The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

One of the noted settlers of Ozark County, Mo., was Leven T. Green, who located on the east bank of Little North Fork one half a mile above the mouth of Little Creek in 1837. I am told that two years after this Noah Mahan settled the land where Thornfield now is. Mr. Green had several grown sons, the names of which were George, Jesse, Phillip, Tom (Pleasant Thomas) and Ben. Green and his sons were famed hunters and always kept on hand a supply of bear meat, jerked venison and wild honey for the use of themselves and families. Though bread was scarce yet these old timers endured all the hardships subject to frontier life and fared as sumptuously as the wild woods afforded and were happy. Leven Green was a Methodist preacher and used his influence among sinners and prevailed on them to repent. He would plead with them in an earnest tone to turn from their evil ways. His exhortations were as strong among the wicked as his ambition was In attacking and slaying a fat bear. On his arrival here the country was so thinly settled then that there were no schoolhouses or other public buildings where the people could meet for worship, but Green would hold meetings at the settlers’ houses. If he had an appointment to preach at a cabin some distance off to be filled at 11 a.m. of a Sunday he would rise early on Sunday morning and after partaking his morning meal of wild meat and honey he would take his rifle down from the rack and examine it well to see if it was in good shape for killing game. If so he would shoulder it up and with his family Bible and the old fashioned hymn book under his arm he would start through the wild woods to the place where he had announced to preach that day. If he met any deer on the way he would kill them if he could and remove the hides and carry the hides with him. Sometimes it was late before his arrival but the audience knew he would make his appearance sooner or later if nothing occurred to prevent him and would wait patiently for the hour of his coming. On reaching the place of appointment, he would leave the rifle and deer hides in the chimney corner, then go into the cabin and prepare himself to deliver an exhortation to the congregation and persuade sinners to turn to the Lord and lead a better life. At the conclusion of his discourse he was ready to pick up his gun again and return back home through the woods and kill more deer and add more hides to his Sunday forenoon killing. Mr. Green’s sons were as equally skilled in killing game as their father was. It is told of Jim Standfield who was also an early settler of Ozark County that he would contract with certain parties to deliver to them on a certain date so many pounds of bees wax and honey and a certain amount of furs and pelts. These contracts had to be filled on or before the date named or the stipulation was null and void. On one occasion Standfield found that he was going to loose his job if he did not employ help to fill the bill in time, so he procured the assistance of Jesse Green to help him hunt bee trees for one day. Green went into the forest in an opposite direction to the one Standfield went. He carried nothing with him except his dinner, bee bait and pen knife, the latter of which he used to mark the bee trees with when he found them. on one occasion that day he discovered bee trees so fast that he marked 4 trees in succession before closing his knife.

Phillip Green, a grandson of the famous hunter and preacher Leven T. Green., and a son of Tom Green, was born in Howell County, Mo., September 10, 1852, gives some interesting stories of this pioneer family. Phillip has lived in Ozark County for many years. In recent years or in 1896 he was bitten by a rattlesnake and came near dying from the effects of the poison. Phillip informed me that the remains of his parents rest in the state of Missouri. His father is buried on Indian Creek in Washington County. His mother, whose name was Margarette Mahala Ann (Blair) Green is buried on Beaver Creek in Douglas County. He said that his father told him that there were plenty of Elk in Ozark County when the family located here. "In 1839" said he, "my uncle Jesse Green met a bunch of five elk on Barren Fork of Little North Fork and succeeded in killing a male with four points on each beam of its horns." The Greens were as expert in killing wolves as they were in slaying deer and bear and hunting bee trees. They shot them, caught them in pen traps, steel traps and poisoned them and destroyed whelps until it would seem that there was not a live wolf left to tell the doleful tale of their destruction, but instead of being exterminated they appeared to increase in numbers as fast as they were thinned out. Phillip Green relates the following account of an encounter his father had one day with wolves while he was out searching for young wolves and came near loosing his life among them. Mr. Green says that he has heard his father tell the story repeatedly and "I will give it to you like he told it to me," said he. "One day while my grandfather Leven T. Green lived on the old farm that he settled in Ozark County in 1837, my father and three of his brothers, George, Jesse and Ben Green, agreed to go out together on a raid against the wolves and kill as many young ones and old ones as they could find. They all left one morning with 8 dogs. Each man carried his trusty rifle, plenty of ammunition and a hunting knife. After they had traveled a few miles from home the party divided in order to make a wide search for the wolves. Two dogs followed each man. Sometime after the men had separated and while my father was looking among some shelving rocks for wolf beds his attention was aroused by a disturbance in front of him and on looking in that direction he was almost struck dumb with astonishment at seeing the two dogs bounding toward him closely pursued by a pack of wolves which proved to be 20 in number. Father stood with his gun on his shoulder forgetting everything but the sight of the rushing wolves and when the dogs reached the spot where he was standing, the wolves overhauled the dogs and caught one of them at his feet. The other dog never halted but passed on as fast as he could go and made his escape. The whole pack stopped here and while the poor dog was yelling with pain and distress it seemed that every wolf in the bunch tried to get at him, and with piteous cries was soon torn to pieces. "I was so terror stricken," said my father, "that I seemed to be stuck fast to the ground and as I stood there in the midst of the savage pack with my gun on my shoulder and my hunting knife in the scabbard the wolves fought desperately over the remnants of the dog. They fought all around me and some of them in their frenzy pushed others against my legs. When prevented them from taking hold of me and rending me in pieces like they did the dog I have never been able to account for, but they appeared to be so crazy for the dog’s blood that they apparently gave me no attention for the time. When they had fought one another so hard and gulped down the last bit of the dog I came to my senses and realized my dreadful peril. A tree stood in a few feet of me and I dropped my gun and sprang to it and pulled myself up it as hurriedly as lay in my power. My movements attracted their attention and part of the wolves with fearful growls and angry snarls rushed to the foot of the tree in an instant and before I was out of reach of them one of the wolves leaped up and caught me by the foot, but fortunately my moccasins were large and fitted my feet loosely. When the wolf grabbed my foot with its teeth I had reached the first limb of the tree and I held to it with all the strength I possessed, but for all this the stout beast pulled my leg so hard that my body give down a few inches, but I still held fast to the limb. Others of the pack were leaping up trying to get hold of my legs. I was frantic with fear and dread of being jerked down and torn to pieces. I kicked and hallooed and did not quit kicking until I freed my foot from the wolf’s mouth, but the desperate animal pulled the moccasin off of my foot. Then followed a fight over the moccasin which they tore into shoe strings before they ceased to fight over it. My foot was not hurt bad for the wolf had took hold of the moccasin in a shape that the beast’s teeth did not penetrate my foot. The tree was of fair size but when I kicked loose from the wolf I did not quit climbing until I reached the topmost limbs. The wolves seeing that they were beat out of a taste of human flesh and blood set up a direful yelping and howling and I kept up a continual shouting for help, and as it happened my brothers were in hearing distance when the racket began and they hurried to me as fast as they could run and soon were together and they said they were nearly out of breath when they came in sight and seeing me up a tree with a big pack of wolves under it almost paralized them, but knowing I was safe they took time for a short rest and keeping the 6 dogs with them, they now ventured up in rifle shot of the wolves and began pouring the lead in among them. Several of them were shot down and the remaining ones would leap on them and fight over the dead and dying wolves until their bodies were torn into mincemeat. It was a scene that only old settlers can describe. When my three brothers had materially decreased the number in the pack they encouraged the dogs and they dashed at the remaining wolves and they took fright and scampered away. When the men and dogs reached the foot of the tree I descended to the ground and picked up my rifle which was covered with blood from the wolves that had been shot and torn into fragments by the others. We were almost positive that there were young wolves nearby and after we had searched for them a short while we found a bed full of very small ones in the hollow of a large white oak tree which we soon disposed of. This was the worst trouble I ever got into with wolves," said my father as he told this story with a shudder.

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