On the north side of White River where the division line between Taney and Ozark Counties, Mo. crosses this stream is a long narrow bottom known as the Panther Bottom. The line between the two counties named passes through the upper end of the bottom and the state line between Missouri and Arkansas crosses the river at the lower half of the bottom. A man by the name of Barrett was the first settler in this bottom. This man built a little log hut on the bank of the river at the extreme lower end of the bottom where Pine Hollow runs into the river. When Mr. Barrett left this cabin John Johnson and his son Joe lived here and kept their cattle on the cane which grew so abundantly in the bottom and on the face of the bluff. Mr. Johnson and his sons removed the Barrett hut and built a little larger house on the same spot where the Barrett cabin stood. In the fall of 1857 Tom Carroll taught a subscription school in the Johnson cabin. I remember well how we children who lived on the south bank of the river crossed it morning and evening in a dug out canoe. Allen Lucas lived on the bank of the river on the north side in the first bottom above here and used water out of a spring that gushed out of the river bank. Mr. Lucas sent his two boys Jesse and Jim and one daughter whose name was Lizzie to this school in a canoe. As the boys pushed their craft back of evenings they would chase and kill the big buffalo fish. Robert Case Balet who settled on Big Creek in 1844 was the first man who cultivated land here. Mr. Case Balet lived in the creek bottom known as the Ben Ginch farm now and he hauled the first load of his corn crop in a big box fastened on a large sled drawn by a team of gentle cattle. In the early fifties a man of the name of Jobe Davis lived in the upper end of the bottom near the bank of a ravine. Davis was a noted violinist and used a loud sounding fiddle which could be plainly heard across the river. Soon after Mr. Carroll taught his school here Elias Anderson and Ben Pearce lived a short time in the same cabin that Carroll taught school in.
Overlooking the bottom is a bluff that extends from the upper end to the lower part. The bluff is divided In places by deep gulches and ledges of rock extend along the face of the bluff with a high precipice here and there which form a beautiful picture of the art of nature. Panther Bottom has been known by this name for many years. It derived its name in the following way:
John Bias son of Hiram Bias, informed the writer how this bottom took its name as told him by his father. "It was several years before I was born and I first saw the light of day on Bee Creek in Taney County, Mo. in 1844," said he. "My father said that one day he and Jonathan Baker were hunting together in the hills near this bottom. When they got to the top of the bluff over looking the bottom the men separated. Baker went down the bluff from where a high bald point is to hunt in the bottom. My father was to keep on the crest of the ridge to the foot of the bluff where he and Mr. Baker were to meet at the mouth of Pine Branch. The hunters had no dog with them except a little fice which belonged to Baker. After Mr. Baker had made his way down the face of the bluff into the bottom and while making his way through the thick tall cane near the river bank he stumbled onto four panthers before he was aware of their presence. The panthers consisted of a mother and three 1/3 grown cubs. The old panther was in a fighting mood and would have sprang on Baker before he could aim and shoot, but the fice dog interfered by dashing at her and she wheeled and sprang up a tree. The young ones followed her. Baker was glad he escaped the teeth and claws of the dreaded beast, but without taking time to thank the little dog for its timely intervention began shooting at once. When he had shot four times there were four dead panthers lying at the foot of the tree. The reports of the rifle and the barking of the fice attracted fathers attention and he went down into the bottom where Baker was and found him exulting over the dead panthers. While they were removing the hides from the animals they suggested to each other that this river bottom ought to be named the Panther Bottom and it has gone by this name to the present day. After this occurrence Baker would have refused the offer of a fine farm for his little dog."
Springfield-Greene County Library