The Turner Family and the Town’s Founding

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     Abraham Turner of Williamsburg, VA moved to Averno with his wife Laura and daughter Sarah in 1702, displacing the town’s previous residents, whom they claimed were “devil worshippers.” Abram, a Pastor and farmer, founded modern-day Averno in 1703 before mysteriously disappearing. 

     The same year, their cousins William and Coralee Turner moved to the town with their daughter, May. William Turner, also a pastor, advertised Averno as “God’s city”, selling shares in a church community and eventually founding the state’s first megachurch. In 1739, the church was taken over by his daughter May and her husband Charles, creating a rift in the clergy, most of whom didn’t want a woman in ministry. May took the megachurch in an interesting direction, claiming that God had told her that the Church’s mission was to make sure every member was literate. May founded a school and the town’s library, and eventually a publishing house which distributed the state’s first series of illustrated pocket bibles. However, tragedy struck in 1760, when May’s husband and twin daughters disappeared. Unable to cope with the loss of her entire family, May committed suicide in 1761. The sudden death of the leader of the church, publishing company, school, and library (in hindsight, a potentially risky choice) led to complete economic collapse of the town. By 1770, 80% of the town’s population moved to neighboring cities of Richmond and Williamsburg. 

     This led to a drastic rise in crime in the ghost town, and, following a kidnapping spree that resulted in 17 disappearances in the year of 1789, the US Federal Government requisitioned the now underpopulated land to build what would eventually become I-95S. 

     However, due to the rising political tensions, bureaucracy became extraordinarily slow, and the land lay vacant for decades as zoning restrictions were being processed. In 1861, all plans halted, and most of the town was destroyed in the Civil War. It took until 1914, for the land to be privately owned again, when the state Government began selling off its holdings to prevent financial collapse. It was, ironically, bought by the descendant of another Turner cousin, who had gotten rich buying and selling cheap southern land in the wake of reconstruction-era depression. However, due to the family ties, he chose not to resell, and instead to attempt to resettle the town. Hoping to capitalize on the ideals of the “new decade” and “moving forward” that were being advertised at the time, he chose to begin the town with the chic modern Art Deco and Neo Gothic looks that were all the rage in New York at the time. This fell flat, as it turns out the South was not, at the time, all that interested in emulating the North. While half the town exhibited the new age style, the second half of the town was styled with more typical colonial architecture. Construction finished in 1928, just in time for the Great Depression. While this was not good for most, the number of farmers going bankrupt and selling their properties meant that there was a decent market for marked-down housing, and by 1940 the population of the town grew to 1200. 

     Since then, the Turners have, in one way or another, been involved in running the town. There have been 11 mayors, 6 judges, and 23 town council members from the (now very extended) Turner Family.

     Current town Mayor, James Turner, married into the family at age 20, marrying younger bride Katherine Turner the summer after she graduated from Averno High School. In Turner family tradition, he took her last name and joined town council. They had their first child when he was 25, and proceeded to have 7 in total, the last born in 2012. James Turner worked in Town Council and at Averno’s only sporting goods store, which somehow avoided bankruptcy despite the fact that the town’s only sports teams were at Averno High. In the wake of his disappearance he leaves behind children Elijah, Benjamin, Cora, Beckett, Gwen, Callia, and Blaire and wife Katherine. 

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