The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the north side of White River in Keesee Township in Marion County Ark. is an old burial place of the dead. This grave was known in the early days as the Hooden Pile grave yard. Later on it is called the Riddle grave yard for John Riddle owns the land that the village of the dead is situated on. The grave yard occupies a fine plot of land. 90 bodies more or less are resting here. Among them is the writer’s parents which reads on the head stones of native rock "J. C. Turnbo born 1820 died in 1870. Eliza Turnbo born 1824 died 1868." I also have a brother and sister buried here. The stone at their heads reads as follows, "L. L. (Bubby) Burnbo born 1848, died in 1868. Mary L. Turnbo born 1855 died in 1869. My sister was burned to death while my father lived on the bank of the river on what is now the Jim Roselle Farm. I also have two grand children buried here which reads on one head stone "John F. son of G. L. and M. A. Jones born April 17, 1896 died June 19, 1897." The other was an infant unnamed and a child of the same parents just named. Sam King father in law of Hugh Smith is also buried here. He died in 1867. "Florence wife of Frank Jones died in 1890 aged 40 years. She was a daughter of Billy James. Rufus M. Jones, born July 24, 1843 died May 2, 1906" also lies in this cemetery. Mr. Jones was a confederate soldier and belonged to Capt. Christopher Cooks Co. F. Col Joe Loves regiment. This was Col. Tom Freeman’s old command. Mr. Jones married the writer’s sister Margarette Felicia in March 1869. Leva Evens son of Bill Evens is also buried here. He died in September 1869. The first interment here was the body Amos Lucas son of Allin Lucas which occurred in 1847, a month or so after his death. Two colored children were buried here that belonged to "River" Bill Coker. Mrs. Jane Lucas mother of Amos remonstrated against the burial of the two dead negro children here. The only excuse she offered was that she did not wish her boy to lie in the same grave yard with "niggers". Shortly after the death of Amos who was 9 years old his father hauled flat stones on a one horse sled and placed them on his son’s grave. Several years after the death of his son Mr. Lucas himself died and was buried near the grave of his beloved child. Arabel, daughter of John and Sarah (Ashton) Riddle born January 27, 1886 died September 2, 1888 and was buried in the cemetery at Pro-tem. On the 6 of October 1892 Mrs. Riddle also died and her request was that she be buried in this grave yard and that the remains of her little daughter be exhumed and brought here and be buried near her which request was carried out by Mr. Riddle on the 30 of August 1897. The father of the child and Isaac Ashton, its uncle, taken the remains of the little girl up. The coffin was in a fair state of preservation and when they brought it to this grave yard the coffin was opened in the presence of the assembly of people who had collected here. There was nothing left of the child but its skeleton, the shoes that was put on its feet, and the print of its shroud. A number of other people who lies in this grave yard are mentioned in other sketches. One day in the month of May, 1866 two of my sisters, Margarette Felicia and Gracie Elmira were attacked by a panther in the hollow just west of the grave yard and it pursued them through the grave yard screaming with terror. The panther bounded forward and sprang across the road in front of them and growled in a frightful way. Gracie Elmira married Isaac Nave in 1875. He died near Choska Indian Territory July the lst, 1896, and lies buried in the Choska Grave Yard. Bessie, one of his dead children lies at his side. The writer visited these graves one day in December, 1903.

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