part III, of the Founding Book

The following will serve as a guide to the weekly Friday posting for the next several weeks:

From the:

Table of Contents

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

**Part III - Stories of the Civil War Period (1861-1865)

Stories of Civil War Soldiers and Others
*** Daniel McDonald
*** David Baldridge
*** Lewis Truesdale
*** Gideon Inman
*** Owen Olson

The "Civil War Short Story" is the Feature Presentation of the Book.

May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Today's Thoughts on… William McDonald

Today's Thoughts on… 
William McDonald

We first met William McDonald in a Surname Saturday - MCDONALD 2, on May 8, 2010, as the father of Joe McDonald, who was the father of Mildred (McDonald) Bevins of the infamous will in "Back to the Homeplace" - dated in 1986-7. He was therefore Mildred's paternal grandfather.

We second met William McDonald, born 1864, with his parents, the following week, in a Surname Saturday - MCDONALD 3, on May 15, 2010.

This was followed, on January 22, 2011, when we posted Surname Saturday - MCDONALD 4, with a story written by Mildred in her high school years, presumably:

Here is the second paragraph of that story:

"David Baldridge, a bachelor, had one sister, Sarah, who married the older of the two sons of Henry McDonald and his wife, Laura. Harry and Sarah had at least six children. The stories they have passed down from Civil War times will make another interesting report. The younger McDonald son, Daniel, was my direct ancestor. He married Jane Truesdale, a granddaughter of Eli Truesdale. Their son, William McDonald, was my grandfather. He was able to keep all the McDonald, Truesdale and Baldridge properties in our family so that my parents still have the original properties more than one hundred years later. We are all very proud of this accomplishment."

So, William McDonald was the grandson of a first settler of The Homeplace, as well as the grandfather of Mildred - who "got the story going" with her will "to keep the farm together" in "Back to the Homeplace."   

I see William as the "glue" that binds the entire "The Homeplace Saga" together. It seems he was still living when Karen was born as a great-granddaughter in the 1930s.

Looking ahead:

1) William, as a twelve year old, will share the story of his cousin, Alex McDonald, during the Civil War in and around Oak Springs during the Civil War - over the next few Friday's installments of "The Founding" stories.

2) William, as a twelve year old, has already appeared as a character in The King Family of Oak Springs, Episode 3, along with his future wife, Charlotte Crane, here (they will continue to appear in the series, from time to time, as "across the valley" neighbors, and schoolmates of the King children): 

3) William's birth and and related references will appear in several of the "Founding" stories, beginning with the Civil War story on his father, Daniel, following the feature Civil War story (see table of contents, Part III), here, tomorrow.

4) Journal entries that William makes throughout his later life, and into the 20th century, will play a key role in solving one of the mysteries behind "Three Threats to the Homeplace," the working title on the next full novel in "The Homeplace Saga" series of stories. Members of the Oak Springs Historical and Genealogical Society, founded in late 1996, in "Christmas at the Homeplace," will discover some of his journal entries at a time that is most helpful to families of The Homeplace - when it is in danger of being lost.

[If you haven't read them yet, I urge you to consider reading "Back to the Homeplace" and "Christmas at the Homeplace," for a fair grasp of the entire "The Homeplace Saga" set of stories.... available for immediate download at in ebook format - see sidebars]

"May everyone have a Homeplace, if only in their hearts!"

Dr. Bill ;-)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Governmental Positions and Assignments - Oak Creek Township and Residents

Governmental Positions and Assignments
Oak Creek Township and Residents

[Source: Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c1870; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( : accessed 31 Dec 2012)]

Centennial Book Outline - 4-15-2014 update

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

Table of Contents

**Part II - Oak Springs, Oak Creek Township Stories to 1861

Governmental Positions and Assignments - Oak Creek Township and Residents

Before the war...

**U.S. Postmaster

Jake Patton, 1842-1846
Kate Patton, 1846-1854
Victoria Truesdale, 1854-1865

**U.S. Assistant Postmaster

Kate Patton, 1842-1846
Victoria Truesdale, 1846-1854
Anna Olson, 1854-1865

**Oak Creek Township Trustees

****Eastern Trustee

Robert Baldridge, 1841-1847
Hugh Truesdale, 1847-1860
David Baldridge, 1860-

****Central Trustee

Jake Patton, 1841-1846
Owen Olson, 1846-

****Western Trustee

Victor Campbell, 1841-1865

**** Justice of the Peace

George King, 1842-

**Oak Creek County Commission

Robert Baldridge, elected in 1847; failed re-election bid in 1857
Jake Patton, 1859-

**Missouri House of Representatives

Jake Patton, elected 1846-1859
Hugh Truesdale, 1860-

**Oak Springs Town Council - initial Council served through the War years, as well

Jake Patton, 1848-1861
Owen Olson, 1848-1861
Victor Campbell, 1848-1861
Hugh Truesdale, 1848-1861

Robert Baldridge, 1848-1861

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Surname Saturday - Homeplace Surnames

Surname Saturday
Homeplace Surnames

We have featured most of the major surnames in this meme over the years but today, I wanted to call your attention to an essay I posted a while back over on the "Homeplace Series" at HubPages, entitled: "The families of "The Homeplace Saga" historical fiction series."

It provides a nice overview of the families of Homeplace stories. It is not long. I hope you'll take a view minutes to look it over. You just might find something interesting! ;-)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Businesses and Buildings in Oak Springs - Through 1861

Businesses and Buildings in Oak Springs - Through 1861

[Source: Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c1870; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( : accessed 31 Dec 2012)]

Centennial Book Outline - 4-15-2014 update

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”

Table of Contents

**Part II - Oak Springs, Oak Creek Township Stories to 1861

Businesses and Buildings in Oak Springs

The following were in existence as 1861 began; each was burned to the ground during 1861 or 1862.

Jonathan Ames, Physician, Office
Baldridge Feed Store and Lumber Yard
Donagan’s Tavern
Jones Boarding House
Jones Dry Goods Store
Meeting Hall
Oak Springs Real Estate, Insurance and Land Office
Oak Springs Sale Barn
Oak Springs Savings Bank
Patton Blacksmith/Gunsmith Shop
Patton General Store and Post Office; later, General Merchantile
Patton Hotel
Patton Livery and Stable
Potts Barber, Apothecary and Print Shop
Oak Springs Town Hall
Wesley Mathison, Attorney-at-law, Office

Weston Woodworks

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Today's Thoughts on… The multiple platforms of "The Homeplace Saga" stories

Today's Thoughts on…
The multiple platforms of "The Homeplace Saga" stories

1. Part II of the Centennial/Founding stories continue on this blog, tomorrow, Friday and next Friday. Part III - the Civil War years and stories will follow.
Planning has begun to publish this short story collection in ebook and print formats.

Some stories feature farriers and blacksmiths! ;-)

2. Earlier this week, we began a new series of short stories set in 1876 (immediately after the Founding stories (1833-1875): The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 1 at:
This series is our attempt to share some personal, family-oriented stories based in that time and place. We hope to follow in the tradition of Little House on the Prairie, Centennial, and How the West Was Won. Note that this series is on HubPages, under author "Homeplace Series." Other stories and commentary on The Homeplace Saga are also included at this author site.

3. There is now a "cross-over" between Founding stories, here, and the Weston Wagons West series of short stories on HubPages under author "DrBill-WmL-Smith" - now with 28 episodes published.
Levi, and his father, Jacob Weston were introduced as Homeplace characters in:

Jacob's background was introduced in the Weston Wagons West episode at:

These stories will be expanded as time goes by. Sign up to follow both of these series at HubPages to get notified when new stories are published.

4. I would love to get feedback on any of these stores. If you don't want to do it publicly, please send me an email at: billsmith200 at

Thanks for caring! ;-)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Oak Springs Land Purchases 1848-1861

Oak Springs Land Purchases 1848-1861

[Source: Currier & Ives, “Home in the wilderness,” c1870; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress ( : accessed 31 Dec 2012)]

From the forthcoming book (collection of short stories):

“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”


**Part II - Oak Springs, Oak Creek Township Stories to 1861

Oak Springs Town Plat and subsequent transactions

The initial Town Plat consisted of 26 blocks of 2 1/2 acres each. Each block was designated with a letter. Each block consisted of 4 numbered lots.

Central Avenue split the town plat north and south; two block to the east, divided by 1st Ave. E. and two blocks to the west, divided by 1st Ave. W. The eastern and western boundaries were therefore 2nd Ave E. and 2nd Ave W.

Patton Street ran east and west just north of the General Store. This left two blocks to the south, divided by First Street, South. The southern boundary of the town plat was designated Second Street, South. To the north, separating each set of blocks, were: First Street, Second Street, etc. This made the northern boundary Fourth Street.

Jake Patton retained ownership of Blocks K, O, S, R, and Q.
Owen Olson retained ownership of Block Z

Sale of lots:

  1. Sep 1848 - Robert Baldridge - Block N, Lots 3 & 4.
  2. Sep 1848 - Jake Patton - Block W, Lot 1, and Block T, Lot 1
  3. Sep 1848 - Owen Olson - Block Y, Lot 2 and Lot 4
  4. Sep 1848 - Victor Campbell - Block W, Lot 3 and Lot 4
  5. Sep 1848 - Hugh Truesdale - Block W, Lot 2, and Block L, Lot 1 and Lot 3
  6. Jun 1850 - Percival Jones - Block N, Lot 2
  7. Jul 1850 - Jonathan Ames - Block X, Lot 1 and Lot 3
  8. Jul 1850 - Wesley Mathison - Block X, Lot 2 and Lot 4
  9. Nov 1850 - Ames & Mathison RE - Block J, Lot 4
  10. Feb 1851 - Percival Jones - Block N, Lot 1 and Block M Lot 2
  11. Feb 1851 - Ames & Mathison RE - Block J, Lot 2
  12. May 1851 - Gideon Inman - Block J, Lot 1
  13. Jan 1851 - Oak Springs Bank - Block G, Lot 3
  14. Jun 1857 - Levi Weston - Block L, Lot 2 and Lot 4
  15. Mar 1860 - Jerry Potts - Block J, Lot 3