Friday, August 8, 2014

The Founding of the Homeplace, Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 3

The Founding of the Homeplace
Part IV, 1865-75 Report, Section 3

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 3 of 6 (arbitrary sectioning)

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

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. 

With the advent of the war, in 1861, Hugh and his son Lewis worked closely with others in the valley to round up virtually all of the mules and horses in the valley in an attempt to get them to the Union Army in Houston both for profit and to make a contribution - as well as keep them out of the hands of the Rebels. By the time they could get left, they had already lost four horses and six mules to Rebels on raids into the valley.

During the war, Hugh Truesdale continued to be a contract provider of mules and horses to the Union army working from a base outside Jefferson City. Hugh continued to meet with the legislature each year, as well. In his travels, he kept a room in the northern end of his district, and kept on the move. He managed to continue representing his district including portions of Dent and Texas counties as well as Oak Township throughout the war. Building up seniority and maintaining contacts where they were to be had, he continued to hold the seat. After 1865, of course, he had residence with his son, Lewis, in Oak Springs, though he was only there periodically throughout the year. During and after the war, Kate and Victoria remained at their home outside Jefferson City as Jake and Hugh continued their various activities. 

Lewis served as a Captain in his grandfather’s cavalry unit, serving mostly in Missouri through the war. Lewis and Caroline McDonald had managed to marry during a leave he was authorized to take in 1864. He returned to the valley as a 23-year-old accustomed to being a leader and in charge of his environment. Returning to Oak Springs and Oak Creek Township, he displayed this leadership in his determination to rebuild his home valley. While his initial actions had been to get the family farm land back into early production, his other early actions were in the central valley where he got to work establishing a site for his family business interests in Oak Springs. 

By the fall of 1865, a double cabin, built around a central stone fireplace, was completed which became headquarters for those early actions to begin rebuilding the town of Oak Springs. As soon as the cabin was built and habitable, a very pregnant Caroline returned to Oak Springs to join and support her husband, Lewis. Their son, James, they called him Jimmie, was born in February, 1866. 

Visits by Colonel Patton, Hugh Truesdale, Victor Campbell and Owen Olson provided the opportunity to set priorities and approve initial plans, not unlike they had earlier done in the 1830s and 1840s. They were each very conscious of their own succession plans as well as the needs to build the town to and beyond its former conditions. 

Owen and Anna Olson arrived in the valley early in the summer of 1833 as a young newly wed couple with only what they had in the packs on their backs. They worked very hard to help in the community in anyway they could, including building cabins, building the mill, farming their own share crops and helping with farming for others. Owen apprenticed as a blacksmith under Jake Patton and eventually became the primary blacksmith in the shop. Owen and Anna, each 48 years old in 1860, had two children, Liam, 26, and Allison, 23. In 1860 Liam was apprenticing as a blacksmith, as well, under Owen and Jake. During the war, Liam served as a farrier with the cavalry. He was among the first four young men to return to the valley in late spring 1865, returning with David Baldridge. He set up his own blacksmith shop near the mill and worked closely with David to get it operational by that first fall back, in a temporary shelter. 

When the war began, Owen was blacksmith in the Patton Shop, Anna was Assistant Postmaster and she and their daughter, Allison, each worked in the Patton General Store. They had been among the last to leave the valley, and when they did, had vowed to return. By the time the “Olson party” arrived in mid-September, 1865, the early arrival young men in the valley had constructed a house for the Olson family according to Owen’s desires, near their original homesite. It was totally enclosed, if not totally finished; but it served them well, as planned. In the party were also the pregnant Caroline (McDonald) Truesdale and 15-year-old Nellie Truesdale along with Owen, Anna and Allison. 

Jake Patton had agreed to an arrangement wherein Owen Olson would purchase the city lots (Block S, Lot 1 and Lot 2; Block T, Lot 1) from Patton west from the Olson home through the old General Store location and the original blacksmith shop (Block Q, Lot 4). Olson would then set up his new blacksmith shop in approximately the location of the original. The Olson’s would build a new Oak Springs General Merchandise store in about the same location as the original, with the existing Central Avenue running between them. The Lewis Truesdale cabins had been built near the location of the remains of the original Patton cabin (Block Q, Lot 2).

The new Oak Springs General Merchandise store was to include the U.S. Post Office with Anna Olson as Postmaster and Allison Olson as Assistant Postmaster and General Manager of the Oak Springs General Merchandise store. Each new store and residence was being built on the original town plat plan but also with respect to what was left from the prior construction and current knowledge as to whether it was beneficial to build on the same location or a new one nearby. It was planned to dig two or three water wells in the town to supply water without needing to be near a creek. In 1870, the Community Building was re-built on Lot 3, Block S (Patton Land), and Block R was designated as a community park (land still owned by Jake Patton) to be used in conjunction with the Community Building for such events as “Fourth Sunday,” 4th of July, and fairs and festivals for the entire community. Blocks U and V would continue to remain open, owned by the city, for possible future community development needs, as well.

To be continued... next Friday.

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

Dr. Bill ;-)

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