The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Among the number of accounts I have gathered relating to tortures inflicted on helpless old men in war days by the ruthless robbers and jayhawkers is one told me by Mr. Ben Hager, who said that a man of the name of Jonathan Moody lived on Holmans Creek a few miles northwest of Huntsville, Arkansas. He was a well to do man and had plenty of property when the war come up and was known to have plenty of gold and silver. One night during the last days of December, 1863, when he was 57 years old a band of jayhawkers swooped down on him and demanded his money. He told them he had no money to give them. They disputed his word and threatened to use violence to him if he did not give them his gold and silver. He persisted in denying having any money. But they told him he was a liar and they would hang him if he did not give it up immediately. "Hang if you want to but you won’t get any money from me, " said Mr. Moody. This greatly angered the bandits and they tied his hands and a rope around the mans neck and putting the other end of the rope over a beam in the house they pulled him up and after suspending him a short while they let him down and as soon as he had partially re-covered from the strangle and strain, they made another demand for money and he informed them that they Could not get his money. "You can hang me till I am dead. My money is out of your reach and you are not able to lay your hands on it." The independent and defiant answer from their helpless victim made the scoundrels more angry, and "We’ll torture you with fire," said one of them and they proceeded to put their threats into execution. "Burn me if you desire to and may God attend to you for your wickedness, " said he. The robbers took off his shoes and socks and tied him down to the floor with his naked feet resting on the hearth and after getting all their preparations made for the torture they proceeded to dip up live coals of fire and hot embers and dropped the fire and embers on his feet and ankles. The old man’s sufferings was awful, but he endured it as calm as he possibly could and never give in to them. He cursed them all the time while they were burning him and told them that they could scorch him to death but they could not force him to give them his money. Finally after they had abused him unmercifully they untied him and went out of the house and mounted their horses and rode off, His feet had been burned so severely that it was many weeks before the sores got well and the toe nails were scorched so bad that they come off. He was alone when the bandits attacked the house. He lived through the remainder of the war and was alive when I left Madison County in the fall of 1865.

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