Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Peterfield Turpin (1840-1891)

   This bearded fellow is Peterfield Turpin, a native Kentuckian who found business and political fame in the Washington Territory. Little could be found on this Washington Territorial pioneer, excepting a small write-up in the 1891 Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue.
  Peterfield Turpin was born in Warsaw, Gallatin County, Kentucky on May 3, 1840, the son of Edward Augustus (1804-1880) and Elizabeth January Satterwhite Turpin. No information could be found in relation to Turpin's early years or education, and it is assumed that he received his education in the Gallatin County area.
   Peterfield Turpin turned 18 in 1858 and it was in this year that he received an appointment as a deputy surveyor under James Tilton (a past Washington Territory Adjutant General) and together the two served in the General Land Office in Olympia for a few years. In September 1861 Turpin married Ms. Eunice Maria Harned and eventually had four children, who are listed as follows: Edward Augustus (birthdate unknown), Frank Blair (born 1866), Jesse Bright (birthdate unknown) and Mary Elizabeth (born 1871). 
   Within a few years of settling in the Olympia area, Turpin was mentioned in the Olympia Tribune Souvenir as being "a capitalist, well provided as far as this life is concerned." Also during this time, Turpin began to seek political office, and in 1869 was elected as auditor of Stevens County, Washington. Further political honors were accorded to him in 1875 when he was named as Sergeant-at-Arms of the Washington Territorial Assembly.

A Washington Territorial Assembly roster from 1883 bearing Peterfield Turpin's name.

   In addition to his service as Sergeant-at-Arms of the Assembly, Turpin was elected to a term of his own in the legislature in 1883 (representing Thurston County.) He served a two-year term in the territorial legislature and while his tenure in the state government may have been short, he had "many cases of trust and importance within the gift of his fellow citizens."
  Little else could be found on the life of Peterfield Turpin. It is known that he died at age 51 on December 24, 1891 in Los Angeles, California and was later interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife Eunice, who died in San Diego, California in September 1915. The rare portrait of Turpin shown above was featured in the Olympia Tribune Souvenir Issue of 1891 and was originally found via the Olympia Historical Society's website.


  1. Peterfield died in Los Angeles, CA and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles, Calif. along with his wife Eunice who died 8-5-1915 in San Diego, California.
    Submitted by Peterfield B. Turpin, Glendale, Calif.

  2. Mr. Turpin,

    Many thanks for your comment and your correction in regards to Peterfield Turpin's death in California and not Olympia, as I had originally listed it. I'd be interested to know of any other details on Turpin's life after his legislative service, and I hadn't known that he and his wife had migrated to California after his time in the territorial assembly!

  3. Mrs. Peterfield TurpinDecember 2, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    Sorry for the delay. I just typed and looked up lots of information on Peterfield Turpin and tried to send and at that point it all disappeared. If you would like the history and origin of the name Peterfield by all means email me at pturpin249@aol.com and I will email it to you. Mrs. Peterfield B. Turpin