|1872 Nebraska Map|
When the Turpin Family arrived in Nebraska in 1878, there was no Rock County.
According to family stories James Robert Turpin, the third child of Robert Newton and Mary Ellen (Leonard) Turpin, was born in Iowa in April 1877 and celebrated his first birthday in Nebraska. A history of Rock County From Oxcarts to Orbits: A Brief History of Rock County, Nebraska and Its People, published by Diamond Jubilee Committee in 1962, backs up this story.
Chippewa Robinson and Newton Turpin settled in April 1878 with their families in what is now Rock County, Nebraska. Newton’s land was located just west of where Willow Creek joins the Niobrara River. There had been only a few settlers there before them and Newton and Chippewa were the first to break the soil and plant crops.
Mary Ellen must have been a trooper to take off for a homesteading adventure in Unorganized Territory with one-year-old Jim and two other children under the age of five -- Francis Charles Turpin (born 1874) and Julia Turpin (born 1875). Mary Ellen was 22 years old then. She did have some help. Newt's two youngest daughters from his first wife Sarah Elizabeth Lowery accompanied them to Nebraska -- Nancy Elizabeth Turpin (born 1861) and Hannah Catherine Turpin (born 1864).
The 1880 census of Nebraska shows the family in the Unorganized Territory of Nebraska and by the time of the 1885 Nebraska State Census the area is referred to as the Kirkwood Precinct of Rock County.