The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The 4th day of July 1855 was a memorable one to the writer. At that time my parents were living on the south bank of White River in the south east corner of Taney County, Mo. My father had bought this land from Cage Hogan and we moved there from the mouth of Elbow Creek when I was less than 10 years old. This land is known now as the Bill Dial Place and is owned now by Baxter Brown. On this farm there was a fine barbecued dinner eaten here on that day. The dinner came about in this way. The settlers from the mouth of Shoal Creek down to Bull Bottom devised a plan to get rid of some of the obnoxious birds and ravenous wild animals. They were determined to exterminate all they could. Crows, hawks, owls and eagles were on the list of destruction. The animals that were selected to go on the list of the dead were possoms, coons, moles, skunks, squirrels, foxes, wild cats, catamounts, wolves and panthers. The arrangements were completed in the early spring. The men were divided into two companies. The writer’s father J. C. Turnbo, headed the lower company which included all the settlers living along the river from our house down to Bull Bottom. George Fritts was foreman of the upper settlement who lived on the river from Allen Lucas’s to the mouth of Shoal Creek. The dinner was to be eaten on our place on the 4th of July. Every member of the two organizations agreed to do their part in furnishing provision for the dinner and bring in the scalps to be counted by a committee appointed for the purpose. Every one including the women did their duty in making ample preparations for the feast. Plenty of beef, mutton, pork and wild meat was furnished which was barbecued by Morton Johnson, Rube Denton and others. The wives and daughters prepared plenty of bread and nick nacks of all sorts, that were in common use in that day. It was understood that the side that was defeated would furnish two gallons of pure whiskey for the occasion. When the day arrived a large crowd assembled on the ground for the celebration which was selected in a hickory grove. The people all proved to be quiet and orderly. There were no lemonade stands, dancing, flours on the ground. The scalps of birds and animals were all counted carefully which was done before noon and the number was found to be three thousand when the men completed the task of counting the scalps they put them all into one heap and the pile of scalps of birds and animals were astonishing to look at. The birds’ scalp consisted of the upper bill and the top part of the skin and feathers on the top of the head. The larger animals consisted of both ears attached together by the skin on the top of the head, the male scalp was the nose including a strip of hide from the base of the nose to the top of the head. Many favorable comments were made by the people as to the great number of scalps brought in to be numbered. The lower company showed up the most scalps and won the whiskey but the committee deemed it advisable not to have whiskey on the ground so the upper company was informed that if they were willing to agree to it that they need not furnish the liquor that the people would get along better without it and so the two gallons was not on the ground. At 12 o’clock the scrumptuous dinner was placed on a long table that had been prepared in the hickory grave in the woodland pasture which is now in cultivation and men, women and children enjoyed themselves together eating an old fashioned barbecued dinner.

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