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Life in Oak Spring - Ep 22 - 1904

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

The spring was very wet, followed by dry summer weather


Activities in the Bevins Family

1904 was the year that the dedication of Ora B to farming was put to its greatest test. It seemed to rain every Saturday, and a lot of the days in between. Bernie had to teach Ora B the patience that each farmer must acquire. He had already experienced hard years, but this one was especially trying. Bernie taught Ora B that they always things that needed done. Perhaps fix some harness, or check the seed that was to be used to see that it was not rotting. Bernie got his crops in, late, but it had been a challenge. Then, about the first of June, the rains ended. By the first of July, they were praying for rain, every day. Again, patience was required. They did get rain, for a day, and then not for a week. It ended up just being a dry year, through the summer, with crops subpar, but livable. Live and learn, Bernie kept repeating.

The fall of 1904 found Ora B and Sarah Jane in the 8th grade as 13 year olds. It was a presidential election year, so teachers and students followed the campaign through the fall. In the 1904 Presidential Election, President Theodore Roosevelt won the state by a margin of 3.91%. Although he became the third Republican presidential candidate to win Missouri, he was the first one since Ulysses S. Grant in 1868. In voting for the GOP, Missouri repositioned itself from being associated with the Solid South to being seen as a bellwether swing state in the years to come. Ora B, Myrtle and Caroline all supported President Roosevelt.

In other news, Ora B read about how Henry Ford had set a new land speed record in his car at over 90 miles an hour on a frozen lake in Michigan, early in the year. He wondered what that meant for the future. It was hard for him to even imagine.

Beth and her mother enjoyed having a piano in their home


Activities in the McDonald Family

In addition to her singing skills, Beth Young was privileged to have a piano in her home, of which her mother was very proud. Her mother, Martha, had taught her to play the piano, which she did very well. Joe enjoyed listening to her play tunes he had never heard before as well as many familiar tunes. Early in High School, however, Beth had made it very clear that she wanted to be a well rounded student, not ‘the pianist’ - which was easy to imagine. She enjoyed singing, especially now that it had gotten her closer to Joe, but she mostly wanted to be known as a good student, first; which she was.

The singing quartet did continue to have requests for appearances. Joe, Beth, Rosy and Wade continued to enjoy these opportunities together. After dropping off the other two, after an appearance, Joe and Beth found they could extend their time together, for even a few minutes, to talk, by stopping in the little grove of trees at the end of the road from the McDonald Grandparent’s place, along the Houston Road. They even began to think of it as “our place.”

This was the summer, before he started his Junior Year of High School, shortly after his 16th birthday, that William and Charlotte, sat Joe down for a serious discussion. They could see he and Beth were getting serious about their future, so it was time to discuss his future with him. Not that they didn’t have serious discussions regularly, but this one was a bit different. The McDonald farm was one of the biggest in the valley. They used a number of tenants and hired hands to actually operate the cattle operation and the farming of the land they had acquired. They wanted to be sure he understood that one day this would all be his and with that came certain responsibilities. He had regularly worked in the fields and was learning all the skill and techniques it took to do the many jobs required. However, they wanted to remind him, that as they each moved forward in time, the most important thing he would have to learn was the management of the entire operation, like William’s responsibilities at this time. While he needed to be fully skilled in each manual operation and the treatment of cattle and horses, he also needed to develop the overall operation skills, hiring and firing, sales and financial skills, in order to take care of everyone and everything a farm the size of their operation required. He would want to be sure, when the time came, that he chose a wife and partner that was the right one with whom to share those responsibilities. Joe was pleased to have had this discussion. He said he was aware of most of what they said, but presenting the whole concept in a package was very useful. Some things he had not thought of, and he now needed to be sure he learned and understood each of them. Yes, he added, he had begun thinking seriously about a future partner, and this discussion helped a lot there, as well. This was more for him to work on.

The common area of the Boarding House


Family Activities around the Valley

1904 saw a new Insurance Agent move into town. His name was Lee Strickland. He had graduated from the State University and had worked in an Insurance Office in Springfield, but wanted to get out on his own in a small town. Oak Springs had been his choice. Ira and Eva Mason sold their farm to the neighboring Wingfield family in early 1904 and retired to a home in Oak Springs. At about the same time, it was learned that Alfred Weston had worked with the various set of owners and investors of the Wagon Sales Office to gain a full half-interest in the business with full voting rights. The business would continue to represent the Parks Wagon Works but would also be free to expand the relationship with John Deere Implements and perhaps other lines. Alfred wanted to be able to bring his sons into the business and expand as the years went by.

There were four marriages of young folks in the valley during 1904. Delmer Pruitt and Minnie Carver were the first. They both worked in the Plumbing business in town. Richard Mason, who worked at Parks Wagon Works, married Maud King the second week of June. With plans to stay on the farm with his father, Willard Potter married Edna Cox. Similarly, Jasper Die married Esta Street, with him staying on the farm with his father, and they would make their home there.

Two young men were hired as school teachers in the Summer of 1904. Each was single, and found lodging in the Nixon apartments. They were Willson Miller and Clifford Cunningham. Each of them were local products who had gone off to college and were able to return in their new professions.

A few months after the passing of her husband, Ralph, Sally (Rhodes) Campbell decided to move into her Campbell Boarding House as a resident. All the services she needed were immediately available there, and she was very pleased to have made that decision.

Note by the Author

This series of stories provide the backstory on the community and families that were first introduced in the novel “Back to the Homeplace” set in 1987. With the restart in 1903 we provide the setting for the marriage of Frank Bevins and Mildred McDonald in 1937, though neither is yet to be born until 1917.

The stories of the "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories lay the background for the stories of Oak Springs and the Oak Creek Valley. They

have also been published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog (thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com). Four volumes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” (e-books) and related stores are available at https://www dot Lulu dot com/en/us/shop/drbill-smith/

“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”

This is "The Homeplace Saga" of historical fiction, family saga 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.

A useful collection of Founding Stories in "The Homeplace Saga" series

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on January 15, 2021:

I moved into the 20th Century with some trepidation. Now that we have arrived, it is kind of exciting, as you expressed so well. Thank you for your comment! ;-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 15, 2021:

What an exciting new century they all faced. The nation was crackling with excitement and hope for the future. The American Dream was alive and well, and actually attainable for many. Thanks for the history lesson.