The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

A few items of interest is told by Joseph R. Magness, son of Wilshire and Elizabeth (Holt) Magness. Joe was born on Big Creek just over the line in what is now Cedar Creek township, Marion County, Ark., July 15th, 1854. Joe tells of counting 35 deer in one bunch on head of Little Buck Creek one day while out afoot. He said the deer resembled the actions of a flock of sheep as they fed and he watched them about 15 minutes before they left. He was about 150 yards of them. "At another time," says Joe, "while I was lying down on a rock resting at a spring on this same stream which some call the Pockit Spring, I heard a noise nearby and raising up I saw a grown deer that was spotted all over its body. It was a very beautiful color, some of the white spots being as large as my hand. I had no gun and from this cause the deer took on a saucy look and stood and stamped its feet, snorted and whistled. Its hair stood out straight. Directly I scared it and away it went. At another time I saw it come to this same spring again for water. This time I had my gun and tried to shoot it but my gun flashed and off it went again. I seen a yearling deer kill a snake on Little Buck Creek once, but I did not know what it was doing until after the snake was dead. I was out hunting horses afoot and noticed the deer acting In a singular manner. It would run forwards a few yard, then jump high stiff legged and when it would touch the ground it would bound away as far as it could, then turn and run back again and repeat its actions as before. It did this for about 5 minutes when it walked away. Then I went to the spot to find out if I could what was the matter with the deer and strange to say a big whip snake (coach whip) lay on the ground dead, badly mutilated by the deer’s feet. I remember one day when I was a boy I was hunting on Little Buck Creek and shot and badly crippled a large buck at the Cutberth Spring. I knew the buck was not able to run far and I followed on after it. I bad gone but a short distance when I come up on two men trying to load the dead buck on a mule but the animal resisted. Then the men blindfolded the mule with a blanket and he allowed the men to lay the deer across his back. I told the men that it was my deer for I had shot it at the spring and trailed It here by the blood but they replied that it was theirs. I told them the second time that it was mine. They gave me an answer by starting on. Then I ask them their names and they said, "Iron and Steel." I thought they both ought to be called Steal for they had stole my deer. I knew I was only a boy and could not help myself and went back home. I was over 6 years old when the Civil War commenced, said Joe, "and remember what a trying time it was on the women and children. Many people went north to secure safer quarters. I never want to see such troublesome times again. I remember many things that occurred during this terrible strife most of which was of a serious nature. But what I was going to tell you about was the killing of a bear one day while some of Captain Jim Salbee"s men were moving our family and others from Bull Bottom on White River to the northern part of Ozark County, Mo. We felt much safer under the protection of soldiers than traveling alone. While we were passing up the John Morris hollow that flows into Big Creek at the John Morris place we noticed a small bear cross the road ahead of us which the dogs chased and soon overhauled it. The little fellow had plenty of grit and he stopped and stood on his hind feet and knocked the dogs right and left until he had plenty of room but the dogs were game too and were up and at his bearship again and he taught them the same lesson and the dogs now kept at a respectful distance. His young bearship now went up a small leaning pin oak tree and Zack Merritte, one of the soldiers, shot it with his army gun and the soldiers put it in our wagon and we hauled it to Pond Fork that evening where we camped for the night. But the death of this bear was nothing like as funny as the one John (Jack) Roberts, my father in law, and Uncle John Blackwell killed near the Big Spring on East Sugar Loaf Creek, between Monarch and Lead Hill, Ark. The men noticed a small bear coming out of the cornfield near the spring where Mr. Blackwell lived. Roberts hastily procuring a gun shot and wounded the little Bruin and it made off. They had a dog with them, they called Bounce, and they put it on the trail of the bear and he overtook it in a few minutes but it was too badly disabled to offer much resistance to the attack of the dog but while it was making an effort to defend itself Roberts ran up and caught the bear by the hind leg to hold it and to his dismay he found that the little beast had strength enough left to make him exert himself in holding the animal to prevent it from biting him. In the scramble he told Blackwell to shoot it but the latter replied in an excited manner, "Hold him, John, until I run and get George Cood, who killed the biggest bear that was ever killed in Tennessee." "You play thunder." said Roberts, "to run and get Cood. Never mind Cood. You come and kill this bear or it will kill me and the dog both." Uncle John Blackwell was under the influence of such an excitement that he stood perfectly still seeming not to know what to do. Then Roberts says, "Blackwell, shoot it. Shoot the bear, Blackwell," and "Roberts, I haint got any caps." "Then Blackwell replied, take your knife," yells Roberts," and cut its throat." Atthis Blackwell’s excitement began to cool and while Roberts held the little bear’s head down Blackwell advanced up in a cautious way and slashed the little beast across the throat 2 or 3 times which soon ended its troubles and the news too. The men now sit down to allow what was left of their excitement to subside and Blackwell happened to put his hand in his pocket and exclaimed, "Why, Roberts, I have got a whole box of gun caps in my pocket and I did not know it." Poor old Uncle John Blackwell is dead now," said Mr. Magness, "and I don’t mean any harm in telling this true story on him and Roberts, the last named of which is my father in law," said Mr. Magness.

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