The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In the year 1851 Joseph R. McCracken arrived in Marion, Ark., from the state of Tennessee where he lived awhile at Yellville. Joseph R. died many years ago and lies buried in the Mitchell graveyard on Jimmie’s Creek. His wife, Mrs. Isabel (Thompson) McCracken died in Tennessee. Among their sons is J. T. (Tomps) McCracken who was born at Murfees Borough, Rutherford County, Tennessee, November 29, 1830. Mr. McCracken said that the numerous hills and hollows in Marion County was overrun with game and panther, wolves and wild cat. "The only real fight I ever got into with wild beasts in Marion County was with two vicious wild cats on the summit of a bluff on the south side of White River four miles above the mouth of Jimmie’s Creek. I was mounted on a mule and was hunting for stock that had wandered off from home where I lived eight miles below Peel. As usual when I rode into the woods to round up my cattle I took my shepherd dog Charley with me for company and to help me drive the cattle (but had no gun with me). While I was passing by a thicket of bushes on the bluff just mentioned I heard some animal approach me out of the thicket and before I had time to think hardly two wild cats attacked the dog. I was confident that the two beasts were able to whip the dog and I hurriedly dismounted to assist him. The moment I had got down off of the mule one of the cats left the dog and with hair bushed up sprang at me and made several attempts to reach my chest. I had a hard tussle to prevent it from leaping up in my face, but after some lively kicking and knocking with my clenched hands I persuaded the enraged beast to leave me and go up a tree; but not before it had tore my clothes and the flesh on my legs with its sharp claws and teeth. While I and the wild cat was engaged in the row the dog had put the other cat to flight and chased it into the bluff. When my cat left me I felt as angry as it was and when it sprang up the tree and stopped I snatched up a stone and hurled it at the cat’s head and struck it between the eyes and it fell to the ground. I supposed I had killed it, but it was only stunned and soon revived. It was now that the dog came back to me out of the bluff and it clinched with the cat at once, and I and the dog fought it until it left us and ascended the same tree again and stopped near 20 feet above the ground. The cat appeared to have the worst of the right now and would like to escape. But my anger at the animal was increased and picking up another stone I threw it with more force than I did before. The stone went to the mark and the cat relaxed its hold and fell to nigh gone dead to make any resistance and I finished its life with another stone. As soon as it was entirely dead I followed the dog into the bluff and found the other cat lying dead where the dog had killed it. I picked it up and brought it out of the bluff and layed it down by the side of the other dead cat, and after I rested awhile I put them both on the mule and carried them home."

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