The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following stories relating to turtles might be of some interest to the reader. Mr. Bennette Tabor who is dead now informed me one day several years before his death that himself and Harve Smith killed a monster turtle one night in White River while they were fire hunting they discovered the turtle in the shoals water where Mr. Tol Wood the stock dealer of Green County Mo. was drowned a few years ago. These shoals is opposite midway of the Panther Bottom and just on the inside of Ozark County, Mo. The turtle measured 28 inches across the belly. It was in water only two feet deep and as it crawled along on the river bed its back showed above the surface of the water. In capturing the monster Mr. Tabor said that he struck it with his three pronged harpoon but it failed to penetrate the shell then he hit it on the neck and the beards on the harpoon held it. But the turtle pulled the canoe 40 yards before we were able to control its movements and haul it to shore and kill it. On the following day we returned back there and weighed it and it tipped the steel yards at 125 pounds. Then we took the shell off of its belly and took all the flesh out of the upper shell and for the sake of curiosity I put the shell in the water to see it float then I got into the shell and it held up my weight without sinking." Mr. Tabor when he died was buried in the cemetery at Lutie. The foregoing story by Bennette Tabor reminds me of another account of a turtle as told me by James B. Roselle who owns and lives on the writers fathers old farm on the north bank of White River in Keesee Township in Marion County, Ark. Mr. Roselle said that one day he and George Coiner a blacksmith of Pro-tem Mo. and Frank Montgomery a veteran of the Civil War on the Union side while in a small boat in the river just below Bradleys Ferry struck a logger head turtle with their harpoons and wounded it. "We brought the turtle in the canoe down to my spring where we took the turtle out of the canoe and carried it up the river bank to my house and after fooling with it awhile George Coiner placed the turtles neck across a log and cut off its head with an ax except a strip of skin on each side of its neck the width of a mans middle finger and dragged the turtle down under the river bank and left it. An hour or so after this we heard a pig squealing and some of the children went down the bank to see what was the matter with the little grunter and found that the turtle had caught the pig by the nose with its mouth and held it until the children ran back to the house to tell me and I went down there to see it. With ax in hand I struck the turtles head with it before it released the pig. The pig happened to be rooting at the turtles mouth and it just happened to get the end of its nose into the turtles mouth and it closed down on it. The weight of this turtle was estimated at 75 pounds.

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