Lowndes County Negroes Make Fine Showing – 1918

Lowndes County Training School

Several months ago I spent hours at the local Family Search Center looking through microfilmed property records trying to figure out how my 2X great grandfather, Joseph Turner became a land owner.  The only thing I found out was that he bought and sold some lots in Hayneville. I found nothing about the land he farmed, until I found the article below in a 1918 issue of The Emancipator. The article says that he owned 240 acres.

Joseph Turner died in February of 1919. In 1910, Joseph Turner was 62 years old and lived on his farm in Lowndes County, Alabama. His second wife Luella, was 29 and his four youngest children – John, Anna, Dan and Josephine were between the ages of seven to one years old. He owned the farm and it was mortgaged.

In 1920 Luella was 37.  She lived on the farm with her seven children, John (16), Annie (15), Dan (14), Buck (12), Elizabeth (9), Talmadge (7) and Selena (an infant). Two children, Josephine and Luella, died in 1915 and 1916.  Although Joseph Turner left Luella the land, there was a dispute about it between Luella and Alonza, Joseph’s youngest child from his first marriage and the only one from that union still living at the time. Soon afterwards, Luella and her children moved to Montgomery. I assume Alonza got the land, but I have no records.

From The Emancipator Montgomery, Ala, April 30, 1918

Joe Turner owned 240 acres of land in 1918

At the closing of the Lowndes County Training School for Negroes at Charity, Ala. a few days ago many startling facts concerning the progress and development of the school and the colored patrons in that community were made known to the public.  This promising school of which Prof. S.T. Wilson is principal, was established about two years ago.  The institute has three splendid buildings. The colored people of the community raised $1,025 including labor and the cost of the land. The balance came from the Rosenwald School Fund, through Prof. Booker T. Washington, Jr., and the state of Alabama. One two-story building, costing $2,350 was dedicated 1916 by former Spt. Fagain, Dr. James L. Sibley, Probate Judge J.C. Wood, and others. The school also has a two-story frame teachers home worth $1,500 donated by Fisher of Nshvile, and a one story frame trades building, costing $500, donated by the Slater Fund.

The school has an enrollment of 147 boys and 129 girls, taught by five teachers.

According to Dr. A.F. Owens of Selma University, who preached the annual sermon at the recent closing of the Lowndes County Training School, within a radius of four miles, there are 43 patrons who own a total of 6,259 acres of land ranging from 2 acres of land to 1,000. Amont thes land owners are the following:

  • The McCords, who own 1,000 acres
  • Mary Ross, 500 acres.
  • The Brooks estate, 500 acres.
  • S. Dandridge, 310 Acres.
  • Chisholm Brothers 250 acres.
  • Joe Turner 240 acres.

Joe Turner Land Transaction – August 11, 1868

On my first trip to the local Family Search Center several weeks ago, the microfilm machine broke as the second roll of film was being loaded. I was afraid the ancient machine would never be fixed so that I could continue my research. Earlier this week the volunteer at the center called to let me know that the machine had been repaired.  I made an appointment to look at more film of my 2X great grandfather, Joe Turner’s land transactions.

It was hot and there was no air conditioning, although I heard what sounded like an air conditioner. Watching the microfilm scroll by made me feel queasy again. Deed book “I”, the first roll I looked through, yielded no information about Joe Turner.

Index Click to enlarge

I had been at the Center almost two and a half hours and decided to go through one more roll before I left. Chewing a new piece of gum to combat the nausea, I began to go through roll “F”, which contained the earliest dated land deal for Joe Turner. It covered from 1860 to 1871.  I was not very hopeful, but scrolled slowly through the index and found that Joe Turner’s transaction was on pages 438 and 439. Slowly scrolling through the microfilm, I learned that a complete rotation of the scrolling handle, took me through 30 pages.

Finally, I arrived at the pages I wanted. As I began to read, the volunteer came in and asked if I realized how long I had been there.  I did, about two and a half hours. She had an appointment elsewhere and I had to stop. I quickly took multiple photos of the two pages, hoping they would come out to be readable. It is difficult for me to take good photographs because of the setup of the microfilm machine.

When I got home, I uploaded the photos to see if there was anything readable. Page 439 was pretty good, but the several shots of page 438, the most important page, were blurred, or my hand with the phone blocked half of the words.  Looking carefully, I was able to transcribe the page, although the bottom left corner was indecipherable.

This morning I got up and opened a couple of the photos in Photoshop to see if I could fill in some blanks in my transcription. I did not see it but, a very readable image of page 438 came up. The Ancestors at work?  Below are those pages and the transcriptions.

State of Alabama}

Lowndes County }

Know all men by these presence in pursuance of the  direction after and of the Probate Court of said County to me this day granted and in consideration of the sum of ninety dollars paid by Joe Turner to Sarah S Givens formerly administrator of the Estate of George Givens deceased – proof which payment has been made I Thomas S Herbert administrator de bonis mon of the estate of said George Givens deceased – have bargained sold and conveyed and do by these presents bargain sell and convey to the said Joe Turner the following described lot or parcel of land to wit: All that portion of land lying west of the lot formerly owned by D C Whipley now owned by me Thomas S Herbert, – and street running North and South by John P Streety’s residence and all of the portion of land lying South of said lot (formerly Whipley now mine) and South of Mrs. Hunters lot – in the town of Hayneville County and State aforesaid, to have and to hold the aforesaid granted premises above (Can’t read) the said Joe Turner and his heirs and assigns forever. Witness my hand and seal this 11th day of August 1868 Thomas S Herbert {seal}

The State of Alabama}

Lowndes County}

  I J.V. McDuffie Probate Judge of said County  certify that Thomas S. Herbert whose name signed to the foregoing conveyance and who is known to me acknowledged before me on this day that being informed of the contents of the conveyance he executed the same voluntary on the day the same bears date. Given under my hand this 11 day of August 1868 J V McDuffie J.P.L.C. The foregoing is a true copy of the original Instrument recorded for record and recorded this 13th day of August 1868.               JV McDuffie

Judge of Probate

________________________________

Unfortunately there was no drawing of this property, but from the description, I wonder if this is the same piece of land that he sold in 1872 described here Joe Turner & Wife Emma Turner Convey Land 1872.

Next week I go back and hope to successfully view the last two rolls of film.  Maybe I will have time to look at Deed Book “I” again.

Joe Turner Constable -1871, Lowndes County Alabama

In 2003 I purchased a copy of the book “Lowndes Court House – A Chronicle of Hayneville, an Alabama Black Belt Village 1820 – 1900”, a book of reminiscences by  Mildred Brewer Russell. In the chapter “Reconstruction And After, 1865 – 1900 I found my great great grandfather, Joe Turner, mentioned as one of the Negro (sic) politicians.  After that I tried to find what sort of politician he was, what office he held.  I could not find anything.

From “LowndesCourt House – A chronicle of Hayneville – an Alabama Black Belt Village 1820- 1900” Page 127 By Mildred Brewer Russell

Last week on Ancestry.com, I found the following information. Joe Turner was elected as constable on November 7, 1871.

Google defined a constable as “…a peace officer with limited policing authority, typically in a small town.”

In 1874 Reconstruction ended in Alabama, resulting in loss of voting rights and the ability to hold elected office for black people.

Here is an interesting timeline that traces how the right to vote and hold public office was taken away from black men in Lowndes and neighboring counties. “The More You Know: A History …”  It wasn’t until 1970, 99 years from 1871, that African American John Hulett was elected  sheriff in Lowndes County.

You can read more about Joe Turner in these posts:

Timeline for Joe Turner

Joe Turner in the 1853 Probate Record for Wiley Turner

Joe Turner, Land, Mules and Courts

Emma and Joe Turner of Gordensville, Lowndes County

Joseph Turner’s Will

There were at one time 4 flourishing schools…

 

Two Coffins Betsy and Austin – 1859, Estate of Wiley Turner

Betsy was about 26 years old when she was listed with her daughter Caroline in the inventory of the estate of Wiley Turner. It was February 2, 1852. Betsy and Caroline were valued at $800.00. On the list below them were eight year old Phillis ($375) and three year old Peggy ($225). They seem to be a family group.

Further down the page Austin is listed. He was 16 years old and valued at $800.

Two pages from the 4 page list of the enslaved on the Wiley Turner plantation. Joe, age 15 was my 2X great grandfather.

On January 26 and 27 of 1859, Betsy was visited by Doctor Pritchett. The cost of the visits was $2.50. On February 6 and 7, Doctor Pritchett visited Austin.

On January 29, 1859 a coffin was purchased for Betsy.  She was 29. On February 8, 1859  A coffin was purchased for Austin. He was 22. Each coffin cost $5. I do not know what they died of.

I found the two coffins listed in the estate file among a list of payments given out from the estate in early 1859. If I had not gone page by page through the file, I would have missed these, as I did when I looked through it last year and only looked for lists of the enslaved.

I found all of these documents in the Estate file of Wiley Turner, deceased, on Ancestry.com.  My 2 X great grandfather, Joe Turner came off of this plantation. Click on the documents to enlarge.

Joseph Turner’s Will

While looking for a death record on Ancestry for Elizabeth Turner, daughter of Joseph and Luella Turner, instead I found the Will of her father, my 2X great grandfather, Joseph Turner of Lowndes County, Alabama.  I had looked for his Will before without finding it.  Below are the Will and a transcription.

will-book-d-lowndes-blog
The Will of Joseph Turner appears in Will Book D,page 248,  Lowndes County, Alabama.

joe-turner-last-will-testament-blogjoe-turner-last-will-page-2blog

Will of Joseph Turner

State of Alabama County of Lowndes

Know all men by these presents that, I, Joseph Turner, of said county of Lowndes, being in good health, and of sound mind, realizing the uncertainty of life, and wishing to provide for my younger children during their minority, do make this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time made.

First

I will that ll my just debts be paid by my executrix here – in after named, as soon after my death as she can conveniently pay.

Second

I give, devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Luella Turner all of my estate, both real, personal and mixed in Trust for the use and benefit of herself and my minor children, during their minority, equally, until my youngest child then living shall have reached the age of twenty-one years.

Third

After my youngest child then living, shall have arrived at the age of twenty one years, my will is, that all of my estate of every description be divided equally, share and share alike, between my said wife, Luella Turner and all my children, and in the event any of my said children die, before such division takes place, leaving a child or children, him or her surviving, then such share as my said child should have received if living, shall go to his or her children.

Fourth

I do nominate and appoint my said wife, Luella Turner to be the executrix of this my last will and testament without band. Expressly exempting her from all liability to any person or court for any misuse of any personal property belonging to my estate, and for any and all rents which may accrue during the said minority of my youngest then living child. Except, my said wife again marry, in that event, and from the date of such marrying again by my said wife Luella, she shall be held strictly accountable for the proper use and distribution of my estate as herein before set out.

In testimony whereof I set my hand and seal, this 11 day of December 1909.

Joseph (his mark X) Turner (Seal)

Signed, sealed and published as his last will and testament by the said Joseph turner in our presence, and we in his presence, and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses, at his request, on this the 11 day of December 1909.

Jos. R. Bell

S.M. Salley

Filed for Probate in office this the March 10, 1919

W.H. Lee,

Judge of Probate Court

Testimony of Joseph R Bell.

The State of Alabama, Lowndes County } Probate Court

In the matter of the Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Joseph Turner Deceased.

Before me, W.H. Lee, Judge of Probate Court in and for the County and State aforesaid, personally appeared in open Court Jos. R. Bell, who having been by me first duly sworn and examined, did and doest depose and say that he and S.M. Salley subscribing witnesses to the forgoing instrument of writing now shown to the said affiant and which purports to be the last Will and Testament of Joseph Turner, deceased, lat an inhabitant of this count; that the said Joseph Turner since deceased signed and executed said instrument on the day the same bears date, and declared the same to be his last will and testament, and that affiant set his signature thereto, on the day the same bears date, as a subscribing witness to the same, in the presence of said testator and at his request, and in the presence of each other, and that said testator was of sound mind and disposing memory and understanding, and, in the opinion of affiant, fully capable of making his said will at the time the same was so made as aforesaid. And deposent further states that said testator was, on the day of the date of said will, of the full age of twenty-one years and upward and a resident of this county.

Jos. R. Bell

Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 28 day of April W. D. 1919.

W.H. Lee

Judge Probate Court, Lowndes County

Filed in office April 28 – 1919:  The State of Alabama, W.H. Lee Judge of Probate

Lowndes County,    I, W.H. Lee, Judge of the Probate Court in and for the county and State aforesaid, do hereby certify that the within instrument of writing has this day in said court and before me as the Judge thereof been duly proven by the testamony of Jas. R. Bell subscribing witness, to be the genuine last will and testament of Joseph Turner, deceased and that said will, together with the proof thereof, has been recorded in my office in Book No D of Wills at page 248.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said Probate Court on this the 28th Day of April A.D. One thousand nine hundred and nineteen.

W.H. Lee Judge Probate Court Lowndes County