The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

"One beautiful Sunday morning In the month of July, 1861," said Mrs. Elizabeth Clark, "I in company with my second husband, Mr. Tom Terry, and his two brothers, Richard and John Terry, we were living on the left bank of White River in the upper end of the Bull Bottom in Marion County, Ark. My husband had a big bee hunt in view and that was his Intention that bright Sunday to hunt a rich bee tree. I remember that I owned a big homemade cedar pail with one handle to it. The vessel was old fashioned and held more than one half a bushel. I had used it to make vinegar in out of honeycomb but intending to carry it with me to put wild honey in that day I emptied the vinegar out of it into another vessel. Mr. Terry’s two brothers also carried a vessel each. I was mounted on a sorrel horse but the men were afoot. A trail lead up the hollow or gulch in the part of the Bull Bottom Bluff opposite the house and we followed this trail to the top of the bluff. When we arrived on the dividing ridge between the Tom King hollow and the Nipps hollow we stopped and I dismounted and my husband told me to remain there while he and his two brothers taken some bee bait and made a circuit a short distance around and leaving some of the bait here and there to entice wild bees to sip on it in order to course them to their abodes. I had seated myself under the bows of a large whiteoak tree with my cedar pail sitting near me when I noticed a honeybee light in the pail. Then another lit in the vessel. I looked about to see where they came from and here come three more and lit on the inside of the vessel. I soon discovered that they came straight down almost and on looking up among the limbs of the whiteoak tree I found that bees were going in and coming out of a big limb of the tree which branched straight out from the trunk. I was convinced now that I had discovered the abiding place of a colony of bees and I hallooed at the top of my voice for my husband and he answered and ask me what I wanted. I says, "Come here, I have found a bee tree." And I heard him call his brothers. When they had walked up In 50 yards of me Tom says, "What did you say, Elizabeth?" and I replied, "I’ve found a bee tree." "Now Liz," says my husband, "you are just trying to get a laugh on me and John and Richard." "Well, says I, "come and see for yourselves," and when they found that it was true and not a joke they were greatly surprised and set about to fell the tree. It was so large that it taken them some time to chop it down, and as soon as it fell they began to chop into the honey and taking it out. After filling the three vessels with rich honey it was found that the cavity in the big limb contained plenty more which we were compelled to leave for the want of more vessels. By this time a heavy thunderstorm was forming which threatened to pour down a heavy rain on us and we all started back home and while we were following the trail back down the gulch in the bluff opposite the house the rain met us in the left hand hollow where the trail crossed the bed of the gulch just above a shelving rock which crosses the bed of the gulch. Here we all stopped and went down under the cliff where we could shelter from the storm. The rainfall proved to be heavy and the gulch was soon a roaring torrent and a great column of water poured over the precipice. While we were waiting under this rock for the storm to abate my husband picked up a flat soft stone and with his pen knife he shaved it down thin and smooth and made it round, then cut the following figures and words on the stone. "1861. Sabbath. Thomas Terry." I have this stone to the present day. I keep it as a souvenir of the war and my second husband," said Mrs. Clark.

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