PERILS OF A MAN AND HIS THREE SONS WHILE FIRE HUNTING
ONE NIGHT ON WHITE RIVER
By S. C. Turnbo
My old friend William Trimble related to me the following account of a narrow escape of himself and his father Allin Trimble and two small brothers Milton and John Trimble. The last named boy was only 7 years old, "I and my father took the little boys and pushed our canoe up the river from the mouth of Trimbles Creek to the mouth of Big Beach Hollow. This hollow derived its name from the long gravel bar on the opposite side of the river from the mouth of the hollow. The beach or gravel bar is in Keesee Township Marion County, Ark. and below where Bradleys ferry is. When we got to the mouth of the hollow we went ashore and went up on the bluff and gathered some pine knots to use for a torch. By the time we had got back to the canoe with the knots it was sundown and we prepared the fuel for a torch then waited an hour after night fall before starting down stream to kill deer. It was in the month of August 1857 and the water in the river was not as low as common for that time of year. When we left the shore and began to drift down with the current of water the big torch made a brilliant light. The shadows of the trees that fringed the south shore resembled fancied ghost like forms I have read of. Just below our starting point was the noted log chute where the channel is narrow and the water swift and deep. Many years before this some logs had lodged in this chute and some of them were there yet which made it dangerous to navigate especially after night. Very soon we entered this channel and was on the look out for logs. And we saw one but too late to avoid it for the swift current forced this little craft against it in spite of all we could do to prevent a collision and was capsized and the light was gone in an instant and left us in the dark and floundering in the rapid and deep current. In a few moments the water sucked me under the log and my clothes hung to a snag on the log under the water until I gave up for lost, then I found myself free and struggled to the surface of the water for air and breath. I was an excellent swimmer but I was too nigh gone to make much efforts at swimming and was carried down with the current. In my frantic struggles to save myself from death my hand came in contact with a willow tree, and I grabbed it and held to it until I recovered sufficiently to regain my former self and got safe to shore. Though I had saved my own life but where was my father and my two little brothers. These thoughts were horrifying to me for I was afraid they were drowned. I had reached the shore on the north side at the iseland and was at a loss what to do when I heard my father call me from some distance below me. I felt my way through the darkness and willows until I found him 150 yards below and on the same side I was and to my great joy they were all alive. My father said he caught both of the boys the moment the canoe turned over and the little fellows clung to him like a leech and kept their heads above the water while he held to the canoe as it shot through the chute. When he got into smooth water where it was shallow the boys took hold of the canoe and he waded to the shore and pulled it with him while the boys were holding to it. It has been a puzzle to me how we all escaped without drowning. The night was too dark to find our way home and we lay on the damp shore in our wet clothes until day light when we fished our guns out of the water and righted the little craft and got into it and floated down to our landing at the back of our field with small relish to go fire hunting again soon. In the month of August 1867 or 10 years thereafter," Continued Mr. Trimble, "While I was passing through this same chute in another canoe and day I noticed a butcher knife lying on the bed of the channel. The water was clear and much lower than at the time of our mishap 10 years before and I landed the water craft and waded back through the water to where I saw the knife and received it. It was our same old hunting knife, but it was so badly corroded by being in the water so long that it was worthless but I took it along as a souvenir of our miraculous escape from death."
Springfield-Greene County Library