The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

"During the autumn of 1858," said Mr. R. M. Jones, "while I was hauling a barrel of water on an old wagon drawn by a yoke of steers I met an enraged rattlesnake at the stock pond of water where Almus Clark now lives in the southeast part of Taney County, Mo., but there was no settlement at this pond then. My father lived on the next flat just west of this pond and I was hauling water there. I first heard the reptile singing when I was in 80 yards of it and when I got up close to the rattler it appeared to be very irritable and angry and leaped up which it repeated again and again, clearing a few feet at each jump. I halted my oxen and began throwing stones at it which increased its rage and it tried to fight me. But I did not allow it to get in reach of me. I continued to throw stones at it until I hit it with one and disabled it and then I killed it with a club". A similar story to the foregoing was told me by John Yocum, son of Asa Yocum. In giving the account he said that one day when he was a young lad he and Jim Friend, son of Peter Friend, who was also a small boy while passing along the road in the river bottom opposite the Bull Bottom they met Tom Terry’s big male brute which was in an ill humor and he charged at them, "and we run to the fence and lit over into the field which belonged to my Uncle Bill Yocum and the bull passed on and I and Jim crossed the fence back over into the road again and went on and as we passed on and only a short distance from the bull met us, we walked up in six feet of a monster rattlesnake before we saw it which was lying in a coil between two spurs of the roots of a big water oak tree that stood at the side of the road. To our surprise the reptile sprang at us and struck the ground almost at our feet before we could leap back from it. We rushed out of its way before it could draw its head back and strike. We were both scared worse than when the bull ran at us and Jim ran to a redbud tree which stood 15 paces away and went up it like a squirrel. A slippery elm stood ten paces further on that the bark had been peeled off and I made for it and climbed up it. The trunk of the elm was slick and when I had got a few feet above the ground (near 8 feet) I could not climb up it any further and held on with main strength to keep from slipping back down to the ground. The angered serpent followed us and crawled past the redbud that Jim was up and come to the elm that I was up and stopped at the foot of it and began to sing. It remained here three of four minutes when it left my tree and went back to the road and crawled off. When the snake got to the road I slid down to the ground and climbed up a white hickory and stayed up it until we both were pretty sure the snake was entirely gone before we ventured down to the ground and ran on," said Mr. Yocum. The writer will say here that this land is where Bill Yocum lived before the stormy days of Civil War and is just above the mouth of Long Bottom Hollow, one prong of which has its source at Peel, Arkansas.

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