The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Current River which has its source in Texas and Dent Counties Mo. and passes through Shannon, Carter and Ripley Counties and empties into Black River in Arkansas is a noted stream. Jack’s Fork an important tributary has its source in Texas and Howell Counties and after passing through a part of Shannon County combines with Current River. Among accounts in my possession relating to the early days of Southern Missouri is one given me by Mr. R. G. (Bob) Morris who I interviewed at his home near Jackson’s Switch on the M. K. and T. Railway Indian Territory on the 14 of July 1906. Mr. Morris said that he was born in Jackson County, Alabama April 7, 1847. "My parents James Franklin and Sarah (Young) Morris told me that they started to Missouri when I was an infant. They said they came up the Mississippi River on a steam boat as far as Memphis. From there they traveled in a wagon into Shannon County, Mo. where they stopped a few weeks on Jack’s Fork when I was less than a year old then my father settled on a tract of land at the mouth of Spring Valley where a noted spring of water that afforded a large volume known as the Blue or Round Springs. This water runs out of a cave surrounded by flat solid rock and is 250 yards from Current River. My father built his house on the summit of a low hill 100 Yards from the river bank, in a short time after we settled there my father and Tom Chicobin built a small corn mill at the spring and ground the settlers corn into meal. Though the mill did not grind fast but they had enough custom to keep the mill going day and night. In a few years after father and Chicobin built the mill the settlers commence raising small crops of wheat which was beat out with clubs or flails and the grain separated from the chaff by taking a bed sheet or quilt and while two did the flopping to put the air in motion another would pour a stream of wheat and chaff from a vessel which was held as high as the head. The farmers would bring their wheat to mill in sacks which contained from one half bushel to three pecks or a bushel at a time. My father and Chicobin would grind this wheat for their patrons and separate the bran from the flour in seives similar to sifting corn meal in a sifter. As time progressed and the country became more settled up and the farmers raised larger crops of wheat and the wheat fans were introduced they made a bolting chest and a bolting cloth was used, to separate the bran and flour. The bolt was turned by hand with a crank. We lived in a pine country and finally my father and his partner built a small sow mill which was attached to their grist mill." In speaking of the names of other settlers who lived in the same neighborhood his father did Mr. Morris said "There were Alexander Dethrage whose wife was named Sallie, Alpherd Dethrage father of Alexander Dethrage was one of the first settlers in Shannon County. It was said that there were only two other families living in the county when he moved there. There were also "yellow" Tom Chilton and "Black" Tom Chilton who were cousins. "Black" Tom had a grown son named George. Also Andy Summers. George Pauldwing and his brother Jim Pauldwing. A man of the name of Barksdale who was a slave holder built a mill at the Allie Springs 14 miles southwest from our mill at the Round Spring. When Shannon County was organized there was just enough population in it to organize a county. My father served as the first sheriff. Alex Dethridge was the first county treasurer. Mr. Dethrage served in this capacity until the troubled time of the early sixties commenced when he concealed the money and documents belonging to the office of the treasurer to preserve them from being stolen. After the close of the war he brought forward the money and papers that he had placed in safe quarters which astonished his friends as much as it did his foes. Mr. Dethrage was a southern man and strictly honest and popular among the people. What is known as old Eminence was the county seat of Shannon until the war broke out. New Eminence the present county seat is 6 miles south of the old county seat. Old Eminence was situated on the east bank of Current River and when the first circuit court was held there it convened under a brush harbor. My father built the first jail house in the county which was done at old Eminence. The building was a double log house. The first man incarcarated in this building committed suicide by hanging himself with a pair of yarn suspenders that had been knit. George Chilton the jailor did not know the man had hung himself until he carried the prisnors breakfast to him and found his body suspended by the neck dead. He had placed a box that he had used in the jail for a seat and had stood up on this box and fastened one end of the suspenders to a beam above his head. And after he had tied the other end around his neck he kicked the box from under his feet and kept his hands out of his way until he strangled to death. At least this is the way the coroners jury give it in. In 1867 my father was elected school commissioner of Shannon County and laid off the school districts. My mother died in 1857. My father died in 1876, they both were laid to rest in the Nettles Graveyard in Black Valley some two miles from our old home at Round Spring."

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