The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

By S. C. Turnbo

Not many hunters tramped the woods more for game than Calvin Clark, son of William and Mary (Arthur) Clark. He was born in Laurel County, Kentucky, in 1828 and came from his native state with his parents to Taney County, Mo., in 1841. In 1843 his father located at the mouth of Shoal Creek in what is now Boone County, Ark. He lived here until the autumn of 1849 when he moved elsewhere and lived in various localities in Marion County, Ark., until his death in 1861. His mother died in 1854. Both are resting in the graveyard on the Abe Perkins farm ½ mile below the mouth of Music Creek. In referring to this burial ground Calvin Clark says that his mother selected this spot for a graveyard just before her death. The old couple are buried on a mound near the river bank. Uncle Calvin says that he has 26 relatives buried here including his parents and his brother Lige and the famed hunter Bill Clark. Uncle Billy Clark brought a fine set of hand mill rocks with him from Kentucky that was quarried in the famous Laurel Hill, sometimes called the Dug Hill. This quarry is situated in Laurel County. The writer’s father bought them from Mr. Clark. John Clark, son of Uncle Billy, pushed them up in a canoe from mouth of Shoal Creek to Elbow Shoals and delivered them to my father for five dollars. This was in the late fall of 1849. Mr. Calvin Clark says he is acquainted with the graveyard on Little Creek four miles above Thornfield, Mo., known as the Tommy Norris graveyard, where Tommy Norris and his wife are buried. John Piland’s body was the first interment here which occurred during the war. The old settlers, Goodman Daves, Elijah Newberry and Sanders Thompson, are buried here.

"Well," says Uncle Calvin, "as you cannot put all my hunting stories in one chapter you will have to divide them into several parts. I will proceed now to give you two more bear stories. I well recollect that in 1845 while we were living at the mouth of Shoal Creek I and father went on a camp hunt on the head of Big Creek and were out two days and one night. On the first day father lost part of his bullets out of his shot pouch which made his supply of rifle balls very limited. Early on the following day while we were separated father met three bears, a mother and two cubs. He shot and killed the old one, then reloaded his rifle and shot one of the cubs. This exhausted his bullets. The other cub went up a tall tree and did not stop climbing until it had reached the topmost limb. Father wanted the little bear and he pondered a moment and then cut a piece off of his gun stick ½ inch long and rapped some tow (fiber of flax) around it and then poured a heavy charge of powder down his gun and pushed the slug of wood down on it and shot and killed the young bear. The slug had passed through the cub’s body, lacerating the flesh worse than the effects of a bullet. The little bruises weighed about 60 lbs. each after they were dressed. Now for the other story," said Mr. Clark. "Did you ever see a bear feed grapes to her young?" In answering him in the negative, he said, "Well, I had the pleasure of witnessing that once which is very vivid in my memory. It was in the fall of 1844. I and father and my brother Bill Clark had rode to head of Trimble Creek one day to hunt. We had four dogs with us. I was 17 years old and how I enjoyed myself in the hills among the game. It was a delightful day and we killed a few deer for their hides. While riding along near the base of Short Mountain on the north side we spied a bear on a log about 200 yards from us. The log lay across a narrow ravine. We also discovered two yearling cubs under the log. The mother bear was sitting on her haunches and pulling off bunches of grapes which hung in clusters on the vines that entwined a small sapling that stood against the log, the top of which reached just above old bruin’s head. The scene of the bear feeding grapes to her young was interesting to us and we sat on our horses and kept the dogs quiet and watched her actions several minutes. Bruin was busy gathering the wild fruit and dropping it down to the cubs, the latter of which was busy picking up the grapes and devouring them. The old bear would reach out with her paws and pull the vines to her mouth and bite off the bunches of grapes and spit them out or merely open her mouth and let them drop. The sight was worth something for study regarding bear nature. Whether she observed us watching her or not we did not know. If she did she never let on. After we had satisfied our curiosity my brother Bill dismounted and shot her. The poor beast uttered a peculiar cry similar to a human when attacked with severe pain, and cried out, "Oh. Lordy", as plain and as distinct as a human could utter It. Then she tottered and fell off the log dead where the cubs were feasting on the grapes she had thrown to them. Though it was only a bear, yet that strange noise from her rung in my ears for days afterward. I felt almost like we had murdered some person. When the old bear fell father turned the dogs loose and the young bears retreated and the dogs chased them until they sought safety in a tree. When we had advanced up near the tree where the cubs had taken refuge another scene met our vision for both animals fell from the tree as if dead, which greatly astonished us. When they hit the ground the dogs dashed at them for a fight but the young bruins were all grit and instantly rose on their hind feet and knocked the four dogs away and then lowered themselves and started off on a run. The dogs after recovering from the shock of being tapped over gave pursuit and the cubs climbed another tree, but when we rode up near the tree they released their holds and tumbled to the ground as before, followed by another spell of knocking the dogs down, then a short chase and up another tree the bears went. But before we could shoot them they dropped to the ground the third time. This time the dogs refused to attack the cubs. The latter had taught them a lesson. The dogs were too prudent and we could not induce them to venture near them again and the bears went on. At this moment my brother Bill’s horse broke loose and we had much trouble before we captured him again. By this time the cubs were gone and made good their escape."

"The worst trouble I ever had with a deer," said Uncle Calvin, "was one day while I and my brother John Clark were hunting on the head of Music Creek, where I shot a small doe which fell apparently dead. Going up to where it lay I bent over the deer to cut its throat. Just as I placed the sharp edge of the knife against its throat, the deer flounced and kicked the knife out of my hand then jumped to its feet. But in rising up it struck against me and knocked me down. Without thinking what I was doing I caught it by the foreleg as I fell. Real live fun began now in earnest. The little deer kicked and surged to free itself. Of course I could have turned it loose but I had caught it and as long as I had done so I thought I would hold it. The little animals was fully revived now and it struggled terrible and bruised my body and limbs with its feet and tore my clothes into tatters. John stood off a few yards tantalizing and laughing at me. I begged him to help me but he only laughed the louder and said he would not show foul play for he wanted it to be a fair fight. The dog was standing a few feet away and I called him but John took hold of the dog and would not allow him to come to my aid thought I did not want to turn the deer loose, but I was discouraged, bruised all over and nearly nude. The deer kept on kicking and surging to free itself but I held on until at last John walked up and stabbed the deer behind the shoulder with his knife but the blade was short and did not penetrate to a vital part. But I let go the deer. Whether it was a judgement sent on John or not I do not know, but anyway as the deer turned to run it kicked him a severe blow on the shin bone cutting a gash two inches long. John’s legs hurt him so that he fairly danced around for awhile and groaned awful. It was wrong for me to laugh at his suffering but I did for I thought the deer did right in kicking him for treating me so unkindly. We were afoot and John could hardly walk home and it was three or four weeks before the sore healed over. John repented of his ill treatment shown me and asked my forgiveness which as a matter of course I did. He said he enjoyed seeing the deer get the best of me and hear me beg for help. My legs and body was sore several days, but I recovered sooner than John did. My clothes, though, were torn into fragments."

May 26, 1902

Next Story

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

Springfield-Greene County Library