The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The writer has mentioned the Bull Bottom in these sketches on several occasions. As is well known in Marion County, Arkansas, this bottom is situated on the left bank of White River in Cedar Creek township. I am informed that George Weaver made the first settlement here. Weaver sold the improvements on this land to old man John Terry, the first settler on the Asa Yocum place and Mr. Terry gave the improvements to his eons Tom and Ron Terry. After Tom Terry’s wife died and Wilshire Magness died Mr. Terry and Wilshire’s widow were married in 1860 and lived in this bottom until the ravages of cruel war forced them to abandon their home here. When Mr. Terry enlisted in the union army his wife whose name was Elizabeth was left alone with the children to contend against the hardships, theives and robbers. There were 6 children, Joe Magness and Bob Magness, children by her first man Wilshire Magness, and Joe Terry, Dump Terry and Mary Terry, which were Tom Terry’s children by Mr. Terry’s first wife who was a sister to Wilshire Magness, and Tom Terry an off spring of the marriage between Mr. Terry and Mrs. Magness, the latter child was 6 months old. Mr. Terry’s wife in describing the hardships she encountered in this bottom while her and the children were staying there alone said that one day two men who were horseback and well armed approached the house and rode up to the yard gate and stopped and demanded to know if she knew where any rebels were. She told them that she did not know anything about them. After they had repeated the inquiry a few times they reversed the questions put to her and they wanted to know if she knew where any feds were and she answered in the negative. They were very inquisitive and continued to ask her questions until they found that they could not obtain any information from her. They then backed their horses from the gate and reining them around as if they were going to ride off and stopped and held a whispered conversation and then they started off down to-ward the lower part of the bottom. I was convinced that they had gone off to procure help to rob the house and drive off the stock, I and Mr. Terry owned more than 100 head of cattle which Terry kept on the range in the hills of Music Creek, This was just after we were married, but in 1862 the land pirates taken all but a few of them and disposed of them. Mr. Isaiah Wilkerson who lived on Music Creek just above the mouth noticing that the principal part of the cattle had been stole he gathered up the remainder which included a few milk cows and drove them across the river where we could find them. The cows were giving milk and the milk from the cows kept the children from starving. After the two men had left I went to work with a determination to save my stuff in the house and my milk cows if I had to fight for the property and with the help of the children that was old enough to do anything I went to work and carried all our household stuff into the house that had only one door. I forgot to mention that there were two houses with a hall between them. Then I armed myself and the oldest children with something to fight with such as the chopping axe, hatchet, butcher knives, clubs and so on. Then I and the children sit down and waited for the return of the bandits and in a little while I saw the same two men coming back driving the milk cows before them. I saw at once that it was their intention to steal all we had and I says, "Children, let us not let them scoundrels have an easy job taking our stuff from us." When they had reached near the cow lot gate with the cattle the calves began to bleat and the children began to cry for the little innocent and helpless children depended on the cows for a living and when they realized that the robbers intended to take the cattle from us we would all have to meet starvation and distress. My heart seemed to sink in despair for I knew they had the power to drive them off but I had set a resolution that I would fight to the last moment to save the cows and my household. But what could I do to help myself, they would take all we had in spite of all the efforts I could do to prevent it. The robbers were preparing to let the calves out to the cows to make ready to drive them off and about the moment I was ready to interfere with their theivish plans a thought come into my mind that I might get rid of them before they had time to ride roughshod over me and the children and I put it into execution at once by snatching the dinner horn from where it was hanging on the wall in the hallway and blew a loud blast with it, then stopped a moment and blew it a second time and then I hallooed at the top of my voice and used these words, "Here they are, come quick." Then I repeated the blowing of the horn and yelled out the same words. The two marauders seemed to be awfully surprised and remounted their horses and urging them into a gallop and run to the river bank and down it to the waters edge and plunged into the river and swam across to the opposite shore and up the bank they went beyond my view. As they were getting away I blew the horn and kept repeating the same words as loud as the strength of my lungs would admit. I had succeeded in bluffing them and saving my property from the rascals so far. No doubt they were fully convinced that a body of federal soldiers were nearby ready to pounce on them. I learned afterward that these men never stopped until they reached the John Knight cabin in the range of the Short Mountain which was used as a gathering place of a number of southern men in war days. In a short time after this I moved out into Missouri where I received better protection from the unwelcome bandits and guerrillas. Mrs. Elizabeth Terry, who after the death of Mr. Terry, married Henry Clark, died at her old home in the southeast part of Taney County, Missouri, February 13, 1907, and was buried in the graveyard at Protem on the following day.

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