Was born in the county of York, England, October 16, 1805. He is the third son of John and Elizabeth Turnbull, who were also natives of England. They had a family of three daughters and eight sons, all of whom reached mature age. Mr. Turnbull's vocation was that of flax manufacturer, which business his ancestors had followed for nearly two centuries before. His father was successful in business, and lived to be seventy-five years of age. His mother lived to be ninety. The subject of this sketch received a good, solid English mechanical education. He attended the best schools in the town in which he resided. After finishing his education, his business, while in England, was that of general superintendent of the manufacturing establishment of his father. In 1825 he took an active position among the working men of England in opposition to church and state; also the odious laws of primogeniture and class legislation, which was the cause of his leaving his native country. He came to the United States in the spring of 1830, landing in New York, from there proceeded to Maryland, locating near Baltimore, in which place he lived four years, still following the same vocation. In the spring of 1835 he left Maryland and went to live at Manayunk, near Philadelphia, being in the employ of Messrs. Garside & Co., who were engaged in the manufacture of flax threads, and in their interests he traveled extensively in all the manufacturing districts of the United States; also among the farmers, endeavoring to encourage them to grow the staple necessary to feed their manufactories. In 1836 Mr. Turnbull was married in Philadelphia to Grace Wade, daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Wade. They were also natives of England. Mr. and Mrs. Turnbull have two daughters and one son. In the fall of 1839 he came to Illinois, locating in Flint township, Pike county, where he has since been engaged in farming. Every thing of a business nature which he has taken hold of has seemed to turn to his advantage, until we now find him the owner of a fine farm of one thousand acres, much of it well improved, and under a good state of cultivation.
Mr. Turnbull has enjoyed rare advantages in travel, having traveled over a greater portion of the continent of Europe, and gazed with delight and interest on the most important monuments and places of modern antiquity. He has also visited the principal places of note in the United States. His travels have not been lost, but he has garnered up in the rich store house of his mind much matter which is interesting when narrated in his quiet, though forcible style. He has the finest private library we have seen of any non-professional gentleman in the county, enriched with the choicest works of ancient and modern literature. In politics he took a very decided stand in the democratic party previous to the rebellion. Few men in Pike county had more influence in his party than did Mr. Turnbull. He was always a great admirer of Mr. Douglass, with whom he was well acquainted. He thought the policy of the latter was founded upon good democratic principles. On the breaking out of the war Mr. Turnbull resolved himself into a war democrat, and during the most troublesome times in Pike county he, with a few of the leading union men, worsted the bushwhackers and their allies. He is also a strong advocate of the free trade doctrine, believing that in that policy not only the west, but the people of the whole United States, will be benefitted. Mr. Turnbull is still residing on the same spot where he first settled, surrounded by an interesting family. Horseback riding is one of his favorite amusements. He is now enjoying excellent health, and can vault into the saddle with the same elasticity as in boyhood. Mr. Turnbull is a gentleman largely known in the county, and highly respected by his fellow citizens.
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