Pages 243-245, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




WILLIAM TURNER—It is in this article that are presented the facts which led to the early development of the Iola gas field. It is the subject of this brief biography who was responsible for this early develop-


ment and who has had no little connection with it. William Turner, superintendent of the LaHarpe works, of the Lanyon Zinc Company, is the person referred to in the introduction hereto. While on a visit to a sister in Elsmore township, Allen County, in 1896 he heard of Iola's gas find and decided to investigate its strength and merits, as fuel, etc., in the hope that he would find a desirable point for his employers, the Lanyons, to re-engage in the smelting business. After convincing himself that the volume of fuel necessary to operate any factory enterprise indefinitely, was under the city he consulted L. L. Northrup to determine whether any inducements would be offered to manufacturers to locate in Iola. Finding a readiness on the part of the latter gentleman to go to great lengths and sacrifices to inject a breath of real life into his town Mr. Turner reported the result of his find, with recommendations, to Robert H. Lanyon who visited Iola and verified the report. Negotiations were soon set in motion which resulted in the erection of the Lanyon Zinc Company's works No. 1, the pioneer smelter in the gas belt.

William Turner's part in the development of the gas field was in the capacity of supervising constructor of the Robert Lanyon's Sons two large smelters at Iola and LaHarpe. Having done this and completed the work of building for that company he was placed in charge of the LaHarpe plant and was undisturbed in his position when the Lanyon interests went into the great consolidated company. Mr. Turner's career as a smelter man extends over a period of ten years. He became connected with the Lauyon's at Nevada, Missouri, in 1890, in the capacity of millwright and was with them two years there. In 1892 he was sent by them to Waukegan, Illinois, where he remained repairing and constructing four years. Upon leaving this point it was to take a vacation and visit his sister in Kansas, resulting in the discovery of the gas field and the construction of the first Iola smelter.

Mr. Turner was born in Delaware County, Indiana, April 17, 1852. His father was Jonas Turner who entered land in that county. The latter settled eight miles south of Muncie and resided there until his death in 1866. He was born in Green County, Ohio in 1812 and was a son of a wheel-wright, George Turner, who settled near Xenia, Ohio, very early and afterward went into Delaware County, Indiana. Walter Turner, father of George Turner, came to America during the French and Indian war as a soldier with the King's army. He felt his duty to his king greater than those to his adopted country and he did not serve with the patriots during the Revolution. He died near Xenia, Ohio, leaving as many as six sons: Joseph, Jonathan, Robert, Ambrose, Isaac and George. The latter married Fanny Oaks and died in Delaware County, Indiana. Their children were: Joshua, Jonathan, Jonas, George, Riley, Robert and John, all of whom reared families.

Jonas Turner married Patsy Gibson, whose father, William Gibson, was a southern man and a preacher. Mrs. Turner died in 1889 at the age of seventy-six years. Their children were: John, who died in 1863; Sarah, deceased, was the wife of William Felton; Jonathan Turner, of Delaware


County, Indiana, a farmer; Phebe, deceased, left children by two husbands (James Lacey and Lasley L. Herold); Jane, wife of Joel Canady, of Elsmore, Kansas; Philip Turner, of Delaware County, Indiana, and William, our subject.

At the age of sixteen William Turner began learning the machinist trade in Muncie, Indiana, in the old Phelps Foundry and Machine Shop. Before he had completed his term of service the shop closed and our subject took up the carpenter trade. He worked in and around Muncie and practically completed the trade. He followed it many years, together with mill-wrighting, in Indiana and Wisconsin. He was located at Richland Center in the latter State and was in a sawmill and furniture factory there for a time. From this point he went to Irving, Illinois, and resided five years. All the time he was on the road putting up mills of all kinds and because of this fact he was first induced to come to Kansas. He went to Humboldt in 1834 to put in the machinery of the Lindsay flouring mills. He put in a paint mill at Deep Water, Missouri and from this point went to Nevada where, after an elapse of time he became associated with the Lanyons.

August 15, 1875, Mr. Turner was married at Irving, Illinois, to Mary J. Carriker, a daughter of John Carriker, an early settler of Montgomery County, Illinois, and from North Carolina. Their only son is John Turner, who is married to Lue Ricketts and is a foreman for the Lanyon Zinc Company. Josie Turner is the only daughter of our subject.

Mr. Turner is a Mason, Odd Fellow, Elk, Woodman and a Republican.

Previous | Home | Next