Southern Methodist University

J.L. Turner Sr. client files and papers, circa 1867-1966


Creator: Turner, John Lewis “J.L.”, Sr.
Title: J.L. Turner Sr. client files and papers
Dates: circa 1867-1966
Abstract: J.L. Turner Sr. was one of Dallas, Texas’ first African-American lawyers. After graduating from Kent College of Law in Chicago, Illinois in 1896, he practiced law for two years in Chicago, then returned to his hometown of Dallas, where he practiced until his death in 1951. His papers consist predominately of client files, but also include some personal papers as well as expressions of sympathy for his death.
Quantity: 2 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository: Underwood Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

John Lewis “J.L.” Turner Sr. (1869-1951) was one of Dallas, Texas’ first African-American lawyers. J.L. Turner grew up on a farm in North Dallas, and after graduating from high school, attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. Turner then moved to Chicago and earned his L.L.B. degree from the Kent College of Law in 1896. He practiced law in Chicago until 1898, when he returned to Dallas to practice at 155 Main Street with attorney Joseph E. Wiley. Turner was only the third or fourth African-American attorney ever to practice in Dallas, and unlike his predecessors, he continued his Dallas practice for many years, until his death in 1951.

Turner mostly handled cases involving real estate and probate, and occasionally accepted criminal cases. He experienced many racial inequities common during his lifetime, including disrespectful treatment by judges and other lawyers. Turner overcame racial barriers and built up a substantial clientele that included upper-middle class African-Americans. Eventually son J.L. Turner Jr. joined his father’s legal practice.

In recognition of Turner’s significance, the Dallas-area African-American bar association is known as the J.L. Turner Legal Association. The Foundation funds scholarships and provides mentors to law students, offers educational programs, and provides professional support to its members.

Scope and Contents Note

The bulk of the collection consists of J.L. Turner’s client files. The files’ contents are mostly litigation-related materials such as pleadings and briefs, and debt collections. Most files are not dated. There is also a smaller series that includes his personal financial records, document fragments, and expressions of sympathy for his death. A few files are from son J.L. Turner Jr.’s practice.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 2 series:
Series 1: J.L. Turner client files.
Series 2: J.L. Turner personal papers


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the Underwood Law Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Sensitive Material Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which the Underwood Law Library assumes no responsibility.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Subjects (Persons)
Turner, John Lewis, Sr.
Document Types
Legal documents
African American lawyers – Texas – Dallas

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

J.L. Turner Sr. Client Files and Papers, Special Collections, Underwood Law Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, George Keaton Jr., 2016.

Processing Information

Materials arrived in an organized fashion from George Keaton Jr., donor of the collection. The client documents were put in acid-free file folders and arranged alphabetically. The personal papers were sorted by type, then chronologically.

Processed by

Garrett Sciortino, 2018

Encoded by

Ada Negraru, 2018

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: J.L. Turner Client Files, circa 1903-1966
1 linear foot

The client files include records from both the father and son. Client files include real estate, probate, and other legal categories.
Box Folder
1 1 Allen, Sim, Estate of Sim Allen Jr
2 Armstrong, Dr. S.W.
3 Austin, J.A. Dec’d
4 Baggy, Betty vs Grand Court Ind Order
5 Baggy, Betty vs W.O.W.
6 Berle, Poteete, et. al. vs. Glen Oaks Memorial Cemetery Association
7 Blake, Blanche vs. Bell Holliman ADMRX
8 Booth, Annie vs. Frank Booth
9 Britt, Laura Curtis vs. Knights and Daughters of Tabor International Order of Twelve
10 Brooks, Dr. F.M., Dec, 1945
11 Brown, E.E. vs. St. Mary’s Temple, 1937
12 Brown, Elizabeth Worthington vs. Jessie James
13 Brown, Elizabeth Worthington vs. Mason and Mason
14 Brown, Elizabeth vs. R.H. Clay Pool
15 Brown, Helena vs. ADA Tarpley
16 Caldwell vs. Alford
17 Canedy, Louvena, Estate of Jack Clark
18 Carpenter, Litte, 1954
19 Carrolton Ind. School District vs. W.H. Heads, 1932
20 Childs, Annie Mae vs. Central Mutual
21 Church of Living God vs. Church of Living God
22 Clark, C.J. vs. Dallas Railway and Terminal Corporation, circa 1926-51
23 Clark, N.W. vs A.E. Haws
24 Clark, N.W. vs. J.L. Turner, 1934
25 Clark, Quincy
26 Clark, Roy and Maude vs. City of Palestine
27 Coleman, P.W. vs. Katie L. Coleman
28 Cruse, Susie vs. J.L. Dave
29 Dallas Credit Corp. vs. Howard
30 Davis, Frank, 1941
31-32 Davis, Frank vs. Addison Bradford folder
33 Debts due by: J.L. Turner Jr, 1966
34 Denman, Susie vs. C.A. Denman
35 Derrett, Cal, Estate of Mrs. Katie Jordan
36 Doyle, Rodman Ford vs. Continental Casualty Company, 1897-1951
37 Durham vs. Davenport, 1923
38 Durham vs. W.J. Durham (Briefs)
39-40 Eagle Mutual Benefit Association vs. J.B. Richey folder
41 Eperson Mack vs. Universal Relief Insurance Company
42 Field, Joy vs. Lydia Jackson
43 Glenn, F.I. vs N.W. Clark
44 Gooden, Katie vs. D.W. Gooden
45 Gordon Clifton vs. J.L. Turner
46 Gordern, Marietta, Estate of Dr. R.T. Hamilton
47 Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Mason of Texas vs. Mary Harris, 1927
48 Harris vs. McMillam
49-50 Higginbotham, Christobel vs. Frank Davis, 1947
51 Hill, Lillian vs. Florence Harlee
52 Hodges, Katie vs. Manathis Hicks, 1949
53 Howard, Mittie vs. Martha Whitaker
54 Howell vs. Brooks
55 Hudlin, Edward vs. National Health and Accident Insurance Company
56 Hughes, Sarah T., 1958
57 Hunter, Ella vs. Carrie Morgan, 1929
58-59 Indemnity Insurance Company vs. W.R. McMillan, 1931
60 ISOM vs. ISOM
61 Jimerson vs. Jimerson
62 Johnson, Nancy. Estate of R.R. Ricks, 1935
63 Jones, Emory Lee vs. Grand Court of Texas Order of Colanth
64 Kelley, Dearville vs. Harry Green, 1940
65 Knox vs. Knox
66 Lacy, Rebecca. Estate of T.B. Echols
67 Leach, M.H. vs. Century Mutual Benefit Association
68 Leach, M.H. vs. Liberty State Bank Garnishee, 1938
69 Leach vs. Localton
70 Lockridge vs. Brigham
71 Lowery, S.W.J. vs. Marietta E. Gordon, 1923
72 Mack, Richard vs. David Brigham
73 Mackey, Fannie vs. Gracie Powell Est
74 Madison, T.B. vs. Mrs. E.B. Demar
75 Marshall, Bettie vs. Willie Mae Mullins, 1953
76 Mason vs. Elizabeth Brown, 1944
77 McAllister vs. J.R. Starks
78 McCulough vs. McCulough
79 McKenzie, Joe. J. vs. Augusta
80 McMillan, James vs. Susie McMillan
81 Minter vs. Sears, Roebuck
82 Mitchell, Maggie, Estate of Dennie Mitchell, 1940
83 Modern Mutual Health and Accident Insurance vs. B.J. Hackson, circa 1941-1952
84 Munzesheimer, Max vs. W.B. Turner
85 Murray, Joe vs. Fraternal Bank and Trust Company, 1912-51
86 Myers, F.C. Mellon vs. Atlanta Life Insurance Company, 1905-51
87 Olds, Katie vs. National Health and Accident Insurance Company, 1892-1951
88 Payne vs. Dupont
89 Pinkston vs. East Texas Motor Freight
90 Pinkston vs. Joe Murray
91 Pinkston vs. W.M. Burns
92 Pool vs. Nesbett
93 Powell, Gracie
94 Powell, John vs. Frank Davis
95 Prestwood vs. Prestwood
96 Printers, Manuel Jr. Estate
97 Puqua vs. Puqua
98 Quilla, Virginia, 1948
99 Repair of Property, 1951
100 Ricks, R.R. vs. Toledo Tarver Estate of Nancy Johnson
101 Rodgers, M.M. vs. W.S. Willis
102 Russell, W.A. vs. J.B. Ricky, 1929
103 Sadler Brief
104 Saddler, Jack vs. Washington, 1953
105 Sanders, W.W. vs. Sam Lacy, 1912
106 Shepp, H. vs. L.G. Pinkston, 1913
107 Simpson vs. Booth, 1922
108 Smith, Chester vs. W.J. Durham
109 Smith, Co. vs. B.E. Howell
110 Smith, Cora. Brief Jesse Smith Estate, 1903
111 Story, Ella C. vs. Issac E. Story, 1942
112 St. Clara Temple vs. Brown
113 Texas Employers Insurance Company vs. Alex Smith
114 Thomas, P. vs. Universal Relief Insurance Company, 1927-38
115 Universal Relief Insurance Company vs. E.J. Barlow, 1927-38
116 Universal Relief Insurance Company vs. M.E. Clark, 1927-38
117 Vermillon vs. Pinkston
118 Watts vs. Adams, 1923
119 Wells vs. Davenport
120 Wells, Jonas vs. Albert Sowell
121 White, B.E. vs. Anita Sparks, 1938
122 White, Lela G.
123 White, Lizzie
124 Whitfield, Betty, 1952
125 Williams, I. vs. Dr. L.G. Pinkston, 1942
126 Wilson, E.A. vs. G.T. Smith

Series 2: J.L. Turner personal papers, 1867-1951
.5 linear foot

Includes some correspondence, many documents in pieces and quite a large number of sympathy cards and telegrams sent on the passing of J.L Turner, Sr.
Box Folder
2 1-2 Biography
3 Loyalty and Residence Oath, 1867
4 Correspondence and Fragments, 1900-09
5 Correspondence and Fragments, 1910-19
6 Correspondence and Fragments, 1920-29
7 Correspondence and Fragments, 1930-50
8 Correspondence and Fragments, Undated
9 Automobile Papers, 1940-51
10 Tax Returns, 1920-35
11 Original Folders
12 Sympathy Cards, 1951
13-14 Sympathy Telegrams, 1951
15 Floral Cards, 1951
16 JL Turner Funeral, 1951
17 John Lewis Turner Jr. (son)