The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

This account of an amusing encounter with wolves was given me by William R. Ellison, son of old Jimmie Ellison who we have stated elsewhere lived on the north side of White River a short distance above the mouth of Beaver Creek. "In the early spring of 1861 Alex Steward, a relative of our family who lived with us, concluded to go down on Elbow Creek and select a body of land for a farm. A day or two before he started father went to Forsyth some three miles above where we lived and bought him an outfit, together with the necessary tools for clearing and fencing land.

"Fully equipped, Alex was ready for business and went on his way to establish his new home. Near two miles south of John Cardwell’s, who had settled on Elbow four years before, he found a body of land which suited, him for a home, and went to work to split rails and otherwise improve the land, except that he did not build a house. He did not think he needed one unless he enjoyed the blessing of a nice pretty wife to help him occupy it. A wife he did not possess, but later on when he put his farm in proper shape he would erect a dwelling and then he would entreat one of Taney County’s fair maids to be his own darling love and companion for life and share with him the toils and the happiness of life on a farm. During the time he worked he boarded awhile at John Cardwell’s and then at Marion Ellison’s, who settled the Logan Hopper stock ranch in Buck Hollow. Marion Ellison located here in the early fall of 1860. Alex Steward knew that plenty of wolves infested the Elbow hills but thought it a foolish loss of time to idle away a minute thinking about them. Others might be afraid of the varmints but he was not. He was too busy at work to allow the tales told about vicious wolves to trouble him. But in due time his mind changed on the wolf question which was about this way:
One morning when the weather was just the sort to suit wolves, he went to his rail splitting and chopping timber early and was working away as usual when he heard a wolf howl.

Evidently the animal was out seeking whom or what he might devour—but what need Alex care. He was not afraid of a dozen wolves—one wolf was no cause for alarm with him, and he went quietly on with his work.

In a few minutes another one howled in another direction.
It was a long dismal noise and a kind of loneliness of his situation come over him for a moment as he listened and then went on with his mauling of rails.

Directly a third howl from still another direction rang out in the damp air for there was a light mist falling. This last wolf was answered up and down the valley, and seemingly from a number of places on the nearby hillsides. Undoubtedly wolves were more plentiful than he had counted on, and Alex felt cold all over and curious sensations played up and down his spinal column. But he stood his ground for a time, awaiting developments, which soon came. It seemed from the noise they were making that a goodly number of them were approaching from various directions. They were howling ferociously as they usually do when scenting something which they intend to attack.

The man was now thoroughly frightened, and hastily came to the decision that the time had come for him to relinquish his claim in favor of these earlier settlers of the neighborhood, who carried in their mouths numerous and forceful arguments as to their right to occupy it. He must desert his land and fly at once for safety; to climb a tree would be but a temporary solution of the difficulty, so shouldering his axe he started in a demoralized manner in the direction of John Cardwell’s who was his nearest neighbor.

Flight once commenced his demoralization increased and he lost all presence of mind and became completely panic stricken. As he was leaving the ground he imagined that he heard the wolves make a rush for him, and in his terror he accelerated his speed to the full limit of his ability. Never halting or looking back to see if the wolves were really following him, on he went in a desperate run to outstrip his hungry pursuers for he believed they were close on his heels and he was exerting himself with all the strength he could bring into action to outrace them and finally arrived at Cardwell’s exhausted with his two mile’s run and speechless with excitement.

The funniest part of the story," said Mr. Ellison, "is that Steward never returned back to his claim to recover possession from the wolves. They completely scared him away."

This same land lies on the east side of Elbow Creek and is owned and occupied by the well known farmer and stock dealer, Ben Westmoreland. The writer will add that Alex Steward is dead now. He died at the mouth of Yocum Creek in Taney County, Mo.

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