Thursday, January 12, 2012

Susan Turpin, 13th Child

Susan "Susie" Turpin Brown
This is one of the heart-breaking stories in the Turpin family and I found myself procrastinating when it became Susan’s turn to have her story posted in the TurpinTraces blog. 

Susie was born on 24 February 1879 – the thirteenth child of Newt Turpin but the first in the family to be born in Nebraska.   At that time the Turpins’ land was in Nebraska’s Unorganized Territory.  In the 1880 census the Turpins are listed on the first page of the Enumeration District. 

1880 Census - Unorganized Territory, State of Nebraska

The first half of the family is on the first page, the remainder on the second page.  Susie is shown with older brother Jim and her step-sisters Nancy and Hannah.

Susan is the first Turpin child born in Nebraska

Susie married Benjamin Oscar Brown.  Ben was a farmer and also worked on bridge construction. He was born 31 March 1884.  According to a newspaper account on Nov 7, 1902, they were married at the home of Forney Fox by the Rev. Elmo M. Kellar of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Their marriage is listed in the early marriage records of Rock County.

  Certificate #328
  Marriage Date 5 November 1902

  Benjamin Brown, 22
    Born in Nebraska
    Son of William and Margaret Lewis Brown

  Susie Turpin, 19
    Born in Nebraska
    Daughter of Robert and Mary Leonard Turpin

Ben and Susie had two children – Beulah and Harold.  But the family’s life together was tragic and short.  Susie died at age 39.

Because the Browns lived in Schuyler, not very near the rest of the Turpin family, the full story of Susie's death was never known.  However it was told that Ben and Susie fought that morning on the day she died.  The children, then 13 and 11 years old, were sent off to school and out of harm’s way.  Susie was then injured.  When the children came home, they found their mother lying dead in a pool of blood. 

She died 5 March 1917.  Newspaper accounts tersely reported that she died suddenly of heart trouble.   Her obituary read:


    Mrs. Ben Brown, nee Susan Turpin, died at Schuyler Monday March 5, following a sudden attack of heart trouble.  The sad news reached her brothers here, Charles, James, and Will, by telegram, and the latter two were present at the funeral services at Schuyler Wednesday.

    Susan Turpin was born thirty-four years ago to Mr. and Mrs. Newton Turpin, pioneers on the Niobrara river north of Newport.  She leaves to mourn her loss her husband, a daughter  Beulah Beatrice Brown,  thirteen years old and a son  Harold Brown,  of eleven years; her mother, Mrs. J. E. Estlack of Haigler, Neb.; five brothers, Charles, James, John and Will of this place, and Newton of Haigler; and four sisters, Nellie of Haigler, Polly Pitman and Julia Gerrick of Boise City, Idaho and Lettie Alfred of Omaha.

After Susie’s death, her children Beulah and Harold were raised by their Uncle Will and Aunt Jennie Turpin.  Years later on Susie’s birthday, her son Harold would commit suicide.  He had been haunted for years with guilt about going to school and leaving his mother to be murdered.    

I once spoke with Susie’s grand-daughter Janice Haight Scholl about Susie and what had happened.  In recent years I have tried contacting Janice to go over the story that had been passed down through the family and make sure I had the details correct.  I have not been able to make the connection again!

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