The Turner surname is considered to be of English heritage, and this family was most prominent in the county of Devon in England. The first of this surname to settle in America was a John Turner who was indeed a passenger on the famous Mayflower from Plymouth, England.
Many Turners by the 18th century were living in parts of Massachusetts known as Medfield, Medway and Wrentham. The Turners that settled along the Pee Dee river in South Carolina may have originated from this Massachusetts group, but this connection has not been substantiated.
A William Richardson Turner (1820-1895) of Medway, Massachusetts moved to Charleston before 1844 where he married Lucinda Dunlap, daughter of William and Rebecca Dunlap. They had several children and populated the Charleston area, but it is not known if they had any relationship to the Pee Dee Turners.
When considering specifically the earliest members of the Turner family found along the Pee Dee river, there appears to be two distinct progenitors. One being a John Turner, born c1740 in North Carolina and settling in South Carolina by 1790; the other being an Amos Turner, born 1755, who was a Pee Dee resident by the 1780s and maybe even born in area.
John Turner’s family was listed consistently in SC census records as free coloreds (or mullatos). There are at least two documented references which point to John Turner being a freed black slave who was a son of a white North Carolina Plantation owner. John Turner’s wife, Patience, was also of mixed heritage, but with a white Irish mother and black father. John and Patience began the line of Turners who settled mainly in an area which today is Marion County. Their known children were: Reuben, John Jr. William, Catherine, Penelope, Milly and Sarah. Two of these, John, Jr. and Reuben appear to have lived around the east side of Catfish Creek.
The Amos Turner line (a different set of Turners) settled around Lynches Creek, an area what is now Hanna in Florence County. Amos probably had the following brothers: Benjamin,, Elias and George. Amos and Benjamin Turner were known to live in the same general area near the west side of Lynches Creek; I don't know about Elias or George. Some of theses men's descendants are buried at the Mt. Zion and Beulah Baptist Churches of Pamplico. . All of these had families which mainly populated themselves west of the Pee Dee.
A little Contemporary History: In the late 1950s and early 1960s, some in the Turner family use to go to Hannah to clean the family cemetary. C. Medlin remembers it this way: “While the males cleaned up the grounds, the Turner women would cook chicken bog like only sandlapper women can do. I still remember that rice cooked in chicken and black pepper."
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