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 Deputy Sheriff John M.C. Turman

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Cliff Caldwell
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Male Number of posts : 61
Age : 71
Location : Mountain Home, Texas
Registration date : 2009-01-23

Deputy Sheriff John M.C. Turman Empty
PostSubject: Deputy Sheriff John M.C. Turman   Deputy Sheriff John M.C. Turman I_icon_minitimeWed Jan 28, 2009 11:50 pm

25 May 1857 - 28 March 1898

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

Kimble County, Texas lies northwest of San Antonio, on the Edwards Plateau. Named for Alamo defender George Kimble the country is at the edge of the Hill Country, with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 2,400 feet. With the County Seat being located at the town of Junction on the Llano River it boasts being on the “Front Porch” of West Texas. The terrain does in fact undergo a significant and noticeable change as one travels west past Mountain Home and Midway, topping off at “The Divide”, then downhill through the valley near Junction and Roosevelt and on west into more open land towards the Pecos River. The County was first formed in 1856, with its first settlements being along Johnson Creek in the 1870’s. The town of Junction itself was formed in 1876, originally called Junction City the name was changed to simply Junction in 1894. It was not incorporated until 1927. Early records are scarce, as the original courthouse built in 1878 burned to the ground in 1884 destroying practically all of the records. A new, stone courthouse was erected which was partially destroyed in 1888. Following the 1888 fire the structure was rebuilt, and lasted in tact until it was replaced with a modern building in 1929. By the 1890’s about 2,400 people lived in or around Junction.

Rancher John Martin Turman had moved his family to the Junction area in the late 1870’s. His son, John Martin Calhoun (M.C.) Turman was born 25 May 1857 in Meridian, Mississippi. The elder John Turman had himself been born in Meridian, Mississippi (Born Abt 1831). John’s stepmother Catherine, who was twenty years younger than John’s father, (Born in Texas Abt 1856) had been born in Scotland. His siblings William and Joel B. are believed to have been from John’s fathers first union, while Ann, Manuel and Hester are believed to have been from his marriage to Catherine. Like his father, the younger John Turman chose a younger bride, marrying Maggie (Mary) Zuleika Tait on 1 June 1879 in Austin, Travis County, Texas. Maggie, born 3 June 1865 in Edinburg, Scotland was but 14 at the time of their marriage. The union of John and Maggie was a fruitful one, yielding eight children in all (although some have reported the count to have been nine); Margaret M., Bertha, Cora, Emmet, Coila, Maggie, Clarence, John (Junction City, Kimble County, Texas 1900 Census). Maggie lived to the age of 81, passing on 31 October 1946. John’s fate brought him to a much earlier end.

On the evening of 28 March1898 James Barnett Gipson (Gibson) Hardin, known locally as “Gip”, had gone to the Turman Hotel for supper. The Turman Hotel was owned and operated by Kimble County Deputy Sheriff John M.C. Turman and was located at the corner of what is present day College Street and 5th Street. Hardin, who was born Barnett Gipson Hardin, had taken on his father’s given name of “James” when his father passed in 1876. Hardin’s father, a Methodist Preacher from Tennessee, was a man he respected greatly. After meeting a man named W.A. Taylor with who he was not acquainted, he subsequently accepted Taylor’s offer to join him at his table for supper. The pair seated themselves at a table already occupied by Tom Morse and Will Haley. Will Haley happened to be the son of a local man who was being tried for murder at the time. At some point during their supper Gip Hardin made some disparaging comments about the elder Mr. Haley that were accompanied by foul language, causing Will Haley to get up and leave the table. Hardin continued to loudly and profanely denounce Mr. Haley, causing Deputy Turman who had overheard the exchange from the kitchen of the hotel to come into the dining room and attempt to settle the argument down. Turman asked Hardin and Taylor to leave the hotel, which ultimately they proceeded to do, stopping in the hallway to retrieve their hats. As the pair departed the hotel they continued their vulgar language. Deputy Turman announced that he would have to place them under arrest, calling out to a local man named Trimble to assist him. Turman and Trimble followed Hardin out the door and across the narrow yard to the gate. As Hardine proceeded through the gate Deputy Turman and Mr. Trimble grabbed Hardin and pulled him backwards in an attempt to place him under arrest. Hardin jerked away from Turman, and immediately the shooting began. There were six shots fired, two by Turman and four by Hardin. Turman was hit three places in the arm and once through the body, all entering on the right side and exiting through the left. Neither of Turmans’s two shot hit Hardin. During the initial trial witnesses testified that Gip Hardin had fired first, basing this claim in part of their observations of muzzle flashes as well as the fact that one shot from Hardin’s gun struck Turman in the gun hand and finger in such a way that had Truman fired first there would necessarily have had to have been some evidence of the bullet impact on the butt of Turman’s gun. Hardin, during a later appeal, claimed that he and certain witnesses had not heard Turman place him under arrest, and further that Turman had fired on him first. He was initially convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison at Huntsville. After appeal he was able to arrange for a new trial and a favorable change in venue to Fredericksburg, Texas. That trial resulted in a much lighter sentence. Ultimately he served only a few years in the penitentiary at Huntsville.

Regardless of which version of this story you find most believable the result is the same… at sunset on the evening of Monday 28 March 1898 forty year old Kimble County Deputy Sheriff John Turman lay dead at the gates of his own hotel in Junction, Texas. He is buried in Junction Cemetery. By the time of the 1910 census the Turman family had moved to San Angelo, Tom Green, Texas. At that time they were living with John Bryton age 38, Bessie Bryton age 28 (and children).

It’s important to note that James Barnett Gipson (Gibson) Hardin was reported to have been a friend of John Turman’s, at fact that was testified to during Hardin’s trial and appeal. In fact, by some accounts Hardin is claimed to have been Turman’s best friend. Hardin, born 15 August 1874 in Mount Calm, Hill, Texas, had grown up in Ennis, Texas, finished school there, and was a First Lieutenant in the Texas Army. He settled at Cedar Creek, about 3 miles from town, near the Joe Clement’s place. Hardin taught school in Junction, and lived at the Turman Hotel across from the courthouse during 1897. On 17 January 1898 he married pearl Turner at Menard, Texas and moved to a home a mere 300 yards away from the Turman Hotel near the corner of 5th Street and Oak.

Gip Hardin’s brother was the notorious outlaw John Wesley Hardin, a fact that may have had some bearing on the outcome of his case….one way or the other. By the time Gip’s shoot and killed John Turman in Junction his brother John Wesley Hardin had killed seven men on the Chisholm Trail in 1871, four more in Cherokee County in 1872, and Jack Helm in the Sutton-Taylor feud. He had finally been captured in Florida after having killed a Brown County, Texas Deputy Sheriff in 1874 while fleeing the town of Comanche. By 1895 he had been released from prison and was living in El Paso and practicing law. Most everyone acquainted with the Hardin’s had a strong opinion of them, either favorable or unfavorable.

After his release from prison, James Barnett Gipson Hardin and his wife Pearl lived together for a short time, but soon separated. They had two little girls. Clarice (Tass) was born 6 September 1900 and died in El Paso in 1938, and Varda Hardin born 1 August 1903 and died 6 March 1992 in Huntsville, Alabama. After they separated Pearl and the girls went to El Paso and Marfa, Texas. Hardin soon left Junction, and worked for a time at the stockyards in Ft. Worth before taking a job transporting horses to Europe for the United States Government during World War I. He died in1918 after reportedly being crushed by two boxcars while working in Florida. His final resting place is unknown.

Although more than one hundred years have now passed since Deputy Sheriff Turman’s burial the rather substantial monument marking for eternity his final resting place still survives. Untended and somewhat decayed as it is, left for the curiosity of only the occasional passerby. A curious visitor may find it thirty-four paces from the stone fence along Llano Street and fifty-five paces from the fence along Vollmer Street.
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