The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In refering to the old time freighters who used big wagons drawn by the slow moving oxen the following was told me by Mr. Thomas Clarkstone, son of Lewis Clarkstone, an early settler on Swan Creek that runs through Christian and Taney Counties, Mo. Thomas Clarkstone lived many years on the north side of White River and just over the line in Boone County, Ark. He committed suicide by hanging himself in a cedar tree in the early morning of November 14, 1906. In relating the story which was given me long before his death Mr. Clarkstone said "While my father lived on Swan Creek in the pioneer days he and Bill Smith, another old timer who lived on this stream, hauled 300 sacks of salt from St. Louis to Forsyth in 1842. The salt belonged to Jess Jennings and John Vance. They brought this amount at two trips or 75 sacks on each wagon. Each man owned an unusually big stout wagon with three yoke of large cattle to each wagon. It took 4 weeks to get to St. Louis and return back to Forsyth. They hauled a good camping outfit with them and also dogs, rifles, and plenty of ammunition were taken along. When the two freighters ran short of meat they would stop and kill deer or bear and on camping at night they would "bell" the oxen and let them graze on the tender grass until morning when they would drive the cattle back to camp, yoke them up, and hitch them to the wagons and start on this long wearisome journey again." I will add here that Mr. Clarkstone become partially insane before his death, which is supposed to be the reason he hung himself, which was done near his home. He had climbed up a small cedar tree that he trimmed up a few years before and tied the end of the rope to a limb. The other end was tied around his neck and he swung off and strangled to death. The suicide occurred before day break he was buried at Pro-tem, Mo.

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