The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

When we moved to the mouth of Elbow Creek from the mouth of Beaver in 1849 no one lived on Elbow above our place. But in the month of January, 1850, Josiah Bone settled on what is now the Gum Smith land some two miles above the mouth. This farm is on the west side of the creek. In 1851 Tom Jones settled what is now the Abbi Deacon’s place. This land is also on the west side of the creek and is only a short distance above the place we occupied. At the lower end of the Deacon’s farm at the base of the creek bluff is three fine springs of cold water that form a little swift flowing brooklet before entering Elbow Creek. On the east side of the creek from these springs is a tall steep hill which is partly bare of timber. From the summit of this hill an observer commands a fine view of the narrow valley of Elbow Creek. During the Civil War this hilltop was used as a lookout station by several parties who took part in the war on the southern side. When we left Elbow Creek in 1853 my father sold his place to Sim Edgar who lived in the state of Indiana. This man was a bachelor and a dealer in stock and he bought the place to use as a stock ranch. But on returning home preparatory to moving here he sickened and died. It was said that Edgar had no relatives in America and the land he had bought from father finally fell into the hands of John Yandell who secured a title to it at a tax sale. Yandell was one of Taney County’s best citizens and lived on this farm many years and was one of the men that used this hill mentioned for a refuge and a lookout station in war days. Near the springs of water that we have referred to stood an old corn crib and parties from time to time would sleep here of nights and on hearing a noise resembling the approach of an enemy they would hustle out of the building and flee across the creek and up the steep hillside to the top. There were a number of funny night scenes occurred here as well as in daylight during those dark days of blood and strife. One night John Yandell and his brother "Luns" Yandell and their old time friend Lewis Lunsford were sleeping in this crib when they got the worst scare of the war. Sometime after night fall a man of the name of Jackson who was camping on the creek above here passed the crib on horseback. He was carrying hams, trace chains, one fire shovel and a frying pan. The horse was going in a trot and the noise made by the chains, shovel and frying pan striking together was a mighty one and it woke up the sleeping men before Jackson reached the crib. They supposed it was a regiment of cavalry charging up and clashing their sabers together. It was a cold night but they cared nothing for the ice cold weather when the enemy was close at hand and they grabbed their clothes and shoes and without taking time to put them on rushed out at the door. Lunsford had $600 in Confederate money stowed in the lining of his hat and while he was rushing across the creek in his sock feet he slipped and fell into the swift but shallow water. His hat fell from his head and away it and the money went rapidly downstream. But who cared for money when their life was in danger and recovering himself Lunsford rushed on across the cold water and up the hill bareheaded and shoeless and the man said that he had to keep up the race till morning to keep from freezing to death. Sometime during the following day Lunsford ventured back and fished his hat and shoes out of the creek and recovered his wet money and took it to a house and dried it. At another time Yandell and Lunsford had went to Yandell’s house for dinner and just after the two men had seated themselves at the table, Mrs. Rebecca Yandell, wife of John Yandell, who while waiting on the table was also watching the road very carefully and observed a squad of cavalry approaching the house and gave the alarm instantly. The two men leaped up from the table and ran out at a back door and escaped without the soldiers seeing them but they did not halt until they had reached the top of the hill mentioned. Just after they had sat down to rest Lunsford says, "John, what have you got that knife and fork in your hands for?", and Yandell looked at his hands and replied, "Well, Lewis, I did not know I had a knife and fork in my hands until you spoke of it." The man was actually holding a case knife in one hand and a fork in the other. He had just picked them up when his wife gave the alarm and he forgot to leave them on the table and carried them to the top of the hill without knowing it. We will now return back to the three springs, the upper one of which when we lived on Elbow formed a fine pool of water which flowed in a circle in a basin where the water gushed out of the ground. This water was then known as the Boiling Spring. After Tom Jones located there he built a small hut near this spring and lived here several months. He and a few of the settlers who lived on the river above Elbow creek fell out and one night a short while afterward Jones was assaulted in his cabin by a bunch of men and beaten with clubs until he was almost insensible. The trouble originated from a steer being killed and appropriated for beef by certain parties. The animal belonged to Tol Wolsey, a stock man, and it was said that Jones knew something about the missing steer and had divulged the names of the party who did the killing and they went in on Tom in the dead hours of night and beat him with the clubs in the presence of his family. I remember two of Jone’s children, Rhoda and Sally, who were among my playmates while they lived there. Josiah Bone after a year or two residence on Elbow Creek went to the Jake Nave Bend on the river where he and wife died one day only a few hours apart and were buried in the same grave that was dug in the graveyard at the lower end of the bottom where Buck Coker settled. A large number of settlers assisted at the interment of the bodies. Nearly everyone used oxen in those days and it was necessary to have a yoke of cattle to pull the wagon containing the remains to the graveyard a half a mile distant. The cattle were on the range and Fielding Holt and "River" Bill Coker hunted until night for them without finding them. But this did not prevent the burial of the bodies at the proper time for Holt and Coker with the help of several other men pulled and pushed the wagon to the graveyard after night and buried them by torchlight. After Bone left his claim Henry Wiggins occupied it. Wiggins married Mary Coker in 1847. She was a daughter of Charles Coker and was born in the Sugar Loaf Country in 1831. Her mother, Elizabeth Coker, was a daughter of Jake Friend and was Charles Coker’s first wife. While Wiggins was living here he picked up his axe one morning and started down the creek. At the first crossing of the creek above where Tom Jones settled a sycamore log lay across the creek, the butt end of which rested against a small sycamore tree 3 or 4 feet above the gravel bed. As Wiggins went to step up on the log to cross over the log slipped down and caught one of his legs under it and broke the bone between the knee and ankle joint. It was more than ¼ mile back to his cabin and it was sometime before his wife heard his outcries of distress and for help. When she reached him she found that she was unable to lift the log off of his leg and ran down to our house for assistance and my father hurried to him and after lifting the log from his crushed leg he picked up the man in his arms and carried him home and made "splinters" of cedar wood and bound them to his broken leg, but it was many days before the man was able to walk again. We will now return back to Josiah Bone. While he lived on Elbow Creek he owned a small black dog with a white stripe around his neck he called "Danger." The little animal was a great favorite in Bone’s family. His master claimed that the dog loved home so well that it never left the house except when accompanied by a member of the family. One day a bunch of wolves attacked our sheep and killed several. Father notified Bone to take care of his dog for he intended to poison the flesh of the dead sheep with strychnine in order to destroy a few of the wolves. Mr. Bone sent word that his dog was "all right, that he never ran about over the country like other dogs did, and it was useless for him to tie him up for he would not bother the dead sheep and get poisoned." But on the following morning when Mr. Bone rose out of bed "Danger" was gone. He called loudly for him but the little dog failed to appear. Then the man became uneasy and struck out before breakfast to search for him. The trailway leading down the creek passed in a few feet of the boiling spring and when the man arrived at the spring he was astonished to find his dog dead in this spring. The current of water was spinning the dead dog around like a top and as the man stood and watched the body of his favorite dog being whirled around by the water he shed tears of grief and sorrow. Directly he came on down to our house and greeted father with the following words, "Turnbo, Danger is dead." "Is he." says father. "Yes," replied Mr. Bone, "he is sure dead. I found him a while ago in the Boiling Spring floating around in the water. I did not believe my dog ran about, but he did last night and ate of the poisoned sheep and the poor fellow is dead. Oh, how it hurts me to have to give him up." And then he turned around and started back home. When Josiah Bone settled on the creek he owned a fine flock of sheep which he and wife idolized and kept a shrewd watch over them to prevent wild beasts from destroying them. In the months of February and March of the year he located here he cleared 2 or 3 acres of ground and employed my father to break the land with an old time bull tongue plow and cutting coulter pulled by a stout yoke of cattle. One morning late while the two men were at work in the clearing, they heard the sheep bell running toward the house. They supposed it was a pack of wolves pursuing the sheep and they both ran to frighten them away. But before the men reached the house Mrs. Bone ran and met the sheep and discovered a panther killing one of the sheep in 50 yards of the sheep lot. At the sight of the panther the woman screamed at the top of her voice which frightened the panther and it left the sheep and bounded away. When the two men reached the spot where the dying sheep lay they followed the back track of the sheep and soon found a sheep that was entirely dead that the panther had slain. A portion of the sheep’s entrails had been torn out by the panther’s claws. We owned 6 good hound dogs and Mr. Bone having no gun father requested him to mount a horse that belonged to father and which he had ridden there that morning and gallop down to our house and get the gun and dogs. I well remember when the man came charging up to the yard fence which frightened mother. She feared father was killed or badly hurt. The man acted as if he had gone crazy and yelled at mother to bring out the gun. This increased her anxiety and she says, "Mr. Bone, what is the matter." In reply, he said, "0h, Mrs. Turnbo, I want Jim’s gun and dogs for my heart is almost broken." Mother was now puzzled as well as frightened for she believed something serious had occurred but what it was she was not able to understand and she said, "Mr. Bone, what is it that has gone wrong?" "Oh my God," he quickly answered, "a panther has killed two of my sheep and it has nearly broke my heart." "Foolish man, I am glad it is no worse than the death of two sheep," said she, and took him out the rifle and handed it to him. The man now called the dogs and reining the horse around he galloped back toward home. After the men put the dogs on the trail of the panther they chased it into the hills at the head of the creek where the beast turned on the dogs and ran them nearly back to the men and the dogs refused to have any further acquaintance with it. Before closing this chapter we will say that John G. Yandell and Rebecca, his wife, are both dead now and lie at rest in the cemetery at Protem, Mo. Mr. Yandell was born July 11, 1834, and died April 29, 1884. His wife was born July 28, 1838, and died January 14, 1881. Lewis Lunsford died on the Gaither Mountain near Hill Top Post Office, Boone County, Ark., In 1902.

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