The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

We have often referred to the Magness family in these sketches. They once occupied the river farm one mile above the mouth of Big Creek in what is now Cedar Creek Township Marion County, Ark. The Magness boys were all jovial men and was given to playing pranks on each other and on their friends. Sam Magness was mischevious as the rest of them were but owing to his peculiar nature they poked more fun at him than he thought he ought to bear and would become angry at times. He enjoyed a joke until he supposed it was too hard on him and then he would ruffle himself up like a setting hen. A year or two after the death of their father Joe Magness and while their mother Mrs. Patsey Magness was yet living Sam Magness visited the family one Saturday night to remain over night. Sam, Joe, Bob, Wilshire and Hugh Magness who were all brothers were grown. Teaf another brother was a boy. Wilshire lived on Big Creek but he had also come to stay all night. Before bed time that night Tom Fisher, John Bevins and all the Magness boys except Sam laid a plan to draw Sam into it to hear him scold and get angry. So they made it up among themselves to pretend like some thieves had got into the crib to steal corn. Joe was to retire to bed when Sam did. Fisher and Bevins were to enter the crib with two unloaded pistols and it was arranged that the other boys was to be out in the yard to hear the racket the two men made in the crib and to give the alarm. They all agreed to post Sam in the lane if they could get him out of the house. This lane led from the crib to the house. All the family understood this but Sam. Sam had plenty of wit and humor and sit up late telling amusing stories until finally he become drowsy and went to bed and Joe retired with him. The other men after Sam had gone to sleep went out of the house to put their plotting into execution and when all was ready Fisher and Bevins entered the crib as agreed and made a loud racket among the shucks and one of the other boys rushed into the house and says, "Sam, Joe, rouse up quick somebody is in the crib stealing corn". Both men leaped out of bed at once and ran out on the porch in their night clothes and listened. Yes sure enough corn and shucks were rattling in the crib at a lively rate. "They are very bold thieves" said Joe "and I will shoot them." Both men ran back into the house and after putting on their clothes and shoes Joe grabbed the gun and swore vengeance against the corn thieves. "I will shoot the impudent rascals. They shall not steal our corn." "No" say Sam "Do not kill them Joe let us catch them and turn them over to the officers of the law," which Joe agreed to do, and put his gun back in the rack and both of them went out Into the yard where the other men were except the five in the crib. The racket in the crib was still going on. Of course everything had been planned previously but they pretended to council with Sam how to catch them and it was agreed to station Sam in the lane 50 yards from the crib which was done. The other men surrounded the crib and demanded the surrender of the men in the crib which of course they refused to do and went out of the crib instantly and ran up the toward Sams station. The other boys yelled out "There they come Sam. Catch them. They ran by us before we could get a hold of them". The moon was full which lit up the scene with a brilliant light. Sam saw the two supposed corn thieves running through the lane toward him and he braced himself to catch one or both of them and as they neared his parition he bawled out to them, "Here you come you rascals been trying to steal mothers corn have you, halt. I am going to arrest you and have you punished." By this time the two fellows were in a few yards of him and to his astonishment snap went a pistol almost in his face. Then another snap. This was enough and with an awful exclamation he implored the men not to kill him. But they continued to snap the pistols at him. "Oh men for God’s sake don’t shoot" and turned and fled to the house. The other men who were following on behind the pretended thieves were making a great out cry which soared Sam much worse which it was intended to do. The pursuers would cry out "Sam don’t run help us catch them scoundrels before they escape", but Sam was safe in the house now and after the merry makers had quieted down they tried to persuade Sam to come out of the house but he refused to budge an inch and say "Boys do you think I would come out there and let them rascals shoot me down like I was a dog". The man did not know but that thieves had entered the crib. until the following Monday when the Magness boys had a log rolling on the farm and Bob Magness told the joke in Sams presence in a large crowd of settlers that were invited to assist at the log rolling. It was now that Sam become furious with rage. He was sitting down when Bob divulged it and Sam rose to his feet instantly and said in a loud tone, "Bob you are my brother but I am in a notion to slay you where you stand." But presently while all the crowd were laughing, Sam saw that he could not afford to remain in an ill humor while the others were so merry and got In a better humor himself and enjoyed the fun as well as the others did. At the time of this amusing incident the houses stood on the bank of the river. Since then a new dwelling has been built up on the side of the bluff across the bottom from where the old log buildings stood. This farm is known now as the Ross Cantrel Place.

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