The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In the long ago it was common for a family who lived east of the Mississippi River to move in a slow moving ox wagon and travel westward and cross the great father of water and continue on their journey for hundreds of miles before finding a location that suited them. A history of some of these trips would make interesting reading. We give a story, of this kind here. While the writer was in the Indian territory in the summer of 1906. I visited Mr. J. S. (Jim) Griffin on the 10 of August. At that time Mr. Griffin lived on the main wagon road between Coweta and Wagoner and while I was there he related to me the account of this long move through Arkansas and into Missouri before they finally settled on a tract of land. Said he "I am a son of Anderson and Annie (Daniel) Griffin and was born in Meiggs County Tennessee October 4th 1840 and it was in 1849 when my father left our native state for the west. We moved in three ox wagons, each one drawn by two yoke of cattle after we had crossed the big waters at Memphis in a ferry boat propelled by oars. We struck out into the then wilds of Arkansas and traveled day after day until we reached the Arkansas River opposite Little Rock where we crossed on another ferry boat that was run by the same process the Memphis Boat was operated with. From Memphis to Little Rock we traveled part of the way through swamps and woods without a road and passed several streams including White River which we forded. We saw plenty of good land, fine forests of timber, beautiful flowing springs of water as we went on through Arkansas. But my father said he never saw any place between Memphis and Little Rock that suited him. After leaving Little Rock we traveled over hills and across small hollows and bigger streams until we passed over a wide scope of country until we reached a fine spring of water. The settlements along our route was so scarce that we sildom met the chance to make any inquiry how to go and where to go and when we reached the spring my parents proposed to stop there a few days and rest, wash our clothes and kill game. And all our party agreed to the proposition. We had not as yet examined the water or drank of it but it looked to be all right. As soon as we had unyoked our cattle and turned them out to graze Uncle Jack Daniel who was my mother’s brother says ‘I am going to drink some of that water and went to the spring and lay down at the water to get him a drink and sipped some of the water into his mouth and spit it out instantly and jumped to his feet and exclaimed, ‘This is too hot for dish water. Hell is less than a half mile from here: we must not wait here to rest, let us drive on’. We were much surprised at Uncle Jack’s remarks and actions and we all went to the spring and found the water to be very warm. We could not understand why the water was so hot and left there as soon as we could yoke up the cattle and hitch them to the wagons and drive off. We traveled in a north direction from the spring and after a few days we reached the Arkansas River again and found the water in the stream at a low stage and we forded it below Ft. Smith and struck-out across the rough range of hills called the Boston Mountains and after leaving these rough mountains we continued on our way over hills and deep hollows until finally we arrived at White River again and forded it also. Then we went east a few days then northeast until we got into Texas County, Mo., where we stopped on Hog Creek and my father finding a suitable piece of land on the creek to settle on we made it our home. The valley of Hog Creek was then a wild looking country but my father was pleased with the land and the surroundings. There were a few settlers living on the stream and near there. Among them was Wood Rogers who owned a saw mill on the Gasconade River 4 miles from us. Dabney Lynch another neighbor was a Baptist preacher. There were also Dave McKinney, John Johnson and Sam Hughes the last named was a preacher and a doctor also. It was in the early part of 1850 when we settled in Texas County. We all fell to work and built a house and cleared land and put it in cultivation and began raising corn and it was but a few years before we got a fine start of sheep and we raised some cotton and some flax for home use. We made a tan trough and with plenty of tan oak bark, we tanned leather to sell and make our shoes but it was in 1855 when I was 15 years old before I wore my first pair of shoes. I well remember that I have waded in the snow with my bare feet and frolicked and played on the solid ice and never suffered a great deal with cold. People did not raise their children in a coat of fur then to shiver with cold every time the wind blows in September or to have a soft job but they reared them to be hardy, tough and have health and strength. My uncle Sam Griffin made me my first pair of shoes which as I state I put them on when I was 15 years of age. My mother learned me how to spin and I would spin two yards of cotton thread for chain each day that I worked. My mother would card the rolls while I made them into thread. During the wintry nights before retiring to bed we children were given tasks in picking the seed from cotton by measuring it in a tin cup that held a pint. The cotton was pressed into this hard and each of us placed the cotton on the hearth in front of the fire in separate bunches to warm it to make the seed come out easier and we had to finish it before we had a chance to go to bed. My father died in Texas County and lies buried in the cemetery at Houston. There were 12 children of us when he died. My mother died in Polk County, Mo. and is buried in the Shady Grove Cemetery 6 miles south of Fair Play". Mr. Griffin said that the hot spring they stopped at in Ark. turned out to be the famed Hot Springs.

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