"The Hermit of Turtle
Turpin appears on the 1880 Dallas County census, living with
the E. W. Crawford family, as a hired hand, engaged in farming.
His parents are shown to be born in Ireland. Turpin's age is
listed as 40 years old -- he was more likely about age 67.1
WILLIAM TURPIN'S DEATH.
THE HERMIT OF TURTLE CREEK
Did He Commit Suicide?
Some Things Concerning the
afternoon late, [Wade] Bennett, a young man who lives just north
of the city, reported that William Turpin, an old man who was
living on the old Jim Cole place, was found dead yesterday morning.
Bennett said he saw Turpin the day before yesterday, and he seemed
to be in good spirits and enjoying good health.
- February 11, 1891,
The Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 4.
The body was first discovered by
a German woman who went to deliver a chicken early yesterday
morning which Turpin had ordered the day before.
Justice Lauderdale, accompanied
by Dr. Elliott, went out late yesterday evening and viewed the
body. A close examination of the body was made but no signs of
violence were discovered. Whether Turpin's death resulted from
natural causes or otherwise, Justice Lauderdale and Dr. Elliott
could not conclude.
Turpin was over 60 years old and
a strange genius. He led a solitary life and made few acquaintances
and fewer friends. He has lived on the bank of Turtle creek remote
from anyone and had few visitors.
Turpin was a native of Erin's Isle,
and it has been said that [he] sprang from a good family, but
quarrelled with his father in his younger days about a love affair,
and left home without a penny, to never return. There was undoubtedly
some sorrow in his life, as he could never be induced to talk
of his past. Whatever the sorrow was that darkened his life,
he guarded it with untiring vigilance, and it will probably sleep
with him in his lonely grave. He was educated, courteous, and
could have been a shining light in society, where it is believed
he belonged by birth.
- o o o -
THE TURTLE CREEK HERMIT,
Lauderdale yesterday held an inquest on the remains of William
Turpin, a gardener 78 years old, who, for a long time, has lived
in a house by himself two miles north of the city, near Turtle
creek. A physician accompanied the justice to view the corpse.
He found no marks of violence, this fact considered in connection
with the statement of a physician, who had recently prescribed
for the old man, brought about the conclusion that he had died
of heart failure.
- February 12, 1891,
The Dallas Morning News , p. 5, col. 1.
- o o o -
RECORD OF THE COURTS.
H. Bennett was appointed temporary administrator of the estate
of Wm. Turpin, deceased, and his bond approved in the sum of
- February 18, 1891,
The Dallas Morning News, p. 8.
- o o o -
WILLIAM TURPIN'S ESTATE
following is a list of all property that has come into my [Wade
Bennett, the temporary administrator of the estate] hands, to
1. One small growing
garden & hot beds
2. One Hundred & forty two Dollars deposited
in The National Exchange Bank of Dallas
3. One old stove & a few vessels
4. Certain old clothing
5. Watering can or sprinkler
6. one lamp
7. One Pully & rope
8. Three buckets
9. One oil can
9. One Handsaw & Square
10. Three hoes
11. One Shovel, rake & fork
11. One cot
12. One small house or chicken coop
13. Two cakes of soap
14. One half bushel measure
15. Five sticks of wood
16. One coffee mill
17. One wash board
All of the above articles,
except the money in bank, I sold for cash, the total amount realized
from same being $39.50..."2
Turpin is buried in an unmarked grave (Block 1, Lot 61, Space
9 (SE) at Trinity (Greenwood) Cemetery.3
homeplace was located near Turtle Creek, somewhere between Lemmon
Avenue and Mockingbird Lane.
||1880 Dallas Co., Texas, federal census schedule;
Enumeration District 58, sheet 8, line 31.
||Dallas County Probate Records, File #1308, Records
||Greenwood Cemetery interment records.
thanks to Alex Troup for providing me with a copy of William
Turpin's probate file, and for acquiring the burial location
information from Greenwood Cemetery records.