The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among the sad scenes and incidents of Civil War days that occurred in the Buffalo mountains is an account furnished me by James C. (Jim) Guin. I saw Mr. Guin at a picnic one mile south of the railroad depot at Coweta, Indian Territory, on the 4th of August, 1906, where he related it to me. He said, "I am a son of Jesse and Charlotte (Shipman) Guin and was born in Henry County, Tennessee, December 12, 1851. My father died in Polk County, Missouri, and lies buried in the Weaver grave-yard eight miles north of Bolivar. My mother died in Arkansas and is buried on Spring Creek five miles northeast of Big Flat. Spring Creek is mostly composed of five springs of water and flows into Big Creek, an affluent of Buffalo." Mr. Guin said his parents moved from Tennessee to Searcy County, Arkansas, in 1855 and settled on Big Creek five miles above where it runs into Buffalo and three miles northeast of Big Flat. He said that he remembers going to school at Big Flat a short term, a year or more after their arrival there. "I boarded with Asa Baker who sold goods at Big Flat. I cannot call to mind the name of the teacher, but the school was taught in a hewed log house with benches for seats. Among our neighbors who lived on Big Creek on our arrival there were Berry Treat, Gin Base, Billie Tillie, Andy George and Adville Horton. Tillie owned an overshot mill which was run by a fine spring of water that run out of a bluff some ten or twelve miles east of Burroughville, now called Marshall. Mr. Horton was killed on Big Creek during the war. A scouting party of soldiers killed him on the creek four miles above the mouth. In giving an account of the sad incident as mentioned at the commencement of this chapter, Mr. Guin said, "A man of the name of Murph Henderson lived near us on Big Creek. He was a son of "Chris" Henderson who lived several years on Shoal Creek in Taney County, Missouri. One day while the cruel war was raging, Henderson and his wife whose name was Sarah come to our house. Henderson was near 30 years of age. Captain Joe Smith, an old man, was also at our house at the same time Henderson and his wife was. These men were southern sympathizers. They had not been in our house but a short time before we noticed 30 mounted men charging toward the house. A moment before they reached the yard fence Henderson, seeing that they wore blue uniforms, darted out of the house and started running across our field. Smith made no effort to escape and remained in the house. Part of the horsemen knocked down the fence and pursued Henderson and took him in the upper part of the field and shot him to death. I was just twelve years old then and remember that awful day as if it was only yesterday. I saw them kill Henderson, and the men who remained at the house threatened to kill Smith, but I begged the men not to shoot him, that he was old and harmless and that there was nothing alleged against him except that he held up for the southern side and that was not a crime. I thought for a while they would kill him in spite of all my entreaties not to do so. But finally they went away from the house without hurting Smith and the 30 men assembled together again and rode away. Henderson’s wife run to the body of her husband first, and when the soldiers left the house, I and others went to where it lay. His head was almost shot to pieces and the brains were spattered on the ground where the dead body lay, and Sarah Henderson, his wife, picked up all the bits of brains she could find on the ground and those that had oozed out of the bullet holes in the head which were still on the head, and she wiped them off with her hands and put them all in her apron and took them to a hollow stump which stood in a few yards of where the dead man was and dropped them into it. A new graveyard had been started on our place and we buried the body of Henderson there. Sarah Henderson was drowned in Big Creek a few months after the death of her man. She was mounted on a horse, or rather riding double, and was behind Bob Cypret on a stout horse and when they reached the ford of the creek they found that it was swollen, but Cypret told her they could ford it and rode into the water where he soon got in where it was swimming and the woman was drowned and so was the horse. Cypret escaped. When the woman’s body was recovered from the water, she was buried where her husband received interment. As a compliment for saving his life, Captain Smith paid me evil for good by stealing the best horse we had and fled, which he done a short while after Henderson was killed."


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