Lewis B. Turner lived a long life in Union County. Born in 1852, he was a child when the War Between the States raged.
In fact, it was his recollections of the hard times during that conflict that one of his favorite stories was based. He liked to tell how he was hanged twice in the same day and survived.
A Home Guard group went to the Turner home in the Dooly District demanding shirts and pants. Lewis’s father stood up to the Home Guard and said to them, “If there’s a gentleman in this group, you will return the clothes.” Their captain, not wanting to be mislabled “dishonest,” commanded his men to return the clothes.
Mr. Turner took them and after the Home Guard left, he hid the clothes in a safe place. Later some of the men came back and demanded of young Lewis Turner that he show then where the clothes were hidden. The lad refused to reveal the hiding place.
For his non-cooperation, they placed a rope about the 10-year old lad’s neck, threw it over a ceiling joist and began to tighten the rope. When he was almost choked to death, the ruffians let the boy down to his feet. Again they questioned him and demanded that he get the pants and shirts for them. He refused and they made a second attempt to hang him. They lowered him again after his adamant response that he would die before he told the secret hiding place of the men’s clothes. Finally the Home Guard went away and let the tough little fellow alone.
The Home Guard was hard on the Turner family because Lewis’s older brother had joined the Union Army. The whole family held Union loyalties. When his brother was attempting to come home on furlough, the Home Guard killed him.
In 1908 when Buddy Turner was 56 years of age, he founded the Lewner post office in the Dooly District. Needing a name for the new post office, he decided to name it for himself by taking the first syllable of his given name and the last syllable of his last name. The new post office was thus named Lewner. It was located about a mile from the Fannin County line alongside Dooly Creek. For thirty-eight years, until March 12, 1937, he was postmaster. He took care of the mail for about 100 families within the radius of the post office. He was succeeded by Miss Zelma Auberry who served for 18 years until the post office was closed February 15, 1955 and the mail was routed through the Loving post office in nearby Fannin County.
Buddy Turner was not one to travel far from his home. He was content to farm his acres and exchange the time of day and talk politics with his post office clientele. But the time came when Uncle Buddy had to go to the big city of Atlanta. It was the time of prohibition and the revenue officers were seeking to find and flush out the illegal whiskey operations hidden in mountain hollows and coves.
Buddy Turner was a witness to a case brought to trial for a man accused of producing moonshine liquor. The trial was held in Federal Court in Atlanta. Uncle Buddy had to go to Atlanta and give testimony. He didn’t tell whether the government or the moonshiner won the case. Life in the big city seemed foreign to the humble postmaster from Lewner, Georgia. He was glad to return to his mountain home following the trial.
Lewis C. “Buddy” Turner lived a life close to the soil. He delighted in seeing his gardens and crops produce well. He knew how to trap and snare animals. He hunted for deer, rabbits, squirrels and wild turkeys to help supplement his family’s farm-grown produce.
When he died August 12, 1949, he had lived though two world wars and could remember every war back to the Civil War that America had fought in. He lived to the ripe age of 96 and was interred in Oak Grove Cemetery in Dooly District not far from the place where he spent most of his life. The Lewner post office he founded continued to operate for over five years after his death. Those who went to Lewner to get their mail and post outgoing mail talked about the life and influence of Uncle Buddy Turner, a true mountain man.
c2004 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 29, 2004 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.