The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Many of the awful crimes perpetrated in war times should not be lost sight of. They should be kept in memory so long as the United States exists as a nation not for the purpose of keeping up an enmity between the sections but to show future generations the great extremes the Civil War reached before it was brought to a close.

William L. Brown, formerly of Franklin township Marion County Ark. now of Holdensville Indian Territory was born on the farm on the south bank of the river where Keesees Ferry was established in 1876. Mr. Brown’s mother was a Miss Sally Coker a daughter of William Coker who was a son of Buck Coker. William Coker died on Crooked Creek in the early days and was buried in the grave yard at the mouth of George’s Creek 5 miles above Yellville. William Brown’s father was Tom Brown son of Girard Leiper Brown who was killed on the Arkansas River. Miss Sally Coker and Tom Brown were married in the latter forties and settled the land where William L. Brown was born. Girard Leiper Brown’s wife was a Miss Katie Coker daughter of Buck Coker. There is a glade north of Elbow Creek in Taney County, Mo. called Katies Prairie which derived its name from her. There is a rough hollow just below the mouth of Trimbles Creek which empties into the river at the lower end of the Tom Brown farm known as Beeca’s Branch which was named for Miss Becca Brown a daughter of Aunt Katies. Many years ago Aunt Becca lived in a small log house which stood on the bank of the river at the mouth of this hollow. She died on the old Few Anderson farm and was buried in the grave yard opposite the Panther Bottom. Aunt Katie her mother died on her son’s Tom Brown farm one morning at sun rise in the month of December 1856. The house in which she died stood at the foot of the bluff at the upper end of the place her body received interment in the Allin Trimble grave yard. Tom Brown died in the month of March 1853. Two years previous to his death he selected a spot of ground on the slope of a hill on the west side of Trimbles Creek from where he lived and cut the figure of a man on a post oak tree and told his family and friends that when his time come for him to pass from this shore to the other that he desired to be buried under this tree, and after his death his request was carried out according to his wishes. His remains were the first interment in this cemetery. This old time burying ground is known to this day as the Allin Trimble grave yard. After the death of Tom Brown his widow married Allin Trimble and he raised William Brown from childhood. Mr. Trimble died in 1889 and in 1901 Mrs. Trimble went with her son William Brown to Holdensville Indian territory where she died in the month of December 1902. William L. Brown married Miss Lizzie B. Whitlock daughter of William C. Whitlock who lived 3 miles north of Yellville Ark. one day in May 1895 Mrs. Brown gave the writer a history of her fathers death in war times which is a sad story. She said that one night in 1863 a party of men on horseback came to their house near midnight and taken her father out of the house. They also made Jess Whitlock a 12 years old brother of mine go with them. The men claimed that they would not hurt them but after they had left the house some distance Jass heard the men tell father that he might prepare himself for death for they intended to kill him, and while father was begging the men not to kill him Jass made a dash for liberty and escaped but he was so bad scared and had ran so far without stopping that he did not come back home till late the following day. My poor mother grieved and weeped until the break of day when she started out into the woods to search for father for she had good reason to believe that the cold hearted men who took him off had killed him and it might be that they had killed Jass too. I was too young to be of any advantage to mother in helping her hunt for father. Mother tramped the wild woods till 12 o’clock without finding any trace of him,, she gave up in despair she aid not know what to do. But she went out again and hunted all around and come back crying and wearied down in trying to find him. She believed that he was dead that he was lying some where in the woods with no one present to care for his body. It was hard to give him up in the way he had to go and maybe her poor boy was dead too. It seemed that her heart would break but after a while she grew more calm and she said she would make another search for him. At this moment Jass come but he was so badly frightened that he was almost crazy. But thank God he was alive. After his excitement began to subside he told us what he heard the men tell father and where the locality was they were at and how he ran away from the. My poor distracted mother could wait no longer and she started out alone again and following the directions that Jass gave her she succeeded in discovering the dead body of my father lying some distance from the house. He had been shot the third time one ball took effect in the temple one entered his mouth and the other in the shoulder his head was terribly mangled and his face was all covered with blood. My dear, dear mother was a large woman and my father was a small man. Mother said that it seemed that she was not able to bear up under the terrible affliction and sorrow that had fell her lot and that the tears from her eyes were so free that it seemed that she could wade in them, it seemed as though she would sink into a great dark gulf. Then she thought she must not give up and she prayed to God for help and finishing her prayer she rose up off of her knees and felt more composed, and more able to face the distress and great calamity that had visited her home. She could not bear to leave the body to seek help and with a resolution born of the moment she raised the lifeless form in her arms and carried it toward the house until she was compelled to lay it down from exhaustion. But after a short rest she raised the body in her arms again and went on with it toward home until she was forced to stop and lay it down again and take another resting spell. This repeated until she was in sight of the house when she met Cinda Stinnette a colored woman who belonged to Dave Stinnette and the kind hearted black woman assisted mother to carry my dead father into the house and helped to prepare the remains for burial. It was impossible then in that neighborhood to procure a coffin and mother placed the body in a box, and we were all in such a stress for clothes that mother was compelled to enclose him in the box in the same suit he wore when he was shot to death. My mother and a few other women and we children buried him on Lee’s Mountain 1 ½ miles from home.

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