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As She Was in 1836

Adapted from the Mt Echo articles by W. B. Flippin ca 1899
By Vicki Roberts July 1996
Vicki Roberts, all rights reserved. This article may be used only for personal use

Dividing Line

In the fall of 1836 the related Goodman, Rutherford, and Flippin families of Tennessee and the Goodman family of Indiana counciled together, agreeing to move west to a new state. Jesse Goodman, Wright, Rutherford (2 teachers and members of the Christian Church) and John Rutherford were chosen to travel west to find a place to settle. They went through southeastern Missouri. The area was so sparsely inhabited these men often traveled 10 to 20 miles without seeing a house or cabin until they reached White River in Arkansas.

White River was a broad shallow stream, clear as crystal, coming down from the Ozark Mountains, with shoals in every bend and running with a velocity that surpasses description. At the time before settlers it was said the water of White River was so clear you could see a Buffalo fish the width of the river, which was about 300 yards.

Goodman, Rutherford, and Wright returned to Tennessee to prepare for the journey with their families. Jesse Goodman a keel boat operator on the Forked Deer River agreed to furnish a keel boat to take the women and children who wished to go by water The rest of the men would travel overland by wagon. Goodman traveled to Louisville KY and purchased a 30-ton keel boat and a large stock of merchandise that he felt would be necessary for the colony on the long trip. This merchandise included a supply of old peach brandy, Spanish brandy, rye whiskey, cherry and mint cordials.

The group left Tennessee mid-February 1837. Those who went overland by wagon were on the road for about six weeks. Every stream they came to seemed to rise just before they reached it. Often they would have to wait several days before the water went down. Sometimes the road would be only a bridle path which the men had to get the wagons through. The overland party arrived at its destination in late March, but there had been no word from the keel boat. It had gone down the Mississippi River to the mouth of White River, then up the White for a distance of about 400 miles. When a message finally came through, all the men who could be spared were asked to go down river to help push the keel boat up White River. Goodman also requested the men rig canoes to take supplies of meat and meal. There were only two small dugouts available so the men cut down a large hickory tree. They built a fire to warm the tree so the bark would slip off more easily. With axes the bark was split on one side and gently peeled off thus making a bark canoe. This was loaded with supplies and, with the men in the two dugouts, started down stream.

The keel boat was met a short distance above Batesville. With the aid of the extra manpower, Jesse Goodman brought the keel boat, loaded with merchandise, women, and children, up White River to Talbert's Ferry landing, which he had purchased on his scouting trip to White River. As they neared their destination people came from miles around to see the big keel boat loaded with dry goods and groceries. This was definitely something to see; there had never before been a boat of this size this far up the White River. Since there was not a store north of Batesville, many people came 30 or 40 miles to buy goods brought in by the keel boat and Jesse Goodman.

This country was sparsely settled then, mainly on the creeks and rivers. Many thought the uplands and prairies unfit for cultivation. In 1837 there was only one cabin between White River and Crooked Creek; It had been erected by John Tabor. Thomas H. Flippin, Allen Flippin, Thomas Rutherford, and Dr. James Rutherford all settled the Lee's Prairie region, now Flippin Barrens.

The pioneers who were the first settlers of Shawneetown were a rude whole-souled, chivalrous, generous class, few of whom wore hats or coats. A handkerchief for a covering for the head, Indian Style, a hunting shirt and moccasins, and frequently deerskin pantaloons sufficed. When the Indians left Shawneetown, there were a number of cedar cabins left. Old Ben Wood, a brother to the first County Judge William "Dancin' Bill" Wood, moved his family into one of these vacant cabins and was forever after known as "Cedar Ben". In those early days folks lived in peace, did not need locks for their homes, corn cribs, or smoke houses. Game was plentiful the year around and folks were glad to share.

On coming to the State of Arkansas one would suppose a person could very clearly be devoured by bears or panthers. Back in Tennessee or Kentucky when it was rumored that the track of a bear had been seen in the vicinity of a settlement, the women and children would "house up" and "fear to go out far from their houses." A great deal was learned about animals in Arkansas. They are not likely to attack a person unless very hungry, almost starving. A bear, panther or wolf will fight for their young, but "neither of them is as vicious as a wild cat or lynx. Panthers were often heard scream and growl by the early settlers.

"0n the bank of White River at the ford of the river, a small distance below where Talbert Ferry is located, in early times stood a small log cabin surrounded by a rail fence in which the calf of the family milk cow was kept. A man, his wife. and one small child lived here. A bear came to the bank of the river and heard the child crying. The bear swam the river and headed for the cabin. The man was not at home and the woman was trying to quiet the child. When the woman saw the bear near the fence, she closed the cabin door to keep the animal out of the house. At that moment the calf happened to walk near the fence where the bear stood. The bear seized the calf and carried it off into the canebreak where it made a meal of it. The reason, as backwoodsmen will tell you, was that wolves often catch a fawn and they bleat a good deal like a young child crying, and if a bear hears the noise, he will rush to the place. drive off the wolf, and eat the fawn."

"Another incident occurred just a few miles above Talbert's Ferry. A widow decided to ride her horse to the blacksmith to have him shod. Several days before she had killed a beef and she doubled the fresh hide under her saddle. It was difficult to keep the green hide from slipping, but the widow was determined to use it as payment for the horse shoeing. When she got within three miles of the shop, there were wolves smelled the hide and wanted to divide it with the widow. She hurried the horse and the hide slipped from under the saddle. Most men would have given the wolves possession of the hide and rode on but not so with the widow. She dismounted and fought off the wolves with rocks, picked up the hide, mounted her horse, and rode to the blacksmith shop."

"A Panther Tale" "Alexander Moreland, who lived on White River, a short distance above the mouth of Crooked Creek decided late one evening to visit his father who lived where Buffalo City now stands. On crossing the creek, just below his farm Alex heard a panther scream. This was a common occurrence. He had rode a short distance when he discovered the panther by the roadside ready to leap on him and his horse. The horse was a good one so when the panther leaped the horse sprang forward and the panther fell behind him in the road. Both Alex and his horse were badly frightened and the horse set off in a run. The panther also started to chase the horse and rider springing every chance with the same result as the first time. It continued to follow until a short distance of his father's house."

About 1839 or 1840 a large detachment of Indians came through this county, said to be about 3,000 men, women and children, moving west. They were Cherokee and Creek. Many were well dressed and riding good horses; fine looking men, from their appearance they were half breeds, while many were poorly clad. Many of the women had only a blanket wrapped around them while those with babies had them strapped in cloth attached to their backs. It was winter when they came to the White River and ice was frozen over along the banks. They forded the river and made camp shortly. They built big fires which burned all night. The Indian agent had priced them and brought provisions for those lacking.

That evening a "large fine looking" man came to the Indian camp. He had recently arrived in the country. His name was Micajah Hogan. His older brother Ewing had preceded him by several years, both coming from Kentucky. He was a gambler and he came to gamble with the Indians. They gambled a lot that night and he won a considerable amount of money.

Early the next day the Indians moved on, but two of the braves crossed back over the river. Hogan had returned and "put up" at the house of the ferryman. The braves Benge, a sub-chief, and Young, a tall good-looking Cherokee, found Hogan and told him they wanted to play a game of cards. Hogan consented and they sat down on a large log and "commenced" playing what is called "seven-up." Hogan kept talking and soon a crowd had gathered to watch. Young hardly ever spoke, but seemed to watch the game closely. Hogan was losing almost every game. They were betting freely playing out a hand. Hogan came in one of being out, as they called the end of the game. He threw down his cards and cried, "Out!" in a loud tone. "Yea," said the Indian. "Out of Hell and a pity for that." Young got up pretty soon and said, "I am satisfied. I have won back all the money you won from me last night" During the game Benge had spoken to Young In Cherokee. Hogan told him to speak English. Benge, whose eyes blazed fire, drew out a fine silver handled pistol. Hogan told him he had no arms. Benge said, "You shall not have that for an excuse" and pulled out a mate to the pistol and offered it to Hogan. He refused to take the pistol. Instead of Benge shooting Hogan, he let loose with a volley of oaths, cursing Hogan and the white man, saying they had taken their homes and compelled them to go from the land of their fathers to a land they knew nothing of in the far west. Hogan told him he had nothing to do with it. Benge replied, "But your people did and I hate them all alike." Benge was a large square-built man and appeared as vicious as an enraged lion. Benge and Young mounted their horses and rode off.

Jesse Goodman, as a merchant failed and he, with the rest of the Goodman family, at least 20 of them, grew tired of the once praised country. He, Jesse Goodman, began to sing the praises of Texas. All the others, but myself agreed to leave Arkansas and travel to Texas. They all made ready; my father wished me to go, but I told him to go, but that I had 40 acres of land with 20 acres under cultivation. This was a large amount for the time. Most fields ranged from 5 to 15 acres. I had also built up a fair stand of cattle, horses, and hogs and I had build a fair backwoods house, the only one at that time with a plank floor and a loft in the Flippin Barrens area. Allen Flippin and Tom Rutherford went with the Goodmans. However, my parents did remain. We were the only ones of the original group to stay. We heard that they all settled near Dangerfleld, Texas. In less than five years all or most of those men and women had died. Jesse Goodman and wife were buried in the same grave. George Goodman and wife died a short time later. Allen Flippin's wife soon followed. Tom Rutherford died leaving his wife a widow and I have heard that Allen Flippin married her.

Dividing Line

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