Turney, William Ward (1861–1939)

By: Martin Donell Kohout

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

William Ward Turney, lawyer, legislator, and rancher, was born on July 11, 1861, in Marshall, Texas, the son of Albert Gallatin and Salina (Ward) Turney. He attended Sam Houston Normal Institute in Huntsville. After graduation he taught at Hallsville until 1886 and then for a year at Fort Davis. In 1887 he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law in Alpine. He was elected the first county attorney of Brewster County in 1887, served as a county commissioner, and represented Brewster County in a legal dispute with Presidio County over debts incurred before the establishment of Brewster County. His younger brother, A. M. Turney, followed him to Brewster County and also became a prominent civic leader; he was a state representative, county judge, and county attorney. In 1892 Turney moved to El Paso, where he was a partner in the firm of Turney, Burges, Culwell, and Pollard until 1938, when he became a partner in the firm of Jones, Turney, Hardie, Grambling, and Howell. In El Paso he served as general counsel to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, the El Paso Union Passenger Depot Company, the Texas Cities Gas Company, and the Mexican Northwestern Railway Company. From 1918 to 1925 Turney also served as a director of the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank and was the first director to serve as chairman of the board in 1925. In 1892 he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1894 and two years later won election to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1902. In Austin he became known for supporting legislation to help ranchers. His sympathy for the cattleman was to be expected, for Turney was one himself. He bought the O2 Ranch in Brewster County and expanded it to 200,000 acres; at one time he had 18,000 cattle on the ranch. He was a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, of which he was president in 1901–03 and again in 1915–16, and the American National Live Stock Association. He was also a member of the American and Texas bar associations. Turney, a Methodist, married Iva Guthrie at Alpine on December 15, 1892. They had no children. He died in El Paso on March 23, 1939.

National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 29. Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Martin Donell Kohout, “Turney, William Ward,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/turney-william-ward.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995