The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

It is said that many years ago the farmers in the state of Tennessee would have corn shuckings where the young people would spend a gay time of nights working hard to clean up the pile of corn. Mr. Fie Snow said that he was at a big corn shucking one night in Arkansas which he told in the following way.

"Early one morning in the month of December 1852 I left the residence of Jimmie Forest on Little North Fork in Ozark County, Mo. and after a slow walk on foot I reached Charley Smith’s house on Big Creek where he had a mile. It was near night when I reached there and I remained over night with him. I had started to Charleston, Ark. south of the Arkansas River and as I was afoot I decided to take my time, so on the following day I started from Mr. Smith’s late in the fore noon and went over to Fielden Holt’s at the mouth of Shoal Creek where I stayed all night again. The following morning was cloudy, cool and threatening snow. Mr. Holt put me across White River in a dugout canoe just above the Tumbling Shoals. I had not traveled far from the river before it began snowing and continued heavily all day.

The country was sparsely settled and I had travelled a path way all the way from Little North Fork. I crossed East Sugar Loaf Creek at the M. P. Bay Place and West Sugar Loaf Creek at the John Manley Place and went up the Carrollton Hollow and over to Bear Creek where I stayed all night where the family was absent at a dance. They were gone when I arrived there but as the door was partly open and I was so tired, and for fear I would not find another house that evening I went in and as the family did not return I went to bed and rested well all night. There was no fire in the house. I did not want to start until the family come back and they did after while and when I explained to them how it was they bade me welcome and the man’s wife prepared breakfast and after we all had ate I started on my way again. The snow had continued to fall that night and was 10 inches deep on the ground which made it very wearysome travelling on foot but I never stopped and after a tiresome walk I reached Long Creek and stayed all night with a settler miles below Carrollton. I went on the following day and passed through Carrollton and 7 miles beyond to Osage Creek, which I crossed below Fairview then on over to the dry fork of the Osage where I stopped and stayed over night with a man of the name of Newberne. I was so tired travelling in the snow that I found that I would be compelled to lay up a day or two if Mr. Newbern would give me permission and when I ask him if he would let me stay he says "If you are a shoe maker you can stay, if not I cannot keep you." I told him I was. ‘All right’ says he ‘I want you to make some shoes’. ‘I will do the best I can for you’ said I, and he brought out a fine lot of well tanned leather and shoe tools and a block of dry maple wood to make shoe pegs out of and I went to work and made three pair of shoes in two days - one pair for his wife and a pair each for his two grown daughters. I could have made them in less than two days, but Mr. Newbern said "Take your time and make them well" and so I did. I had stayed at the man’s house three nights and two days. The man offered to pay me for the making of the shoes but I told him no, for he refused to charge me for my board, and I went on and passed through the wild snowy woods to Kingston on King River where a young man set me across this stream, continuing my journey up King’s River some 8 miles and got permission to remain over night at a Mr. Jones who before night fall told me that there would be a big corn shucking there that night on the Tennessee style. Jones had 1500 bushels of corn heaped up in the lot near his barn. By this time the weather was clear and warm and most of the snow had melted but the corn was yet covered with snow. Before night set in young men and old men began to assemble until near 60 had collected at the pile of corn and we all went to work with yarn gloves on and had a fine time that night shucking corn and putting it in the barn and rolling the shucks back out of the way. We never stopped until we had finished the corn but it took us until just before daybreak to get it done. Then to rest ourselves we all wrestled together and run and jumped until day light. After day light we got into a game of "Jumping over big toe" which is done by taking hold of your big toe with one hand and jump the other foot over it. In carrying out the game you must hold your right toe with your left hand and jump your left foot over it or you can reverse it and jump your right foot over it. This sort of a maneuver is hard to do and there was only a few that were able to perform it. The play looked impossible to do to one young fellow. After I had proposed to carry it out successful and he offered to put up a nice little mare and a good saddle and bridle for that day and time against its equal value that I could not do it. As I did not have enough money to put up against his mare and equipment I refused to bet with him, but I showed him that I could. Of course I could not go through with it without falling down, and this ended it. The woman had cooked nearly all night and we ate a fine breakfast that morning and bidding my new friends adieu I went on my way and arrived at my destination in a few days more."

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