AMHERSTBURG FREEEDOM MUSEUM
Turner Family History Part 1 – The Teacher
This month’s family history features the Turner family. I chose this family because of the impact of one woman, an Amherstburg educator named Julia Turner. I read about Julia Turner in the past, but it wasn’t until recently when I decided to create a social media post about her, that I learned more about Julia, her parents, siblings and their children who will all be discussed in the Turner family history. Julia’s parents were Henry Turner and Rosena (also referred to as Judith) Cox. According to Afua Cooper’s article “Putting Flesh on the Bones: Writing the History of Julia Turner” Henry and Rosena escaped enslavement in West Virginia and Kentucky and arrived in Ontario in 1828. Cooper adds that a descendant of Georgina/Jordina Turner named Sylvia Jackson shared that when Henry and Rosena came to Ontario, they opened a grocery store and a rooming house in Amherstburg, in addition to making and selling carpets. Sylvia Jackson was unsure how long they operated these businesses. Cooper’s article also states that Henry Turner appears on the list for Captain Caldwell’s Company of Coloured Volunteers at Amherstburg and that he served as a Sergeant in active duty during the Upper Canada Rebellion from December 27, 1837 to January 25, 1838.
According to Julia’s obituary, her father Henry died on the Steamer Pearl while leaving Detroit for Amherstburg on July 26, 1863, while Rosena passed on April 27, 1880. Her obituary appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on April 30, 1880 and said “In Amherstburg, on Tuesday, April 17th, Mrs. Judith Turner, relic of the late Henry Turner, aged 78 years. The funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon, and was very largely attended. Deceased was the mother of Wm. H. Turner, of Amherstburg, and James E. Turner, of Colchester North.”
Henry and Rosena’s children include Julia, Mary Jane, William H., Rosina, James E., Elizabeth Georgina (also spelt Jordina), Louisa, and Rebecca. Other than Mary Jane’s married name, Crawford, I could not find any information for her. I also could not find anything for Rebecca other than being listed on the 1871 Census with Rosena Turner. She is not mentioned on the previous 1861 Census as living with Henry and Rosena Turner, so it is possible that she was not the birthchild of Rosena, but instead was the wife of Rosena’s son William and was just living in the same household. If this is not the case, then Rebecca could be the child of Rosena and Henry, but I could not find evidence to support either theory.
I was able to find information for Julia, William H., Rosina, James E., Elizabeth Georgina, and Louisa. I will start with Julia who was born on July 4, 1829. According to Afua Cooper, by the time she was fourteen, Julia was teaching at a segregated school in Essex County. She received an education at Oberlin College, earning her teaching certificate. She taught at schools throughout Essex County including at Mount Pleasant, Colchester, the King Street School in Amherstburg, Sandwich and the Marble Village School in Anderdon. Cooper’s article includes a letter Julia wrote on January 25, 1853 to George Whipple, who was the field secretary of the American Missionary Association, requesting financial assistance for a school in Amherstburg. The letter says “Dear Sir, I have forwarded this letter to you by recommendation to solicit aid in behalf of a school in Amherstburg. their [sic] is a school in this place kept in Mr Rice’s mission house by a young man by the name of James Underwood. As to the teacher they are satisfied with his teaching but are dissatisfied with the course he has taken by going to the mission house. As he was paid twenty dollars per month by the trustees of the incorporation, they feel dissatisfied under those circumstances and having known their disapproval of that course to the trustees, they [the trustees] refuse to hear them, being rather in favour of his course and partial to Mr Rice.”
“They [the parents] have requested me to apply for assistance in carrying on their school in the coloured Wesleyan Church which I shall teach and the number of scholars are from thirty-five to forty, which I shall take up if I can be supported. They will pay what they can, but having to their taxes to pay to the other school whither they send or not, but by not sending will be exempted from paying the rate bill which they will pay to their own teacher if they can get assistance from you.”
“They say you would assist them if they would come under the AMA society. As for myself, I have been teaching in Canada for eight years and for some of them I have received twenty four dollars per year for two years and I had the promise [of] more but the people were too poor, I could not bear to distress them. I have taught five years … in one settlement by the name of Mount Pleasant to which if I do not get support in town will teach.”
“It is a large settlement of coloured people and a large quantity has moved there within the two years time, to give you sir, an idea of the number that have [sic] gone in that settlement since the fugitive bill has passed. I have received from them last year, for the first time $72 for the year so I can say thank God, times are getting better … As to my assertions and character as a schoolteacher, you can inquire of Mr Peden, minister of the Presbyterian church, Mr A. Binga, pastor of the Baptist church … I am your humble servant, Julia Turner. P.S. I will teach either place that you will support me in, Amherstburg or Mount Pleasant.”
There is no indication that Turner received AMA funding, but a year later she began teaching at a segregated school in Amherstburg. According to an article found in the Amherstburg Echo titled “First School in Amherstburg Held in Rental Rooms” printed on November 23, 1934, “Common school was held in the Sons’ Hall (the old Echo office), the rent of which was $5 a month. In 1854, Miss Julia Turner became teacher of the colored school at ₤50.” With this position, she was required to provide the classroom space and fuel to heat it. The condition of Turner’s school are recorded in Benjamin Drew’s book A North-Side View of Slavery which says “A separate school has been established here, at their own request: their request was given them, but leanness went with it. I visited the school. There was an attendance of twenty-four,–number on the list, thirty. The school-house is a small, low building, and contains neither blackboard nor chair. Long benches extend on the sides of the room, close to the walls, with desks of corresponding length in front of them. The whole interior is comfortless and repulsive. The teacher, a colored lady, is much troubled by the frequent absences of the pupils, and the miserably tattered and worn-out condition of the books. Two inkstands were in use, which, on being nearly inverted, yielded a very little bad ink. The teacher appeared to be one of the working sort, disposed to bear up as well as she could under her many discouragements: but the whole school adds one more dreary chapter to “the pursuit of knowledge under difficulties.” But there is a better time coming. Malden (Amherstburg) is one of the stations at which the Colonial Church and School Society propose to establish schools, ‘expressly for the benefit of the colored race, but open to all.’”
Julia Turner remained at the Amherstburg school until December 1856 but was forced out due to sexism. Black community members circulated a petition which called for the employment of a male teacher, likely because there was a (false) belief that a male teacher would better manage the students. As a result, Turner was replaced by John B. Williams. Julia Turner continued teaching as is shown on the 1871 and 1881 Census which list her as a schoolteacher.
In addition to being a teacher, Julia Turner also invested in real estate. She began acquiring property in 1870 and by 1899 she owned at least five lots which varied in size and value. Afua Cooper argues that Turner was among those who paid the highest taxes in Essex County, with properties in Sandwich, Malden, Anderdon, and Colchester North. Cooper adds that family lore states that along with “Hiram Walker, Turner was one of the county’s leading taxpayers.” At the time of her death, Turner’s estate was valued at $4,200 with her personal estate valued at roughly $1,800. One report from the Windsor Evening Record stated that her estate was valued at roughly $7,000.
The Windsor Evening Record reported on November 10, 1900 “Miss Julia Turner of Sandwich is visiting her nephew, James Naul. She took very ill Wednesday morning and was with difficulty resuscitated.” Sadly, Julia Turner passed away that day, on November 10, 1900 in Amherstburg. She never married and her death record lists her as 72 years old and a ‘Retired Lady.’ The Amherstburg Echo printed a very detailed obituary for Julia on November 16, 1900 which says “Death of Miss Turner – Last week’s Echo made mention of the fact of the serious illness of Miss Julia Turner at James Naul’s, where she was visiting. Miss Turner recovered sufficiently to make arrangements to go to her home in Sandwich, when at 2:30 Saturday morning she was seized with a worse attack and expired in a few minutes. The remains were interred Tuesday afternoon, in Rose Hill Cemetery. The remains were first taken to the First Baptist church where services were conducted by Rev. Dr. Henderson, of Detroit, assisted by Rev. Mr. Penicks, of Kansas City, and Rev. Mr. Thompson, of Sandwich. Following were pallbearers: J.M. Brantford, Henry Banks, J.D. Brown, Philip Alexander, Ezekiel Stephens and George Thomas. Miss Turner was very well known throughout Essex County. She was a daughter of the late Henry and Rosina Turner, of Amherstburg. One of thirteen children, she was born here July 4th, 1829, and so was past 71 years of age at her death. Of the thirteen children only four now survive. They are William H., of Cleveland; Mrs. William Monroe, of Amherstburg; James E., of New Canaan, and Mrs. Georgina E. Mathews, of Sandwich. Her father Henry Turner died on the steamer Pearl while leaving Detroit for Amherstburg July 26th, 1863, while her mother died here April 27th, 1880. Miss Turner received her rudimentary education in the school here, and completed it at Oberlin College, Ohio, taking out a teacher’s certificate. She taught school at Mt. Pleasant, Malden township, Anderdon, Colchester North, Harrow, Amherstburg, and at Sandwich for 13 years. For the past 24 years she lived with her nephew, Wm. Monroe in Sandwich and conducted a fruit and vegetable farm there. At the age of 16 she allied herself with the Baptist church at Mt. Pleasant and was a valued and esteemed member of that body until her death. She was a frugal woman and possessed great thrift, accumulating considerable property during her lifetime. She had farms in Malden, Anderdon, Colchester North, and town property in Sandwich and Amherstburg.
The money she earned as a teacher helped support her family and Julia is among the many examples of Black women who acted as breadwinners. Additionally, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a flood of Freedom Seekers came to this region, meaning there was an increased need to educate newcomers. Julia Turner contributed to the education of numerous Freedom Seekers (and others).
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 2.
Turner Family History Part 2 – The Marine Chef
Now that I have discussed Julia, I will move on to share information about her brother William Henry. He married at least two times. His first marriage was to Rebecca White who died at the young age of 30 on December 14, 1876. Her obituary from December 22, 1876 appeared in the Amherstburg Echo and says “In this town, on Thursday, December 14th, Rebecca W., beloved wife of Mr. Wm. H. Turner, aged 31 years and 9 months. Deceased was born in Frankfort, Ky., in 1844, removed to Stratford in 1856; was married in Goderich in 1863. She has resided here ever since and was much respected by all her neighbors. Her father, Mr. Jackson White, resides in Detroit, and her funeral which took place from there on Sunday afternoon, was largely attended.”
William’s second marriage was to Ruth A. Fields on October 23, 1881 in Amherstburg. Ruth was the daughter of Henry and Jane Fields. Ruth and William had at least one son named Clarence Horatio Turner who was born on November 17, 1882 in Amherstburg. This record also shares that William was a Grocer. According to the 1900 Census for Lucas, Ohio, William and Ruth moved to Ohio where William worked as a Boarding House Keeper. William’s death record states that he died on February 14, 1905 in Toledo, Ohio. This record lists William as Grocer who was born on October 23, 1831. On March 3, 1905 the Essex Free Press reported “Henry Turner, a brother of James Turner, of New Canaan, died in Toledo, O., on Feb. 14th, aged 75 years.” According to Find A Grave, Ruth Anna Turner was born in September 1847 in Toledo, Ohio, and passed on September 27, 1912, also in Toledo.
William’s sister Rosena/Rosina is the next child of Henry Turner and Rosena Cox. The 1881 Census lists Rosina with her husband William Monroe along with their children Sarah, William, James, George, Edward, and John. Rosina and William also had another daughter named Julia who died in infancy. Sadly, Rosina passed away on February 23, 1920 in Amherstburg. According to her obituary from the Essex Free Press from March 5, 1920 “Mrs. Wm. Monroe, an aged colored resident of Amherstburg, passed away Monday of last week. Miss Monroe’s maiden name was Miss Rosina Turner and she was born in Amherstburg 79 years ago. Of the family, one brother, James … of New Canaan, and a sister Mrs. Gordina Matthews, of Sandwich … She was married to the late William Monroe, well-known marine chef. They had a family of five sons and two daughters – James and Edward, Milwaukee; William, of Ashtabula, and Mrs. Clarence Smith, of Amherstburg. George and John are dead and Julia died in infancy.”
As mentioned in Rosina’s obituary, William predeceased her. On November 17, 1916, the Essex Free Press reported that “The death occurred at the residence, in Amherstburg, last week, of William Monroe, one of the best known colored cooks of the old school in that district. He was 84 years of age. Mr. Monroe was born in the state of Kentucky in 1832, and came to Amherstburg when but 17 years of age. For many years he followed the Great Lakes as a marine steward, and was, in that capacity, on some of the best known boats running from Buffalo to the head of the Great Lakes. Mr. Monroe died at the home which he occupied when he first came to Amherstburg. He was highly respected as a citizen of the town and was a Justice of the Peace and a deacon in the First Baptist church, with which he had been connected for many years. His wife, who survives him was Miss Rosina Turner, of Amherstburg. To them were born six children of whom the following are living: Sarah, Mrs. Clarence Smith of Amherstburg; William of Buffalo; Joseph, of the Str. Rogers; George, of Cleveland, and Edward of Milwaukee.”
I was able to find information for several of their children including Edward, George, William H., James, and Sarah. Edward Monroe married Mary Pick, the daughter of William Pagirt and Catherine Good, on November 16, 1896 in Superior, Douglass, Wisconsin. This record reveals that Mary was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Edward worked as a cook.
Edward’s brother William H. was married to Mayme. He was born on July 25, 1859 in Amherstburg and died on August 9, 1934 in Ashtabula, Ohio. William’s brother James E. Monroe was born on August 28, 1860 and died November 14, 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio. He married a woman named Elizabeth and worked as a Marine Steward. James’ brother George Monroe was born on August 1, 1863 in Amherstburg and passed on June 1, 1919 in Cleveland where he worked as a barber.
Their sister Sarah Monroe Smith married Clarence Smith, son of James and Mary Smith. I was not able to find an obituary for Sarah, but there is a detailed write up for her husband Clarence Smith in the Amherstburg Echo printed in the May 8, 1914 issue. It says “Clarence Smith, one of the best known marine chefs sailing from the port, passed away in the Marine Hospital, Buffalo, Monday afternoon. News of his death came with a shock to the town for it was not generally known marine chefs sailing from the boat, the John J. Barlum, two weeks ago, he was in a very weakened condition. He had suffered considerably during the winter with stomach trouble, but partly recovered and when spring came, he received a telegram from the owners of the Barlum asking him to merely superintend the work of fitting[?] out so decided to leave. The work however, overtaxed his strength and he was taken off at Buffalo, and removed to the Marine hospital a week ago Monday. Mrs. Smith was called there to see him on Thursday, returning Sunday, as the hospital authorities declared he was too weak to be moved. The body arrived home Wednesday evening, and funeral services took place yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, being conducted in the First Baptist church, of which deceased was a deacon and devoted member for thirty years. Lovely floral offerings covered the casket, chief among which were those from John. J. Barlum, the A.F.&A. M., O.E.S., and Ladies’ Sewing Circle. Mr. Smith was a native of Amherstburg, his parents being the late Mr. and Mrs. James Smith. Of the family three sisters and five brothers are living – Mary, Gertie, Annie, John, Joseph, James, Roman and Philo. From his youth he took up the vocation of marine steward and spent a useful life following the lakes and had charge of the steward department of many of the largest freight steamers that run from one end of the Great Lakes to the other, and at the time of taking to his death bed when he was removed from the boat to the Marine hospital in Buffalo, he held the position of head steward on the steamer John J. Barlum the flagship of the Portal Steamship Co., of Detroit, Mich. Mr. Smith’s activity in church and lodge were recognized as very valuable among the fraternity. He was married to Sarah Monroe, daughter of William and Rosine Monroe, of Amherstburg, and leaves to mourn his loss his beloved wife Sarah Smith, and two children, Blanche and Mortimer. Mr. Smith was personally known to nearly everyone in town. He possessed a good education and worked strenuously to improve the schools. His industry and thrift are evidenced in the beautiful home they occupy corner Gore and Bathurst streets. He spent two sessions in Toronto at the Legislature during the life of Hon. W.D. Balfour, and became the personal messenger in the House of the late Hon. A.S. Hardy, Premier of Ontario.”
According to Clarence’s obituary, he and Sarah had two children: Mortimer and Blanche. Mortimer C. Smith was born on August 14, 1892 in Amherstburg and according to his Naturalization Papers from 1948, he was single with no children, and worked as a Janitor. Blanchie Smith’s birth record states that she was born on March 20, 1888 in Amherstburg
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 3.
Turner Family History Part 3 – Justice of the Peace
Now that I have discussed Julia, William H., and Rosina, I will discuss their siblings James E., Elizabeth Georgina, and Louisa. James was born on May 6, 1841 in Amherstburg. He married Melissa McCurdy, the daughter of Nasa and Permelia McCurdy, on April 9, 1867 in Essex County. Their children include Emily, Everett, James, George, Hattie, Maud, Myrtle E., Anna A., Clarence Alanzo, and Durward Clifford. Before discussing their children, there are a few documents to share about James and Melissa. According to his death record, James Edward Turner died on January 7, 1922 in Colchester North. His obituary from the Essex Free Press shares more details and says “James E. Turner, and old resident of New Canaan, who has been failing for some time, passed away on Saturday last at his home on the Malden Road. The funeral was held on Tuesday, with interment in Amherstburg cemetery. Deceased was 82 years of age. Mr. Turner, prior to moving to New Canaan over 40 years ago, kept a store in Amherstburg and was for some years a J.P. He was married to Miss McCurdy, who survives with six children – James and Hattie (Mrs. Sharp), of Detroit; Clarence, of Buffalo; Clifford and George of New Canaan, and Maud (Mrs. James Scott) of Harrow. He also leaves a sister Mrs. Matthews, of Sandwich. The funeral services were conducted in the A.M.E. church at Amherstburg on Tuesday by Rev. W.F. Seay, of New Canaan, prior to interment in the Amherstburg cemetery.”
I was also able to find an obituary for Melissa McCurdy Turner printed in the Essex Free Press on July 9, 1926 which says “Mrs. Melissa Turner, widow of the late James Turner, for many years a resident of New Canaan, passed away at her home in Windsor on July 1st. She is survived by two daughters and four sons, Mrs. Hattie Sharp, of Detroit; Mrs. James Scott, of Harrow; James, of Detroit; George of Cleveland; Clarence of Buffalo; and Clifford, of Windsor. Funeral was held from her late residence, 739 McDougall Street, Windsor, on Saturday afternoon to the Windsor A.M.E. Church with interment in Amherstburg Cemetery.”
As mentioned, James and Melissa’s children included Emily, Everett, James, George, Hattie, Maud, Myrtle E., Anna A., Clarence Alanzo, and Durward Clifford. I wasn’t able to find information for Emily, Everett, James, and Myrtle, but I did find information for George, Hattie, Maud, Anna, Clarence, and Durward Clifford. George married Eva Brooks, the daughter of Peter Brooks and Laura Smith, on December 3, 1909 in Cuyahoga, Ohio. At the time, George was a Sailor and Eva worked as a Dressmaker. I could not find an obituary for George or Eva but Find a Grave shares a photo of George’s headstone which lists his date of birth and death, 1875-1943.
George’s sister Hattie is next. On January 6, 1899, the Amherstburg Echo reported “A very quiet but pretty wedding took place at the residence of James Turner, J.P., when his daughter Hattie was united in marriage to Anthony Boyd of Montpelier, Ohio. The bride was tastefully attired in white silk mull over taffeta. After the ceremony all sat down to a sumptuous repast. Mr. and Mrs. Boyd will make their future home at Montpelier, Ohio. Mrs. Boyd will be greatly missed by her friends but New Canaan’s loss will be Montepelier’s gain.” Hattie and Anthony had a daughter according to the birth record for Maud Garnet Boyd who was born on December 25, 1899. Maud later married George Henry Coates and their special day was briefly reported in the Essex Free Press on January 10, 1919 which says “Coats – Boyd- At the brides home, New Canaan, on Christmas Day, December 25th by Rev. Sylvester Ware. George Henry Coats to Miss Maud Garnett Boyd, all of New Canaan.” Maud’s obituary from November 29, 1954, in the Windsor Daily Star states “Mrs. Maud Garnett Coates, 54 wife of George H. Coates, of 447 Elliott east died Sunday in Grace Hospital after a brief illness. Born in New Canaan, Ont., she had been a resident of Windsor for 32 years coming here from Detroit. Mrs. Coates was a member of the Missionary Society and Emergency Club of the A.M.E. Church. She is survived by her husband; her mother, Mrs. Hattie Byrd, of Detroit; one son, G. Alger, at home; six daughters, Mrs. Fred Gibbs (Lorraine), Gary, Indiana; Mrs. Roy DeShield (Barbara), of Toronto; Betty Jean, Sharron Patricia, Judith and Gwendolyn, all at home; one brother Ralph Sharp of Detroit and two grandchildren. The body will rest at the James H. Sutton Funeral Home, 937 Ouellette until Wednesday at 11 a.m. when it will be transferred to the A.M.E. Church at Mercer and Assumption to rest from noon until services at one o’clock. Rev. W.H. Jones and Rev. G.W. Barber will officiate. Burial will be in Rosehill Cemetery, Amherstburg.”
Records show that Hattie married more than once. She also married a man with the last name Sharpe, and they had a son named Ralph Burton Sharpe (born 1904) who is mentioned in the previous paragraph. Ralph’s obituary appeared in the Windsor Star on September 26, 1977, and says “SHARPE – Ralph Bertrand, 73 years, September 22, 1977 in Detroit. Dear son of Mrs. Hattie Byrd (deceased 1965). Dear nephew of Mrs. Trewery Turner, Detroit; Mrs. Edna Turner Jones, Windsor. Several nieces and nephews also survive … Interment Rose Hill Cemetery, Amherstburg.” Hattie married a third time to Scott Byrd (1887-1953).
Hattie’s sister Maud is the next child of James E. Turner and Melissa McCurdy. Maud was born on April 22, 1881 in Colchester North. She married J.H. Scott, the son of J.G. and Mary A. Scott, on May 12, 1901 in Colchester North. On November 23, 1955, Maud’s obituary appeared in the Windsor Star which says “SCOTT – Maude Evelyn, 74 years, entered into rest at Grace Hospital on Monday, November 21, 1955. Beloved wife of James Scott; dear mother of Mrs. R.W. Banks (Gladys) of Detroit, Clyde of Colchester South, one son Percy (predeceased), one sister Mrs. Hattie Byrd of Detroit; ten grandchildren. Resting at the J.H. Madill Funeral Chapel, Harrow, until Thursday, thence to the family residence at Colchester until noon Friday when the body will be in state at the A.E.M.E. [sic] Zion Church, Colchester where the funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Rev. C.L. Morton officiating. Interment, Central Grove Cemetery.”
Maud’s husband James Henry Scott’s obituary also appeared in the Windsor Star on October 8, 1968 and says “SCOTT – James Henry, 92, of Detroit died Monday at home after a lengthy illness. He was born in New Canaan and had lived in Detroit the past four years, moving there from Colchester South. He was a retired farmer. He was a member of St. Mark’s AME Zion Church, Colchester. His wife Maude predeceased him. Surviving are: a son, Clyde, of Colchester; daughter Gladys Banks of Detroit; a sister, Mrs. Clifton (Elizabeth) Newton of Ypsilanti, Mich.; 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grand-children and two great-great-grandchildren … Burial Rosehill Cemetery, Amherstburg.”
Maud and James had three children named Percy, Clyde and Gladys. Percy passed away on December 21, 1932 in Detroit at the age of 31. He was single and was born on October 10, 1901. Percy’s sister Gladys passed away on July 27, 1988 in Warren, Michigan. Her death record states that she was born on July 15, 1903. Gladys’ obituary from the Windsor Star says “BANKS -Gladys May, 85 years, died July 27, 1988 at BiCounty Hospital, Warren Mich. Beloved wife of the late Ruel Banks (1975). Dear mother of Mrs. George Dennis (Frances) of Windsor, Mrs. Evalaine Baylis of New Westminister B.C., Mrs. Ethelwyn Scott of Windsor, Ellsworth Banks of Anderdon Twp., Mrs. Henry Reed (Esme) of Detroit, Mrs. Darlene Wright of Detroit, Winston Banks of Toronto, Veale Banks of Toronto, Mrs. Lola Moore of Detroit and the late Ruel Banks Jr. (1982). Dearest sister of Clyde Scott of Harrow and the late Percy Scott (1933). Twenty-seven grandchildren, 38 great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren.” It was just a few months later that Gladys’ brother Clyde passed away on December 18, 1988. According to his obituary which appeared in the Windsor Star he was 83 years old and was predeceased by his wife Glenna (1969) and son Clyde (1955). His obituary also says that he was survived by two stepsons and two stepdaughters, but they are not named.
Maud’s sister Ann was born on July 15, 1884 in Colchester North. Maud’s brother Clarence married Truwery Bowlin, the daughter of Walter Bowlin and Mae Venables, on February 2, 1914 in Cuyahoga, Ohio. At the time, Clarence worked as a cook. Clarence and Truwery also lived in Buffalo as was reported in the February 24, 1922 issue of the Essex Free Press which says “Mrs. Clarence Turner, of Buffalo, has been the guest of her mother-in-law, Mrs. Jas. Turner, Malden Road.” The Essex Free Press also reported Clarence’s passing in the December 24, 1948 issue. The obituary shares that the “ Funeral services were held on Wednesday, for Clarence Turner, aged 52, of Buffalo, N.Y., owner of a restaurant and former resident of New Canaan, who died on Thursday of last week in Buffalo, after a long illness. Services were held at 1pm at the James H. Sutton Funeral Home, Windsor, with the Rev. Mack Brown officiating, and burial was in Rose Hill cemetery, Amherstburg. Mr. Brown [Turner] lived in Buffalo for many years, going there from New Canaan, where he was born. Survivors are his widow, Mrs. Trewary Turner, two sisters, Mrs. Hattie M. Bird of Detroit and Mrs. James Scott, of Colchester, and one brother Clifford Turner, of Windsor.”
The last child of James E. Turner and Melissa McCurdy is Durward Clifford Turner. He was born on November 25, 1895 in Colchester. He married Edna Scott, the daughter of Laban Scott and Jessie Franklin, on November 4, 1918 in Colchester. The Essex Free Press reported on August 22, 1919, the birth of Clifford and Edna’s child but no name is mentioned. Further research reveals the child’s name and the name of their other children. The Windsor Star shared G. Laverne Matthews’ obituary on November 21, 2002 which is the unidentified child previously mentioned. The obituary says “Passed November 20th at Hotel Dieu. Born August 13, 1919, Colchester, Ontario. Beloved wife of Russell Matthews (1986). Beloved mother of James Russell (1990), Mary (1951) and Karl Turner (1996). Daughter of Clifford Durward Turner (1949) and Edna (Scott) Turner (1994). Sister of Thelma Leona Gibson (2000), Helen Ann Turner (1986) and Edna Virginia Harris (1977). Loving and caring grandmother of Patrick and Shawn Matthews, Marnie Burns and Cory Dodd; great grandmother of Kayla and Khalil; Mother-in-law of Neen Matthews-Jackson (Clyde Jackson) …Church Mother of The Upper Room Tabernacle … Interment at Puce Memorial Cemetery.” This means that James and Melissa’s children were G. Laverne, Thelma Leona, Helen Ann and Edna Virginia.
The Essex Free Press mentioned that in March 1924 “Clifford Turner, who has been on the Keeley farm, will have an auction sale on Wednesday, the 19th inst. and will move to the city. Dolph Brush has rented the Keeley place. There is no further mention of Clifford in the press but Find A Grave states that he passed in 1949. Decades later, Clifford’s wife Edna passed away as was reported by the Windsor Star on April 26, 1994. It states “JONES (TURNER) – Edna 93 years died April 25, 1994 at Windsor Wester Hospital. Beloved wife of the late Clifford Turner (1949) and the late George Jones (1973). Dear mother of Laverne Matthews, Thelma Gibson and the late Helen Turner (1986) and the late Virginia Harris (1977). Also predeceased by 1 brother James Scott (1969). Loving grandmother of 4 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great granddaughter. Mrs. Jones was a member of the Upper Room Pentecostal Church, The Evelyn Parker Senior Citizens Group, a volunteer of the Canadian Red Cross. Mrs. Jones worked many years at the Prince Edward Hotel … Interment Puce Memorial Cemetery.”
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week for part 4.
Turner Family History Part 4 – “Prosperous Essex Farmer”
Now that I have shared everything I could find for James E. Turner, I’ll move on to his sister Elizabeth Georgina (also spelt Jordina). She married Solomon Matthews, the son of Matthew and Emily Matthews, on August 22, 1869. Solomon’s father Matthew was very respected in the community as is made clear in Matthew’s obituary from the Amherstburg Echo on November 16, 1906. The article says “One of the oldest and best known colored residents in this township passed over the river peacefully, Sunday morning, full of years and good works, in the person of Matthew Matthews, sr. The deceased had sot his compatriots a shining example in thrift and frugality all his life, and he became very highly respected. Coming to this township when a lad with his father, the late Edmund Matthews, from Virginia, they settled between the 2nd and 3rd concessions, on what is now known as the Matthews Settlement. Elisha Matthews occupied the original homestead. At the age of 22 the deceased was married to Alma Day, and fifteen children were born to them, seven yet living. They are Solomon, Matthew J., Elisha, Martha, (Mrs. S.P. Leek), Ellen (Mrs. Grayer), all of Colchester South; Alzora, of Detroit; and Alma, Mrs. (Rev.) W.H. Bazie, United States. Mr. Matthews early joined the Baptist church, and was licensed as a Baptist preacher. The funeral took place Tuesday, services being conducted by Rev. Bradby, of the First Baptist church, Windsor, and interment was in Central Grove cemetery. The pallbearers were W.H. Morgan, Anthony Banks, A. Bird, W. Hurst, A. Morgan and J. Hall.”
Georgina/Jordina’s husband Solomon appears in the Amherstburg Echo on April 7, 1911 in an article titled “Prosperous Essex Farmer” which discusses Solomon and his sons success in farming. The article reports “In view of the discussions that have taken place recently in the Canadian Parliament regarding the immigration of colored people to Canada, the work of Solomon Matthews and his three sons, all well known residents of Colchester South township, county of Essex, during the year 1910, is interesting. They farm 212? acres, 175 of which is under cultivation. On this they grew 1500 bushels of small grain, such as fall wheat, barley, oats and buckwheat, 3200 bushels of corn and a fair crop of hay. They let neither time nor land go to waste. George broke up 22 acres of his new farm, better known as the Stewart place. Forest planted 112 acres of tobacco, of which he received $421. He also grew 2000 bushels of corn and 275 bushels of mangels. The two brothers are preparing to put in 14 acres of tobacco this season. The father sold one of the highest priced horses that ever left the township, a 2 year, 10 months colt for $250 and has some more he expects to realize as much for. They keep strict account of everything sold so when they say they received $2644.16 from April 1st, 1910, to March 28th, 1911, they can prove it by figures as follows: 55 hogs, $1026.72; fall wheat, $134.36; oats, $26.46; apples, $12.50; buckwheat, $103.50; tobacco, $514.37; 10 head of cattle, $544; one horse, $2.50; wood, $7, &; turkeys, $25.25 – total, $2644.16. George and Forest think if they had given their places a little more attention they could easily have made it $3000. George doesn’t take to farming as well as to railroading, and may jump his job before another season rolls round. This story shows what well directed industry and thrift can do in a township as highly favored as this one.”
I was also able to find an obituary for both Solomon and Georgina/Jordina. Solomon passed away on April 22, 1924. On May 2, 1924, the Essex Free Press printed Solomon’s obituary which says “Solomon Matthews, a pioneer of Colchester South, and one of the fathers of the Matthews settlement, 3rd concession, passed away on Tuesday night of last week, in his 79th year. Mr. Matthews was a son of the late Matthew Matthews, sr., and was born in the settlement where he died, being one of a family of twelve. Two brothers and three sisters survive him – Matthew J. and Elisha, well known farmers of Colchester South; Mrs. Grayer, of Windsor; Mrs. Alzora Thomas, of Detroit, and Mrs. (Rev.) Brazie, of Illinois. He was married to Miss Georgina Turner, of Amherstburg, who bore him eleven children, all of whom are deceased except three sons and one daughter, who with the mother survive – James Walter, of the United States; Matthew George, of Toronto; Forest Francis, on the old homestead, and Mrs. Martha Edwards, of Chicago.” A separate obituary in the Amherstburg Echo from April 25, 1924 shares the same details but adds “Mr. Matthews was a sturdy, hard-working farmer, highly respected and progressive in his ideals.”
Elizabeth Georgina Turner Matthews passed away on March 5, 1928. Her obituary appeared in the Amherstburg Echo on March 9, 1928 and says “The death occurred in Colchester South on Monday night of a lifelong resident of Essex County in the person of Mrs. Jordina Matthews, aged 85 years, relict of the late Elisha (Solomon) Matthews. Her maiden name was Jordina Tenor (Turner), and she was born in Amherstburg. After her marriage she with her husband took up their home in Colchester South. She is survived by one daughter, Martha, Mrs. E.W. Edwards, of LeGrange, Illinois; and three sons, George, of Toronto; Walter, of Washington, D.C.; and Forest, of Colchester South. The funeral will take place from the home at one o’clock on Friday to Central Grove Church, where services will be conducted. Burial will take place in Central Grove cemetery.”
Solomon and Georgina/Jordina’s children include James, Mary, Matthew George, Forest Francis, Florence, Sophia, Martha, Lorinda, Jordina, Lucinda, Walter, and Rena. I was able to find documents for Matthew George, Forest, Martha, Lorinda, Jordina, Lucinda, Walter and Rena. Matthew George Matthews was born on March 5, 1878 in Colchester. He moved to Toronto and worked as a railway dining car chef and also wrote the book Wit, Wisdom and Philosophy: The World As I See It which was published in 1927. On page 2 Matthews shares that he “served as a soldier in the past great war, to help maintain and protect our honour of democracy, served until my health failed to allow me to continue any longer, and upon August 30th, 1918, I received my honourable discharge with the red letter monogram, conduct very, very good. I have always loved my King and Country, and still go strongly on his great Christ like love for law and order.”
His obituary shares a few more details of his life. On January 3, 1946, the Amherstburg Echo wrote “George Matthews Dies – Funeral services were held Monday afternoon from the J.H. Madill & Son Funeral Home, Harrow, for George Matthews, aged 67. Mr. Matthews died in East Windsor Hospital on Christmas Day. He had been ill for some months. He was born in Colchester South the son of the late Solomon Matthews. Surviving are a sister, Mrs. Edwards of Chicago and Forrest of Harrow. The late Mr. Matthews worked on the Canadian National Railways as a cook for many years and was well known by the travelling public.” Not mentioned in his obituary is his adopted daughter Sylvia. On his headstone is printed “Dear father of Sylvia.”
I could not find an explanation for how Matthew George Matthews became Sylvia’s adopted parent, but following his death the Windsor Daily Star shared on at least two occasions a
‘Notice of Application for Guardianship’ first from a man named Wellington Harris of Toronto on March 6, 1948 and second from Henry D. Taylor of Windsor on May 22, 1948. Mentioned in the Application is Sylvia’s full name which was Sylvia Mae King.
Matthew George’s brother Forest T. Matthews married Coressa Myessa Armstrong, the daughter of Thomas Armstrong and Emma Artis, on April 29, 1914 in Harrow. Coressa and Forest had at least three children: Charlotte Lorinda (1915), Margaret Lucinda (1917) and Mackenzie F. Matthews (1918). Margaret Lucinda passed away on July 25, 1921 at the age of 4 in Colchester. Her date of birth is September 14, 1917. Mackenzie Matthews’ obituary appeared in the Windsor Star on July 26, 1982 and says “MATTHEWS – MacKenzie, 64 years, July 25, 1982. Late of Harrow. Beloved husband of Flossie. Dear father of Richard, Sheldon, Rosita, Rhonda, Harrow; William, Dale, Joyce Wood, Shirley (Mrs. James Vedder) and Martha, Toronto; Edward, Kevin, Gail, Windsor; and Max, Edmonton. Predeceased by Ezel (1970). Dear son of Mrs. Madessa Matthews, Harrow. 15 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren. Dear brother of Martha (Mrs. Kenneth Grayer), Harrow; Charlotte (Mrs. Maurice Carter), Roseville, Mich; Priscilla (Mrs. Warden Taylor), Combermere, Ont.” I could not find an obituary for Forest Matthews or his wife Coressa but Find A Grave does mention that Forest died in 1957.
The next child of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews is Martha, but the only information I could find for her is that she married E.W. Edwards. Martha’s sister Lorinda was born on April 6, 1873 in Colchester. The Evening Record printed a brief obituary for Lorinda on May 22, 1909 which says “On Monday, May 17th Miss Lorinda, daughter of Solomon Matthews, of the 3rd Con., died aged 36 years, consumption causing her death. The funeral was held on Wednesday, service being conducted at the B.M.E. church, Harrow, by Rev. Peter Brooks and interment at Central Grove cemetery.”
Lorinda’s sister Jordina married James Talbert/Talbot, the son of William H. Talbert and Mary Elizabeth Hyder, on January 1, 1906 in Windsor. According to Jordina’s death record, she passed on March 1, 1920 at the age of 34 in Colchester. According to her obituary from March 5, 1920, printed in the Amherstburg Echo, “The sudden death of Mrs. James Talbot Monday cast a gloom over the community, and her death was doubly sad from the fact that her infant daughter died at birth. Mrs. Talbot was Georgina Matthews, daughter of Solomon Matthews and is survived by her husband and seven children. The funeral services were held at Central Grove Wednesday afternoon with burial there.”
Jordina’s husband James Lionel Talbert passed away many years later on July 27, 1951 in Detroit. According to Jordina’s obituary, she and James had seven children. I could find information for three of their children: Douglas Warner, Mary, and Solomon Lionel. Douglas was born on November 8, 1907 in Colchester. The Amherstburg Echo printed his obituary on April 26, 1951 which says “Douglas Talbot, 48, a former resident of Colchester South died at ? on Monday. He was born in Colchester South the son of the late James Talbot and lived in the township until six months ago. He is survived by his wife. Funeral services were held in the J.H. Madill Funeral Chapel Tuesday afternoon followed by interment in Central Grove Cemetery.”
Douglas’ sister Mary sadly passed away on the same day she was born, March 1, 1920. According to his ‘Delayed Registration’ Solomon Lionel Talbert, was born on January 20, 1906 in Colchester South. When he signed the form on October 13, 1967, he was living in Brooklyn, New York.
The next child of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews is Lucinda. I found her obituary printed in the Amherstburg Echo on May 21, 1909 which says “Solomon Matthews’ daughter, Lucinda, died on Sunday at her home, 4th concession, of hemorrhage of the lungs. The funeral took place Tuesday to the B.M.E. church, Harrow, where Rev. Peter Brookes preached a touching sermon and followed by a large number of mourning relatives and friends the remains were taken to Central Grove for interment, the pallbearers being Forest, George and Walter, brothers, and James Talbot, William Talbot and Elisha Matthews. Besides her father, she leaves sisters, Mrs. James Talbot, Colchester South; Martha, in Michigan; brothers Forest, at home; George and Walter, cooks on the G.T.R. Much sympathy is extended the bereaved family.”
References for the last two children (Walter and Rena) of Georgina/Jordina and Solomon Matthews are brief. The Evening Record mentions James Walter Matthews winning two legal cases in the January 27, 1917 edition. Walter’s sister Rena is mentioned in the Amherstburg Echo on May 29, 1896 which says “Miss Rena Matthews, who has been visiting in this township at her father’s, Solomon Matthews’, has returned to the City of the Straits.”
I will end the Turner family history by discussing Louisa Turner. She married Anderson Vinney, the son of Levi and Martha Vinney, on August 7, 1872 in Amherstburg. Louisa passed away on July 24, 1878 in Amherstburg at the age of 30. It appears that Louisa and Anderson had a son named Walter because he is among the other family members who filed a claim for Julia Turner’s estate when she passed in 1900. Walter Vinney is listed as Julia’s nephew along with Julia’s brothers James and William, Julia’s sisters Rosina Monroe and Jordina Matthews, and Julia’s niece Estella Thomas.
What we publish is not a complete history of any family and is based on the documents that are available. We welcome photos and information to fill in the gaps. See you next week where we will celebrate another amazing family.