The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In the pioneer days during the settling up of the country a number of men as well as boys waded and played in the water along the streams which partly accounts for the chills and fevers that were so prevalent then. A number of people who visited Brattons Spring in Ozark County, Mo. and some of them who lived on this stream were no exception to this custom. Those that delighted to play in the water would catch fish and turtles along Spring Creek. Mr. W. C. (Carroll) Johnson who has known this stream and the customs of the people here all his life furnished the writer with this account. "I have seen Hiram Bias and Gus Barnum and others catch turtles of all sizes in Spring Greek and peal bark from paw paws and hickory and tie a stout piece around the turtles necks. Barnum who was a very large stout man with a companion would climb up a big sapling and bend it down until the top was low enough to the ground for another man who was on the ground to reach up with his hands and take hold of the sapling and while the three men were holding it down another man would tie the other end of the bark that was attached to the turtles neck to the top limb of the sapling and when this was completed the two men on the sapling would jump off to the ground and at the same time the other man who was holding it would turn it loose and the top would fly up and jerk the turtle up with it which would kick and struggle to free itself. They would let it hang there until it was dead and the shell and bones would fall to the ground after the flesh had decayed. "At other times" continued "I have seen these same men and others take turtles out of the water and bend down saplings and put the end of a limb in the turtles mouth and let go the sapling and as the top of the young tree went up the turtle would be jerked up with such force that the twig would snap asunder or slip from the turtles mouth and the turtle would be hurled several yards away. This kind of sport seemed to be excellent pass time to some people but it was none to me," said Mr. Johnson.

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