The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

We have stated elsewhere that Abraham Cole lived a few years at the mouth of Barren Fork some fifteen miles west of Rock Bridge, Mo. His last wife was named Rebecca. He reared a large family of children. John, Adalade and Martha were by his first wife. Adalade married Abe Shaffer and Martha married Ben Clarkson. As we have stated Mr. Cole is dead and so is "Aunt" Becca. In the spring of 1858 Mr. Cole settled on Big Creek in Taney County on what is now the Dave Coiner farm, one half mile below John Morris. Mr. Morris had been living at the forks of the creek a number of years. He was one of Taney County’s best citizens. He and the writer’s father were close friends and loaned each other money when they needed it. When the war broke out Mr. Morris espoused the cause of the union and my father held to the south, but their friendship never varied. John was an honest man and gave no encouragement to the class who thieved and robbed and stole cattle and horses. He knew my father held to the same principle as he did on the southern side and when a scouting party of the union soldiers would start down into Arkansas and if John Morris was present he would say, "Boys, don’t interrupt Jim Turnbo nor none of his property." Mr. Cole after he went to Big Creek he and John were good friends and kind neighbors to each other. In the month of December, 1858, Morris had seven fine porkers to butcher and he set a day and requested Mr. Cole to assist him to slaughter the fat hogs and they worked hard all day to finish the job of killing and dressing the meat. The weather was cold and Morris was not in a hurry about salting the meat. Mr. Cole said he intended to have gone back home near dark but Morris would not agree to let him go until after supper. The women were busy as well as the men and supper was not prepared until sometime after night, and after Morris and Cole had eaten supper the latter was not in as big a hurry to go home as he thought he was and he and Morris sat by the fireside and chatted together about hunting and other matters until late in the night, before he started home. It was dark and cloudy but Mr. Cole said he knew the road well and kept in it very easily. In giving the incident that occurred to him on his way home that night Mr. Cole said, "My garments were pretty well saturated with hog’s blood mixed with grease from the handling of the fat meat and as I went along I wondered if I would meet any wolves on the road home. The distance was so short that I reached the conclusion that it was foolish to imagine such a thing and assured myself that there was no danger of an attack from them. But I miscounted on this too soon, for as I was passing through the creek bottom just below Morris’s field, I was amazed at meeting a bunch of wolves. I had nothing in my hands, not even a pocket knife and when I met the vicious brutes I felt that I was in a precarious fix. The impudent beasts got all around me and I thought at once they intended to make a meal of me right then and there. Owing to the darkness I could not tell how many were near me, but it was not less than fifteen. Though it did not make any difference as to the number, for I was as badly terrified as if there had been a thousand. Realizing my danger I hallooed as loud as my vocal organs would allow, and stamped my feet vigorously against the ground hoping to frighten them off, but I was sadly disappointed for instantly they crowded around me and a few of them pitched at me, popping their teeth together which made me shudder with fear. Three of the more daring ones came near, taking hold of me, but by kicking them and jumping out of their way I contrived to evade their teeth. I knew if they reached far enough and got hold of me they could pull me to pieces in a little while and I did my best to keep them off. I was just halfway between where Morris lived and my house and how I did wish I was in the house with my wife and children. Why didn’t I climb a tree you say? Well, there were plenty of trees of different sizes nearby, but the ravenous brutes pressed me so hard I did not have time. They did not give me time enough to look up one, let alone climb. I knew if I saved myself I could not do so by standing there and I started at a fast gait toward the house. I did my best to increase my speed and went as fast as my legs would carry me and my willingness to go and my legs acted together without the least disagreement. It was an awful race on my side. I was well acquainted with the road and made no mistake by getting out of it. The hungry and vicious animals stayed with me. Some ran on each side of me. Others kept just behind at my heels. They snapped at my legs and growled and whined. I yelled with all the power I could. I believed every moment they would take hold of me and after a terrible struggle they would take me down and rend me to pieces. Of course it took me only a short time to near my cabin, though to one in my condition it seemed hours. My loud distressing yells and the noise of the wolves awakened the family for my wife had give me out coming back home that night and her and the children had went to bed and were asleep. As soon as my wife had wakened up and hearing me hallooing and the wolves making a racket she jumped out of bed and ran into the yard. She encouraged the dogs and answered me. The dogs though not of much value barked furiously. Getting to the yard fence I did not take time to climb over. I leaped over without touching the top rail. It was now that part of the children were roused from the noise and the family, dog, myself and the wolves were making a frightful noise. The wolves stopped at the yard fence. The dog ran under the floor of the cabin and I beat my wife into the house and as soon as she got in we slammed the door shutter to and barricaded it. As far as I knew none of the wolves came into the yard, and after lingering in the wood yard a while making that dire noise of howling they retired back into the forest, but I never went to bed until I was satisfied that they were all gone away."

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