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Turnbull, John Warr (1840–1928)

The late John Warr Turnbull, who passed away in the Richmond Hospital on the 10th instant, was born at 'Evansdale,' a farm situated on the Hawkesbury River at Portland, some few miles below Sackville Reach. He was one of a large family, and a son of the late George and Louisa Turnbull. His early life was devoted to farming pursuits, and when quite a young man he married Miss Ann Manning, a daughter of the late George Manning, a seafaring captain who ran a trading boat on the Hawkesbury.

After their marriage the young couple settled down at 'Kelso,' on what was known as Mud Island. The issue of the marriage was seven sons and three daughters, viz., Amy (Mrs. Aspery, deceased), George and Herbert (Penrith), Percy (deceased), Alfred (Richmond), Edith (Mrs. A. C. Anderson, Comleroy Road); Fanny (Mrs. Moore, Sydney), David (Sydney), Oscar (deceased) and Charlie (Sackville), who lives at the old home.

During his life on Mud Island, the late Mr. Turnbull suffered many serious financial losses. For seven successive years floods took his crops, and in some instances just as they were fit to garner. The memorable flood of 1867 came just up to the floor of the homestead, which at the time was sheltering three families. Preparations were made to vacate the place by boat for the mountain at the back, but to the great relief of all the waters ceased to rise. Shortly they began to recede, leaving behind a scene of utter desolation.

Those were the trying times when the spirit of the deceased and his good wife were sorely put to the test; but the bread winner had a stout heart– he faced every difficulty with wonderful determination and courage. It was very interesting to chat with the old gentleman about the hard times he experienced when corn was 1/6 a bushel, eggs 4d. per dozen, young poultry 2/- a pair, and other farm produce at such low prices.

'How did you manage to live and rear your family?' was a question once put to him.

With a hearty laugh he replied that he hardly knew how it was, 'But I always had faith and worked on the bright side–something always came along to help us over the trying time,' he added.

The late Mr. Turnbull lived to enjoy many years in comfortable circumstances, and to see a beautiful orchard established on his property at Sackville Reach. His wife died seven years ago, but he still lived in the old home with his son until failing strength from old age gradually told its tale. Death claimed him at the great age of 88 years.

John Warr Turnbull was a man of fine character, honorable and upright in the truest sense. He detested anything that savored of dishonesty, and he was a great man for his church. His companion was his Bible, and a few days before he passed away he remarked that he was tired of waiting for the call Home.

The remains were interred in the family enclosure in the historic grounds of the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church. The large attendance at the graveside was ample proof of the high esteem in which the deceased was held throughout the district.

Original publication

Citation details

'Turnbull, John Warr (1840–1928)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 March 2018.

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