The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

We have mentioned on several occasions that the old Billy Holt farm is situated on the north bank of White River in the edge of Boone County, Ark., and that Mike Yocum was the first settler in that bottom. Yocum married Mrs. Sally Trimble, widow of Billy Trimble, and settled in this bottom in the early 20’s. He built a shanty 12 by 20 feet by setting posts in the ground a few feet apart and boxed up with slabs split from logs and made fast with wooden pins. The roof rested on rib poles and the boards which were made four feet in length were held in place by weight poles. This dwelling stood in the midst of a thick cane brake where bear, panther and other wild animals made their abiding place. Asa Yocum, son of Mike Yocum and who was born in 1819 said that he was a small lad when his father lived in this bottom. He said that one day he and Allin Trimble, who was his half-brother and five years his senior, was sent down into the bottom together one evening to bring the horses to the house which were running at will in the cane. Young Trimble was just old enough to carry a rifle. "As we pulled along through the thick growth of cane and under the spreading bows of the heavy growth of timber," said Mr. Yocum "the deep shadow of the trees and tall cane cast a gloom and loneliness over us. Just before reaching to where the horses were which were feeding near the sloo bank of Shoal Creek, Trimble who was a few feet behind me heard a noise over our heads and on looking up he saw a panther in the act of springing on me. My brother warned me of danger by crying out, "Look out, Ace, there is a panther up that tree fixing to jump on you." I sprang from under the tree like a big grasshopper and stopped and looked back up the tree and the ugly beast was crouched on a limb not over ten feet above the ground. Trimble stepped back a few paces and rested his rifle against a small tree and while the panther was lashing its tall against the limb he shot the beast and it fell off of the limb to the ground dead, never more to frighten anymore little boys."

Mrs. Jane Nave who died on Little North Fork and lies buried in the graveyard at the mouth of Brattons Spring Creek was a sister of Allin Trimble and a half-sister of Asa Yocum. She married Abe Nave, a brother to Jake and John Nave. During her old age she entertained her grandchildren that were old enough to understand with stories of pioneer life on White River. "One day," said she, "while my step-father Mike Yocum lived in the bottom where he settled which was just above the mouth of Shoal Creek, mother sent me into the cane to drive the cows to the lot. I was a little girl then and was much afraid of bears. While I was making my way through the cane toward where I heard the cow bell I saw a big bear in a few yards of me which scared me very bad and I wheeled around and fled back to the house. A big log lay in my way and knowing the bear would head me off if I undertook to run around it I collected my strength together and leaped up on the log and jumped off as far as I could toward the house. As I went over the log my bonnet fell from my head but I never stopped to pick it up. The bear followed me, but I beat it to the house and the big black beast retired back into the cane. I was so nigh out of breath when I reached the house that I could hardly tell my mother about seeing the bear. My stepfather was gone from home that day, but a few hours later I and my mother ventured out in the cane to the log to recover my bonnet and found that the bear in pursuing me and stepped on the bonnet. The imprint of his big paw was plainly visible."

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