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Capt. J.M. Turner - Old Time Riverman


Posted By: Dianne Krogh (email)
Date: 8/10/2008 at 07:19:44


Capt. J. M. Turner,
As he looked in the early 70s when he came to Lansing to reside and has ever since been actively identified with its business interests. He passed his 88th milestone in life Dec. 24th, 1925 and our mention of it was copied in the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald of Saturday last and illustrated with the above cut, which was a very good likeness of him at the time and which the paper kindly allows us to reproduce.

~Handwritten note on newspaper clipping: Journal 1926 - January
~photo at bottom is from the above article

A Brief biography
Jeremiah M. Turner was born December 24, 1837 in Dubuque, Iowa. His parents were Morris Turner, born in England, and Bridget Kelly, born in Ireland. He married Mary (unknown surname), b. ca1843/1844 in Dubuque. Her parents were of German descent. In 1874 he built a victorian-style residence on Front street in Lansing, but they lived there only part time until the 1890's.

Jerry & Mary had 3 daughters: Paulina (b. ca1862), Julia (1864-1887) and Lillie (1875-1966), all born in Minnesota.

While living in Reads Landing, Minnesota, J.M. Turner engaged in towing logs and lumber on the Upper Mississippi, between St. Paul and St. Louis.

He established the first pearl button factior in Lansing, opening in May, 1899. He continued his involvement in the factory well into his 80's. It was superintended by his grandson, Leo Hufschmidt, who had been raised by J.M. & Mary when his mother Julia died the same year he was born. Mary Turner died between in 1904 and J.M. lived with Leo for the remainder of his life.

Written in the 1920's, 'Memories of a Raft Pilot' by Capt. Turner, takes a look at his life on the Mississippi during the later years of lumbering when rafts were towed down the Mississippi by steamboats. According to the reminiscences, his river activities began in 1858 and continued until 1903 - a period of nearly a half century. He tells of steamboat and raft piloting; about rivermen, steamboat men, lumber agents; and storms and disasters on the great Mississippi.

In 1924, Capt. Turner proposed the building of a nine-foot waterway from Green bay to McGregor by way of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers: "The Fox river runs to Green bay and the Wisconsin enters the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. The French voyagers took this route when they discovered the Mississippi in 1673 and Capt. Turner says a nine-foot waterway the length of it could be made and maintained at minimum cost." (Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 1924)

In 'A Raft Pilot's Log', by Capt. Walter A. Blair (1929), Capt. Turner is described as ".... a close manager and a careful, skillful, cautious
pilot. He made good average time and delivered his rafts in excellent condition when and where they were wanted." and "... proved his merit by his work and quit the river with a competency, which he did not lose when he went ashore but increased it by successful enterprise since."

Capt. J.M. 'Jerry' Turner died May 6, 1928 in Lansing at age 91. He is buried in Oak Hill cemetery.

~biography compiled by S. Ferrall from the sources noted, census records & records found on the Allamakee co. IAGenWeb site.



Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

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