Friday, August 1, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 2

The Founding of the Homeplace

Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 2

The green hill in the valley

From the forthcoming short story collection:

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

**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed

1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 2 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]


In 1860, Henry had been 59 years old and still actively involved in the family farm operation. As the war had its impact on the valley, Henry, along with his grandson, Alex, 12 in 1861, decided to stay and ‘protect their property’ as noted above.

After the war, both Henry and Alex worked with Daniel in getting the farm land back in operation. By the second year, they hired two men, Orville Anderson and Julius Swenson, on recommendation from Harry and Sarah, as hired farm workers. They worked well as a team so that farm operations could expand. They were also helpful in getting the cattle operation back in business. In 1869, they were joined by Elwin Johnson, a younger cousin of Orville. Also in 1869, Daniel and Jane, with young William, built a new home near the center of the original McDonald section of land, with a road leading the half-mile out to the Houston Road. The hired men continued to live in the cabins. 

Henry McDonald had begun to cut back on his workload, and took on more supervisory and monitoring roles. With young William growing, Jane also took a stronger lead in management of the families’ several interests, along with Daniel. During the fall harvest, Alex McDonald injured his back and could no longer do manuel labor. In getting treatments from J.D. Potts, in Oak Springs, Alex stayed with the Potts family. Following much discussion, he decided to stay in town with them, permanently. 

Henry McDonald died in March 1872 from natural aging, on “The Homeplace.” He was buried in the McDonald plot, at the east end of McDonald land, along side his wife, in what was now the Oak Creek Township Cemetery.

Jake and Kate Patton with their daughter, Victoria, were the third family in that first settlement party in 1833. Jake was a blacksmith by trade, but also pursued farming, enjoyed raising horses, and had both investment and political interests. He assisted with the early surveys in the valley and soon and often was the political representative of the valley in county and state affairs. Kate operated a General Store near the Blacksmith Shop in the early days of the community and served for a number of years as Postmaster.

With the changing political environment in the area, Robert Baldridge had lost his County Commissioner seat in 1857. Jake felt that with his longer involvement with the southern elements in the county he could regain the valley’s representation, which he did in 1859. He then supported Hugh Truesdale, 1860, in his run to win the seat Jake had held in the State Representative race since 1846. Hugh did win, but in a very close race.

In 1860, Jake was 62 and Kate was 60. When the war broke out, using his political connections in the Missouri capital, Jake was awarded an Army Commission and was responsible for raising a cavalry regiment. This is why, thereafter, he was referred to as Colonel Patton. Kate and Victoria stayed behind continuing of the operation of their store and mail responsibilities until a bunch of raiders burned down the store, as well as the blacksmith and gunsmith shops. Escaping with their lives and little else, they scurried up to Jefferson City to join the other refugees from the valley. Kate and Victoria remained in the Jefferson City area following the war. 

As soon as the war ended, and his duties there fulfilled, Colonel Patton returned to the valley regularly, intent on doing what he could to uphold the interests of the people who had settled there before the war intervened in all their lives. He and Gideon Inman had stayed in touch throughout the war period. 

Even before war broke out, in the mid-1850s, Jake and Gideon (who had served as town clerk and helped out with land records from his arrival in the valley) had managed to develop a complete copy of all the land records for Oak Creek Township from the County records in Eminence. These records were helpful in normal times, but as tensions had grown, they had correctly foreseen that they might be essential. Gideon had kept those records with him, and had managed to preserve them through the period of the war. He had held a civilian administrative job with the US Army during the war in St. Louis. Throughout the war, he, with Jake’s assistance and encouragement, had set about attempting to make contact with each and every former valley resident, or their families. This effort helped them to determine the level of interest from each family in either returning to the valley or relinquishing their claims to land in the valley. They generally sought to ascertain the current situations of as many of ‘their people’ as possible. These efforts were intensified as the year 1865 passed by.

The fourth ‘family,’ the eleventh member in the original settlement party, was Hugh Truesdale, a young man who wanted to be a farmer. He was supported in this effort by the other members of the party. In the fall of 1833, after Victoria Patton had become 16 years old, she and Hugh Truesdale were married. Over the next several years, as their farming operation prospered, three children joined the family. First came Jane, then Lewis and finally Nellie. In addition to her farm wife responsibilities, Victoria helped her mother in the General Store. In 1854, Victoria Truesdale became Postmaster, and continued in that role. For many years, in partnership with Jake Patton and Victor Campbell, Hugh Truesdale, in addition to farming interests had developed a substantial mule and horse breeding operation.

In 1860, Hugh was 48 years old and Victoria was 42. Jane was 23, and had married Daniel McDonald in June 1859; they lived at the Truesdale family farm home. Hugh, Victoria and Nellie had built a new home in Oak Springs and moved there prior to the wedding in 1859. Lewis was 17 years old and had been in Jefferson City for a few years attending Secondary School but had returned recently to work in the family business.  Nellie was still at home as a 10 year old, receiving her schooling from her family. 

To be continued... next Friday.

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

Dr. Bill  ;-)

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