The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The scenery on Crane Creek, a tributary stream of James River, makes a deep impression on the traveler. The track of the White River Division of the Missouri Pacific Railway strikes this water course at the little town of Crane leading northwest and leaves it some distance before arriving at Aurora. The general course of Crane Creek after leaving Crane depot is southeast for a few miles, then turns south, then makes a bend east and north, then back south before it enters the James River. The passenger on the cars as he rides along this creek between Crane and Bonham and lets his mind drift back to the pioneer days of this creek puts him to thinking of the risks and dangers the early settlers had to pass through here while they were settling the country. This little stream has its source in the northeast part of Barry County, Mo., and after passing through the southeast corner of Lawrence County and through Stone County until it enters James River. We have stated elsewhere that Mr. William Abbotte built a small cabin on this creek and lived here a number of years. Layfayette Abbotte, son of William Abbotte, furnishes an additional account of his parent’s settling here. "My parents settled on Crane Creek 15 years before I was born or in 1836. My father and Matilda Abbotte, my mother, lived in this hut before a floor was put in it or the cracks chinked or daubed. My father was a hunter and he was gone from home very frequently. This was when they had no children and my mother would remain at the cabin alone. Sometimes his absence would be prolonged until after night set in and she passed many dreadful hours while the panther was screaming and the wolves were howling. One morning my father picked up his rifle and started off into the forest to kill wild game. Before leaving the house he told my mother he would return back home at noon. But he failed to put in an appearance at the hour named and he never showed up by sundown and was gone until long in the night. My mother said that she was so uneasy about him and alarmed at his long absence. My father enjoyed himself in singing or whistling and was usually doing one or the other when he got in hearing distance of the hut. That night she stood in the door and waited and listened to hear his familiar song or hear him whistle some favorite tune, but the sound failed to reach her ears. She continued to wait until at last the suspense became so great that she called out loud for him and she heard his welcome answer which seemed to be a half a mile away. Just as my father answered her she was greatly frightened at hearing the cry of a panther in the same direction my father was coming. The beast proved to be only about 75 yards behind him, but he was not aware of any danger from a wild beast until he heard its dreadful cry. Then with a wild rush he made for his domicile. The night was so intensely dark that he could only guess at the trail he was following. The panther soon overtook him and he could hear it bounding along just behind him. My father said that in spite of the deep darkness he did some fast running until he reached the cabin and darted in at the door where my mother was standing and hallooing at him, "Run quick, William, or it will catch you." When my father leaped over the yard fence, the panther leaped up on the fence and uttered a piercing scream which encouraged the now thoroughly frightened man to run swifter across the dooryard to the door of his cabin."

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