The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Here is a panther story furnished me by Mrs. Mary Tabor, wife of John Franklin Tabor of near Lutie, Mo. Mrs. Tabor is a daughter of Noah Cooley. "What I tell you." said she, "I learned from my mother. The incident occurred two years before I was born. My father had settled a claim on Turkey Creek near where Kirbyville now is in Taney County, Mo. After building a log cabin he moved into it without chinking the cracks for it was summertime and there was no need to make the house warm until cooler weather set in. The cabin stood in the open woods without any yard fence. My father and mother had only one child when they moved into this cabin which was a girl. Its name was Cassia and after she was grown she married a man by the name of "Nig" Friend. At the time I speak of she was just old enough to sit on the floor or in a little chair, but could not walk. One day while my father was gone from home and while my mother was engaged doing her usual housework and while the baby was sitting in a little chair which was placed against the wall of the house, she had just seated the child in the chair when she heard a disturbance among the chickens and thinking it was a fox or other small animal she went out into the yard to make it leave. To her amazement there stood three panthers at the back of the house just on the inside of which her child was seated in the chair. Though almost unnerved and terrified at such a frightful scene before her, yet she did not scream out or fall in a swoon. The only weapon in reach was the axe and it was several feet away. Keeping her eyes on the panthers she walked backward to where the axe lay and picked it up and ran into the house with it. By the time she got to her baby the largest panther had puts its paw through the opening between the logs where the child was sitting in the chair and caught its clothes with its claws and jerked it off of the chair. The child screamed and my mother was horror stricken at seeing her darling baby in the grasp of a panther and with a desperation born of the moment she struck the panther’s leg with the axe as it rested on the log and cut off its paw except a strip of skin which held it to the stump of its leg. All three of the animals took their departure now. The crippled one going hopping along on three feet dragging the almost amputated paw on the ground. The trio consisted of a full grown one and two that were nearly full size."

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