Turner, Thomas Fontaine (1864–1929)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 25, 2017

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Thomas Fontaine Turner, attorney, son of Thomas Coke and Susan (Thomas) Turner, was born on August 13, 1864, near Caldwell, Texas. He was orphaned at the age of nine and went to live with an uncle in Georgia, where he received his first formal schooling. After returning to Texas at sixteen, he completed his formal education at Soule College in Chappell Hill. He then studied law in the office of W. K. Holman at Caldwell and was admitted to the bar in 1885. Turner practiced law in Caldwell for the next four years and supported prohibition. In 1889 he moved to Amarillo, and after seven years there he lived intermittently at Bowie and Jacksboro. He married Willie Alberta Lockhart at Brenham on September 17, 1890. In 1900 he returned to Amarillo, where he made his permanent home. Over the next twenty years he had several law partners, including H. H. Wallace, H. G. Hendricks, George W. Wharton, Albert S. Rollins, J. B. Dooley, and William W. Gibson. Turner served as attorney for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company and also for water and electric utilities in Amarillo. As a civic leader he was president of the Amarillo Bar Association and a charter member of the Amarillo Lions Club. He was an amateur poet and history enthusiast, a founder and the first president of the Panhandle Old Settlers' Association, and a founding member and second president of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. He was noted for his generosity and support of charitable causes and was a pillar in the Polk Street Methodist Church, where he served in various capacities. He was also a trustee of Clarendon College and a member of the board that established Southern Methodist University. Turner's fellow lawyers deemed him "a Christian gentleman of the supremest type." He took up golf as a favorite pastime. On September 15, 1929, he died from injuries received in a collision while on his way home from the Amarillo Country Club. The Thomas F. Turner Memorial Library at Amarillo Junior College was named by the Amarillo Bar Association in his honor.

J. B. Dooley, "Sketch of the Life and Character of Thomas Fontaine Turner," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 3 (1930). Joseph A. Hill, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and Its Museum (Canyon, Texas: West Texas State College Press, 1955). H. C. Randolph, Panhandle Lawyers (Amarillo: Russell Stationery, 1931).


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

H. Allen Anderson, “Turner, Thomas Fontaine,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/turner-thomas-fontaine.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 25, 2017