Daisy Turner

Daisy Turner
Daisy Turner

Time Period

1860-1910

Subject Categories

Arts, Equal Rights, Everyday Life

Notable Facts

Daughter of former slaves who moved to Vermont after the Civil War. Gifted storyteller and rights activist. She lived for over a century and is the subject of several works by the Vermont Folklife Center.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

06/21/1883

Date of Death

02/1988

Primary Residence

Grafton

Ethnicity

African American

Historical Significance

Daisy Turner was born in Grafton, Vermont, one of thirteen children born to parents who were former slaves. She was a famous for her oral recordings of her family's history, which can be traced back three generations to Africa.

Turner's great-grandmother was shipwrecked while traveling from England to Africa on her honeymoon during the early 19th century. She was saved by an African chieftain's son, and had a child with him (Daisy's grandfather, Alexander). Alexander was captured by a slave trader and taken to New Orleans, where he was bought by John Gouldin and taken to Gouldin's plantation in Port Royal, Virginia. There, Daisy's father, Alec, was born a slave. Alec was taught to read by the master's granddaughter, and later escaped, joining the Union Army during the Civil War. After the Civil War, the Turner family moved north, where her father worked in a saw mill and raised enough money to purchase a 100 acres in Grafton, Vermont and build Journey's End Farm.

Daisy Turner was proud of her family heritage, and was a strong, outspoken woman from childhood to her death at the age of 104.

Daisy Turner is remembered as a gifted storyteller and family historian. She is the subject of the Vermont Folklife Center's Peabody Award-winning audio documentary, "Journey's End: The Memories and Traditions of Daisy Turner". Stories from her life have also been the subject of two Vermont Folklife Center books, "Alec's Primer" and "Daisy and the Doll".

Daisy Turner maintained Journey's End after her parents' deaths. The Turner family homestead is located on the "Daisy Turner Loop", a biking trail near Grafton Pond.

Organizations or Movements

  • Vermont Folklife Center

Occupations

  • Storyteller
  • Farmer
  • Family historian

Education

  • Primary school

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Vermont Folklife Center Link

  • Film by UVM and VT Folklife Center Link

  • Daisy Turner Loop, Grafton Pond Link

  • "Those Indomitable Vermont Women", essay by Jane C. Beck Link

  • Sweterlitsch, Richard. "Jessie 'Daisy' Turner." Edited by John Duffy. In The Vermont Encyclopedia, University of New England Press, 2003.