The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Here is an account that makes me feel sad as I write it. The story was told me by Dick Cutbirth and is well authenticated by others. Mr. Cutbirth was born in Christian County, Mo. March 22, 1854, but has lived on the east side of Big Greek in Taney County a number of years. Something near one half a mile from his residence which is on the Pro-tem and Lutie Wagon Road is a cave that extends straight down into the ground 100 feet, and ends in a large room at the bottom. In the center of the room is a mound of dirt and stones that has accumulated from time to time by the dirt falling in from above. "This cave was discovered in the early seventies," said Mr. Cutbirth, "and I was one of the first men that explored it after it was found. I and John Pelham, Clarence Earles and Jeff McCall visited this cave one day to make an investigation by exploring it. After we arrived there we cut down a small tree and shaped it into an Indian ladder and let it down into the cave with a stout rope. Then I took another rope and tied one end of it around my waist and the other three men lowered me into the opening until I reached the top of the ladder and took hold of it and descended to the bottom of the cavern where a strange and horrible scene met my astonished gaze. Skeletons of small animals and reptiles lay scattered around in the room. Among the snake bones was the frame of a serpent 8 feet in length which lay on a projecting ledge of rock. There was also the skeleton of a buck the bones and horns of which were in a good state of preservation. But a more horrifying sight met my view than all these things named, for three humane skeletons lay in this same room who had evidently been murdered and thrown in here. The bones were all intact except a small hole that was in the fore head of one skull and a hole in the back of the head of another and in the top of the head of the other. The holes in each skull had the appearance of being done with a bullet. The earliest inhabitants of Taney and Ozark Counties could not give me any clue as to the names of the murdered men or the perpetraters of the crime or when it was done," Mr. Cutbirth said that he taken a few of the humane bones out of the cave and that Capt. C. C. Owen took the remainder out."

The writer will add here that Capt. Owen wrote an interesting article regarding Mr. Cutbirths discovery of these skeletons which was printed in the Forsyth paper edited and published then by J. J. Brown.

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