The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among my items of interest as gathered from early settlers of Missouri are these which was given me by John Pruitte who lives near Oakland Ark. Mr. Pruitte said that he is a son of Samuel Pruitte and was born on the bank of the Merrimac River, St. Louis County, Mo., March 26, 1848. "My mother’s name" said he "was Eliza and she was a daughter of Martin Sunday. My great grandfather Jacob Pruitte and his wife with their two first born - Jake and Jim Pruitte went to St. Louis County from the state of Georgia in 1801. My great grandmother rode a poney and carried the two little boys and part of the bed clothes. They took a favorite cow all the way with them and the remainder of their worldly goods were carried on the cow’s back. My great grandfather walked all the way and carried his trusty rifle with him. On their arrival there the now large city of St. Louis was a small trading post and the surrounding country was a wilderness infested with wild beast. There were great numbers of Indians who visited this post to trade and with the exception of a few foreign born people who lived there the population was composed of Indians. My great grandfather and another white man were among the first white people that visited St. Louis. Here in St. Louis County on the Merrimac River my grandfather John Pruitte was born in 1803 who when he grew up to manhood was a regular hunter. I heard him say that one day when he was 15 years old he saw the skeleton of two bucks with large antlers hanging in the fork of a white oak tree that stood on the bank of the Merrimac River. The bones of the deer was 40 feet above the ground. Though as far as known no person seen the animals fall into the fork of the tree but it was evident that the two bucks had met on the top of a high precipice overlooking the top of this tree and engaged in a desperate conflict and while butting against each other fell over the cliff and lodged in the fork of the tree and hung there until nothing was left of them except their heads and horns -Which hung there until 1848 - the year you was born - when they disappeared", said my grandfather. Mr. Pruitte continued, "Jim Pruitte a cousin of mine was a member of Col. Porters command and was one of the 17 men who was shot at Centralia Mo. He was called "Curly" Jim because he had curly hair. There were two other Jim Pruittes called "Long" Jim and "Labes" Jim to distinguish them apart. "Curly" Jim lived in Lewis County, Mo. near the Lagrange. He had went to Macon County with a drove of hogs and he was captured on his return back home and they taken him to Centralia where he suffered a cruel death with the other unfortunate men."

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