This blog will share elements of the stories of The Homeplace Saga included in this family saga series of novels and stories spanning the early 1800s to the present time. Somewhat like websites related to television shows and movies, elements of the stories and background materials will be included here that may not be explicitly included in the published works. Your participation through comments and questions will enhance the stories and your enjoyment of them.
“American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)”
**Part IV - 1865-1876 review completed
1865-1875 Report with comparison to 1860 status - Section 6 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)
[It is believed this narrative was a joint effort of Alex McDonald and Jerry Potts.]
Between 1870 and 1875 the activity in the Oak Creek valley and Oak Springs was primarily devoted to consolidating and maintaining the status quo with slow but steady growth. Some said the national Panic of 1873 had some effect; others felt it was the natural thing following the devastation of the war.
When Jerry Potts had finally decided to return to Oak Springs, he brought with him a printing press capable of creating a full broadside - including a single page newspaper. Shortly after his arrival, he and Alex McDonald, now an adult, happened to get together and found they had more in common than either would have suspected. Potts was surprised that without formal education, McDonald was well-read, very articulate and even wrote very well. He had read extensively during his time in the valley with his GranPa Henry, as well as since that time, and was broadly knowledgable in history, the classics and literature. Potts found McDonald to be very inquisitive with a mind like a sponge; he might just make an excellent reporter. By 1871 they joined forces to create a weekly newspaper, the Oak Springs Enterprise. Potts had published newspapers in other locations earlier in his career so he served as Publisher and Editor as well as mentor to Alex. Alex was reporter, salesman, distributor, and learned the layout and setup of a newspaper as well as what the publisher and editor did. Early experience to this date seems to suggest a great future for the Enterprise.
Approaching the elections of 1871 at the county level, Jake Patton announced his retirement from the Oak Creek County Commission. Gideon Inman announced his intention to run for the position, and, was successful in winning the election. Upon his election, he resigned his position on the Oak Springs Town Council. Jacobi Inman was initially appointed to replace his father on the Town Council, and subsequently elected in his own right. In other political news, Hugh Truesdale, ahead of the 1872 state elections, announced for the State Senate. His son, Lewis, then announced to run for the House seat of his father. In the General Election, both men were elected. Upon his election to the legislature, Lewis Truesdale resigned his position on the Oak Springs Town Council. Joshua Cox, recently having moved into town from his farm in the western valley, was initially appointed to replace Lewis Truesdale and he also then earned the spot on the Council in the subsequent election.
Joshua Cox had moved to town leaving his sons to work it. He continued to help out, from time to time, during the busy seasons. Bernie was in charge, but also had taken the responsibility of the Weston-McDonald Freight Line Station on the north edge of Oak Springs (on Lot 2, Block BB) under the general direction of Daniel McDonald. Coleman Cox had gone to the University to study agriculture and planned to return in the summer of 1875. The youngest brother, Roy, was also actively involved in the farm operations in spite of his young years.
In 1871, a man named Ivan Toll arrived in town with the idea to build a new hotel in Oak Springs. The Diamond Hotel opened on July 1, 1872, in time for the Annual Fourth of July celebration. Tolle’s wife, Hazel, and grown son, T.J., joined Ivan before the opening to become key members of the operations team for the ten-room hotel. It was located a block south of the newly created Town Square (on Lot 3 of Block G).
In the summer of 1872, David Baldridge rebuilt the Lumber and Grain Store in Oak Springs on Lots 3 & 4 of Block N which he and his sister had inherited from their parents. The prior store had been burned to the ground, of course, prior to the war. They hired 18 year old Simeon Bishop from the west valley family to run the store. He had recently returned from attending secondary school in the Jefferson City area. While there, he had worked part-time, and then full-time the past year, for the Weston-McDonald Freight Line office there. Harry and Sarah (Baldridge) McDonald had full confidence in the young man. He lived in an apartment in the back portion of the building and became a fixture in downtown Oak Springs, where he was located at the corner of Patton Road and Central Avenue (across Central for Donegans’ Tavern and just south of the Campbell’s Dry Goods Store.
The old Bartlett and Dodson farms north of town had set dormant since the war despite efforts by Gideon Inman and others to entice someone to buy them. Finally, in 1873, the Bartlett place was purchased by Russell Nixon and his wife, Norma. In 1874, the Dodson place was purchased by J.P. Polk and his wife, Jean. Neither of these couple had children yet when they arrived to farm their new purchases.
Jake Patton passed away from natural causes of aging at the age of 78 shortly after the first of the year of 1874 at his home near Jefferson City. His wife, Kate, died two months later. All of the Jake and Kate Patton property remaining in the town of Oak Springs and the Oak Creek Township was transferred to Hugh and Victoria Truesdale by their wills.
In Oak Springs, attorney Sylvester Preston was appointed to replace Jake Patton on the Town Council. He subsequently was elected on his own, as well.
In addition to a number of new boys and girls born to many families across the valley, several of the people made other changes in their lives. Ross and Josie Wingfield, for example, had returned with their parents, Abner and Delta to the valley, but between 1870 and 1875 each had left the valley to marry spouses they had met during their absence and did not return. In June of 1875, Jacobi Inman and Allison Olson married. In May, Jacobi had bought Lot 1, Block F, for their new residence. T. J. Toll married Shirley Sullivan of the west valley, in June, as well.
Junior Die had met a young lady named Emeline earlier, went to her home town to marry her, and they returned to make their home in the valley. Similarly, Joey Bishop married Margaret and they settled on his father’s family farm, as well.
Edward King married Lilly Johnson in 1871. Her brother, Campbell Johnson, married his sister, Lizzie King, in 1874. It appears that each couple would stay on each husband’s family farm. Rufus King also married Daisy Die in 1875, with similar plans.
Coleman Cox had gone off to college in 1871, but returned to work with his brothers, Bernie and Roy, on the family farm in June of 1875.
To be continued... next Friday.
May we each have a Homeplace, if only in our hearts!