While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


H. Allen Anderson

TURNER, THOMAS FONTAINE (1864–1929). Thomas Fontaine Turner, attorney, son of Thomas Coke and Susan (Thomas) Turner, was born on August 13, 1864, near Caldwell, Texas. He was orphaned at the age of nine and went to live with an uncle in Georgia, where he received his first formal schooling. After returning to Texas at sixteen, he completed his formal education at Soule College in Chappell Hill. He then studied law in the office of W. K. Holman at Caldwell and was admitted to the bar in 1885. Turner practiced law in Caldwell for the next four years and supported prohibition. In 1889 he moved to Amarillo, and after seven years there he lived intermittently at Bowie and Jacksboro. He married Willie Alberta Lockhart at Brenham on September 17, 1890. In 1900 he returned to Amarillo, where he made his permanent home. Over the next twenty years he had several law partners, including H. H. Wallace, H. G. Hendricks, George W. Wharton, Albert S. Rollins, J. B. Dooley, and William W. Gibson. Turner served as attorney for the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company and also for water and electric utilities in Amarillo. As a civic leader he was president of the Amarillo Bar Association and a charter member of the Amarillo Lions Club. He was an amateur poet and history enthusiast, a founder and the first president of the Panhandle Old Settlers' Association, and a founding member and second president of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. He was noted for his generosity and support of charitable causes and was a pillar in the Polk Street Methodist Church, where he served in various capacities. He was also a trustee of Clarendon College and a member of the board that established Southern Methodist University. Turner's fellow lawyers deemed him "a Christian gentleman of the supremest type." He took up golf as a favorite pastime. On September 15, 1929, he died from injuries received in a collision while on his way home from the Amarillo Country Club. The Thomas F. Turner Memorial Library at Amarillo Junior College was named by the Amarillo Bar Association in his honor.


J. B. Dooley, "Sketch of the Life and Character of Thomas Fontaine Turner," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 3 (1930). Joseph A. Hill, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and Its Museum (Canyon, Texas: West Texas State College Press, 1955). H. C. Randolph, Panhandle Lawyers (Amarillo: Russell Stationery, 1931).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "TURNER, THOMAS FONTAINE," accessed August 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ftu12.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 1, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...