CHASED ACROSS THE HILLS AFTER NIGHT BY A PANTHER
By S. C. Turnbo
In referring to Jimmies Creek in Marion County, Ark., John B. Hudson
has this to say about the earliest settlement on this stream.
"Some say that Jimmies Creek derived its name from Jim Montgomery
who kept his cattle there on the cane that grew so thick and plenty along
this stream. Montgomerys cattle thrived well there on the cane and
grass, but it is my understanding that this stream took its name from Jim
Gage who settled the Billy Parker place four miles above the mouth. Martin
Vinzant was the second man who lived on this creek. The hills of Jimmies
Creek are high, rough and wooded, but notwithstanding this, a nice little
village has sprung up on this creek at the mouth of Moccasin. The village
is called Kingdon Springs and was named in honor of Kingdon Gooley, son
of George Gooley. The village started up in the interest of the mining industry
of that section. As I think of the mines and improvements here at the present
day I reflect back when this rugged stream was a wild region infested with
wild beasts. I recollect," continued Mr. Hudson, "of an awful
scare I received from a panther one night in 1852 while I was coming from
Jimmies Creek to where we lived on Georges Creek.
John Osborn who lived on Moccasin fork of this stream ten miles from our house invited me to a dance at his house and I accepted the invitation without having to be asked twice. I was 15 years old and did not mind to go anywhere after night until after I received that scare on my return home. On the afternoon of the day preceding the night of the dance I mounted a blazed face horse which belonged to my father and lit out across the hills. A dim trail lead from where we lived to Osborns and I followed it. I was armed with a big pocket knife and a double barrel pistol. It was customary then to carry arms and no one did not seem to think anything wrong about it. But it is not proper to carry a pistol now because it is in violation of the civil laws and is not necessary now to carry one. The dance broke up late in the night and those in attendance there left for our respective homes. The weather was cloudy and the night was solid dark. I had to depend on the instinct of the horse following the trail. After I had ridden near halfway home I was startled by a noise like a log was being hit lightly with something soft. The horse shied and jumped to one side, then I heard an animal spring at me and alight on the ground near the horse. The latter bucked and plunged. But I managed to stay on his back. Owing to the intense darkness I was unable to see the form of the beast, but when the horse had become a little quiet I heard the beast again in a few feet of me and I shot at the noise of its feet on the leaves. A scared man is liable to shoot at anything in the dark if he has anything to shoot with. The moment I discharged the pistol at random I could not control the horse any longer and he started off at full speed. I lay flat on the horses back and withers to prevent the limbs from dragging me off of the horse. I could hear the beast following me just behind the horse. When the horse had run a quarter of a mile a terrible cry greeted my ears and then I was able to identify the creature for it was a panther. The animal repeated the cry frequently which almost made my blood freeze in my veins and arteries and it seemed as though my hair would push my hat off of my head and my whole body shook with dread for I expected it would spring on me or the horse. It was a run through the darkness, timber and over rough ground without fooling away time. My horse rushed on without being urged and in this way he dashed along for four miles. I was now in a mile of home and as I turned down the hill toward the house I heard the panther near 100 yards in my rear, and as my horse dashed up at the yard gate I heard the animal back on the top of the hill. I was thankful that I reached home alive. That nights ride along that dark and lonely trailway is as fresh in my mind as if it had only occurred last night."
Springfield-Greene County Library