The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among accounts of how wolves were taken out of caves in the pioneer days is the following which was furnished me by James A. Rose, a prominent preacher of Eros, Marion County, Ark. Mr. Rose is a son of Martin and Nancy (Long) Rose and was born in McMin County, Tennessee, June 16, 1850, and came with his parents from Tennessee to Western Grove in Newton County, Ark., when he was a little lad of a boy. His father enlisted in the confederate army and died at Saint James, Phelps County, Mo., on the Frisco Railroad between Rolla and St. Louis and is buried there. Mr. Rose in referring to an old burial ground situated between Western Grove and Dugger’s Mill says that a son of Dr. William Hays was the first Interment there, which occurred in the early fifties. "Other old time people who rest here," said Mr. Rose, "is Doctor Hays himself who lived to be nearly 100 years old; also Pleasant Reeves, Anderson Wright and Mary Wright, his wife, and my grandmother Mrs. Mary Rose., wife of my grandfather Allin Rose. Well," continued Mr. Rose, "you have asked me about the wild beasts that Inhabited Newton County when we arrived there. I was too young to remember much about them until I grew older. I never followed hunting to amount to anything except once when I was 11 years old, or in 1861, when I with others went on a lively wolf hunt which I have never forgotten. One day during the time mentioned Pleas Reeves and myself went over to Jarriet Trammel’s where we found that wolves had destroyed several of Mr. Trammel’s sheep and he had put strychnine in the carcasses of the sheep and some of the wolves at least had returned and devoured part of the poisoned mutton and Trammel concluded to hunt for their den and requested me and Reeves to go with him which we did. We took the dogs and guns along with us and while we were following the trail of the wolves toward the Buffalo River we discovered two grown wolves lying dead which no doubt had feasted on the poisoned sheep. Continuing on we traced the other wolves to a stream that runs into Buffalo from the north side and while we were near a rock bridge or a natural formation which extends across the creek we found a wolf den that was in a little opening in the ground. The wolf whelps were as large as grown coons and as we approached near the den we saw the young wolves sitting around the mouth of the cave. One of the men shot one of the wolves and killed it at the mouth of the den and the remaining ones hustled back into their lair. The cave was too small for the men to crawl into it and as I was a little fellow they persuaded me to go in and I did and soon located the bed and made an investigation. The passageway was too small for me to turn around and go back and I had to crawl backward to get to the outside. The men now cut long hickory withes and bound the top end of one to each one of my ankles and I crawled back into the hole again and with the aid of a gunstick I twisted one end of it among the hair of one wolf and got a hold on its hide and pulled it to me like twisting a rabbit out of a hollow log. Catching the young beast by a hind leg I gave the signal to the men and they hauled me out backward by the withes. This was repeated until 7 young wolves were taken out of the cave. Five of them were slain as soon as they were taken out. The young beasts bit and scratched my hands and arms so severely that they were quite sore for several days. Some of the wounds bled freely and the marks on my hands and arms made by the wolves’ teeth and toe nails remained for months afterward. I carried two of the pups home with me alive and made pets of them, but soon after they had grown to be of good size they commenced killing my mother’s chickens and ducks and one day she told me in a peremptory way that I must dispose of them two wolves and I killed them without waiting for a second warning from my mother."

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