9/18/1933: Mr. Brokenbaugh, Samuel, for PIG DRIVE! Harrison Sheriff.
(Yellville jail record)
September 10: Sure I impressed that thief, artist, funny man. Said “I would take my chance if I could save them from anyone who fails to respect them pigs.” This is a Gem! Just a matter of time until he rots in the jail. Harrison & Fayetteville, get ready for the good ol’ boy Bob Howard!
(Bob Howard’s Diary)
The cool late afternoon of 18 September 1933 saw the termination of the dismissible Springfield-Yellville pig drive by the Sheriff of Yellville in response to an official request from the Sheriff of Harrison. From that day on, people could no longer expect to be invited to the biannual barbeque (one in early spring and another early fall) at the front yard of the Brokenbaughs’ farm. Samuel Brokenbaugh, the sociable organizer of the gala lunch, was arrested by the unwilling sheriff and taken to the tiny limestone cube of a jail house. He would stay there for four days and was then transferred to Harrison, where he would stay for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, he was sent back to Yellville, this time to his farm house, as the court closed his case due to the lack of enthusiasm among the judges, jury and the victims towards the case. It was a case of “pig drive” that involved around thirty pigs from people’s houses between Springfield and Yellville.
However ignorable that case was, it terminated what had been known as the most generous get-together throughout Yellville. The magnanimous party was to stop for good. For almost a generation, the pig-drive was later ignored as if somebody had stashed it in the moldy drawer of history. As if to show his homage to the house of Brokenbaugh, the city of Yellville would never again talk about this. Only lately, thanks to Satrio Tinemu, a curious University of Arkansas student who volunteered his spring break to digitize the paper records of the city of Yellville, the ignorable pig drive saw the sun of day.
Sam Brokenbaugh’s name is mentioned only twice in any official records. The first apperance is in the Sheriff of Yellville’s arrest record. In this document, the record keeper mentions “Mr. Brokenbaugh, Sam,” suggesting familiarity with this Mr. Brokenbaugh. The arrest record states that Bob Howard, a deputy sheriff from Harrison, wanted the Sheriff of Yellville to put Sam Brokenbaugh at to the local Yellville jail for several days for allegedly “driving pigs” that didn’t belong to himself. The second time the name Brokenbaugh appears in any official documents record is in the court minutes of Harrison Courthouse, which basically says that Sam Brokenbaugh was sent back home by Harrison Court and that the case was closed.
People knew Sam Brokenbaugh as a farmer in the town of North Yellville—today known as Summit—with a 20-acre property that had been passed down for several generations. Today, the property is a ranch with several cabins rented mostly by people from Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith, and even as far South as Little Rock. These guests usually spend the weekend in those cabins and enjoy horseback riding around the property during the day. In early summer every year, international students from the University of Arkansas spend two days in those cabins at discount rate during their visit to the local middle school for a series of cultural presentations. Satrio Tinemu, not an Arkansas name, is one of the international students from the University of Arkansas who has a strong tie to the city of Yellville. During Sam Brokenbaugh’s lifetime, only a small portion of this property was “cultivated.” By “cultivated,” it means it was cleared out of trees and bushes and made into a grazing field for the family’s cattle. There was also quite a large pond at the center, which anyone can see until today. The rest of it was pure woods where Sam Brokenbaugh and his family every now and then went to hunt deer and turkey, whose population was seriously diminishing. This was a little over a decade before the Turkey trot festival started in Yellville.
Sam Brokenbaugh called himself a self-taught artist. From Bob Howard’s diary entry, Sam Brokenbaugh really enjoyed the company of relatives and friends and, especially, their children, whom he entertained with “pig shows.”
Early in that warm but breezy September when the Sheriff Johnson of Yellville unwillingly arrested him, Sam went to Springfield, Missouri, on his sun-colored stud. Lizzy Brokenbaugh, his wife, knew he went to Springfield Livestock Market to buy pigs. She had stopped nagging him with the question why, for a dozen of pigs, he had to go to Springfield instead of Harrison, which was the logical choice for Yellvillians. Sam Brokenbaugh hadn’t belabored his answer for such an insignificant question. He had only said: “I’m a gregarious man, and a gregarious man always gets better luck in places where nobody knows him.” When he returned home four days later, he had thirty pigs trailing behind the sun-colored stud. He only kept fifteen for himself and put the remaining fifteen pigs in a makeshift pen on his front yard, whose medium tall grass would soon disappear as the pigs started to make themselves comfortable. He soon went to Yellville to invite his relatives and friends to come to his place for his regular biannual get-together on the coming Sunday after church time.
That Sunday, everybody could hear his loud voice all day long, laughing and telling stories while preparing the swine for barbeque or jerky. Children would swarm around him to see him utilize his knife collection for different purposes, while telling pig stories. Seeing all this only confirmed his wife’s thought that she had the privilege of being married to a self-acclaimed gregarious gentleman. As soon as the fifteen pigs disappeared from the makeshift pen, Sam Brokenbaugh cleaned his hand and took off his bloody apron, and his sons loaded the pigs’ intestines and all the remains to a cart and parked that cart at the farthest end of the farm. Later, after the party was over, they would take that cart out of the farm and unload the innards to a dry creek in the wood. The coyotes would also feast that evening.
Sam Brokenbaugh then took the children to another pen, a permanent pig pen with brownish smooth wallowing puddle, from which he dragged a pair of pigs. Hence, the real “pig show” started. He showed the children how his two pigs could grunt in unison, walk backward, or walk backward left hind legs first. All in unison.
When he felt that he had given enough entertainment to the children, he returned to the men and left the children with their mothers. He talked about many things, always cautiously avoiding the reason of the occasion. When the men asked him about the occasion, why he had given away fifteen pigs twice a year, he only laughed, which was a gesture to move to other topics. He only said that he did not worry about pigs, since they kept reproducing despite the Depression. He would also show them his latest wood cut prints. Most of them had funny images, such as a pig smiling vaguely to a tired horse. A lot of them, however, are filled with not very clear but undoubtedly funny objects. Some relatives asked to take home prints that for some reason reminded them of something, although not very clear.
A young stranger from the town, a friend of his relative, who introduced himself as Bob Howard, took a noticeable interest in the prints and requested to see more of them. Sam Brokenbaugh was suspicious for a while, which was quite normal in any encounter with strangers, but he could not resist the temptation of showing his gallery. Sam Brokenbaugh then took Bob Howard to a red barn near the pond—which has been preserved by the Brokenbaughs until today. There is an open second floor in that barn with a wide window that opened to the pond. This was where one could see a lot of Sam Brokenbaugh’s woodcut prints on the wall and the printing wood stacks on one corner. There was also a stack of wood cut molds that served as a seat. That was when Sam knew that Bob was interested mostly in woodcut prints with clear images of pigs in one pose or another.
“These are wonderful, Mr. Brokenbaugh.”
“Many people have asked to take home a copy of my prints or to print my images on their buggies or tarp or stores or houses, but none of them said these are wonderful prints.”
“For a tradition to exist, Sir, someone has to start it.”
“You’re witty, young man, probably like me when I was your age.”
“I can’t claim I am, but I do see a lot.”
“What have you seen, Bob H—what’s your last name again?—”
“Howard, Bob Howard, Mr. Brokenbaugh, –”
“Sam, you call me Sam. Kids here drop the ‘Mr.’ as soon as they start shaving.”
“Why, I shaved over a decade ago.”
“Okay, what have you seen, Bob?”
“I have seen a lot of these prints, but until a minute ago I couldn’t connect the dots.”
“Well, you seem to be from out of town.”
“I am Mr. Broken—Sam, I mean. I am from Fayetteville. I just came to Yellville a couple of weeks ago for hunting. All over Yellville, I’ve found all these prints. I knew some of them, but I didn’t know a lot of them. I guess, now I know what I didn’t know.”
“What didn’t you know, Bob?”
“Those two pair of dots. I’ve seen some of them inside a tent, some are under some roof, others in a barrel.”
“Why, that they are pigs’ nostrils!”
“Bull’s eye, young man!”
“I thought of that, Sam. I swear I did.”
“I’m from Fayetteville, Sam. Doesn’t that ring a bell?”
“The University in Fayetteville uses wild hog as their football mascot. I have that sensitivity to anything swine, Sam.”
“How long has it been, Sam?”
“I’ve been printing since I was younger, way younger than today.”
“I mean, since when do you like pigs?”
“Way before I started printing.”
Sam Brokenbaugh showed marked interest in the equally gregarious new friend. He had long wished to have a person who could appreciate his prints for those prints’ sake. Many had asked him to make those prints on their buggies, shops or name boards. Bob Howard had been noticing, and he had rightly assumed that they were made by the same person. Nobody in Yellville, apparently, had come to say, or suggest, that what Sam Brokenbaugh did was artistry.
Sam Brokenbaugh didn’t realize, however, that by inviting Bob Howard he had opened himself. He had let someone see through him. In the case of Bob Howard, he had let him affirm his suspicion of Sam Brokenbaugh’s role in what he had rightly suspected to be a crime that needed to be corrected. For sure, this is a coincidence, and a lucrative one at that.
On that second floor of the barn, Bob Howard asked Sam Brokenbaugh how many ways he had been able to draw pigs only to find that there were numerous ways with which Sam Brokenbaugh could draw pigs. One could even say that almost every single representation of pig Sam Brokenbaugh made was one of a kind. One can find prints of pigs of various sizes, front view, side view, top view. One print highlighted the nostrils of a pig, another the left ear of a pig with its plump back and a tip of its tail at the background. One could find a print of half-hoof of a pig. One could even find a round object with what at a glance looked like a cursive, tapering “wow” that began at the center of the round hill—a meticulous observer could recognize this as a rear view drawing of a pig. Every idiosyncratic representation of a pig brings a discovery smile to Bob Howard’s face. To Sam Brokenbaugh, that marked a gratification after a long wait as he lived among the pragmatic, if hardworking, farmers of Yellville who had no time for fruitless meditation on black and white (sometimes blue or white) plump objects.
That was when, according to Bob Howard’s diary, Sam Brokenbaugh revealed himself about his love for pigs. He loved pigs for the mystery those this chubby little creatures had. Sam Brokenbaugh claimed that pigs deserved more respect than they got now. The only acknowledgment pigs received from people was their very slaughter, which was a testament to their cheapness and tastiness. People forgot that pigs were the ones that took care of snakes in their farms. “Could you imagine those innocent little animals take care of those slithering killers? Have people thanked them for that?” Sam Brokenbaugh was amazed that the animals that could wallow in their feces all day long could stay alive until human hands slaughter them. To make a lasting impression after those rhetorical questions, Sam Brokenbaugh said: “I would take my chance if I could save them from anyone who fails to respect them pigs.” To that, Bob Howard decided that Sam Brokenbaugh was the person he had been trying to find in the last two years.
During his career as a deputy Sheriff in Harrison, he had heard insignificant but recurring reports of missing pigs. Most owners of the missing pigs told the authority that those pigs might have fallen prey to the mountain lions that, according to rare reports, had been sighted around that part of the Ozarks. Among the law enforcement authorities, there had always been a suspicion that those pigs had been stolen. Besides, none of the victim had reported any traces of mountain lions or spilled blood. Bob Howard himself, whenever he went hunting, was always prepared for an encounter with the notorious mountain lion, or anybody who matched the profile of the thief who allegedly existed.
That day, Bob Howard found three indubitable things that would bring his promotion as a sheriff: the marked interest of Sam Brokenbaugh in swine, his generous pig slaughter despite the increasing prices, and his statement to “take my chance if I could save them from anyone who fails to respect them pigs.” He was not in a hurry to arrest Sam Brokenbaugh though. He was so sure that he was the only person who knew the three things together. He enjoyed that evening with the Brokenbaughs and their relatives. He stayed there until late in the afternoon. He helped the young Brokenbaughs dump the pig intestines in a dry creek for the coyotean feast. That night, he stayed with his friend at Yellville’s court house and wrote on his diary about his encounter with Sam Brokenbaugh. This diary survives because of the pig cover that is actually a gift from Sam Brokenbaugh. Years later, after the death of Sheriff Bob Howard of Fayetteville, his grandchildren found the diary with pig in their grandfather’s bookshelf and mistook the pig as the mascot of the University of Arkansas football team from 1930s. The Sheriff office of Harrison had kept a good record of the address and name of Bob Howard, which made it easy for the tracing of Bob Howard, whose family did not even know that their grandfather was involved in such a coincident revelation of a case.
In the Harrison Courthouse three weeks and three days after the arrest, Sam Brokenbaugh’s trial took place. It was not difficult to dig out information from the highly embarrassed and stressed out Samuel Brokenbaugh. He admitted the “pig drive.” His only defense was the fact that he had never in the least meant to steal those pigs. He had only ridden his stud through the woods, not so far from the farm houses between Yellville and Springfield. Since nobody had fences back then, some pigs just followed the pig that Sam Brokenbaugh had purchased legally in Springfield. From there, the number of pigs snowballed. If he had meant to steal pigs, he would have had taken with him more than just twenty nine pigs (one is legally purchased) throughout over a hundred miles horseback trip.
(Wawan Yulianto, April 2013)