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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JOEL TURNHAM, one of the oldest living settlers of this county, retired in 1876 from active labor, and is now living amid the comforts of a snug home in Meredosia. He was born in Spencer County, Ind., over sixty-six years ago, Feb. 14, 1823, and is the son of John and Mary (Barrett) Turnham, who were natives of Nelson County, Ky., His paternal ancestors are supposed to have come from England, while on the mother's side he believes himself to be of Scotch blood. The former died when his son Joel was a little lad four years of age, and he was wholly orphaned by the death of his mother, which occurred when he was a boy of twelve. Thereafter he lived with his sister, Mrs. Elener Pointer, until reaching his majority. In May 1st, 1828, with his mother and other members of the family he emigrated to Illinois, and they all located in Meredosia's Precinct, this county.

Mr. Turnham pursued his early studies in a subscription school conducted in a log cabin with greased paper for window panes, and sometimes simply mother earth for the floor. The benches and desks were fashioned from slabs, all hand made, and the other appliances of the institution were of the most primitive style. After the death of his mother young Turnham was thrown largely upon his own resources, and since that time has had many a rough encounter with the world, but for the most part has been successful. He was employed as a farm laborer, during his early manhood, a number of years, and after accumulating a little capital operated as a renter. In 1869 he purchased 160 acres of land in township 16, range 13, section 24, in which he still retains a one-half interest. During the early days he broke quite a large amount of prairie with oxen, and probably no one man has done more downright hard work on the frontier than Mr. Turnham.

Our subject has been three times married, and is the father of three children. Mr. Turnham's first marriage was September, 1847, to Sarah Beauchamp, by whom he had one son George. She died when he was two years old. His second wife was Mary Beauchamp, whom he married September, 1851, and by her had one daughter, Mary, now the wife of Mr. Waldo. Mrs. T. died when Mary was twenty-eight days old. He was married to his present wife, Mary Jane Thompson, Aug. 18, 1855, and by her has one child, Horace. Thus it will be seen by each wife he had one child. George Turnham married Martha Ann Harris. He carries on the old homestead. Mary, is the wife of James D. Waldo; and Horace is seventeen years old, and resides with his parents; he was graduated May 6, 1889, at the High School at Meredosia. Our subject cast his first Presidential vote for James K. Polk, and since becoming a voting citizen, has given his unqualified support to the Democratic party. He has led a strictly temperate life, and has always been warmly interested in the labors of those who are endeavoring to put down the liquor traffic. Otherwise than serving as a Township Trustee, he has had very little to do with public affairs, but is regarded as one of those reliable and substantial citizens, of whom the best elements of the community are formed, and whose word is considered as good as his bond.

1889 Index
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