The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

On the north bank of White River in Keesee township, Marion County, Arkansas, is situated the old Mat Hoodenpile farm. At the back of the field is a sloo. Between this sloo or ravine and the river is a narrow strip of land called an island which the Protem and Lead Hill wagon road crosses in reaching the Bradley’s Ferry landing when the river is past fording or the Fish Trap shoals ford when the water is low. On the opposite side of the river from the Hoodenpile place is a high bluff. This land finally belonged to John D. Ackinson who died here on Christmas day, 1902, and is buried in the cemetery at Lead Hill. This land is an old settled farm but as we have made reference to this bottom in another sketch we will not repeat it here. In the course of time this land fell into the hands of Jimmie Jones, the father of Doctor Peter Jones and son of Sugar Jones, and Mat Hoodenpile and Sally Hoodenpile, his wife, bought this land of Jones’. Mat Hoodenpile was born in 1809. His wife was born September 13, 1813. They were both born and reared in the eastern part of Tennessee near the Cumberland Mountains and were married near the neighborhood where they were raised. Mrs. Hoodenpile was a daughter of John Briggs and she had three sisters, their names of which were Ruthy, who married Marlin Herd, father of John Herd, and Mahala, who married Allen Phelps. The other sister was named Polly. Mrs. Hoodenpile also had a brother named Andy Briggs. Steve Briggs, a close relative, was a Methodist preacher and lived on Sugar Loaf Creek below Lead Hill. John Briggs was a well to do man and was a slave holder and gave each one of his children a negro. The one he gave Mrs. Hoodenpile was a girl named Easter. The one he gave to Ruthy was named Susie. The one he gave to Polly was a negro boy named Mose. Hoodenpile and his wife gave their negro to Jimmie Jones for this land consideration 8500. I do not know exactly when they moved to this bottom but it was in the latter part of 1851 or early part of 1852. When they moved here they built a double houses of hewed logs with small room between them and stick and dirt chimney at each end of the house and porch on north side. This building stood on the point of the hill just above the bottom and only a short distance west of a small hollow where there is a little spring of water. They had three children., the names of which were Peter., who married Miss Malissa Owen, daughter of Christian Owen, who lived in the edge of the Sugar Loaf Prairie,, and Mary, who married Dave Forest and died in Ozark County, Missouri, in 1875, end Sarah Jane, who was not married at the time we speak of but was afterward married to John Murphy and they went to Texas where they separated and she rode horseback all the way from Texas to Marion County, Arkansas, alone, where in 1869 she married Dick Rosenberry and they moved to Killgore, Newton County, Arkansas. At the breaking out of the Civil War Peter Hooden-rile and his wife lived in a log house on the east side of the hollow just mentioned and used water out of the same spring his parents did. They had two children—a boy and a girl— the former was named Phillip and the latter was named Sarah Catherine. My memory of the Hoodenpiles in war times is sad and pathetic. Peter Hoodenpile enlisted in the southern army—Wm. C. Mitchell’s company, 14th regiment, Arkansas infantry, but was at home on leave of absence when the awful scenes occurred that we are about to relate. Mat Hoodenpile, his father, was a union man, but he was too old to take a Part in the war and remained at home and did not molest any body. On the 5th day of May, 1862, he was shot and wounded in his field while replanting corn. The assassin had concealed himself just on the outside of the fence near the sloo bank and shot at his victim 77 paces the bullet taking effect in the left shoulder. Though severely wounded yet he made his way to the house where his beloved wife dressed his wounds and cared for him. On the 12th of May or one week from the time he was wounded a band of assassins fired on Peter,, his son, and was struck by three bullets* The attack occurred on the east side of a trail that lead down the point of the hill to his father’s house and only a short distance from the house. Peter had been out stock hunting and was mounted on a small iron gray mare. The man was armed with a Mississippi rifle and a navy revolver—the same he carried in the army, but the assassins got the drop on him for they were so well concealed that he was in a few yards of them without seeing them and they opened fire on him. Strange to say there were five of the murderers but they never killed him. They were to his left and one ball struck him on the right nipple and it ranged into his arm below the shoulder, another ball glanced the top of his head and fractured the skull bone. A third ball cut Into his side and passed out. It seems that three of them intended to kill him and the other two intended to kill his mare. One of the-shots from the guns of these last two hit the fleshy part of the mare’s hip and the ball from the other man’s gun cut the bridle rein partly in twain below the mare’s neck. At the report of the guns the mare plunged forward and galloped down the hill to his father’s yard gate without the rider falling off and more than that he held to his rifle and revolver and the mare in running leaped over a big log that lay just above the wood yard. The mare in leaping this log cleared 21 feet. His wife and children were at his father’s house and as the wounded mare galloped up to the yard gate with the desperately wounded man his grief stricken wife and mother met him at the gate and lifted him from the saddle and carried him into the house. Elijah Barnes, a very old man, lived in a small cabin between the grave yard and the river bank. Barnes children were named John, Sam, Joe, Viney, Mary and Rosa,, and as it happened Sam Barnes, who was a little boy, was at Hoodenpile’s when Peter was waylaid and shot and the family sent young Barnes for the writer where I was living at my father’s house on the river two miles below the Hooden-pile homestead. When I arrived there Peter was suffering very bad from his wounds and his clothing was covered with blood and the family was almost distracted with grief. They requested me to go after the doctor who lived at the village of Dubuque on the river two miles below Elbow Shoals. I mounted one of their mules bareback and as the river was fordable I crossed it at the Fish Trap Shoals and hurried through the woods a nearer Way and crossed the river again at the mouth of East Sugar Loaf Creek and hurried on up the river to opposite Dubuque and recrossed the river and saw the doctor, but he refused to visit the wounded man for fear they (assassins) might kill him. Then I hurried to the residence of Doctor Hedley’s who lived in the Sugar Loaf Prairie and he refused to go too. I could do nothing more now but go back and tell the sadly afflicted family of my ill success. It seemed nearly impossible for the man to live but he did and lay suffering intensely until the night of the 26 or two weeks after he was shot when a party of armed men came to the yard fence and called for Mat Hoodenpile who though was feeble from his wound went to the door in spite of the entreaties of his wife and was shot down and expired in a few minutes and while his lifeless and bleeding form lay stretched on the floor the murderers entered the dwelling and threatened to finish Peter’s life ‘where he lay in the bed in the same house where his dead father lay on the floor. The man was suffering intensely and believing he had only a few more hours to live they at last desisted. The only person pre-sent except the family and the murderers that night was Miss Bettie Owen, a sister of Peter’s wife. No one can imagine the horrifying scenes agony and distress of this unfortunate family during that dark dismal night. Mrs. Hoodenpile and Malissa, Peter’s wife, and Miss Bettie Owen had put a straw bed down on the floor and lifted the dead form up from the floor and placed it on the straw bed where it rested until they sent for the writer and the boy Sam Barnes. When we arrived a great pool of blood lay on the floor and the bloody corpse lay on the straw bed. I and young Barnes shaved the murdered man and dressed him the best we could then we went to the grave yard on what is now the John Riddle farm and dug a grave while a few others prepared a rough coffin and we buried him late in the after-noon. Peter Hoodenpile’s condition by this time was growing much worse. The wound in the head was producing spasms and the other wounds were badly inflamed and setting up blood poison. He must have medical attendance if it could be had and I started after the same doctor again at Dubuque. The river was past fording now and after I had rode to the upper end of the Billy Holt farm, I followed the trail that lead along the foot of the bluff that the settlers had dug out for horsemen. Then up through the Jake Nave Bend to the opposite side of the river from Dubuque. The doctor’s name was Pete Jones and his office was in a little white house at the base of the hill and seeing John Oldham standing on the bank of the river at the village I called to him to go tell the doctor to come to the canoe landing as I desired to talk to him and he and the doctor got there in a few minutes and I explained to him the condition that Peter Hoodenpile was in and begged him to go see him and he consented to go. Mr. Oldham assisted him to swim his horse across the river by the side of the canoe and we started back. Knowing that the assassins would waylay the trail for the doctor and my-self we made a large circuit and avoided them for it actually turned out that they did waylay us at the extreme upper end of the Billy Holt farm and by surrounding the trail and traveling through the woods we escaped them. When the doctor arrived he raised the pieces of skull off of the brain of the suffering man and the spasms ceased, then he cleansed and dressed the other wounds and relieved him greatly of his suffering. The foul crimp,, aroused the sympathy of a large number of people who lived in the Sugar Loaf country south of White River and about 20 men collected at the Hoodenpile residence and the writer and them guarded the house day and night until the wounded man had recovered sufficiently to be removed to safe quarters on the Jack Hurst farm on Crooked Creek below Yellville where he remained until he was able to travel and he and wife went to. southwest Arkansas. One day in September, 1863, while the regiment the writer belonged to was camped in a canebrake on the Washita River below Arkadelphia, Peter Hoodenpile came to see me from where he lived about 60 miles. Soon after this he and wife went to Texas ‘where three more children were born to them, the names of which were Frank, Belle, and Bettie. Then his wife died and Peter himself died June 7, 1873. All of their children come back to Marion County except Phillip. Bettie died in the latter part of December, 1877. Sally Hoodenpile, her grand-mother, died January 8, 1878. They both lie buried in the graveyard on the John Riddle farm where Mat Hoodenpile was buried. Sarah Catherine, daughter of Peter Hoodenpile, married Green Pratt and she died near Western Grove, Arkansas. The other two children, Frank and Belle, were living near Western Grove the last account I had of them.

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