Collected by Jo Ann Rife
Transcribed by James Lee
Conversation between Jo Ann
Rife and Mrs Lillian B. Sears
Elm S p r i n g s , Arkansas
December 29, 1955
Reel 237 Item 8
JAR: Well, I heard a lot about panther stories. Were there
ever really any panthers around Elm Springs?
LBS: Well, I can't say that I ever saw a panther out in the
open, but I have heard them in the timber— we lived on a
big farm— they cry like a baby screams, like a baby or
a woman crying. And I have heard my mother tell about the
territory between Elm Springs and Tontitown; it was all
in woods, and the women rode horseback then and they—
and this one woman was coming from— they didn't call it
Tontitown then— I forgot what they called it out there
on the prarie. She was coming on into Elm a-horseback.
And of course they wore those long skirts that came almost
to the ground. And the road was right along the timber
and this panther followed her. She could see it, and this
panther followed her and screamed once in a while; it was
trying to get at her all the way, nearly to Elm.
JAR: Well, did you ever think that a panther almost had you?
LBS: Yes, one time my sister Sally and I walked down to the
meeting at the church, I believe it was, one night. We
just had to go down the road and up the hill, and the
foot log was gone. We couldn't cross the creek, so we
had to use the hill road, and it was right under the
thick trees, and it was along the other side of the creek.
And we were walking along rather briskly, a little bit
afraid, and were thinking about stories we had heard about
panthers and all; and all at once in a thick, heavy tree
right over our heads, was a dreadful scream and a terrible
bushing of limbs, and I left prints of my fingernails on
Sally's arm where I scratched her so hard. Finally, we ventured
to look up and see what it was, and it was an immense owl,
who was trying to fly out from under the limbs.
JAR: At least it wasn't a panther.
LBS: No it wasn't a panther; we thought it was.
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