Biography of Lyman Turner

Lyman Turner is a renowned farmer and stock raiser in Brown County, South Dakota. With a history of agricultural success and dedication, he has become a respected figure in his community. Born in Maine in 1842, Turner grew up in Wisconsin, honing his skills in farming and carpentry. He selflessly served in the Civil War, participating in numerous battles without sustaining any injuries. After the war, he ventured into various occupations before settling in South Dakota. Turner’s commitment to agriculture and stock raising has earned him a prominent position among farmers and cattle breeders. His sturdy character, industry, and foresight have contributed to his thriving business and his standing as a public-spirited citizen.

Lyman Turner.— The subject of this review enjoys the distinction of being one of the leading farmers and stock raisers of Brown County, and his long period of residence in this part of South Dakota has made his name a household word throughout a large section of the country. Lyman Turner is of New England birth, being a native of Oxford County, Maine, where he first saw the light of day on June 5, of the year 1842. When a boy, he accompanied his parents to Dodge County, Wisconsin, where he grew to manhood and received his education, meanwhile becoming skillful in the use of tools by working on the farm with his father, who was a carpenter and millwright.

Young Turner devoted his attention to mechanical and farm work until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he laid aside the pursuits of civilian life and went to the maintaining of the integrity of the Union. Enlisting August 14, 1861, in Company B, Tenth Wisconsin Infantry, he served successively in the armies of the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee and was with his command through all its vicissitudes of campaign and contest, from Perryville to the fall of Atlanta, participating in eighteen pitched battles, besides numerous minor engagements and skirmishes, and under all circumstances bearing himself as a true soldier, who made duty paramount to every other consideration. With the exception of a short time in the hospital, he was never absent from his command, and notwithstanding the number of bloody engagements in which he took part, and the many times he was exposed to danger and death, he came through the trying ordeal without wound or injury. Being honorably discharged in the fall of 1864, after three years and two months of strenuous and faithful service, Mr. Turner returned to Wisconsin and spent the winter at the high school at Harrison. In the spring of 1863, he came to Blue Earth County, Minnesota, where he followed agricultural pursuits until 1871, in which year he married and moved onto a farm in Faribault County, that state, which he operated for two years. He then traded the farm for a stock of general merchandise, and for two years conducted a store, having the post office in connection. In the fall of 1875, he lost everything by fire, and then went to work at contracting and building. In the spring of 1877, he came to South Dakota, and locating at Sioux Falls, spent the ensuing five years as a contractor and builder, during which time he did considerable work in that city and other places. Returning to Wisconsin in 1882, he spent one year at Superior, that state, but in the spring of 1883, again came west and decided to make his permanent home in Brown County, South Dakota. After spending one year at Columbia as a contractor, he discontinued mechanical pursuits and opening a hardware store in that town, soon found himself at the head of a thriving and constantly growing business. His establishment became large and extensively patronized, but after managing the same until 1893, he disposed of his stock and turned his attention to agricultural pursuits, moving in 1894 to a rented farm of six hundred and four acres which he farmed till 1900, when he moved onto his own farm of three hundred and eighty-five acres and gave it the name of the Badger farm, by which it is now known.

Since 1894, Mr. Turner has devoted his entire attention to agriculture and stock raising, and his success in both these lines has steadily increased until he now ranks with the foremost farmers and cattle raisers, not only in this county but in the eastern part of the state. He farms two hundred and forty acres of his land and makes a specialty of graded Shorthorn cattle, in the breeding and raising of which he has achieved an enviable reputation. For several years past, he has rented and grown between five hundred and six hundred acres of grain, with an annual product of about six thousand bushels, the large yield attesting the great fertility of his land and its peculiar adaptability to any kind of crop grown in this latitude. Mr. Turner has made many valuable improvements on his farm and could easily dispose of it at fifty dollars per acre, a remarkable advancement on the amount which he originally invested in the land. He has no desire to sell, however, being content with the beautiful and attractive home he has secured and satisfied with the life he now leads, as a prosperous and thrifty tiller of the soil and a raiser of fine livestock, which, with his surplus grain crops, yields him a liberal and continuously increasing income.

In his political sentiment, Mr. Turner is a pronounced Republican, and he has been one of the active party workers in Brown County, frequently being chosen a delegate to local, district, and state conventions, but his ambition has never led him to seek office nor aspire to any kind of public distinction. Coming to South Dakota more than twenty-seven years ago, he has witnessed the remarkable advancement of the state along the line of material development, and like other enterprising men of his class, has encouraged to the limit of his ability this steady growth, having faith in the ultimate greatness of the commonwealth and in the stability of its institutions. Mr. Turner possesses a strong and sturdy character, and his prominence as a public-spirited citizen has made him widely and favorably known throughout the county of which he is an honored resident. His industry, economy, and consecutive application have enabled him to acquire a handsome property and become one of the well-to-do men of his community, while his strength of mind and activity in all of his undertakings constitute him a leader whom others are wont to imitate and follow.

Mr. Turner’s family consists of himself and his wife only, their union having never been blessed with offspring. He has raised two children, however, and provided liberally for their maintenance, giving them the best educational advantages the country affords and sparing no pains in looking after their interests and preparing them for lives of honor and usefulness. Mrs. Turner, formerly Miss Nettie Emerson, was born in Ellisburg, Jefferson County, New York, but in the fall of 1856, when about ten years of age, accompanied her parents upon their removal to Minnesota, where she lived until her marriage to Mr. Turner, in April 1871. She and her husband are consistent communicants of the Congregational church, being among the original members of the congregation worshiping at Columbia.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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