The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

This Civil War time incident was told me by Mrs. Mary Frederick wife of Aaron Frederick, who when I heard her tell the story was living on the head of Coweta Creek Indian Territory Greek Nation. Mrs. Frederick is a daughter of Riley and Johanna (Smith) Sheperd and was born in Shannon County, Mo. December 15, 1860. She said that her father died at Fort Gibson Indian Territory in 1904 at the age of 73 years and lies buried in the cemetery at Fort Gibson. In giving the war story she said that one day just before the close of the war and while they lived in Howell County, Mo. 20 miles north of West Plains the killing of a man took place near our house. "I was only a little girl tthen but I remember it distinctly. There was living in our neighborhood a man of the name of Pink Jones who was a worthless fellow. He bore a bad character and was generally known as a robber and thief and he lived an immoral life. He had left his legal wife and took up with another woman of ill fame of the name of Liz Nicks. They were both so little thought of that they were beneath the notice of decent people. One day as this man Jones was passing along the road alone in one half a mile of our house he met a squad of mounted men armed to the teeth and they shot him to death. He was struck 12 times with bullets before he finally fell and died, one ball of which took effect in his back at the cross of his suspenders. After the horsemen ascertained that Jones was entirely dead they rode on and left the dead man for the women to bury and as it happened a few women were the first people to visit the body. Among them was my mother. They found the dead man lying on his face. Though he had been a wreckless and wicked man not caring how he lived yet some of the women took pity on the body as it lay in the dirt and wanted to turn him over on his back and wash the blood off of his face and head and otherwise prepare the dead man for burial as far as lay in their power, but mother protested against it and said "No." He cared nothing for himself nor for the bad example he set before our children. If a man or a woman care nothing how they live or in what manner of life they lead they do not care how they are buried after they are dead and so we will not wash his face but bury him just as he is and so it went off in that way. But some of the women did say they would not help bury him but it looked too bad for the dead body to lay there without being buried and all the women present agreed at last to dig a gave and roll him into it and cover him up, while they were getting ready to go to work digging the grave two or three men came along and they told the women they would dig the grave and they went to work and dug a hole two feet deep at the side of the road some 30 feet from where the dead man lay, when the men had finished it they pealed a lot of hickory bark and formed it into three parts and laid it on the ground so that one strand would be under the shoulders - one under the hips and the other under the legs between the knees aid ankles and the men and women took hold of the dead man and lifted him up and laid him down on the bark and they all picked up the ends of the bark and raised the dead man up and while one of the women held his head up they carried Jones dead form to the shallow grave and dumped him into it and covered him up except his toes which they left sticking out. And the men and women now took their departure for their respective homes. On the second day after Jones was buried the woman Liz Nicks paid a visit to his grave and while she was lamenting over it she spoke out aloud to herself "Oh that I was dead and could lay by your precious side". At this moment a man who was said to be one of the parties who help to kill Jones rode up without the woman observing him. He was well armed and he heard the woman make the remark and to her surprise she heard a mans voice "Well if you want to die I can soon put you where you said you wanted to be and where you ought to be". The woman looked around in terror and seeing a man on horseback preparing to shoot her she instantly raised to her feet and started to run off and the man commanded her stop or he would kill her on the spot and she halted and as she stood trembling for her life he says ‘If you want to die say so, I am ready to put you out of the way’ and she begged him not to kill her that she did not want to die and the man rode on without offering to threaten her life any more. In a few more days his legal wife paid a visit to his grave but he had mistreated her so wrongfully that she refused to have his body removed to a regular grave yard and let it lie where it was for the hogs to root up and devour.

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