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Life in Oak Spring - Ep21 - 1903

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

Both Ora B and Joe Celebrated their Birthdays


Activities in the Bevins Family

[With 1903 we resume our annual backstory episodes, picking up from BT23, as well as FO18, L40 and MT25 storylines.]

Ora B Bevins celebrated his 12th Birthday in April of 1903. As usual, he wanted to spend his Saturday working on the Water’s Farm. It was planting season after all. He said they could celebrate on Sunday. Sarah Jane’s mother, Sally, invited Ora B’s mother, Myrtle, out to the farm on Sunday as it was a mild, sunny, springtime day. Myrtle enjoyed visiting the farm on nice days, but had little interest in staying very long. She did appreciate the invitation, though, because she knew Ora B would enjoy being on the farm and spending time with his classmate, and best friend, Sarah Jane. She knew he would also spend some extra time working on the farm with her father, Bernie.

Bernie Waters continued to be surprised and amazed at how well young Ora B took to farming activities, especially at such a young age and being of slightly less than average stature. He was a quick learner, and carried out assigned tasks with little follow up needed. Ora B seemed to naturally take to farm tasks and the farming life in general, just like his dad, Myrtle had said many times.

At home, like his mother and grandmother, Ora B did enjoy reading the newspapers they had available. He was interested in national and world news, especially the new technologies being developed. Reports of new things that seemed to make like easier were items of interest. Late in 1903, he was especially interested in stories of Henry Ford, in Detriot, forming a company to make cars, automobiles, that everyone could afford. Would cars replace horses for transportation? Ford thought so. Ora B wondered about that. He got along fine with his pony. Would a car make life better or more complicated? He wondered about such things. How could it help on the farm?

An Older Quartet from the Movies


Activities in the McDonald Family

Joe McDonald celebrated his 15th birthday on June, 26, 1903. He had finished his Freshman year in High School. There were only four guys in his class with nine females. Joe’s best friend was Wade Carr, the son on the Bank Cashier. Vernon Rhodes was from a farm family in the west valley. The fourth guy was Jay Alexander, the Methodist preacher’s son. Everyone liked Jay, but, they also knew that one June, his family would be moving on to their next charge. Would he be able to finish High School in Oak Springs? No one knew. I had only been in recent months that Joe and Wade hardly noticed the young women who were their classmates.

The High School teachers realized that Joe McDonald had a very good singing voice. He, along with Wade Carr, Beth Young and Rosy McKinney, had been grouped in a quartet more than once in the spring. Even as the summer progressed into fall, these four were called upon several time to sing for various gatherings. It was during this time period that Joe and Wade began to recognize the pleasure of spending time with the girls beyond just being a school activity. Joe and Wade now talked, a bit more, from time to time, about recognizing a future life with a girl. This was something new for each of them.

Since Joe had access to a carriage, it had become routine for him to pick up his classmates to take them to their singing engagements. He would pick up Beth Young first, so she sat in the front seat with him. Then, they drove by Rosy McKinney’s place and she would get in the back seat, followed by Wade Carr, in town, also in the back seat, and off to the engagement location, usually in town. So, Joe and Beth, and Wade and Rosy, had the most time together, to talk, and get to know one another better. They found they loved to talk about their mutual interests.

Abner left the Home Construction to his Sons


Family Activities Around the Valley

Several events around Oak Springs and the Oak Creek valley are worthy of note as we closed 1902 and look forward to events and activities in 1903. East valley farmer, Samuel Street and his wife, Cordelia, left their farm in the worthy hands of their son, Samuel, and his family, to move into Oak Springs for their retirement years. Abner Wingfield announced his retirement from his construction company, now operated by his son, David, and his wife, Marian. He noted that he would continue to manage his rental properties along with Joshua Cox. Jourdan and Martha Sullivan, who had been wintering in Florida, announced that they had moved permanently as of April. They sold their home in Oak Springs to Jedediah and Letha Cunningham, who have since made the move into their new home. In July, Quentin Chambers moved out of town to return to live near his family elsewhere in Missouri. In March, in their west valley farmhouse, both Lawrence and Lucinda Johnson were found dead by their family. It appeared to be from natural causes of old age. Ivan and Hazel Toll retired to South Texas in September. In October, Jasper and Leannah Die, moved from their home in the west valley to the Duncan Boarding House in Oak Springs.

Abby King had moved back to Oak Springs, hoping to get a teaching position. After a few months back being around her long term friend, Leroy Starr, however, they decided it was the married life for them, in the first week of June. Oney Warden and Donna Nagle made a similar decision during the second weekend in June. Early in the year, Melvin Medley had accepted an apprenticeship with Mr. Pace, the Carpet Maker. As that was going well, by the third week in June, he and Ruby Bishop decided it was time for them to marry.

Sylvester Preston, long time lawyer in Oak Springs, he served several terms on the Town Council, retired and moved to California as the year ended. He said he had family there that he had not seen in many years. Ralph Campbell, retired long-time banker, died in late November of 1903. Not long after, on December 19, Delia (Rhodes) Campbell also passed away. It had been a hard winter already.

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 this 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).

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

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer


Annette Lamb on January 08, 2021:

Fun variety of activities going on!

William Leverne Smith (author) from Hollister, MO on January 08, 2021:

Thank you, Bill. It is good to get back to new, original stories in this series. I appreciate your comments! ;-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 08, 2021:

Another wonderful history lesson, my friend. Keep them coming. I, for one, love this series.