An important part of Grafton’s rich history is the story of the Alec Turner family. Alec Turner was an escaped slave who fought with the Union Army before settling in Grafton in 1872. He worked as a logger and sawmill worker until he saved up to buy 150 acres on a Grafton hilltop. There he built a home where he was to raise 13 children together with his wife, Sally Turner, a freed slave.
The Turner homestead is no longer standing, but the Windham Foundation is working with the Preservation Trust of Vermont to preserve the nearby Birchdale Camp, which the Foundation owns, by preserving the structure and providing educational exhibits about the Turner family. The camp is now the first stop in the State of Vermont’s new African American Heritage Trail.
Daisy Turner, one of Alec and Sally’s 13 children, remained in Grafton until her death in 1988 at age 103. Daisy became well known for her storytelling as she recounted in dramatic detail the history of her family.
The Vermont Folklife Center has many hours of recordings of Daisy Turner recounting her family’s history. Learn more about Daisy Turner.
There is an information kiosk across from the Grafton Inn that explains more about the Turner Family.
“The home place was named Journey’s End ‘cause father never wanted to go no further after he got up there on that hilltop.”Daisy Turner