Last week we traced an early settler in Union County, Jarrett Turner (1806-1857) and his wife Sarah Collins Turner, who were residents of Union County when the first census was taken in 1834.
Today, we look at another Turner family who migrated to and settled in Union County a bit later than Jarrett Turner. The name of this early citizen was Bailis Earle Turner (1805-1899) who lived on Dooly Creek. When a portion of Union County was taken to form Fannin County in 1854, Bailis and his family were residents of the new county without having moved at all.
Were Jarrett and Bailis Turner related? Brothers, maybe? Or cousins? This writer does not know for sure. Both Jarrett and Bailis were born in South Carolina. Jarrett was the son of Micajah Turner, but in the genealogical records available so far concerning Bailis, they indicate that his father’s first name is unknown. However, we have found that Bailis’s grandfather was Captain George Turner (1738-1804) who was a Revolutionary War leader.
Bailis Turner claimed “Black Dutch” ancestry, stating that he descended from Protestant Germans who lived in the Black Forest area and migrated to America to escape religious persecution.
Bailis Turner was born in the Broad River section of northern Spartanburg County, SC. From Spartanburg, this family of Turners moved next to near the line of Buncombe County, North Carolina.
There Bailis met and married his first wife, Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Darnell, daughter of Daniel and Sarah Darnell. When the 1850 Union County, Georgia census was taken, Bailis was 44, his wife Elizabeth was 41, and they had children Avaline, 19, William, 17, Jesse, 14, and Leander, 11, all born in North Carolina. The last four listed were born in Georgia: Delila, 8, Murray, 5, Bailis, 3, and a baby, age 1 (also listed as Avaline—which raises the question: Did they name two daughters Avaline?). Betsy Turner died in 1851. Bailis married, second, his wife’s sister, Eleanor, called “Nellie.” Altogether, Bailis was the father of thirteen children.
In 1854, when a new county was formed, Bailis and his family were within the confines of Fannin County. The War Between the States saw this Turner family with divided loyalties. Son Jessie joined the Confederacy and lost his life in Atlanta in 1863. Miles and Murray went to Tennessee and enlisted in the US Army. Leander Marion Turner (Nov. 20, 1838-November 28, 1911) first enlisted in the Confederate Army. He deserted, and having changed his loyalty, went to Tennessee to join his brothers Miles and Murray and enlisted in the U. S. Army. William, born about 1833, was in the Southern army, loyal to the Confederacy.
When Murray, Miles and Leander were home on leave from the Union Army, they were out picking blackberries on their father’s farm. A roving band of raiders known as the Home Guard and led by Harrison Martin overtook them. Miles and Leander ran from the raiders and escaped. But Murray, hard of hearing, did not hear the approach of the ruffians. He was captured, killed, and his boots taken. Miles was later overtaken and captured. His friend in the Home Guard begged for mercy for Miles, and they let him go.
When the war was over, Miles Turner married, first, Amy Jane Patterson on January 9, 1868 in Fannin County, Georgia. The oldest marked grave in the Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery between Union and Fannin Counties is that of Amy Jane Turner (Feb. 10, 1855-March 17, 1896). Miles Turner married, second, on November 28, 1897 to Missouri Abercrombie (Nov. 4, 1865-Sept. 3, 1943). Miles was born November 22, 1846 and died May 8, 1937. He received a military pension for his service in the War Between the States. The 1910 census of Fannin County lists the children still at home with Miles and Missouri Turner as May, 20; Casey, 17; Homer, 11; Howard, 8; Hurman, 6, Hattie, 4, and baby Willie, newly born.
A younger son of Bailis and Nellie Turner was named Lewis (Nov. 12, 1852-Aug. 12, 1949). He was only twelve when a group of raiders went to the Turner house demanding to know where clothing and food were hidden. Others in the family had fled and young Lewis was left to confront and answer the raiders. He told them he would never reveal the hiding place of his family’s goods. The raiders tied a rope around Lewis Turner’s neck and strung him up to a joist on the porch of the Turner home. They let him down, thinking the punishment would force him to tell. The brave boy was adamant in not telling. He was strung up a second time, and the raiders left the boy hanging. As soon as the raiders were gone, his mother and sisters came out of hiding and gently lowered the boy and revived him. “Uncle Buddy” Turner as he was known in his later years often told the story of how he was hung twice in the same day and survived to tell the story.
This same Lewis Turner, “Uncle Buddy” got a permit and opened the Lewner Post Office in Union County near the Fannin County line. He named the mail site Lewner, using the first syllable of his first name and the last syllable of his last name. It opened April 21, 1908 and operated through February 15, 1955. He was buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery.
The ancestors of Bailis Turner endured the rigors of the Black Forest in Germany and persecution that led them to come to America to seek freedom. His grandfather, Captain George Turner, fought bravely to win America’s independence from Great Britain. Bailis Turner and his family endured the black times of the Civil War as they farmed and tried to keep a divided loyalties family together. Throughout Union, Fannin and beyond are descendants of this family who have distinguished themselves in many walks of life by exemplifying characteristics of determination and courage.
c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Aug. 13, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.