Turner, Thomas J.

Born: 1815-04-05 Trumbull County, Ohio

Died: 1874-04-04 Hot Springs, Arkansas

Flourished: Freeport, Illinois

Turner completed preparatory studies in Ohio, and moved with his parents to Butler County, Pennsylvania in 1825. He moved to Lake County, Indiana in 1837 and later Freeport, Illinois in 1838. He studied law and earned admittance to the bar in 1840 and started a practice in Freeport. Turner served as a judge of the probate court of Stephenson County in 1842. He worked as postmaster of Freeport in 1844. He served as Illinois district attorney in 1845 and created the first weekly newspaper (Prairie Democrat) in Stephenson County. Turner won election, as a Democrat, to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846, serving alongside Abraham Lincoln from 1847 to 1849. He served as member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 1855 to 1856, serving as speaker. He won election to be the first mayor of Freeport in 1855. Turner served as a delegate to the Peace Convention in 1861 to assist in an effort to prevent the impending war. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and served as colonel of the Fifteenth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, resigning in 1862 due to health reasons. He served as a member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention in 1862.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1961 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1961), 1734; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 220-21; Gravestone, Freeport City Cemetery, Freeport, IL.