CRITTINGTON AND TANKUS
By S. C. Turnbo
One among the amusing war and hunting stories I have gathered from old timers of Northern Arkansas is the following which was given me by Mr. Levi Duren of Yellville Ark. who said that Jim McCabe lived on Rush Creek a tributary stream of the Buffalo fork of White River. Rush Creek comes into Buffalo from the north side. The mouth of Rush is near 35 miles by water above the mouth of Buffalo and is something near 10 miles by the wagon way. On the south side of Rush Creek is a small rough water course that puts into Rush called Barney Creek. McCabe was endowed with plenty of good humor and was very funny in his ways and manner. He was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War and served in the cavalry and was a member of Col. Schavels Battalion. He was mounted on an old mare he called "Tankus" and to suit the name of the mare he called himself "Crittington" and the old boys would often enjoy themselves in greeting old Tankus and Crittington with a merry salute and hurrah. Crittington said that he was one among the best soldiers of the Southern Confederacy and that his mare was the best that was raised in Arkansas, and was always boasting of Tankas is superior qualities as one of the best creatures belonging to the cavalry service. McCabe was a lover of whiskey and would occasionally ride out of camp on the hunt for fire water and if he succeeded in finding any would take an over dose of it which would give him a send off back to camp and on approaching the guard lines he would yell out "look out boys here comes Crittington on Tankus", and would continue this noise until after he had passed the guard line and entered into camp. On one occasion he was merrier than usual for he had found plenty of liquor and drank more than common and on arriving in sight of camp he put spurs to his old mare and urged her forward in a gallop toward Col. Schavels headquarters hallooing at the top of his voice look out Colonel here comes Crittington mounted on Tankus, I am holding my Remington pistol in one hand and a dispatch in the other hand that will give you some good and welcome news". McCabe was a very popular man among the officers and men and they loved his fun loving ways. After the war had ceased and the olive leaf of peace had spread over the north and south McCabe laid away his weapons of war and relieved Tankas from further service in the Cavalry and kept her as a much prized relict of war times and turning his attention to bee hunting he spent many delightful hours while hunting the homes of wild bees and consuming honey. One day he went up Barneys Creek to put out some bee bait and not desiring to wait until the bees were attracted to this bait he returned back home to wait until the following day when he started back to the bait to course the large number of bees which he believed would be gathered there from various directions to sip at the bait and he could easily course them to their respective abodes. But as he was going up the creek afoot he was surprised to meet a bear, and was almost thunder struck with fear for showed fight at once. The bee hunter had neither dog or gun with him, but he carried a noble set of legs and it did not take him but a few moments to put them in motion and straight way he went back down the creek the way he had come. The man was a fleet runner and he used this advantage with great skill and activity. He was not astride of Tankuss back this time but it mattered not with him. His running power almost equaled that of a race horse and he soon left the angry bear some distance in the rear but the animal followed him but there was no catching up with McCabe in the wild race. The man was running for life and bruin was running to catch him. The discomforted hunter yelled loudly at each bound he made until he passed from the sight of the pursuing bear and then he relaxed his speed to some extent but he never stopped until he arrived at home and told his wife that as it was no better he thanked his stars that it was no worse. The adventure with the bear broke up his bee hunting on Barneys Creek for several days, for he did not venture back to see after his bee bait until he was thoroughly convinced that old bruin was gone.
Springfield-Greene County Library