The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In 1857 a stranger came into Ozark County, Missouri, and lived awhile at Hugh McClure’s on Little North Fork. He said his name was Every Milton. Nobody knew his native land but he was supposed to be a Cuban. In a short while after his arrival he began the practice of medicine and proved to be a successful practitioner. He also began delivering lectures on different subjects. He was intelligent and fairly educated. Tommy Norris, a minister of the Freewill Baptist Church who lived on Little Creek, a tributary of Little North Fork, organized a church on White River below mouth of Big Creek and held meeting from time to time at the settlers’ houses. Most of his preaching was done at Asa Yocum’s. A day or two before the appointed time for meeting Norris, whether riding or walking, would leave home carrying his rifle, Bible and hymn book. Occasionally he would slay several deer on the way and take off the hides and carry them with him and leave the dead deer for the use of the buzzard and ravenous beasts. Settlers would collect from 10 to 15 miles around to attend these meetings. Norris was a devoted man in religious matters and was popular among the old timers. He labored hard on the farm and was found dead one afternoon lying between his plow handles. He was buried in the Norris graveyard on Little Creek 4 miles above Thornfield. Dr. Every Milton was often present at Norris’s meetings on the river and usually delivered a short lecture. In the summer of 1859 he delivered a peculiar discourse at Asa Yocum’s. It was on a Sunday and a large assembly of people gathered to hear him. His subject was "the future Civil War." He said in part that the war would come and that it would be a terrible struggle between the great warriors of the north and south. Figuratively speaking the blood would run to the bridle reins of the chargers. "War will continue 4 years, said he. "The destruction of lives and property will be appalling. The southern army will be crushed. The people destitute and the country left desolate." Though the war began one year sooner than he claimed it would, but take it all together, it was a remarkable prophecy. In 1862 Milton was arrested and taken to Springfield, Mo., where he lay in prison a few months and was released. He died on upper Turkey Creek of Little North Fork on Christmas Day, 1862. In the early part of 1861 Dr. Milton lived at the mouth of Big Creek and rode far and near to wait on the sick. While he was residing here he met with a serious adventure with wolves, one night while on his way home from visiting a patient. The writer was told the story by Milton himself. He said that one afternoon he rode to Little North Fork to see John Copelin who was sick and lived on the next farm above the old Paton Keesee place. "The road from my house to Copelin’s was a dim trail. It was some time after nightfall when I left Copelin’s for home. My black dog was with me I called Catch. Among other medicine in my pocket case was a lump of assafeatida gum. It was after the first quarter of the moon in the month of February. The night was cool but not unpleasant. I had passed over this trail before and knew every crook and turn of it. While I was riding over the divide between head of Pine Hollow that flows into Little North Fork and the head of a hollow that flows into Cedar Creek (where the Dugginsville and Pontiac road now passes—writer) I was suddenly attacked by a pack of vicious wolves which had been howling near me while I was passing over the glade before reaching the top of the ridge. The creatures surrounded my horse and sprang at the dog. The latter dodged under the horse. Two of the wolves rushed under the horse’s belly to catch the dog. The latter again avoided them by dashing around under the horse’s head. By this time my horse was almost unmanageable, but I contrived to prevent him from running away with me. I yelled at the top of my voice to frighten the wolves away but they paid no attention to me. In a few seconds they caught the dog and the whole gang flew onto him to rend him to pieces. The dying noise of the poor dog was heard plainly above the snarls and growls of the wolves. Though I was terribly scared but my dog was a favorite and my blood warmed with anger. I hastily dismounted and holding the bridle with my left hand I plunged the blade of my dirk knife into one of the wolves. The animal sank down. I stabbed and kicked others and drove them back a few feet from the dog. I was too late to save the canine for he lay dying. My blood boiled at the loss of him. With the vengeance of an Indian warrior I grabbed the ears of the dying wolf I had first struck with the knife and cut and tore off his scalp. At this moment the hungry pack began snapping at me so furiously that I did not take time to put the wolf scalp in my pocket but held it and the knife in my hands while I mounted my bad scared horse and left the spot in a fast run. The wolves or part of them gave pursuit. My horse needed no urging from me. He almost seemed to fly along that dim pathway and how I escaped the limbs of the trees which hung over the trail I never could account for. The wolves seemed to fly too and I believed they would take me and the horse both down. Then I remembered the assafeatida and reaching around I jerked my medical packets from under me and dropped them on the ground and galloped on. The voracious animals halted and I heard them fighting and growling, but I was not long in getting out of hearing distance. I reached home without further molestation. I went back the following day in company with other men and recovered my pockets but the wolves had got the flaps unfastened and several vials of medicine lay scattered about on the ground. The assafeatida was gone. Further on where I was first attacked I found a few remnants of my trusty dog and also the carcass of the scalped wolf."

Dr. Milton was a tall slender man. Mr. Norris was also a famed hunter.

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