From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

The Turnbo Family

Born in Alabama, Robert Turnbo fought for the Union Army in the Civil War. While her husband was away, Isabella Cook Turnbo, a Kentucky native, fled the state with their two children, Jerry (b. 1856) and Nancy Jane (b. 1859).

The family reunited in Metropolis, IL where Jerry and Nancy were employed by the Cook family who had lived in Kentucky, according to the 1880 U. S. Federal Census.

Robert and Isabella eventually had nine more children, one of whom was Annie Turnbo Malone (1869-1957); she made hair and scalp preparations for rejuvenating African American women's hair. In St. Louis, Turnbo sold her products door-to-door; with the success of her business she was able to hire sales agents.One of those agents was Sarah Breedlove, also known as Madam C. J. Walker.

For more see the Annie Turnbo Malone entry in Black Women in America, 2nd ed., vol. 2; and L. L. Wright, "Celebrating her legacy: Museum honors beauty pioneer for contributions to cosmetology, The Paducah Sun, 1/24/2008, State and Regional section.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Black women in America 2nd ed.
NKAA Source: The Paducah sun (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Still, Sina Williams

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“The Turnbo Family,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 20, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-05 17:03:50