The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

It makes me feel sad to pen down the incidents of a man, woman or child who get lost and die in the wild woods. The thought of the suffering endured by the bewildered one with hunger and cold in the winter days and nights and finally die without assistance reaching them is enough to make one feel down cast in mind for the unfortunate one.

Mr. Austin Brown informed me that his father William Martin Brown got lost in the woods and was found dead. The following is his account of the pathetic incident. "My father was born in Culpepper County Virginia in 1800", said he, "and went to the north west part of Missouri when he was quite a young man and settled in Ray County where he married and I was born there in 1835, then he moved to Stoddard County in the south east part of the state and remarried a short time and went to Taney County and settled on Bee Creek where my mother died in 183?, and was buried in the grave yard at the mouth of Bear Creek. Then my father lived a while on the north side of White River below the mouth of Bear Creek then returned back to Stoddard County, Mo. and lived there until his death. One day in the month of December 1845 my father and a man of the name of Crabtree went off into the woods together to hunt, but they had separated during the day and Crabtree not seeing father any more returned back home thinking my father would come back home in the evening. But he failed to return. On the following day a searching party was formed and they hunted for several miles but found nothing to indicate his whereabouts. It was now that a heavy rain set in which lasted more than 24 hours which was followed by a cold snap. Men collected together from many miles distant and a search was kept up day after day until some of the men began to suspect that Crabtree knew something of his whereabouts in other words many people believed that the man had murdered my father and had concealed his body. Mr. Crabtree bitterly denied it and said that he was entirely innocent, but the men threatened to mob him so strong that Crabtree was afraid they would kill him and fled the country. The citizens continued the search for 25 days and then give up all hope of ever finding his body for we were all convinced that he was dead, but just 30 days after my father had went off from home Bob Caldwell had rode out into the woods many miles from any settlement stock hunting and discovered the dead body of my father lying at the roots of a big white oak tree 15 miles from the nearest settlers house. The remains was found on a high piece of land on the bank of the open lake and some 4 or 5 miles east of the St. Francis River. He was lying on his back with his rifle lying across his breast. The flint in the hammer of the trigger was gone and it was supposed that he had lost it and was unable to strike a fire for there was no flint rock in that country only what had been brought there and no doubt he had starved and froze to death. Nothing had molested the remains except that the eagles had eaten part of the flesh off of the face. A coroners jury was held over the body and as there was nothing to show that he had met with foul play Mr. Crabtree was exonerated from all charges of murder. The men deemed it prudent to give the remains interment on the spot where they were found and while some was digging the grave others felled a big tree out of which they made 4 slabs the length of the grave and placed one slab in the bottom of the grave and lowered the body down onto it, then they placed a slab edge ways on each side and one on top and filled in the dirt and formed a small mound over my fathers remains and made other marks to show his last resting place on earth".

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