Capps Family Turnbo Tales
"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."
Springfield-Greene County Public Library
A Few Names of The Pioneer Settlers on The Left Prong of Crooked Creek And Vicinity
By S. C. Turnbo
In refering to the names of early residents on the left hand prong of Crooked Creek in Boone County Arkansas., Mr. William A. Eoff gives the following. The names are those who lived on the creek and vicinity from the earliest period of the settlement of that locality up to the beginning of the war. Among them were Henry Woody and Katie his wife, Ben Gipson and Elizabeth his wife, Duke Spain and Betsy his wife., Bill Potts and Louisa his wife, Jimmie Willis and Lucy his wife, Jake Clipper and his wife Harriet, Bill Braden and his wife Mahala, Ben McMahan and Betsey his wife., Davy Nichols and Hezzikieh his wife, Bob Capps and his wife Elvira, Jimmie Jones and Polly his wife, Billy Singer and Martha his wife. There were also Judge Ewing and Billy Ewing, Jake Turner and Clamp Turner who were brothers, and John Woody who was a chair maker. This man had a son named John whose wife was named Katie. Davy Nichols the one mentioned above was a hard shell Baptist preacher. Mr. Eoff
married Miss Elvira Pennywell on the let of December 1853 and they lived many years on the left hand prong of the creek 4 miles from Bellfonte and 4 miles from Vally Springs and one half a mile from Pilot Knob. In speaking of his early school days, Mr. Eoff said "went to school at Peter Bellers where there was a small house used for school purposes. The teacher wife was name Evaline. Some of my school mates who attended this school were Caroline Nichols, Francis Beller and Virginia Beller,
Bob Capps, John Eoff and Charley Mitchell son of Col. Bill Mitchell. Some time after the school was out Charley Mitchell married Sarah Baker daughter of Jack Baker. Mr. Baker and Mitchell and his wife were killed in the Mountain Meadow Massacre in Utah in September 1857. Billy Beller was the man that kept the Beller stand at the Big Spring 2 miles above
Source: Online transcription
of the Silas Claiborne Turnbo (1844-1925) manuscripts by the Springfield-Greene County Public Library
. They offer a searchable database
of the stories as well as biographical and bibliographical information about Turnbo, noted 13 September 2004.
Several Stories of Interest As Told by An Old Veteran Hunter
By S. C. Turnbo
Almost all the old timers of Boone County, Ark., knew Peter Baughman [This is the brother of Mary E. Baughman who married John Capps]. He was one among the famed hunters of Crooked Creek and was born in Iron County, Mo., October 11, 1830. He is a son of Henry and Charity (Sutton) Baughman. His father died on Crooked Creek in 1882 and is buried in the Milum graveyard below Harrison. His mother died in Iron County, Mo., in 1864 and is buried in a graveyard two miles. south of Ironton. Mr. Baughman says that his parents arrived at Yellville, Ark., from Iron County, Mo., on the llth of October., 1840, when he was just ten years old.
"Yellville was quite a small village then and I remember that circuit court was in session on the day of our arrival; court was held under a brush harbor and a big crowd was in attendance. The citizens had their rifles stacked around the harbor. My parents lived in Yellville awhile, then went on up Crooked Creek where they made a permanent location. Here in the fall of 1842 a big bunch of buffalo were discovered traveling up Crooked Creek. My father and John Sutton followed them and shot and killed two grown ones on Terrapin Creek, which empties into Long Creek below Carrolton. They followed the herd several miles west of here and killed two more, one of which was full grown and the other a calf. They would have pursued them further but they were afraid the Indians might interfere with them and both turned back."
Among other things of his own experience in hunting Mr. Baughman tells the following. "Many years ago," said he, "I had quite an interesting time while viewing a bunch of deer once on Oregon Flat. I had a slow track dog with me which belonged to Sam Edmonson. I was leading the dog with a rope, one end of which was tied around the dog’s neck. The other end was tied loosely around my waist. The deer were playing and running a circle. The sight of them was so interesting that I sat down and watched their antics and counted them as accurately as I could and found there were 31. I had often seen from four to ten in a bunch, but these were more than I had ever seen together before. They jumped and played in a most lively way. This herd of deer was the most fascinating forest scene I ever witnessed. The dog wanted to go in among them and he tugged vigorously at the rope to get free. I made him quiet down until a buck left the bunch and walked up near me and as I raised my gun to aim at him with the dog behind, the dog jerked at the rope and pulled me backward on the ground. As it happened the dog pulled loose from me and darted at the herd and they all scattered. The dog and deer soon passed from my view. I was now in a rage and determined to kill the dog on sight or when he came back. I sat there a long time holding my rifle ready to send a bullet into his brains the moment he returned back. But the dog did not put in an appearance for several hours. This saved his life, for by that time I was in a better humor and did not hurt him.
The largest buck I ever killed was on Sugar Orchard Creek in the early 50’s. After its hide was well dried and otherwise prepared for market I took it to Yellville and offered it for sale to Brice Milum who was one of the merchants there then. Milum suspected that something was not right about the hide and refused to buy it. I assured him that nothing was wrong about it. Finally after Jim Berry, another merchant there and Milum gave the hide a thorough examination, they agreed that there was nothing wrong with it and Milum bought it. Both merchants weighed it carefully and it tipped the scales at 13 pounds. I remember going out into the hills to kill a deer when I was 13 years old or in 1843 and shot at a yearling deer and knocked it down. Seeing that it was going to get on its feet again I ran to it and locked my arms around its neck to prevent its escape. The deer revived so fast that it kicked and surged so stout that I was compelled to release it. This broke me from trying to hug any more deer. Me and James Walker shot a buck one day at the same moment. The deer ran 3 /4 of a mile before the dog caught and killed it. Both balls had took effect, one of which had lodged in the heart. At another time while I was hunting alone, I saw a deer standing on the hillside above me, but did not notice any other deer when I shot at this one. But I missed it and killed another one further up on the side of the hill and on a line with the other deer from where I stood according to the elevation of ground I must have overshot the other deer about four feet.
I will tell you of an incident of hunting now which may seem strange to you, but nevertheless it is true," said Mr. Baughman. "It happened over in Taney County, Mo. I and John Yandell were hunting in the hollow that empties into Elbow Creek opposite the old John Yandell residence. While me and Yandell were passing along together I noticed a fine doe standing in rifle range and I shot at her. She ran, but we knew she was badly crippled. We followed the trail and soon found the deer dead in a hollow stump. You need not quit writing and look doubtful at me for it is true. When I make it more plain, my account of this peculiar incident will not appear so unreasonable. The stump was very large and several feet high and had a wide opening at the ground which extended up a few feet above the ground. The deer in its death agony had struck the opening in the stump and died instantly. The deer was sitting upright in the hollow of the stump with its back facing outwards. I recollect one day while me and a man of the name of Taylor were hunting on Oregon Flat, I shot at a wild turkey and broke its leg. It rose and flew a short distance and attempted to alight in the top of a blackjack tree but it got the foot of its wounded leg hung in the forks of a small limb and could not extricate itself. I went come distance to a house and borrowed an ax and chopped the tree down and captured the turkey.
Bob Capps [father of John Capps, grandfather of Ambrose Capps] found three bee trees one day which number was very common for hunters to locate in the run of one day, but Capps discovered a bee tree the night following the day he found the three. He claimed that he had found four in one day but I told him that it was only three for he had found one after night. This last one he discovered by hearing the bees buzzing in the tree.
While speaking of bees," said Mr. Baughman, "I recollect finding two bee trees In 45 yards of each other in a few minutes. When I went back on the following day to secure the honey I discovered another bee tree in six feet of one of them. White Oak Creek, a tributary branch of Crooked Creek, used to be a great stream for hunters to camp on. The fine spring of flowing water afforded an abundance of water in the dry season of the year for both hunter and game. On a certain time Bob Capps and Henry Woody [the brother of Bob's wife Elvira Woody, son of John Woody] went on a camp hunt on this stream. One morning soon after they had left camp for the day’s hunt they temporarily separated. After awhile Capps noticed Woody trying to shoot something. But very soon Woody put his gun down and laid flat down on the ground face downward. This alarmed Capps for he supposed that his companion was sick or crazy and started toward him; when in a few yards of where the man lay he saw a wild cat walk around a tree in a few feet of Woody. Then it leaped up on the side of another tree and Capps shot and killed it. Woody raised up now and said, "Capps, what did you kill the cat for. I wanted to see if it would jump on me."
"Seeing an eagle strike at a deer is a forest scene that hunters have witnessed occasionally and I saw that sight myself once," said the old veteran citizen and hunter. "This occurred in the Oregon Flat near where Oregon Post Office was afterward established. While I was hunting here one day I seen a fine doe feeding. She was not near enough for me to make a sure shot and while I was creeping along toward her in order to get in close range I heard a whirring noise in the air above me. On raising my head to find what made the fuss I seen an eagle flying swiftly down toward the deer and struck it on the hips with its talons. The poor deer leaped, kicked, and struggled to rid itself of the unwelcome bird. Then it bounded off with the eagle sitting on its hips. No doubt its long sharp claws were sank deep into the deer’s flesh as the terrified animal was fleeing along, the great American bird spread out its wings to balance itself on the deer. The deer and eagle were in plain view for nearly ¼ mile when they disappeared in the thick growth of timber. It is my supposition," said Uncle Peter, "that unless the eagle was torn off of the deer’s back by limbs of trees it enjoyed a jolly ride until the deer was completely exhausted from running and the suffering inflicted by the eagle’s talons and then it fell an easy victim to this bird of prey. As to wolves," said Uncle Peter, "they did not lack for numbers in the early days here on Crooked Creek. They commited terrible depradations on stock. Settlers made all sorts of efforts to shoot and poison them and laid all kinds of plans to entrap them. I have known deep pits to be dug and prepared with trap doors. The doors were baited with fresh meat and when a wolf came along he would be sure to go for the meat and when he would get on the door he would drop into the pit prepared for his reception. The pits were so deep and the walls so steep that Mr. Wolf was not able to scale the walls and escape and was held a prisoner until the owner of the pit came along and ended his life with a bullet. Occasionally more than one wolf was caught in a pit at one time. Sometimes a catamount, wild cat, coon or fox would fall in and it was nothing strange to find a runabout dog in there too. It so happened that when one of these pits were properly constructed a mixture of wild animals would be entrapped during one night. It is something remarkable about the peaceable disposition of wild beasts here when several of them were huddled together in one of these pits. Each tried to seek safety for itself by trying to climb out of the hole. Just for the sport of it hunters would occasionally confine a wolf with a chain and thongs and after choking the animal nearly to death would knock out every tooth in its mouth and after it had fully revived from the choking it had received, the hunters would turn it loose among a lot of dogs and hurrah until the dogs worried the beast to death.
I will tell you of an experience I had with wolves once in 1850 while we lived near the now beautiful town of Bellfonte south of Crooked Creek. Father owned a distillery and made whiskey. It was not an adulterated stuff like some that is sold nowadays, a few drops of which is liable to poison a man to death, but it was pure corn whiskey. While father manufactured whiskey he raised a fine lot of hogs. Among them was a male which he kept in an enclosure. It so happened that about then we had no dogs worth anything in the way of watch dogs. One night a pack of wolves entered the lot where the hog was kept and killed him while we and the dogs slept. It would seem that a stout boar would be able to whip a lot of wolves but by some means they overcame him and made a meal of him. Only a few remnants of the hog was left to tell the tale of his fate. The following morning while father was lamenting over the loss of the boar I informed him that I was going to try and take in a few of the wolves as partial payment for the hog. I went to Loranzo Rush’s and borrowed a trained dog. Joe Rush went with me in pursuit of the wolves. The trail was easily followed by the assistance of the dog, for there were so many of the wolves together that they partly beat down the grass and weeds as they went along and left a dim trail in their wake. We followed the trail across Crooked Creek and over hills and across hollows to the Oregon Flat and to the head of Sugar Orchard Creek and on into the head of the hollow in which is known now as Elixir Springs. Here in this hollow the dog indicated that the game was not far off. We followed the trail down the hollow to a large hollow white oak tree which stood just above the springs. This tree had a big cavity at the ground and here in this tree we discovered nine young wolves. The old ones on hearing our approach had scattered. We did not molest the pups for awhile for we wanted to slay some of the old ones. We stood at the tree several minutes before they showed themselves. They approached us on the hillside but they all stopped before getting in shooting distance. I requested Rush to remain at the tree and keep the dog with him and make the wolf pups squall while I sauntered around close by and made an effort to shoot some of the old ones. Though Rush made the young wolves cry out like hound pups but the old ones made no attempt to attack us or the dog. But they would howl, whine and dodge around. At one time while Rush was making the pups squall they ran up close, but wheeled and loped away. They kept moving around so much that I could not shoot at one with any certainty of hitting it until finally I saw one standing still and I shot him down. Soon after I had reloaded my rifle I got an opportunity and killed another one. The others took the hint and left. We now gave our attention to the pups and put them to death and threw them back in their bed for the old ones to grieve over. We had slain eleven including the two old ones. We had exterminated one nest of young wolves at least which had afforded some revenge for the lose of the hog."
May 22, 1902
Mr. Baughman died near Cornettes Ferry on White River in the spring of 1904. He was a reliable man and a good citizen. Oregon Flat lies east of Harrison, Arkansas.
Source: Online transcription of the Silas Claiborne Turnbo (1844-1925) manuscripts by the Springfield-Greene County Public Library. They offer a searchable database of the stories as well as biographical and bibliographical information about Turnbo, noted 13 September 2004.
For more of Peter Baughman's hunting stories see also:
Killing A Bunch Of Panthers, by S. C. Turnbo
Two Deer Get Up And Run After Their Throats Are Cut, by S. C. Turnbo
Killing Bear On Music Creek, by S. C. Turnbo
A Rich Find Of Wild Honey In A Pine Tree, by S. C. Turnbo
Crooked Creek And Its Tributaries And Incidents Of Old Time Hunting In This Valley, by S. C. Turnbo (good description of region that the Capps and Baughman families lived in)
Killing Panther In The Buffalo Mountains, by S. C. Turnbo
Dreadful Experience With Panther, by S. C. Turnbo
Forest Scenes That Were Funny, by S. C. Turnbo
He Dropped His Rifle And Run From The Bear
By S. C. Turnbo
Another pioneer hunter of Crooked Creek, Boone County, Ark., is gone. We refer to Gideon Baughman who come to this stream in 1841 and located 7 miles below where Harrison is. He died in 1898. For 57 years he lived on the bank of this water course and drank of the cool bubbling spring of water which gushed out of the ground near his cabin. Here in the shade of the beautiful forest trees which stand near this spring he has repeatedly rested his weary limbs after returning from a chase after game. Gideon Baughman is a son of John Baughman and was born in Sevier County, Tenn., December 27th, 1821 and was about 77 years old when he died. The remains of his father rest in a graveyard 3 miles below Harrison. His mother, Mrs. Dorothy (her maiden name is not known) Baughman, died on Marble Creek in Iron County, Mo. Mr. Baughman was nearly 20 years old when he first saw Crooked Creek with its then beautiful prairie, valleys and nutritious grass. His principal occupation was hunting. Some of his experience as a hunter on this famed water course are interesting. He said that when him and his
father come here nearly all the Indiana were gone, but a big Indian story was going the rounds of the settlers. The substance of which was that there is a mine on Buffalo which the Indiana called the Silver Cave. The Indians reported that there were two leads of silver ore in this cavern, that one lead had been worked 30 feet and the other 20. The Indians claimed that the mouth of the cave was so well concealed that it was hardly possible for the whites to discover it. Two Indiana of the names of John and Alpherd proposed to reveal the exact locality of this mine to two white men named John Smith and William Ashbrand provided the chief who lived in Shawneetown gave his consent. When the two Indians placed the matter before him he peremptorily refused saying, "If you reveal the whereabouts of this cave I will put you both to death and I will also slay the two white men." I am not vouching for the truth of this tale, but tell it to you as I heard it when I come here in 1841, " said Mr. Baughman.
"There were a few scattering Buffalo here when I come but I never saw any. What were seen here by others were traveling westward. There were plenty of elk horns lying scattered around in the woods. I had the pleasure of killing one elk on Crooked Creek about 4 miles below where Harrison is. He carried a very large set of horns. The beams were the size of a man’s arms, with 10 points on each beam. The elk ran a short distance after I shot it before it fell. Back in the forties the settlers enjoyed themselves hunting bee trees. Part of them contained scarcely any honey, but there were plenty of trees that were rich in honey. Some of them were exceedingly so. I remember on one occasion my two brothers, William and Henry Baughman, and William Carter and myself going to Sugar Orchard Creek with an ox wagon on a 5 days camp hunt our special business was to collect wild honey. But if a fat bear or fine buck got in our way we did not refuse to shoot at it. Besides our regular camping outfit we took barrels, washtubs, and water buckets to hold the honey in. We found a large number of bee trees but part of them did not yield enough honey to pay for the felling of the trees. Others were tolerable rich, but there were two that were extremely rich and turned out 10 gallons of strained honey each. One of these was a white oak tree and the other a dead pine. William Carter carried a large Duck skin honey case with him and he crammed all the honey into it that it would hold. Yes, about Wild turkeys. Well there seemed to be no end to them. I will not tell you anything about as to the number I have seen in one flock for I do not
know. I have seen so many together that I was not able to approximate the number, much less count them. But to give you some idea how plentiful they were here once, that when I went out soon of a morning in the spring season to hunt for my plow horse it was almost impossible to hear the tingle of the bell on account of the constant gobbling of gobblers. Deer were numerous too. I counted 50 in one bunch just south of the creek one day in May when the grass was 6 Inches high. I was afoot and carried a rifle that shot a ½ ounce ball. The deer were in an open place on a flat of ground. They were all playing and after watching them awhile I crept up close to them and shot one and the others scattered. The only encounter I ever had with a wounded deer was caused by my own foolishness. I had went out on the north side of the creek when I saw two bucks together one of which had crumpled horns. I shot this one and it fell. My dog chased the other buck away. I went up to the one I had shot and taking my butcher knife in my right hand I took hold of the deer’s horns with my left in order to stick the knife into its breast like sticking a hog. But as I went to poke the knife the buck leaped to its feet and struck my arm with its horns and the knife flew from my hand. The stroke tore my shirt sleeve and the points of the horns lacerated the flesh on my arm which gave me much pain. I was angry now and I quickly caught the deer by the horns with both hands before it had time to gore me. I held it, but it was the worst job I ever undertook to do. I yelled lustily for the dog and he come darting back and caught the buck by the nose and threw the deer down on its broadside and held it down until I could pick up the knife and stabb it behind the shoulder and killed it. I loved my tige dog well enough before this but my affection for him was much greater after my scrimmage with this buck. The only time I saw two bucks locked together by, their horns was 2 miles above my place. I had went out soon one morning and while on the north side of the creek I heard a noise down in a hollow. On going into the hollow to investigate as to the cause of the fuse I discovered two bucks locked together. From appearances they had been in this condition several days. Each were badly wearied, worried and thin in flesh, but had strength enough left to pull and push
each other around lively. I shot them both and after removing their hides I cut off their heads and carried them home and kept them for years. Everyone who examined the horns attempted to pull them apart but failed. One day while out with my rifle I met 12 deer in a bunch in the creek bottom just below my residence. There were several bucks among them. They were all in close rifle range and I shot one of the bucks down, and I dropped down in the grass to conceal myself. The deer had not seen me and as I looked at them through the openings in the grass the other seemed muzzled. I reloaded my gun and shot another buck down. The other 10 took fright now and away they went. Thinking I had better reload the gun before going to the fallen deer I soon had the rifle ready for another shot. At this moment I seen three of the bucks coming back and I shot one of them down. The other two turned and ran off again. The three bucks I had killed were large and fat and I went back to the house and brought a horse back and took one deer to the house at a time. The first year I come to Crooked Creek a white deer was seen
several times on the creek. Every hunter was anxious to kill it, but it was too shy. Along after awhile someone thinking the deer had a madstone in it offered 5 dollars for its body, but no one could get close enough to hit it. Several shots were fired at it but it was too far off and it was supposed none of the bullets touched it. Finally the deer left and we heard nothing more of it. While I am speaking of this white deer I am reminded of seeing a deer in this locality with a white spot that covered half of its right side. The animal was something of a curiosity in color. Others saw it too, but it was too wild to allow a hunter to get in rifle shot of it until one day John Anderson approached close to it without its seeing him and shot it dead and he brought it to my house.
You want to know something about the wolves here in early times. Well, to tell you how they pounced on stock I will say that several years after we come here my father bought 12 head of sheep from John Kelley who lived 10 miles up the creek. Kelley sold the sheep for one dollar per head. After we brought them home we put a bell on one of them and guarded them carefully of a day while they were feeding and drove them to a pen near the house of evenings. But one afternoon the flock wandered off out of hearing distance of the bell. We searched till that night without finding them. The wolves howled as usual that night but their noise appeared greater than common which indicated that more wolves had collected than usual. Sometime in the night we heard the sheep bell running but as the night was very dark we did not venture out. The tingle of the bell was soon silent and we were convinced that the wolves had made a havoc among the sheep. The following morning soon after sunrise we found the remains of 10 of the sheep. The wolves had got all but two head and so 10 sheep and ten dollars had vanished after much trouble and no recompense.
As to bear there were plenty of them here too which roamed up and down the creek and across the beautiful prairie hollows. What little land was in cultivation was mostly planted in corn and Bruin generally made his appearance in time to consume a part of the crop. If there were any hogs nearby he would sure mix a little pork with his corn. Like saving sheep from wolves it was hard to save hog and hominy on account of the bears. I well remember an incident relating to a bear which occurred here a long time ago. My brother, William Baughman, settled on the creek one mile above me. After he put up a log cabin and had moved into it, he cleared and fenced a small piece of ground and planted It in corn. The fence was poor, not fitten to turn anything away when they wanted to go in. William owned a fine sow which brought ten beautiful pigs which thrived and growed fast until they were fine shoats. The corn crop was not disturbed until about the first of July when some of the shoats took to the field and by roasting ear time the entire bunch invaded the patch of corn and commenced destroying it. About this time a bear began to visit the corn also and commenced killing the shoats as well as devouring roasting ears. Bruin soon reduced the number of shoats down to 3. William said he tried to shoot the bear on a few occasions but it was too wild. My brother grieved hard over the loss of his hogs. One morning I went up to his house and found him in the "mullygrubs". He was down in the mouth as the old saying Is and I could not cheer him up, but he said, "Gid, I am going to kill that bear in the morning." That night the bear returned and killed another shoat which left him the sow and only two shoats. Bill was now exasperated as well as down hearted and he determined to waylay Bruin late in the afternoon and shoot it while it was on its way back into the field. So in the afternoon he loaded his gun with a heavy charge of powder and ball and went up on the hillside above the field where the bear passed back and forth. Bill stationed himself behind a black oak tree and waited a long time for the appearance of Bruin. The evening was cloudy and Misting rain. It was just the sort of weather for wild animals to be poking their noses into something where they had no business. Shortly before night Bill caught a glimpse of Bruin coming toward him and he hugged the tree on the opposite side from the bear pretty close. When the bear was in 30 steps of him it snorted loud. Bill thought the bear had seen him and had snorted to signal him that he was coming and to get out of his way or he would devour him on the spot. My brothers imagination got the better of him and throwing down his gun he left the tree and fled toward the house. As the man left his concealment the bear saw him and Bill heard him utter several loud snorts. Bill ran like a deer until he reached the creek where he stopped and wondered what made him run so, and thought if he was back at the tree he would not run again. But he dare not go back and went on to the house. Next morning he ventured back and recovered his gun which was wet with rain. The bear finished up the remainder of his hogs before it quit. I and Peter Baughman and Bill Wilson had all the fun out of my brother we wanted about running from the bear."
June 5, 1902
Source: Online transcription of the Silas Claiborne Turnbo (1844-1925) manuscripts by the Springfield-Greene County Public Library. They offer a searchable database of the stories as well as biographical and bibliographical information about Turnbo, noted 13 September 2004.
For more of Gideon Baughman's hunting stories see also:
Bunches of Wolves As Viewed by Settlers, By S. C. Turnbo
A Fight to A Finish between A Bear And Panther, By S. C. Turnbo
Killing Three Or More Deer at One Shot, By S. C. Turnbo