Skip to main content

Weston Wagons West - Episode H10 - Hank Weston Began Farrier Training for Josh

Farriers seek health and welfare of horses with a passion

Three horses such as the Weston family bred and trained

Three horses such as the Weston family bred and trained

Josh carried on the family tradition of farrier training

March of 1860 brought the 12th birthday of Hank’s brother, Josh (Joshua). In the Weston family, a deep tradition, the 12th birthday marked the beginning of a 2-year apprenticeship in the farrier trade. Horses were a critical element in the lives of virtually all farmers, and most people, during the 18th and 19th Centuries. The farrier is at the forefront of the care of and health of horses. Training as a farrier, therefore, was valuable for anyone with horses, but also provided the baseline training for a possible career. At the end of those two years, satisfactorily completed, Weston young men also received two horses, typically mares, as their own, to begin their own herd, and to demonstrate responsibility.

Josh began to attend the Davis school in the fall. With his birthday coming in March, the family faced a couple of interesting challenges. The first question had already been answered. Joe and Hank had agreed that Hank would lead the farrier training with Josh. Typically, in the past, the farrier apprenticeship was a ‘full-time’ program, not formal, but with generally accepted processes and procedures. Josh, Hank and Joe agreed that with extra effort, Josh would be able to learn what needed to be learned and experienced by devoting early morning, evening, and weekend extra hours to that training. Josh said he really looked forward to getting started and was ready to devote the time and effort required to complete all required work, mental and physical.

Joe, Hank and Glen plunged right into the spring planting season following the successful efforts of the prior year. Having once adapted to the new routine of having four of the children in school during the day, the spring garden and orchard time provided a new challenge to the women of the family that was welcomed. Many care and maintenance projects were caught up during the winter and the garden was planned and put in place with new vigor. For the first time, they had the chance to change their routines, again, with the return of the children when school ended in late spring.

Each spring brings a new challenge to each farm

Spring plantings were in the field

Spring plantings were in the field

The first year of Davis school was deemed a success

During the 1859-60 school year, twenty-one students took part in classroom activities. These students came from the thirteen families in the four square mile district. The school board called a meeting in the early summer to report on the year and to get input from the families for the coming year. Candidates for school board were also requested. Joe Weston had completed his one-year term. Frank Fraley would continue for a second year, and John Davis was on a three-year term. Joe Weston was asked to serve a new three-year term on the board of directors, and after some discussion, agreed to do so. He indicated he would not serve beyond this new term, however, so that others could and would participate. The teacher was rehired for the following year.

Hank and Josh were able to get back to a more ‘normal’ apprenticeship-training schedule during the summer months between school terms. George, moreover, asked if he could be a helper as well as watch and learn. His apprenticeship would start in late September on this 12th birthday. He wanted to get an early start. Joe and Hank approved of the idea. Josh agreed that it would be fine for George to be around during those times. It was an interesting summer for all of them.

This summer, Nathan, now 7 was given additional responsibility looking after the chicken. Jessica, now 9, similarly was given more individual responsibilities in the orchards. Laura, 6, who would be starting to school in the fall, was given some activities to help prepare her for that experience. Nathan’s younger brother, Isaac, now 5, was given a few specific responsibilities for the first time, as well. Learning to take directions and following through on them were hallmarks of the Weston family way of raising their children. As they each got older, they also each took on responsibility for supervising the activities of their younger siblings (and cousins, in this case) as well.

The harvest was a busy time of year for farmers

Corn fields ready to harvest

Corn fields ready to harvest

The fall of 1860 was full of new events with differing impacts on the family

Joe, Hank, and Glen were busy with their bountiful harvest, for course. One more year of favorable weather conditions made for a lot of work. They were able to get the assistance of a young man from the northern part of the school district, Sam Grimes, to help some during their busiest harvesting. He had an older brother, as well, so their father agreed to make Sam available to the Weston family on a number of occasions. Sam was 17 years old. Although he did everything he was asked to do, Hank noticed that Sam seemed to have a chip on his shoulder about something. Hank filed that thought away, for future reference.

News of the national presidential election in November brought concerns in the family during an otherwise joyful harvest season. Melinda did her best to mute her disgust, but this still separated her from the celebrations of the rest of the family. She knew her family in Georgia was now in peril with the election of Lincoln. It was only a matter of time. But, she was in Iowa. There was nothing she could do but to keep quiet and do her work. Hank could feel the tension in the air, but knew he had to give her time and space to work this out, in her own way.

The harvest was completed. Josh and George worked on their farrier training along with school under Hank’s tutelage and Joe’s overall guidance. Laura had adapted to school normally, and Isaac was now the only child still at home during school hours. But, that was about to change with the New Year. Sarah and Glen were happy to share that she was expecting their first child, to arrive late in the spring.

The holidays were celebrated according to family traditions. Melinda held her feelings to herself, as national news continued to be received, shared and discussed by the family. What would the New Year of 1861 bring? For the nation? For the Weston family?

Note by the author

This Hx series of historical fiction family saga stories following Hank Weston consists of characters that are fictional or real persons used here entirely fictitiously. The Davis, Grimes, and Farley families are fictitious. Activities and events are consistent with known historical facts, but are entirely fictitious.

The Jacob and Levi Weston characters 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, also descendents of Thomas and Fred 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).”

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