SAD MISFORTUNE OF A FAMILY
By S. C. Turnbo
I am told that Moze Lantz was the first settler on Brattons Spring Creek a tributary prong of the Little North Fork. He located near one half of a mile below the famed water known as the Dick Martin Springs. This great bubbling spring flows out of the ground on the west side of the left prong of the creek a half a mile or more above the forks of the creek. Another remarkable spring runs out of the ground near where the left prong and right prong comes together. These two springs furnishes the main volume of water in this stream below the forks of the creek during a low stage of the creek. The water is as clear as crystal, and during the warm season of the year the beautiful limpid water as it flows over the gravel and rough stoney creek bed remains cool and refreshing until it enters Little North Fork several miles below the Martin Spring following the course of the stream. Mr. Lantz settled on this stream in 1834. He mashed corn in an Indian mortar for bread until 1836, when he built a little mill below the spring. Later on, when the settlers began growing small crops of wheat, Mr. Lantz wife manufactured a bolting cloth out of sheeps wool by means of hand cards, spinning wheel and hand loom. The chane and filling were spun entirely of wool. When Lantz wife had prepared the bolting cloth he put it to use in his mill and he found that it did excellent work for home made stuff.
Several years after this John Brock and Eliezes Poplin built a small mill just below where the Carroll Johnson farm is. This mill was known in the latter fifties as the "Cline" Turley Mill. Mr. Brock died on this creek and was buried in the cemetery at the mouth of the creek. While Mr. Brock was living here this water course was known as Brocks Spring Creek, but when Henry Bratton lived at the Martin Spring and sold goods there, the name was changed to Brattons Spring Creek, and it has retained this name to the present day. Up near the head of the right prong on the creek is the Center Point School House where there is a grave yard where I am told that the remains of Versa the infant daughter of William and Sarah Bunch was the first interment here. Here also ly the remains of Lige Breeding. Below the school house on the Jim Reynolds land is another small grave yard where Bertha a little daughter of Jim and Mary Reynolds was the first body intered here. In this pretty spot of land is the burial place of Mrs. Nancy Upton wife of the old timer Daniel Upton. Some of the main hollows that lead into the right prong of the creek are locally known as Uptons Spring Hollow, Big Spring Hollow Rocky Branch, Turnback, Jackson, Spencer, Trace, Double Mouth and The Pockets. A tall hill known as Breshy Knob stands near the head of Trace Hollow. Lone Jack Hill was named by Daniel Upton. It stands apart from any other hill and is covered with black Jack timber. The most prominent hollow that leads into the left prong is Little Creek which heads up at Bald Jess. Among the Bald Hills of note is the Lone Ark situated between the two forks near the H. E. Upton Place. The Isabella and Gainsville wagonway leads along at the base of this knob.
Nearly a mile above the forks of the creek on the east bank is where a man of the name of Darr lived in 1860. There were 6 in the family: Darr and his wife, a married daughter and her husband, a widowed daughter and her daughter which was 12 years old. The name of the son-in-law was John Cantrel. The afternoon of the 7th of June 1860 was clear and very sultry. The air was almost calm. At night the sky was overcast with threatening clouds. They were dark and ominous and seemed to centralize over parts of Ozark County, especially over Brattons Spring Creek. A great display of lightning and loud crashing thunder soon followed the formation of the dark angry looking clouds, then rain poured down in sheets and torrents. The cloud had collapsed and turned to water. In other words it was a "cloud burst" and the result was that most of the water dropped down on the right prong of the creek. In a few minutes the stream was over flowing and continued to rise so rapidly that it swept the cabin and its occupants away. It is a difficult matter to obtain all the particulars of that sad event, but what I present here is no doubt near the main facts and needs but little correction. My principal informants were Jim Lantz son of Moze Lantz and Elijah Ford. They said that the cabin as it was carried along by the raging waters struck against a water oak tree which stood 150 yards below where the house stood and was knocked to pieces. Mr. Darr caught to a limb of this tree and pulled himself up out of the water where he remained until day light. The storm clouds passed away, the rain ceased and the water in the creek soon subsided. When the lightning ceased to flash, intense darkness spread over the flood swept valleys. Mr. Darr as he sat up in the tree waiting for the approach of the light of day, suffered terrible agony of mind. He had good reason to believe that the entire family with the exception of himself were swept into the land of eternity. The hour of darkness seemed long, and the grief he sustained for the loss of his family seemed unbearable while passing the dark lonely hours away in the tree. But finally the darkness began to disappear and the light of day began spreading over the hills and an awful scene met his tearful eyes. The dead body of his wife lay at the foot of the tree where it had lodged and was partly hidden by driftwood. A big log lay across her breast. Nearby where the body of his wife lay was the remains of his widowed daughter. Mr. Darr descended the tree and went to Brattons who lived at the Dick Martin Spring to notify him of the terrible misfortune and the news of the disastrous flood of water in the creek spread rapidly in every direction and kind and sympathetic hearts collected on the scene of death and a search was made for the other bodies and when found was tenderly cared for. The dead bodies of John Cantrel and his wife were found near 300 yards below the tree where Darrs wife and widowed daughter was discovered. They had lodged in an open space where the water was too shallow to carry them over it, their bodies lay 10 feet apart. Mr. Darr said that when he last seen them in the flood they were clasp in each others arms. A close search was made some distance below the forks of the creek for the body of the little girl but it was not found that day. While some continued the search for the remains of the girl child the other people were preparing the other 4 bodies for burial. Mr. Jim Lantz said he took an ax and cut the log in two that lay on Mrs. Darrs breast and they lifted it off of her. A few years before this sad calamity befell these people an infant child of Henry Brattons had died and he selected a spot of ground for the resting place above the spring and buried it there and a grave was dug near where this child lay for the reception of the 4 bodies of the Darr family where they were all put in one grave. Mr. Darr owned a big black ring neck dog he called Tray and on the following morning this dog was standing at the foot of the tree in which Darr and his son was in. The dog had escaped the flood and had found the refuge of Mr. Darr and was seemingly standing guard over the bodies of Mrs. Darr and her daughter. The body of the girl was not found for two days after the others were buried. Her remains were discovered in the creek opposite the Jeff Lantz Place known now as the John Johnson land. The little dead body was cared for and prepared for burial and a grave was dug near where the others had received interment and the body of the little girl was lowered into the vault to rest with her dear mother, aunt, uncle and grandmother. John Cantrel son in law of Mr. Darr was raised by Henry Brattoh. Bratton wife whose name was Martha was Cantrel aunt. Mr. Jim Lantz informed the writer that after a number of people had collected on the scene of the disaster of the ill fated family to care for the dead, Mrs. Bratton who was among the number said that John Cantrel was a crank in the sympathy for the south which was agitated then by sympathizers of both sections. He was so strong in his faith for the southern people that in debating the question with others who held an opposite opinion that he would become angry and use hot words. Mrs. Bratton said that Cantrel was at her house the afternoon before the cloud burst occurred that night and he and another man got involved in a discussion over political matters and Cantrel flew into a rage and remarked that he wished it would rain hard enough to raise all the streams in the north high enough to drown all the abolitionists." Though no doubt it only happened that way yet the words of Cantrel were idle and foolish and little aid he think that while he was using those awful expressions of language that such a calamity as he wanted to fall on others would overtake himself and family in a few hours."
Springfield-Greene County Library