The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

There is but few survivors of the old time people of Northwest Arkansas, their ranks have become so thin by grim death that there is only one of them living here and there. Among the early residents of that part of Arkansas is Joshua Baker who at the present writing (December 10, 1906) lives on White River in Cedar Creek Township in Marion County, Ark. Mr. Baker is a son of Joseph and Rhoda Baker and was born in Clairborne County Tennessee October the 6th 1836. His mother was a daughter of Solomon Neal a prominent citizen of the county just mentioned. When Joshua Baker was 11 months old his parents moved from their native state into Northwest Arkansas and settled on Illinoise Creek in Washington County. The land on which they made their future home was one mile above Prairie Grove. They arrived there in the early part of 1838. Mr. Baker said that the early residents of Washington County found that the soil was well adapted to the raising of fruit and it was customary for those who moved into that locality to make it their home to set out an orchard the first thing they done toward opening up their land for cultivation. He said there were plenty of big game there too. "I well recollect" said he, "when I was quite small boy of hearing bear start stones rolling down the face of the bluff near where we lived. They did this of nights as they walked along missplacing the stones with their feet. And the dear hours of night were made hideous by the screams of the panther. In refering to the town of Prairie Grove and the battle that was fought there on Sunday the 7th of December 1862, he mentions the names of early settlers whose homes were near there when the battle was fought. Two of them were John Billings and John Newman. Mr. Billings land reached to where part of the battle occurred. Mr. Newman lived just below on the creek. Among other settlers who lived in close proximity of the battle field was one whose name was William Rutherford who lived one mile southwest of my fathers house where part of the battle was fought on his farm. William (Bill) Sneed lived in 3 quarters of a mile of the center of the battle ground." In referring to the first settlement at Prairie Grove Mr. Baker said that the first church house built there was in 1841 the walls of which was composed of round logs. A few people of the Presbyterian faith built this house and Andy Buckhanon who was a Presbyterian preacher did the first preaching in this same house and the first school taught at Prairie Grove was taught by John Strickler in this same house. Though we lived near this house yet I never attended a school a day in my life. All the education I ever received was at home. My father intended to start me to school in a small hut built of poles that was in another neighborhood but early in the morning of the day I was to start to school my father sent me out to cut a few sapling to split open to make picketing out of and the first sapling I began cutting on I split my foot almost open with the ax accidently which was months before the wound healed over. Tom Mathis taught the school and a man of the name of Hart Benton who was one of Mathises students boarded at my fathers house during this term of school and he taught me all the education I have, and I studdied hard while I was too lame to do anything else." Mr. Baker is a strict Missionary Baptist and has been preaching since the year 1867. Mr. Baker says that his parents passed over the great beyond many years ago and their remains rest in the cemetery at Shady Grove church house 2 miles west of Cross Hollows in Benton County, Ark.

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