Turner L. Abel of Merrick County, Nebraska

Turner L. Abel, my grandfather, was born in Benton County, Iowa, on December 24, 1865 [EN: Parents were William Abel and Esther Stanley], and was married to Lizzie B. Votaw in Oskaloosa, Iowa, on February 22, 1888. They purchased the 360-acre farm, now occupied by Eldon Dubas in 1896 for $12.00 per acre. They did leave this farm for two years in the early 1900s and moved to Big Springs, Nebraska. They tried wheat farming for two years, and then moved back to their original farm. They lived there until moving into Central City. Turner Abel was a Quaker minister, and at one time was preaching in five churches: one in Clarks, one in Central City, one in Palmer, one about half a mile east of the country cemetery that is northeast of Clarks, and one just across the county line into Nance County. My grandmother has told me of many times when they had no money in the house at all, and the only food that they had was whatever would be brought in by the parishioners.

They would sacrifice personal wants all of the year so that grandfather could go to the yearly Quaker meeting, usually held in Iowa. Turner used his influence to interest many people to come to Nebraska. He loved Merrick County and recruited many people to move here from other parts of Nebraska. One of the families that he recruited for Merrick County was the Cowgill family from Saline County. They settled on a farm northeast of Clarks. There will be a bit more on the Cowgills in Generation No. 4. My grandfather was one of the men who helped start the Quaker college: Nebraska Central College that is today the Nebraska Christian High School. Many of you who read this will have memories of Nebraska Central College. The records for Nebraska Central have been moved to William Penn College, at Oskaloosa, Iowa.

My grandfather was another of those hardy people who, although living through some very hard times, always managed to hold onto his land, as he believed that land in Merrick County would become very valuable in the future.

My grandmother, who was born on November 2, 1868, making her only three years younger than my grandfather, lived from the time of his death in the flu epidemic in 1917 until her death in 1958 as a widow. She took in boarders for many years and some of you readers, especially Edgar Haddix, will remember boarding at Grandma Abel’s. She supplemented this meager income by renting rooms, and baking literally thousands of pies that she sold for 25¢ and 35¢ to the restaurants in Central City.

Their marriage was blessed with four children: Stella Abel, April 6, 1891, died at age 6 months; Harvey D. Abel, March 30, 1897; Leonard L. Abel, January 21, 1902, died of pneumonia on January 24, 1920; Esther Abel, March 27, 1906, married _____ Stone.

My grandfather passed away on April 29, 1917. My grandmother passed away on November 19, 1958. My grandparents are buried at the cemetery at Pierce Chapel.

Submitted by Stewart Abel.


Persinger, C. E., A History of Merrick County, Nebraska: From “the Beginning” to 1895, Dallas, Texas : Taylor Publishing Company, 1981.

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