Green, Turner Lundy (1813–1876)

By: Katie Conzonire

Type: Biography

Published: September 9, 2020

Updated: October 13, 2020


Turner Lundy Green, lawyer and legislator, was born in Nolensville, Williamson County, Tennessee, to parents Sherwood Green and Martha “Patsy” Henrietta (Christmas) Green. According to his tombstone, he was born on January 12, 1813. His father was a wealthy lawyer and planter and owned thirty-three slaves as of 1830.

Entering politics at the age of twenty-three, Turner Green in 1835 ran for his county’s seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. His effort failed, and two years later he sought the office again, only to be defeated by more than 600 votes. Green apparently began his political career as a Democrat, but he supported railroad development—a favorite cause of the Whig party—and by 1840 he had cast his political lot with the Whigs.

Green moved to Arkansas sometime between 1840 and 1843. His attendance was recorded in a Johnson County Whig meeting in Clarksville, Arkansas, on December 23, 1843. The aim of the meeting was to approve a Whig convention in Little Rock where presidential electors and candidates for governor and U. S. Congress were to be chosen. At some point after his relocation to Arkansas, he also apparently was elected a general in the state militia, although details are not known. In January 1845 Green announced his candidacy for major general of the First Division of the Arkansas Militia. Records do not indicate whether he won the race, but since he was already known as “General” Green, the major general’s rank must have constituted an attempted promotion. Green’s name does not appear on any lists of Arkansas volunteers to have served in the Mexican War.

Turner Green married Delilah Russell on December 3, 1845, in Franklin County, Arkansas. They had four daughters. In 1847, after the end of the Mexican War, Green was appointed chairman of the committee in charge of welcoming home the soldiers. By 1852 he had been elected to the Whig state central committee, and that year he served as a Whig party presidential elector. In 1853 he was mentioned as a possible Whig candidate for Arkansas secretary of state and for a U. S. Senate seat.

That same year, however, Turner Green moved to Texas and apparently settled in Sulphur Springs. His first wife, Delilah, died there shortly thereafter, a few months after the birth of their fourth daughter. By 1855 Green had relocated to Bonham, where he was elected to represent Fannin County (along with Hopkins and Red River counties) in the House of the Sixth Texas Legislature. He served on the Military Affairs, Privileges and Elections, Internal Improvements, and Judiciary committees as well as several select committees. Continuing to display his Whiggish interest in developing transportation infrastructure, he was a particularly active member of the Internal Improvements Committee, where he established a record as a strong advocate for Texas railroad expansion. In 1856 Green attended a convention concerned with expanding the railroad system all the way to El Paso. The bill associated with railroad expansion proposed that Texas use its educational funds and invest that money in railroad bonds. Around this same time, Green married his second wife, Mary Loderna Ferris, on February 7, 1856. The 1860 census recorded that they had one daughter together.

By the late 1850s the national Whig party, which had never been strong in Texas, had fallen apart, and Green now participated actively in Fannin County Democratic politics. In 1859, when North Texans grew concerned about alleged abolitionist activities in the region, Green played a prominent role in a meeting of Fannin County citizens “held for the purpose of taking steps necessary to rid our county” of northern agitators who were “stealthily engaged in promulgating their incendiary doctrines.” In 1861 Green revived his political career for a brief nine-month term in the state Senate of the Eighth Texas Legislature. He was appointed to this position after the resignation of Martin D. Hart. The South was moving towards secession at this point, and Green was aware of the growing distaste for the Union. On January 26, 1861, he reported approvingly that members of the state secession convention were “now largely in the majority for secession, if our rights are not protected in the Union.” Once the Civil War actually began, Green continued his support for the secessionist effort by serving as a Confederate tax accessor and collector for District 25.

In 1861 Green’s second wife, Mary, died. Green married Elizabeth M. Wren on November 21, 1862. In 1863 the Greens made their final move back to Sulphur Springs. Little is known about the last years of his life. On March 10, 1876, Turner Green died of an unknown illness in Sulphur Springs. He was described by his peers as having a face “full of smiles” and known for always having something pleasant to say. He was survived by his third wife and all of his children and was buried in Sulphur Springs City Cemetery.

The Daily Favorite (Bonham, Texas), March 2, 1909. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Turner Greene (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=4988&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=green~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed February 12, 2020. “Turner Lundy Green,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/5455443/turner-lundy-green), accessed August 31, 2020.

Categories:

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Railroad and Transportation Law
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • House
  • Senate
  • State Legislators
  • Eighth Legislature (1859-1861)
  • Sixth Legislature (1855-1856)
  • Transportation and Railroads

Time Periods:

  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Katie Conzonire, “Green, Turner Lundy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 23, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/green-turner-lundy.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 9, 2020
October 13, 2020

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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