Turner, Amasa (1800–1877)

By: Charles Christopher Jackson

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

Amasa Turner, soldier, legislator, and pioneer Texas settler, was born on November 9, 1800, in Scituate, Massachusetts, the son of Harris and Jael (Whiton) Turner. In 1825 he moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he entered the lumber business. There he married Julia Morse on December 17, 1826. They had four children. While recovering from a bout with yellow fever in 1835, Turner journeyed to Texas to try to regain his health. After exploring in the region of the lower Colorado and Brazos rivers, he decided to settle in Texas and obtained a certificate for a headright. Before he could take up his grant, hostilities broke out between the Texans and the Mexican government. Turner joined the Texan forces defending Gonzales in September 1835 and accompanied them to San Antonio, where he fought as a lieutenant with Capt. Robert M. Coleman's Bastrop Company in the siege of Bexar. Turner was appointed recruiting officer for the revolutionary army and raised ninety-nine volunteers in New Orleans in January 1836. Upon arrival at Velasco some of these men were organized into a company of regular infantry under Turner's command. This force joined Sam Houston's army on its retreat from Gonzales and fought at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. After the battle Turner was assigned to the Texas garrison at Galveston Island and soon rose to command of the First Regular Infantry Regiment. In May 1837 he was promoted to colonel and assumed command of the Galveston post, where he remained until he retired from the army on August 5, 1837. He then took up a tract of 1,280 acres on Cedar Bayou in Harris County, where he devoted himself to growing cotton and raising cattle. He also invested heavily in developing the village of Saccarappa on Galveston Island. However, both his farming and his town-building failed, and in 1847 he sold his Cedar Bayou property and purchased an estate of 1,100 acres on the Navidad River in Lavaca County. Turner was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Lavaca and Gonzales counties in the Fourth Legislature, 1851–53, and was reelected to serve Lavaca and DeWitt counties in the Fifth Legislature, 1853–54. During the Civil War he served as provost marshal of Lavaca County; his son, a member of the Eighth Texas Cavalry, was killed in the war. At the end of the war Turner moved to Gonzales, where he died on July 21, 1877; he is buried in the Masonic Cemetery there.

Paul C. Boethel, Colonel Amasa Turner, the Gentleman from Lavaca, and Other Captains at San Jacinto (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1963). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Charles Christopher Jackson, “Turner, Amasa,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 08, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/turner-amasa.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995