John Turner: Militia volunteer who fought in the American Revolutionary War | Story
A LEGEND OF TEXAS | JEAN TURNER
EDITOR’S NOTE: John Turner’s story is told by Jerry R. Turner, an 11e– sixth generation American and Texan generation. He is proud to be a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), Texas Chapter 45, and the Sons of the Republic of Texas (SRT), Chapter 47. His Turner family left England to arrive in the colony of Virginia in 1650.
My fourth great-grandfather, John Turner, was a volunteer with the Patriot militia who fought in the American Revolutionary War against the British occupation forces.
After gaining independence from English King George III, John continued his life as a tobacco farmer in Amherst County, Virginia. However, the lure of expansion from the west to the border and reports of cheap fertile land prompted John to decide, in 1802, to sell his property in Amherst County, Virginia, and relocate his family in Sumner County, Tennessee. It turned out to be a good decision for the family.
One of his sons, William S. Turner, (my third great-grandfather, who emigrated to Texas), born ca. 1790 in Virginia, married Elizabeth P. Smith in Sumner County, Tennessee, January 13, 1813. Several months later, William S. Turner joined the volunteers of General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee to fight the Creek Indians, after several vicious attacks against settlers and settlements in several southern states. Tennessee Governor William Blount called for 3,500 volunteers to quell this massacre of citizens, historically referred to as the Creek Indian Wars of 1812-1814.
In the Battles of Talladega and Tallushatchee, William S. was twice wounded by arrows. He also witnessed the injury suffered by Sam Houston in the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend and was part of the defeat of Grand Chief Red Stick named Weatherford, who narrowly escaped by jumping off a high cliff into the river below.
Based on his bravery, William S. was promoted to the rank of major on the battlefield. After the defeat of the Indians, General Andrew Jackson was again called to action to reorganize the Tennessee volunteers to defeat the British troops in the Battle of New Orleans, which took place on January 8, 1815. Among these volunteers was William S. Turner.
Between the Indian Battles and the Battle of New Orleans, William S. returned to his modest home in Sumner County, Tennessee, where he resumed his trade as a tobacco farmer. Some of his famous neighbors and military associates in Tennessee included the families of James Winchester, Andrew Jackson, John “Jack” Coffy Hays, and William Trusdale. These families lived fairly close to each other in Sumner and Davidson counties.
The economic depression and bank closures of the 1820s caused the families of John and William S. Turner to sell their properties in Sumner County and move to the newly established town of Memphis in Shelby County, Tennessee. , in the late 1820s. Old John Turner died in 1832 and was buried in Memphis. Family tradition says William S. was named Shelby County Sheriff by Andrew Jackson. Jackson was one of three men who formed and established Memphis as a Tennessee port city. Memphis quickly became an important center for trade and travel on the Mississippi River to New Orleans and to the developing colonies in the Mexican territory of Tejas, which would later become the Republic of Texas.
The William S. Turner family, consisting of wife Elizabeth, sons William R., Isaac Harding, Calvin S., and daughters Mary Mildred and Lucinda, left Memphis in early 1836 for New Orleans en route to the Mexican territory of Tejas. They arrived in New Orleans about a month before the fall of the Alamo and were temporarily hosted by a nephew named Sumpter Turner, who owned a very lucrative business venture to outfit emigrants heading to the Texas colonies.
While remaining with this family, the Battle of the Alamo took place and the struggle for independence for Texas intensified, eventually culminating in the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. William S. Turner decided to postpone his family’s entry into Texas until Texas independence is assured.
In 1837, the William S. Turner family secured the passage by steamboat from New Orleans to the New Republic of Texas. Upon arrival in Quintana, a port near the mouth of the Brazos River, they again sailed up the Brazos River inland on a small steamboat called the âYellowstoneâ. They docked near the burnt down city of Washington-on-the-Brazos, the temporary capital of the fledgling government of Texas, where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed. Here William S. applied for and received a citizenship letter dated September 26, 1837.
From there, the family moved overland, traveling southwest on the Camino Real de Los Tejas (old Spanish road). They arrived in the town of Gonzales and stayed temporarily with the John Tinsley family. John Tinsley was a nephew and physician who served under General Sam Houston, Commander of the Texas Army.
William S. Turner explored the environs of Gonzales, selecting the most desirable lands and established a property in Gonzales County (which later became part of Guadalupe County.) This property was located a few kilometers to the east of the present-day town of Seguin. Here they began to ranch and farm along the fertile land along Nash Creek.
The Republic of Texas opened its land patent office in February 1838. Previous colonial land grants had been issued by the Republic of Mexico, but Mexican patent issuance ceased on October 27, 1835 by the authority of the Revolutionary Government of Mexico. New Mexico. As a result, William S. and his son William R. Turner had to delay filing land patents for 640 and 320 acres, respectively. They obtained unconditional ownership of their land patents in August 1839, following a “3 year compulsory residence”. Since the patent office had not functioned during the early days of the Republic of Texas, their land patent files were somewhat “retrospectively” granted.
During the days of the Republic of Texas, living and surviving was a daily challenge. Providing basic necessities of life was one thing, but marauding bands of Indians and invading Mexican armies, returned to Texas by Mexican President Santa Anna for harassment, posed a continuing threat to the lives of citizens. .
Santa Anna sent two armies to Texas in 1842. One was under the command of General Rafael Vasquez, who captured San Antonio for about two days in March, then returned to Mexico. A second was under the command of General Adrain Woll, who also captured San Antonio for two weeks in September.
Woll’s campaign met with strong resistance from the Texas volunteers, precipitating numerous battles between the two forces as General Woll retreated to Mexico. William R. Turner and two of his brothers, Isaac Harding and Calvin S., fought in all the battles that followed, of which the Battle of Salado Creek was historically the most notable.
William R. Turner married Martha Ann Allen on January 18, 1847. Martha was the daughter of Hugh and Matilda Allen, who lived in Comal County along Cibola Creek, which was the boundary between Bexar and Comal counties.
William R. bought land in Bexar County near his father-in-law’s property and made his residence in Bexar County. In 1860 William R. and his wife Martha purchased land in McCulloch County from his stepfather, Hugh Allen, while simultaneously selling their land belonging to Bexar County to his stepfather. It was an equal exchange of land held respectively by the two families. This exchange resulted in the William R. Turner family moving to McCullough County later in 1860, living along Katemcy Creek. This stream was named after a former Comanche chief who in previous years had maintained a camp near the site of the Turner Residence.
This site had a powerful spring, surrounded by great old oaks and pecan trees and a basin of water which the Indians had named “Waubansee”. The word Waubansee meant “Mirrored Water”. This spring supplied water to the Katemcy Stream, which flowed into the San Saba River about a mile away. It was here that William R. Turner built a stone house, barn, and spring to store milk and perishables. Each of these structures had substantial doors and gun slots instead of windows. These structures became fortifications for several neighboring families when Indians were sighted.
Historically, this family is recognized as having some of the very first settlers to reside in this isolated part of the county. Small Indian raiding groups frequently visited this area during the time the Turner family lived here, verified by three encounters involving family members – two of which my second great-grandfather, Albert, narrowly escaped when he was chased by Indians while riding his horse. In the first, he passed the Indians on his way home. In the other case, the Indians cut him down and he was forced to ride a horse in a thicket of live oaks.
Fortunately, he was able to shoot the leader of this group, who collapsed on his horse. This distraction momentarily interrupted the attack, allowing him to escape. Later, a group of men went in search of the fleeing Indians and found a body piled up under rocks near the San Saba River. The third was the murder by the Indians of a circuit preacher, mounted on a horse, on his way to the Turner house. He was killed and buried where he fell, about 200 meters from the Turner Residence. His tomb is marked by a stone cairn.
The Willian R. Turner family, made up of four sons and four daughters, produced a successful ranching business and helped create a small community known as Camp San Saba. Its name comes from the US military stationed at Fort Mason, which frequently left as Indian scouts to protect residents in danger, scattered throughout the surrounding counties bordering Mason County.
Colonel Robert E. Lee was one of the many commanders of Fort Mason known personally to the Turner family. He resigned his Union Army commission, left Fort Mason, returned to his home state of Virginia, and joined the Confederacy just before the start of the Civil War.
These three Turner families were adventurous, being ready to leave their parents and move to the expanding frontier, which offered few comforts of life, immense challenges and many hardships. They were willing to risk their lives in the hope of creating a better life for themselves and for their children. They laid the foundation on which our current society thrives and enjoys life.