The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following amusing story was related by Ezekiel Eslick.

"When we settled on Beaver Creek in what is now Douglas County, Mo., there seemed to be no end to wild beasts such as panther and wolves. Their onslaught on domesticated animals was awful. It was almost impossible to raise stock unless it was protected day and night. Shortly after father located here he went up on Stone Creek in what is now Wright County, Mo., and bought two fine sows paying ten dollars apiece for them. When he brought them home he gave one of them to mother with the remark that, "we will see which one of us will have the best luck raising hogs." Both sows thrived and we thought we would soon have a big bunch of hogs. They were kept close about the house and were fed regular and otherwise cared for. But for all our watchful care they one evening went to the back of the field about ¼ mile from the house,, made beds and both brought pigs. We were proud of the little grunters, and rejoiced that when they grew large enough we would be enabled to mix some pork with our wild meat. Mother wanted to bring the sows and pigs to the house for she knew it was running a narrow risk of losing them while they were so far from the house. Father objected to their removal, saying that the pigs were too young and he preferred to let them remain there until morning when they would be stout enough to follow the sows. Mother reluctantly consented, but she had no faith that she would see the pigs alive next morning. Father said he did not think they would get hurt and he would "put them in a safe place tomorrow." To be more certain a "varmint" would not bother them father took some white pieces of cloth and hung them on the bushes at the beds as he said "to keep the wild beasts off." Early the following morning one of the sows came to the feed trough. The other did not show up. Mother said that something was wrong or the other sow would be there too. We started to the beds at once and what a sight met our vision. When we got there not a live pig was found. Only a few fragments of them were discovered which were covered up with leaves. Some 20 paces from the bed lay the other sow. She was dead and partly devoured and what was left of her had been covered over with leaves and grass. Father said that a panther did the work and began to plan how to kill it. Of course we were sorry for our loss but we saw no use in crying over spilt milk, The next thing was to make the panther pay for it with his life. Father told me to go to Mr. Elliot’s, a neighbor of ours who lived a few miles away, with a request for the man to come and bring his gun and dog. His dog was a large fierce one. Elliot was at home and he came back with me leading the dog with a rope that was attached to a collar around the dog’s neck. The man also had a huge knife which he carried in a leather scabbard. When we went back to the hog beds father and Elliot decided that the panther was close by. There was a thicket of brush in a hollow not far from the field and the men concluded that the panther lay concealed in this sough. Elliot was an experienced hunter and so was father, but Elliot was the older man and father told him he wanted him to boss the job of hunting the panther. I was allowed to go, but children then did not boss their parents and I was a silent observer and listener. Elliot sent me and father around the edge of the thicket to watch for the beast should it run out of the brush while he would pass through the thicket with his dog and scare it out. But before we separated Elliot tied the other end of the rope he lead the dog with around his waist. Then we started and went creeping along keeping a sharp look out for the panther. After Elliot got into the center of the thicket he saw the stealthy beast lying down and with cautious step advanced a little nearer to obtain a better view of it so he would be enabled to shoot it in a vital part. But the panther was angry and rose to its feet and growled. The dog was fearless and dashed forward to attack it and being large and stout jerked the man down. The dog was so ferocious that he kept surging at the rope and pulling toward the growling beast and actually pulled the man along several feet. Elliot did his utmost to quiet the dog but it was no good for the animal paid no attention to him and kept jerking his master along inch by inch. The man was fairly frightened and to prevent the dog from dragging him right up to the panther he dropped his rifle and clutched a bush. But this did not cause the infuriated dog to cease pulling and jerking which made Elliot grunt and bewail in a loud manner. Me and father heard him plain and we made our way through the thicket to him as soon as possible. When we arrived the panther was standing in a few yards of the dog and luckless man. The dog was yet trying to get to the panther. The man was exerting his strength at holding to the bush. Elliot was in a bad predicament. The dog and panther was not a bit afraid but the man was scared out of his wits. Though we could see the panther, yet the intervening brush prevented father from shooting it. He told Elliot to cut the rope with his knife and let the dog go, which he did and that quick, remarking that he had not thought of his knife before. The moment the dog was free he sprang at the fierce beast for a combat. But the latter refused the challenge and wheeling about bounded away until it reached the outside of the thicket where the dog rushed it up a big bending white oak tree. When we came up, the panther was walking to and fro on the tree trunk, but it soon stopped to glare at us and father shot it in the eye. When it struck the ground it clutched a dogwood sapling with one forepaw and tore the bark. off with its claws. After it was dead we dragged it to the house and found that it was just the length of a rail that was ten feet long. I was only a boy then but I well remember how father had lots of fun at Elliot’s expense about the dog getting away with him in the thicket."

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