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The Turner Family

Part 6
George and Martha Turner around 1900
George and Martha Turner around 1900

When George Washington Turner, son of Andrew Jackson Turner and Sarah Scammahorn, was discharged from the Union's 8th Cavalry (Kentucky) in 1863, he was 19 years old. He returned to Clermont County and married Martha Melissa Forbes on Dec. 27, 1864. Martha Melissa Forbes, who was born on Sept. 1, 1847, was the daughter of Ebenezer Forbes and Phoebe Robinson.

According to his death certificate, Ebenezer Forbes was born on November 13, 1820 in Ohio. Despite this evidence and various census records cited below, some researchers indicate that he came to the United States from southern England and migrated to Ohio by way of Pittsburgh, Penn. The 1880 census indicates that Ebenezer Forbes's father and mother were born in Maryland, so we suspect any ties to England go back further than the birth of Ebenezer's parents. His 1909 death certificate indicates his father was William Forbes and his mother's maiden name was Mary Lawyer (Sawyer?). There was a William Forbes living in Hamilton Co., Ohio according to the 1820 census. There were also several Lawyers and Sawyers living in the county. At this time we cannot be sure if this William Forbes was the father of Ebenezer Forbes.

Ebenezer Forbes married Phoebe Robinson on Sept. 29, 1844 in Clermont Co., Ohio. Phoebe Robinson was born on Aug. 3, 1827 according to her death certificate (see below). There were some reports that Phoebe Robinson was the daughter of John Robinson, the circus operator. He was known as "Uncle" John Robinson and he established the headquarters for his circus in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1852 in what is now Terrace Park. "Uncle" John's son, known as "Governor" John, would have been Phoebe Robinson's brother; he later took over the circus and operated it until around 1916. Here's an 1888 New York Times article on the death of "Uncle" John Robinson. In reality, there is no evidence that Phoebe (Robinson) Forbes was related to John Robinson, the circus operator. It appears she was born and raised in Ohio and that her father, according to census records and her death certificate, was also born in Ohio. Even though Phoebe Forbes' death certificate names her father as John Robinson, the fact that her father was born in Ohio probably rules him out as "Uncle" John Robinson, the circus operator, since he was born in New York and moved around the country until he settled in Cincinnati in 1852.

1870 Census - Union Township, Clermont County [Census Record]
NameAgeSexProfessionRealPersonalPlace of BirthAttend SchoolRead/Write
Ebenezer Forbes49MFarmer$10,000$500Ohio
Phoebe Forbes42FKeeps houseOhio
John Forbes13MAttends SchoolOhioYes
Addie Forbes11FAttends SchoolOhioYes
Jennie Forbes3FAt homeOhio
Martha Melissa Forbes
Martha Melissa Forbes

Children of Ebenezer and Phoebe (Robinson) Forbes were:

The following appeared in the Virginia Military Survey, page 194 Survey No. 14426:

Surveyed for Nathaniel Massie (Assignee) 3 acres of land on part of Military Warrant #8719 on the waters of the Little Miami-Patent from James K. Polk, Pres. To Ebenezer Forbes on June 8, 1848.

Ebenezer and Phoebe Forbes bought a small farm on a lane in Mt. Carmel at the top of Rose Hill. In 1900 their household looked like this:

1900 Census - Union Township, Clermont County [Census Record]
NameRelationSexDate of BirthPlace of BirthProfessionReadWrite
Ebner ForbesHeadMNovember 1820OhioFarmerYesYes
Pheobe ForbesWifeFAugust 1827OhioYesYes
Jennie ForbesDaughterFJanuary 1869OhioYesYes
Mellie VanpeltGranddaughterFJune 1891OhioAt SchoolYesYes

Mellie Vanpelt, described in the census record as Ebenezer Forbes' granddaughter, was the daughter of Edward and Addie Van Pelt. Addie had died in 1898. Also, Maud Van Pelt, another daughter of Edward and Addie Van Pelt, had died on Dec. 9, 1893, at the age of 10.

George and Martha Turner around 1900
Four Generations around 1901

Ebenezer Forbes died in 1909. Phoebe Forbes died on March 14, 1910. Jennie and Edward Marsh lived on the Mt. Carmel property until they both died in the 1940s (see Jennie Marsh's death certificate). Ebenezer and Phoebe Forbes and Jennie and Edward Marsh are buried at Mt. Moriah Cemetary in Clermont Co., Ohio.

The union of George Washington Turner and Martha Melissa Forbes resulted in the following children, all born in Hamilton Co., Ohio:

George W. Turner worked for the United States Postal Service and moved to northern Kentucky. He died in Dayton, Campbell Co., Ky. on July 1, 1912. Martha Melissa (Forbes) Turner moved back to Oakley, a Cincinnati suburb, where she lived with her daughter, Zetta Blanche Wortman. Martha Melissa Turner was blind the last few years of her life. She died on July 16, 1934 (see Martha Melissa Turner's death certificate).

On Aug. 27, 1890, Jeanette Turner, the daughter of George Washington and Martha Melissa Turner, married Elmore Grant Brown of Newtown, Ohio (see Brown, Part 3).

Eben Forbes Turner, the uncle who initially outlined the Turner family history to William Ellis Pruiett in 1924 (see Turner, Part 1), lived an interesting life. At age 20, he was a "telegraph operator at Turnpike Crossing on the Little Miami Road." The Cincinnati Enquirer indicated on April 26, 1886 that he "had been connected with the Old Reliable for about seven years" and that he was embarking on a career "in the fruit and grocery business." The Old Reliable likely refers to the Little Miami Railroad which had a reputation for running on time and being profitable. [The name Old Reliable is more commonly associated with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad - the L&N.] In September 1887, Eben Turner married Ella Thomas Worsham in Greenbrier Co., W.Va. where he was employed as a railroad agent according to the 1900 census. In 1898 Eben Turner's sister, Jeanette Brown, wife of Elmore Grant Brown, visited the couple at their home in West Virginia as indicated in this announcement in the Cincinnati Enquirer. By the 1910 census, Eben and Ella were living in Hamilton Co., Ohio where he worked as a fire and life insurance agent. He and Ella had two children, ages 20 and 21, but all must not have been well in their marriage because on April 9, 1912, an entry appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer which indicated that Ella T. Turner had filed for divorce. A short time later, Eben Turner was back in West Virginia marrying his second wife, Genevieve Moore, on Feb. 23, 1915. By the 1930 census, and likely well before that, Eben Turner was back in Cincinnati working as a railroad agent. He died on Nov. 12, 1931, at the age of 65, of chronic myocarditis and heart disease.

Zetta Blanche Turner also led an interesting life. She was the youngest child of George Washington and Martha Melissa (Forbes) Turner, born when Martha was 38 years old. Here's a picture of Blanche around age 9. She married three times with her first two marriages ending in divorce. Even her third marriage seems to have been rocky at times based on a few civil suits filed between the husband and wife. Blanche's application for her second marriage license in 1915 indicated that her first marriage ended in divorce in 1911 after eight years of marriage. Curtis N. Gilbert, her second husband, was also divorced and in the 1920 census was listed as a divorced lodger in the Los Angeles home of Jasper von Bulow. So, Blanche's second marriage can be presumed to have ended before 1920. Her first husband, David W. Cowdrey, died on April 3, 1928 in Georgetown, Brown Co., Ohio (see death certificate). His death certificate indicated he was widowed and that Blanch Turner Cowdrey had been his spouse. The informant was his father, Emanuel Cowdrey. It's not clear if David Cowdrey or his father still considered Blanche to be his estranged wife when he died or just misinterpreted that box on the death certificate; however, it is clear that Blanche was already married to her third husband Carl Wortman at the time of David Cowdrey's death. Perhaps David's 70 year old father, who passed away two years later, considered Blanche to be deceased; however, it's clear his children had a relationship with their mother. This picture from the Turner Family Reunion in 1925 clearly shows at least three Cowdreys in attendance in addition to Blanche and her third husband Carl Wortman. The two male Cowdreys were David's and Blanche's children and the third Cowdrey was the wife of her eldest son. In the years that followed, Blanche got involved in several clubs and organizations including the Independent Order of Herdsmen, where she served as president for a period of time, and the Daughters of America. Here's a picture of Blanche Wortman in 1940 when she was a Trustee with the Herdsmen (standing, fifth from left). Zetta Blanche (Turner) Wortman died in 1955. Here's a picture of her headstone in Mt. Moriah Cemetery near Withamsville, Clermont Co., Ohio. Carl F. Wortman died in 1965 and is also buried in Mr. Moriah Cemetery.

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