JAMES W. TURNER. Noted as a scholar and an educator, James W. Turner, superintendent of the public schools at Carrier Mills, is administering the affairs of his important position with a zeal and efficiency that is widely recognized and highly appreciated by parents, pupils and the community in general. He was born February 20, 1848, near Nashville, Tennessee, of honored patriotic ancestry, his great-grandfather, John Turner, a resident of North Carolina, having served as an officer in the Revolutionary war, enlisting for service in that state.
Elijah Turner, Mr. Turner's father, was born in Simpson county, Kentucky, but early in the `60s bought land in Williamson county, Illinois, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death, at the age of four score years. He served as sutler of a regiment in the Civil war, but was never identified with any political office. He married Matilda McDole, who was born in Simpson county, Kentucky, and died on the home farm in Williamson county, Illinois, when but sixty-five years old. He belonged to a family of some note, two of his uncles, Jackson Williams and Thomas Williams, having served in the War of 1812, at the battle of New Orleans fighting under General Jackson.
After leaving the public schools, James W. Turner attended Bordean Academy, a branch of Vanderbilt University. When seventeen years old he came with the family to Williamson county, Illinois, and soon after the opening of the Southern Illinois Normal School, at Carbondale, entered that institution, and there continued his early studies. Thus well equipped, Mr. Turner has- pursued his professional career, begun in 1866, and for well-nigh a half century has been an active and successful worker in educational fields, in the advancement of the public school system, having contributed his full share. For nine years he taught in the rural schools of Williamson county, being afterwards principal of the Crab Orchard schools seven years and of the Marion schools in 1883 and 1884. Subsequently founding Crab Orchard Academy, Mr. Turner served as its principal twenty years. He was superintendent for eight years of the Stone Fort high school, which he organized and for five years was at the head of the Carterville high school as its superintendent. Going then to Creal Springs, he organized a high school at that place, and after serving as its superintendent four years, came in 1910, to Carrier Mills, where he organized the high school of which he is now the superintendent, this being his second year in that position.
For the benefit of teachers and advanced pupils desirous of taking a practical and thorough review of all branches of study on which they may be examined for a certificate, Mr. Turner established the Carrier Mills Select School, the first annual term of which was opened in the Carrier Mills high school building April 5, 1911, with an academic and normal department, both of which are well patronized
considering the brief time in which they have been in existence. Especial attention is given to the special studies of the ``Illinois Teachers Reading Circle," "Methods of Teaching" and to the "State Course of Study," subjects in which the average student and many teachers are deficient and likewise those branches of arithmetic and history which are not very thoroughly taught.
Mr. Turner is prominent in institute work, and has served as president of the Tri-county Teachers Association. Nearly one hundred scholars have been graduated from schools which Mr. Turner has had in charge, and of these seventy-six have entered the teacher's profession while upwards of three hundred of his pupils have become school teachers, and several have become school superintendents. Under Mr. Turner's efficient management the Carrier Mills schools are in a flourishing condition, being located in a magnificent new building, with over four hundred pupils in the grades, and as intelligent and capable a corps of teachers as can be found in Southern Illinois. The high school is well equipped and occupies class rooms in the same building.
Mr. Turner married, in 1874, Millie Cunningham, who was born in Marshall county, Mississippi, in 1844, a daughter of William and Catherine Cunningham, and a relative of Mrs. John A. Logan. Six children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Turner, namely: Rev, James W. Turner, of Edgewood, Iowa, a prominent minister in the Methodist Episcopal church, belonging to the Northern Iowa Conference; Gus H., a printer at Taylorville, Illinois; Richard F. and Elijah H., who died in infancy; Charles H., a printer at Carrier Mills; and Millie R., a teacher.
In his political affiliations Mr. Turner is a steadfast Democrat. Fraternally he has been a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since attaining his majority, and has passed all the chairs in the lodges of each organization. He was made a Royal Arch Mason in Marion, Illinois, and holds his Chapter membership there. Blazing Star Lodge, at Crab Orchard, in which he took the initiatory degrees of Masonry, was for a time inactive, but recently, under the efforts of Mr. Turner, it has been revived, and since its removal to Carrier Mills is in an exceedingly prosperous condition, with fair prospects of becoming a strong and vigorous organization. Mr. Turner is a strong advocate of the principles of Christianity and morality, and always puts forth his best efforts to kindle a spark of inspiration in the life of his pupils. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and is an active worker in the Epworth League and Sunday-school.