1862: Squire Turner to William Stone Turner

This letter was written by Maj. Squire Turner (1793-1871)—a lifetime native of Richmond, Madison county, Kentucky, the son of Thomas Turner (1764-1847) and Catherine Patterson (1764-1813). Squire was an early-day lawyer in Kentucky and is said that he wrote every word of the 1849 State Constitution. He was an intimate friend of Daniel Boone and was named after Daniel’s brother, Squire Boone.

Squire was married to Elizabeth Stone (1800-1887) in 1819 and the couple had at least five children, two of whom were Richard Thomas Turner (1821-1900) and William Stone Turner (1825-1876) who are mentioned in this letter; the latter being the recipient of this 1862 letter. Another of his sons, Cyrus C. Turner (1819-1849) was killed in a knife fight with Cassius Clay, a brother of Henry Clay, in an altercation arising over the question of slavery. Squire was a major in the Kentucky militia. He was described as “a taciturn, workaholic with few hobbies or pleasures. He practiced law for over 50 years.” A prominent pro-slavery state politician, Squire Turner was order imprisoned without trial by the Lincoln Administration; his release was obtained by one of his former law students. At the time of the 1850 US Census, Squire Turner owned 29 slaves.

Squire wrote the letter to his son, William Stone Turner, who married Sarah (“Sally”) H. Calhoun in November 1864 in Daviess county, Indiana. In the 1870 US Census he was enumerated in Washington, Indiana, and employed as a “real estate agent.” It appears from this letter than William earned his living from government contracts during the Civil War.

The Squire Turner House (ca. 1835) still stand in Richmond, Kentucky. See also, “There is a Little Bit of Me in a Little Bit of You—A Black Woman Explains to a White Man…”We are Kin by Blood and Slavery.”

Addressed to Wm. S. Turner, Esq., Washington, Daviess County, Indiana

Richmond, Kentucky
November 2nd 1862

Wm. S. Turner
Dear Son,

The mails are now running and we have been anxiously looking for a letter from you or Sally. I have been at home since the 17th of September. The Federals injured my property and took from me about one thousand dollars worth. The Confederates have injured me fully as much. After taking my corn, eating up my provisions at the farm and at home, pulling down my fences again & again, they finally—when they went off—took my waggon, four mules and gear with the driver, and the next day took your Mother’s two carriage horses. Dan, the driver, ran away and got home in about a week. The other property is gone forever and not a cent of compensation from the Federals or Confederates. The latter robbed the whole country of horses, mules, cattle, bacon & waggons and this robbery was nearly all committed by troops raised in Kentucky.

I am gratified at the result of the elections in Indiana and other Northern States. It shows that the spirit of free men is not extinguished and have had a very wholesome effect in Kentucky. All parties are now speaking out against Lincoln’s administration and if the elections in the other free states go as we anticipate, everybody will breathe freer and the prospect of the termination of the war will be better.

We are all well and anxious to hear from you & your family and to know what you & Tom are doing in Government contracts.

There is a perfect stagnation of business in this state, and still no security for property. First class yearling mules are only selling for $40, colts $25, three year-olds fifteen hands high $50. [James Bennett] McCreary, my partner, has gone into the Confederate Army and I am very much in need of a young man to write for me &c. My particular respects to Sally, the children & Miss Etta. Also to Mr. Pierce.

Yours, — Squire Turner

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