The Silas Turnbo manuscripts are a collection of approximately eight hundred short tales, stories and vignettes that reflect life along the White River Valley in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri during the latter half of the 19th century.
Turnbo was a sometime farmer and sometime newspaper proprietor who resided primarily near Pontiac, in Ozark County, Missouri. Turnbo traveled extensively in the region and wrote down the stories and reminiscenses of the region's pioneers.
The resulting accounts cover a wide range of subjects including hunting, farming, outlaws, the Civil War, home life and a number of events that are best described as tales of the unusual. The manuscripts have been of interest to genealogists for a number of years because of sometimes detailed accounts of the experiences of ancestors. They hold interest as well for historians, folklorists and those interested in how people adapted to the experience of frontier life in the Ozark hills. The stories offer a unique view of the interests and experiences of the inhabitants of the region during the period recounted.
Turnbo published two collections of the stories: Fireside Stories of the Early Days in the Ozarks. S.C. Turnbo, 1904 and Fireside Stories of the Early Days in the Ozarks, Part II. S.C. Turnbo, 1907. The material included here is taken from a typescript copy of a manuscript owned by the Springfield-Greene County Library. No attempt has been made to change the original order to the stories and little if any editing was done in the original transcription.
For further reading by or about Turnbo, please see the biography or bibliography.
To read some of these fascinating glimpses into early life in the Ozarks, please browse the table of contents or search the stories by keyword.
Springfield-Greene County Library