The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Many years ago when Joe Magness lived on the left bank of White River in what is now Cedar Creek township, Marion County, Ark., four of his sons—Tom, Wilshire, Sam and Bob— who were only small lads then, had an amusing experience with a bear one day that the dogs had chased out of the cane break in the bottom into the rough hills between White River and Big Creek. These boys were accompanied by "Hatch" and Tom Duggins, sons of Alex Duggins, who lived at the mouth of Big Creek. After the bear reached the top of the bluff it ran down into a hollow that leads Into Big Creek where the beast entered a cave. Joe Magness was absent from home that day and the 6 boys had all the enjoyment among themselves. Soon after the bear went into the cave the young lads reached the spot where the ever watchful dogs were keeping guard at the mouth of the cavern with the usual noise that dogs do when they corner a wild beast. The boys rejoiced that the bear had went Into a cave but they were at a lose to know how they would proceed to get him out until one of their number suggested that they build a fire and smoke him out and they soon kindled a fire just on the inside of the entrance into the cave for the purpose of smoking Bruin out of his den. The weather was cold and they all wore coats made of homemade jeans. Notwithstanding the bitter cold the boys placed several sticks across the mouth of the cave and pulled off their coats and spread them out on the sticks to prevent the smoke from escaping out of the opening. The young nimrods all stood In a bunch in front of where their coats hung on the sticks waiting for bruin to make his exit. They waited until their patience was nearly exhausted when to their joy they heard the bear coming. The noise he made indicated that he was trying to pump the smoke out of himself through his nostrils. As the boys heard the animal approaching they moved up closer to their coats and listened attentively at Bruin sniffing for he seemed to be full of smoke. All at once Bruin made a dash to reach the outside for he stood greatly in need of fresh air and on reaching the boys coats he knocked them Into the fire and rushed out and the boys scattered like chaff carried by the wind. The bear did not stop but pumped out the smoke as he ran with every dog at his heels. As the bear and dogs were passing out of view the boys thought of their coats and ran back to the cave and snatched their burning garments from the fire. But they were too late for they were all ruined. "Hatch" Duggins coat was entirely Destroyed and the others were so badly damaged that they were worthless. Though they were shivering with cold yet the young fellows did not get out of a pleasant humor and followed on in the direction the bear was leading the dogs. Bruin was not in a shape to travel far for the smoke had worried him and when he had ran near a half a mile he seemed to decide that he had rather fight as to run and halted and offered battle which the dogs accepted at once and they give him more fight than he anticipated. Though the bear fought for his life, but the smoke had weakened him in a way that he was no match for the dogs and they finally killed him. He was a small bear but it pleased the boys as well as If he had been as big as an elephant. They left the dead animal where the dogs had slain it and ran back home to relate the glorious news of their victory. In the meantime Joe Magness had returned back home and he and Alex Duggins went back with the exultant boys and brought the dead Bruin home on a large horse.

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