W. E. Turkington, as a proprietor of extensive coal lands and mines and large farming tracts, and as proprietor of an extensive general merchandise establishment and owner of numerous property and financial interests in Cherokee, is one of the best known men of Crawford county, and therefore needs no introduction to the readers of this history. A man of broad business ability and executive direction, as shown in his control of his large interests, and of great personal magnetism and force of character, Mr. Turkington has been able to follow in the footsteps of his late father as a powerful factor in the affairs of this county, and has exercised and will continue to exercise a potent influence in matters pertaining to the general welfare and progress of town and county.
His father, John Turkington, now deceased, was one of the pioneer cattlemen of this section of the state, having come here when Crawford county was largely range land and as yet untouched by the enterprise of the agriculturist and home-maker. John Turkington was born in county Armagh, Ireland, of a Presbyterian family, was reared and educated there, and in young manhood came to the United States. He lived for a number of years at Xenia, Ohio, and in 1867 came to this section of Kansas, when there was only one railroad in the state. In those early days he dealt extensively in Texas cattle, buying them on the Texas ranges and driving them north to Crawford county, and thence shipping them to the markets. He was a liberal and enterprising man in all his undertakings and in affairs in general, and was an active Presbyterian throughout his life. He died, honored and respected by all, at the age of eighty-two. His wife was Eliza McCreary, born near Belfast, county Down, Ireland, and her noble qualities had much to do with her husband's success. She is still living, being on the old farmstead near Monmouth in this county. There are six children in the family, namely: W. E.; Elizabeth Myers, of Arkansas; Eliza Degum, of Beulah, this county; John D., of Monmouth, a cattleman; Oliver, on the old home farm; and Minnie E., at home.
W. E. Turkington was born at Xenia, Ohio, in 1853. He was a boy of fourteen when he came with the rest of the family to this county, and, having already received such educational advantages as the schools of his native locality afforded, he at once became actively interested with his father in practical affairs and as the oldest son was soon given a large part of the business direction. He later gave himself to the study of civil engineering, and for a number of years was a successful and active member of the profession, being engaged in railroad work for some time. He is one of the popular Democrats of this part of the state, and on one occasion made the race for state legislator, and while he was defeated by six votes he ran great numbers ahead of his ticket. It is said that if any Democrat could he elected from this county he would be the lucky man. Mr. Turkington is the owner of twelve hundred acres of land in this vicinity, and it is all underlaid with coal. Five shafts are in active operation on his place, and ninety thousand tons of high-grade coal are annually hoisted above ground and marketed. He is proprietor of the Louck patent for manufacturing anthracite coal from slack, which is one of the most valuable inventions of recent years. There are two veins of coal on his land, the upper one being twenty-six inches, and the lower forty-two inches thick. He is also conducting a large mercantile business in Cherokee, which was established in 1889.
As has been stated, Mr. Turkington is politically a Democrat, and has always been active in party affairs. He is also well known in Masonic circles, being a member of the blue lodge, chapter and commandery. He has been very liberal in helping all worthy causes, giving much to religion and church work, and also gave three acres as ground on which a high school might be established, his interest in educational affairs causing him to be active in every enterprise looking to the betterment of the local schools. He has done a great deal for Crawford county, and is esteemed among his fellow citizens accordingly.
Mr. Turkington was married in this county in February, 1879, to Miss Virginia Potter, who was born at Springfield, Missouri, a daughter of Davis and Eliza (Tarrence) Potter, both parents being deceased and her father having served as a soldier in the Civil war. They have four children: Jennie O., Ethel, John E. and Victor B. Mrs. Turkington is a member of the Presbyterian church.Pages 460-462 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, in November, 2003.
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