The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The following account of how the writer’s father’s house was ransacked by marauders while he lived on the old George Fritts farm on the left bank of White River in Keesee township, Marion County, Ark., during the terrible strife in the days of war was furnished me by my sister, Mrs. Sally Treadway of Peel, Ark., who said that one night in the month of January, 1865, two men rode up to the yard fence and dismounted. One of them stayed out at the fence to guard the horses and to keep a look out for the approach of friends or foes. The other one come into the house. He was disguised by having his face blacked with some kind of coloring matter which was more than likely pot black. My father and my brothers, Newt and Bubby, was gone. John Payne, who was afflicted with chronic sore eyes, had come there to mend our shoes. Lizzie and Sarah Craton Hogan, daughters of Crayton and Sarah (Trimble) Hogan, were there also. A heavy rain was falling and the night was intensely dark. It was just the kind of a night for thieves and wolves to prowl around. The man when he come into the house cursed and threatened and drove John Payne out of doors and made him stand in the yard while the rain was falling. About the first thing he did toward laying his hands on in the house was to pick up a pint bottle filled with spirits of camphire which he at first supposed was whisky and being disappointed he dashed the bottle down on the floor and broke it into pieces. A box that was painted red which we called a chest was sitting near the wall of the house which was filled with shelled corn and the robber made we children empty the corn out of the box onto the floor. But changing his mind the thief made us pick the corn up again and put it in a sack to feed his horses on. Lizzie and Sarah Crayton helped us pick up the corn and we put all the pieces of glass we could find on the floor and put them in the sack with the corn. The robber now went up in the loft and filled a sack with dried apples and brought it down. Then he taken a pillow slip from the bed and stuffed it full of lint cotton that the seed had been taken out by the use of a small roller hand gin. We had a half side of home tanned sole leather concealed under the house floor that only two other persons besides our own family knew where it was and these were George Simmons and Bill Riddle. Our family and Aunt Katie Simmons, mother of George Simmons, had leather enough tanned in partnership for the two families in our large tan trough that lay on the bank of the river at the side of the upper field. The robber knew where our part of the leather was hid and took it out from under the floor. Then he made my two sisters, Margarette and Mary, go to the smokehouse and bring a shoulder of meat into the house and lay it down on the table. The meat was fresh for it had not been killed more than a day or two. The robber on examining the meat gouged his finger into the meat and says, "Ah, its as green as poison. I will not take it." While all this was going on my brother, Andy, who was the baby got scared at the robber and was crying at the top of his voice which did not please the robber and he says, "Some of you go out and get a corn cob and stick it in that child’s mouth and choke his noise off." The man now proceeded to examine the bed clothes and picking out three of the best quilts he folded them up and laid them down and called to his companion who was still on guard at the fence to come in and help him carry the things out and they took the quilts, cotton, corn, dried apples and sole leather and put the stolen booty on their horses and rode off."

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