The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In gathering material for a history we have collected a number of sorrowful accounts of death by sickness and otherwise. Among these is one told me by Peter Keesee who said that in the early forties a man of the name of George Pryor came with his family from the state of Iowa and settled on Little North Fork just over the line in Marion County, Ark. The land on which he lived is known now as the lower F. M. (Phine) Smith Place. The family consisted of himself and wife and three children. Mr. Pryor was a great hunter after wild turkeys and he and wife and children killed fish day after day in the waters of the creek. "One day in the month of August 1845 when I was 15 years old," said Mr. Keesee, "the entire family fell violently ill and in a day or two the wife and eldest boy died a few hours apart. Mr. Pryor lay helpless but the few people who lived along the creek prepared the bodies for burial and made a coffin for the woman and one for the boy and put the bodies in them and before placing the lids on them they lifted up each coffin and placed them side and side at the bed side of the husband and father and raised the man up to take a farewell view of his dead wife and child. Then they lifted up the two sick children to see their departed mother and brother. The scene was one of sorrow and grief and not a dry eye was in the little group that had collected there in the cabin to render aid to the afflicted and death stricken family. After the two coffins had rested at the bed side a few minutes they were picked up and placed in an ox wagon furnished by Paton Keesee for the occasion and Peter Keesee said that he drove the oxen that pulled the wagon to the grave yard at the mouth of Brattons Spring Creek where two graves had been dug and laid the two bodies to rest in them. Shortly after Mr. Pryor and the two remaining children had recovered from their sickness the youngest child which was also a boy fell against the door step and was killed instantly and it was buried on the opposite side of its mother from where the other child lay. Soon after the death of this last child Mr. Pryor went Into the forest and prepared a wide head stone of native rock and cut the following words on it. "Margot Pryor and children, 1845", and placed this stone at the head of his wife’s grave with name and date facing the foot of the grave. Shortly after Mr. Pryor had placed this stone at the graves to mark the resting place of his beloved wife and sons he took his other child and went back to Iowa."

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