The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

One among the amusing anecdotes told me by friends and old neighbors in Marion County, Ark. is the following which was given me by Tom Terry son of Tom and Elizabeth (Holt) Terry and was born in the Bull Bottom on White River in what is now Cedar Creek Township in the county and state that we have just mentioned. Tom Terry, one of the subjects of this sketch lives in Keesee Township in Marion County. The land on which he lives was once school land and was first settled by Levi Donathan who lies buried in the cemetery at Protem, Mo. The next man who lived there was Abe Robins he was succeeded by Ed Melic who died at the Joe Fields camp house at Goodloe Post Office In Taney County, Mo. Then Bill Treadway lived there awhile and was succeeded by John Shaffer and Tom Terry bought it from Shaffer. Mr. Terry after purchasing the place lived here alone until he married Miss Emma Graham to help him farm and keep house. While Mr. Terry lived here before he was married, John Paton son of Susan Paton a widow woman was paying his respects to Miss Manerva Melic whose father John Melic lived, on Big Buck Creek near the Seven Elm Pond. One day while John Patons mother lived at the Buck Shoals Ford of White River young Paton while on his way afoot to see his girl stopped at Tom Terry’s cabin and had a pleasant conversation with his old friend Terry. The latter is a jovial man and when the young man Paton had gone on his way to the abode of his sweetheart, Mr. Terry concluded to prepare a dummy to frighten Paton with for he knew that the young man would be back by his house in a few hours and stop a while for another chat for usually in passing, John would stop with Terry an hour or two and have a lively time, and so after John Paton had went on Terry prepared a dummy by making a cross of two pieces of wood of the desired length and used one of his old coats and pair of pants and other garments to dress the cross in such a manner that it would resemble a man bareheaded. Then he placed a hat on the dummies head and then he put a small round stick the length of a rifle gun across one of the arms as if it was in readiness for a shot. After Terry had got the mummy prepared to his liking he left the cabin 50 or 60 yards and concealed himself and watched for the appearance of John Paton and finally after a long careful watch for his return back Terry saw him coming. Paton had a bad sore on his neck which caused him to hold his head to one side or in other words he "creened" his neck. As Tom Terry watched John approach the house he laughed to himself for he was in for fun at Patons expense. John when he reached the yard gate stopped and opened it and walked into the yard and across it with the intention of going into the house to get a chair and take it out under a shade tree and sit in the shade for it was warm weather and Terry had left the door open on purpose. Just as the young fellow reached the door Terry yelled out as if frightened "John for God sake and your sake don’t go in there. Old John Melic will shoot you. He is angry because you are going to see his girl." John was astonished and looking in at the door he caught sight of the dummy and he supposed it was a real man and that it was John Melic and he threw both hands up and exclaimed in horror, "Oh please Mr. Melic don’t shoot." Then the terror stricken young fellow fell backward in front of the door and groaned in agony and Terry fell too for he laughed so heartily that he could not stand on his feet. In a few minutes Paton recovered from the shock and rose to his feet. In the mean time Terry had rose to his feet also and went on up toward the house yard and Paton says "Tom Terry I will make it all back off of you if it takes me ten years to do so. And Terry said in reply, "All right John and when you do fix it so we can both laugh. I had to do all the laughing myself in this case. And John promised him that he would. Poor John Paton he is dead now. He did not live long enough to get even with his old friend Tom Terry.

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