The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

From a cliff on the top of a bluff over looking White River we have a fine view of the south side of this stream. One beautiful bright autumn day I visited this spot to recall old time memories from 1856 until many years after the close of the Civil War. As I looked down at the beautiful White River and saw the glittering water I thought of the numerous times when I had visited this cliff and watched the water in the river flow toward the great Mississippi River. The place of my observation is on the north side of the river in Keesee township, Marion County, Ark., and just above where Trimbles Creek comes into the river on the other side. Below this spot on the same side of the river is the Keesee farm where the old pioneer Elias Keesee died in 1899. This was once known as the Buck Bottom deriving its name from Buck Jones who lived a few months in the bottom in the latter forties. Bill Howard put up the first cabin in the bottom. Howard sold his improvement to Cage Hogan for a poney horse. Hogan sold it to Jeff Baize and Baize sold to Allin Trimble and the latter sold it to Elias Keesee just before the breaking out of the Civil War. In the summer of 1856 Martin Johnson taught a short subscription school in the Bill Howard cabin which stood in the upper part of this bottom where a spring of water come out from under a ledge of rock at the foot of the hill. I attended this school and with a few others were taught to write with goose quill pens and home made ink. Henry Frittz and Dick Frittz, sons of George Frittz, John Cross, Jess and Jim Lucas, sons of Allin Lucas, Bill Trimble, Joe Trimble, Lucinda Trimble and Mary Trimble, children of Allin Trimble, were among the scholars who attended this school. Henry Frittz could not talk plain and could hardly speak without using profane language, which caused him to undergo severe punishment frequently. John Cross suffered with a sore leg. One day one of the scholars hurt John’s leg accidently and he cried out aloud "Jesus wept, and I will too", and big tears rolled down his cheeks. The teacher told Cross, who was a young man, that he was going to punish him for making such a loud noise in time of books and Cross said in reply that "his leg pained him so that he could not refrain from hollooing". Then the teacher sent the writer and Bill Trimble and another boy out to decide whether Cross should be punished or not. It took just a minute for us to decide against punishment being inflicted on him under the circumstances and so reported it to the teacher. I suppose the young man appreciated our decision for he was crying when we went out and was crying when we come back into the house but when we reported to the teacher favorable to the fellow he quit crying. Bill Brown and Lurinda Brown his sister also attended this school. Their mother Mrs. Sally Brown lived on the bank of the river on the opposite side where there was a good spring. I remember that the spring we used water from at the school house went dry before our school was out and we had to cross the river in a dug out canoe and brought water to drink from this spring. Just below the shoals at the mouth of Trimbles Creek is the old crossing known as Keesees Ferry. One day in the month of February 1862 while a deep snow lay on the ground and plenty of ice was floating in the river I saw where three bear had passed and I followed the trail in the snow to the top of this bluff just below this cliff. I followed the trail down the face of the bluff to the river where the animals had stopped at the edge of the water and ice and wallowed on the snow and ice sometime before they plunged into the water and swam across to the south shore and went on toward the short mountain. Refering to Buck Jones and the Buck Bottom again - we will add that the two small creeks called Big Buck and Little Buck - the last named of which empties into the river at the Buck Shoals Ford and the other a few hundred yards above the Ford these two streams and the shoals and the river bottom referred all took their name from Buck Jones.

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