Unusual Character

(Editor’s note: This is a reprint of the column “This and That” written by the late Bee King of Mendenhall which appeared in the Simpson County News on April. 6, 1939.)

One of the most unusual characters that ever lived in Simpson County was Turner Wilson. He was a native of Hinds County, but moved to Simpson County about 1835 and bought a large tract of land about two miles east of Rockport. He was a successful farmer, but his hobby was race horses, and he had a race track on his farm where the horses were trained.

At one time he owned 40 acres of land just west of the I. C. Depot at Jackson. He traded that land for a little gray mare that was a wonderful race horse. He carried her to New Orleans to the races about 1840 and one afternoon won a stake of $5,000.

Like most men of that day he drank a good deal and that afternoon he was celebrating the occasion pretty heavily with his friends at the St. Charles Hotel. While standing near the clerk’s counter a young married couple from Texas registered and he heard them say that they would be there several days. Knowing that he was in danger of being robbed or losing his money, he walked up to the young woman, and without asking her name, handed her the $5,000 and told her to keep it for him until the next day.

He continued drinking that night and when he woke in the morning he didn’t remember what he had done with his money, but supposed it was lost, or that he had been robbed. He went back to the races and won some more money and forgot about the $5,000. Two days later while he was sitting in the hotel lobby the young woman came down the stairs and saw him and walked up and told him she had a package for him and to wait until she could go back and get it. When she brought it he found that it was the money he had given her. She asked him to count it, but he told her he had no need to count it, for she was an honest woman. He then opened the package and handed her five $100 bills, and thanked her for her kindness.

For a long time he operated a very large farm and always shipped his cotton to John D. Hardy & Co. of New Orleans. He would order goods from that firm from time to time and rarely knew how much he owed. One fall he shipped a lot of cotton and directed Hardy & Company to sell it and if there was anything over after his account was paid to send it back in whisky. A short time later he got notice from Hazelhurst that there were 17 barrels of whisky at the depot for him. He had so much whisky he had to take out a license to get rid of it.

At the close of the War Between the States he owned nearly eighty slaves and had $10,000 in gold. The slaves, of course, were set free but he kept a great deal of money until his death many years later.