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George Washington Turley

Tri-founder of Mt. Pulaski

       George Washington Turley’s father, James Turley, moved to Lake Fork in 1820 and was the first white settler in the area.  It was James Turley who developed all of Lake Fork, established the first organized religion of the area, consulted for all legal matters by local settlers, and the only white settler that could negotiate with the local Indians in the area. Historical documents have stated that he alone prevented an "Indian massacre" from happening.   There was no land office for Sangamon County in 1820, so James Turley was unable to record his land purchases.  He continued to purchase land and in 1824 the new land office opened in Springfield for the county.  He continued to purchase land and one of his sons, George W. Turley, followed in his father's footsteps purchasing large amounts of land throughout his young life.

       George W. Turley felt there needed to be a town between Decatur and Springfield, so he allocated several hundred acres of his land to this plan.  He had the area surveyed, platted and named as the town "Georgetown"  (Georgetown is shown on original maps of George W. Turley’s land including the mound where Mount Pulaski now stands).  George had named it Georgetown, not after himself but rather after a close family friend whom his father, James, had served with during the Revolutionary War:  General George Washington.   

       Two doctors, Barton Robinson and Alexander Shields, had been boarding at Jabez Capps' residence in Springfield.   Dr. Shields had made his country rounds and was returning to Springfield going through George W. Turley’s land.   Along the way, he noticed the "mound" and thought it would make a beautiful setting for a town.  Upon returning to Capps' boarding house he discussed this with Dr. Robinson, who made inquiries to Mr. Capps as to who owned the "mound" land.   Jabez (as with anyone who lived on or purchased property owned by a Turley in the area) knew it was George W. Turley's land and offered to take him out and introduce the two of them.

        George Washington Turley was reluctant to scrap the plan of his already platted out and named town; however, Dr. Robinson convinced Turley that the new location would be a better decision for a new town as the mound could be seen from a great distance.  Turley then stopped his progress on Georgetown and agreed to use his land on the mound for the new venture.  Dr. Robinson and George W. Turley entered into an agreement for the development of a land management company, with Turley entering his personal land and the value therein as well as money to develop a mercantile business and church, and Dr. Robinson entering his financial support.    There has been nothing of record where Capps entered anything into the agreement other than his expertise as a mercantile manager nor has any records been found indicating any Capps’ financial support for the new town nor did Capps purchase any land in Pulaski until many years later.    Records and books on Logan County history, in the Sangamon Valley Collection, stated that George W. Turley put up a "small building for storage of goods for the mercantile store" and that he had given Capps initial capital to go to ST. Louis and purchase goods.  Capps bought a small log cabin and had it moved to Pulaski so that he could move his new family (he had just remarried) to the new town and start business as soon as possible.  George W. Turley went about selling off the platted lots to the new founded town of "Pulaski".  The Capps’ log cabin was placed on the land George W. Turley had set aside for the mercantile store.  

       Another stipulation George W. Turley insisted upon was that since he was the primary partner (the town was being developed on his land, and he would be giving up the initial start-up capital for this venture) he would have proprietary to naming this town.   He decided he would name his second town, Pulaski, after yet another friend of the family, who also served with his father in the Revolutionary War, Count Casmir Pulaski.

       George W. Turley was a very close and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, as documented by several articles in the "Times-News, Mount Pulaski, IL,  Thursday July 13, 1961".   When George W. Turley felt it was time for a new county and county seat, he again put his money on the vision and enlisted his friend, Abraham Lincoln (who was now serving in the legislature and just happened to be Chair of the committee for just such a task).   It is well documented that Lincoln was able to redistrict boundary lines and form a new county from an edge of Sangamon County.  This occurred in 1839 and Mr. Lincoln named it Logan County after a personal friend of his (Dr. John Logan, a fellow member of the state legislature).  When the County Seat was established, it put Mount Pulaski ' on the map' and it began to prosper.   In 1853, a group began pushing to have the county seat relocated to the town of Lincoln, which had been so named in Abraham Lincoln’s honor by friends of his during that same year.  Turley, again, put his money on the line and sued the county.   The lawyer for the parties for relocation was Abraham Lincoln.    As a businessman, Turley knew that relocation would have financial impact on the continued growth of Mount Pulaski.  The relocation of the Logan County Seat was voted upon and passed in the election of 1853—the Logan County population center had shifted more to its center, where the city of Lincoln had been established that year.  Also, the Chicago-Bloomington-Springfield-St. Louis train line had been recently completed, which now ran through the new town of Lincoln.  George Turley and others of Mount Pulaski filed a bill in the Logan County Court to “restrain the county officers from erecting county buildings on the new location…” due to discrepancies, they reasoned, that had been made during the Illinois House of Representatives’ decision for passing the legislative bill to have the county seat relocation appear on the 1853 election ballot.  In February of 1854, the Illinois State Supreme Court rendered its decision of this Mount Pulaski bill in favor of the relocation to the city of Lincoln.   It is said that George W. Turley lost both of his suits to great financial loss.  [note:  more on these two Turley court cases are included in:  Abraham Lincoln in Logan County, Illinois 1834-1860 by Paul Beaver (2010)].

George W. Turley (b)  5 March 1798 Mt. Sterling Montgomery County KY
 (d)  28 Feb 1865 Logan Co. IL
SON of:  James Turley III (b. 8 Jan 1761 in  Va.) & Agnes Kirby (b. 3 May 1763 in  Va.)

In 1820 James and Agnes removed with their family (of which GWT was one) from KY to Lake Fork  in what was then Sangamon County.   He had 80 acres and continued to purchase land throughout his life, as did his children.   Since there was no Land Office, James was unable to file his land purchases from 1820 until 1824, when the Land Office was opened in Springfield.  

George married in 1826 to Margaret Ann Swindler Sims (Widow Sims) (d) 1832
         issues w/ Margaret (Annie):
                                                             1.   Richard E. Turley (b) 1827   Logan County IL            md.    Anna Baxter
                                                                                 * CW (Civil War) Vet mustered in 17 Sept 1862  Co. "B" IL 106th Inf.  Officer
    2.  Mary Louisa  (b)  1829  Logan County IL   
                                           3.  Emily (b)  1832  Logan County IL   (d)  1832  Logan County IL
                                                          George md.  #2:  Margaret (Maggie) Powell Scott (widow Scott)
                  issues w/ #2   Margaret (Maggie)
          4. (4th child of George - 1st child w/ wife #2)
                          Elizabeth (b) 1834          md.  Chalton C. Buckles   
5.  Henry C.  (b) 1836   Logan County IL    
    6.  Frances Ann (b) 1838   Logan County IL
  7.   Daniel W.   (b) 1840  Logan County IL

by Sharon Stone-Cook [Certified Genealogist and Lineage Specialist]
Nov. 13, 2010
[edited by Phil Bertoni]