The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

One dark cold cloudy night in the month of January, 1865, my father who was living on the north bank of White River in Keesee Township, Marion County Ark., crossed the river and went up to the mouth of Little Beach Hollow below where Bradley’s Ferry is now to lay out during the night for it was war times and a man’s life was in danger if he met a foe. He was alone but was armed with a double barrel shotgun, a revolver, and a huge knife. He stopped at the foot of the bluff just below the mouth of the hollow and selected a suitable camping place and collected plenty of wood to replenish the fire at times during the long hours of night. He took three bed quilts with him and soon after dark he spread them down on the dead leaves before the fire and lay down to rest and fell asleep and was aroused from his slumber by a strange noise. On raising up he beheld a panther stand-ing on the other side of the fire. The panther growled and stood still. My father said that he leaped to his feet with shotgun in hand and said to the panther, "Come on, Sis," intending to discharge the contents of both barrels of the shotgun into the beast’s body if it made an attempt to spring on him. As he spoke the fierce looking animal raised its head and glared at him a moment and turned to the left and left the light of the fire and walked slowly up the face of the bluff. There was no more sleep for the old man during the rest of the night, for he sat up and kept a big fire burning until daylight when he vacated camp. Several years after the close of the war when he had told of his adventure with the panther to a friend, the latter says, "Why didn’t you shoot the panther?" and father replied, "When the huge beast started off in peace I was more than anxious to see it go. If I had shot and wounded it I might have had a fight on my hands and this was what I wanted to avoid, and so I refused to shoot at it while it was leaving me in a peaceable way."

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