The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the left bank of White River just above the mouth of Shoal Creek and over the line in Boone County, Ark. is where Billy Holt lived from 1848 until his death the 21st of November 1860. Mr. Holt was a farmer and stock raiser and raised an abundance of corn and always extended a helping hand to the needy that made an effort to aid themselves. He had a set price for his corn. It made no difference with him whether corn was scarce or plentiful. He sold it for 50 cts per bushel, no more nor no less, he said that corn was worth that to raise it. When the parching draught occurred in 1854 corn crops were cut off very short. Many settlers experienced great difficulty in securing enough corn for bread. Some could not get it at all and had do without bread until another crop was grown. Farmers and others were not compelled to buy feed for their plow horses during the crop season of 1855 for they made a crop off of the grass. During that dry year Mr. Holt raised enough corn for his own use and some to spare to those that needed bread. He could have sold all his surplus corn at an extortionate price but he refused to do it. This noble man divided all the corn he had to spare among those without bread at his standing price 50 cts. per bushel. To show the generosity and christian like nature of this man we will relate one incident. One day in the early spring of 1855 a man by the name of Blair came to his house and informed him that his family was without bread and offered him a silver dollar for one bushel of corn. The old farmer and christian hearted man declined to accept it. Then Mr. Blair offered him $2 for a bushel. Mr. Holt replied that he did not have any two dollar per bushel corn in his crib. The man was astonished for he supposed by this that the old farmer had raised the price of his corn to $5 per bushel and if that was the case a bushel of corn was beyond his reach with the means he had and gave up in despair for he had a wife and some little children and he begged Holt to tell him how much money he ask for one bushel of corn. And Holt replied that he would sell him a few bushels at 50 cts per bushel. At this the man Blair was overcome with joy and wept like a child and tears flowed down his cheeks. Mr. Holt’s wife’s name was named Mary L. or Aunt Polly as she was called. Their children were Fielden, R. S. or Richard, William H., James D., Peggie, Nancy, Elizabeth, Matilda, Fannie, Sarah, and Mary Ann. Fannie married W. Z. Pumphrey and she died on Little North Fork and lies buried in the Jimmie Forest grave yard. Peggie was River Bill Cokers first wife. Matilda married Frank Pumphrey. Nancy Elizabeth married Wilshire Magness. Sarah never married. Mary Ann died in the latter part of 1861. R. S. or Richard married Mrs. Ellen Harris a widow lady a sister of Marion Wilmoth. William H. married Miss Katie Coker daughter of Herron Coker. I and James D. were mess mates together in the Confederate Army Co. A. 27th Arkansas Infantry. He taken sick in camp Mazzard near Van Buren Ark. in December 1862, and he with other sick was sent from Apadra Bluff to Little Rock on a steam boat, and he died in a hospital at Little Rock in the early part of the night of the 16th of January 1863. R. S. and William H. were gallant soldiers in the 14th Arkansas Infantry. The river bottom where Mr. Holt lived which is now owned by his son R. S. Holt was once a camping place for the red men. A few impliments of war and other Indian relics have been picked up on their damp ground. Among the former was a battle axe that the writer found one day after the freshet in White River in May 1898. The flood waters in the river exposed to view human skeletons and some peculiar ornaments and other things were found with the bones. Before Mr. Holt came here, Dave Jones lived here a while. Jones was preceded here by a man of the name of Cobb and Dan Rhodes lived here before Cobb did. But Mike Yocum was the first settler here which we refer to elsewhere.

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