LAY OUT IN THE BITTER COLD
By S. C. Turnbo
There Is a small hill a short distance east of Dugginsville, Mo. that has some note which occurred in this wise. In the early settlement of White River and Little North Fork the settlers in going from one settlement to another would follow the trails made by the Indians. Conspicuous among these trails was one that lead from near where Theadosia is now through the hills to White River at the mouth of Little North Fork. This trail lead by the foot of the hill just mentioned. One of the early settlers on the last named stream was Polander Smith and Sallie Smith his wife who lived just below where Theadosia now is. In 1838 Smith after his little boy was killed which we have mentioned elsewhere went to drinking freely. He said the liquor would help drown his grief at the loss of his little son which was a veritable mistake. A man of the name of Marks had built a small mill at the mouth of Little North Fork and the scattering settlers who lived a long distance from the mills as well as those who resided closer to it patronized it. One cold day in January 1839 Polander Smith rode to Marks Mill with a sack of corn and followed the old Indian trail mentioned. On arriving at the mill he found plenty of whiskey there and soon had his fill on it. Near night he started back home with his meal and a jug of whiskey. It was after night when he reached this hill. It was bitter cold with north west wind blowing. Here at the base of the hill the cold and liquor overcome him and he fell off of his horse and lay there until day light. Fortunately for him he wore a heavy suit of home spun clothes that his wife had woven and as the forest had not yet been swept by forest fire there was a thick mat of dead grass where he fell from the horse which saved him from freezing to death. But as it was he was severely frost bit and otherwise be numb with cold. But his drunken stupor had passed off. The horse did not leave him and was feeding close by when the man roused up, but the sack of meal had fell off in a few feet of where he lay on his bed of dry grass. Smith rose to his feet and staggered around over the rough stones until his circulation was roused and went to his horse, and leaving the sack of meal where it fell he managed to mount his and rode home with great difficulty. His hands and feet was bad frozen and he was in a helpless condition. Neighbors were scarce and Paton Keesee who lived below him on the creek insisted on Smith and his family to be taken to his house where he could be better cared for and Smith finally consented to go and after he was taken to Keesees house the frozen flesh on his feet sloughed off and the bone of one big toe was exposed to the second joint. Smith begged Keesee to out the bone off which he refused to do but he told Smith he would send for 3 or 4 of the settlers to come and they would consult together as to what was best to do for there was not a surgeon to be had and when the men arrived at Keesees house they went out and held a long council and decided that they would not amputate the bone. If they did and Smith was to die the law might take hold of them and when they announced their decision to Smith he become irritated at their refusal to take the bone off and he says "I can take it off" and called for a chizzel and mallet and they handed them to him and placing his foot on the solid puncheon floor the man proceeded to cut the bone off with the chizzel at one stroke with the mallet and gave the bone to Keesee with the request that he bury the bone with him when he died and Keesee promised to do so. Smith never recovered and only lived a few months longer and died at Keesees house. His remains were given burial at the mouth of Brattons Spring Creek where his little son was laid to rest. But Keesee forgot to place the bone in Smiths coffin and never called it to mind for nearly a year after the death of Smith. Then he taken the little bone to the grave yard and dug a hole a foot or two deep in Smith grave and buried the bone. The hill where Smith lay out that bitter cola night is known to the present day as "Smiths Bala Hill". The foregoing account was told me by Elias and Peter Keesee sons of Paton Keesee.
Springfield-Greene County Library