Posted by: marthabernie | September 24, 2018

Update and More on Phillipsburg, Missouri and the Senn/Turner Families

Nearly a year ago, I was contacted by Ron Turner about some of the information I have posted here on the blog and we exchanged more information and he sent some photos.  Lots happened to me in the interim period, and I am just now getting around to posting some of it.  Since so many people find this blog when searching for Laclede County, Missouri information, and more specifically, Phillipsburg, I thought I would include some of his notes and photos.  Also search on previous group photos and Ron’s earlier comments, as he has identified some of the people I did not know.  Here is just a beginning bit of information…..


By Ron Turner

My  great grandfather Christian Senn was born on March 18, 1848 in Canton Bern, Swizterland and lived near Lake Thun near Uttigen where his family herded dairy cattle into the highlands during the summer and brought them down from the mountains in the winter.  Christian migrated with his parents Albrecht and Elizabeth Senn to the US when he was about 10 or 11 years old..

Shortly after coming to America, Christian’s father Albrecht drowned while crossing a stream in Ohio. From that time on, Christian was on his own working full time on dairy farms through Ohio and Southern Illinois and  came to Missouri where he built a saw mill in the Ozark forest near Linn Creek,  Missouri. Along the way, he married and fathered a son; but his wife died shortly thereafter.

He was successful with the lumber mill and was able to marry Annie McCoy from near Syracuse in Morgan County Missouri. Annie’s father Simpson (who in about 1865 built the book case that stands in our front room) was opposed to the marriage because of the 14 year age difference between Christian and Annie and because Chris had been married previously.  Chris and Annie moved to Phillipsburg, Mo where Christian built the Silver Lake Mill and shipped flour and corn meal to the East on the railroad for many years.  As a prosperous hard working business man with a growing family, Chris built a large home on the other side of the mill pond where he and Annie raised their two daughters  Iva (my grandmother) and Thelma and two sons Roy and Evert.  Chris and Annie took advantage of the location of their large new house near the busy railroad depot  and rented  rooms to itinerant railroad customers. ( We have a spoon monogramed S that was used in the Senn hotel in Phillipsburg.)

In 1904 Chris and Annie Senn, with their new prosperity,  took their entire family by train to St. Louis where they rented a house for two weeks to attend the World’s Fair commemorating the Louisiana Purchase in 1804.  The Senn family took the street car to the fair each day where the wonders of the world were on display, including the ice cream cone, electricity and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Hottentots from South Africa, the Rough Riders, Sitting Bull and  other international attractions.  My grandmother Iva Senn was 17 when she went to the World’s Fair.

After consolidating his successful milling business, Christian organized the Farmer’s State Bank in Phillipsburg where he selected as  bank president  young Elbert Lafayette Turner, my grandfather. Elbert lived near Phillipsburg with his family on a farm in the Bear Thicket community.  Elbert left the farm to become a school teacher in the the village of Orla on the Osage Fork of the Gasconade River a few miles from Bear Thicket.  Elbert rode his horse to Orla each Monday and received room and board from families in the Orla community to help compensate him for his teaching duties.  On Fridays after school, Elbert rode his horse back home to Bear Thicket and bought cattle from farmers on the way.  He herded the cattle home to be fed in the family stock pen .  When he had enough cattle to ship to market, Elbert drove them to the railroad head in Phillipsburg and shipped them to St. Louis to the Union Stock Yards.  His brother Joseph (Jodie) and John also joined him in the cattle, hog and horse trading business. They were highly regarded stockmen, and this gene was passed on to my father Woodson Turner.

Elbert Turner married Christian and Annie’s daughter, Iva Caroline Senn , my grandmother. Elbert was 10 years older than Iva, and I assume this was no problem for Iva’s parents Chris and Annie who had to overcome parental objections to the 14 year difference in their ages when they were married.  I have copies of letters written by Chris to Annie during their courtship.  Since Annie was forbidden to have contact with Chris, he gave the letters to Annie’s friends at church and they conveyed them secretly to Annie.  Apparently the letters worked, or I would not be here.

The Turners were successful farmers and stockmen and leaders in the rural Bear Thicket community.  Elbert’s father Sanford was secretary of the church at BearThicket.  I donated his church records and meeting reports to the Missouri Historical Society.

Meanwhile , the Senn family was very prominent in Phillipsburg.  Christian was a member of the Missouri Milling Association as noted in the annual state milling association report located in the University Missouri historical society records.

Christian and Annie Senn below.

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