It is important to understand one’s heritage to have an appreciation for who and what were responsible for you. My story today is that of Christopher Turner, my Great Great Grandfather. Born in Northern Ireland in 1833, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Cass County, Illinois in 1851.
The Civil War began in 1861 and Turner was mustered into the 99th Illinois, Co A in 1862, later to be transferred to Co D. Mustered out of the infantry in July 1865. Turner moved west to Seward, Nebraska in 1873; and in 1881, during the Presidential administration of Chester A. Arthur, homesteaded 160 acres of land in an area just due east of Grand Island, Nebraska, in Hamilton County. It is said that he would meet the requirements of living on the government-provided land by walking out to the land once a year, wearing a backpack. I wonder what he carried in that backpack and what he was thinking as he walked some 70 miles each way. Apparently, he never built anything there more substantial that a sod house.
When Christopher Turner moved to Seward, he built a small, but efficient wooden house. The two photos depict the same Turner house – the left photo was taken in 1907, just two years after Christopher died, leaving a widow and a number of children, one of whom was my Grandmother Vrana. The right photo was taken 110 years later. Though some internal renovations have been done to the home, it still retains the basic house architecture to almost be able to imagine former Pvt. Turner, Mathilda, and the children coming out of the front door.