A SETTLER OF EAST SUGAR LOAF TELLS OF INCIDENTS
AMONG THE WILD BEASTS OF LONG AGO
By S. C. Turnbo
Marion Wilmoth has been a resident of Sugar Loaf since 1853. Two years prior to this he was a resident of Madison County, Ark. He has lived for many years on his farm just above Lead Hill in Boone County, Ark. Marion is a son of Wilson and Anna (Cooper) Wilmoth, who died many years ago, and were buried in the cemetery at the old Macedonia (now Enon) Churchhouse, two miles above Lead Hill. Marion was born and reared in Overton County, Tennessee, and came to Boone County when 27 years of age. He says when he came here, there was living on West Sugar Loaf Creek, John Manley, John Durham, Charles Coker and "Buck" Coker, and a few others; and on East Sugar Loaf was M. P. Ray, George Wood, and Joe Coker. Uncle Marion never attained much fame as a hunter, but was very successful in growing fine crops. He says that he has found some very rich bee trees here. One that he found about one mile east of Lead Hill contained about ten gallons of honey. The honey comb extended fully ten feet in the hollow of the tree. "Many years ago," said he "hundreds of coons infested this country, and they were very destructive to growing crops. The settlers were very anxious to kill as many as possible. I remember going out one night on foot to hunt the coons; three or four dogs accompanied me. The moon was in its first quarter. I wandered some distance from home, and was enjoying the tramp, when suddenly I heard a commotion among the dogs that had gone on in advance of me. I soon learned that a pack of wolves had made an attack on the dogs, but the battle was of short duration, as the dogs beat a hasty retreat and came charging toward me, with the wolves in hot pursuit. The terror of the dogs was infectious, and I was at once imbibed with the same, and went up a tree as nimble as a squirrel. By the time I was at a safe distance, the wolves and dogs had reached the tree. I disliked to desert the dogs, but I knew they could defend themselves much better than I could. I watched the actions of the dogs and wolves by the dim moonlight. I could see the forms of the wolves darting around after the dogs. They were making the night not a bit lonesome by their loud noise. I feared the dogs would be torn to pieces, and I gave vent to some terrible screams to try and frighten the wolves, and it apparently had the desired effect, as they ran off. I remained in the tree for awhile, and after getting enough courage, I descended and started for home, and I was not long reaching the house either." "As to panthers," said Uncle Marion, "they were also quite numerous. Along in the 50s a man whose name was Christian Owens, lived near the Sugar Loaf Prairie, or rather between the prairie and Lower Sugar Loaf Creek. One day his daughter Bettie, who was about grown, came over to our house on horseback. Her brother, a small lad, sat on the horse behind her. While on the way they were attacked by a panther. The young lady urged her horse into a run but the panther kept in close pursuit and would occasionally spring at the child on the horse. The lady and boy screamed for help, but none came. The horse was badly frightened and ran with all its might until they reached our house when the panther abandoned his attempt to get the little boy. "I will now give you a brief account of an experience that my wife had with a panther," said Mr. Wilmoth. "During the war, while I was in the confederate service, my wife went to a neighbors house one day and on her return a panther made its appearance at the roadside within 6 or 8 feet of her. To say she was frightened is putting it very mild. As the great long beast stood glaring at her she began to scold it as though it were a dog. The panther raised on its hind feet, and putting forward its forelegs it expanded its paws and the long claws were visible. It was enough to frighten the bravest of men, much more for a woman to witness. She did not tarry long, but fled in terror. She ran as long as she could and finally reached the house, but was unable to speak when arriving there. The children were greatly alarmed and my wife could not then explain. After awhile she related the incident to them and during the time she was telling it, the panther was making some piteous screams nearby. My wife, no doubt, must have outdistanced the beast, or else the beast was not very vicious.
Springfield-Greene County Library