The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the 6th of August, 1907, I met Buck (L.M.) Toney, son of Captain L. D. Toney at Yellville, Arkansas, and I had an interview with him relating to the early days in Izard County, Arkansas. Mr. Toney said that he was born in north Alabama July 14, 1849, and come to Izard County with his parents in 1854 and his father settled on land on what is now known as Philadelphia Academy three miles northwest of Wild Haws. There is an excellent spring of water on this land and my father built the first cabin here. Curt Stephens, a slave holder, also lived near this land. Abe Byler was another early settler in this neighborhood and owned a big tannery. He purchased all the cattle hides that was in reach of him and tanned a great deal of leather which he sold to the settlers to make shoes out of. "I remember," said Mr. Toney, "that my father bought leather from Mr. Byler and made our shoes himself, but he would not allow us to put them on until Christmas Day of each year." "Buly" Watkins, a fighting man and Doctor Watkins, a brother of Bully’s, were very early settlers at Wild Haw where there was another fine spring of water. Harry Dixon and Brundy Dixon lived on the breaks of Piney Creek. Colonel Tom Black lived on Mill Creek. Doctor Abe Black was a son of the Colonel’s. The first man I ever heard preach in Izard County was Israel Dooey, a hard-shell Baptist preacher who lived In Howell County, Missouri, seven miles west of West Plains. When I heard this man preach he was holding meeting at the residence of Taylor Martine on head of Main Knob Creek. The war in Izard County was very destructive to human lives and property. Many women and children were brought to suffer for untold agonies of hunger. Our family were union sympathizers and my father took part in the war. Among the citizens of Izard County that were cruelly put to death, in those days was Mr. Minor White, a union man. The irregulars who claimed to be on the southern side took this man White from his house and hung him with a rope until he was almost dead, then they let him down and tied him to one of their horses’ tails and dragged him some distance and still he was not quite dead, then they shot several balls into his body and left it lying doubled up in the woods where it lay three days before it was found. The body was buried in a common box. Mr. White lived near Pilot Knob which if I mistake not is not far from Lower Knob Creek. When the big war progressed to such an extent that all the men had to take sides, my mother, Bethy Toney, and we children were ordered to leave Izard County, but not before all of our provision was taken from us and all our property that we had not concealed in the forest. One night we went into woods where the oxen were kept and brought them to the wagon that we had hid away from the house and after yoking up the cattle and hitched them to the wagon we drove to the house and loaded in what household we had left and started on our long rough Journey into Missouri. We found but little to eat and were clothed very scanty but we traveled on until we had crossed the state line into Missouri and after getting four miles into Oregon County and 18 miles of Thomasville we were robbed of our wagon, oxen, and everything else except what few clothes we had on and set adrift. This was in the month of February but the weather happened to be mild or we would have froze to death. My brothers and sisters names were Martha, Jim, Fannie, John, and Derling. The latter was the baby and we carried him. John was three years old and it is an actual fact that this boy walked 16 miles one day. The country was nearly deserted of humanity. The terrible war had driven them away north or south. A woman and her children was found ever now and then who had braved all the risk and remained in their cabins. I recollect we stopped a short time at the Joe Gimlin house where we got a small bit of provision which was just a taste to each of us. We lay out one night on the Ben Alsup farm in Hooten Valley. The place was deserted. We also stopped at the widow Chapin’s who lived in Howell Valley five miles below West Plains where we got a little more to eat or just enough to keep us from starving. We lay our nearly every night. We had no bed clothes and sometimes we had no fire. Finally we arrived on Jack’s Fork where we met one of Our old neighbors and he piloted us to within eight of where a company of federal soldiers were in camp. We were so famished for food that we could hardly travel. On arriving in camp the officers provided us with food which we were very thankful to receive. Our suffering after this was not so serious. My parents both rest in the cemetery at Gassville, Arkansas. My mother died first. My father died in Howell County, Missouri, at the age of 82 years. We taken his body from there in a spring wagon all the way to Gassville and buried it at the side of our mother who was our dearest friend in deed and in need in war times.


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