A BEARS LAST VISIT TO A CORNFIELD
By S. C. Turnbo
Three miles below the village of Peel, Marion County, Ark., Is the mouth of Coon Creek. One quarter of a mile below this stream is the mouth of Musics Creek. Between the mouths of these two small but rough water courses is the Jim Jones ferry landing. On the upper side from the mouth of Coon Creek is a high bluff where a fine view of White River and surrounding country is obtained. This bluff and the two creeks is on the south side of the river and we have a pretty view of the rough and tall bluffs and the wooded shores. A few of the farms on each side of the river is observed which calls to mind the names of old timers who once lived in this part of Marion County. On the opposite side of the river is the old Loranzo D. Terry farm. Mr. Terry was spirited away from his home in war times. The last the writer ever heard of him was on the Arkansas River at the mouth of Mulberry where he is supposed to have been murdered while he was a prisoner. Others say he was killed on the side of Lees Mountain facing the Flippin Barrens. This old farm is now owned by Hon. J. C. Floyd. On the same side of the river is the old Abe Perkins place known now as the Jim Jones place. This land was once owned by Billy King and it is said that this farm was settled by a man of the name of John McVey from the state of Indiana. On the south side of the river and below the mouth of Music is the Blanket Bottom which was settled by Abe Anderson. A number of old timers have lived in this bottom from time to time. Among them Is Mat Hoodenpile who lived at the spring In the gulch in the latter forties where his youngest child, Sarah Jane Hoodenpile, was born March 19, 1849. Between the mouth of Coon and Music we notice a small farm where Isaiah Wilkerson lived and died. Isaiah was a son of "Haus" Wilkerson. Isaiah married Lizzie Mallissa Wilkerson that married Pew C. Anderson was a sister of Isaiahs. Along the river here Aaron Nipps, Henry Nipps and Lige Nipps hunted for deer and killed fish of nights many times. Glancing southward we have a partial view of the glady hills and deep hollows of Music Creek. This rough canyon like stream took its name from Leander Music who built a cabin on this water course one half a mile from the river. Leander Music was killed during the war up on the head of one of the prongs of the creek at the base of the mountain is where John Knight built his cabin and which was deserted before the outbreak of the war and after the war came up it was a famed rendevous for many men at times fleeing from danger in those turbulent days. This old cabin was known as the Knight house for many years. One of the old time bear stories originating in the field between the mouth of Music and Coon Creeks is the following as told by Mr. Calvin Clark who said that it was common for bear to enter a field of corn and eat his fill. "Many years ago," said Mr. Clark, "while Isaiah Wilkerson lived here he had this field planted in corn but with the exception of deer nothing interrupted the crop until after the corn had matured, when a bear paid the field a visit of nights. As the field contained only a few acres Bruin was about to overrun and destroy the crop. Wilkerson had no dog and the bear had his own way and went on with the destruction of the crop. Wilkerson would venture out once and awhile of nights with his gun but he could never get a shot at Bruin from the fact he was afraid to risk himself too close to Bruin without a dog and it give the big black beast an opportunity to continue eating and wasting corn and the crop was vanishing in a gradual way. At last Wilkerson fell on a plan to rid the field of the bear. One evening he put his rifle in good order and went out to where the bear was in the habit of climbing over the fence and placed the gun In such a shape that on pressure of a stout string it would discharge the load in the rifle. When all the necessary arrangements were completed for the death of Bruin Wilkerson returned to the house to await results. The man sit up till midnight listening to hear the report of the gun but the gun did not report itself at the time expected. Growing weary of waiting and becoming drowsy he retired to bed and went to sleep. Then he was aroused from the land of dreams by the report of a rifle. He was much pleased at hearing the gun sound out for he knew almost to a certainty that it was the one he had set for the bear., but the night was dark and he would not go out to make an investigation until after broad daylight. He was anxious to taste of that bears meat for he had got fat on his corn and he wanted to be recompensed to some extent for the loss of his corn. When daylight made its appearance he went to see whether Bruin was dead or not. But he was not there, but he had been there and had got shot. His tracks were plainly imprinted on the soft ground. There were blood stains on the weeds and the gun was empty. Bruin had been shot and was wounded. Mr. Wilkerson sent for me and my brother, Bill Clark, and we took our guns and five dogs with us and when we reached the spot where the man had set the gun we all with the help of the dogs started on the trail. The bear was severely wounded and had went up the hill between Main Music and Dry Music Creeks., but before reaching the top of the hill it stopped and lay down under a ledge of rock. When the dogs approached, the bear rose to Its feet and met the dogs for a combat and we come up just as the fight began. The dogs were eager for the attack and closed around him. Though Bruin was desperately wounded but he made a vigorous fight and defended himself very stout against the attack of the dogs by rising on his haunches and knocked the dogs right and left with his huge paws. One stroke of his paws to each dog was sufficient to persuade them to stay out of his reach. He looked defiant and seemed to dare the men and dogs to come up in reach of his ugly paws. Very soon my brother, Bill Clark, ventured up near enough to make a sure shot and turned the contents of his rifle loose at it and the big animal reeled over and died. As far as known this was the largest and fattest bear ever killed on Music Creek. Each one of its forepaws measured 6 inches across the widest part of them."
Springfield-Greene County Library