The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

In an interview with Taylor Frazier, an old time resident of Marion County, Ark., one day in the month of September, 1896, he told me this account. "I was born in St. Clair County, Alabama, October 17, l840. I am a son of James Frazier and my father died at the old homestead In Alabama. After the death of my father my mother brought me to Arkansas in 1845 when I was less than 5 years old and settled on Crooked Creek in Marion County. My mother entered the dark valley of death in the pioneer days and received interment in the old burial ground at the mouth of George’s Creek." When the writer interviewed Mr. Frazier he was living in Pangle Hollow, which enters Crooked Creek a short distance above the mouth of George’s Creek. In relating a bear story Mr. Frazier said, "There were plenty of bear In Marion County when we come here in 1845 but I was too young to hunt then. On one occasion when I was nearly grown I and Berry Wood, a brother in law of mine, and Ozz D. Dearman, one of my half brothers, and a Mr. Paxton went to Music Creek on a bear hunt. We took pack horses and a camping outfit with us. About inches of snow lay on the ground and when we reached the head of music Creek we struck the trail of a bear in a rough hollow and followed it down the creek some distance where it had gone into a cave. Here we met Sam Howard who was on a bear hunt also and he stayed with us. We carried plenty of fuel with us for a torch and after igniting some of It) I took the torch and we all went into the cave together. After we had went into the cavern several yards the bear as we supposed heard us coming and started out. As soon as the animal approached us near enough for us to see the outlines of his form by the light of the torch Howard shot at it but the man was excited and we supposed he missed the mark. At the report of the gun the bear rushed at us. We were all grouped together and as the animal was coming toward us I says to Dearman, "Shoot it," and as the beast was climbing up a low ledge of rock just in front of us, he fired his gun at it intending to shoot it in the forehead but the ball took effect In the bear’s nose and Bruin snorted and the blood spurted from his nostrils. Bruin increased his movements more lively and was among us in an Instant almost. This part of the cave was narrow and the wounded bear and we five men had a fast stir among us. We pressed our backs against the wall of the cave to allow his bearship all the room possible to pass us which It did. As the bear went on toward the mouth of the cave we heard it blowing the blood from its nose. Just on the inside of the entrance into the cavern was a sink hole 4 feet deep and when his bearship reached it he fell into it and he proved to be so weak from the effects of the shot that he was not able to crawl out. And we found him in this hole when we followed him up. Just before we reached the sink, I got In behind the other men and let those carrying the guns so in advance. I supposed by falling in the rear I would not stand in danger of being hurt by the bear but I found to my surprise that there was danger behind me as well as in front for it was now that I heard the footsteps of an animal at my heels and I wheeled about to ascertain what it was and discovered a small bear almost under my feet. Though I was struck with terror but I had strength enough left to raise my foot and kick the little black beast on the head and it nearly turned a summersault in getting back the way it had come. The bear in the sinkhole was using all the strength it had to get out. I says, "Howard, shoot it." He replied., "I can’t". I ask him why and he answered again, "I can’t." Then I ask Dearman to shoot It but he refused to do it, and I says "What is the matter Oz that you don’t want to shoot it," and he says, "That bear Is dangerous and I don’t want to get close to It." By this time the bear had lay down and I gave the torch to one of the men and he handed me his rifle and I aimed the gun at the bear’s head and pulled the trigger and a flash followed. The rifle failed to discharge its contents. At this the bear rose on its feet and we rushed back a few yards from the sink hole but perceiving that the bear was still In the sink hole and not able to follow us we returned back and I reprimed the gun and sent a ball crashing into the bear’s brains. As soon as Bruin was dead we tied ropes to it and pulled it out of the sink hole and out of the cave and took off its hide and dressed the meat. We camped that night at the mouth of the cave and on the following morning we went back into the cave to hunt for the cub bear that gave me such a fright the evening before and found and killed three cubs instead of one. In the afternoon of that day we went back into the cave and discovered another grown bear and killed it. It was night when we had got through caring for the meat and we camped here the second night but before we lay down we all agreed to go back into the cave and hunt for another bear and we did and found and killed a two years old cub and took it out and removed its hide and the meat before midnight. We had took 6 bear from the same cave, which cleaned up the bunch that inhabited this cavern. An equal division of the meat was made among us all which gave a fine supply of It to each of US."

The author will add here that while Mr. Frazier was relating the foregoing account Dr. R. J. Pierce, a prominent physician,of Marion County, was visiting a sick child of Mr. Frazier’s and after the man had ended his story the doctor who is quite a jovial man remarked that Frazier did not tell it all and I ask the doctor what part of it was left out and he replied that he failed to tell me the praying part of the incident which I will tell you," said the doctor. "When Mr. Frazier and his companions met the first bear in the cave the five hunters were paralyzed with fear and gave up in despair for they all imagined the bear would slay and devour them on the spot. Four of the hunters began to pray. The other man was Frazier says, "Boys, I can’t pray. I don’t know how but I am willing to do anything to help the meeting along and while you boys are praying I will pass the hat around for a collection." As a matter of fact Pierce meant this as a joke only and the old hunter smiled while the doctor was relating it and remarked to the writer that the addition made by the doctor was too good to be lost Hand you can add It to my part of the story if you wish to, " said he. Frazier said his part of it was true, but Doctor Pierce would not vouch for his part of it.

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