AN ENTERTAINING TIME WITH A PANTHER
By S. C. Turnbo

Among accounts of early times in Marion County, Ark., is this one which was told me by Ben M. Estes, son of John Estes, and which relates to the killing of a panther. Mr. Estes said that in 1852 when he was eight years old his father purchased a tract of land in the Cowan Barrens from Henry Stephens. "This land," said Mr. Estes, "lies on what is now the Rush Creek wagonroad. After we moved to this land my father raised two vicious cur dogs we called Dick and Scott. They proved to be excellent watchdogs, but Dick was the fiercest of the two. John W. Methvin who lived in one half a mile of our house requested I and my brother, Jim Estes, who died near Yellville a few years ago, to come to his house with our dogs at night and go hunting with him. This was in the afternoon and we promised to go as Mr. Methvin wished. It was late before we left home and when we reached Methvin’s house he had waited for us until he had got tired and he and family had retired to bed. But just before arriving at the house the dogs chased something from the roadside that we supposed was a fox and when I and Jim got into Mr. Methvin’s house, Methvin arose out of bed to replenish the fire, for the weather was cold. "But," says he, "Ben those dogs are chasing that animal whatever it is very nice. You stay at the house and make on a good fire and I and Jim will follow the dogs and kill the fox if it is one. Jim was older than myself and I consented to remain at the house and Jim and Mr. Methvin started. It was not long before the dogs treed it, but when my brother and Methvin advanced up near the tree it leaped out to the ground and after a short chase it went up another tree. This was repeated several times, but the night was too dark to ascertain what sort of beast it was, but by this time they were convinced that it was not a fox. Perhaps it was a catamount. After a while the animal got tired of jumping out of trees so often and the last tree it climbed up it seemed to conclude that it would stay there awhile, and Jim and Methvin remained there with the dogs until daybreak and when it was light enough to identify the animal they found that it was a panther and they threw stones at it and made it jump to the ground and the dogs caught it before it could make its escape and the result was a bloody fight between it and the dogs; while the combat was going on Methvin went up to where the dogs and panther were fighting and tried to hit the panther on the head with the axe, but just before he got in reach of it the beast tore loose from the dogs and sprang up another tree. They were now two miles from Mr. Methvin’s and having no gun with them Methvin told Jim if he would stay with the dogs and try to prevent the panther from leaping to the ground he would return home and bring the gun and shoot it. Jim agreed to stay and during the time Methvin was absent the panther grew restless and saucy and threatened to spring on him. The animal would descend the tree part of the way down and stop on a limb and pat its feet and sway its tail and Jim would knock on the tree with the axe to jar it which would scare the beast and cause it to go back up the tree again. Jim got tired doing this and was glad to see Methvin come back with his gun and shoot it. After the panther fell and was dead they stretched it on the ground and cut down a small sapling for a pole and measured the length of the beast on the pole and cut it off exactly the length of the animal and then they took the panther’s hide off of it and carried the hide and pole with them and on arriving at Methvin’s they measured the length of the pole and found it to be a few inches more than nine feet long, which was the length of the panther," said Mr. Estes.

Referring to John W. Methvin again, the writer remembers him well. He was Circuit Clerk of Marion County when the war broke out and in 1862 he enlisted in the same regiment the writer and Ben Estes belonged to. At first he was a lieutenant and was promoted to the rank of major, but he and a few other members of the regiment were captured in the Tolbert Barrens in Baxter County, Ark., on the 15th of October, 1862. Major Methvin was sent as a prisoner of war to Rolla, MO., where he sickened and died. In his death the confederate army lost a true and brave soldier and Arkansas a noble citizen.

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