The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

By S. C. Turnbo

The following narrative of a band of robbers inflicting a horrible torture on a citizen of Madison County, Arkansas, during the Civil War was given me by Mr. Ben Hager which he told in these words.

"A man of the name of John Sights or Sykes as he was commonly called lived some ten miles northwest of Huntsville in what was known as the Barren settlement. Some people called it ‘Calico Settlement.’ He lived near where a man of the name of Carlyle, a Methodist preacher, kept a store, or in other words he lived close by where the town of Hindsville started up after the close of the war. Hindsville took its name from Johny Hines, on whose land the town was built on. Mr. Sights owned a number of slave property and had accumulated a good sum of money. His wife was dead, leaving 5 children, 4 sons and one daughter. Two of his sons were in the confederate army and two others whose names were John and Richard belonged to the federal army. Mr. Sights himself was a southern sympathizer. His daughter was named Katie and was an honest and trusty. She was 17 years old when the war broke out. Mr. Sights being convinced that the country would be over run by robbers and theives of all sorts decided that he would turn all his money over to his faithful daughter and let her take it and the slaves to southern Texas. One night in the fall of 1864 a set of cutthroats rode up to Sights house., dismounted and went into the house and told Mr. Sights in a threatening way to give up his money. His answer was, "I won’t do it, you devils. And they told him that they would make him do it. "Well, " said he, "go to work if you think you can make me do it, you heathenish set of scoundrels." And without further words they proceeded to put their nefarious threats into execution, and strung him up by the neck and let him hang awhile and let him down. After he was able to under-stand what they said they told him that they would kill him if he did not surrender his money to them. "Kill and go to the devil, you cannot get my money," said he. Then they strung him up the second time and let him hang a little longer than before., then lowered him and after he had revived, they said, "Now give up your money." But he stoutly refused. The merciless men now informed him that they would resort to the fire and they guessed he would yeild to burning. They tied his feet fast together and his hands behind his back and took his shoes and socks off his feet and when this was accomplished the wretches picked him up and poked him feet foremost into the fire and pull him back then jab them into the fire again, they repeated this again before they desisted. But he resisted it all without yeilding the least bit. They threatened to torment him worse if he did not hand over his gold but he told them, "No, he would die first." The robbers were disappointed and tried the same means of torture over again which was more cruel than before by shoving his feet deeper into the fire and continued their damnable work until the flesh on his feet was burned to a crisp and the flesh on his legs were cooked halfway to his knees. During the awful suffering he was undergoing he informed his tormentors that only one other person knew where his money was and that she was true and honest and they would never come in possession of it. They had burned him so horribly that he was more dead than alive and thinking he would die in a few hours they left him. There was a few people yet living in the neighborhood and one of them happened to pass by the house on the following morning and on discovering his terrible condition and word was sent out and some of the people what was left from the effects of the war gathered in and cared for him. An army surgeon who belonged to the federal side was sent for and he come and amputated both legs above the knees and after long patience and suffering he took a turn to improve and finally got well and survived the war 4 years and soon after his four sons had returned home and his daughter had come back from Texas. He told them to make use of his money and they invested it in goods and owned a store in Hindsville."

Next Story

Turnbo Home | Table of Contents | Keyword Search| Bibliography | Biography

Springfield-Greene County Library