The Silas Turnbo manuscripts are a collection of approximately eight hundred short tales, stories and vignettes that reflect life along the White River Valley in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri during the latter half of the 19th century.
Silas Turnbo (1844-1925) was a sometime farmer and sometime newspaper proprietor who resided primarily near Pontiac, Missouri in Ozark County. He traveled extensively in the region and wrote down the stories and reminiscences of the region's pioneers.
The resulting accounts cover a wide range of subjects including hunting, farming, outlaws, the Civil War, home life and a number of events that are best described as tales of the unusual. The manuscripts have been of interest to genealogists for a number of years because of sometimes-detailed accounts of the experiences of ancestors. They hold interest as well for historians, folklorists and those interested in how people adapted to the experience of frontier life in the Ozark hills. The stories offer a unique view of the interests and experiences of the inhabitants of the region during the period recounted.
The Library’s online collection is keyword searchable. The Local History and Genealogy Department at the Library Center has a typescript of the manuscript available in hard copy, as well as microfilm of the original handwritten version. A biography by Lynn Morrow appeared in the White River Valley Historical Quarterly (Spring 1991) and is also available in our digitized collection.
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