The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Horseshoe Bend in Wbite River lies between Elbow Shoals and the mouth of Bear Creek. The bend is said to be 9 miles around. As we follow the curve of the river I am told that the bend resembles a horseshoe in shape, hence its name. It is only a short distance across the corks or narrowest part. Cornett’s ferry is situated at the toe. I am told that there is a wagon way leading out of the bend to Lead Hill and passes along the crest of a hill with a rough bluff on each side. From here the river is in full view on the right and left of the traveler. The entire bend as viewed from the top of a high hill presents a pretty scenery. Horseshoe Bend like all other sections of the Ozarks is the scene of old time tales of chasing and killing wild beast. Some of these stories are amusing. The following story was given by Abbi Deakins, which may prove interesting to those that delight to read hunting stories. Mr. Deakins said that while he resided in the Carrolton Hollow, a branch of West Sugar Loaf Creek, there were some few bear in that section. He said that on one occasion while he was living ¾ mile north of the Carrolton schoolhouse in what is Boone County, Ark., Mrs. Polly Wiggins come running to the house one morning and reported that she saw a bear run across the road about 10 yards ahead of her. I ask her if she was positive that it was a bear. "Yes," said she, "it was a bear, and by the holy God it was a big bear, too." She also informed me that while it was passing her it had its mouth wide open. The woman was bad scared. The weather was cold and about 3 inches of snow covered the ground. I went to notify Holland Parrish and Loranzo Brown, the former of which lived ¼ mile east and the latter ½ mile west of me. Both men were eager for the chase and were all soon ready and went off afoot. Each one of us took two dogs along. None of the dogs had been tried in a bear fight but plenty of noise on the chase would be fine passtime if nothing else. When we arrived at the spot where Mrs. Wiggins said the bear crossed the road, We found that the trail lead into rough ground toward Horseshoe Bend. The animal had not halted until it got into a gulch known as Cheek’s Hollow, which empties into the river at Cheek’s Ford. We had separated in the hollow. One of the party passed along the hillside west of the hollow and the other on the south side. I followed the trail of the bear down the hollow and discovered the animal lying under a shelving rock where he had stopped to rest. I was in 15 paces of him before I was aware of it. About the moment I saw him he rushed out from under the rock with his hair all bushed up. My two dogs were just in the rear of me when Bruin come out and I yelled to them, "Sic em, Beeve. Sic em, King." Beeve got there first and when the dog offered fight the bear reached out his paw and knocked the poor dog senseless, and he floundered about in the snow before he was able to rise. Then he tucked his tail between his legs and his business lay rolling toward home. He left the spot yelping at every jump as far as he was concerned he had bear enough. I felt too like I had rather be at home than there. This impression had such a strong hold on me that I forgot my gun. Fortunately though Bruin did not pay anymore attention to me and went on up the hill. I hallooed to Parrish to look out for there come the bear. My other dog followed the bear and it was soon reinforced by Parrishes two dogs, but as they ran up to the beast they both appeared that they had struck the wrong game and they lit out toward home. My dog followed Bruin to the top of the hill where the bear halted to give him a blow with his paw but the dog kept out of the way. Brown’s two dogs hearing the racket come dashing up and attacked Bruin at once but the latter taught them a lesson to not approach so near. He hit one and then the other and they did like their other three companions and were not long in getting out of sight either. My dog which was nothing more than a shepherd mixed with fox stayed close about the bear but he was careful not to get in reach of his paws. Soon after Brown’s dogs retreated the bear ran about ½ mile with the little dog in pursuit. Then he stopped again and tried to hit the shepherd with his paw but did not succeed. He now started again and on going ¼ mile further halted once more but it was only for a minute and after going a short distance more he went up a large cedar tree that stood near a high cliff of rock. We three men had all got together again by this time and when we arrived the bear was standing on a limb which hung over the brink of the precipice not over 12 feet above the ground. Parrish was carrying a shotgun, one barrel of which was loaded with a heavy charge of powder and a dozen buck shot rammed down on it. Me and Brown requested Parrish to shoot the bear and he assented and after stepping up close to the tree he sent the 12 buck shot into the bear’s body just behind the shoulder. His bearship tumbled out of the tree and fell on its back in 3 feet of the edge of the cliff. The moment it struck the ground the shepherd dog caught the beast by the foreleg and the next instant the dying bear caught the dog in its embrace and both went over the precipice together and struck the face of the bluff 50 feet below. By the time we looked over the cliff the dog was 30 feet below the bear and running down the face of the bluff as fast as his legs would take him. The bear was rolling and sliding down too but not so rapid as the dog was running. The dog thought the bear was chasing him and was yelping like he was scared almost to death. When he reached the river he plunged in and swam out from shore. The bear was dead and after rolling down the bluff 180 yards lodged against an Oak tree which stood about 70 yards above the edge of the water. The scene of the dog getting away from the dead bear was amusing and we fairly laughed with delight. The dog did not stay in the cold water very long before he noticed his adversary was not following him further and he now changed his mind and swam out of the river and shook the icy water off of him and ran back up the bluff where the dead bear lay and bayed it but finding that it was dead let it alone. By this time Bill Morris come to us to help enjoy the fun. A tall sugar maple tree stood against the cliff with its top reaching above the cliff and we all descended the precipice by means of the tree and went to the bear. It had caught a covering of snow as it rolled down the face of the bluff and we had a time brushing it off. Then we took off the hide and cut the meat into chunks and by making a circuit around the cliff got the bear out of the bluff by carrying it piece by piece. This was on Saturday and it was night before we returned home, but we had been well rewarded with plenty of fun on the chase and a fine feast on bear meat Saturday night for supper and breakfast Sunday morning." "How the dog escaped being killed or crippled in going over the precipice with the bear I cannot account for unless the fall frightened him too bad to get hurt."

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