Sugars Turner, A Vintage Vignette
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
May 19, 2008
When I was researching the family names represented on tombstones in Redstone Arsenal’s cemeteries, I often noticed references to Sugars Turner. He had no tombstone to be found on the arsenal, but he was apparently a prolific land speculator in the early history of the county. Because I couldn’t tie him to any particular community or cemetery, his family history did not become part of my research for many years. However, I was intrigued by the unusual name and his prominence in the county, so I planned to someday look into his lineage. That day came when the name Daniel B. Turner got my attention while researching the history of the 1800s Toney family, Triana residents that were involved with Madison. In my mind, Daniel Turner had to be a son or brother of Sugars.
Upon focusing my investigations toward the Turner families, I was disappointed that I never connected Daniel to Sugars. Yet, they were contemporaries here. Daniel was born in Virginia about the year 1800; Sugars was born in Virginia in the 1760s. Sugars was a plantation owner who lived in the southern part of the arsenal area, near Whitesburg. Daniel was a merchant and served as deputy sheriff before becoming sheriff in 1834. He lived in Huntsville among the more prominent men of the town. Sugars died here in 1836, and Daniel’s estate was probated in 1866, just after the Civil War. Nothing posted on Ancestry.com connects Daniel to Sugars, nor is there any detail of Daniel’s lineage, not even a known father.
Sugars, however, is another story. The ancestry of Sugars has been traced through the Turner line into the 1500s, with some of the maternal branches traced into the 1100s. Sugars’ father John (1705-1796) married Priscilla Blunt. She was a daughter of Benjamin Blunt and Priscilla Sugars, so that was the source of his unusual given name. Both the Blunt and the Sugars lines have been traced back into the 1600s of Virginia. Sugars Turner’s siblings were Simon, Nancy Ann, William, James, Mary, John Blunt, and Thomas per Ancestry.com postings. Data in the Family Files of the Huntsville Library’s Heritage Room says that Nancy Ann was Sugars’ daughter.
Sugars married Rebecca Deloney (possibly connected to Dr. Isaac F. Deloney of old Madison) in 1804 in Virginia. She died in 1824 in Madison County. Sugars’ estate papers of 1836 involved Ransom Fowlkes (of the local cemetery off Capshaw Road) and Samuel Ward (of the “mountain” behind the Space and Rocket Center) as commissioners to divide his lands among his heirs. The estate papers plus Ancestry.com data list his 8 children as William Henry, Frances Ann Sugars, John Sugars, Mary Blunt, Elizabeth Blunt, Sarah, Louisa M., and Harriet Rebecca. While several of his children married into Madison-area families, it was his daughter Elizabeth that most strongly tied Sugars to the town’s history. Elizabeth Turner married Richard Moore in 1818. He died in 1825 in Limestone County, after they had a child, Rebecca J. Moore. Elizabeth then married Benjamin Fox in 1825, and she married Archelaus Bradley in 1827. Rebecca J. Moore married Edward Fletcher, a brother of Madison’s Civil War physician Richard Matthew Fletcher. Rebecca and Edward had a child named Lucy (“Lutie”) Fletcher, who married Robert Emmett Wiggins, a pioneer and historian of the town.
Vintage Vignettes have previously been published about Robert Wiggins and Richard Fletcher. However, there is another connection of the Sugars Turner family to Wall-Triana Highway, which runs through Madison. Sugars’ sister Mary married James Wall. One of their sons was Alexander Gray Wall (1793-1835), who had plantations near the Tennessee River. He married Mary Cooper. Some of their descendants owned land to the north, and thus the road derived its name as connecting the Triana area to the Wall family holding in the northwestern Madison County area.