A MAN IN AN OX WAGON FOLLOWED BY A PANTHER
By S. C. Turnbo
Soon after the close of the Civil War and while we lived on the north bank of White River on what is now the Jim Roselle farm, my father went to the Kissee mills in Taney County, Mo., in an ox wagon. It was in the month of September and the temperature was pleasant. The sky was clear of clouds and the moon was nearly full. The luxuriant grass was still green, but a little tough. On his return home on the third day after leaving home nightfall overtook him at the head of Elbow Creek where he halted and eat a cold lunch in the light of the moon, then drove on. The oxen were docile and obedient to the command of wo-haw and gee. On reaching Shoal Creek he went on down the stream until he got opposite the point of the hill between the forks of the creek and being tired and sleepy he halted the cattle with the intention of remaining here until morning. The old wagonway lead along the flat on the west side of the creek on what is now the Bob Sullivan land. The grass stood knee-deep on each side of the road and unhitching the oxen from the wagon he turned them loose to graze without taking the yoke off. After this was done my father began to prepare his couch in the wagon to lay down on and sleep until daybreak when he would resume his journey toward home. But before he had time to get his bed ready he was startled by a piercing cry of a panther on the hillside in the forks of the creek. At this my father changed his mind immediately and got a rustle on himself. He did not feel a bit wearied or sleepy now and hurriedly hitching the cattle to the wagon again he urged them along into a trot by lashing them with a stout hickory sprout. The panther crossed the bed of the creek which was dry and followed the wagon, proving to father of its presence by its screams. The oxen were not allowed to slow up but were made to go on rapidly jerking and jolting the wagon over the numerous stones and rough ground. The race was kept up in a trot or run. The hickory was not allowed to be idle and was kept in a constant motion and we suppose that the cattle wondered what their owner was angry about in whipping them so fearful. The panther kept up its hideous cries, and the animal approached the wagon close enough at times for the driver to see it every now and then in the moonlight. A small bit of provision was left over and was in the wagon and when the ferocious beast would bound up near the hind end of the wagon my father would drop it in the road and the panther would stop and devour it and rush on up behind the wagon again and crying out at short intervals. It was now that my father tried to compel the oxen to go faster, but the race was telling on them. They were hot and tired. Their tongues were lolling out of their mouths, but he whipped and lashed the weary cattle until he arrived at the mouth of Big Spring Hollow where Protem now stands where fortunately for himself and the cattle the stealthy beast stopped and disappeared and nothing more of it was heard. Driving further down the creek to the next bottom where Joe Allin lived before the war he halted and let the oxen have a short breathing spell, then drove on home at leisure.
Springfield-Greene County Library