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.
This Robert Baldridge Family Story was written for the American Centennial by Alex McDonald. It is based on information shared by descendants of Robert and Susannah Baldridge, one of the four founding families of the settlement in 1833 in the valley now known as Oak Creek Township.
Robert and Susannah Baldridge arrived in the valley with their children, Sarah, 11, and David, 8, in late spring of 1833. Although Robert took out farmland as well, his real interest was in the spring-fed Oak Creek and the waterfall formed as the creek came off the ridge into the valley. His goal was a working grist mill in the area along with a saw mill. He felt the location was perfect and he hoped to build his home nearby and get to work on the mill as soon as possible.
The mill on Oak Creek was built slowly and methodically but was in operation for the second season of crops in the fall of 1834, with help from Owen Olson, in particular. Robert and David had worked closely with Jake Patton to examine and explore the area on both sides of the creek to be sure that the west side of the creek by the falls was the best location and that the soil and rocks in the area would support the mill as required. They visited back in the Big Piney area several time to get all the needed materials and Jake Patton use his blacksmithing skills to craft some the needed machinery items as well.
As they had surveyed and explored the area, they also recognized some important minerals that were available in the caves and did some mining operations.
Robert Baldridge (1803-1862)
Susannah Unknown (1803-1862)
They had children:
Sarah Baldridge (1822- )
David Baldridge (1825- )
Sarah Baldridge (1822- )
married in 1842
Harry McDonald (11 Jul 1822- )
They had children:
Caroline McDonald (2 Aug 1843- )
Thomas McDonald (1845-1862)
Patrick McDonald (1847-??)
Alex McDonald (1849- )
Mahala McDonald (1852- )
Rebecca McDonald (1855- )
Sarah Baldridge married Harry McDonald in June of 1842. Their first child, Caroline, was born in August 1843. They lived at the McDonald cabin with Henry and young Daniel. Sons followed, Thomas in 1845 and Patrick in 1847. Alex arrived in 1849, followed by two more girls, Mahala in 1852 and Rebecca in 1855.
During the 1840s, Robert, Susannah and David Baldridge expanded their cattle business in the pastureland on the ridge on the north half of their property, west of the road that began to develop on the west side of Oak Creek along the eastern edge of their property. They worked with Victor Campbell and his sons in the western valley to enhance the breeding of each of their herds as well as with newcomers in the valley who each normally brought one to three head of cattle with them. The Baldridges essentially became cattle brokers and stockmen built from their position at the mill where they naturally came into regular communications with everyone in the valley as well as many persons coming to the mill from outside the valley to use the mill facilities. Over time, they also added storage and bought and sold excess grain and seed along with the lumber business.
Robert Baldridge served as Eastern Oak Creek Township Trustee from 1841 until 1847 when he was elected to the Oak Creek County Commission. He lost in his re-election bid in the 1857 election.
When Robert was elected to the Shannon County Commission in 1847, David, who was 23 at the time, took on added responsibilities in the family businesses. In 1846 they had brought in Riley Cooper, and his wife, Julia, from Houston, as well, to assist with the mill. They also added a forty-acre plot that Riley farmed on shares, as well.
When the town of Oak Springs was formed, in 1848, Robert and Susannah agreed to buy two city lots, build a house on one, and move there; which they did. David stayed living at the home near the mill.
Robert Baldridge served on the initial Oak Springs Town Council, beginning in 1848 and was re-elected through 1861. Councilmen in office during the war continued to serve until new elections were held in 1865; however, Robert Baldridge died in 1862.
David Baldridge never married. He served in the Civil War, first in an infantry unit, and later in Colonel Patton’s regiment. He was among the first to return to the Oak Creek valley after the war.
To be continued... next Friday.
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