Friday, June 27, 2014

Stories of Civil War Soldiers - David Baldridge

Stories of Civil War Soldiers
David Baldridge

This is the second of the five stories of Civil War Soldiers of the Oak Creek Valley from Part III:

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

David Baldridge

I didn’t really want to leave the valley, but in the fall of 1861, when they actually set the mill on fire, I was lucky to get away alive. I was angry. I should have joined Colonel Patton’s regiment right away, but instead volunteered with an infantry unit. With my experience, they did make me a Supply Sergeant. However, our unit was sent into combat. I did my duty, but I didn’t like it. When I had served my three years, I re-enlisted in Colonel Patton’s regiment, just in time to be there for planning our return as the war was about to end.

I had been able to get a furlough when I was notified that my parents had both died in a carriage accident in 1863. My sister, Sarah, and her husband, Harry McDonald, were nearby and were helpful to me in getting connected with Colonel Patton’s regiment over the following year. 

Sarah had been much more involved in the cattle business that my parents were conducting during the war than I had realized. Actually, I was surprised how involved she had been when I returned, after their death. During that next year, we worked together to allow me, when the war ended, to concentrate on the mill, and she worked toward using our remaining land to raise cattle, again, after the war.

Once I got into the Patton regiment, I was reunited with Liam Olson, and that was good. Lewis and Daniel worked together well, as did Liam and I. They got left a couple of weeks earlier, to return to the valley, because we were getting some special materials we wanted to have to get the mill back in business, if we could. Arriving back in the valley and finding Henry and Alex well, as well as Lewis and Daniel safely there was a thrill I’ll probably never equal.

They all helped build the first cabin near the mill, and then Liam and I helped them build the other cabins, as well. We helped out taking turns working on the crops. Most of my time, as I was able, was devoted to getting a saw mill working, and then getting the grist mill working. We built temporary buildings to shelter the mill when they neared working condition.

Liam and his blacksmithing skills were essential in getting the saw mill in operation as quickly as we did. We appreciated the assistance the others gave us at key times as we got things going. We travelled a few times both to Houston and up to Salem to get supplies we needed. It was truly a team effort.

As the two bachelors in the group, Liam and I enjoyed living and working together. He decided to continue to keep his shop near the mill. Once things settled down to routine, he began to create decorative and ornamental iron works as well as practical items. He was very artistic, and enjoyed doing those things. Also, on some of his leaves while in the service, he had begun to learn to do the work that created stained glass windows. Over a few years, he found time to learn more, and did some of that work, as well.

There was not a lot of work for the mill, in the early times back, of course, so I was able to spend some time helping with the cattle that Sarah and Harry had put on our land, with the help of some others. I enjoyed seeing my sister, from time to time, as she came down and checked things out, herself. She had really become an ‘independent’ woman. She even got involved in the “women’s suffrage” movement, trying to get women the vote. 

In the spring of 1866, I was pleased to have Riley Cooper, and his wife, Julia, return to the valley, to help with the mill. They also bought the full 160 acres, themselves, where they had lived and farmed our 40 acres there. I was sad, of course, to learn that their son, Anderson, had not survived his service in the war. Riley and Julia both became involved in the cattle business with us, too, as we revived that business.

When the politics got newly re-organized, I was pleased to resume my service as the Eastern Trustee for Oak Creek Township. It was certainly in my best interests to be sure the roads and bridges worked well to allow my customers easy access to the valley and the mill. It also supported Harry and Sarah’s freight line business, as well. 

I also agreed to serve on the Bank Board as Jake Patton and Victor Campbell were getting back in a position to resume business. I felt this was an important thing to do to keep involved in the community without taking too much time away from my own businesses.

Upcoming Stories of Civil War Soldiers and Others

*** Lewis Truesdale
*** Gideon Inman
*** Owen Olson

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

Dr. Bill  ;-)

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