James Turner Page 419-421 Biographical and Portrait Album for Peoria County

James Turner is an old and respected farmer of Jubilee Township, who by dint of persistent toil and excellent management of his affairs, has placed himself in good circumstances, and is proprietor of one of the choice farms for which this section of the country is noted.

Our subject is of English birth and antecedents. His father, John Turner, who was a laborer, was born in Devonshire, England, and died in May 1812, before our subject was born. Our subjects mother, whose maiden was Ann Dovey, was also a native of Devonshire. She reared two children John and James, the former of whom died in England in 1888.

The latter of whom we write, was born amid the pleasant scenes of Devonshire in October, 1812, and passed the early years of his life on English soil. His mother kept him with her until he was eight years old, and then the fatherless little lad was apprenticed to a farmer, and was early instructed in all the labors of farming operations. His educational advantages were limited to attendance in Sunday School and church, and he is purely a self-made man. He remained with the man to whom he had been apprenticed until he was twenty-one, and then hired out to another person. He did not like that man, however and did job work rather than work for him, and did not engage in serving out again for some time, but was employed in making and working on roads. He subsequently was employed by Esquire Turk at his house and lime-kiln and was with him eleven years. He was married there and wished to take his bride to Australia, but did not do so. He then returned to work for the man to whom he had formerly been apprenticed and was employed by him the ensuing two years. He had not, however, given up the idea of trying life in a foreign country, and in 1853, he came to America, sailing from Bedford, and after a lengthy voyage of twelve weeks, landed in Quebec. From there he made his way to this county, and settled at Robins' Nest, where he hired to Henry Chase for three years. At the expiration of that time he entered into partnership with Mr. Chase in operating the farm. After that he sent for two of his brothers to come to this country and he took charge of Col. Capron's stock farm through the war. He next bought land on his own account, and became an independent farmer, purchasing forty acres of wild prairie land at $10 an acre. At that time he was living at Jubilee College, renting land there. He then took possession of his own place, and after improving that, bought forty acres more for $750, and has also placed that under substantial improvement. He has a new barn that is commodious and well arranged, and has a comfortable and well appointed dwelling house. The land is well watered with springs, and is adapted both to grain and stock-raising, and he has devoted it to both purposes. He formerly raised fine horse both draft and roadsters, and engaged in the dairy business, making excellent butter which found a ready market in Peoria He has a fine orchard and a good garden and all things about the place are in an excellent condition. In 1889 Mr. Turner sold his stock, and has since rented his farm.

Mr. Turner has been twice married. The first time in England in 1850. His wife accompanied him across the water to his new home in this country and in 1878 she died of cancer of the breast. She left one child, Eliza, to comfort our subject in his affliction. This daughter has been given excellent educational advantages, is a graduate of Jubilee College, and was engaged in teaching until her marriage to Dr. Young, of Kickapoo.

Mr. Turner was married a second time in Peoria July 27, 1880 taking as his wife Mrs. Christine Roebell, a daughter of Frederick Roby a native of Berne, Oldenburg, Germany. Her father was a cooper by trade, and finally became a sailor and the captain of a ship of which he was the owner. He died in his native town. His father likewise named Frederick, was a baker by occupation, and his death occurred in Berne. Mrs. Turner's mother's maiden name was Lutzia Margaret Andres, and she too was a native of Berne, and a daughter of Cornelius Andres, who was born in Denmark. He went to Berne when quite young, and in his boyhood sent to sea, and subsequently became a captain. He died in Fagersact. Mrs. Turner's parents had twelve children, of whom the following is recorded: Berne D. died when small; Gretta died in Peoria; Berne Deitrick was a sailor and died on the sea; Cornelius was a captain on a steamship, and died in Germany; Christine, wife of our subject; Henry was captian, was shipwrecked, and died at sea; Frederick was a sailor, and died in New York City; Lutzia M. lives in Germany; Rebecca, now Mrs. Shoddy, lives in Illinois; Mary died in Harper County, Kansas; J. Deitrick resides in Indiana; and Caroline in Germany.

Mrs. Turner was born in Berne, Oldenburg, Germany, October 28, 1821, and was reared there, receiving excellent educational advantages. She remained at home until she went to live with another family, and subsequently came to America when she was twenty-one. She left Bremenhaven in 1845, and after several weeks on the ocean landed in New Orleans, where she was married in 1846, to August Roebell, a native of Germany. He was a carpenter in New Orleans, and they lived there eleven years, and then came North and located at Hilton, opposite Peoria. Mr. Roebell carried on carpentering there until his death. His widow then moved to Peoria and acted as nurse, and was otherwise engaged until her marriage to our subject. She had one son, Henry-by her first marriage. He was apprenticed to learn the trade of a cooper in Bloomington, and in 1863 when but eighteen years old, enlisted in the Twenty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and served under Sherman through Georgia, and accompanied him to the sea, and was with him until the close of the war. He was killed in 1867, in Peoria, by a runaway team.

During Mr. Turner's long residence in this township, he has gained and retained the honor and esteem of his fellow-citizens by his straightforward and upright course in all the affairs of life, and in the various departments that he had been called upon to fill as husband, father, neighbor, and citizen. His record shows him to possess those characteristics by which a man is enabled to achieve success in whatever calling he is engaged. He has faithfully served his adopted township as School Director, etc., and in him the Baptist Church at Kickapoo finds one of its solid members. He has been a stalwart Republican in politics ever since he came here.

Submitted by Londie Benson.