THE OLD PIONEER JOE MAGNESS AND HIS FAMILY
By S. C. Turnbo
We have mentioned elsewhere that Paton Keesee was the first settler in the river bottom known now as the Ross (T. R.) Cantrel farm - sometimes called the Farmer Place. This bottom lies on the north bank of White River one mile above the mouth of Big Creek and is situated in Cedar Creek township in Marion County, Ark. We have also said that Peter Graham was living here on the bank of the river when the big rise in White River occurred in 1824, and that the water rose to the eave bars of his cabin. Joe Magness and Patsey Magness his wife located in this same bottom in 1827. These old time people were from Greenville district South Carolina. On their arrival they bought the improvement from Peter Graham and occupied the cabin that Graham had vacated. In a few years Mr. Magness erected a larger log house which was built in a few feet of where the Graham dwelling stood. Magness floored his new house with puncheons which he hewed out of the timber which grew in the bottom. The floor rested two feet above the ground and was made fast to the sleepers with wooden pins. Mr. Magness was living in this same house when the great freshet in White River came down in May 1844. The water spread all over the bottom and rose high enough in the house that Magness and his sons could pass in at one door and out at the other with a canoe. When Mr. Magness and his family came to this bottom the wild beast were so numerous and daring that when the dogs were absent they would approach so near the cabin of nights that the family could hear them growl and snarl over the scraps thrown out from the supper table. The only thing the family used in place of a lamp was bundles of dead cane that the children gathered in the bottom and kept in the house and ignited when a light was needed at night.
The names of Mr. Magnesses sons were William, Thomas, Samuel, Robert, Wilshire, Hughe (Mat) and Teaf. His daughters were Betsey, Annie and Jane. William married Jane Onstott sister of the writers mother. They went to Texas in 1859 and both died near Wortham in that state. Sam married Elmira Onstott another sister of my mothers. He died the 27 of February 1859. Just before the end came he requested that his body be not buried until 4 days after his death which was done. Sam lived on the opposite side of the river from where his parents lived. Sam died on Sunday morning and on the following Thursday afternoon his body was enclosed in a beautiful home made coffin and taken across the river in a dug out canoe and buried in the grave yard on his fathers land where his parents were resting. Elmira his wife died October 25, 1875 and was buried in the grave yard opposite the panther bottom. Wilshire married Nancy Elizabeth Holt and lived on Big Creek. He died at the residence of his brother Sam Magness a few days after the latter passed away and was buried on the old farm where his brother Sam was laid to rest. Tom married Catherine Brown daughter of Tom and Katie (Coker) Brown. He died shortly after their marriage and was buried in the same grave yard. A year or more after the death of Tom Katie his widow married Pew C. Anderson. She lived only a short time and while on her death bed she ask Mr. Anderson if he would permit her body to be buried at the side of her first husband and her wish was strictly carried out as she desired. Hughe married Huldah Milum and they lived on Crooked Creek near Powell and followed the mercantile trade. He survived the Civil War many years and when he passed to the great beyond he was laid to rest in the cemetery at the mouth of Clear Creek.
Teaf married Sarah Ann Milum a sister of Huldah wife of his brother Hugh. He died many years ago. Robert married Susan Lantz daughter of Mose Lantz. Robert died in December 1856 and his remains rest on the old farm. Jane married Lewis R. Pumphrey. She and her sister Betsey died at Lead Hill, Ark. and are both buried in the cemetery there. While we are writing this scketch of the Magness family we will mention a few other names that received Interment in the grave yard on the old Joe Magness farm. Among them is "Hutch" Duggins son of Alex and Betsey Duggins the first settlers at the mouth of Big Creek. "Hutch" died of acute rheumatism which contracted his body and limbs in such form that the family were compelled to bury him in a square box. Among the children who are buried here is Mary Ann daughter of Wilshire Magness. Five children of Robert Case Bolet who settled on Big Creek in the early forties also rest here. The names of three of them are Julia, Annis and Elizabeth. A number of years ago the head stones in this grave yard was taken up and the land put into cultivation which made it impossible to distinguish the graves apart. To prevent further desecration of this old time burial ground Lewis Pumphrey and his son-in-law T. R. (Ross) Cantrel bought the land and the molesting of the departed dead were discontinued at once. It is our duty to show respect for the dead and never violate their resting place. We truly hope that it is not the intention of anyone to disturb a cemetery because the pioneer settlers seen fit to select the best plots of ground in which to put away their dead friends and relative. As refered to in another sketch this grave yard dates back to the year 1822.
Springfield-Greene County Library