John H. Tureman

From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 614-616, a reprinted by Stevens Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
  John H. Tureman. Mr. Tureman's father, in the year 1827, emigrated to what is now Cass county, with his family, which then comprised a wife and seven children. He purchased from a man named Myers a claim to a tract of Government land, and some time later, as soon as he could obtain the money, entered the same direct from the Government. It is the same that is now owned by the subject of this sketch. There was then a log cabin on the place, having in it neither sawed lumber nor nails; the boards on the roof were rived by hand and held in place by weight-poles; those of the floor were split and one side hewed smooth, called "puncheons," about six feet in length. The chimney was built of earth and sticks on the end and outside of the building. And it was in this humble abode that John H. Tureman was born. The family occupied this dwelling about four years, when Mr. Tureman erected a story-and-a-half frame house, one of the first frame dwellings in the county. The lumber for this structure was all sawed by hand, as there was no sawmill in the country. A platform was constructed, on which the logs were rolled, and two men operated the saw, what was called a "whip saw," one man standing above, the other below. The father was a resident of this place until his death, in June, 1835, when he was aged about fifty-two years. His wife survived him many years, dying in 1868, aged seventy-nine years. Her maiden name was Elizabeth Harbold, and she was born in Pennsylvania, of Germany ancestry. Until seven years of age she spoke no other language than the German, and after moving from Pennsylvania there was a period of twenty-one years during which time she did not even see a German-speaking person.
  Following are the names of the twelve children in the above family: Eliza, the wife of William Carr; Ann, who married James Cook; David, George, Leonard, Catherine, who married William Patterson; Arsenoin, who married Cabel Patterson; John H.; Elizabeth, the wife of James Allison; William A.; Tracy; and Virginia, who married George Davis. Of the foregoing, Catherine, John H., William and Virginia are living.
  Mr. Tureman, our subject, was born and has passed his entire life on the place he now owns and occupies and has therefore lived longer on one place than any other person now residing in the county. He has a very retentive memory and relates many interesting incidents of pioneer days, illustrating the contrast between the peculiarities of those days and the present. He was in his sixth year when his father died, and he remembers how he seemed to be his father's favorite, for his father often took him along on his travels, thus widening our subject's experience and the scope of his pleasures. Their grain and other products were all marketed at Beardstown, much of it being drawn there with ox teams.
  On one occasion they camped over night a short distance from that place, which was then the principal market for this part of Illinois. There were then many campers there, some having come from Jacksonville, Springfield, and Decatur for merchandise. It was on one of these return trips that the elder Tureman drew the second load of merchandise that was ever taken to Virginia, the goods being for Dr. Hall, who, at the time, kept the only store in the place. On another occasion he took a carding machine to Jacksonville, and on this trip they stopped on the way at a distillery to quench their thirst, distilleries being then very numerous and their products pure and cheap. The people subsisted principally upon wild game and produce of their own raising. Deer, wild turkey, prairie chickens, etc., were abundant. Bread was considered a great luxury, corn meal was the principal breadstuff in use, sometimes exclusively so for long periods.
  For several years there were no gristmills other than horse mills in this part of the country, and often the inhabitants had to grate their corn on a perforated tin grater, or pound it in a mortar. The first gristmills started were operated by horse power. When but a boy our subject used to take a sack of shelled corn on the back of a horse to mill, where he often had to wait all day for his grist. When he was about fourteen there was a water power mill at Arenzville, to which he took grists.
  His father was a true friend of popular education. He hired a teacher, giving him a room in his own house. But in those days "licking" and learning went together, and John came in for his share of the "lickings". His sister, Mrs. Cook, took pity on him, and on one occasion lined his jacket with cardboard made of brown paper, which was placed under his clothes, as a protection against the customary rough usage of the "schoolmaster."
  His other brothers having left home, young Tureman found himself at the age of fifteen with the management of the farm devolving upon him. Being industrious and possessing good judgment, he was successful from the start. In the course of time he bought the interest of the other heirs in the homestead, and he has also purchased other tracts of land. The home farm contains 400 acres; another farm, in Logan county, also contains 400 acres. Mr. Tureman's life has not only been characterized by industry and enterprise, but also by generosity and public spirit. In 1884 he erected the opera house in Virginia, - a handsome, well built structure, 64 x 120 feet in dimensions, two stories high besides basement, and was, at the time it was erected, the finest building in any town of its size in the State of Illinois. He is also a stockholder and a director in the First National Bank in Virginia.
  Politically Mr. Tureman was originally a Democrat. In 1876 he voted for Peter Cooper, but, previous to this, a revolution in his political creed had occurred, which had its incipiency in the first issue of greenbacks by the Government. He accepted these as safe money, because it had the stamp of the land, was a creation of the law, and consequently was good, and would remain so as long as the Government by which it had been issued was solvent. In this he was an original greenbacker. At this time, or perhaps a little later, Mr. Tureman began to realize the drift of the old party he had left; saw that the famous Kansas and Nebraska bills were shallow pretenses of democracy, championed by Douglas and other pro-slavery leaders to ultimately carry slavery into all the unorganized domains of the Government. This after light caused him many doubts about clinging to the fortunes of a party bent upon fostering slavery in the free Territories from 1856 to 1864. From the latter date on, he has not been in harmony with either of the old parties, the financial policy of the Republican party being particularly distasteful to him in all its collateral branches. He wants no dollar redeemable in another dollar, no specie base to hoodwink and give the appearance of security to a currency, which is as good without a promise to redeem in specie as it is with a promise to redeem and without the specie with which to do it.
  Socially he is a member of the Morgan and Cass County Pioneer society, of which he has served both as president and vice-president.
  He was married December 5, 1851, to Mary J. Davis, a native of Cass county. Their two children are Parthena and John F. The former is the wife of Hugh W. Harrison, of Belleville, this State, and has one child, named Zoe. John F. married Mary Caldwell, and he is engaged in the grocery business in Virginia.

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