The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The pioneer people of North Arkansas and Southern Missouri met many fascinating views in the wild woods in the early days. Their description of wild beast as they observed them in the forest are interesting to those that delight in reading the accounts of the bygone days.

Mrs. Cassia King furnished a story to the writer one day in January, 1898, at Lead Hill, Ark., of herself and others meeting a bear once in the wild forest, the account of which she related in the following words.

"In the year 1836 several of the Adams family who were relatives of my parents, Mr. Samuel Orr and Mrs. Catherine (Adams) Orr, paid us a visit where we lived near the mouth of Big North Fork and remained with us a few days to look at the county. They all lived in Howard County, Mo., which borders the Missouri River on the north side. When they were ready to return back home my parents decided to go home with them and we all started on horseback.

The following are the names of those composing our party. Sam and Catherine Orr, my parents; I and my sister, Mary A., and brother Jim Orr; Andrew and Wilson Adams, who were brothers of my grandfather, old Jimmie Adams. There were also Warren and Wilson Adams, who were sons of Andrew Adams.

Then there were Strather, George, and John Adams, who were brothers of my mother’s. The two last named lived with my grandfather, Jimmie Adams. There were 12 of us in the party and I recollect that I was a few months less than 12 years old. We had two dogs with us and some of the men carried a small single barrel pistol each. These and pen knives were all the weapons we had in the crowd. The country was wild. It had not only the appearance of being wild, but it was wild. There were no roads except a few Indian trails, but the hills and valleys all about us presented a picturesque view. A wide expanse of wooded hills and broken prairie with no intervening undergrowth to mar the view of the pretty scenery. Our journey from the mouth of Big North Fork to the Missouri River was enjoyed by us all. Here we passed over a wooded hill. There we crossed a pretty prairie hollow and over yonder we crossed a brooklet of limpid water. One fine view was followed by another until our arrival at the home of our relatives in Howard County. Deer and wild turkeys were seen on every side almost. Big game was seen occasionally. The most prettiest sight of a wild bear I ever saw in my life was while we were on this trip into Missouri and before we got out of the rough hills of Arkansas, and here is the way it occurred, is said Mrs. King.

"One day while we were riding along on the top of the Cawlder Mountain which is situated not far from where the George Pearson farm on White River is we spied a huge bear standing near 100 yards from the Indian trail we were following. The sight of seeing so many human beings traveling together no doubt surprised his bearship and he was watching us intently. The two dogs darted at him for a fight and the beast did not show any evidence of fear and rose on his hind feet and used his paws for a knocker which soon reminded the dogs who they were fooling with and that he was monarch there for the time. After the bear had hit the dogs once or twice each they had all the lesson they wanted and did not venture up in reach of his paws anymore and kept at a respectful distance from him and bayed him with all the noise they were able to make. The men who carried the pistols made no attempt to shoot him, thinking it more prudent to let him alone for the pistols’ balls were so small that they would wound him only which might render him into a fury and he might kill or wound some of the party. But we all rode up near where he was standing on his hind feet and surrounded him and sat on our horses and interviewed him more than a half an hour. Though he had repulsed the attack from the dogs yet he seemed inclined not to Interrupt us if we would let him alone. His appearance as he stood there indicated peace but he did not want to be molested, but as I have said he did not show any animosity toward us while we were viewing him, but I thought he was a peculiar looking creature. He remained perfectly still while we were scrutinizing him. When we had rode off some 200 yards from the bear and had called the dogs off we stopped and looked back at him again and he was still in the same position. After we had passed on a little further we could not resist the temptation of stopping once more and took another long look at him and he was in the same position the last we seen of him."

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