The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Near ¼ of a mile up the hollow from Dugginsville in Ozark County, Mo. following the road leading to Pontiac the road crosses the hollow where there is a flat rock. At this crossing is the mouth of another hollow which comes in from the north side called the Board Tree Hollow. Some distance up this last named hollow is where Isaac Johnson was shot and killed accidently while he and T. J. (Tom) Johnson were out together in the woods one Sunday in August 1884. Isaac was a brother of W. C. (Carl) Johnson and a son of Sam Johnson who years ago lived on what is now Jess Heard Farm in the fork of Little North Fork and Brattons Spring Creek. The details of this sad and unfortunate affair was told me by Tom Johnson himself who I met at the Oak Grove School House 8 miles east of Broken Arrow in the Indian territory on Sunday June 24 1906. Mr. Johnson said that he was willing to give me a history of the case and says, "I am a son of Wm. (Bill) and Sirrilda (Ford) Johnson. I was born in White County Tennessee March 10, 1855. Some three years after I was born my parents moved into Missouri and lived in Ozark County and stayed some time on the Sam Johnson Place at the mouth of Spring Creek." In speaking of the death of Isaac Johnson he said that "one Saturday night there was a dance in a grove near where Mrs. (Laura) Schofield now lives and I was present there. During the night Dr.. Bell handed me his pistol to hold while he took a hand in the dance. The pistol was the Doctor Smith and Weston make with 38 caliber. When he gave me the weapon I buckled the belt around my waist so as to hold it more easily and kept it until he quit dancing. But when the dance broke up Bell did not ask for the pistol and I forgot to give it to him and it remained in my possession. On the following day which was Sunday I and Isaac Johnson went into the woods together to hunt for a horse on the range to break stubble with. It was a 3 year old sorrel horse and if I mistake not it belonged to Johnson which we intended to ride turn about. While we were fixing to start Isaac remarked "As we are going out to hunt a horse in place of a deer I will not take a gun with me". I decided not to take one too but concluded to take Bells pistol with me because I had it in my possession. We remained together until we got out on the ridge that divides the head of the Peter Cave Hollow and the right prong of Cedar Creek that mouths in at Dugginsville. Here at the head of the Board Tree Hollow I and Isaac stopped to consult together and we agreed that it was best to separate in order to have a better chance to find the horse. Isaac was riding at the time and he dismounted and told me to get up on the horse which I did just before we started again, Isaac pointed down the hollow and says, "Tom, there is a little spring on the side of a hill below here and I will go down by this spring and see if any horses has been there to water lately and I will meet you on the point of the hill beyond the spring and if you will you can ride a circle and come around to the point of the hill mentioned" and we both started. I going off in the direction he requested me to do and he going in the direction he said the spring was. Of course I intended to meet him at the place designated. But not very long after I and Isaac had parted I saw a deer jump tip out of the grass where it had been lying down and run down the hill angling across from me. I was not near the place where I and Isaac had agreed to meet and not thinking he was so close to me I held the pistol in my hand and pointed it toward the deer while it was running. The animal after running a short distance stopped behind a small bunch of sumack bushes where I could see only a little part of the deer’s body but I took aim at the part that was in view and fired. At the report of the pistol I was horrified to hear someone halloo as it in trouble. The distressed voice come from beyond where the deer was standing which now ran off. The moment I heard the cry of pain it struck me that I had shot Isaac Johnson instead of the deer. I leaped off of the horse and ran to where the noise eminated from and found Johnson lying on the ground in a dying condition. He was unconscience and not able to speak. I made all the efforts I could to get him to speak to me but the fatal bullet had done its work and he was entirely dead in a few seconds after I had reached him. The ball had entered his body at the left nipple. He had breathed his last. He could tell me nothing and the worst of it I had killed the poor fellow accidently. It was a trying time to me. His soul had took its flight from the body. He had passed to the other shore, and oh God I had killed him - not intentionally but through mistake and an accident for little did I think that he was so near me and in range of my pistol and an a direct line beyond the deer from me. Just a short time before this I and him were together and enjoying ourselves. But now he is dead and I am bowed down in grief. That hour was the worst one I ever experienced in my life. It was dreadful to me. There was no settlements near there then and I knew it was my duty to let it be known as soon as possible and I rose to my feet and ran back to where I had left the horse and leaped astride of his back and urged him along as fast as he could go over the rough ground until I arrived at Mrs. Laura Schofields and related the sad story to her and begged her to go break the news to his wife whose name was Vinnie and who lived ½ mile from there. Isaac was killed in the forenoon."

The writer will add that the neighbors repaired to the spot where Johnson lay dead, and took the remains home and prepared it for burial and the body received interment in the grave yard at the mouth of Brattons Spring Creek. A short time after he was buried the authorities held an inquest at the grave without exhuming the body. Several witnesses were examined and it was the writers understanding that the decision was that Johnson come to his death by the hands of Tom Johnson through an accident. The name "Isaac Johnson" cut on the head rock which is a native stone indicates where the body rests.

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