Robert TURNBULL, residing on section 28, La
Prairie township, is a well-known citizen of
The new world, with its possibilities, was
now opening up before our subject, and in company with his
father, mother and sister, he crossed the Atlantic to New York
city, and located at Geneva, New York, where he remained three
years, working at his trade of carpenter. Three months of this
time, however, he spent in
The time had now come when he was to settle down to that occupation which he had selected for his life work, that of a general farmer. With characteristic energy he set to work improving his farm, and in due time the wild land was transformed into a most productive field, yielding its fruit year by year. On this farm his mother died, after having spent a life of devotion to husband and children and with the consciousness of rest and reunion “beyond the river.”
Mr. TURNBULL commenced life upon his farm
with a single horse, but soon purchased a yoke of oxen with
which he did his breaking. On reaching this country his assets
were but about one hundred dollars, which was increased to six
hundred dollars on reaching
While residing upon his original farm, Mr.
TURNBULL was united in marriage, February 26, 1858, with Miss
Mary SMITH, a sister of James, William and Andrew SMITH,
well-known brothers, residing in La Prairie township, sketches
of whom appear elsewhere in this work. This union was a happy
one, and to them were born six children – Minnie, John, William,
who died in 1866, at the age of four years, Robert, Beattie and
Willie. The first named married Robert HALL, manager of one of
the departments for the wholesale house of Carson, Pirie, Scott
& Co., in
Extracted March 2011 by Norma Hass from The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois, 1896.
The home farm of Robert TURNBULL is pleasantly and conveniently located on section 28, La Prairie township, not far from the village of Speer, and for many years the owner of this valuable property has been accorded recognition as one of the leading farmers and stock-raisers of this part of the state. He was born in Roxburghshire, Scotland, on the 10th of December, 1827. His parents were John and Beatrice (SCOON) TURNBULL, who were likewise natives of the same country. The father, who was born April 30, 1782, came to the United States with his family in 1851, landing at New York city, after which he located at Geneva, New York, where he remained for three years. In 1854 he came to Illinois, settling on the southeast part of La Prairie township. For a long period he was engaged in farming here and passed away on the 3d of February, 1870, at the venerable age of eighty-eight years. In the old cemetery in Scotland where the ancestors of the family lie buried there are gravestones bearing date back to 1622. In the family of John and Beatrice TURNBULL were three children: John, who died in Scotland at the age of sixteen or seventeen years; Robert, of this review; and Jeanette, the wife of Robert PRINGLE, who is the oldest man in the township, and whose sketch appears elsewhere in this work.
Robert TURNBULL was reared to manhood in his native country, his* education being acquired in the common schools prior to his sixteenth year, at which time he entered upon an apprenticeship to the carpenter's trade. His term of indenture extended to the time when he attained his majority during which period he was given his board and at the end of that time was paid five pounds sterling or about twenty-five dollars. In addition to house carpentering he learned the trade of cabinet-making, everything in that day being done by hand. After serving his term he continued with his old employer as a journeyman and acted in that capacity for two years at a salary of four dollars per week. He did his duty faithfully and cheerfully and was thus in the line of promotion, but the new world with its business opportunities and advantages seemed to him to offer a better field of labor and in company with his parents and his sister he crossed the Atlantic to New York city.
For three years he worked at the carpenter's trade in Geneva, New York, save for a brief period of five months spent in Canada. His preference, however, was for the United States and, believing his chances to be much better in the republic, he returned. In 1854 the family came to Illinois, settling in the southeast part of La Prairie township, where Mr. TURNBULL purchased a tract of land as a home for his father and mother. They removed to that farm but for three years thereafter he continued to work at his trade. He determined, however, to make general farming his life occupation and took up the task of improving and clearing his land. When he began his farm work he had but a single horse. Soon, however, he purchased a yoke of oven with which he broke the prairie. He had about one hundred dollars when he came to the new world, which was increased to six hundred dollars by the time he reached Illinois. This sum he invested in land and upon the farm he lived for ten years, engaged in its cultivation and also making some improvements there.
It was while living upon his father's farm that Mr. TURNBULL was married to Miss Mary SMITH, whom he wedded February 26, 1858. They became the parents of six children: Minnie is now the wife of R. W. HALL, of Chicago. John, who is represented on another page of this volume, is living on his farm adjoining his father's. William, who was born September 4, 1862, and died July 12, 1866; Robert, who was born July 18, 1864, and has carried on farming on the old home place, where he lives with his wife, who bore the maiden name of Mary E. SCOTT and to whom he was married in 1896. She is a daughter of William SCOTT, a well known resident of the county. Robert TURNBULL, Jr., is a breeder of full blooded Hereford cattle. Beatrice died February 10, 1905. William is in the live stock commission business in Chicago. Mrs. TURNBULL passed away September 1, 1877, and was laid to rest in the United Presbyterian cemetery in La Prairie township. She was devoted to the welfare and happiness of her family and counted no personal sacrifice on her part too great if it would promote the interests of her husband and children.
Mr. TURNBULL has always been an industrious, energetic man and in his farming and stock-raising operations he has become well known. He has made very judicious purchases, buying land which has increased in value, owing to the rapid settlement of the county as well as to the improvements which have been placed upon it. His home farm is splendidly improved with all modern accessories and conveniences and everything about the farm is indicative of the careful supervision and enterprising spirit of the owner. For many years he has engaged in raising and breeding thoroughbred Hereford cattle and has owned some very fine animals. He has also fed large numbers of cattle. Whatever he has undertaken he has carried forward to successful completion, manifesting a keen business discernment that has enabled him to readily determine the outcome of any business proposition. He is now to a large extent leaving the active work of the farm to others, for he has passed the seventy-eighth milestone on life's journey and well merits rest from further toil.
In polities Mr. TURNBULL is a republican, having supported the party since becoming a naturalized citizen. He has frequently attended its conventions and has held a number of local offices, to which he has been called by the vote of his fellow townsmen, who recognize his worth and ability. He was reared in the faith of the Presbyterian church but is now a member of the Congregational church and has been an active worker in its behalf. He is also an advocate of the cause of temperance and in fact is a champion of all those interests which tend to uplift humanity and benefit the race. His name is honored by all because of his upright life and his good qualities far overbalance the mistakes which all men make, gaining for him the respect and good will of all with whom he has come in contact during the years of his residence in this county.
Extracted June 2011 by Norma Hass from
Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties