The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Dodd City, Marion County, Ark., is a small town that nestles in a valley on the extreme head of East Sugar Loaf Creek near 11 miles from Yellville. Dr. Dodd, who has been dead several years was the founder of the town. In the latter fifties "Thresher" Bill Yocum lived a few months a mile or more below where Dodd City now is. A short time before his death he told the writer the following of the strange actions of a bear after being wounded. Said he, "I was living on the creek above the mouth of Chapmans Hollow. I was a hunter and made my living then by hunting. I have rested my weary limbs and quenched my thirst on many occasions at that fine spring of water below the village of Dodd City long before Mr. Long built his saw mill there. This mill as is well known was burned down In war times and as the old boiler that belonged to the mill rested long after the building was destroyed, the people called the spring the boiler spring. The water is pure and cold and is well known to every one who stop at this spring to get a drink of good water. This is true and so is the bear story I am going to tell you, said Mr. Yocum. "I owned a few hogs while living here which made their own living on the wild onions and other vegetation during spring and summer and the mast during the winter season. Among the hogs was a fine sow which brought 10 nice pigs. The little grunters would have to be protected or the wild beast would destroy them and to prevent this as I supposed It would I built a pen near my house and kept the sow in it of nights and fed the sow slop ti induce her to come to the house every evening. I was almost sure that the sow and her family of little pigs would be safe here. But I was sadly disappointed in my calculation for one night while I was gone from home a hungry bear entered the pen and killed the sow and carried her off. When I returned home on the following day my wife informed me of the loss of the sow. She said the bear visited the pen In the forepart of the night and pushed off,. the poles I had covered the top of the pen with and she heard It go over Into the pen and catch the sow. She squealed and struggled some time before Bruin killed her. Then she heard the bear climb over to the outside and go away and as the sow was gone on the following morning she knew Bruin had carried her off Into the forest to eat a late supper. I determined to murder that bear in retaliation for the death of my favorite grunter. A heavy rain had fallen recently, and where the ground was not too stoney it was soft enough to leave the Imprints of the bear’s paws in the mud. By this I was enabled to follow the direction the animal had left the pen with the SOW. I put my rifle in good shooting order and loaded it heavy and went in search of the night raider. I was in an ill humor and did not care how soon I overhauled his bearship. Where the ground was soft I experienced no trouble in following the trail but when the bear struck a spot where it was entirely covered with rock the trail was hard to trace. As ill luck to me would have it my dog had not come home with me and I had all the trailing to do myself. I had not went far before I found where his bearship had halted to refresh himself by filling up on the flesh of the dead hog. It had not devoured all the sow and leaving the remainder the bear went on. I followed on slowly for it was tedious work to follow the trail in the rough places. The bear did not travel in a straight line but went in a zigzag direction. At two places it had stopped and lay down. Then rose up and went on. As I went on its tracks grew fresher and soon afterward I was getting close to it. I watched for it very close and directly I saw it standing and knawing at the bark of a pine stump. It was "bugging" or in other words the bear was hunting and eating bugs found under the bark of the stump to mix with the pork that it had been feasting on. I had crept along so cautious that Bruin had not noticed my approach. On getting a little closer to it so that the aim with my gun at the bear would be more accurate, I sent a bullet into its body. At the report of the gun the bear moved away from the stump in a lively way and before the report of the rifle had entirely diminished it uttered a cry of pain and started and ran toward me as fast as it could run. As the black beast come charging up I saw the blood streaming from its side. I expected It would assail me when it got in reach of me. Then it was that my bravery began to wilt. I did not feel so daring as I did when I left my hut. I shook with a chill. But I had no time to think of a remedy to cure it and so I prepared for work the best I could. If I run It would soon overhaul me. I did not have time to climb a tree. If I did the bear could climb too. When the animal got in 15 yards of me I thought of my butcher knife and throwing down my empty gun for I did not have time to reload It, I jerked the knife from the scabbard and braced myself for desperate work and forgot all about being threatened with a chill. It come straight forward toward me and I knew if it struck against me it would crush me down to the ground and just before it reached me I leaped to one side to avoid its rush. To my astonishment as well as joy it made no halt but rushed on and soon passed over a rise of ground and was soon beyond my view. My excitement was at a high pitch. I felt like I had let a bird loose and had escaped a terrible combat too. I thought I had lost my hog and bear both. I stood for a few minutes then picked up my gun and reloaded it and after collecting what mind I had left followed Bruin to see the blood stains on the ground and try to find out whether the animal was severely wounded or not. As I went along on its trail I discovered that the blood was profusely sprinkled on the leaves lying on the ground and the bear’s trail was easily followed. After I had followed the trail more than a quarter of a mile my heart was made glad by finding his bearship lying dead. Though I had got revenge for the loss of my sow and the pigs were left motherless but the bear was dead which was some comfort but I paid well for it in the scare that the bear gave me."

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