America is known as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It is the land of opportunity, not for the chosen few, but for all. It
is this that has endeared it to the hearts of its people, and has developed
on this continent a country that is the marvel of the world. Although the
demagogue charges that wealth rules, yet no fact is more evident than the
one that merit wins recognition above everything else. The man that lays
hold of opportunity and makes for himself a peace in society is readily
respected, regardless of birth, station in life, or ancestry. A glance
over the pages of our history reveals a host of examples of this type of
men, and in the industries and the commoner walks of life we find the places
of responsibility occupied by men who have "made good," as we say, in the
positions that have been thrown open to them.
This is pre-eminently the home of the "self-made man" and a striking
example is found in the person of J. T. TURNER, manager of the Central
Union Telephone Company, of Mount Vernon, Illinois.
Mr. TURNER was born at Lebanon, Laclede county, Missouri, on
April 18, 1878. His father, W. R. TURNER, was a native of Bowling,
Green, Kentucky, and is now living on his farm in Macon county, Illinois.
Our subject's grandfather was a native of Kentucky also, and left that
state for the West, starting overland with a team of oxen. He reached Missouri
and there gave up the trip, settling upon a farm where he ended his days.
Mr. TURNER's mother, Celia (BARKER) TURNER, was born in Arkansas,
and passed to her reward at Bolivar, Polk county, Missouri, August 6, 1906.
She was the mother of six children, all of whom survive. They are: Mrs.
Ida BROWNING, of Bolivar, Missouri; Berry E., of Macon, Illinois; Mrs.
Roxie HENDERSON, of Topeka, Kansas; J. T., our subject; Mrs. Maud Schaumleffle,
of Belleville, Illinois; and Joseph A., of Denver, Colorado.
Mr. TURNER lived with his parents until he was thirteen years
old, and received his education in the district schools near Lebanon, Missouri,
in the vicinity of which was located the parental home. He was a boy of
steady habits and of industrious turn of mind, and these characteristics
have enabled him to forge forward in spite of difficulties and discouragements
From 1891 to 1893 he worked at farming in Polk county, Missouri, and during
the next two years was similarly employed in Henry county, same State.
In the fall of 1895 he came to Illinois, locating at Wanensburg, in Macon
county, and continued at farm work there until 1897.
In the spring of 1898 he concluded to abandon farming for a while, and
accordingly went into the employ of the Wanensburg Telephone Company. He
felt a keen interest in this line of work, and readily adapted himself
to the necessities that confronted him.
He retained his connection with this company for three years, and tlien
becaine engaged in construction work for the Central Union Company at Decatur,
Illinois. After about one year's employment at this location, he was transferred
to Taylorville, Illinois and continued there until April, 1903, at which
time he resigned and came on a Visit to his home at Mount Vernon. While
here he was offered the Position of inspector of the Southern Illinois
Telephone Company, which offer he accepted. A few months later his meritorious
work attracted the attention of the directors of the Citizens Gas, Electric
& Heating Company, of Mount Vernon, and ht was tendered the Position
of foreman of their construction work. This he accepted, and held until
March, 1904, when he took the inspectorship of the Central Union toll line
at Taylorville, from which appointment he was later transferred to Effingham,
Illinois, and given the management of that office. In 1906 he was made
manager of the Central Union office of Mount Vernon.. which office he is
filling at the present time. Through all these years he has advanced steadily
and has won for himself recognition and promotion through efficiency and
strict attention to business.
On May 10, 1903, Mr. TURNER was married to Miss Bessie BRADFORD,
who was then chief operator in the Mount Vernon office. She is the daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. B. M. BRADFORD, both highly respected residents of the
county. This union has been blessed with one child, Clara Louise, who was
born September 2, 1905.
Mr. TURNER is a member of the Modern Woodmen and of the Knights
of Pythias, filling the office of Chancellor Commander in the latter order.
He is well known in the community and allies himself with the progressive
element, assisting materially in promoting the advancement and welfare
of the city.
Source: Walls History of Jefferson County 1909
Submitted By: Misty Flannigan