The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the south bank of Crooked Creek at a beautiful flowing spring of cold water is the residence of Loranzo McEntire. His farm is one mile below Powel and he has lived here since 1850. He was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, July 29, 1828. Uncle Loranzo is a son of John and Elizabeth (Wiley) McEntire. His father is buried in the cemetery at the mouth of Clear Creek. His mother rests in a graveyard near Springfield, Mo. The writer and Uncle Loranzo served in the same regiment together in the Civil War. Uncle Loranzo was just as good a confederate soldier as he has always been an honorable citizen of Marion County, Ark., since the war and before. Mr. McEntire said that when he located on Crooked Creek the entire valley was comparatively a wild country and overrun with game. "But," said he "I never hunted to amount to anything. But I will give you two panther stories which are reliable. Along in the early 50’s Jarrel McEntire and Isaac Snow, who were brothers-in-law, went into the Buffalo Hills on a camp hunt. They took only one horse and one dog. One day while they were on a hill near Calf Creek they separated temporarily. Snow was mounted on the horse and McEntire was afoot. As Uncle Jarrel went along through the tall grass the dog commenced growling and his hair all stood out straight. There was nothing in sight but Jarrel said he heard a noise similar to wolves howling at a distance and he supposed the dog had scented them. After walking a few steps further he stopped again and heard the same noise. It had a strange sound, but he still thought it wolves howling away off and if the dog had not scented them it was odd how he was acting for he kept growling like some kind of wild beast was close by. Uncle Jarrel went on a few yards further and stopped again, and the same noise greeted his ears. By this time he was convinced that it was not wolves but he was unable to make out what it was. When he started again a spotted animal the size of a grown coon sprang up out of the grass a few feet in front of him, and stopped in an open place. It was a beautiful little creature, but Jarrel could not name it. He had seen nothing like it before. He had seen plenty of fawns, but this was no deer nor no kin to deer, but he did not think only a few seconds when he leveled his rifle at it and shot it. Then he hallooed for Snow and when the man rode up they both gave it a thorough examination. They both said that they never seen anything that resembled it. While they were conversing together they heard something in the grass in 10 or 12 yards of them and were astonished at the sight of a grown panther slipping away through the rank grass. Neither men or dog had noticed it, but before Snow could aim at it with his gun it was gone. But they sent the dog after it, which pursued it about 300 yards and came back. Both men were now able to identify the little beast, for they knew it was a young panther. When the dog came back Jarrel reloaded his rifle and both hunters intended to go on. But they stumbled on two more little spotted fellows which ran up a scrubby chinkapin tree and Uncle Jarrel shot one. The other had stopped on a low limb in reach of the dog and he leaped up and jerked it down and killed it. They now went to a settlement for assistance to kill the mother panther, and a few men with plenty of dogs repaired to the spot where the young panthers were slain, but they did not succeed in killing the old one.

John McEntire, a cousin of mine, killed a panther in 1854 near where he lived on the head of Hampton Creek which flows into Crooked Creek just below the mouth of Clear Creek. One cloudy day while a mist of rain was falling John heard the sheep bell start and his flock of sheep came running to the house as fast as their legs to carry their bodies. John was sitting in the house when he heard them start. He thought it was wolves disturbing the sheep, and ran out of the house with gun in hand, and called the dog. His oldest son, whose name was Tom, went along with John too. Father and son hurried along as fast as they could go until they arrived at a little knoll where there was a small grove of chinkapin trees. Here the dog began yelping on the trail of some animal. This was followed by a hot chase across a hollow where the dog treed it which dispelled the idea that it was a wolf, for whatever it might be it had climbed a tree. Hurrying on across the hollow to the dog they discovered a panther up a large blackjack tree. John took with his rifle at the side of a tree and shot at the beast, but the bullet took effect in the fleshy part of its foreleg only. The wound stung the panther severely and caused it to jump in a lively way from limb to limb and bite off the ends of the twigs; but by the time he had reloaded it had quieted down and he advanced up closer to the tree to obtain a more accurate aim, intending to shoot the animal in the forehead. At the report of the gun it fell to the ground apparently dead. The dog sprang on it for a fight and to their surprise he got more than he was expecting for when the dog leaped on the panther the latter whirled on its back in an instant and placing its hind feet against the dog’s belly kicked it 20 feet. This put a cooler on the dog and it kept at a safe distance from that on. But in the meantime the panther got on its feet and ran up in ten feet of where John and Tom stood and stopped and they saw that the last bullet had glanced one of its eyeballs and put it out. The dog, after the panther had give it such a jolt, ran to the men, but it had enough panther to do it for awhile at least and they could not induce it to attack the ferocious animal anymore. The panther’s eye being out bothered it and it would look at the men like a hog with the blind staggers, then it would look at the dog, then at the men again. It appeared to be at a loss which to attack. John took his butcher knife from the scabbard and gave it to Tom saying if it jumps on me stab it to death with the knife. If it jumps on you I will kill it with the barrel of my gun. But the panther changed its mind and quickly wheeled around and ran up the same tree. During the excitement while the panther was threatening them John did not reload his rifle, but when it went back up the tree he worked in a hurry to reload by pouring into the gun a big charge of powder and rammed down two naked balls on top of it and sent the balls into the side of the panther’s head and it fell from the tree the second time. This time it was not able to kick another dog or frighten anymore sheep. It measured just 9 feet in length."

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