The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Just over the line in the northwest part of Marion County, Ark., is the Buck Shoals Ford of White River. On the south side of the river is an island which extends up to the head of the shoals. Between the island and the bluff is a small lake or sloo which reaches down to where the wagon road leaves the island and leads up the river bank. Of late years there has been a ferry established here known as Baxter Browns. On the top of the bank a few yards below where the present road leads up the bank is where the old road used to be. At this spot a large burr oak tree stood on the edge of the bank a few feet below the road. In the summer of 1855, Martin Johnson felled this tree and after several days of hard labor with the chopping ax, broad ax and foot adze he made a big canoe out of it. After Johnson had kept the canoe about one year he sold it to the author’s father and he sold it to Jim Miller for the making of 700 rails. Miller lived in a small hut that stood at the foot of the bluff just above Big Beach Hollow and below where Bradleys Ferry is now. Miller’s wife was named Polly. The only child they had was a girl and her name was Harriet. As woman lived with the family whose given name was Angeline who the settlers said was Miller’s "other" wife, or in other words he was accused of living with two women. Soon after Miller paid for the canoe which was in 1857, he lashed a log on each side of the craft to keep it steady in the water and put his wife and child and this woman in it and went off down the river.

Near 20 years after Mr. Johnson made this canoe Fate Jones, son of John Jones, said that one day while he was passing this same spot where the canoe was made he observed a flock of crows attack a bald eagle which was flying from over the top of the bluff toward the river. The crows were collecting together and made an uproar cawking as they darted at the big bird. All the crows and eagle were far above the top of the trees. Just before the eagle had got over the sloo or lake of water the crows become more aggressive and crowded around the eagle which caused it to soar above Its tormentors and swooped down among them immediately and struck one of the crows with its wing. By this time the eagle was over the sloo and when the eagle struck the crow I saw the latter falling and it fell in the edge of the water. I was on horseback and dismounting I went down the bank and took the crow out of the water and found that it was entirely dead. There was no wound on it to indicate that the eagle had struck it with its talons. The eagle flew across the river and then turned down the stream and flew on toward the bluff above the Panther Bottom. After the death of the crow nearly all the others stopped in the timber and did not annoy the eagle anymore as far as I knew."

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