The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Jake Nave, who was one among the pioneers of White River, said that when he come to Taney County, Mo., in 1832 the honey dew in the river bottoms during dry weather was so excessive that, it accumulated on the foliage of trees, weeds and cane and bushes so thick that he had known wild turkeys that were nearly grown get the feathers on their wings gummed so bad with it that they could not fly. Mr. Nave did not occupy his farm in the Jake Nave Bend in the northeast part of Boone County, Ark., until in 1840 or later. When he had cleared land and raised a crop of corn on it the bears helped him gather it. These animals made frequent visits to his field and eat and wasted the corn to their hearts content.

Mr. Nave said that the havoc committed in a cornfield by a hungry bear was equal to the work of a big hog and was too much of a burden on a farmer to carry in peace. "One night in the early fall.." said Mr. Nave, "while the moon lit up the night with its brilliant light, I went to the field to make an investigation to find out If any bear were on the inside of the field. I stopped at the fence to listen for a noise In the field and my ears soon caught the sound of their work which seemed to be as much racket as if two or three head of cattle were In there destroying and eating corn. It was evident from the noise going on that there were more than one of the Bruins in there making themselves welcome. They appeared to be very busy breaking down the corn. Knowing that I could not do much with them alone I went across the river to Ned Coker’s to get help and Coker sent his negro man John with dogs and gun with me. When we had crossed the river we made direct for the field and crossed the fence to the inside the dogs rushed forward and attacked the bears which proved to be a mother bear and three large cube. When the dogs closed in on the beasts there was a great stir. Corn and weeds were trampled down over a considerable space of land. As the fight went on I and the negro man advanced up near where the battle was going on and I shot and killed the old one. Reloading the rifle I killed one of the cubs and while the dogs were baying the remaining two cubs I shot and killed one of them. The other cub escaped in spite of the dogs. I had three dead bear now on my hands and all of them killed in my field of corn. I and the negro had plenty to do that night in removing the hides of the three animals and caring for the meat and myself and wife and Coker and his family were not lacking for bear meat which had fattened on my corn."

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