The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among other incidents we present this to the reader.

In the month of June, 1857, while we lived in the southeast corner of Taney County, Missouri, opposite the Panther Bottom, my father employed Calvin Clark to cut the bushes off of a piece of new ground that was planted in corn. Alex Anderson had cleared the land for my father and he was careless to leave the stumps from 18 inches to 2 feet high and they were numerous all over the ground and the tender bushes had sprung up thick around the stumps. One forenoon while Mr. Clark was at work with a stout hoe a copperhead snake that was lying coiled at the root of a stump struck his leg and its fangs hung in his breeches leg. The pants were made of thick home woven cotton cloth. The man wore drawers of thick homemade cloth also. The man in his efforts to get rid of the serpent kicked vigorously until he got it loose then killed the snake with the hoe. As far as he knew the reptile’s fangs did not touch the flesh on his leg, but late that evening his leg began to itch and by the following morning the fleshy part of his leg where it commenced to itch had hardened and seemed to be paralyzed. But the man went on with his work until noon when his leg began to pain him severely and he had to quit work and started home where he lived on Big Creek. Mr. Clark crossed the river in a canoe and while he was going up the bluff at the upper end of the Panther Bottom he saw two deer standing in a small glade or prairie and shot and killed one of them. The other deer stood still until he reloaded his rifle and he shot and killed it also. Seeing my father plowing In the field on the opposite side of the river, Mr. Clark called to him to come over and get the two dead deer. As the water in the river was low my father took the harness off his horse and with the plow lines in his hands he mounted the horse bareback and rode across the river and went up the hill to where Clark was sitting on a rock near where the dead deer lay. Mr. Clark told my father that he was not able to carry the two deer home with him and he wanted him to have the venison, but requested him to save both hides for him which my father promised to do and did. By the time Clark reached home he was suffering very bad with his leg and had to take his bed at once and lay there eight weeks before he was able to get out of the house and it was four weeks longer before he was able to do light work. It was supposed that the poison from the fangs of the serpent had penetrated through the drawers and come in contact with the skin on his leg and produced blood poisoning which was followed by a terrible sore below the knee.

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