The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Under date of September 16, 1907 Mr. John D. Row of Arlington Washington wrote the following account to the writer at Pontiac, Mo.

"In the year 1901 Mr. Thomas Rooks of Denver Boone County, Ark. told me the following story:

‘My grandfather acted upon that wonderful advice that the late Horrace Greely afterwards gave to the young men of his time. That is - go West, young man, go West. He landed in Grundy County Mo. many years before the bloody war between the North and South - here he raised up a large family. As his boys grew up they got full benefit of the customs of the country. One of the customs of those days was for the men to congregate at the country village about once a month and see who could drink the most whiskey and whip the largest number of men. Finally I come up on the stage of action. As the customs were in those days, and about that time my father, who was the bully of the country, got a letting down by a stranger who was on his way from the East to some point still farther in the West. I suppose the man never lived that never at some time met his master. Well he got a good "licking", just like he had given to many others in the years past, and he felt so much disgraced and humiliated that he told his wife to gather up the children, and what other things she thought she might need, and dump them into the wagon; he was going to Arkansas. This was in the fall of 1835. He had two yoke of oxen to the wagon and they slowly wended their way 400 miles across Missouri and reached Arkansas a short distance north of where Omaha in Boone County now is and in due course of time they arrived near the Boston Mountains. Here a small cabin was built and winter quarters were established. The juicy meat of the fat wild turkey and the fleet footed deer was plenty. The panther, the bear and the howling wolf made life very interesting for my mother and we children. At the very first opportunity after making our settlement on a fine tract of government timbered land, my parents sent a letter back to my grandfather’s folks in North Missouri telling how well they were pleased with the mountains of Arkansas, and what a fine piece of land they had selected for their future home. As the winter months slowly passed by the influence of the awful disgrace of getting threshed that had fell on my father as head of the family in the north country began to wear away. Mother become homesick, and when the grass began to spring up in the early spring the whole family was again stowed away in the wagon, the oxen were hitched up, and they were slowly making their way back to Grundy County. The dim trail they traversed lead them through the thicket of brush where Harrison now stands on the banks of the beautiful Crooked Creek. One noon found them camped at a spring where the Hank Bube farm now is just south of Omaha in North Boone County. When they were preparing to resume their journey a huge old yellow timber rattle snake come into the camp among the stock and we children. I saw it first, and called out to my father to look out. My father had the big ox whip in his hands, and he used it to very good effect on his snakeship. I remember that the snake was six feet in length, and when the ‘cracker’ of the long whip let up on his back and raised a welt, he began to strike and dart in every direction. But there were plenty of stones and clubs lying round, especially stones, and the vicious reptile was soon slain and the journey was continued across the line into Missouri and in due course of time the two yoke of oxen had drawn the wagon with its load to the old home in North Missouri. I was five years old and when we arrived at grandfather’s house I ran into the dwelling to see my grandparents for we had not heard a word from them since we had left for Arkansas. It happened on that particular day that my grandmother had driven the team to Trenton the county seat of Grundy County and no one was at home except my grandfather. It was now 3 O’clock and grandmother would soon arrive at home, so a surprise was arranged for her when she come, and when she got into the house she exclaimed, "Oh. my husband, I have a letter, yes, I got a letter from Arkansas. Our son has got a nice home there and is well satisfied and want us to move down there too." Just then I come jumping out of the other room and the rest of the family following and my dear old grandmother almost fainted from surprise. Our uncle Sam had been from October until the following April carrying a letter from the Boston Mountains in Arkansas to North Missouri, but he has a rustle on himself now and can make the trip now in about three days, or less instead of 6 months.

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