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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Turrentine, Samuel Bryant

by Durward T. Stokes, 1996

15 Nov. 1861–11 Apr. 1949

Portrait of Samuel Bryant Turrentine. In the Greensboro College (Greensboro, NC) yearbook <i>The Echo</i>, 1922, p.13.  Presented by DigitalNC. Samuel Bryant Turrentine, clergyman and educator, was born in Chatham County, the son of William Holt and Annie Amy Stroud Turrentine and a great-grandson of Alexander Turrentine, who immigrated to North Carolina from Ireland about 1761. After spending his boyhood on a farm, Turrentine attended The University of North Carolina, receiving the A.B. degree in 1884 and the master's degree in 1887. On 4 Jan. 1888 he married Sallie Leonora Atwater; he then undertook theological studies at Vanderbilt University, Yale University, and the University of Chicago. Trinity College (now Duke University) awarded him the doctor of divinity degree in 1900. While pursuing graduate studies, Turrentine was associated with the Union Academy in Chatham County, assisted as superintendent of public instruction in adjoining Orange County, and served as associate professor at the Cartersville Institute in Georgia.

After his ordination into the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1890, Turrentine served North Carolina Methodist pastorates at the Centenary Church, Winston (1891–95); Trinity Church, Charlotte (1895–97); West Market Street Church, Greensboro (1900–1904); and First Church, Salisbury (1908–10). He also was presiding elder of the Charlotte District (1897–1900), of the Greensboro District (1904–8), and of the Shelby District (1910–13). In addition, he was a delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1902 and to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1906. For many years he served as a trustee of Trinity College and was the senior member of the board of trustees when Trinity became Duke University.

Intensely interested in Greensboro College, Turrentine was instrumental in the rebuilding of the school after a disastrous fire on 18 Feb. 1904. He also worked with the college alumnae in a lengthy fund-raising drive with the ultimate result that Greensboro College was purchased and presented to the North Carolina and the Western North Carolina Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1913 Turrentine was elected president of the college and devoted the remainder of his life to its affairs. During his administration facilities were greatly expanded, with a consequent increase in enrollment and accreditation. In 1921 he pursued further graduate work at Columbia University during the summer and was a coorganizer of the North Carolina College Conference. After becoming president emeritus of Greensboro College in 1935, he served as professor of Bible (1935–39) and special lecturer in Bible (1940). Also in 1940 he was one of the founders of the Turrentine Family Association in America.

Turrentine was a Mason and a Democrat. His children were Samuel Bryant, Jr., Annie Leonore, Carney Gray, Wilburn Clinton, Julian Atwater, and Walter William. He was the author of A Romance of Education: A Narrative, Including Recollections and Other Facts, Connected with Greensboro College (1946). He was buried in Green Hill Cemetery, Greensboro.


Ethel Stephens Arnett, Greensboro, North Carolina (1955).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

Minutes of the North Carolina Conference and Minutes of the Western North Carolina Conference, both of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for the years of his ministry (1890–1949).

George Ruford Turrentine, The Turrentine Family (1954).

Who Was Who in America, vol. 3 (1966).

Additional Resources:

Turrentine, S. Bryant. (1946). A romance of education: a narrative including recollections and other facts connected with Greensboro College. Greensboro, N. C: The Piedmont Press. (accessed March 25, 2014).

Image Credits:

Students' Association of Greensboro College. The Echo. Greensboro, NC: The Students' Association of Greensboro College. 1922. 13. (accessed March 25, 2014).