Do you have biographies you would like to share?
PETER TURNEY, SR.
(Biography included because of tie to the Garner Family in Colorado County)
Soldier's grave in City Cemetery, Winchester, Tennessee #354 & #355
Colonel Turney's sketch in William S. Speer's Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans, published Nashville, Tennessee, 1888, pages 472-474:
A big man in every way, in physical proportions, in heart, in brain, in conscience, a man of the highest order of intellectual and legal ability, of lofty courage and unspotted integrity, few public men in Tennessee are so well known as the Hon. Peter Turney, of Winchester, now one of the Supreme judges of the State. Moreover, his square common sense and his great natural ability, as well as his profound legal erudition, enable him, almost without effort, to arrive at conclusions and positions that most other men have to labor to reach. Of warm sympathy, the outgrowth of a gentle heart and a brave, manly and chivalric nature, it has often been said of him that, if his legal decisions ever vary from the strict letter of the law, it is only when the rights of an unfortunate widow or helpless orphan children are involved. Humanum est errare--yet if he ever errs it is on the side of humanity.
Judge Peter Turney is a native of Jasper, Marion county, Tennessee, was born September 22, 1827, and is the son of Hon. Hopkins L. Turney, one of Tennessee's most distinguished statesmen of ante bellum times, and when "there were giants in those days." Peter Turney received a fair English education at Winchester, Tennessee, and had so advanced in mathematics and kindred studies that, when only seventeen years old, he was a surveyor, on his own account, six months in Franklin county. After this he studied law in his father's office from June 22, 1845, until his father's election to the United States senate the same year. He then studied in the office of Maj. William E. Venable, at Winchester, and September 22, 1848, was licensed to practice by Hon. Andrew J. Marchbanks and Hon. Nathan Green, sr. [sic], the latter then of the Supreme court. After admission to the Winchester bar, he practiced with his father until his father's death, August 1, 1857. He then formed partnership with his brother, Miller F. Turney, and practiced with him until the breaking out of the war, in 1861.
When the war came on, being an ardent southerner and in full sympathy with the secession cause, he entered the Confederate army. He was elected colonel of the First Confederate Tennessee regiment of infantry and on many of the bloody, storm-rent fields of the South he gallantly led "Turney's regiment" to victory. Attached to the brigade of Gen. Robert Hatton (afterward Archer's Tennessee brigade), he fought through the Virginia and Maryland campaigns until the Appomattox surrender. He bore brave and conspicuous part in the battles of Seven Pines, May 31 and June 1, 1862, the second battle at Manassas, Cedar Run, Harper's Ferry, Antietam, Sharpsburg and Fredericksburg, and numerous other engagements of less note.
At Fredericksburg he was wounded in the mouth by a shot which took away all his upper teeth, two of his lower ones, and a part of his tongue, which causes him to this day to lisp a little, makes his articulation a little difficult, but this is only noticeable to those who are aware of the fact. He was also shot in the battles of Seven Pines and Antietam, but no seriously disabled.
He remained colonel of his regiment, but in August, 1863, was assigned to duty in Florida. Later in the same year he was appointed to the command of the eastern district of Florida, and commanded the Confederate forces in a battle on Three Mile creek.
He was recommended by Gens. Robert E. Lee, A.P. Hill and James J. Archer for promotion, but as Col. Turney and President Davis were not on friendly terms he was not raised to a higher rank.
Returning to Winchester, when the war was over, without means, except a house and lot, he resumed his law business and continued in practice there until September 1, 1870, when he went on the Supreme bench of Tennessee, the position he now holds. His first election as Supreme judge was in August, 1870, as the nominee of the State Democratic convention; his re-election occurred in August, 1878, and was without opposition. The salary attached to the Supreme judgeship is four thousand dollars per annum, and, financially, he is now in very comfortable circumstances.
Though not in active politics, Judge Turney is an hereditary Democrat. In 1854, he was a Democratic candidate for attorney-general of his circuit, but was beaten by Gen. George J. Stubblefield, now of Nashville. In 1860, he was alternate elector on the Breckinridge ticket. In 1861, he was elected as a secessionist to represent Franklin county in the State convention, but the convention never met. In 1876, his friends nominated him before the Legislature for United States senator, to fill the unexpired term of Andrew Johnson, deceased, but he was defeated by Hon. James E. Bailey.
He became a Mason in 1857; is also a Knight of Pythias and a Knight of Honor. Both he and his present wife are members of the Protestant Episcopal church.
Judge Turney has been twice married. First, at Winchester, June 10, 1851, to Miss Cassandra Garner, daughter of Thomas H. Garner, of a North Carolina family, a large farmer in Franklin county, Tennessee, and representative of that county in the State Legislature several times. He died in 1881 [sic, should be 1879], aged eighty-three years. His father, Thomas Garner, was a pioneer settler in that section and died at the age of ninety-five [sic, should be ninety-three]; a well read man, of strong, quick mind, aspiring to nothing but respectability and industry. Mrs. Turney's mother, was Eliza Wadlington, of a Kentucky family. She died in 1883 [sic, should be 1882], at the age of seventy-five. Mrs. Turney (the first) died March 28, 1857, at the age of twenty-one, leaving three children. (1). Thomas Turney, died March 3, 1874. (2). Virginia C. Turney. (3). Hopkins L. Turney.
Judge Turney's next marriage, which occurred in Marion county, Tennessee, April 27, 1858, was with Miss Hannah F. Graham, who was born in Jackson county, Tennessee, daughter of John Graham, a large farmer, a native of Pennsylvania, one of three brothers, one of whom settled in Pennsylvania, one in Virginia and one in North Carolina. Mrs. Turney's mother, nee Miss Aletha Roberts, of Davidson county, Tennessee, was a relative of the Buchanans of Davidson, and of the Ridleys of Rutherford county. By this marriage Judge Turney has nine children, Teresa, Peter, jr. [sic], Aletha, Samuel, Lowndes, James, Woodson, Hannah F. [sic] and Miller Francis.
Judge Turney's father, the Hon. Hopkins L. Turney, was one of the ablest and most remarkable men Tennessee ever produced. He was a native of Smith county, born in October, 1797. He never attended school a day in his life, and not until the age of twenty-two could he write his name. But he was of wonderful native ability, vigorous innate talent, and by force of close application and study by what means he could, he conquered obstacles and rose to eminence as a self-made man. He began practicing law at Jasper, Tennessee, in 1825; married in May, 1826; remained at Jasper until February, 1828, when he removed to Winchester, where he practiced law and lived on a farm near town. He represented Marion county in the Tennessee Legislature one term, and Franklin county several terms. From 1837 to 1843 (six years), he was a member of Congress; from 1845 to 1851, he was United States senator from Tennessee. He was a soldier in the war of 1812-14. He was a man of extraordinary natural abilities, a spirited man, a man of leonine courage, "but as gentle as a woman" in the kindliness of his nature. Of great energy, he did with all his might what he had to do, and would never quit until he accomplished it. He was a recognized leader of the Democratic party during his life. He died August 1, 1857.
Judge Turney's grandfather, Peter Turney, came from Germany. He was the son of a German mother but of a French father. He died leaving a large estate, which was wasted by administrators.
The Hon. Samuel Turney, Judge Turney's uncle, was a leading lawyer in Middle Tennessee in his day. He represented White county several times in the Legislature, and was, at one time, speaker of the Tennessee State senate. Judge Turney's oldest uncle, James Turney, had the reputation of being a leading lawyer at Chicago and at Tyler, Texas, at which latter place he died in 1864.
Judge Turney's mother, originally Miss Teresa Francis, was born in Rhea county, Tennessee, December 9, 1809, the daughter of Miller and Hannah Francis. Her mother was the daughter of William Henry, of a Virginia family. Judge Turney's mother died September 5, 1879. She was a woman of great energy and a fine economical manager, and frequently had to manage the farm while her husband was in politics and in Congress.
Sprung from such sturdy ancestry, Judge Turney's early training, as was to be expected, was of the best. It made him a close student in early life, and fastened upon him studious habits that have followed him to maturer manhood. He has stuck close to his profession, kept to his office, and paid but little attention to anything else. Thus inspired by the example of his father, he has made a success.
Physically, Judge Turney is a man who would attract attention in any assembly. He is six feet three inches in height, stands very erect, is portly and stately, and though weighing two hundred and sixty pounds, is a man of fine proportions. His eyes are blue, hair light, voice soft and kindly; his enunciation deliberate. He is a witty, good natured man, loves a good joke and knows how to laugh with his soul.
Submitted by Joy Gallagher
Return to Colorado County Biographies