The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

A man of the name of Joe Allin lived on Shoal Creek in Taney County, Missouri. His cabin stood on the east bank of the creek near ¼ mile below Protem. When the war broke out Allin claimed to be a southern man but refused to enlist in the confederate army. As the war progressed Joe proved to be a bad man and kept the worst of company. Peter Keesee who lived on Big Creek on what is now the Sam Holett place was a union man and when the war warmed up to red heat Keesee taken his family and sought safety among his friends who lived on Little North Fork. "A few hours after I was compelled to desert my home on Big Creek, it said Mr. Keesee, "Joe Allin and his clan come along and finding that we were gone set fire to my dwelling and reduced it to ashes. I went on and as soon as I had got my family in safe quarters I lost no time in making preparations to retaliate on the destroyer of my residence. Joe Allin had burned my home and I was determined to burn his hut. I ask a few of my intimate friends to assist me at the burning and they promised to aid me. It was war times and who cared for burning a house when the enemy burns yours. My heart was hardened and with those that had promised to help me we mounted our horses and rode off toward Shoal Creek. We went at a rapid gait and It did not take us many hours to reach Joe’s cabin. Of course Joe was not there but his wife, whose name was Alwilda, and two or three little children were in the house. The wife and children were destitute. Their clothes were in tatters and they were nearly without food. It was shameful for a man to turn a mother and her little ragged children out of doors. But I cared nothing for that. I was wanting revenge for the lose of my house. I informed Mrs. Allin at once what we had come for and as I did not desire to deprive her of what few house-hold property she had in the house I ordered her in a peremptory way that she must carry her household effects out of doors. She protested in piteous words not to destroy their only place of shelter. It seemed that I possessed the heart of a savage and refused to listen to her tearful entreaties. In reply I told her to hurry or I would set the house on fire before she carried her things out. With loud sobs and her eyes bathed in tears she began to move out the few bed clothes and scant furniture. She saw that it was useless to plead with a barbarian and went on with the work. We waited in silence until the despairing woman had carried all her effects to a safe distance so that they would escape the flying sparks from the burning hut. We now began to make preparations to set the building on fire for I was anxious to see it go up in flames. At this moment the now nearly crazed woman renewed her pleading to me not to wipe out their only shelter. She prayed that I might repent Of my wicked design of burning their cabin and that she could not help what Joe had done and begged me and my friends to return back home and leave her house to shelter herself and helpless children. She looked up toward heaven and I saw her tear stained cheeks, and as the tears were streaming down her face she implored the good Ruler of heaven and earth to soften our hearts that we might abandon our heartless work and go away without destroying her only place of abode. She stood and pleaded and prayed as if her heart was broken. Her little children were standing there with her holding to her dress and crying. It was a heart rending scene. A few minutes before this Satan had control of my heart. But as I listened at the poor helpless woman’s piteous sobs of grief and heard her devoted prayers and saw her children huddled about her my wicked thoughts of burning the house began to soften. The spirit of revenge was leaving me and an impression of pity was taking the place of my stony heart. Her prayers were too much for me and I yielded to the influence of her supplications. Turning to my companions I said, "Men, we cannot afford to burn this house and I told the weeping woman that she was at liberty to carry her stuff back into the hut for it was safe as far as we were concerned for we had got out of the notion of putting fire to the building. The nearly distracted woman could hardly believe it until I assured her that it was true. Then she gladly put away her tears and sorrows and rejoiced that I had changed my mind. Though Joe Allin had wronged me and it was my desire and intention to treat him likewise but the tearful prayers of his helpless wife had turned my reckless heart into one of mercy and I thank God to this day that I did not burn that cabin."

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