Turner's level of self-sufficiency was considerable for a woman in her time and place, but her compassion for the Nottoway children makes her an outstanding figure. Records from 1808 show her acting as foster mother for two Nottoway children, and she successfully urged the white trustees of the tribe to return four other Indian children to the reservation. At age seventy-six she still looked after at least two children in her home. Turner most likely led the struggle to keep tribal children from being schooled or apprenticed off the reservation. As one of the last speakers of the Nottoway language and with a knowledge of their legends, Turner instructed the children in the traditions of the tribe as well as in how to survive in white-controlled society. In 1820 she provided surveyor John Wood with a Nottoway vocabulary, allowing scholars a peek at the Iroquoian language. The only Nottoway of her time to write a will, Turner died in Southampton County in 1838 at about eighty-four years of age.
Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia.