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JOHN JAMES TURNER


The Rev. John James Turner, who is an expert in Sunday School work, belongs to the Baptist denomination and resides at Montgomery, Fayette County, W. Va. He is a native of Virginia, having been born at Poplar Mount, Greenville County, Va., on August 5, 1871. His father was Stafford Turner, and his mother, before her marriage, was Mary Pleasant Jones, daughter of Levis Senior and Nellie Jones.

Young Turner started to school as a boy in the rural schools of Virginia. After that he pursued the Normal Course at the West Virginia Collegiate Institute which he completed in 1902. He spent the school year 1905-06 at Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va., and the year 1907- 08 at the Ohio State University, of Athens, Ohio.

He was converted when about fourteen years of age and joined the Baptist Church at Jarratt, Va. His way to an education was not easy. The public schools were poor enough and he could not always be regular in his attendance, his labor being needed to make a living. So he seldom got more than three months schooling a year. In 1889 he left Virginia for public work in West Virginia and here we get a glimpse of his real character, for he carried with him a few books and devoted his evenings and spare time to study instead of gaming. Sundays always found him at Sunday School and church. This loyalty to the church and to early ideals gave tone and direction to his life. He was influenced for the useful pursuits of life largely by Rev. Dr. C. H. Payne. He showed that he was dependable and after leaving construction work on the railroad, he went to the mines, working on the coke yards at Mt. Carbon. Much of the work of the local church here developed upon him. He served as deacon, Supt. Of the Sunday School and church clerk, and as is that were not enough he was also made Superintendent of the Sunday Scjpp; at Eagle, holding one school in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon. He was called to preach, and feeling the need of better preparation for the real work of life started again to school at Institute and pursued his studies at various institutions as indicated above. About this time he began teaching, most of his work as teacher, having been done in Fayette County. In 1899 he was licensed to preach by the church at Mt. Carbon and ordained to the full work of the ministry in 1902. He was pastor of the church at Mt. Carbon for two years, he built a splendid meeting house during his pastorate at Mt. Carbon; and served the church at Gauley Bridge two years. His practical experience as a Sunday School worker as well as his studies fitted him for field work so he was engaged for a number of years for missionary work among the Sunday Schools in the summer. Such was the character of his work that the West Virginia Baptist Sunday School Convention saw the wisdom of putting him on full time. So since 1917, he has been Superintendent of Baptist Sunday School work for West Virginia on full time. His work has taken him to every part of the State and few men of the State are better known in Baptist circles.

On June 22, 1910, Mt. Turner married Miss Josephine P. Jackson, daughter of John and Nannie Jackson of Lewisburg. Mrs. Turner is also an accomplished teacher.

Mr. Turner is a Republican in politics and was for a number of years a member of the county committee. Among the Secret order he belongs to the Pythians and was for ten years Grand Prelate of the West Virginia Grand Lodge. He owns valuable property in Fayette Kanawha and Cabell Counties. Though beginning life under difficulties, Mr. Turner has refused to be discouraged and as a preacher, teacher and Sunday School worker has made a large contribution to the progress of the race in West Virginia. He edits the Sunday school Bulletin of West Virginia. For more than twenty years he has been Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist State Convention. He is also on the official board of his local association and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Baptist School at Hill Top.

His favorite reading after the Bible consists of books along the line of his work and race books, and includes such authors as Drummond, Emerson, Margaret Statterly and Tremble.


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