FROZEN IN THE COLD AND SNOW
By S. C. Turnbo
The following history is gleaned from the accounts of a number of the early settlers who resided in the neighborhood of what is now Pontiac Ozark County Mo. Most every one in this section can trace the old salt road and they know where the salt bald hill stands, on the south and east base of which leads the road from Pontiac to Gainsville.
One day in the month of February 1856 a strange man who said that his name was Wallace came to Henry Brattons store at what is now the residence of P. H. (Dick) Martin. He said that he was a married man and had lived at the mouth of Howard Creek but he claimed that a man of the name of Howard had stole the affections of his wife from him and she and her paramour had went off together. Wallace was almost crazy from this and said that he was in search of the man and his unfaithful woman. Wallace was afoot and wore an old run down pair of boots. It was on Saturday evening when he was at Brattons Store and he appeared to be drinking, he told Bratton that he was going on that evening and was going to follow the salt road into Arkansas, and intended to go to a settlers house 18 miles distant that night. Mr. Bratton and others tried to persuade the partly intoxicated man not to venture out for he would freeze to death, but he made light of their advice and went on his way. The evening was bitter cold and a snow storm was raging and a snow had covered the ground some time before this and had not melted off. On the following day which was Sunday the snow ceased falling the clouds cleared and the sun shone but a fierce cold wind was blowing. Henry Bratton and Moze Martin decided that it was their duty to make a search for the man Wallace for they were convinced that if he was not dead he was so nigh frozen that he needed help and they went out and hunted for him. The snow was deep and they waded through it as they followed the salt road along which they found traces where Wallace had walked along and his tracks had been covered up by the falling snow. Just after they had passed the base of the salt bald hill Wallaces boot tracks had disappeared from the road and after an investigation they discovered where the man had got bewildered and left the road and went north of it. The two men followed the outlines of the trail the man had made until they discovered him in the head of a small hollow a short distance east of salt bald hill. He was sitting down on the snow in a delirious condition and crying piteously for a drink of water. His feet was badly frozen. Both ankles were dislocated and were so badly out of place that the feet and legs had separated at the joints and the ends of the bone of the leg was sticking out at a hole on the side of the heel of each boot. The poor fellow had walked a few hundred yards in this condition, feet and legs held together by a strip of skin. He presented a sickening and sorrowful plight. The two men picked up the helpless man and carried him to Charles Gooleys who lived on what is now the George Mahan Place on Gooleys Spring Creek. Gooley was, the only man who lived on this stream then. Mr. Gooley and others cared for him as best they could but every one who saw him knew it was a hopeless case. Dr. DeBruin who lived near where Oakland Ark. now is was sent for and he come and amputated the legs above the ankles sawing the bones off with Joe Hogans tenent saw. Mr. Hogan came with the doctor and was present when the surgical operation was performed. The suffering man lingered one week after his legs was taken off, when death brought relief to him. He was buried in the grave yard at the mouth of Brattons Spring Creek.
Springfield-Greene County Library