SMOKING A BEAR TO DEATH IN A CAVE
By S. C. Turnbo
One of the oldest residents of North Fork Township, Marion County, Ark., is John Terry who was born in the state of Indiana October 22, 1831. His father, whose given name was also John, went with his family from the above named state to Polk County, Mo., when John was two months old, and resided In this county until the fall of 1838 when he located on White River in Marion County, Ark. The land he settled Is opposite the Bull Bottom. He first built a cabin on the high land near the river where he lived a short time and then built a house on the river bank and used water out of a spring that flows out of the river bank. The names of Mr. Terrys children were Elisha, who was the eldest son, Thomas Loranzo, Clark, Charles and Richard; Matilda, who was the eldest girl and Easter, Mary and Heater Ann. The writer one day had a pleasant Interview with John Terry mentioned at the opening of this chapter. He says that Elisha Terry, his brother, was the first settler at the mouth of Long Bottom Hollow where Bill Yocum lived and died many years ago. Mr. Terry Bays that this hollow was once known as Bull Bottom Creek. Uncle Johns brothers, "Ran", Charles and Tom were killed during the war. He also states that his father and mother died about one month apart and two of his sisters Easter and Heater Annalso died here. Easter was the first member of the family that passed away and her parents selected a high beautiful spot of ground near the river for the repose of her body and laid it to rest under the sail. Mr. Terry says that his mother and father and sister, Heater Ann, followed in quick succession. They all died in the year 1841. Since that time a number of old time people who lived and died in this section received interment here. Among them is old Billy Howards wife, Tommy King, "Grandmother" Nipps, and Bill Yocum. Also Mrs. Zenia Copelin, wife of Tomps Copelin, and Mrs. Jemima Casebolt, wife of Robert Casebolt, were buried here. Other pioneers who rest here are mentioned elsewhere. Asa Yocum bought the improvement on this land from the Terry children in 1642 and built a house on the elevated ground where the graveyard is and lived here until his death in 1862. After the death of Mr. Yocum this land was known as the "Ace" Yocum place and the cemetery was called the "Ace" Yocum graveyard. The grounds comprising the graveyard is sadly neglected. Cane, weeds and briars are the principal undergrowth. A beautiful grove of timber such as box alder, black locust, cedar, sycamore, post oak, wild cherry mark the spot of the silent village. Mr. Terry said that after his parents located on this land they raised a bunch of hogs which were exempt from disease and thrived well in the river bottom when bear, wolves and panther did not disturb them. He remembers that one day a big bear ventured up near the house while they lived on the bank of the river and caught their best sow. His brother Tom ran up close to the bear and scared it away. The animal was standing with its forelegs astride of the sow knawing on her back. The sow was wounded so severely that she died on the following day. Uncle John says that his father took but small interest in hunting, yet bear were so plentiful on his arrival on White River that it was hard to resist the temptation of slaying a fat bear when t got in his way. As the killing of them are not of sufficient interest to relate here we will pass these incidents by and give an account of a bear chase that occurred on the breaks of Coon Creek which was told by Uncle John. He said that soon after his parents located here his father in company with his two brothers, Tom and Elisha, and Sam Johnson, who then lived in the Peter Friend Bend, went to Coon Creek to lay in a supply of wild meat. There were several dogs that the men took with them to chase big game and three of the men carried rifles. As is well Known in those days there were no undergrowth or brush to interfere and a bear or deer could be seen some distance where the trees did not stand so close together. Soon after the 4 men and dogs reached the rough valley of Coon Creek and while passing along the crest of a ridge that divides the main creek and a hollow that puts into it they encountered a bear that was very stubborn. He did not seem a bit willing to run until he and the dogs had a lively fight. Then he started on a run pursued by the dogs and they annoyed his bearship until he reached the creek where he took refuge in a cave. The men were convinced that the bear was angry and neither one of the hunters had any desire to tackle him in his den. But they persuaded the dogs to go in and they encountered him a few yards back from the entrance into the cavern. When the fearless dogs closed around him he tried to escape out of the cave but the dogs pulled him back. This put him in a better fighting humor and a rousing battle took place in the mouth of the cave in plain view of the men. During the combat the bear come near killing one of the dogs it was so bad hurt that it fell against a ledge of rock just on the inside of the cave and two of the men reached down and lifted it up and carried it off a few yards from the scene of the fight and layed it down where it slowly revived and got on its feet again. Fearing that the beast would kill or wound more of the dogs the hunters called them out and Bruin retired back into the cave ill as a hornet. Not knowing what else to do without facing the irritated animal in the cave which they refused to do they built a fire in the mouth of the cavern with the intention of smoking him out. They kept the fire smothered so as to create a large volume of smoke and fanned it into the opening so that it would penetrate all the recesses of the cave and force his bearship out, but after two hours trial with the smoke the bear failed to put in an appearance. It was now after sunset and the men decided to camp for the night at the cave and they kept up the smoke until late in the night without seeing or hearing anything of Bruin. On the following day after the fire had died out and the smoke had cleared out of the cave they made a torch and all the men and dogs went into the cavern to hunt for the bear and after a short search they found the animal dead at the back part of the cave. The dense smoke had filled the cave to such an extent that his bearship had smothered to death. The bear had been dead so long that the meat was unfit for use but they dragged him out and saved the hide," said the old pioneer of the early days. Uncle John has been married twice, marrying sisters who were daughters of Abe Nave. His first wifes given name was Sally. When she departed this life she was laid to rest where his parents and two sisters lie. His second wifes name is Mary.
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