The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Jimmie Jones, of near Lutie, Ozark County, Mo., was born near the mouth of Barren Fork, August 8, 1843. Uncle Jim is a son of Dave Jones and a grandson of "Sugar" Jones, the Methodist preacher who located in Ozark County in the early 30’s. Mr. Jones narrates an amusing story of his father and "Chat" Sallee, father of Captain J. H. Sallee, putting up a job on Noah Mahon in 1839. Noah was a brother of Isaac Mahon who was a native of the state of Indiana, but desiring to move to a new country where there was plenty of game, for the portion of Indiana where he lived was an old settled section and the game that once existed there had disappeared. "Father said that him and Sallee wrote to Mahon that Ozark County, Mo., was the place to come to, to live an easy life and kill all the game he wanted. Mahon wrote back that they might look for him in the course of a few months and sure enough he arrived sooner than expected and brought a new gun with him. He wanted to go hunting the following day after his arrival and my father and Sallee consented to go with him and the three men with dogs and rifles started out to kill a bear. A mile or so from Little North Fork the dogs chased a small bear, but it ran several miles before it went up a tree. In the hurry and flurry of the chase Mahon was left behind. When father and Sallee reached the tree the bear was up they shot bruin and as the tree had low branches and Mahon was a tenderfoot the two hunters thought it a fine opportunity to play a trick on him, so they pushed the little dead bear back up the tree and placed it on a limb in a shape that it looked like a live bear. The men now encouraged the dogs to bark at it and they stepped away from the tree some 50 yards and awaited the arrival of their friend. After the elapse of an hour he failed to put in an appearance and they discharged their guns to attract his attention and it was not long now before he showed up. He reported that he had got lost. The men pretended to Mahon that their guns was out of fix and pointed to the dead bear in the tree and told him that his rifle was all the dependence to kill bruin and they wanted him to shoot it. Mahon was eager for the trial and resting his gun against the side of a tree he shot. He was told that he never touched the bear. He reloaded and shot again. The two hunters insisted that his bullet went wide of the mark, that when he hit the bear it would drop to the ground. Mahon continued to reload his gun and shoot but bruin never dropped from the limb. Father and Sallee could hardly refrain from laughing outright, but they managed to control themselves until Mahon ventured up nearer and seeing bruin’s tongue hanging out of his mouth he remarked that he would "kill him next shot or make him take his tongue back," and then he shot. Father and Sallee burst into a roar of laughter. Mahon finding that he had been wasting ammunition on a dead bear and that his companions were poking fun at him flew into a rage and father and Sallee were compelled to apologize to him to get him in a better humor to avoid a fight with him. The man had almost riddled the dead bear with lead."

Peter Baughman gives a funny story of a similar nature.

"In the early 50’s," said he, "me and John Button, Isaac Carter and a man of the name of Napier, went on a camp hunt on Sugar Orchard Creek in Boone Co., Ark. One morning I and Napier left camp in one direction while the other two went an opposite way. Shortly after I and my partner left camp we shot a deer. Just for fun we decided to wait until the animal had become rigid (the weather was cool) and then prop it up on its feet for our friends to shoot at it if they came around that way. With this end in view we took a big laugh together and thought how bad our friends would feel when they found they were pumping lead into a dead deer. But it turned out different to our anticipations and it was well that we enjoyed a laugh before hand. After preparing the dead deer in a shape we wanted it we went on and hunted all day without seeing another live deer. Near sunset as we were walking along we got bewildered. We aimed to reach camp on the opposite side from the course we had left in the morning but we came in on the same side without knowing it until afterward. As we went along we spied a deer standing perfectly still and we both shot at it but the animal never moved. Napier says, ‘Pete, what’s the matter with our guns. Something’s wrong with them or us.’ Of course I agreed with him and we decided to reload the guns and aim more careful and we took as accurate aim as our eyes would allow and fired simultaneously at the deer. The deer never flinched. We were astonished beyond measure. Directly Napier says, ‘Pete, ain’t that the same deer we propped up this morning to fool them other fellows,’ and it flashed over me that what Napier said was true and I replied, ‘Yes, it is. We set a trap to catch the other boys and have walked into it ourselves. We promised each other that we would keep it to ourselves but that night Napier said that it was too good to keep and told it to the other fellows and we never like to have heard the last of shooting at the dead deer."

John Yocum relates this story. "One day me and Andrew Howard, son of old Andrew Howard, were in the river bottom below the mouth of Long Bottom Hollow that heads up at Peel, Ark. This land belonged to Uncle Bill Yocum and the time was in the latter 50’s. Me and Andy was little fellows and had went into this bottom to hunt. While passing along on the outside of the field fence a coach whip snake darted at us and we hustled up a tree. The reptile stopped at the foot of the tree and about the time we looked down at the serpent a blue speckled steer which belonged to Uncle Bill Yocum came walking up close to the tree and the snake attacked the brute at once. The steer now was frightened worse than we were and all the bellowing, running and kicking I never saw the like before. The snake kept along with the steer as far as we could see for the timber. Me and Andy laughed until we came near falling out of the tree. The coach whip pursued the steer some 200 yards before it stopped and the brute quit bellowing." This was on White River in Franklin Township, Marion Co., Ark.

John Dunlap, a resident of Taney County, Mo., since 1854, said that while out hunting in a hollow called Elm Branch which has its source a few miles from Cedar Creek Post Office, he stopped and sat down to call up a gobbler. Very soon he heard a slight noise just behind him but his attention being engaged so closely watching for the gobbler that he never turned his head to ascertain what made the noise until a large whip snake darted under his legs. "With a yell I leaped up and jumped as far as I could, and scared the snake as bad as it had me, for I ran one direction and it another. The gobbler was soared too for it turned and run off." Mr. Dunlap also tells an anecdote on his wife. "I had shot a three spike buck near my residence near Cornett’s store and broke its back. Soon after the deer fell it began bleating and my wife heard it. The other members of the family said that my wife leaped on her feet and exclaimed, "Oh John has shot a cow. Don’t you hear her bellowing?"

Barker Day and others relate this story. Joe Van Metre and Marion Geln Denning were hunting for turkey one night on Bratton’s Spring Creek in Ozark Co., Mo. While in the creek bottom known now as the Wane Mefford place. The two hunters separated to search the timber for turkeys. Very soon Van Metre discovered as he supposed a lot of wild turkeys sitting on the limbs of a tree and shot one. After picking it up off the ground he instantly dropped it for it was a buzzard. Walking away from the tree a short distance he waited for Glen Denning to come. When the hunter reached him he wanted to know what Van Metre shot at. Joe replied, "Be cautious, Marion,, and don’t scare them turkeys in that tree. Shoot one. I killed one just now." Glen Denning was very careful not to frighten them out of the tree and soon brought one to the ground, then reloaded and shot another one. Then Van Metre lay rolling on the ground laughing. At this Glen Denning smelled a mouse in the meal and went and examined his dead birds and found they were buzzards and was a sold turkey hunter. Marion could not laugh about it for awhile but his gloomy spell soon wore off and the two quit hunting turkey that night and laughed all the way back home."

Sammy Stone, who is dead now, of near Thornfield, Ozark County, Mo., furnished this interesting tale. "My father, William Stone, when in prime health, weighed 218 lbs. He was jovial and delighted to kill deer. One day while him and Ned Stone were hunting on Pond Fork, Stone shot and killed a large buck. After the men removed its hide Ned spread the hide on the ground then held it up and my father crawled through the bullet hole," said Mr. Stone. Here the old timer stopped a few seconds before he went on to explain. "Well, this sounds rather unreasonable, yet it is true and you will believe my story after I tell you how it was done. The ball from Ned Stone’s rifle struck the deer’s backbone near the root of the tail and followed the crest of the backbone cutting through the hide to the deer’s neck and broke the neck bone and this explains why the bullet hole was large enough for my father to crawl through."

Almost every resident of Ozark and Taney Counties, Mo., knows or has heard of Jesse Tannihill, son of Alphered and Nancy (Dalton) Tannihill, and who was born in Morgan County, Illinois, October 31, 1836. His parents are both dead and are buried in the cemetery at Protem, Mo. Uncle Jess is responsible for the following story of Frank Havens’ first experience as a hunter which occurred on Big Creek. Frank is a son of the noted ex-member of Congress, H. E. Havens. Uncle Jess went on to say that Frank wanted to learn to be a hunter and Newt Tannihill, a brother of mine, who died several years ago and buried at Protem, taught him a lesson or two before Havens started into the woods. My brother told him that if he shot a deer to make sure that it was dead before he quit it. My brother accompanied Havens on his first hunting tour. After awhile the men separated and when they were about ¾ of a mile apart my brother heard Havens shoot and halloo several times. On approaching he found that Frank had shot a deer through the head which had killed it instantly. But taking my brother’s advice he had out the dead deer’s throat and then with a small rope which he had carried with him he tied the deer’s feet together like tying a hog and then tied the rope fast to a sapling. He was determined that the deer should not get away," said Uncle Jess.

Before closing this chapter we must relate another snake tale as told by Peter Keesee. Bud Risley, an old pioneer of Ozark County, Mo., was a famous bee hunter. He was similar to the deer slayer and bee hunter, Bill Clark, in hunting. When Risley got on a bee course he went along looking up into the tops of the trees and seldom noticed where he put his feet, just so they hit the ground or stones. One day while he was passing down a hillside with his head throwed back watching for the abode of the bees he felt something tighten around one of his legs. At first he gave it little thought but very soon as he was wading through the grass and weeds his leg was clasped tighter and he looked down at his feet and behold a large coach whip snake was wrapping around his leg. Of course the man forgot all about his bee course and uttering a dreadful yell he leaped down the hillside as far as he could and never stopped jumping and running until he reached the foot of the hill 100 yards below where he saw the snake around his leg. Here he halted to kick the reptile to pieces but it was gone. The hunter in his frantic run had either frightened the serpent loose or kicked it off. It is useless to mention that Risley lost his bee course," said Uncle Peter.

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