The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

A story of a young lady’s adventure with a panther was given me by Mrs. Sarah Thornton, daughter of John Lane who came to the Sugar Loaf Country in Boone County, Ark., in 1851. Mrs. Thornton was acquainted with Mr. Torman and his family who lived on the north bank of White River where Buck Coker settled in the Jake Nave Bend in Boone County. Mr. Torman’s proper name was Norman. His given name was Tom. Mrs. Thornton said that Virginia Norman or "Ginnie" as she was commonly called was a daughter of Uncle Tommie’s and was nearly grown. Shortly before the angel of death visited this unfortunate family," said Mrs. Thornton, "Ginnie had a thrilling experience with a panther. She had rode up Pine Hollow which comes into the river at the lower end of the Jake Nave Bend to hunt her father’s milk cows. She was mounted on a sorrel horse named Pete which was stout and active and a racer. The young woman found the cattle in the little pinery and started them toward home when she met a huge panther which put the cattle to flight and attempted to spring on her or the horse. But the horse with its rider sped out of danger before the animal could make its leap. The hollow with its steep hillsides was rough, but the girl lost no time to select the best part of the ground for the horse to run over. The frightful beast pursued the fleeing horse and rider and bounded along just behind the horse’s heels. Though the young lady was terrified but she determined to escape if the horse would carry her out of danger. As the fleeing horse raced along over the stony hillside she caught a glimpse of the panther as it would run up by the side of the horse and crouch down for a spring, but the faithful and scared horse would spring forward out of reach of the ferocious beast. Then the terrible creature would run on in pursuit and soon overtake the fast fleeing horse. Sometimes it would be running close up behind the horse, then it would spring along at its side which caused the horse to dodge and almost unseat the frightened girl. In this way horse and rider and the ugly animal raced along together until they reached the foot of the hill where the Protem and Navels Ferry road leads up now. Here the panther dropped behind and Ginnie hoped that it was gone for good and she slowed the speed of the horse to allow him a breathing spell and calm the excitement that was so straining on her nervous system, but it was only for a minute, for as she was following the then dim road down the hollow toward the river she caught sight of the panther again in a few yards of her and the race down the hollow was swift though the panther did not threaten her like it did up on the hill, but it ran along close to the horse. Though the girl had been hallooing to frighten the beast away, but on arriving in a few hundred yards of the house she screamed out loud in distress and repeated it and did so the third time. The family heard her cries and knowing that something had gone wrong with her , they ran and met here, but the dogs met her first and scared the panther away, and it fled back up the hollow. Ginnie was so overcome with excitement that she was barely able to relate the account of her horrifying experience with the stealthy creature for an hour or more after she got into the house."

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