The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The old pioneer, Joseph Hall, whose father, Dave Hall, settled on White River in Marion County, Ark., in 1819, furnished the writer with this account.

"There were numbers of panther on White River when my father arrived here and for many years afterward. The river land on which my father settled was just above the narrows and near 3 miles below where Joe Pace has a ferry now. Early one afternoon when I was a little lad of a boy we heard as we thought a woman scream on the flat of land beyond the crest of the bluff that stood opposite the house. My father was gone from home that day or we would have not been mistaken as to the cause of those loud cries. Mother said it was a woman that had got lost in the wild woods and she answered the cry. When mother hallooed she was answered immediately by a scream and mother continued to answer and the cry on the bluff was repeated as often as mother hallooed. Finally the cry on the bluff became louder and nearer and it seemed that the noise emanated just on the top of the bluff. But owing to the grass, cedar trees and other growth we were not able to see anything. But we expected to see a woman come to the house. Mother hushed hallooing, but the noise on the bluff was repeated a few minutes longer when it ceased also. We kept looking for the woman to come to the house, but she never came and we thought it strange that she did not make her appearance. It seems curious to me to the present day that we did not understand the cause of that cry, but we did not think. Father did not come back home until near sundown and after mother had recited to him about the noise on the bluff and that she thought it was the screams of a bewildered woman and that she did not come to the house, he told her that it was not a woman, but a panther and mother and we children got frightened after the danger had passed. Father told us that it was fortunate for ourselves that we did not venture up on the bluff to hunt for the "lost woman" or we might have got into trouble with the beast. About two o’clock on the following morning we heard the hogs rallying and very soon one of them commenced squealing. The dogs leaped over the yard fence and ran to where the hogs were and commenced baying some animal. Father supposed it was a gang of wolves that had attacked the hogs and rising out of bed he hurriedly put on his clothes and taking his rifle and went to the assistance of the dogs. But on arriving on the scene he saw by the dim light of the moon that it was a panther and not wolves. The stealthy beast had hold of a fine sow that weighed 200 pounds. The dogs were baying the panther and had not yet taken hold of it. The panther was too busy trying to kill the sow to give any attention to the dogs, but when father got there he encouraged the dogs and they all darted onto the panther and it was not able to go on with the murder of the sow and fight the dogs too and it released the sow and thought it would try the dogs awhile, but quickly changing its mind, and sprang away. But its temper was hot and while the dogs were pressing it hard in the race it stopped in 250 yards from where it had caught the sow to give battle to the dogs. When father reached there the panther had its back against a low bank and was striking at the dogs with its paws without hitting them, for they were careful to not get in reach of it. And while its attention was called to the dogs father reached as far as he could and placed the muzzle of his rifle near the region of the panther’s heart and shot the animal dead. It was not a large one but it was big enough to have killed the sow if father and the dogs had not interfered. We supposed that it was the same animal that we heard screaming on the bluff. Though the sow was seriously wounded, but by close attention from us she finally recovered from her wounds."

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