The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In Keesee Township, Marion County, Ark., is a small farm on the left bank of White River that was known in the pioneer days as the Peter Hoodenpile place. After Mr. Hoodenpile settled the land further up the river Bill Trimble lived here a few years and it was called the Bill Trimble place. After the Civil War it was known as the Jake Bingham place. This land was settled by Bill Cowan and Allin Lucas several years before Mr. Hoodenpile lived here. A hollow runs through the farm and empties into the river opposite a high bluff where the writer’s parents concealed provision in war times. In the hollow mentioned and a short distance from the river bank is a fine spring of cool sparkling water which flows out of the bank on the west side of the bed of the branch and is a noted water to the pioneer people who once resided here and the weary hunters who were thirsty and stopped here to cool his inward parts with this cold and exhilerating nature’s fluid, A small incident occurred here one day that I deem worthy of mention and which was told me by Fate Jones. "During one crop season," said he, "while I and John Riddle were cultivating this land we went to this spring one day to get a drink of water and after we had quenched our thirst we seated ourselves to rest a few minutes before going back to work. We had barely sat down when we heard a racket commence on the east side of the hollow from the spring and were surprised at seeing a mink pursuing a common sized coach whip snake. The reptile had its form in such active motion that it was getting away as fast as it could slide itself along. The serpent was so demoralized with the appearance of the mink behind it that it was careless of the way it traveled just so it made its escape from its dreaded foe. Though the serpent was fairly darting along still it was not able to outrace its enemy for the fearless little animal overhauled his snakeship in the bed of the branch and caught it by the head and shook the snake like a dog does when he catches a serpent. The coach whip was terribly scared and it wiggled, twisted and squirmed while the mink held to it and sank its teeth into the serpent’s head which made the blood flow freely from the wound. In a short time after the mink caught the snake the latter seemed to be in the throes of death and desiring to kill the mink for its hide I picked up a stone and hurled it at it, but I missed it. It now released the reptile and darted up a tree a few feet. Then changing its mind it leaped to the ground and ran into an opening at the head of the spring and John Riddle dammed up the water below where the spring ran out of the ground and forced the mink out of its place of refuge and we killed it. In the meantime the snake ceased its wiggling and was apparently lifeless. But after the mink had come out of the water and during the excitement in killing it Mr. Coachwhip revived and slipped away into the weeds and was gone when we finished slaying the mink."

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