The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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BY S. C. Turnbo

When Fayetteville, Arkansas, was a small town it was frequently visited by bands of Indians who indulged in the free use of whisky and fights. Mr. Joshua Baker, an old pioneer of Washington County, gives the following incident which is only one among so many disturbances in that noted place in the early days of its history. Mr. Baker said that when he was a little more than 4 years of age or in the early part of 1841, his father taken him up behind him one day and rode into Fayetteville. "Soon after our arrival in the village I seen 20 Indians, men and women, marching through the village in single file. They went directly to Bill McGar’s Grocery Store where there was plenty of whisky for sale. When the front Indian, who was a man, reached the door of the grocery he stopped and the remainder of the men and women closed up and when they had all stopped the third man in the file stepped out of the line and walked into the grocery and was gone only a few moments, when he returned to the door with a glass full of liquor in his hand and passing outside he handed the glass of liquor to an Indian woman who had marched just behind him and she put the glass to her lips and did not stop until she had emptied the glass of its contents and then she handed the glass back to the man, and he went back into the grocery. While he was gone another Indian man who stood just behind the woman that had just gulped down the glass of whisky stepped out of line and placed himself at the side of the grocery store door with a two edged dirk knife in his hand and just as the Indian with the glass full of whisky in his hand had stepped out at the door he darted in front of him and plunged the keen pointed blade of the knife into the left side of his neck or between the neck and collar bone and jerked it out instantly and the blood spurted 5 feet high and the Indian fell and expired immediately. The result was a big uproar among the other Indians and a battle between them began at once. A number of white men were present and some of them took a hand in the fight. Though encounters between the Indians in the early days was common and combats between the white settlers were not scarce. As young as I was then I had already witnessed several fights before this one, but among all encounters between men this one was the most cruel I ever saw. When it commenced my father picked me up and placed me on the top of a queensware hogshead which sitting endways in front of Sutton’s store where I had a fair view of the fight. I can assure you that it was a hot and bloody one. Knives guns and clubs were used indiscriminately and when the battle ended 4 Indians lay dead on the ground and 5 more were desperately wounded and soon died. Other Indians and a few white men were slightly wounded. The moans of the dying and the dead and wounded as they lay together before they were removed and the stir among the survivors presented a scene never to be forgotten until my eyes closes in death," said Mr. Baker as he closed this interesting account of blood and death on that eventful day.

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