Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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The Woodruff Gun–Annotations to “Researching the Woodruff Carriage”–The Story of the Berry Woodruff

The Woodruff Gun

Annotations to “Researching the Woodruff Carriage”

The Story of the Berry Woodruff

by John Berry

My first introduction to the Woodruff gun came in the early 1990s when it was resting quietly on the garage floor safe from Halloween hooligans. “The story is that the Confederates had it, and so did the Union,” said Russell Raines, who lived across the chip and seal road from my father’s grandparents.

Russell had inherited it from his long time friend, Paul Allen, who passed in 1975. Paul, a man who “collected all kinds of stuff,” according to Mrs. Russell Raines, had purchased the cannon in 1942 when the City of Turney had decided it would be better served melted down and used for the war effort.

Walter Stout, the local depot clerk, postmaster and WWI veteran, had contacted Paul, who was known to scrap metal. Walter had had enough of the young George Silvius and his crew of bandits throwing firecrackers down the old cannon located in between the post office and depot in the Turney City Park. A 1933 newspaper clipping mentions a man named L. B. Sheldon who saved the Turney July 4th celebration that year by “setting the cannon in motion” as he had also done 45 years earlier in 1888.

The old cannon made it to the city park in the early 1900s having been donated by a Henry (later found as Harry) Kennedy. The centennial article mentions that Mr. Kennedy’s father was a Civil War veteran and “secured this cannon”. While working for the railroad, Harry Kennedy boarded a room from his first cousin J. T. Anderson, who was also a foreman at the same railroad. Harry’s father was L. P. (Lemuel) Kennedy, who had a short 44-day service in the 89th Enrolled Missouri Militia, called to duty for Price’s Raid in September 1864.

Lemuel Kennedy, his wife, and Henry (Harry0 James Kennedy.

Lemuel Kennedy, his wife, and Henry (Harry) James Kennedy. Undated photo from collection of Charles and John Berry, provided by a descendant of Lemuel Kennedy.

In the early 1990s, my father Charlie and myself caught the Civil War bug, so, when Charlie’s uncle told him there was a cannon possibly for sale in northern Missouri, off we went. The story was partially true; there was a cannon, but it was not for sale. Russell Raines had retired his old gun to the safety of the garage and gave a promise if he ever sold it he would call.

Many a conversation took place in our milk barn that next year about that mystery cannon, and one day we received a call from Mrs. Raines that Russell had passed. We made another trip and brought home the cannon and the original carriage that was housed under a walnut tree.

My father spent countless hours via phone and the mailbox before the Internet tracking down information. Without the help of many in the cannon community, we would have never known it was a Woodruff gun.

Also, a thank you to the following who all played a special part:
Mr. Steve Lillard; John L. Margreiter, D.O.; Edwin H. Olmstead; Jack Mayes; Mr. Wayne Stark; Brad Staats and the City of White Hall, Illinois; the fine folks at the Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County (Illinois); Glenn Christopher, who captured the story of the old cannon in the 1968 Turney Centennial book; George Silvius and Grace Daniels, Turney, Missouri, Historical Society, for spending the day with us at their City Park; Ralph and Leon Lovett, Bernie and Bruce Paulson; the late Russell Raines; the tenacious Randy Baehr; and my patient and supportive wife and son for supporting this endeavor. I also would like to thank Mrs. Joleen Berry―thanks to her we have a 30 lb. binder full of all the correspondence of over 30 years of research, never discarding any scrap of paper. And finally Charles Berry for unknown hours of hunting leads, writing letters, tolerating a 12-year-old who would not stop bothering him about that old cannon and making great memories he will never forget.

John Berry
Strafford, Mo.

The restored Berry Woodruff gun

John Berry, his father Charles Berry, and his son Owen with their restored original Woodruff gun. They took it to the park in Turney, MO, where the gun was once displayed, during the town’s Spaghetti Social in April 2023. Photo from John Berry.