Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 178] The rapid growth of Ellwood City has given rise to numerous large and flourishing business houses, among which the "Red Letter Shoe Store" occupies a position of prominence. The prosperity of the establishment is solely due to the ability and integrity of the proprietor, Samuel P. Turner, the subject of this brief biography.

A glance at his business life shows him beginning to farm in early manhood in Jackson Center, Mercer Co., Pa. He learned the shoe-maker's trade, working at that until 1876, in which year he went to Sandy Lake to engage in the hotel and livery business. Finding himself well occupied in the hotel business, and obtaining a good living from it, he retained it for eighteen years. He was liked by the people in the vicinity of Sandy Lake, as well as by those who were wont to stop at his hostelry as guests, and many were the expressions of regret that were given voice to, when Mr. Turner left for a wider field of usefulness. In 1891, our subject opened a fine livery stable in Ellwood City, where W. W. Davidson's barn is located. At the end of three years, he erected the Turner livery barn, keeping as a first-class equipment sixteen good sound horses and a variety of elegant and useful carriages. Mr. Turner proved a successful student of the needs of travelers, and he catered to their wants accordingly. When he had built up a fine business and had placed everything in the best of shape he sold the livery stable and contents to his brother, William C. Turner, and invested the proceeds in the store, that is now widely known as the "Red Letter Shoe Store." It is the only exclusive shoe store in the city, and it is really very surprising the amount of business that is done there. Mr. Turner has risen to be one of the men in Ellwood City whose financial credit is sound. He is ever ready to devote time and money to forward the development of the city's resources, and any measure to make Ellwood a clean, moral city meets with his hearty approval and finds him a willing assistant. Mr. Turner is a spirited character, whose membership in the Presbyterian Church means more to him that it does to many excellent people, as he takes pains to live up to his spiritual duties in every sense. As a citizen, Mr. Turner is abreast of the times, and keeps himself well informed on topics of the day. He understands pretty thoroughly the political history of our country, and delights in expounding Democratic principles and theories. On questions of local issue, he is invariably consulted, as he influences a large following. Mr. Turner was justice of the peace for four years, filling the office with credit to himself. He belongs to Ellwood Lodge, No. 599, F. & A. M. He is also a member of the I. O. O. F.

In regard to his private home life, there are a number of items that should not be omitted, because they are so very closely connected with his inner life. He married as his first wife Harriet Bowers, who died at thirty-four years of age, leaving three children; of these Frances married William Lathem of New Castle and has a child, William; Charles is a conductor on the P. & L. E. R. R., having his home, in New Castle; Tena married James McCurdy, a farmer of Jackson township, Mercer County, and they have three children. Mr. Turner then contracted a marriage with Mary Peters, whose father,was Jonathan Peters. She died at forty-two years of age, leaving five children as a legacy to her husband. Laura, the eldest, is married and is no longer under the parental roof; Alfred and Judson are intelligent, hard-working mechanics; Tony, the youngest, lives at home. Mr. Turner's present wife was formerly Mrs. Jane Jack. She possesses many admirable traits of character, and is a lady who is thoroughly liked by all her neighbors.

Samuel P. Turner was born in Jackson Center, Mercer Co., Pa., March 25, 1843. He was a son of Esben and Rachel (Clark) Turner. There was a large family in the Turner home, and the children were living exponents of the principle that fresh air, good food, and plenty of exercise make strong, vigorous constitutions. A brief resume of the record is as follows: Mary A. wedded A. H. Turner; Wiliam C. married Rachel Ride; Hester J. became the wife of J. F. Johnson; Catherine married G. W. Armstrong; Samuel P., our subject, was the fifth child; George W. entered the ministry and married Martha J. McClelland; Milcah P. became the life-companion of John Hosac; Clarissa W., alone, was called by death to leave her place in the home; Evaline was espoused by M. M. McElwain; Ida R. married R. P. Robenson; Clarence E. selected for his helpmeet Alta R. Webb. The father of this interesting family, Esben Turner, was a native of Jackson township, Mercer County, where he was born, May 14, 1812. Going back to his life story brings up the scene often described in the settlement of a new country: the father going out to work, axe on his shoulder, with only primitive tools with which to fell the trees, yet with patience and great effort slowly clearing the timber away from his acres of forest land, that he might till the rich soil thus exposed. By painful, unceasing labor, Mr. Turner provided for his family, and at length became possessed of considerable property, the fruit of his own exertions and sacrifices. He built a saw-mill of the kind used then, the up and down saw; that brought in custom work, and was a fruitful means of adding to the family purse. With lumber from his own mill, he erected a frame dwelling of commodious proportions on the road between Mercer and Franklin, and the house being favorably located and well suited for such purposes he conducted a hotel, becoming a popular host and increasing his acquaintance considerably through the county. This hotel was run for many years, but the structure is now used as a private dwelling. Mr. Turner lived successively in Centertown and Sandy Lake, finally returning to Jackson Center. His life terminated at sixty-six years, the cause being heart failure. Esben Turner was largely a self-made man, and his life was a good example for his sons to emulate. Being a man of strong religious belief, Mr. Turner never deviated from the teachings of the Presbyterian Church, and embodied them as far as possible in his daily avocations. Mrs. Turner, the mother of our subject, lived to attain the age of seventy-seven.

One more chapter in the Turner genealogy brings to view the pioneer, Alexander Turner, the grandfather of Samuel P. He was the second son of William Turner, who went from Scotland to Ireland about 1760, settling in County Antrim, where he followed the trade of a weaver. His three children, John, Alexander, and Mary, were taught his trade. Suffering the loss of his wife, William Turner remarried, but his choice was disapproved by his sons, who left him on that account. In 1788, the sons sailed for America. A terrible accident, fatal in its consequences, happened soon after their arrival in New York. They secured work on a farm, and John was riding horseback one day, when he was thrown from his saddle, and struck a great, scythe, which caused his death. After that sad event, Alexander went to Philadelphia, where he engaged in weaving. He married Nancy Krickbaum, and lived contentedly several years until he was seized with a desire to make a home on the frontier. His wife was not the woman to be daunted by the difficult journey through wildernesses and over rugged mountains. She shouldered a gun, and led the cow the entire length of the journey. Three horses hitched in tandem fashion were burdened with great panniers on their backs, therein being bestowed their worldly goods and, what was more precious to them, their four small children. Thus they journeyed by easy stages past Mauch Chunk and Bellefonte, crossing the Allegheny River below Franklin, to what was then known as Westmoreland County, a trip of three hundred miles. In reality all territory west of the Allegheny Mountains was known by that name. In reward for their long dangerous journey, Mr. Turner succeeded in obtaining a large tract of land, a mile and a quarter north of the place that is now Jackson Center. Mrs. Turner was the second white woman to come to this section of the country, and being even handier with the axe than was her husband, she was able to help materially in clearing the forest and building the first log-house. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Turner were: William; Elizabeth; Alexander, Jr.; Annie; John; James; Samuel; Krickbaum; Clarissa; Milcah; Esther; and Esben. Mrs Turner passed away July 24, 1824, and Mr. Turner went to his reward Nov. 20, 1840.

Such is the history as traced from the family records—a tale of hard-working, honest people, who were easily led, when they knew the way to be the right one, but firm as a rock against evil doing. The descendants of the early pioneer are scattered to many different parts of the world, but wherever met with they are known as worthy and eminently respectable people.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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