BEWILDERED IN THE WILD WOODS
By S. C. Turnbo
Among George Woods son-in-laws was Tom Patterson who lived in the locust hollow of east Sugar Loaf Creek. The land on which he lived was 2 ½ miles from the George Wood Mill on Sugar Loaf Creek. This land is over the line in Marion County, Ark. Patterson moved away during the war and Joe Womach lived there a while in war times and left the place and come back again. When Womach went away the first time he left two negro women there and one of them starved to death and was found dead on the hearth rock with her feet pushed against one of the jam rocks and her head against the other. Writing of the death of this poor old negro woman reminds me of the death of a small negro boy who died in Locust Hollow on what is now the Tom Keeing Place. The boy was at John Jones who lives on this land in war times and the boy died in the latter part of the war. The occurrence of which was given me by Fate and Frank Jones sons of John Jones. They said that the colored boy "sickened and died and we dug a grave on the bank of Locust Hollow 200 yards above where the dwelling house stands and we wrapped the dead body of the little negroe in a bed quilt and buried it without a coffin. The place where we buried him was in a thicket. But since the war the land has been put in cultivation. Going back to the Patterson Place which is known as the Jack Trimble Place now, Patterson had a boy named Jack who one day went out hunting toward Trimble Creek. He was accompanied by two dogs one of which was a large black dog they called Pup the other was a small yellow dog. The day the boy left home was fineclear and pleasant. The boy and dogs failed to come home at night which made the family uneasy, but as the night closed in the sky become overcast with clouds and as there was no moon it was very dark and the family was unable to make but a short search for the bewildered child. On the following morning Tom Keelton and others were notified and a search was begun and they hunted for him all day without any success. It was now that the weather had changed from a mild form to that of cold. On the next day the search was continued in a dilligent way without any better success than the previous day. By this time a number of other men had joined in the hunt. On the 3rd day of the hunt it snowed enough to cover the ground well and while the men were scattered in almost every direction to find trace of the lost boy Tom Keeton struck the boys trail where he had went tottering along in the snow. There was the trail of the two dogs too and he knew that it was Jack and his favorite companions. Keeton hurried along and soon overtook them near the north base of the Short Mountains. The boy though, very weak from starvation and exhaustion, was wild and it was some time before Keeton could persuade him to allow him to get near him. The two dogs also threatened to bit Keeton and growled at the man in a bad humor. Finally the boy gave up and became friendly and the two dogs grew docile. Other searchers soon reached them and they took the boy home. After he recovered he told them that the first night out he raked up a pile of dry leaves and lay down on them and pulled part of the leaves over on him with his hands. After he had done this one of the dogs lay down at his head and the other at his feet. This was repeated on the following night but at a different place. It was the same on the 3rd night. The faithful dogs remained with the boy and guarded him closely. Both the dogs and the boy was very hungry and growing weak. On the 3rd day of the hunt and the 4th day the child was out it snowed as stated and it was more than probable that if he had not been discovered the child would have chilled to death from cold and starvation. This incident took place a few years before the breaking out of war between the states.
Springfield-Greene County Library