The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The writers people on his fathers side were Pennsylvania Dutch. They settled in the state of Pennsylvania many years before the breaking out of the revolutionary war. Some of them went from that section into Virginia where my grandfather James Turnbo was born March 23, 1781. He left Virginia when he was quite young and made his way into east Tennessee and after living there several years he married Felicia Coffee an English woman who lived at Knoxville and who was born February 3, 1787. Soon after his marriage which occurred in 1811, the couple went to middle Tennessee and settled in Manry County. I am told that they lived on the Sugar Prong of Big Bigby Creek that runs into Duck River and some five miles from Mt. Pleasant. It is said that Sugar Creek derived its name from a wagon that was drawn along on the creek in an early that was loaded with sugar and the wagon turned over here and part of the sugar was wasted in the dirt and hence the name. Here on this farm on Sugar Creek my father James Coffee Turnbo was born February 13, 1820. There were 9 children in all 4 boys and 5 girls. The oldest child was Mary who was born in 1826. The names of the other 6 children were Margarette, Andrew J., Gracy M., Elizabeth William Claiborne, and Nancy A. My grandfather died in 1827. He died begging for water. A fine spring of living water was in 40 yards of the house but the attending physicians would not permit him to drink water for it was a custom then among the doctors not to allow their patients to drink water if they could help it they supposed the use of water would kill them. My grandmother died in 1865 at the age of 78 years. They both rest side and side in the family graveyard on the old home farm. I am told that my uncle Andrew Turnbo set out a small cedar bush near grandfather’s grave when he was a small boy and that an elm come up volunteer where the cedar was set out and both cedar and elm are large trees now. My uncle Andrew Turnbo died in Tarrant County Texas in 1887 and lies buried in a graveyard at the White Chappel. His wifes maiden name was Miss Sarah Spain. She died in Green County Oklahoma and is buried in a graveyard at Mangrum. There were 8 children born to them equally divided between boys and girls. Nathan died in Decatur County Tennessee in 1884 at the age of 71 years. Gracie M. who married Martin Johnson died in Parker County Texas November 4. 1890 at the age of 81 years. Her husband was a confederat soldier in a Texas regiment and died in the St. John College Hospittle at Little Rock Ark. in the summer of 1862. Nancy A. tarried John Baily. She survived all the other children until in 1900 when she too passed over the great dark river of death. She died in Manry County Tennessee. My uncle Clabe Turnbo paid my father a visit in the early 50’s while we lived at the mouth of Elbow Creek in Taney County, Mo. and remained with us three weeks. He had been to California where he worked in the mines and on arriving back at his fathers old home in Tennessee he started to Tangy County, Mo. to visit my father and come all the way a foot carrying his gold cain with him. On his arrival at our house he took off his belt that contained his money and poured it on the table and counted it and there were $2060 in twenty dollar pieces beside some smaller pieces of gold and some silver that he carried in a purse to pay his expenses on the way to Missouri. On his return back to Manry County Tennessee he married Jane Mathis and they went to Texas where they lived a short time and then moved,to Pawhatan Arkansas where after a few years residence he died leaving four children. His wife had him buried in a metalic coffin and when she returned back to Manry County Tenn. she had his body taken up and conveyed to his fathers old home farm on Sugar Creek and buried in the old Turnbo Graveyard there which I am told is 5 miles south of Mt. Pleasant.

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