Friday, August 15, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 4

The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 4

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 4 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

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

Victor Campbell had been President of the Oak Springs Savings Bank since 1855. In that role, he had accepted the responsibility from the Board of Directors for both investments and loans by the bank. With the shifting winds of the economy in addition to the political environment in the late 1850s, Victor had made safe investments in the St. Louis area as well as others around central Missouri. He and Jacobi Inman, the bank clerk at the time, when the war broke out, took all the records with them to the St. Louis area. Victor had continued to grow the investments and keep all appropriate records. 

Jacobi had ended up with a bank position in St. Louis and had not entered military service. His wife, Belinda, had suffered a series of miscarriages and continued to suffer from illnesses during the period of the war. Jacobi had initially declined an offer from Victor to return to Oak Springs. However, when his wife took a turn for the worse, and died, in July of 1865, he contacted Victor and made the decision to work with Victor toward a return to Oak Springs upon the rebuilding of the bank. 

The bank board, now consisting of Jake Patton, David Baldridge and Victor Campbell, 
wanted to build a new stone bank building in Oak Springs. Their choice of new location, however, was still up in the air as 1865 became 1866. Jake Patton, Gideon Inman and Victor Campbell formed the Oak Creek Real Estate and Land Office late in 1865. 

Gideon had received letters from the former Ames and Mathison Real Estate partnership that had owned the land and buildings on of Block J, Lot 2 and Lot 4. They each, individually, also relinquished their ownership of all four lots in Block X, where they had previously had residences. 

Subsequently, the Land Office built an office building from which Gideon Inman could operate it in the spring of 1866 (on Lot 2 of Block J). Gideon Inman already owned Lot 1 of Block J and built his own home on it. He continued making and receiving contact with former residents/property owners and providing information to new prospects, as well. One of the functions of this company was also to be in a position to purchase (for resale), at a nominal fee, any land in the township not re-claimed and re-settled between 1865 and December 31, 1870 (based on a court order received by the Township). 

Based on the contacts Jake Patton and Gideon Inman had made and continued to make through 1865, no new returnees were expected in the rest of 1865. However, a number of “intentions to return” in 1866 and thereafter were in hand and more were anticipated. With this information, and proper notifications, a new Town Council was elected in November: Jake Patton, Owen Olson, Victor Campbell, Lewis Truesdale and Gideon Inman. Victor Campbell and Gideon Inman had not yet moved to the valley full-time, but had filed letters of intention to build homes on lots they already owned in the spring of 1866.

From the records compiled by Gideon Inman in the fall of 1865, the following was known about other 1860 residents.

Edmond Gifford, on his farm in the far southeast corner of the township, had been one of the three persons killed by raiders in the valley in 1861 before the mass exodus began. Gifford was murdered in his front yard, in front of his house, and his mules and horses stolen. His wife and children had left the valley immediate to live with other members of her family. Their son, Franklin, 16 in 1860, served in the Union army and had expressed the intent to marry and return to claim the family farm. His mother supported the intent of the son, but expressed no interest for she and her daughter to return. With help from his family, Franklin and Josephine Gifford did return to their family farm in 1867; and were successful in their endeavor.

Samuel Street had served in the Union army and had notified Gideon of the intention of his family to return, hopefully in 1866; it was actually 1867. They were still on the farm as this report was written. Riley Cooper had been in communication with both Gideon and with David Baldridge about returning to work at the mill when it got back in full production. Riley also said his wife and son planned to return and they were interested in purchasing the 160 acres, to the west of the Truesdales, where they had lived and farmed before being driven away. Riley and Julia Cooper did return in the spring of 1866. Their son, Anderson, did not survive his service in the war. 

There had been four farms located north of Oak Springs in 1860: Ephriam Bressie, Abner Wingfield, Jesse Bartlett, and Oliver Dodson. The Bressies had relocated into central Missouri and did not plan to return - however, they hoped they could sell their land, if there was any value there. Abner Wingfield and his family planned to return, which they did, in 1867, and in 1872 purchased the Bressie place at a very low price. Neither Jesse Bartlett nor Oliver Dodson, or any of their family members had maintained contact with anyone as of the fall of 1865.

In Oak Springs, Jerry and Polly Potts had kept in touch, but declined to return any time soon. However, late in 1868 they renewed contact with town officials indicating their plan to return to claim their town property in early 1869. They did in fact do that and arrived in the spring along with her younger brother, a physician, J.D. Potts. They built a family home on Lot 3 of Block J. They also bought Lot 4, of Block J, that fronted on Central Avenue, where they built a multi-front building for their businesses included a physician’s office, a barber shop, an apothecary and a print shop. A second floor above the businesses on the lower level provided for apartments that were only finished as needed. J.D. Potts finished and lived in one. When Alex McDonald moved into Oak Springs, he moved into another, in 1869.

Ace Donagan indicated his intention to return and build a new tavern much as he had when he left in 1860. He was communicating with the Town Council on site and timing issues in late 1865. 

Ralph Campbell (and his Rhodes wife) and well as Theodosius Rhodes (and his Campbell wife) expressed interest in returning but each was still uncertain under what conditions and when. 

Levi Weston expressed plans to certainly return, but he really needed to wait until a little more population was back in place to return. This time arrived in the spring of 1869 when he returned to restart the operations in the location he had left behind in late 1861. The contract to build the two special carriages for the new subscription school did play a role in his timed return. Levi was fully operational by early in 1870.

To be continued... next Friday.

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

Dr. Bill ;-)

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