Turnbull Clan Association

Jihn Turnbull lived and practiced medicine in Bellbrook after he had enlisted as a private in the Civil War. He served four months, then joined another regiment as acting assistant surgeon and after a year became assistant surgeon in a third regiment. He was know to be an excellent physician who would treat patients with with medicine or advice, often to the point of annoying the patient with his frankness. A member of his church board, he was called on the carpet for swearing so freely. When asked why he did that, he replied that it made him “feel damned good.”

In the memorial annals of Greene county there are few names held in better remembrance than that of the late Dr. John Turnbull, who ·died at his home in Bellbrook in the summer of 1907 and whose widow is still living there, her place of residence ever since her marriage ·at the close of the Civil War. Doctor Turnbull served as a surgeon in the Union army during the Civil War and a narrative of his experiences in that connection would make a most interesting book. He was graduated from Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia in the spring of 1861 and had hardly returned to .his home in this county when the President's call for volunteers to put down the armed rebellion against the government came in April of that year. He at once enlisted for service and went to the front as a member of Company A, Seventeenth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, enlisted for three months. He was promoted to the position of hospital steward and after four months of service was mustered out in West Virginia. He then served gratuitously for nearly a year as a volunteer assistant surgeon with the Sixty-fifth Ohio and with the "minute men" of 1862, and then was appointed assistant surgeon of the One Hundred and Fifth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, joining that command at Tullahoma, Tennessee, July 4, 1863. The surgeon of this regiment, Dr. Charles N. Fowler, being constantly on detached service as medical director, Doctor Turnbull was practically surgeon of the One Hundred and Fifth Ohio until the close of the war.

Doctor Turnbull rendered his professional offices with a skill and a kindliness of manner that endeared him to all members of the command. During the furious charges of the battle of Chickamauga, Surgeon Turnbull was on duty with his regi­ment and two men were shot while he was dressing their wounds. After the battle was over he was left to look after the wounded and was cap­tured by the enemy, but two weeks later was released and sent through to the Union lines at Chattanooga. ·while thus a prisoner the Doctor served friend and foe alike, but his kindly offices. in behalf of such of the enemy as stood in need of surgical attention did not prevent a squad of Confederate cavalry from robbing him of his coat, hat, boots, money, case of instru­ments - in fact, everything he had save his shirt and trousers, the rebels giving him an old pair of shoes in exchange for the good pair they took from him. So completely stripped was he that in afterward describing the act the Doctor quaintly observed that the "rebs" had taken from him "about everything except his hope of salvation, which was so small they did not find it." In consequence of the exposure thus entailed Doctor Turnbull was confined for several weeks in a hospital at Chattanooga.

Dr. John Turnbull was a native son of Greene county, a member of one of the oldest families in the county, both his father and his mother having been representatives of pioneer families in -this section. He was born on a farm in Cedarville township, March 10, 1840, son of John a11d Catherine Margaret (Kyle) Turnbull, the latter of whom also was born here, daughter of Samuel and Ruth (Mitchell) Kyle, the former of whom was for many years a member of the bench of associate judges for Greene county. John Turnbull was born in the neighborhood of the "Hermitage," Andrew Jackson's retreat in the vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee, February 17, 1801,. and was stillin his "teens" when his parents, William Turnbull and wife, came up here with their family in 1817 and settled on a tract of land on what is now known as the Columbus pike, in Cedarville township, about three miles from the village of Cedarville. Of the children born to the pioneer Will­iam Turnbul1 and wife six sons, Alexander, Thomas, Gilbert, John, James and David, and two daughters, Betsey, who married Joseph Sterritt, and Isabella, who married John Chalmers, grew to maturity and reared families of their own, hence the Turnbull connection hereabout became a numerous one, as well as in the neighborhood of Monmouth, Illinois, to which latter place William Turnbull and his. sons, Alexander, Gilbert and David, moved in 1833, establishing their homes there.

John Turnbull grew to manhood on the pioneer farm in Cedarville township and on February 21, 1824, was united in marriage to Catherine Margaret Kyle, one of the daughters cf Judge Kyle. After his marriage he began farming on his own account on a farm in Cedarville township, erecting there a lo5 cabin for the reception o.f his bride. In 1842 he supplanted the log house by a good sized two­ story frame house, which on the night of the day on which it was finished was nearly destroyed by fire communicated from a blaze which had broken out in the adjoining and abandoned log cabin. The damaged house was then restored as a one-story house and in it the family lived until later a brick addition was erected. John Turnbull lived to be nearly eighty years of age, his death occurring on August 12, 1880; and he was buried in the Cedarville cemetery: He was twice married, his first wife having died in 1852, after which he married Margaret J. Allen, daughter of Hugh and Catherine Allen, and was the father of nineteen children, all of whom grew to maturity save three. The home place came into the possession of Samuel K. Turnbull, who rebuilt the house, tearing away the brick addition and erect­ing a two-story frame house. The Turnbulls, originally Seceders, became affiliated with the United Presbyterian church following the "union" of 1858.

The younger John Turnbull was reared on the home farm in Cedarville township, received his elementary schooling in the neighborhood schools. and early turned his attention to the study of medicine, presently entering Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, from which institution he wa; graduated in the spring of 1861, at twenty-one years of age. Almost imme­diately thereafter he enlisted his services in behalf of the Inion arms, as noted in the opening paragraph of this memorial sketch, and served until the close of the war. Upon the completion of his military service Doctor Turnbull returned to Greene county and opened an office for the practice of his profession in the village of Bellbrook, where he spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring there on July 19, 1907. Doctor Turnbull served for some time as president of the local board of education, as a member of the town council and at one time was the nominee of the Democratic party in this district for a seat in the Ohio General Assembly.

On September 9, 1865, Dr. John Turnbull was united in marriage to Josephine Kyle, daughter of Dr. John and Caroline (Bullard) Kyle, of Xenia, and to this union were born two children, Jesse, who died at the age of sixteen years, and Pearl A., who married Harry Armstrong, attorney­ at law, Xenia, and has one child, a daughter, Josephine. Since the death of her husband Mrs. Turnbull has continued to make her home at Bellbrook.

(Most of this information is extracted from Broadstone, Vol. #2, History of Green County Ohio 1918).

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