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Clarence William Turner. Although now retired from active participation in business affairs, Clarence William Turner still maintains his interest in matters concerning commercial and industrial operations at Muskogee, where for thirty years he was one of the best known figures in the hardware trade. He is one of the builders of the city, having watched its growth from a hamlet of several hundred inhabitants to one of the leading cities of the state, and at all times has cheerfully and capably performed every duty of good citizenship.
Mr. Turner was born in a residence at No. 96, Lake Street, in the City of Cleveland, Ohio, June 18, 1857, and is a son of the late John E. Turner, who was a pioneer merchant of the Indian Territory. John E. Turner was born at Wickliffe, Ohio, August 15, 1824, and was a resident of Muskogee, Indian Territory, when his death occurred at a hospital at St. Louis, Missouri, December 10, 1898. He was a son of William Turner, the first white child born at Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, in 1798, and was a son of John Turner, a native of England and the progenitor of the family in America. " His son, William, became a pioneer of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and later removed to Allen County, Indiana, where he died. John E. Turner was reared in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and there married Julia Ayers, who was born at Bristol, Ohio, in December, 1828, and is now in her eighty-seventh year and a resident of Muskogee. She bore her husband three children: Clarence William, of this review; Effie, who is the wife of J. A. Kirkwood, a commission merchant of New Orleans, Louisiana; and Fred E., who is a retired merchant of Muskogee, Oklahoma.
John E. Turner was reared on the family homestead farm and secured his education in the country schools, remaining at home until he reached the age of twenty-one years, when he became a clerk in a general store at Willoughby, Lake County, Ohio. He became a member of the surveying party that surveyed the Cleveland & Erie Railroad, later the Lake Shore, and subsequently became a yardmaster for that line. In September, 1867, John E. Turner removed to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he became a partner in the general mercantile firm of Buckley, Ayers & Co., his invested capital being $6,500. Goods for the firm were bought at Cincinnati, Ohio, and placed on a boat to be carried to Fort Smith. The boat sank and the goods were lost, but Mr. Turner had wisely carried insurance and these were replaced with a new stock, also bought at Cincinnati, which were placed on the Fort Gibson, a vessel which safely negotiated the passage down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and up the Arkansas to Fort Smith. In 1869 Mr. Turner withdrew from the firm of Buckley, Ayers & Co. and was given one-third of the stock of goods which he took to Okmulgee, Indian Territory, and there secured a license entitling him to engage in merchandising. He remained in business at Okmulgee until 1875, when he sold out to his son, C. W. Turner, and William Harvison. In 1877 John E. Turner removed to Muskogee and became a pioneer merchant. At that time Muskogee was a mere village, and less than 100 white people were in the territory of the Creek Nation. The firm at Muskogee was first known as Turner & Parkinson, later as J. E. Turner & Company, and finally became Harsha & Spalding, to which concern the business was sold in the spring of 1898, in the fall of which year Mr. Turner died. He was successful as a merchant and amassed an estate worth $150,000. He was a republican in politics, but never took any active part in public affairs, save as a good citizen. Mr. Turner was both a Mason and an Odd Fellow.
Clarence William Turner was but ten years of age when his parents removed to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and thirteen years old when his father removed to Okmulgee. He obtained a limited education and very early matriculated in the school of practical business experience as a clerk in his father’s store. In 1874 he took a course in Jones Business College, at St. Louis, Missouri, and in 1875, with William Harvison, bought his father’s business at Okmulgee. In September, 1881, Mr. Turner sold out and in July, 1882. located at Muskogee, where he has since resided. On coming to this city he bought the hardware business of J. S. Atkinson, established in 1877. the first hardware business established in the Indian Territory. This enterprise Mr. Turner developed, under the firm name of the Turner Hardware Company, to large proportions, as both a wholesale and retail establishment, the line being hardware, implements, furniture and lumber, and after thirty years of continued success, Mr. Turner sold out his interests in 1912, the Muskogee Hardware Company succeeding to the hardware and implement trade, Bass & Harbour to the furniture, and the George D. Hope Lumber Company to the lumber. The business, commenced in small quarters, grew until the building was destroyed by fire, in 1886, when Mr. Turner erected a large and commodious building on the site of the old one on North Main Street. This building was also destroyed by fire, in 1899, and replaced by the present Turner Building. Mr. Turner, since disposing of his interests in the business with which the greater part of his life was devoted, has given his time and attention to winding up the business affairs of the Turner Hardware Company, and to looking after his large real estate interests in the City of Muskogee, of which he is truly a builder.
Mr. Turner has served several terms, in the capacity of alderman of the city, but beyond this has not cared to hold office. He is a republican in his political views, but not a rabid partisan. Fraternally, Mr. Turner is a thirty-second degree Mason, a life member of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and a life member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mr. Turner was married in September, 1883, to Miss Tookah Butler, and to this union there have been born three children, namely: Tookah, who is the wife of Charles Bagg, of Muskogee; Clarence William, Jr.; and Marion E.