The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

"The first time I ever met a panther face to face," said John B. Hudson, a pioneer settler of Marion County, Ark., "was in 1849 when I was near 12 years old. My parents were living on what is now the Joe Burleson place one mile and a half above the mouth of George’s Creek. My sister, Nancy Hudson, had married Adrian Howard and they were living on Crooked Creek one mile below us on what was afterward called the "rol" Austin land. Late one evening my parents told me and another sister of mine named Manerva Jane who was 15 years old to go down to Howard’s and request him and Nancy to come home with us and stay all night with us. Foolish like we left the house without the protection of a dog. On our arrival at my sister’s house we found that her and Howard were gone. The sun had just hid itself below the western horizon which caused us to delay but little time and we turned and followed the trail back toward home. When we had gone a little more than half way back home we heard a loud scream back toward Howard’s house which frightened my sister for she supposed Nancy had come back home since we were there and that something had happened to her. We stopped and Jane gave an answering cry. I told her it was not Nancy’s voice, but she thought it was and I could not convince her otherwise. The seemingly distressing cry continued at short intervals and the sound was growing louder and drawing nearer and my anxious sister kept on answering it. We stood in the pathway and listened at the approaching noise. Jane was expecting to see our sister coming to us but I was looking for the approach of a panther. We owned three savage cur dogs and a half blood hound. In a short while longer the cry ceased and we stood in silence waiting. It was now that my sister gave it up that it was not Nancy and in a few seconds more we saw a monster panther approach us and stop in a few yards of where we stood. It crouched down in the path and began striking its tail against the ground. It was now a little dusky and here we were in the growing shade of night in the presence of a stealthy panther. Realizing our peril we turned and ran toward home and hallooed for the dogs as we ran. The dogs heard us and they came running and met us and it was then that we felt much relieved and were comparatively safe. I and my sister stopped when we met the dogs and turned back and discovered the panther where we had left it. The dogs darted at it and the beast bounded away. When the three cur dogs had got close enough to scent the panther we were amazed at seeing them turn coward by stopping and whirling round and fled back toward the house. But the blood hound was faithful and fearless and pursued the panther. I and sister went on home. Night closed in and it proved to be a very dark one. The trusty hound did not return home that night. We heard him yelping at bed time. It was too dark for father to venture out. Then we heard the dog chasing the panther after we had all retired to bed. It seemed that the dreaded beast would not leave the neighborhood and the hound was in hearing distance until we went to sleep. When daylight came the dog was not at home and we could hear nothing of him. But an hour or so after sunrise we heard the dog howl in a piteous way at the creek (Crooked Creek) at which we lived close to. We knew the poor animal was in distress and needed help and I and Jeremiah Hudson, a brother of mine, ran down to the creek and found the brave creature lying helpless close to the water, his body was torn and mangled. He had been in a desperate fight with the panther and was wounded unto death. But he had crawled that far toward home and finding himself powerless to go any further had howled to warn us of his distress. The suffering animal had certainly called for help in his dying condition. With tender hearts we lifted him carefully in our arms and carried him to the house and did all we could to save him, but our efforts were fruitless for he died in two hours after we had brought him to the house. Though only a dog but he was true and brave and a favorite with the family. He had defended myself and sister in our perilous position while the other three dogs turned their tails to the enemy and ran. Who can help loving a noble friend even if this friend is only a dog?"

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