Thursday, May 20, 2010

Founder's headstone glimpse at history

Major William Iredell Turner's headstone was difficult to decipher.

Its inscription had been worn away by the Florida elements and time.

Especially time.

The man who founded Bradenton in 1878 had been buried there in Parrish Cemetery for nearly 130 years.

Yet Turner's headstone remains a historical touchstone.

He was a veteran of the Seminole War and the Civil War, a fact not forgotten by those who placed small Confederate flags at his gravesite as well as others around the old cemetery.

His great grandson, Bill Turner, noting the flags, made an interesting observation that belied their presence.

"Major Turner tried to recruit for the Confederate Army, the 10th Florida Militia, but he was upset because it wasn't a good recruiting area," said the 75-year-old Bradenton retiree. "Bartow was settled and Southern. So was Lakeland. Tampa, too. But there were too many Northeners down here."

Not in this cemetery.

Turner's gravesite is about the 18th one in from the road. Everyone buried in that row was a relation.

The same went for other headstones in the cemetery that bore the names of other families of hearty folk, who settled the area during his time --- Gillett, Harrison and Parrish.

"Most everybody out here is kin," Bill Turner said.

That's the way it will stay, too, at least in his case.

Bill Turner's got a burial plot one row over and a dozen paces down from William Iredell Turner.

"I'll be interred here, too," the great grandson said. "This is my heritage."

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