The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Mrs. Cassia King, widow of Uncle Bobby King, related the following account of pioneer days.

"When the Buffalo Mountains was almost an unbroken wilderness, two brothers of the name of Andrew and Thomas Hawthorn or Hathburn as some called them settled in the mountains. Thomas was educated and was a lawyer of some note and was a married man, but unfortunately his wife got drowned in the Buffalo river. After the death of his wife the man went blind and was helpless. Andrew, his brother, was peculiar in his manner of living. He occupied a hut alone 8 miles from the nearest habitation. He would sleep on nothing of nights except buffalo rugs, bear or deer skins. When he visited a settler’s house, which he seldom did, he invariably refused to sleep on a feather bed, giving as a reason and excuse that he always rested better and slept sounder on the hides of wild beasts, than on the feathers of timid geese. He also had a fair education and owned considerable means. His cattle required his constant attention to prevent them from wandering off. One day he rode out from his hut as usual to round up his cattle and while passing along the base of a bluff and just below a cliff of rocks which extended along the foot of the bluff a panther sprang from the top of the cliff onto his horse’s hips. The shock from the leap and weight of the animal came near crushing the horse down and also came near throwing the rider off, but the horse recovering itself plunged forward and kicked violently which broke the panther’s hold and it fell off. The attack of the beast was a surprise to the man and like the horse he was badly terrified. He carried his rifle and as soon as he regained his composure and got his horse quiet he saw the panther crouched on the ground where it fell from the horse, and dismounting he shot and killed it. It was a suckler and on looking up toward the top of the cliff he saw three young panthers sitting on the edge of the cliff where the old one had leaped from, which was nearly 15 feet high. After reloading his gun he shot one of them and it rolled off of the cliff and fell at his feet. The other two cubs did not move until the man reloaded his gun again and shot another one and it fell in a few feet of the other young beast. At this the remaining young panther took the hint and left the cliff and ran up the bluff and escaped.

The horse sustained some deep gashes torn out by the panther’s claws but in a few weeks the wounds had all healed over."

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