The Turnbo Manuscripts

by Silas Claiborne Turnbo

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By S. C. Turnbo

Mose Lantz, the early day resident on Brattons Spring Creek in Ozark County, Mo., was a good citizen and influencial, yet he was of an excitable temperament and absent minded. He had a large number of friends and they hunted together frequently and divided venison and bear meat with each other around the camp fire. Elias Keesee, who was personally acquainted with Mr. Lantz in the pioneer days, gave an account of his father, Paton Keesee, and Mose Lantz riding to Big Creek one day on a camp hunt. It was the second year that Lantz lived on Spring Creek or in 1835. On arriving at the creek they stopped to camp for the night at a spring just below the mouth of Little Cedar Creek Hollow, where in after years Wilshire Magness settled the creek bottom just above the spring. The place is known now as the Steve Copelin land. The men after hobbling their horses to graze on the cane that grew in the creek bottom prepared a temporary shelter of poles and hides of wild animals, the latter of which they had brought with them for the purpose. At night they tied up their horses and after partaking of their evening lunch they retired to their shelter to lie down and talk and then go to sleep. But there was no rest for them, neither was there any for the dogs and horses, for the wild beasts kept up such a noise that camp was in a stir and turmoil nearly all night and men and dogs had a job on hand to prevent the wolves from taking charge of camp. The horses broke loose and ran away. When daylight was discerned in the east the tumult among the wild beasts became more quiet and when broad daylight came not a wolf was in sight. The two hunters were weary, hungry and disappointed. Their horses were gone which broke up the camp hunt. After partaking of a light breakfast they hung their saddles and camp equipment on the limbs of trees and with guns and dogs the despondent hunters left their camp at sunrise and trudged along up Little Cedar Creek Hollow the way they had come the evening previous. The grass and weeds were tall and wet with heavy dew which saturated their clothes to their waists. They carried no fresh meat, furs nor pelts. They had met ill luck and they were homeward bound. They had not went but a short distance up the hollow when the dogs, which were 250 yards in advance, came dashing back with twenty wolves at their heels. It was terrifying to see such a number of wolves driving the dogs along so fast before them. The frightened canines were doing their best running to keep ahead of the vicious pack and were uttering that peculiar noise, woo, woo, woo, when they are bad seared by wolves. The wolves were rushing along just behind the dogs snarling and snapping. The dogs and wolves as they came darting along toward the astonished hunters made a wide swathe in knocking down the rank grass and weeds loaded with dew. Both men stopped and as the terror stricken dogs dashed up to where the two men stood the wolves stopped a few yards back and threatened to rush right up to them. The dogs were trembling and cowering at the men’s feet. The sight of the impudent wolves as they rushed up with the dogs in the lead was enough to make the bravest of men quake with fear, but there was no time to fool away in getting afraid and father took aim with his rifle at one of the beasts and shot it dead. This seemed to warn the remaining 19 for the report of the rifle seemed to strike them with terror, and they wheeled about and fled back out of sight.

Not hearing the report of Lantz’ gun, my father said he looked around to see what was the matter, and was surprised at seeing his friend standing still with his rifle on his shoulder watching the fast retreating wolves without making the least effort to put in a shot at them. My father remarked to him., "Mose, why didn’t you kill a wolf?" This seemed to rouse him up and he became rational and replied, "Good God, Keesee, I was so nonplussed at seeing them terrible looking varmints charging up so close to us that I never thought of my gun."

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