Biography - John Turner

JOHN B. TURNER. The gentleman whose distinguished name opens this notice was born January 6, 1838, in Jacksonville, Ill. He was the son of Jonathan B. and Rhodolphia S. (Kibbie) Turner, the former born in Templeton, Mass., and the latter a native of Homers. Conn. The family of Turner is well known in the locality where Mr. Turner's celebrated father was reared. Jonathan Turner was a descendant of "Mayflower" stock, and from that stern blood may have come much of his firmness of character in defending right and in fighting wrong and oppression. His birth took place in 1805, and his early education was so directed that he was able to enter Yale College when quite a young man, and he was graduated from this renowned seat of learning with honors. He began his career as a teacher in his native State and in New Hampshire, and later came to Illinois and became a lecturer and teacher in the Illinois College at Jacksonville. He remained in Jacksonville, and was made a Professor, and by that title he was afterward known. His feelings on the great questions of the day were so intense, that he could not keep silent, and soon his voice was heard in lecturing on anti-slavery, sectarianism and educational matters. In 1833, he entered into the discussion of the fence problem in the State, and was so advanced in his ideas upon the value of the Osage Orange, that it became known as "Prof. Turner's folly." He was interested in all agricultural improvements, and not only in a theoretical way, for he studied these problems as if they had been in some dead language, or some deep mathematical calculation, and went into the causes and effects, explained the microscopic insects and fungoid growths which interfered with vegetation, advised rotation of crops, and an analysis of soils in order to understand the best crops for certain localities, and gave much information to the masses that only the most intelligent could understand. There were ignorant agriculturists who went on in their own way, calling his discoveries college theories, but it may be remarked that at the present time those same theories are the ones adopted by those who have become successful in tilling the soil. It was Prof. Turner who was one of the principal originators of the modern methods of planting corn by machinery.
This talented man was an agitator on political questions, and his essay on currency attracted attention from Daniel Webster. His essays, lectures, speeches and papers against all modes of slavery, sectarianism and party drill, would fill a large volume. One of his addresses was published in the State Natural History, in which is an able discussion of secret societies. He was always, during his prime, an advocate for the State Normal School. One of his best-known works is the one called "Mormonism in all ages," which was published in 1842. Another, "Christ's Creed and Charter of the Kingdom of Heaven," appeared in 1847. He married in Connecticut, and his family grew up to be fine representatives of a brilliant father, although none of them have yet attained the literary prominence which has been his. The family record reads as follows: Rhodolphus K. married Ella Kibbe, who still lives at Quincy, Ill., with her three children. The husband died December 18, 1880. William Henry married Fannie P. Grobe, who died here September 10, 1883, and left his wife and eleven children. Charles A. became a farmer, and resides in Macon. He has been twice married; the first wife was named Elizabeth Retter, and she left one child. His second wife was a Miss Hatfield. Mary Louisa married Dr. Henry Carriell, the Superintendent of the Insane Asylum at Jacksonville. Four children resulted from this marriage. Howard Asa resides in Minneapolis, and is in a real-estate and law business there. He is the father of three children, two of whom are living. Fred Clifford married Lizzie Alexander, the daughter of John Alexander, and is engaged in the practice of law. One child belongs in this household.
The immediate subject of this sketch was reared in Jacksonville, Ill., and was graduated from the college there in the spring of 1860. He remained 'in the congenial atmosphere of home until winter, when he taught school, but came herein the spring of 1861, where his father owned a farm, and he and his brother William engaged in agriculture. He continued here until the fall of 1878, when his brother Howard and himself engaged in sheep-raising in Texas, and all continued in business until 1883, when the death of William broke up the pleasant relation, and our subject returned home and has remained in Butler Grove Township ever since, engaged in farming and stock-raising. The farm is one of great extent, comprising one thousand and seven acres, and is stocked and improved to the fullest limit. The family owns one hundred acres of timber in North Litchfield.
Our subject was married September 26, 1888, to Mrs. Fannie Turner, the daughter of John Fred and Ursula (Hagman) Grobe, who was born June 15, 1845, in Switzerland, of Swiss parents. She came to America when about five years of age, and was reared near Jacksonville. Her father died February 14, 1865, at this place, at the age of forty-eight years, and her mother, who was born in January, 1822, still resides here. Her father was a carpenter by trade, and followed his occupation in this country. She has one sister, Annetta, who married Albert Dolea, and died in Jacksonville, and left six children.
Mrs. Turner, the wife of our subject, is an accomplished lady, and attended the Methodist College. She was married the first time to William Henry Turner, December 12, 1866. The children are as follows: Nettie, who married W. W. Douglas, lives in Carbondale, where her husband is the leading physician of the Keeley Institute, and she has one child. William Fred lives in Coleman County, Tex., where he is managing a cattle ranch near Santa Anna of twelve thousand acres, which is owned by his father, and uncles John and Howard. Minnie and Carrie are at school in Chicago. Walter Scott is also located in Chicago, where he is engaged as a house decorator. Jonathan B. is an attendant at a veterinary school at Toronto, Canada. All of these have been graduates of the Butler High School, and Walter, John B. and Carrie are also graduates of Hillsboro. Ida Ella, Annie Myra, Charles Philip, Howard Asa and William Henry are at home. By her second marriage, Mrs. Turner has become the mother of another little son, Rhodolphus Kibbe, who was born April 26, 1890.
The subject of this sketch has filled the office of Township Supervisor, and has been a stanch Republican in his political faith. His aged father is still living, with mind bright and clear, and is still producing books that attract attention. He lives a retired life, as his eyesight has failed him, but he can truly say that to him his "mind a kingdom is.

Extracted 12 Jan 2017 by Norma Hass from 1892 Portrait and Biographical Record of Montgomery and Bond Counties, Illinois, pages 494-495.

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