Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.
The Train Passed Through Town Each Day
Sarah Perkins and Agnes Hermann Discussed Mr. Sullivan’s Instructions
Mr. Sullivan had asked Agnes Hermann to help with the Second Graders, Augustus Jacobs and Matilda Perkins. He had asked Sarah Perkins to help with the Third Graders, Rachel Hermann and Wyatt Collins. He had asked them to help with reading and arithmetic. He said he would work with these students on their writing skills.
Agnes: I’m sure happy he didn’t ask me to help teach Rachel. I could try, but sometime she resents me telling her what to do.
Sarah: I agree. Matilda and I get along fine, until she decides I’m trying to ‘boss’ her - then it can get kind of unpleasant, at times. Perhaps he did that on purpose.
Agnes: He seems to be very well prepared. I especially appreciate what he told us about teaching: we may learn more from teaching something than we may have learned as students of the same material. I think he had really good teachers.
Sarah: He only spent an hour with us, on this assignment, but I feel ready to take it on. He said we’d get back together after we’ve had a chance to work with our younger students. I’m actually anxious to get started tomorrow.
Agnes: I agree, tomorrow cannot come soon enough for me.
Mr. Roach Was Picking and Husking the Corn
Liam and Leonard Perkins Walked Down the Eastern Slope to the Farms
On a pleasant Saturday morning, Liam and Leonard Perkins set off to visit Dabney Roach at his farm down the eastern slope from Scranton. Leonard explained to Liam that he was carrying his machete knife because there were almost always some vines grown across the path since the last person had been past. Better to be prepared than to be sorry not to have it, he added. He said this was originally an animal path, of course, but in the last couple of years was used mostly by humans, though not often. The Roach family had been here about three years, to the best of his knowledge, even before the train tracks came through. Survey crews had worked the area for a couple of years, but mostly didn’t interact with the Roach family, which was fine with Dabney Roach. He and his family were mostly self sufficient and liked it that way. A couple of trips a year to get some staple supplies was all they really needed. Selling any extra crops was a bonus.
Liam asked Leonard about the weapons they were carrying. Leonard had a pistol in his belt, and Liam had his rifle on a sling over his shoulder. Leonard said he didn’t expect any trouble from either two or four legged critters, but, again, best to be prepared. And, a dangerous snake was also a possibility they hoped not to encounter. The trail wound back and forth in a switchback type of pattern as they descended off the ridge toward Brushy Creek below, just beyond the Roach farm. Leonard only needed the machete to clear the path a couple of times, and the walk was actually quite pleasant. Leonard described the pine, oak and hickory trees they passed by as well as the few remaining wild flowers and other plants. Liam enjoyed his descriptions.
They first came to a corn field that was being harvested. They were pleased to see Dabney Roach doing the harvesting by hand along with one of his sons driving a small wagon pulled by one horse alongside the rows where Dabney worked, throwing the shucked ears into the wagon as he went. He stopped briefly to talk with Liam and Leonard. After introductions, Dabney suggested the two visitors go on up to the homestead, beyond the field to the southeast. Dabney was obviously well enough acquainted with Leonard to let him go begin to show Liam the rest of the farm. Dabney said he would finish the row they were working on and meet them over there if Liam had any questions he would like to ask.
As they proceeded on, Liam could see the creek on the far side of the corn field. Soon, they came to a pasture area, where two milk cows, three other cows, and two horses were grazing. Further on, there were the pig pens and a pig shed. The pasture extended around the other side of the pig pens and led to a small barn. Liam could see the farm house beyond that, with a large garden, mostly harvested and dormant. Nearby was an obvious orchard with a variety of trees, again, all harvested for the year already. As they walked, Leonard gave a running narrative of the various animals, from his past experience with Dabney. Before long, as Leonard continued to talk, Liam realized that Dabney and his son, on the wagon, were approaching.
Liam asked how long they had lived on this farm. Dabney was pleased to explain that it was nearly five years now. He and his wife and two sons had come shortly after he had returned from the war. They were very pleased to have settled on this land and had made a decent living here, “Good Lord willing, it will continue!” Liam asked if they didn’t get lonesome way out here by themselves. Roach replied that this was the life they sought, and they were very happy, just as they were…wouldn’t have it any other way. If too many folks begin to crowd around, they’d most likely move on, he added.
They Walked Past the Cows in the Pasture
Liam and His Class Heard Something Unusual Near The End of Their Class Day
Class days in the Scranton School normally ran from 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day, with a half-hour lunch break. Each morning around 10 a.m. they were accustomed to taking a mid-morning break of fifteen minutes… that usually lasted a little longer, so that every one who needed to could take advantage of the boys or the girls outhouses behind the school. Also, about this time, the morning train headed outbound from Rolla, going to the northwest, arrived in Scranton for a brief stop to take on water as well as offload or onload any passengers or cargo.
On this particular day in late September, the morning train had gone through as expected. However, just a little after 3 p.m., shortly before school was to be let out, Liam and the class heard the whistle of a train approaching from the east. The whistle sounded several more times than usual. As everyone sort of sat up at attention, and listened, they could hear the train approach. But, where as in the morning it could always be heard to begin to slow up, and come to a stop as the engine reached the water tower, and the cars were in front of the station, this afternoon the train did not stop. It did not even slow down. If anything, it appeared to be gaining speed as it could be heard to rush by the town and move on up the line toward Dixon. What did it mean? Mr. Sullivan realized that he no longer had the attention of the class. Taking care of a few end of the day announcements, he dismissed the class a few minutes early. He was anxious to find out what was going on, as well, so headed for the train station as soon as he could.
From the Author
This is the fourth episode of a new, free-standing series of stories but it will be shown to have ties to The Homeplace Saga series of historical fiction, family saga stories. Liam’s mother was the former Ruth Weston, older sister of Levi Weston. Liam’s father, John Sullivan, was a younger brother of Jourdan Sullivan, who with his wife Martha settled on a farm in the west valley of what became Oak Creek Township in 1852. Both given and surnames in these stories can be found in the Phelps County, Missouri, 1870 U.S. Census though they are each used here in totally fictionalized ways. Related historical events are portrayed as accurately as possible in the context of this historical fiction, family saga series of stories.
Part of The Homeplace Saga series of stories
- "The Homeplace Saga" Blog
The home blog for "The Homeplace Saga" series of historical fiction family saga stories set in the southern Missouri Ozarks. All updates of the series are mentioned on the blog, regardless of platform.
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William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on September 30, 2020:
Following your Challenge article, there will be several more stories on my various platforms. Follow me on Facebook to see each one. Thank you, again, for your strong support through the years!!! ;-)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 29, 2020:
I look forward to your childhood memories, coming soon to a site near me. Have a brilliant Tuesday, my friend.
William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on April 23, 2020:
Interesting comment, Bill. Thanks for stopping by and commenting this week! ;-)
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 23, 2020:
Simple historical truths under the guise of a story. Perfect!