Few men are mor prominent or more widely known in San Joaquin county than James Turner. He has been an important factor in agricultural circles, and his popularity is well deserved, as in him are embraced the characteristics of an unbending integrity, unabating energy and industry that never flags. he is public-spirited and thoroughly interested in whatever tends to promote the moral, intellectual and material welfare of his portion of the state, and his influence has been a potent factor in political and religious circles as well as in business life. He has prospered as the result of carefully directed effort and is to-day the owner of two thousand acres of valuable land, his home being situated near French Camp. He is also numbered among the honored pioneers, having come to San Joaquin county in October, 1850, in company with his parents, who journeyed across the plains with ox teams.

James Turner was born on the 20th of August, 1830, in circleville, Ohio, and is of English lineage. His parents were John and Mary (Bodfield) Turner, natives of eastern Maryland. In his younger years John Turner engaged in teaching school in Pickaway county, Ohio, and from that state removed to Allen county, Indiana, where he resided for a number of years. Subsequently he took up his abode in Jefferson county, Iowa, whence he started for the Pacific coast with his wife and nine children, making the long journey across the country to California in 1850 and located in San Joaquin county, residing for a short time in Stockton. He afterward made his way to what was then known as Angels mines in Calaveras county, but did not remain a resident of that locality for any lengthy period. He engaged in mining for gold, as did his son James. Subsequently he removed with his family to San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa county, and in January, 1852, took up his abode upon the ranch which is now the home of his son James, near French Camp. He was among the early settlers of San Joaquin county and took an active and helpful part in its early development and upbuilding. He carried on general agricultural pursuits and stock-raising for a number of years. Soon after the Civil war removed to Stanislaus county, California, where he also resided for a number of years. He next became a resident of Tulare county, this state, where he died in December, 1891, being then in his ninety-second year. John Turner was one of the honroed pioneer settlers of the state. He braved the dangers, difficulties and hardships incident to the establishment of a home on the Pacific coast in the middle of the nineteenth century and took an active and helpful part in laying the foundation for the present progress and upbuilding of this portion of the state. His influence was ever on the side of right, order and public improvement. In his early life he gave his political allegiance to the Whig party, but afterward became a stanch advocate of the Republican party and its principles. He was a pillar in the Methodist Episcopal church, which he joined when eighteen years of age, and his entire life was in consistent harmony with his professions as a representative of that denomination. He took a very interested part in all the departments of church activity, doing everything in his power to promote the growth and extend the influence of the church.

Of his children the following survive: Susan A., who is the widow of Rev. N. A. Starr, of Benton county, Oregon; James; Theodore, who is living in Modesto; Garrison, also of Modesto; Thomas, of Fresno, California; Enoch, of Stockton; and Henry F., who resides in Plano, this state.

James Turner acquired a good education in the public schools of Indiana and Iowa and was reared under the parental roof, early becoming familiar with the various departments of farm labor as he assisted his father in the operation of the home farms in these states. He was a young man of about twenty years when he came to California in company with his parents. This was before the era of railroads, and, in fact, the tide of emigration had just turned to the far west. Wagon trains crossed the plains, and the Turner family with such company journeyed toward the Pacific coast, their wagons being drawn by oxen. James Turner well remembers many incidents of the journey, and his mind is stored with many reminiscences of the early pioneer days in California, when the work of improvement and progress here was scarcely begun and its towns were little more than mining camps, largely composed of tents. For a short period he engaged in gold mining, but has practically been an agriculturist and stock-raiser throughout his entire life, and the lessons which he learned in early youth concerning the best methods of tilling the soil have been put to the practical test in his business career. He has also kept abreast with modern ideas and methods, and is to-day the owner of one of the fine ranches of San Joaquin county, his home being situated on the same tract on which his father located more than a half century ago. He is also the owner of two thousand acres in Tulare county. He owes his prosperity to his own perseverance and diligence, and gradually he has worked his way upward, overcoming all difficulties and obstacles in his path by resolute purpose and unfaltering energy. Straightforward dealing has also characterized his business career and made him one of the highly respected and reliable citizens of his community.

On the 9th of December, 1852, Mr. Turner was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth H. Blosser, a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of Jacob Blosser, who came across the plains with the same company in which the Turner family journeyed. The surviving children of Mr. and Mrs. Turner are Martha M., now the wife of P. C. Forman, of San Joaquin county; Jesse T., of Tulare county, California; William G., who is residing at home; Addie S., who is a teacher in the public schools of Salinas, California; Sarah A., the wife of E. P. Foster, of Turlare county; L. Grace, at home; and Minnie J., of Stockton. The wife and mother passed away on the 12th of December, 1882, and her death was deeply deplored by many friends as well as her immedite family.

While Mr. Turner has conducted extensive and important business interests he has also been active in public affairs, and has exercised a strong influence in behalf of many measures contributing to the public good. On numerous occasions he has served as a delegate to the county conventions of the Republican party at Stockton, representing the French Camp precinct, and on one occasion he was a delegate to the state convention held at Los Angeles, representing San Joaquin county. Since attaining his majority he has given an unfaltering allegiance to the Republican party, keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day, and believes firmly in Republican principles as containing the best elements of good government. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Methodist Episcopal church at Atlanta, and for nearly a half century he has acted as one of the officers of the church. His life has been honorable and upright, and in all business, social and political relations he has commanded the confidence and respect of his fellow men. No history of this portion of the state would be complete without the record of his career, for few of its residents have longer resided in San Joaquin county and none have been more loyal to its interests. He has seen the county emerge from wild pioneer conditions and take its place among the leading counties of the great commonwealth, and his mind is stored with many interesting reminiscences of the early days.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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