BISHOP H.M. TURNER,D.D.
as born near Newbury Court House, South Carolina, February 1, 1833 or 1834. His mother’s maiden name was Sarah Greer, the youngest daughter of David Greer, who was brought to this country when a boy and sold in Charleston, S. C. Greer was the son of an African king. His father, the African king, sent seven African slaves for the return of his son, but the captain of the slave ship dying before he returned, the son received his freedom when South Carolina was still under British rule, upon the ground that Royal blood could not be enslaved. Henry McNeal Turner was the oldest son of Hardy Turner and Sarah Greer Turner. Henry grew up on the cotton fields of South Carolina, and when eight or nine years old he dreamed he was on a high mountain and millions of people were looking up at him for instruction, white and colored. He then procured a spelling book and commenced to learn to read and write, to prepare to give that vast multitude instruction. He got a white boy to teach him his alphabet and how to spell to three syllables. By this time he was large enough to wait in a law office at Abbeville Court House, S. C. The young lawyers took great pleasure in giving him instruction in their leisure moments for pastime. He gained a respectable knowledge of history, arithmetic, geography, astronomy and some other branches, but would not study grammar, as he thought he could talk well enough without a knowledge of grammar.
He made such remarkably rapid progress that by the time he was fifteen years old he had read the Bible through five times, and by the aid of Walker’s Pronouncing Dictionary and the young white lawyers he became a good reader, and read Watson’s Apology for the Bible, Buck’s Theological Dictionary and very largely in Dr. Adam Clark’s Commentary and other books. He became acquainted with the African M. E. Church, joined the same, leaving the M. E. Church South, met the Conference in St. Louis, Mo., and was admitted after an examination. Bishop D. A. Payne, D. D., LL. D., appointed him to a mission in Baltimore city. While he served his appointment he studied English Grammar, Latin, Greek, German and the Hebrew languages, and became what was regarded as an excellent scholar. He studied the rules of elocution under Dr. Cummings of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and was regarded as quite an orator. He was appointed in charge of Israel Church, Washington, D. C., and his fame became so notable that President Lincoln appointed him Chaplain, the first colored man that was ever made a commissioned officer in the United States Army. He served his regiment so faithfully and gained such a reputation that President Johnson commissioned him a Chaplain in the regular service of the United States Army. He resigned in a short time and commenced the organization of the A. M. E. Church in Georgia, and was so abundantly successful that the General Conference elected him manager of the Publication Department in 1876. He served there four years with headquarters in Philadelphia, and in 1880 the General Conference sitting in St. Louis, Mo., elected him Bishop, and on the 20th of May he was consecrated to that holy office. Bishop Turner has worked up territory enough as an organiser of the A. M. E. Church to demand five conferences. He has organized four conferences in Africa, making eleven conferences that he is the founder of.