TURNER, EZEKIEL B. (1825-1888) ~ Ezekiel B. Turner, was educated in local comman schools and at Townsend Academy before moving to Michigan to read law with his brother. In 1848, he was admitted to the Michigan bar. He served, over the next several years, as justice of the peace and prosecuting attorney of St. Joseph County.
In 1853, Turner moved to Texas, settling first in Williamson County and then onto Austin in 1854. He practice law in Austin until 1861, with partners Andrew J. Hamilton and F.W. Chandler. He was a strong seccessionist and gave a speech at the Bullock Hotel in August of 1860, opposing disunion. Once the Civil War began, Turner left for the Union in 1862.
He returned to Texas, however, with the federal forces that occupied Brownsville in November of 1863. He received from his former law partner, now Lincoln's military governor of Texas, the position of prosecutin attorney of the provisional court established in Brownsville. When United States troops arrived in Austin in July of 1865, Turner welcomed them with a speech given at the capital.
During Reconstruction, Turner was appointed to many different positions. Turner was United States attorney for the Western District of Texas in 1866. In November of 1867, he was appointed attorney general of Texas; a position he held until 1870. Also during 1867-1870, Turner was manager of the State Lunatic Asylum (later, Austin State Hospital) in Austin. In 1871, Governor E.J. Davis made Turner judge of the Thirty-Second Judicial District where he served until the adoption of the Constitution of 1876. He then went to the 16th District.
After Reconstruction, in 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Turner judge of the Western Judicial District of Texas. He was the first federal judge to rule that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional. This act made illegal any discrimination between whites and blacks in places of public accommodation, entertainment, jury selection, cemeteries, and transportation. The Supreme Court struck down the act in 1883.
When Travis County separated from the 16th Judicial District, Turner was made judge of the District Court of Travis County. He heard many cases concerning violations of Texas land acts of 1879 and 1881. Turner remained a federal judge until his death. He died of a heart attack, in his home in Austin and was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Helen Dodge Turner in whom he married in 1850, and had three sons with.