The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Another pioneer hunter of Crooked Creek, Boone County, Ark., is gone. We refer to Gideon Baughman who come to this stream in 1841 and located 7 miles below where Harrison is. He died in 1898. For 57 years he lived on the bank of this water course and drank of the cool bubbling spring of water which gushed out of the ground near his cabin. Here in the shade of the beautiful forest trees which stand near this spring he has repeatedly rested his weary limbs after returning from a chase after game. Gideon Baughman is a son of John Baughman and was born in Sevier County, Tenn., December 27th, 1821 and was about 77 years old when he died. The remains of his father rest in a graveyard 3 miles below Harrison. His mother, Mrs. Dorothy (her maiden name is not known) Baughman, died on Marble Creek in Iron County, Mo. Mr. Baughman was nearly 20 years old when he first saw Crooked Creek with its then beautiful prairie, valleys and nutritious grass. His principal occupation was hunting. Some of his experience as a hunter on this famed water course are interesting. He said that when him and his father come here nearly all the Indiana were gone, but a big Indian story was going the rounds of the settlers. The substance of which was that there is a mine on Buffalo which the Indiana called the Silver Cave. The Indians reported that there were two leads of silver ore in this cavern, that one lead had been worked 30 feet and the other 20. The Indians claimed that the mouth of the cave was so well concealed that it was hardly possible for the whites to discover it. Two Indiana of the names of John and Alpherd proposed to reveal the exact locality of this mine to two white men named John Smith and William Ashbrand provided the chief who lived in Shawneetown gave his consent. When the two Indians placed the matter before him he peremptorily refused saying, "If you reveal the whereabouts of this cave I will put you both to death and I will also slay the two white men." I am not vouching for the truth of this tale, but tell it to you as I heard it when I come here in 1841, " said Mr. Baughman.

"There were a few scattering Buffalo here when I come but I never saw any. What were seen here by others were traveling westward. There were plenty of elk horns lying scattered around in the woods. I had the pleasure of killing one elk on Crooked Creek about 4 miles below where Harrison is. He carried a very large set of horns. The beams were the size of a man’s arms, with 10 points on each beam. The elk ran a short distance after I shot it before it fell. Back in the forties the settlers enjoyed themselves hunting bee trees. Part of them contained scarcely any honey, but there were plenty of trees that were rich in honey. Some of them were exceedingly so. I remember on one occasion my two brothers, William and Henry Baughman, and William Carter and myself going to Sugar Orchard Creek with an ox wagon on a 5 days camp hunt our special business was to collect wild honey. But if a fat bear or fine buck got in our way we did not refuse to shoot at it. Besides our regular camping outfit we took barrels, washtubs, and water buckets to hold the honey in. We found a large number of bee trees but part of them did not yield enough honey to pay for the felling of the trees. Others were tolerable rich, but there were two that were extremely rich and turned out 10 gallons of strained honey each. One of these was a white oak tree and the other a dead pine. William Carter carried a large Duck skin honey case with him and he crammed all the honey into it that it would hold. Yes, about Wild turkeys. Well there seemed to be no end to them. I will not tell you anything about as to the number I have seen in one flock for I do not know. I have seen so many together that I was not able to approximate the number, much less count them. But to give you some idea how plentiful they were here once, that when I went out soon of a morning in the spring season to hunt for my plow horse it was almost impossible to hear the tingle of the bell on account of the constant gobbling of gobblers. Deer were numerous too. I counted 50 in one bunch just south of the creek one day in May when the grass was 6 Inches high. I was afoot and carried a rifle that shot a ½ ounce ball. The deer were in an open place on a flat of ground. They were all playing and after watching them awhile I crept up close to them and shot one and the others scattered. The only encounter I ever had with a wounded deer was caused by my own foolishness. I had went out on the north side of the creek when I saw two bucks together one of which had crumpled horns. I shot this one and it fell. My dog chased the other buck away. I went up to the one I had shot and taking my butcher knife in my right hand I took hold of the deer’s horns with my left in order to stick the knife into its breast like sticking a hog. But as I went to poke the knife the buck leaped to its feet and struck my arm with its horns and the knife flew from my hand. The stroke tore my shirt sleeve and the points of the horns lacerated the flesh on my arm which gave me much pain. I was angry now and I quickly caught the deer by the horns with both hands before it had time to gore me. I held it, but it was the worst job I ever undertook to do. I yelled lustily for the dog and he come darting back and caught the buck by the nose and threw the deer down on its broadside and held it down until I could pick up the knife and stabb it behind the shoulder and killed it. I loved my tige dog well enough before this but my affection for him was much greater after my scrimmage with this buck. The only time I saw two bucks locked together by, their horns was 2 miles above my place. I had went out soon one morning and while on the north side of the creek I heard a noise down in a hollow. On going into the hollow to investigate as to the cause of the fuse I discovered two bucks locked together. From appearances they had been in this condition several days. Each were badly wearied, worried and thin in flesh, but had strength enough left to pull and push each other around lively. I shot them both and after removing their hides I cut off their heads and carried them home and kept them for years. Everyone who examined the horns attempted to pull them apart but failed. One day while out with my rifle I met 12 deer in a bunch in the creek bottom just below my residence. There were several bucks among them. They were all in close rifle range and I shot one of the bucks down, and I dropped down in the grass to conceal myself. The deer had not seen me and as I looked at them through the openings in the grass the other seemed muzzled. I reloaded my gun and shot another buck down. The other 10 took fright now and away they went. Thinking I had better reload the gun before going to the fallen deer I soon had the rifle ready for another shot. At this moment I seen three of the bucks coming back and I shot one of them down. The other two turned and ran off again. The three bucks I had killed were large and fat and I went back to the house and brought a horse back and took one deer to the house at a time. The first year I come to Crooked Creek a white deer was seen several times on the creek. Every hunter was anxious to kill it, but it was too shy. Along after awhile someone thinking the deer had a madstone in it offered 5 dollars for its body, but no one could get close enough to hit it. Several shots were fired at it but it was too far off and it was supposed none of the bullets touched it. Finally the deer left and we heard nothing more of it. While I am speaking of this white deer I am reminded of seeing a deer in this locality with a white spot that covered half of its right side. The animal was something of a curiosity in color. Others saw it too, but it was too wild to allow a hunter to get in rifle shot of it until one day John Anderson approached close to it without its seeing him and shot it dead and he brought it to my house. You want to know something about the wolves here in early times. Well, to tell you how they pounced on stock I will say that several years after we come here my father bought 12 head of sheep from John Kelley who lived 10 miles up the creek. Kelley sold the sheep for one dollar per head. After we brought them home we put a bell on one of them and guarded them carefully of a day while they were feeding and drove them to a pen near the house of evenings. But one afternoon the flock wandered off out of hearing distance of the bell. We searched till that night without finding them. The wolves howled as usual that night but their noise appeared greater than common which indicated that more wolves had collected than usual. Sometime in the night we heard the sheep bell running but as the night was very dark we did not venture out. The tingle of the bell was soon silent and we were convinced that the wolves had made a havoc among the sheep. The following morning soon after sunrise we found the remains of 10 of the sheep. The wolves had got all but two head and so 10 sheep and ten dollars had vanished after much trouble and no recompense.

As to bear there were plenty of them here too which roamed up and down the creek and across the beautiful prairie hollows. What little land was in cultivation was mostly planted in corn and Bruin generally made his appearance in time to consume a part of the crop. If there were any hogs nearby he would sure mix a little pork with his corn. Like saving sheep from wolves it was hard to save hog and hominy on account of the bears. I well remember an incident relating to a bear which occurred here a long time ago. My brother, William Baughman, settled on the creek one mile above me. After he put up a log cabin and had moved into it, he cleared and fenced a small piece of ground and planted It in corn. The fence was poor, not fitten to turn anything away when they wanted to go in. William owned a fine sow which brought ten beautiful pigs which thrived and growed fast until they were fine shoats. The corn crop was not disturbed until about the first of July when some of the shoats took to the field and by roasting ear time the entire bunch invaded the patch of corn and commenced destroying it. About this time a bear began to visit the corn also and commenced killing the shoats as well as devouring roasting ears. Bruin soon reduced the number of shoats down to 3. William said he tried to shoot the bear on a few occasions but it was too wild. My brother grieved hard over the loss of his hogs. One morning I went up to his house and found him in the "mullygrubs". He was down in the mouth as the old saying Is and I could not cheer him up, but he said, "Gid, I am going to kill that bear in the morning." That night the bear returned and killed another shoat which left him the sow and only two shoats. Bill was now exasperated as well as down hearted and he determined to waylay Bruin late in the afternoon and shoot it while it was on its way back into the field. So in the afternoon he loaded his gun with a heavy charge of powder and ball and went up on the hillside above the field where the bear passed back and forth. Bill stationed himself behind a black oak tree and waited a long time for the appearance of Bruin. The evening was cloudy and Misting rain. It was just the sort of weather for wild animals to be poking their noses into something where they had no business. Shortly before night Bill caught a glimpse of Bruin coming toward him and he hugged the tree on the opposite side from the bear pretty close. When the bear was in 30 steps of him it snorted loud. Bill thought the bear had seen him and had snorted to signal him that he was coming and to get out of his way or he would devour him on the spot. My brothers imagination got the better of him and throwing down his gun he left the tree and fled toward the house. As the man left his concealment the bear saw him and Bill heard him utter several loud snorts. Bill ran like a deer until he reached the creek where he stopped and wondered what made him run so, and thought if he was back at the tree he would not run again. But he dare not go back and went on to the house. Next morning he ventured back and recovered his gun which was wet with rain. The bear finished up the remainder of his hogs before it quit. I and Peter Baughman and Bill Wilson had all the fun out of my brother we wanted about running from the bear."
June 5, 1902

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