The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

It is natural for old people to think back to the time and place where they passed part of their young days and call to mind events which occurred years gone by. In many cases the incidents of youthful days were sorrowful and it makes one sad to reflect back to the time of their occurrence. Some of these incidents impress the mind so deep that we never forget them until grim death sweeps their memory away.

On the north side of White River in Keesee Township Marion County, Ark. is the old George Fritts farm where he lived from the latter forties to the 6th day of September 1859. From this date my parents lived here until they were visited by the angel of death. My mother died January the 15 1868. My father died June 14, 1870. My brother Lafayette (Bubby) Turnbo died 11 days after my mother had passed over the dark valley and here my sister Mary Lucy Turnbo was burned to death in the month of April 1869. In 1858 while George Fritts lived here he built a large hewed log house on the bank of the river and used water out of a noble spring that gushes out of the river bank a few feet above the level of a low stage of water in the river. A large pin oak and a small elm tree stands over the spot where this cold bubbling water runs out. Mr. Fritts was a hunter, farmer and black Smith. His shop stood on the bank of the river just below where he built the big log house. Here in this shop he smelted lead ore from mines known only to himself and made bullets for his own use to kill the antlered monarch of the forest and the big fat goblers. One of his mines where he procured lead ore was supposed to be on Little Buck Creek near a spring of water known as the ‘Pocket’ where in the fall of 1859 the writer picked up several fine chunks of lead ore that Mr. Frittz had left there. When Frittz purchased this land there was a few apple trees here and being a man that believed in fruit he went to the then small town of Springfield, Mo. and bought a lot of apple scions and brought them home and set them out. They thrived well and bore excellent fruit. One of these trees stood until after the year 1903. The first settler on the bank of the river where Frittz house stood was Jesse Yocum who has the credit of settling on more than one bottom on White River. Yocum cleared the first land here above the sloo and which was done in the early twenties. Mr. Yocum sold out to a man of the name of Masters. He was succeeded by Jesse Journygan who put out the first apple trees on this land which yielded large sweet juicy yellow fruit. After Mr. Journygan left a man of the name of McCary lived here awhile then he sold his claim to Allin Trimble and Trimble sold it to George Frittz and the latter entered the first land in this bottom which was done at Batesville. In the month of July 1859 my father gave Mr. Frittz $700 for the farm crop and part of the stock. On the morning of the 6th of September of the same year, George Frittz, Martin Johnson, Isaac Westfalls and Davis Bolin started to Texas in ox wagons. When they all reached Wise County, Texas their destination, Mr. Frittz was dissatisfied and after remaining there a few months he with his family started back to White River but the old man did not live to see Arkansas again for he died one night while he and family were in camp near Sherman Texas. Isaac Westfalls died in Collin County Texas. Davis Bolin returned back to Marion County and died near Peel and his remains were the first interment in the cemetery there. Bolin was a son in law of Frittz and lived a while in a log cabin that stood on the flat between here and the Reid Keesee Place. This land where Bolin built his cabin is known to the present day as the Bolin Ridge and the spring where he used water out of is called "Sweet Water". Among Frittz sons were John, George and Henry. The two first named died in Texas. George and Henry, the two first named died in Texas. George enlisted as a confederate soldier in a Texas regiment and bravely yielded up his life for the south on the bloody field of Shiloh. One day in the year 1907 I visited the summit of the bluff opposite the old house place on the bank of the river and was reminded of these old timers and incidents of the long ago. Though the old pioneers who once occupied this land have passed over the great rolling tide yet the waters of the beautiful White River still move on toward the father of waters and the bluffs, hills and hollows here look as natural as they did in the olden time except that cedar rough and thickets of other woody growth have growed up. This farm is known now as the Jim B. Roselle land.

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