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Isaac Hodges Turrell
pages 324-326

THE UNION soldier during the great war between the States builded wiser than he knew. Through four years of suffering and wasting hardships, through the horrors of prison pens and amid the shadows of death, he laid the superstructure of the greatest temple ever erected and dedicated to human freedom. The world looked on and called those soldiers sublime, for it was theirs to reach out the mighty arm of power and strike the chains from off the slave, preserve the country from dissolution, and to keep furled to the breeze the only flag that ever made tyrants tremble and whose majestic stripes and scintillating stars are still waving universal liberty to all the earth. For all these unmeasured deeds the living present will never repay them. Pensions and political power may be thrown at their feet; art and sculpture may preserve upon canvas and in granite and bronze* their unselfish deeds; history may commit to books and cold type, may give to the future, the tale of their sufferings and triumphs; but to the children of the generations yet unborn will it remain to accord the full measure of appreciation and undying remembrance of the immortal character carved out by the American soldiers in the dark days of the early sixties, numbered among whom was the late Isaac Hodges Turrell, whose name is not only worthy of preservation because he was a gallant soldier but also in view of the fact that he was one of the nation's greatest mathematicians of his day and generation.
Mr. Turrell was born December 17,1834, at Snow Hill, Franklin County, Indiana. He was descended from an old Colonial family, his paternal grandfather having been born in 1759 at Barnstable, Massachusetts, from which locality he removed with his family to Franklin County, Indiana, in the early pioneer days, this country then being a territory, and there he purchased a large tract of land, which he developed into a good farm, and there his son, Salmon Turrell, father of our subject, grew up and spent most of his life, a successful agriculturalist; however, he was born in New Milford, Connecticut. The mother of our subject, who was known in her maidenhood as Hannah Snow, was the third daughter of Lemuel Snow and wife.
Isaac H. Turrell received his early education in the country district schools, later attending school at Mt. Carmel, Indiana, studying under the supervision of Prof. George A. Chase, one of the best known educators of his day in the Middle West. He paid particular attention to the study of literature and the languages. In 1859, he became very much interested in mathematics, for which he seemed to have had unusual natural ability. This taste was encouraged by Prof. W. D. Henkle, a brilliant linguist as well as mathematician, who had charge of the mathematical department of the Indiana School Journal. He made rapid progress in this science, and in 1860 Mr. Turrell prepared himself to enter Oberlin University at Oberlin, Ohio, and was a student there until 1862; but his patriotism and love of duty to his country caused him to lay aside all personal ambition, and very soon thereafter he offered his services to the federal government, enlisting for service in the army, in Company J, Eighty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was soon on the firing line, his first service having been in West Virginia, after which his regiment was sent to Nashville, Tennessee, becoming a part of the Army of the Cumberland. At the great battle of Chickamauga he was orderly to Gen. James B. Steedman, and during the memorable campaign in Georgia he was on detached service as orderly to Gen. D. S. Stanley, who was at that time in command of the Fourth Army Corps. Only men of unquestioned bravery and intelligence were selected for such positions and the fact that Mr. Turrell was orderly for two great commanders is sufficient criterion of his worth and fidelity as a military man. Later he was further honored by being commissioned a first lieutenant for bravery on the field of battle at the siege of Atlanta. Subsequently he was detailed to the army at James, Virginia, and became adjutant of the One Hundred and Ninth United States Infantry, of the Twenty-fifth Army Corps, commanded by Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, and he took part in the operations around the city of Richmond, which resulted in the capture of the Confederate capital and surrender of General Lee. He was then sent with his regiment to Texas, and in February, 1866, he was mustered out and honorably discharged, after a service of three years and six months, during which hemade a record as a soldier of which his descendants well may be proud. He was greatly admired by both his comrades and superior officers for his gallantry, fidelity to duty and rare military ability.
After his career in the army, Mr. Turrell returned from the South to his home in Indiana and began teaching school, not long thereafter becoming principal in the public schools. He continued the study of mathematics and became widely known as a mathematician over both America and England, for from time to time he imparted his knowledge of this science to the world through learned and interesting articles in the magazines and periodicals, such as The Analyst, and The Educational Times, of England. He was an active and honored member of the American Mathematical Society.
Mr. Turrell was also one of the first shorthand experts in the United States, having perfected himself in stenography under Ben Pitman, the noted founder of the Pitman system of short- hand, in 1855. Our subject served over nine years as assistant principal of the Cumminsville public schools of Hamilton County, Ohio, and then became principal of the Fourth District school, serving in that capacity until 1901. He was in the Internal Reve- nue Service until his death. He was a man of progressive ideas and introduced many advanced and improved methods in the schools with which he was connected and did much in his days toward improving the educational system of Indiana and Ohio.
Mr. Turrell was married, April 10, 1873, to Margaret A. Clark, daughter of John and Catherine (Allison) Clark, a highly respected family of Cherry Valley, Illinois. Mrs. Turrell received good educational advantages and she proved to be a fit helpmeet to her distinguished husband in every respect, much of his success having been due to her encouragement.
Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Turrell, named as follows: John H., who has remained single, lives on the North-side in Cincinnati; C. Howard married Effie L. Unzicker, and they live in Cincinnati; Jessie Marie is the wife of Arthur J. Anderson, and they reside in Louisville, Kentucky; Clarence Clark, the youngest of the children, is deceased; he was a thirty-second degree Mason, Scottish Rite.
Mr. Turrell was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. His death occurred August 9, 1912, at the advanced age of nearly seventy-eight years. He was always a great student, delighting especially in history, mathematics and literature. He wrote many beautiful poems. He was one of the profound scholars of Ohio in his generation, and personally he was generous, kind, and of high ideals—one of nature's noblemen.


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