Herbert Francis Turner (1885-1959)

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Herbert Francis was born at Crystal Brook, and appears to have been called by his first name rather than his second, often shortened to Herb. It appears that in his early farm experiences, Herb became a ‘jack of all trades’, but showed particular skill with blacksmith work.


In 1905/06, he moved with his father and brothers to Edillilie, and continued his responsibility with farm labouring tasks. He also appears to have been quite musical, and a former resident of Edillilie remembers him supplying the music for dances and gatherings with Jacob Vonow, Lester Bernard, Otto Schultz and Tom Jones. These gatherings were in the local hall and people would come from Cummins, Koppio, White Flat, Coulta and Wangary for the occasions. The music was mostly piano and button accordion. Herb played the mouth organ and one that he used is still in family hands today.
Herb turner birth cert

Herb's birth certificate

Back to Crystal Brook

It is unclear when Herb left Edillilie, but it appears he may have been the last remaining on the property. Herb and Arthur, the two youngest sons of the family, survived all the tragedy that plagued their older brothers over the last few years, and it appears it was left to them to settle up affairs. It appears that Herb then went back to the Crystal Brook area to find work. He stayed at various places in Crystal Brook, Wandearah and Port Pirie, where people remember him, and one story even has him chasing a girl around and around a kitchen table! A descendent of John Turner (no relation, as can be ascertained at this stage) particularly remembers Herb staying at their place at Wandearah. Herb kept a boat in the local area as well, and went out fishing on numerous occasions.


By about 1924, Herb had moved to Adelaide. He settled first at 73 Sydeham Street, Norwood, where he was employed in labouring. By 1925, he had moved to Findon, and in 1926 he married Mahala Mills, in the Methodist Parsonage at Torrensville. She was from Southwark, as was her mother, and her father had been a grocer at Norwood and it could have been there that the couple met. Their first child, Mahala May, was born later that year, and she was soon followed by Clarence Herbert (in 1927) and Eric Gordon (in 1929).
Herb turner

Herb in later years

The Depression

In the Depression, Herb took on any work he could find, including well sinking and bag sewing. Herb also repaired clocks and bags of old broken toys, which he would then fix and give to the Salvation Army to distribute at Christmas time. He eventually found steady work with the Highways Department as a blacksmith. His work with the Department meant travelling around often, and he travelled to places such as Coonalpyn and Ki Ki.

The War Years

During the war years, the family lived at Ardrossan on the Yorke Peninsula, a sea port where Herb again took up his interest in fishing. After 1945, he had moved to Loxton where he would remain for the rest of his life. He was a big man who took on the physical features of his mother’s side of the family, and had sandy coloured hair. Herb struggled with diabetes and its complications in the remaining years of his life, and eventually suffered a stroke that took him in January 1959, at age 74. He had been the last surviving child of Thomas Brown and Ellen Turner. Mahala was to marry again for a brief period, and she survived Herb by 20 years, she too dying at Loxton in November 1979. They are both buried at Loxton.
Nana popas loxton grave

Herb's grave at Loxton, with two of his great grandchildren

Name Birth Death

Mahala May 22/7/1926
Norwood, South Australia
Loxton, South Australia

Clarence Herbert 21/8/1927
Norwood, South Australia
Maitland, South Australia

Eric Gordon 7/7/1929
Black Forest, South Australia

Sources and notes

‡ General
  • Birth certificate+Marriage Certificate+Death Certificate+Information from Clarrie Turner+SA Directories+Land Title information
Ω Birth
  • Birth Certificate
¶ Death
  • Death Certificate
§ Remains
  • Cemetery Records
  • Photos



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