Otis learned cabinet-making skills from his uncle Levi
Levi was pleasantly surprised how quickly his two nephews settled into happy new routines of learning and productive work in the months following their arrival in Oak Springs. Some reflection suggested to him that perhaps their father had been pushing too hard for each of them to follow his farrier/blacksmithing career path. Each of the sons seemed more interested in the wood building crafts that had been their grandfather’s specialty. Levi kept these thoughts to himself as he assisted each of the young men move along in their chosen direction, after some initial experimentation.
Otis had immediately shown interest and skills in the cabinetry work that Levi had underway when the boys arrived in late spring of 1878. By summer, Otis was able to do a number of tasks with little supervision, completing them both well and timely. Levi was very pleased. He got enough orders that he would be able to keep Otis very productively occupied if he indeed did choose to follow this path. Levi quickly taught Otis more and more complex tasks and he seemed to take to each of them well. He observed none of the reluctance to work hard that his parents had reported.
Alfred and Otis each continued to look after their own horses as well as assisting Levi with his herd. This gave Levi an opportunity to observe their skills and interests in this area, as well, and each seemed to perform quite capably. Knowledge of and care of horses was a critical family tradition that Levi would not let slide, under any circumstances. He found that it was not a problem. That concern, and practice, seemed to be a part of each young man’s self image, as well. This pleased Levi a great deal. He would be happy to report this to their father, Ezra, Levi’s brother.
Alfred helped build farm wagons
Alfred felt most at home in the wagon building shop
Alfred, meanwhile, the older of the nephews, had gravitated towards work in the Parks Wagon Works, next door to Levi’s shop, almost immediately upon arrival. He seemed to be anxious to learn all aspects of the operation and asked many, many questions. Trey Parks told Levi that this inquisitive mind, and his skilled hands, might well set Alfred up for a supervisory position, which would be needed in the near future as this business was growing rapidly. Trey also mentioned that on several occasions, when customers and prospects visited the Wagon Works regarding their orders, Alfred seemed to be very adept at responding to their inquiries. He said this was unusual among the several workers he had employed at the Wagon Works since they had opened.
When Levi had talked to Alfred about the Wagon Works, Alfred said he simply enjoyed being around the complexity of creating something substantial. For the first time in his life, he added, this was something that really interested him. He thanked Levi for giving him the opportunity. Levi found it especially interesting that whereas Otis found the small woodworking craft skills to his liking, Alfred much preferred the larger projects. Each had recognized what they liked, when they had the opportunity to identify it. Levi hoped that each of them would continue to demonstrate both increasing skills and productivity. Those would be the keys to their success in their chosen areas.
Trey shared with Levi the story of when Jed Cunningham, the new west valley farmer, had come to see about getting a new wagon for his fall harvest. Alfred had been helping Trey with a small project when Jed had come in, and got involved in the conversation. Trey said that Alfred mostly listened carefully, but at just the right moments, Alfred offered some specific suggestions that he felt gave Jed the confidence to go ahead and order the wagon right away. Trey said that suggested to him the Alfred might one day be a decent sales person, as well. He had listened carefully to what the customer needed, and made specific recommendations how they, the Wagon Works, could and would meet those needs.
They made specialty cabinets
New business for Levi from new businesses in town
Shortly after Martin Wilhite moved to Oak Springs and announced that he would be opening Wilhite Drug and Sundries in a new stone building on the Centennial Town Square, he came to visit Levi. Martin said that several men had recommended that he talk to Levi about building some specialized cabinetry he had in mind for his new business. This led to several lengthy discussions with both Otis and Levi with Martin Wilhite that led to a large order for Levi and Otis to build and install these cabinets in the new building, when it was ready, to meet those special needs. Levi was pleased that Otis had taken a particular interest in this opportunity and made major contributions to a successful completion in the spring.
One of the referrals had come from Dr. Wood as Levi had been completing some cabinetry for the new Medical Office that opened in November. It was not as complicated as what Wilhite needed, but required the same level of attention to detail. Otis had helped Levi in the finishing stages of that project, as well.
In the spring of 1879, Levi and Otis also build one special counter for the new Ward Confectionary Shop and Bakery, as well. In this case, Levi let Otis take the lead and essentially performed the entire job from beginning to end. Ward was very pleased with the project that Otis completed efficiently and on time. By this time, both young men had made the decision to stay in Oak Springs permanently. This pleased Levi very much.
Note by the author
This episode continues the Jacob and Levi Weston family saga fictional stories. The Levi and Jacob families were included, from time to time, in the ‘Life in Oak Springs’ and ‘The Kings of Oak Springs’ stories elsewhere here on HubPages. Those stories occurred during the 1876-1886 time frame. This present series is reliving that period but from the viewpoint of this Weston family, through this second set of 20 episodes.
As noted in Episode L1 of this series of historical fiction family saga stories, all of the characters in this episode are fictional. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious. The Jacob and Levi Weston characters, as well as the McDonalds, were first created as a part of “The Homeplace Saga” stories. The first 20 episodes of this Lx series filled in the early years of the lives of Levi, Jacob and their family.
Some of the stories of the "American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1875)" collection of historical fiction family saga short stories have also been published on "The Homeplace Saga" blog, found at the link, below, including those introducing Levi and Jacob Weston.
These first 20 episodes of the Levi Weston story have been compiled into an ebook: “Weston Wagons West: Levi Weston, L1-20 (1823-1874).” Thank you for your support.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”