The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

The pioneer Aettlers who lived on Current River were in the midst of plenty of wild game which abounded so plentiful on the valley of this noted stream of water. There was no lack of wild meat for the early hunters’. Bob Morris, whose father, James F. Morris, was an early settler on Current River In Shannon County, Mo., says that his father and Jimmie Hill, another old timer of that part of Missouri, would camp hunt together in the hills. They would take one horse with them to carry the dead game to camp on and after they had got a big supply of wild meat and hides on hand one of them would return home for a wagon and a yoke of oxen while the other hunter would stay at camp to care for the meat and hides until his friend come with the wagon and they would both go back home with a wagonload. I have known my father during the winter season to kill so many wild turkeys that he would take out their entrails and hang them up in the smokehouse by the neck and It seemed that the building was full of the dead turkeys. These turkey Including deer horns, pelts and furs he would haul to Iron Mountain and dispose of them for money, groceries or dry good for our own use. Alph Dethrage, who had a store on Current River two miles below our house, would also purchase deer horns and deer skins from hunters and pay them money or anything he had in the store, but we could get better prices by taking them to a distant town. My father would freight for Dethrage in a stout ox wagon. He would carry full loads of deer hides, deer horns to Iron Mountain for Dethrage and bring him back a load of coffee, sugar and salt and such other articles as were in demand In those days. There were numerous bear there too. As we have stated to you my father’s house stood on the top of a small hill 100 yards from the bank of Current River. At a low stage of water the gravel bars and sand beaches were expose which made a pretty playground for children and I and my brothers and sisters whiled away many happy hours on the sand bars picking up muscle shells and beautiful pebbles. One day while my father was gone down to the mill at Round Springs I and my sister Virginia who was 6 years older than myself and Elizabeth who was two years younger than her and my little brother John who was only two years older than myself, while playing on the beach seen a bear coming toward the opposite bank from us and when he got to the edge of the water he waded into it a few yards and stopped and stuck his nose down into the water and began to root in it like a hog hunting for muscles and penniwinkles. When Bruin made his appearance we were scared and we hustled away from the beach in a wild race toward the mill to tell papa. This was in 1850 when I was Just 3 years old. I was too young to run fast and soon fell back in the rear. I yelled and screamed for I supposed the old bear was going to catch and devour me. Virginia and Elizabeth never stopped until they got to the mill which was close to the house and told father about the bear and he ran to the house for his gun and I met him as he was running toward the river to shoot the bear and I quit crying for I felt safe while father was between me and the bear. When my father got to the river he saw the beast which was still in the shallow water rooting for muscles and he shot him and the beast sank down in the water and kicked, splashed and struggled in the water a minute or more before it died. Father now called Tom Chicobin from the mill and yoked up the oxen and hitching them to the wagon and took we children and went across to where the bear lay in the water and father and the other man got in the water and lifted the bear up out of the water and we children helped to pull it into the wagon and hauled the dead beast to the house and took off its hide and dressed the meat ready for use which lasted us for some time." Mr. Morris told the writer this at Jackson’s Switch In the Indian Territory In 1906.

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