The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

It is something interesting to converse with early settlers in regard to their experience with beasts of the forest and the hardships and deprivations met with during the early settlement of the Ozarks. It is also strange to think how they contrived to raise stock in spite of the depredations committed by wolves and other wild animals.

Mr. Marion Wilmoth, a noted farmer and stock raiser who lives on East Sugar Loaf Creek just above Lead Hill, Arkansas, told me an interesting narrative about a vicious wolf attempting to capture a pig from him one day as he was carrying it along the road. Other old time stories of the Sugar Loaf country as given by Mr. Wilmoth are related in another sketch.

Uncle Marion went on to say that when the war closed in June, 1865, there was scarcely a hog left in the valleys of the two Sugar Loaf Creeks, or elsewhere in North Arkansas, as to that matter. In the first settling of the country farmers had two advantages in raising hogs that they have not got now. In the first place hogs thrived well on roots, herbs, nuts and acorns in the creek bottoms and on the hills. In the second place they were not subject to the maladies that attack them now. Before the war broke out between the states It was small trouble and little expense to grow hogs provided the settlers could prevent their destruction by wild animals or "varmints" as they were called. This was the only drawback worth mentioning in raising hogs in the pioneer days. It was hard to keep the wolves, bear and other animals from destroying them.

Mr. Wilmoth goes on to relate the wolf and pig incident as follows. "Like many other farmers of northern Arkansas I came out of the war swept clean of everything in the property line except land. This was all I and my wife had left. We would have been minus of that if it could have been carried off. We had worked hard to accumulate what we owned and now our horses, cattle, sheep and hogs were all gone. Though much discouraged I and my wife went to work to get a new start. As remarked above my hogs had all disappeared and I did not know where or how to get any more. Money was as scarce with me as everything else was or I could have went off some distance and bought some hogs and that was the way how it stood with me when everybody quit trying to kill each other. But along late in the summer my old particular friend, Handy de Shields, was the happy owner of a fine sow which brought some nice pigs. One day he said to me, "Marion, I am a little lucky in the hog line and I am not going to be selfish about it either. You come up to my place and I will make you a present of one of them pigs." I wanted to pay him for it but the generous hearted man refused to accept pay. It was very kind of Mr. de Shields and the gift was much appreciated and when the pig was old enough I went one day to bring it home. Uncle Handy lived on head of South Fork of East Sugar Loaf Creek near 5 miles from my house. I went afoot and just for the sake of company I took a favorite dog with me, and as the sequence will show, it was fortunate for me that I did so. I did not delay any more time at my old friend’s house than necessary and was soon on the road back home with the pig hugged tight in my arms. It was a fat, plump little fellow and stout. When I caught it and started home, it made a strong protest against going with me by a vigorous kicking and squealing. The little "gentleman" strongly objected to being snatched away from its home surroundings in so sudden and rough manner. I made an effort to quiet the noisy thing by talking good to it but it only kicked the harder and squealed the louder. Of course I could have choked it or pressed it with my hand and forced it to silence but the little grunter was a precious piece of property and I thought it better to allow it to squeal all the way home than to shut off the least bit of its breath, and so after I had petted it awhile in my childish way I made no further efforts to quiet it and let it squeal as loud as it could. It was a warm day and the weather was dry and water was scarce along the Creek bed and I was getting weary but I made no halt for rest for I was uneasy for fear that the pig would die for the want of water. My mind was so wrapped up in the idea of myself being in possession of one pig at least that I had not given one bit of thought that the noise of the pig would attract the notice of a wild animal. I had walked about two miles when I was suddenly attacked by a large reddish colored wolf which attempted to seize the pig. The vicious animal rushed at me so quickly and unexpectedly that I was terrified and unnerved for a moment or more but I had sense enough left to hold to the pig. As the wolf sprang at me I gave it a hard kick and encouraged the dog. The brave fellow was not demoralized by the rush of the impudent beast and dashed at the wolf at once for fight. At this the wolf darted off several yards and stopped. The pig now seemed to renew its energy and its squealing became the louder and energetic. This caused the wolf to rush back at me but as it came forward the dog kept between me and the hungry brute which was snarling and snapping at a lively rate. As the wolf made a spring for the pig the dog tackled it and I kicked and yelled to the best of my ability. You can imagine there was confusion and more demoralization as well as a stirring scene there, but the wolf failed to get that pig and the fearless dog drove it off the second time. This time it disappeared but mind you I did not fool away any time waiting for its return but I hurried on in great haste. I looked back every few seconds to see if the vicious beast was following me but I saw nothing more of it. But that pig kept silent from there home for I nearly choked it to death in order to make it stop squealing. When I arrived at home I was nearly exhausted in running the three miles which intervened between the place of attack and my home, and I felt relieved when I put the little squealer and grunter out of my hands. I have met with a great many wolves in my life but this fellow was the most boldest and vicious wolf I ever saw."

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