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The Frances Day Turner and Bazil Turner Family

Bazil Turner was a young man, approximately 18 years-old, when the first reference was made to him in Elizabeth O. Carter’s diary.  She recorded the following on December 28, 1862: “Bazel went back to O. [Oatlands] with letters + c. [so on].”  Elizabeth had moved from Oatlands to her plantation named Bellefield, near Upperville, after the Battle of Ball’s Bluff north of Leesburg.  Her diary entry indicated that Bazil had taken letters and other items back to Oatlands.  He was mentioned six more times in the diary, including what must have been a terrifying experience on September 3, 1864.  Two soldiers robbed him of $60 that he was delivering on behalf of Elizabeth’s son, George.  The last diary entry that referred to Bazil was in May 1866 when Elizabeth wrote that he came to Bellefield from Oatlands with pepper and tomato plants.

The first U.S. Census after the Civil War was in 1870, and Bazil was recorded as living with the Alfred Belt family (a white family) north of Leesburg. Bazil was listed as 26 years-old with an occupation of laborer, probably on Belt’s farm.  Three other African Americans were living on the farm and it’s not known if they had once been connected to Oatlands: Butler Ash, a 20 year-old male laborer; Mary Calvert, a 17 year-old domestic servant; and Hattie Thompson, a 22 year-old domestic servant.

Bazil (age 24) married Frances Day (age 21) on April 27, 1871.  His parents were listed in the marriage register as Martin and Lucy Turner and his birth place as Culpeper County, Virginia.  Frances was the daughter of Emanuel and Virginia Day, who had once been enslaved at Oatlands. It is not known if Martin and Lucy were, too.

Determing Bazil's parentage and place of birth is not conclusive. Another marriage record lists his father's name as Masters, not Martin.  This could be a transcription error.  Various census records list his birth place as either Georgia (1880 Census. Georgia was also listed as the birthplace of his parents) or North Carolina (1900 and 1910 Censuses).  His death record lists it as North Carolina.

By the time the 1880 census was taken, Bazil and his family were living in Gleedsville.  During the course of their marriage, he and Frances had at least eight children:

Milton – born 1872

Clazy I.[or Claby I.] – born 1874

Lucy – born 1876

Oden – born 1877

Leanna – born 1886

Louise – born 1890

Hester – born 1893

Mary E. – born 1896

By 1882, Bazil purchased 5 ¾ acres of land in Gleedsville. He worked for the second generation of Carters to live at Oatlands, George and Kate Carter, and is recalled fondly in family remembrances of the Carter children.

After Edith and William Corcoran Eustis bought Oatlands in 1903, Bazil continued to be employed there as a gardener. He appeared briefly in a family film made in 1931 when Margaret Eustis married David Finley at Oatlands House. Another Eustis daughter, Helen, wrote that she rode her pony over to Bazil’s house.

Frances died by the time the 1910 Census was taken and Bazil outlived her by two decades, passing away on November 3, 1931, at the age of 78 (approximate).  He was buried at the cemetery in Gleedsville.  His death record listed his occupation as farm laborer and birth place as North Carolina.