Josiah Turner

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Josiah TurnerServed from 1857 through 1857

Josiah Turner was born on September 1, 1811, in New Haven, Vermont. His mother died when he was a small boy and from that point on, Turner was part of a number of different family configurations since his father remarried a number of times. As a youth he spent his summers working on various farms and winters studying at notable schools in Vermont. Turner read law with his uncle, the Honorable Bates Turner, who was a Supreme Court Justice for the State of Vermont.

In 1835, Turner established himself in a law practice, however, in 1840 he relocated with his wife, Eveline Ellsworth, to the growing town of Howell, Michigan. Turner continued practicing law and immediately became involved in politics.

In May of 1857, Turner was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court and was simultaneously elected as judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit. He never lost an election.

His family relocated to Owosso and in 1864, he was elected Mayor of the town. As Mayor, Turner had the duty of informing his townspeople of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In addition, Turner was a part of the Constitutional Convention of Michigan in 1867. The last position he held was United States Consul to Amherstburgh, Ontario, Canada.

Beyond his public service, Turner had a deep devotion to his religious faith. “In the sixty-one years that I have been a member of the Bar, I have never once been in my office on Sunday to do any work, neither have I at home or elsewhere in all that time done one hour of professional or official work on that day . . . I do not believe that any man is better off on account of any work that he may have performed on Sunday. I never knew a man to gain anything in the end by violating any law, human or divine.”

Josiah Turner died April 7, 1907. (Turner, Jr., Josiah, “Autobiography,” Shiawassee County, Michigan, Standard Atlas. Owosso, Michigan, 1895.)