The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Elisha Herndon who lives on the old Doctor Randolph Lawrence farm ½ mile north of the town of Rome, Douglas County, Mo., furnished the writer a few items of interest. Elisha is a son of Isaiah Herndon and was born near where the old village of Rockbridge in Ozark County once stood. The year of his birth was in 1854. His father was killed near the close of the war and was buried in the McMahon graveyard near Seymour, Mo. Mr. Herndon’s (Elisha) mother’s maiden name was Sarah Daves, a sister of Goodman Daves, who was a prominent citizen of Ozark County. Elisha Herndon married Clarissa Lawrence, daughter of Doctor Lawrence. As the Lawrence family were a noted one on Beaver Creek Mr. Herndon gave the writer a brief history of them and their settlement in Douglas County, Mo. "Randolph (Doctor) Lawrence settled on Little Beaver Creek in 1844 and began the practice of medicine in 1848. In the year 1850 he settled the farm where I live now," said Mr. Herndon. "Dr. Lawrence married his second wife and was the father of 18 children. Billy Lawrence, a brother of the doctor’s, built the mill on Beaver Creek which bore his name many years. Henry Lawrence, another brother, built a mill at the mouth of Little Beaver. These transactions occurred years ago. After the death of Doctor Lawrence and his brother Billy their bodies received interment in the William Barnes cemetery two miles northeast of Rome. As regards my experience with the beasts of the forest I am not able to give you much for I never met with any serious adventures. I did meet a panther one night which I have not forgot. If it is worthy of notice I will tell it to you. A good many years ago I lifted at the mouth of Little Creek where the town of Thornfield now stands. A future town there was not thought of then but Capt. William Piland sold goods here just after the close of the war. One bright moonlit night during my residence here I and Enoch Piland, a son of Capt. Piland, and a man of the name of Reid visited a turkey roost and after shooting as many turkeys as we needed we started on our way back home. It was 11 o’clock before we reached the ford of Little North Fork at the mouth of Little Creek. Just before we reached the creek our dog ran on in advance of us when all unexpectly he came dashing back and ran on past us with his hair raised. He was growling and was bad disturbed at something. We supposed that he had met a bunch of wolves that had given him such a scare which put us on our guard. We walked on a few steps further and watched careful for them, but none appeared. Then we went on further and when about 30 paces from a large rock that lay near the water just below the ford of the creek we met a panther which did not stop until it was in ten feet of us when it raised up on its hind feet and growled fiercely. I will admit that my feelings were not as healthy as they were a few minutes before we met the beast. We had but little time to think for the animal had taken us on surprise for we were looking for wolves. I was just in front of the other two men and I aimed my gun at the panther’s breast and fired and the long form of the beast fell backwards and lay quiet for a moment, when with a loud cry it whirled over and jumped to its feet and with two or three bounds sprang into the creek and plunged through the water downstream. We followed and shot at it six times while it was in the water. When it had got near 100 yards below the ford the beast left the water and made toward Pond Fork. We took the precaution not to pursue the panther further that night and went on home and on the following day we trailed it three miles by the blood but did not succeed in following it up. A day or two after this the Merritt boys Sack and Sam were out with their dogs chasing a fox and the fox sought shelter in a cave and the two hunters accompanied by their dogs went into the cavern to find Mr. Fox’s hiding place and while the men were searching for this crafty animal they were astonished at discovering a dead panther lying in the cave. The boys said that the animal had died from the effects of a shot and we believed it to be the same panther that introduced itself to us at the ford of the creek. As to wolves they never gave me any trouble worthy of notice. But I will give you a wolf story that you might like to hear, though I was not present when the incident occured, but I can vouch for the truth of the tale though I cannot remember all the details of it. There are two Caney Creeks that flow into Beaver. The upper one which enters Beaver at Brown Branch is called Dry Caney. One day many years ago three of the Lawrences—old Billy, John and Randolph—and Steve Jack-son went up on Dry Caney on a deer hunt. John Lawrence was a son of Randolph (Doctor) Lawrence and Randolph was a son of Billy Lawrence. While the four hunters were on the north prong of Dry Caney they separated temporarily, each man go his own way to find and shoot deer. Soon after they had separated Jackson shot and killed a deer and after ridding
the animal of its entrails he hung it up on the limb of a tree and passed on. His clothes were stained with the deer’s blood, but he was a hunter and cared nothing for that and walked on until arriving at a branch of Caney known as Waterhole Hollow. Here his attention was suddenly aroused by an attack from a bunch of wolves which came charging at him gnashing their teeth. When they got in close rifle range of him he shot one of the vicious beasts down. But this did
not check the others for with loud snarls they rushed up and surrounded him and leaped at him to take him down. The terror stricken man kicked the wolves with all the strength he could command and did some loud hallooing and struck them with the barrel of his gun and succeeded in driving the impudent beasts away long enough to draw his breath and gain a little time and advantage, and dropping the empty gun he hurried up a tree. He was none too soon for he was just out of reach of their teeth when they dashed back and three of them leaped up to catch at his feet. Jackson did not stop climbing until he knew he was safe. The excitement caused by the attack of the wolves and climbing the tree in such haste nearly cut off the man’s breath and strength and he rested until he grew calm before he began calling for help for he believed that some of his companions were in hearing distance. As it happened they all heard him and thinking a panther had leaped on him they all went to give him aid as fast as they could go, but they did not all get there at the same time. It was a great relief to the treed hunter to see them coming. The three men expected to find a panther rending Jackson’s flesh with its claws and teeth, but instead
they beheld the man sitting in a tree with a pack of wolves under it acting as his bodyguard. Seeing that the man was safe the foremost man waited until the other two advanced up to where he was and the vicious wolves allowed them to get in shooting distance and the men shot three of the wolves and killed them and the others slunk away out of sight. Jackson was overjoyed at the appearance of his friends and retreating wolves and descended the tree and thanked his companions for their timely interference for the wolves might have kept him up the tree until he would have been forced to come down on account of hunger and thirst when they probably would have went for him again.

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