THE OXEN SHIED AT A DEAD MAN LYING IN THE ROAD
By S. C. Turnbo
As is well known in war times salt become very scarce in many localities, especially in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. It was so exceedingly scarce in some neighborhoods that it was a serious matter to procure any at all. A large number of people, especially women, were compelled to journey many miles from home to purchase a supply or enough to do them a few weeks or a few months. Mr. Aaron Frederick tells an incident relating to a trip from home on the hunt for a supply of salt which ought to be preserved in history. Mr. Frederick said that after the soldiers had destroyed their crop of corn in Douglas County, Missouri, "we were forced to leave there and we moved into Howell County. At the time I speak of the war was drawing to a close but the killing of men and the destruction of property still went on. Thieves and murderers continued to over run the country as before. This was done by the marauders and irregulars of both sides. Our family was without salt and we were compelled to go hunt for some. There was none to be found in the neighborhood and so we had to go some distance before we could get in reach of any. I and my sister, Sally Frederick, decided to hitch our oxen to the wagon and go off somewhere and make an effort to purchase some. The oxen we taken with us were our favorite cattle. We had brought them all the way from east Tennessee with us. We had saved them from bad hands during the war by keeping them in the woods. Their names were Jack and Ball and we had worked them in the harness like horses all the way from Tennessee. I was only a very smell boy then. We had to go a long distance before we found any salt for sale and my sister, who was grown, bought as much as our means would permit which was very limited. We were gone from home several days. I well recollect one evening after dark while we were on our return back home the oxen suddenly shied at something lying in the road and came near running away. The night was too dark for I and my sister to make out what it was that soared the oxen. The cattle were gentle and docile and we never knew them to act this way before. We supposed that they had scared at a wild beast that was too impudent to give us the right of way in the road. After we had passed the object in the road a hundred yards or more we got the oxen quiet and resumed our journey without making an effort to investigate what the cattle got frightened at. When we had went a quarter of a mile further we come to a house and called to stay all night and the woman told us to come in. We had been there only a few minutes when the woman ask us if we seen that dead man lying in the road. We told her no, but our oxen took fright at something and run along the road a hundred yards before we could, get them to stop. She informed us that It was a dead man and that he had been killed that day and the body was left lying in the road and that no efforts had been made to bury him. The woman said that she was entirely without salt and that her and her little children were almost on starvation. She was very kind in allowing myself and sister to sleep in her house and on the following morning my sister give her a small quantity of our salt and she nearly shed tears of joy at receiving it."
Springfield-Greene County Library