The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

One of the earliest settlers in Taney County, Mo., was James Tabor. His father’s given name was James and he was an old man when he settled in Taney County in 1835. James Tabor, the subject of this story, was born In McCoupin County, Illinoise, in 1821 and died on Big Creek December the 22, 1895. His remains received interment in the cemetery at Lutie. He had lived in Taney County 60 years. The writer had an interview with him a short time before his death and he give me an account of killing an enormous bear on the head of Brushey Creek in Taney County in 1844. "Arch and John Tabor and myself were brothers. One day we went up over on the breaks of Brushy to kill bear. There were bears in our neighborhood but we could kill them some other time and we wanted to kill one further from home and we went to Brushy Creek on a camp hunt. Taking our horses along to bring back the wild meat. We made our camping place at a spring up the right hand prong of the creek above where the Brushy schoolhouse is now. This spring gushes out of the ground at the foot of the hill on the east side of the hollow, at what is known now as the Widow Wells place. Our camping place was a pretty spot. Plenty of water, fine grass and plenty of game. It was in the fall season of the year and the timber was throwing off its dead foliage., though rather late in the fall, but the weather was all one could wish for. There was an abundance of deer in the hills of Brushy Creek, but we were on the hunt for bear and we hardly molested them. It was the second day before we struck a bear and he was a large, fat one. The big fellow was in a good humor when the dogs gave chase and his bearship entered a cave with only a short chase. We prepared a torch and all three of us went in. As the dogs were well trained we made them stay at the entrance and they did not follow us. On entering the cavern we found that It did not extend far into the ground and we found the bear in a short time. He had laid down in a sunken place and I being In front came nigh stumbling over him before I noticed it. Then there was three hunters who backed away mighty fast. We saw by the torch that It was getting angry. When we stopped I shot but being excited I missed. The report of the rifle increased its anger and with a loud snort rose up and rushed toward us. The opening where we stood was large and there was lively dodging to give it plenty of room. The bear went on to the outside where the two dogs tackled it at once. We made our exit soon after the bear did and began shooting at It as fast as we could reload, but it was so fat that the balls seemed to have but little effect. We shot it three times behind the shoulder and four bullets struck it about the head and another shot broke its lower jaw. It took two other shots to slay it or a total of 10 shots besides the one in the Though the bear was conquered and lay dead but the angry beast had wounded the two dogs so desperately that we were forced to kill them to end their suffering. It had broke one dogs back and crushed both shoulders of the other. While we were stripping the dead bear of its hide and dressing the meat we found that the bullets which struck it behind the shoulder penetrated only into the fat and stopped without entering the cavity. We cut the meat Into chunks and loaded the pieces and the hide on the horses and carried It home. As the bear’s forepaws were unusually large we cut them off and took them home with us to show our families. After arriving home we weighed the meat which amounted to over five hundred pounds. Though we ate fat bear meat to our satisfaction which was pleasing to us but we much regretted the lose of our faithful dogs."

The writer will add that Mr. Tabor was a strong union man in sentiment during the great Civil War. He was honorable and opposed to dishonorable warfare as carried on by some parties of both sides.

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