A pioneer citizen and politician in the Oklahoma Territory, Mazeppa Thomas Turner served in the first session of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives in 1908. He was originally a resident of Virginia, being born in Greenville County on May 8, 1840 and later removed with his family to Mississippi at age five.
Turner removed to Shelby County, Tennessee in the late 1850s and married here in 1860 to Laura Johnson, with whom he would have five children: Elizabeth B. (1865-1901), Edward Bynum (1872-1947), Jack (1874-1890) and Polly (1878-1953). Laura Johnson Turner died in 1890 at age 50, and a few months after her death Mazeppa remarried to Alice Atkins, and three further children (Angie Mae, Reginald and Mildred) were born to this union.
Turner joined the Confederate Army shortly after the Civil War began and served under the command of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (later infamous for founding the Ku Klux Klan). Turner subsequently saw action at the battles of Chickamauga, Shiloh and Selma, and after the hostilities ceased, resettled in the Choctaw Indian Territory.
Throughout the succeeding years, Turner engaged in farming pursuits and cattle raising in his native Murray County, Oklahoma. The First Administration of Oklahoma (where the above picture of Turner was located) also notes that he served as a Davis, Oklahoma city alderman before going to the legislature. When Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907, Turner was urged by the residents of Murray County to run for a seat in the newly established State House of Representatives. He defeated his opponent J.W. McCall by over 1,000 votes and took his seat in 1908.
While serving in the legislature, Turner became a prime mover in the development and construction of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, and was one of the drafters of the Oklahoma State Constitution. He also held a seat on the committee on Charities and Corrections during his first term. Turner was later elected to a second term in the state house in 1910 before retiring to private life. The earlier mentioned First Administration of Oklahoma sums up Turner's stint in the legislature as being "one of the quiet, conscientious, hardworking members of the house."
Mazeppa Turner died in Murray County at age 80 on August 29, 1920 and shortly thereafter was interred at the Dougherty Cemetery in Dougherty, Oklahoma. In an interesting side note, Turner Falls (a large waterfall/park located near Davis, Oklahoma) was named in honor of Mazeppa Turner in the years after his death.
Mazeppa Turner, 1840-1920.