The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Barbers Creek in Christian County Missouri is a tributary branch of Swan Creek. Though the stream is small, the valley narrow and rough yet the water is so clear that it resembles the water of a beautiful flowing spring. The creek bed is lined with gravel which makes a pretty sight to view the crystal waters as it flows along in the channel and enters Swan Creek. Near the mouth of this little water course lives George Adams whose residence stands on the east bank and a short distance above Garrison Post Office. Mr. Adams has lived here a number of years and his wife was principally reared on Swan Creek and she furnished the writer with a few items of interest in the following way.

"My maiden name was Jane Nance. My fathers given name was Samuel, my mothers maiden name was Susan Adams. I was born in Lawrence County, Mo. August the 2ed 1845. My parents moved to Swan Creek in Christian County, Mo. when I was a small child. Soon after we came here a man by the name of Dick Pigg who lived on Swan Creek three quarters of a mile above the mouth of Barbers Creek made brandy from paw paw apples. His distillery was at a little spring and in paw paw time he distilled several gallons of paw paw brandy from this wild fruit. The creek bottoms along Swan Creek furnished an abundance of paw paws in the early days and it was small trouble to gather bushels of them and haul them to Piggs distillery and have them manufactured into brandy and he sold this stuff to as many people that desired to use it for a beverage. This brandy made of paw paw did not taste like that made of peaches or apples and did not command as ready sale. In giving a little war time incident of how a citizen concealed his gold she said that her uncle Mathias Adams who lived on Swan Creek a few miles above Swansville was a well to do man and owned a fine bunch of stock when the war broke out and sold it all for cash in the nick of time or the marauders of one side or the other would have captured and made way with it. Though he was now rid of his stock the question now was with him what would he do with his money for the robbers were liable to come along and kill him and take the money. If he failed to find a hiding place to conceal the precious mettle for it was old gold - he would be no better off than before he sold his stock. Then he collected his wits together and planned away to save his money which was a novel one. I was living with my uncle and aunt at the time and he kept his plans no secret from the family and this is the way he went about it. One cold morning soon after day light he went out into the wood yard and selected a white oak stick of wood and brought it into the house. This piece of wood was 2 ½ or 3 feet in length and he sawed both ends off with a hand saw, leaving the stick the desired length to suit him, he used an auger with a long shank and the size he wanted and after fastening the stick so that it would not move he proceeded to bore a hole length ways through the stick as far as he thought would answer his purpose. With drawing the auger and after cleaning out the auger hole he held the stick up right and began to drop his gold pieces into the auger hole. The money was composed of $20, 10, 5 and one dollar gold pieces. He went on dropping in the money in piece after piece until the cavity in the stick was almost filled. Only leaving a little space to drive in a wooden pin which he sawed off at the end of the stick or close as he could and then took some mud and rubbed it over the end of the stick where the pin was drove in then he dried the mud by the fire and took a rag and rubbed over it which gave It the appearance of being perfectly solid. After he had completed the work of storing a way his money in this peculiar fashion he dropped the stick down on the floor near the jam rock and remarked to my aunt his wife that his money would be as safe in that stick of wood as any where else. But his wife did not think so and said "no, Mathis do not leave it on the floor for some one might come into the house during a cold day and pick up that wood and lay it on the fire and of course you would jump up and take the wood out of the fire which would arouse suspicion that there was something valuable in that stick of wood that you did not want exposed and so you had best go and conceal your money somewhere else. At this my uncle changed his mind by agreeing with her and picking up the stick of wood he walked out of doors with it and went into the forest where I suppose he carefully put it in a safe place. I never heard him or my aunt mention it any more but I suppose he revealed the whereabouts of it to her. My uncle died before the war closed and lies buried in the grave yard at Swansville in Christian County, Mo.

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