Turners were early county residents

Published 2:37 am Saturday, August 29, 2009

Members of the Turner family were in Covington County as early at the 1840s. Even earlier than this date, just prior to the creation of the county in 1821, a voting place was established on June 6, 1821, at the home of John Turner in Henry County. That location was termed an election precinct in 1822.

When the 1850 federal census for Covington County was enumerated, there was a household headed by Jane Turner, and there were two young Turner men living and listed as laborers in other households. Joseph Turner, a native of Florida, was 21 years old and in the home of James Adams. Henry Turner, a native of Alabama, was 17 years old and in the home of Samuel W. Wheeler.

Jane Turner, 48 years old and a native of South Carolina, was head of the Turner household. She had the following children, all born in Alabama, residing with her: Jonathan, 22; Caroline, 20; John, 14; and Sarah, 11.

During the 1950 year, the above Jonathan J. Turner was elected to serve as Constable for Beat Number One. During 1951, he was elected to serve as Vice-constable.

During the 1850s several Turner men acquired land in the county from the government. In 1854, John I. acquired 40.10 acres in the Pigeon Creek Township. During the same year, Jonathan bought two tracts, 40.01 and 40.11 acres, in the same area, and Henry W., bought 40.15 acres in the Gantt Township. During the next year, 1855, Henry W. bought an 80.07-acre tract in the same area, and Joel bought 79.882 acres in the Buck Creek Township. During the next year, 1856, Jonathan acquired 120.30 more acres in the Pigeon Creek area.

In the 1860 census, there were two Turner households. George W Turner was 27 years old and a native of Georgia. His wife, Elizabeth, was 20 years old, and they had one son, James A., who was four months old. Joel A. Turner was 25 years old, a farmer, and a native of Alabama. His wife, Jane J., was 21 years old, and they had one daughter, Nancy Ann, 1 year old. The Jane Turner from the 1850 census was 57 years old and residing in the home of Sam W. and Sarah J. Tompkins.

In 1860, there were two Turner men, J.J. and J.E., who were members of the Alabama Militia in the Company of Andalusia Volunteers. There were also two who served in the Confederate Army during the war between 1861 and 1865. J.H. Turner and George W. were privates in Company I, 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, which was formerly Captain Gantt’s Company of the 4th Alabama Volunteer Militia. Following the war in 1867, there were two, J.T. Turner and J.A. Turner, who were listed as registered voters in the county for Beat Number Four and Beat Number 12 respectively.

When the 1870 census was enumerated, there were again two Turner households. James Turner, 44, born in Florida, and wife, Joicy, 33 and born in Alabama, had the following children with them: Nancy A., 11; James B., 9; Mary Jane, 8; Joel J., 3; and Elisabeth J., 2. In the other home, George Turner, 40 years old, and wife, Elisabeth, 38, had the following four children: James, 11; Mary, 9; Caroline, 4; and Sylvia, 14.

The above George Washington Turner was born ca 1830 in Walton County, Florida, it is believed; however, one census indicates Georgia. He was married in 1858 to Mary Elizabeth Dreading (ca 1842-1901), daughter of James and Nelly Dreading, early settlers of Covington County and reported to be full-blooded Creek Indian. George W. was in the county before 1860 and served in the Confederate Army with his wife’s brother, John Dreading.

George W. and Elizabeth reared at least the following three children: James, b. 1861, d. 1921, m. Liza Mott; Saphronia Caroline Luvenia, b. 1866, d. 1927, m. Alfred ?; and Alice Ellen, b. 1868, m. ? Gorham. George, Elizabeth and a number of this family were buried in the Old Bethel Church Cemetery in the Bushfield community in the northwestern part of the county.

By the time of the 1900 census, there were at least eight Turner households in Covington County. George W. Turner is reported at the time as being 75 years old, and his wife, Lizzie or Elizabeth, to be 60 years old. It appears that the James B. Turner family residing near them would be their son. James B. was 38 years old and his wife, Lizzie, was 33. They had the following children with them: Mary, 11; Andrew, 6; Cora, 3; and Ida, 1.

Other families included Benjamin Turner, 37 years old, with the following children: Ellar, 16; Jackson, 15; Richard, 14; Daniel, 12; Annie, 11; Dallas, 9; Donia, 7; Agnes, 5; and Jesse M., 3. Residing near this family was that of Joel J. Turner, 34 years of age. His wife, Amanda, was 34 years old, and they had the following children: David, 12; Sallie E., 10; Jethro W., 8; Isaac, 6; and Nettie E., 2. A young couple, Dock Turner, 20, and Lennie, 19, also lived in the same community.

There are a number of Turner descendants currently residing in the county and area. It is hoped that some of these may have some genealogy of their families and ancestors that can be shared for an update or extension on this family. In particular, information on the Turner Dairy, which was operated on the site of the current Andalusia Regional Hospital and Covington Bone & Joint PC on South Three Notch Street, is desired. Anyone having additional information on families, businesses, etc. is requested to contact this writer at the addressed listed below.

Sources for this writing included census records, limited Turner family records, and Wyley Ward’s books on Covington County, Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871 and Original Land Sales and Grants in Covington County, Alabama. A Turner descendant, Lynda Van Os who is a great-great-granddaughter of George Washington Turner, shared her family records.

Anyone who might have any correction to the above facts or additional related information is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; call 334-222-6467; or e-mail: cthomasson@centurytel.net.


The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will meet at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 3, in the Dixon Memorial Room at the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in Confederate Heritage is invited.