The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Short Mountain is situated in the northwest part of Marion County, Ark., and is the highest point of land in that section. It can be seen for many miles distant. This eminence is the dividing crest between the heads of Trimble, Coon and Locust Creeks and Lead Mine Hollow. The two first named streams empty into White River. The other two run into East Sugar Loaf Creek. As we approach near this mountain from the north side it looms up before you and resembles the name it implies. The length of the crest is about 600 yards. The summit is covered with black oak trees with scattering white oaks. The base and sides are also covered with timber. Though this noted mountain does not reach a high altitude yet during the hot waves of summer the temperature on the summit is pleasant and invigorating. On account of the heavy growth of timber a good view from the top is not obtainable but by moving our position from point to point we get a glance of fine scenery all around. On the north side the view reaches into Missouri. The hills of Shoal, Elbow and Big Creeks are within our vision. To the northeast the distant hills of Little North Fork are seen. Between the mountain and the river the hills are dotted here and there with small farms. Turning to the right we see the vallies of Trimble and Coon Creeks with their numerous hills and hollows. Further to the right we catch a glimpse of the tall hills of Music and Jimmie’s Creeks. Turning back we obtain a glimpse of the valley of East Sugar Loaf Creek and dwelling places of the tillers of the soil. By industry and sweat of the brows the farmers along this stream have prepared themselves neat little homes. How well I remember Locust Creek, the once beautiful prairie hollow now all crowded with pretty farms. When I first saw this little valley in the early part of 1855 Frank Benton and Tom Patterson were the only settlers here. Benton lived on what is now the Tom Keeling farm but this land was first settled by Jim Cheek. Ebic Brown was the first settler on the Patterson land now known as the John Trimble farm. It is said that Charles Coker cultivated the first land on Locust which was on this farm. In 1856 a public road was established from George Woods mill to the Missouri state line by way of Locust Creek and the Black Oak Ridge and the mouth of Trimble Creek where the road crossed the river and struck the Mo. state line on the bluff just west of the river. Sam Magness was overseer of the road and after it was cleared of Timber and the road made passable Magness and a few other men measured the road and set up stakes at the end of each mile with notches cut on the stakes to indicate the number of miles. The entire length of the road was found to be 12 miles. Short Mountain and vicinity was once a prominent locality for the old time hunter. Here the beautiful deer, the fat bear and skulking panther roamed at will. The hunter with his trusty rifle and trained dogs tramped over this region in the long ago in pursuit of game, nearly all of these old veteran hunters have crossed over to the great beyond where they never more can sit around their camp fires and partake of their forest fare and relate to each other their hunting tales. A few incidents of this nature is told in this chapter in the line of pretty sights of deer; the following is told by hunters who are alive at the present writing.

Fate Jones says that when he was a lad of a boy he was out coon hunting one afternoon near this mountain and saw 30 deer in one bunch playing on the side of a hill. John Yocum tells me that he saw about 35 deer at the foot of the mountain in 1865.

William Brown informs me that while him and Joe Trimble were hunting together one day near Black Oak Ridge which lies just north of here they saw 45 deer in one bunch. Trimble shot and killed one. "I shot and killed one and broke the foreleg of another one which I soon caught with the dog. At the report of the rifles the other deer scattered." Cal Bradley says that he saw 36 deer in a group near where the Lead Hill and Keesee ferry road passes on the ridge in plain view of here. The deer were passing in 70 yards of him. They were walking along in single file. The sight of them was so pretty that Uncle Cal forgot to shoot. But it was more interesting when the dog dashed in between the foremost deer and the one just behind it. The dogs pressed on in pursuit of the leading deer. The others followed the dog on a run in single file. When they were passing out of sight the front deer following the dogs was about two leaps behind him, said Mr. Bradley. Here is an account of two bucks with horns locked together. Among the pioneers of Marion County was "Dancin" Bill Woods. One of his grandsons was named William Woods and son of George Woods. While hunting one day near the foot of this mountain he found two bucks with large horns that had fought a battle several days previous. One was dead and the other was so weak it could barely stand up. The poor emaciated animal looked pitiful. Mr. Woods said it would be no honor to him to slay such a helpless creature and with his big hack knife he cut off two points of the dead buck’s horns and released the live one from its dead antagonist. I thought it might get fat again," said Mr. Woods, "and I might be the lucky hunter to kill it. This same Mr. Woods was one of the victims of the mountain meadow massacre in September, 1857.

My old particular friend, William Trimble, son of Allin Trimble, who lived on White River for 60 years tells the following panther story. George Wood, son of "Dancin" Bill Wood married Nancy Coker, youngest daughter of Buck Coker, and lived at the Big Spring on East Sugar Loaf Creek now called the Blackwell Spring; here in 1854 Woods built a mill and settlers who lived far and near patronized this mill. Some years before he erected his mill he was hunting in the close vicinity of Short Mountain and the dogs chased two panthers and the panthers soon took the advantage of a tree and sit on the limbs and glared at the dogs. When Woods reached the tree he shot both panthers which were a male and female. The former was 11 feet in length, the latter was 9 feet. Woods cut off the forepaws of each animal and carried them home and hunters who saw them pronounced those of the male panther unusually large."

Mr. Trimble relates another hunting story of his father and Ned Coker chasing a bear with their dogs to the foot of this mountain. Mr. Trimble said that the snow at the time was deep enough to make a bear chase interesting. Father and Coker were hunting on Trimble Creek and discovered where a bear had passed. After following the trail a few hundred yards they saw it lying down on the side of a hill. It was apparently asleep. Keeping the dogs under control they rode up in rifle range and both men shot at the bear at the same moment. The animal made an outcry resembling the voice of a humane in distress by uttering "Oh, Lordy" then the bear rose up and made toward Short Mountain. The men told the dogs to go after it and away they went through the snow in pursuit of the wounded bear. Father and Coker dismounted and hitched their horses and followed on afoot. The chase was lively and exciting. Bear and dogs made the snow fly as they ran along. They soon reached the foot of the mountain and the bear began climbing up its steep side but it did not get far up before the dogs caught it and the black beast seemed to sull and then doubled itself up and rolled back down to the base of the mountain. As the bear rolled down the snow stuck to its hair which made the beast look like a big snowball. The scene was amusing to see the bear roll down all covered with snow and the dogs following along in astonishment and barking. When Bruin got to where it could not roll any further it quickly undoubled itself and went back up the mountain until the dogs took hold of it again and the bear repeated the operation of rolling and the white ball went swiftly down the mountainside. The men would halloo and cheer and the dogs would follow on behind the bear yelping with all their might. The dogs were badly puzzled to see Bruin wrapped up in snow and form himself into a snowball. When the bear stopped this time both hunters shot at it but Bruin got up and ran back up the mountain. The men reloaded their guns in haste. When the dogs caught him again his bearship turned loose to rolling the third time and down he went to the foot again like a big white ball with the dogs following in its wake. When it stopped Ned Coker was in a few feet of it and quickly placing the muzzle of his rifle at the bur of the bear’s ear, fired and killed it. Clearing the snow from a spot of ground the hunters now collected some dry wood and with punk and a piece of steel they soon had a roaring fire. After getting warm they scraped the snow off of the dead bear and removed its hide. They found that the two bullets fired at it when it rolled down the second time only penetrated the hide, the thick coating of snow had acted as a shield. It was a large bear and very fat. After the hunters dressed the meat and hung it on limbs of trees they went back for their horses and camped on the spot where the bear was slain and feasted on bear meat broiled on the fire until their appetites were appeased. They had left home prepared to camp and kept comfortable all night before the big fire."

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