Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Dislike for Slavery and a Longing for a New Country

The recent emails with Rich Swearingen and a discussion about Goochey's claim that Newt Turpin might have been a "rebel sharpshooter" took me back into my early research files for this excerpt from a 1956 Greene County, Iowa publication. 
Their aversion to slavery, their residence in northern Iowa, and their son serving for the Union Army would point away from any rebel ties.  Newt was in his 40s during the Civil war and raising a large family. 
But Newt indeed may have had the skills of a sharpshooter.  After all, he survived a lot of frontier experiences.  In the case of Goochey, he just didn't expect his neighbor to walk over and shoot him with a musket. 

Families of Rippey, published in 1956, pg. 106-107:

Newton Turpen -- One of the earliest settlers of Washington Township, Greene county, Iowa, was the Newton Turpen family who settled here in 1855. Newton Turpen was born near Richmond, Virginia, June 10, 1821, and his wife, Elizabeth Lowry Turpen, was born there on January 13, 1823. They spent their youth near Richmond and were married at an early age. Early in her life Elizabeth’s father had become a slave holder, over the protests of his wife. Thus, Elizabeth, agreeing with her mother, was raised with a secret hatred of slavery.
After their marriage her dislike for slavery and her husband’s longing for a new country led them to decide to come west, so they packed their few possessions and came to Indiana by wagon train. Here they lived for some time before moving to Illinois. Not seeming to do as well financially as they wished, they again decided to move -- this time to Iowa. When their youngest child was three weeks old, they loaded their goods into wagons and set out. This was a long, hard journey, marked by the tragedy of Newton Turpen’s mother dying and being buried in a lonely grave by the wayside. They came by way of Des Moines, then a small fort, and on across country to Greene County where they built their first log house on the farm in northwest Washington Township. This farm is now owned by their granddaughter, Mrs. Ocy Dorris. Later Mr. Turpen bought a farm about a half a mile west and lived there. Besides breaking the prairie sod and farming, Newton Turpen served as blacksmith in the pioneer settlement. Mrs. Turpen spent long hours of the day at her loom weaving cloth from the wool they had taken from their own sheep. The children of the family spent many lonely days on the prairie guarding the sheep from the wolves that were always ready to prey upon them. It was not unusual for him to load what produce they might have to sell into the wagon and make the long overland trip to Des Moines to sell the produce and bring back supplies. Newton and Elizabeth Turpen raised a family of eight children, 7 daughters and one son.
The only son, Thomas Benton Turpen enlisted in the army when Lincoln called for volunteers in 1861. He was among 32 volunteers from Greene County. His brief military record on file in the State Adjutant General’s Office showed that he enlisted in Co. H., 10th Inf., Iowa Vol., August 23, 1861, was mustered into service September 7, and died of measles on December 25, 1861, on his 18th birthday. He was buried in the National Cemetery near Mound City, Illinois. Although the exact grave has not been found, officials state that he must have been buried in one of the many marked unknown. Elizabeth Lowery Turpen passed away January 26, 1872, and was buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. Newton Turpen moved on west to Nebraska and was buried there.
Of this large family, only Annie, who married Wm. Turpen, and Emmazetta, who married John Groves, remained in Washington Township to raise their families and spend their lives. The other daughters were: Margaret who married Wilson Van Horn, Sally married Warfield Paul, Amanda married Wm. Porter, Elizabeth married Joe Bell and Hannah married Douglas Bell.
William Turpen was born January 20, 1844, in a log cabin in Owen County, near Spencer, Indiana, and died May 18, 1923, at his home near Rippey, Iowa. At the age of 20 he became possessed of he spirit of Greeley, "Go West, young man, go West". So he left Indiana by rail and made the trip as far as Keokuk, then traveled by stage coach to Des Moines. He started to make the rest of the way to Greene County on foot when he was overtaken by a stranger who kindly asked him to take a ride. This man proved to be "Uncle" Sammy Rhoad who was on his way from Des Moines, the nearest trading post at that time.
The first year in Greene County, William made his home with his uncle, Nate Turpen. His parents and brothers came to Washington Township the following year. With the exception of one year spent in Arkansas, Washington Township was always his home.
On March 10, 1869, he was united in marriage to Anna Turpen. To this union were born five children: James, Mary, Susie, Kate and Carrie. James died in infancy and Mary Turpen Thornley died November 24, 1895, one year after her marriage to Frank Thornley.
Susie married John Underwood and to this union were born two children, Walter and Bessie. Walter married Bertha Marks and they had two children, Beryl and Ruby. Beryl married Betty Willenen and their four children are Gari, Gretta, Linda and Billy. Ruby married Ronald Marshall and had one son, Rodney. She afterwards married Paul Metzler. (Rodney went by the Metzler name)
Bessie Underwood married Lew Martin of Rippey and now lives on the original Wm. Turpen farm 3 miles west of Rippey and is the third generation of Turpens to live on this farm. Their son, Dale Lewis Martin, gave his life in the service of his country in the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. Kate Turpen never married and is now deceased.
Carrie Turpen married Orrie Thornburg of Rippey and they had six children; Mildred, Glen, Catherine, Raymond, Wilbur and Delmer. Glen married Reva Percell and they live in Dawson, Iowa. Catherine married Frank Cannon and they with their children, Francis and Virgene, live in Perry, Iowa. Raymond married Dorothy Alexander and they have no children. Wilber lost his life in Italy during the Second World War.
At his death Mr. Turpen owned 260 acres of well improved Washington Township land. Mr. Turpen paid for the first 80 acres of land he purchased by trapping prairie chickens and shipping them to the Chicago market.
On July 2, 1925, Delmer Thornburg was drowned in the Raccoon River while in swimming with other boys. This tragedy took place in the Pleasant Hill vicinity near where the family lived at that time.

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