Family History Mystery: Sallie John Turner

Whatever Happened to Sallie John Turner?

My maternal family is from Greensville County, VA. The family left the area and moved to Norfolk, VA around the turn of the twentieth century. I would appreciate any insights into a particular matter involving my aunt, Sallie John Turner, and her disappearance. She was carried off to Liberty, Clay, Missouri, by the Rev. William Frost Bishop, who ran a private school for a time in Greensville County.

About five years ago, I received this news clipping that appeared in an edition of the Norfolk Journal and Guide on 12 Sept. 1936. It features my 3rd great-grandmother (Josephine Hoxey b.1865-before 1940), 2nd great-grand aunt (Sallie John Turner b. 1880-????), and Rev. William Frost Bishop (1852-1913). This article confirms that Sallie was a part of the Bishop household, as she appeared in the 1900 US Census as a servant:

A Mother’s Plea-12 Sept. 1936-Norfolk Journal and Guide

Here is the text of the article:

Mrs. Josephine Hoxey of 218 Kent St in Norfolk, Va wsihes (sic) to locate her daughter, Sallie John Turner, who, when last heard from, was in Liberty, Mo. Miss Turner was adopted by Rev. Mr. Bishop, who is a former Virginia resident, about 40 years ago. The daughter was carried away and has never been seen by the mother since. However the mother has heard that she is living with Rev. Mr. Bishop and his family in Liberty, Mo. At the time she last saw her daughter, Mrs. Hoxey was in Emporia, Va. Please send all information to Mrs. Hoxey at the above address or to the Journal and Guide.

The circumstances surrounding why Sallie may have been “adopted” into the Bishop household are still elusive. Josephine’s marriage to Rev. John H. Turner, B.D., a Baptist teacher and minister, seems to have been more complicated than not. The absence of Rev. Turner in the everyday functions of his household may have provided an opportunity for this situation. On the other hand, it is possible that the “adoption” may have been a way for Sallie to be upwardly-mobile in Josephine’s eyes.

The article mentions that Sallie had been adopted some 40 years earlier. Many many thanks to Ms. M. Jeanne for graciously sending it to me. Of course, the power imbalance must be considered in all of this. It’s difficult to believe that Josephine had much negotiating strength in terms of her daughter entering the Bishop household. Also, in her published plea, Josephine may have chosen her words very carefully by describing the situation as an “adoption.”

What we know is that when Rev. Frost received the call to go to Liberty, Missouri, Sallie was carried away, too. The last time that Josephine saw Sallie, Josephine was in Emporia. Josephine later moved to Norfolk, VA and remarried. Though Sallie’s name was listed in the 1910 US Census in Norfolk, it is believed that she was counted in absentia, Josephine believing that her daughter was still alive.

Josephine never did hear again from her daughter, her 1936 plea going unheard. Sadly, Josephine passed away in 1938.

This article was brought to my attention 78 years and one day after it was first printed. Josephine Hoxey was the former Josephine Turner. She was daughter of Emeline Potts Eppes (1842-bef.1900?) of Greensville County.

The photo of Sallie is courtesy of a descendant of Rev. William Frost Bishop. After searching, I was able to contact him and he was kind enough to provide the only existing photo that we have of her. The descendant, R.A., also furnished some journal entry information from his ancestor’s papers. Those entries were helpful in establishing a timeline for Sallie in Missouri with the Bishop household. It seems that by 1903, Sallie and the Bishop family moved to Carthage, Missouri and the family installed another servant. Sallie, per the 1910 US Census, was working as a cook in the household of mining magnate, Thomas K. Irwin, in Carthage, Missouri.

1910, so far, is the last clear record of Sallie’s whereabouts.
Any information is most appreciated. Through the years, the story of her loss to the family has been told and retold. As a family, we seek to find out what happened to Sallie John Turner.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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