THE LAST HOURS OF MIKE YOCUM
By S. C. Turnbo
One of the earliest settlers in Marion County, Arkansas, is Mike Yocum whose name we have mentioned so frequently in these sketches. Mr. Yocum had three brothers whose names were Jess, Solomon, and Jake. These four men had crossed the deep blue sea to America from Germany when they were little boys. At the age of 17 Mike was captured by the Indians and held a captive four years. At one time the Indians condemned him to suffer death by shooting him with arrows, but after the warriors had placed him on a block of wood to carry out his execution., the chief interfered in his behalf and saved him from a terrible death by shooting arrows into his body. These Indians had also captured a negro man at the time Yocum was taken. One day while Yocum and the negro were prisoners but were footloose, the negro and one of the Indian men got into a fight and the warrior bit off part of one of the negros ears. Some years after Yocum and the negro made their escape from the Indians., the latter finally fell in possession of Ewing Hogan, an early settler of Marion County, Arkansas. After the death of Ewing Hogan, Cal Hogan, son of Ewing Hogan, owned the negro. As long as Mike Yocum lived he loved old Ben the negro because they had been fellow prisoners and suffered together while in the hands of the red men. Ben lived until after the close of the Civil War and died at an extreme old age. In 1850, while Yocum lived at the mouth of Little North Fork and owned the mill there, he was a candidate for representative of Marion County. His opponent was Captain Henry, whose given name is forgotten. Both men were influential and had many friends which made the canvass hot. Ned Coker, who espoused the cause of Yocum, was one day talking with one of Captain Henrys friends and during the conversation relating to the race between the two men, the latter remarked to Coker that "Captain Henry was a very nice man and ought to be elected." "Yes," replied Mr. Coker, Captain Henry looks nice enough, but he is a terrible liar." Mr. Yocum succeeded in defeating Henry and his friends rejoiced at the opportunity of sending him to Little Rock to represent in the legislature. When the war between the states broke out, Mr. Yocum sympathized with the south, but he was too old and feeble to enlist in the army. One day during the fall of 1862, he was arrested for being a southern man and taken to Springfield, Missouri, where he was imprisoned and compelled to suffer from disease and vermin until the following December when he was released. Sick and without money, he left the door of the prison house and walked and crawled all day. At night he found himself at "June" Campbells four miles south of Springfield. The poor suffering old man was completely exhausted. Exertion and disease had took away his strength and he was in a dying condition. He and Campbell were friends and when Yocum reached his residence, Mr. Campbell and his family did all in their power to relieve his suffering, but their efforts were unavailing, for in a few hours Mr. Yocum entered the great valley of darkness called death where there was no more fears of gloomy dungeons., starvation, and ill treatment. Ah, how much sweeter is death to the sufferer while in the hands of kind, loving friends than to have to pass your last hours while in the power of an enemy on the inside of a prison wall. Mr. Campbell, aided by his family, dug a grave on a knoll on his farm and here the mortal remains of this old pioneer of Arkansas was deposited. Thus passed away one of Marion Countys old timers and one among the best of citizens.
Springfield-Greene County Library