The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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BY S. C. Turnbo

In the fall of 1840 while my father, J. O. Turnbo, and two other young men of the name of Shipman while working in the pineries for Dr. A. S. Layton 12 miles south of Forsyth, Missouri, they started one Saturday afternoon to the mouth of Bee Creek. I am told that this stream is rough with small bluffs and some 12 or 15 miles in length. William M. Brown was the first settler on this watercourse and Dr. McGill is said to be the next. Mr. Brown lived near the mouth of the stream and was living there at the time I speak of and was the only settler on the creek at that time. Only a dim trail lead down the creek. A mile or more above the residence of Mr. Brown a big log lay across the trail and when the three men reached this log and as the front man went to climb over it rather than make his way round it through the tall tangled weeds, he stopped and exclaimed, "Look there." The other two pressed forward and looking where their companion indicated saw the remains of a fat hog, but there was little left of it except the hide and bones. The weeds were all trampled down around where the remnants of the hog lay. Evidently it was the work of a bear and it had left the spot only a few minutes before their arrival. The hog belonged to Mr. Brown and had wandered too far from home to be safe and a bear had pounced on the unsuspecting animal and made a meal of it. While the three men were standing at the log discussing the matter and on the lookout for Bruin too they caught sight of him standing on the hillside near 75 yards from them. He was an enormous looking animal and he was "eyeing" the men very closely. "Now for some fun," remarked one of the men and the other two seconded the motion and the three fellows left the log and went to an open spot closer to the bear where they could obtain a better view of him and began slapping their hands together and halloing to make the bear "skeedadale" , but Mr. Bruin was not in a running humor and to their amazement he started toward them, but he got only a few yards when the men hushed and stood still and then the bear stopped and after a fearful look at the intruders a short time turned around and walked leisurely up the hill. The astonished log cutters saw fight in the bear’s eyes, but they did not want to let him off until they made him run and duet himself and without further parley among themselves they dashed after him smacking their hands and yelling as before. But Bruin was not scared and instead of retreating on up the hill as the anxious men wanted him to do he stopped at once, turned around and charged back to meet them. The men halted in a moment and were as silent as the grave. Bruin showed signs of ill temper and were not as willing to stop and they were for he came on several yards further before he slowed up and stopped. The men saw plainly that his bearship was not to be fooled with and they were beat at their own game. The frightened trio and angry bear stood for five minutes facing each other. His bearship was giving back more music than they called for. They were playing their music box now in silence and terror. Bruin was dealing it out to them in snorts and growls. It seemed to the men that he would bring his music box nearer and give them a closer introduction to his bearship. Of course, they had no notion of wanting him to come. They were afraid he would but the bear changed his mind and after uttering another angry snort and emphasizing It with a terrible growl turned and walked off up the hill again. The men were crestfallen and dumbfounded with surprise but they disliked the idea of leaving the black beast without making him run and they all agreed to make one more trial to frighten him, but they refrained from putting it into execution until Mr. Bear was a hundred yards or more further up the hill. Then with a wild rush towards his bearship they made double the racket they did before. They thought surely he would run this time for the combined fuss they made was enough to scare all other animals out of the woods that were in hearing distance, but Bruin was as stubborn as well as he was angry and while the men ran forward stamping their feet against the ground hallooing at the top of their voices and striking the palms of their hands together, Bruin halted again and wheeled around and come back as fast as he could run; his bearship was tired of being trifled with and he would put a quietus on the men. The three fellows stopped and was quiet again. The bear was more furious than before. His hair was bushed up and he turned up his lips and showed his ugly teeth. The men were confused and terrified but the bear was not. They had nothing to fight with except their pen knives and they were poor weapons for defense against the assault of an enraged bear. He kept coming on and they were sure he was going to attack them and they were in the act of starting on a mad flight, when to their great relief Bruin stopped once more and looked at them fiercely and seemed to say, "Do that agin if you dare.." and turned around once more and walked up the hill again. The now thoroughly convinced men did not "dare" anymore and were more than willing to quit. They watched Bruin until he passed from view. Then they left the scene of their fun and passed on down the creek more solemn and wiser men, for they knew the bear had all the joke on his side.

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