Volume 3, Number 7
From Stories of the Pioneers
by E. J. and L. S. Hoehshel
My father moved from Tennessee to Taney County in 1852, and I have lived here ever since-sixty-two years. When I was six years old my father bought land eight miles east of Branson. There was but little land in cultivation then; nearly all covered with timber. Father built a good frame house, plastered, and a nice basement. It was considered the best house in the county then.
My wife moved here from Tomkinsville, Kentucky, in 1858. We always went to the same school. They didn't have good schools in those days as they do now, and during the war there weren't any schools.
We had a good living and plenty of all kinds of stock. Had lots of horses and mules, cattle, sheep and hogs. Father was one of the most prosperous farmers in the county. He was a good blacksmith; did all of his own smithing, and also that of his neighbors. I always helped him a good deal; would blow the bellows, and some times he would have me strike for him. Occasionally in time of war, there would be some rough fellows come along and make us shoe their horses. Always had to make the shoes in those days; had to furnish shoes and nails and get nothing for our work. We were usually glad, too, when they left; glad to do the work to get rid of them. And sometimes after they left we would go to the mountains and hide for two or three weeks till we would get over our scare. The longer the war lasted the worse things were here.
Father had just completed our home when the war began. I generally stayed at home when the regular soldiers were here, and looked as small as possible. I remember one time when I was at home an army of several hundred camped there and had killed fifty head or more of sheep; took what was fit for mutton and left the rest lie where they fell. They also took all of our meat and what feed we had. One morning I was out feeding the sheep and eight or ten rough looking fellows came up and said, "Hello, Bud! What will you take for a sheep?" I said, "You d--s have killed all that are worth anything now." One said "You talk might sassy for a boy; I'll get off my horse and horsewhip you." I picked up a rock in each hand and dared him to try it. Another fellow told him he was a coward or he wouldn't talk that way to a boy.
I remember once a fellow stopped at our house on his way to Yellville. He had taken the wrong road and had to go back some distance to the right one. He had been gone only about thirty minutes when two fellows came riding back with him a prisoner. They were in a hurry and said, "Let's get to headquarters". They went on and in about thirty minutes we heard a gunshot in that direction. Father said, "Now I wonder if they have killed that poor fellow". Of course we did not know either of them, nor which side they belonged to. Father said, "After a while we'll go and see if we can find him." So we went in the direction of the gunshot, and began to search for him. Father sent me for one of our neighbors by the name of Calvin Vance to come and help us. We separated and began the search. We had not been separated long when Mr. Vance gave the signal, and there he was with a bullet hole in his breast. He looked to be about eighteen years old. We found him about a half a mile from our home, in a big hollow. Father sent me home for tools to dig his grave. We picked a place and began digging, but had gone down only about eighteen inches when we struck solid rock. We worked hard to get him put away the best we could-put his hat over his face and filled the grave.
I began to think I would be safer in the army, but I was rather young then. I had two brothers in the army. One brother, Warren Moore, was killed in the Battle of Pea Ridge. My oldest brother, W. E. Moore, was in the siege of Vicksburg. He now lives half a mile south of Forsyth.
So it went on, getting worse and worse. There were bushwhackers, and horse thieves, and robbers on both sides, going backward and forward. Father had only one horse left, and three young mules, and they were back in the mountains on the range. At that time General Price had made his last raid and was retreating from Missouri. Some of the boys came through here and stopped to see home folks.
When I arrived in Louisiana, I found several of my old friends there. Among them were Ben Mckinney, Marion and Lafayette Ellison, and Colonel and Tom Stallcup. We wintered in Louisiana. I was in the army only six months when peace was made-was never in a regular battle.
My trip back home was a rather tough one. The Ellison boys, the Berry boys, and I were coming home together. We first came to the Washita River, and it was up mighty big. The only way to get across was to swim. So we all swam, and when we came to the Arkansas it was up big, too. We hired a fellow to swim our horses and put us over in a canoe. The horse of one of our boys had tired out swimming, so when we were about a mile from the river we traded horse, saddle, and bridle for our dinner. As times were still "scarey" then, we were afraid to sleep near the road, and went to the woods up on a big hill to camp. The Ellison boys and I slept on one bed, and the other boys on another. Some time in the night I got to dreaming there were some "varmints" after me, and when I opened my eyes there was a big black bear looking right down in my face. I threw the blanket over my face and hollared. My gun was by my side, but I did not think of it. The bear jumped right across our bed and lit first leap right on Marion Ellison. I thought he sure had me. We could hear him as he went down the hill. He was scared, too. His tracks on the blanket were plainly seen the next morning.
We traveled on several miles and came up with some bushwhackers. They shot Marion Ellison in the leg the first shot, but didn't hurt any of the other boys. Marion was able to travel the next morning.
(To be continued)
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