Friday, August 22, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 5


The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 5


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 5 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

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



Eight farm families were living along Center Creek west and northwest of Oak Spring in 1860: the Dies, Carrolls, Johnsons, Pryors, Sullivans, Lowdens, Craddocks, and the Hambys. It was known that Jefferson Lowden had died in combat, but contact had been lost with his wife and their young son. After no contact for a long period, it was learned that Silas Hamby was not returning, and Gideon obtained a legal document from him relinquishing any interest in his property. The Carroll family eventually provided a similar document. 

Wilson and Wanda Craddock did not end up returning, but in 1869, their then 24 year old daughter, Neva, with her husband, Turkill Dent, along with their baby son, arrived with the proper legal documents to claim the Craddock property and make it their own family farm.

Jasper and Leannah Die and their family did return, but not until 1868. Similarly, Lawrence and Lucinda Johnson had maintained contact, and finally returned in 1869, with both their daughter and son. Jacob and Patsy Pryor said time after time they were coming back, but never did. Jourdan and Martha Sullivan said they would return, and in 1870, they did, bringing daughter Shirley, but not son, Julian.

Delbert and Delia (Rhodes) Campbell returned to work the Campbell family farm land on the Western Branch in early spring of 1866. They had no children, but with the help of some ‘hired out’ young men from other families, were able to continue the Campbell agricultural prosperity they had enjoyed before the war. Eli and Emeline Rhodes finally decided in late 1866 they were not going to return to their family farm on the Western Branch. With that decision, their son, Theodosius, and his wife, Lillian (Campbell) Rhodes, along with their family, decided to return in 1867 to claim and operate the farm that had first been settled by his parents in 1838.

George and Marcia King and their family returned to the Western Branch in 1867, as well. They wanted to come back earlier, but kept in touch, settled their other affairs, and got an early start in 1867. Their daughter, Shasha, had married and did not come, but the other three young folks did return. Similarly, Michael and Amanda Duncan made it back in 1867 as well. Before they returned, their daughter, Alice, had married in their new location and did not come back to Oak Creek Township. 

Joshua and Tetisha Cox returned in 1868 with their sons, Bernie and Coleman, with the intent to help them get started and then to move into town, which they did in 1871. Their daughter, Dorothy, had married and did not return with them. Finally, the Nathan Bishop family did return in 1869, with all three of their children, and, once returned, did prosper in their far Western Branch location.

Meanwhile, back in Oak Springs, in 1867 it was learned that Percival and Katherine Jones, who had been expected, according to available information, to return to reopen their Dry Goods store, if not their Boarding house, would not be returning. They relinquished their interest in Lot 2 of Block M, as well as Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block N. When that new information became available, Ralph and Sally (Rhodes) Campbell, saw the opening they had been waiting for and returned late in 1867 to build first a Boarding House, on Lot 1 of Block N, and then in the spring of 1868 a Dry Goods store, on Lot 2 of Block N, facing on Central Avenue. They also resumed their farming operation just on the west side of the town plot. 

By this time, in the spring of 1869, the Town Council had also made a few more relevant decisions that affected location planning for several pending building plans. The town purchased six additional blocks from Jake Patton (at very favorable rates) directly north of the existing town plat and extending two blocks to the east. The blocks numbered from the west, were: AA, BB, CC, DD, EE, and FF. Fourth Street was renamed Main Street. This Main Street, running east and west, ran a quarter of a mile south of and parallel to the Houston Road.

Further, Block C, at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and the newly designated Main Street, created a designated Town Square  The plan was to build both the new Town Hall and the stone bank building (exchanged Block G, Lot 3, for Lot 2, Block B, the new location) on the perimeter of the Town Square. In addition, they had passed an ordinance that provided adequate space between any wooden structures so as to reduce the likelihood of a fire in one building spreading to nearby buildings, as had become a common issue in many towns where buildings were right next to one another.

There were a few newcomers to the valley as well. The following describes these new arrivals up to 1870.

Thomas Crane, his wife Grace (Fox) Crane, along with daughters, Charlotte and Cora, settled on 160 acres just south of the southeast corner of the Henry McDonald home place in early 1868. Thomas had visited the prior year and determined that he could dig a well on the property for their household needs. This was one of the first of many to come in the following years. 

As expected, Lewis Truesdale continued to be active in building and recruiting new business opportunities in the town and the valley. By the end of 1868, six of his recruits, all calvary members of the units he commanded, had come into the valley, with their brides or families, to become a part of what they hoped would be prosperous times ahead. Four of the families located on the Truesdale farm land to the west of the McDonalds land working on shares. The four couples on the farms were Willis and Isabel Garrett, Theodore and Ellen Warden, S.L. and Martha Reeves, and Gilbert and Susan Gower.

Two of the families lived in town (J.W. and Lucinda Norton and G.W. and Margaret Mason) and were employed at the Lewis Truesdale businesses now under the names of Oak Creek Valley Breeding and Oak Creek Valley Livery and Stable. Lewis had located these businesses on the west edge of town (working with Jake Patton and Hugh Truesdale, he had exchanged their interests in Block K - where the livery had previously been located - and Lots 1 and 3 of Block L, for Block M and Lots 3 and 4 of Lot I). In addition, he had acquired from Jake Patton the 20 acres immediately west of the town boundary (running along the east side of the Ralph Campbell farm). The Nortons purchased Lot 1 of Block I and the Masons purchased Lot 2 of Block I on which to build their own homes.

Also new in town, arriving in the summer of 1869 was a young attorney, Sylvester Preston, who bought and built an office building on Lot 3 of Block K, facing on Central Avenue. He also bought Lot 4 of Block K and used it to build a home for himself. In 1871, another young attorney, John Coffee came to town, and entered into a partnership with Sylvester Preston to form the Preston and Coffee Law Firm.


Ace Donagan opened his Tavern in 1868. He had arranged to purchase the Lot 3, of Block O, from Jake Patton, where he had been located on a lease, previously. He brought in R.R. and Matilda (Farrell) Callahan as operating managers and her brother, J.R. Farrell, as well, as a laborer. As with the earlier tavern, there were rooms for rent on the second floor. 

To be continued... next Friday.


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



Dr. Bill ;-)

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