The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Another early settler on Little North Fork in Ozark County, Mo., was Ben Fulkerson, whose wife was an Indian woman named Nancy. He settled on the west side of the creek near three quarters of a mile above where Paton Keesee lived. The creek bottom on which he lived is known now as the "Sandfield" and was first settled by Silas Risley, another old pioneer settler on this stream. Fulkerson was a hunter and after their first child was born and after his wife was able to travel Fulkerson permitted her to go with him on hunting tours and help dress the wild meat and care for the furs and pelts. The woman carried the infant in a peculiar made sack which she carried on her back. It seemed somewhat curious to see this Indian wife follow her white husband through the wild woods and compelled to endure the burden of carrying the baby all day long. Soon after Fulkerson settled here he cleared an acre of land and planted it in corn. When the crop was knee high the creek rose and carried all of the fence away and he was compelled to guard the corn to keep the stock out until he could rebuild the fence. On the evening of the same day of the freshet the water subsided until the creek was just fordable and the man mounted a horse and forded at the shoal ½ mile below his house and went down to chat with Keesee. Ben’s wife had come with him to the ford of the creek to see that he got across safe. He told her to remain there until he returned. Ben owned a large fierce cur dog which he left at the ford with his wife and babe. The man promised his wife he would hurry back, but he delayed time, until near sunset. He could hear his wife scream every now and then and Fulkerson said his wife was lonesome only and paid no attention to her, but when he reached the ford of the creek on his return he was horrified to learn that a panther had attacked his wife and baby, but the brave dog had saved them. The panther when Ben reached the creek was up a tree. The man’s gun was in his cabin ¼ mile away. Leaving the dog to watch the panther the man took his wife and child to the house and returned with his gun and shot the beast. His wife said that while she was sitting on the bank of the creek with the dog by her side the infant began crying and before she could quiet it, she was alarmed at seeing a large panther leap toward her and alight in a few feet of her. She arose to her feet and screamed. The moment the panther struck the ground the dog dashed at it and the panther darted away. The dog would have caught it but after fleeing 20 yards the panther sprang up a large stooping box elder tree. The woman continued to scream for her husband and the dog was so frustrated that he ran to and forth between the tree and woman for several minutes then became quiet and lay down near the woman to watch the panther. The latter began growling fiercely until the infant began crying again and the panther grew more furious and leaped down and sprang toward the terribly frightened woman again and came near reaching the crying child before the fearless dog was able to force it back and drive it back up the tree.

The dog seemed to take in the perilous position of his mistress and the helpless babe and seemed determined to protect them with his life and finally took his station between the box elder the panther was in and where the woman stood. Every time the infant began crying the panther would leap to the ground and start toward the woman but the dog would rush at it and the panther would spring up the tree again. About a year after this incident Fulkerson and his wife went to Texas and both died in that part of the state where Palo Pinto County is now.

(The foregoing was furnished me by Elias and Peter Keesee, sons of Paton Keesee.)

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