Biography of W. F. Turnbull

Mr. W. F. Turnbull occupies a place of undisputed prominence in the history of San Mateo County, not only because of his present position as Superintendent of the San Mateo Water Company, but by virtue of his successful enterprises in the lumber business-undertaken recently, as well as his achievements in the field of landscape gardening.

To tell the story of Mr. Turnbull’s life aright, it is necessary to start from the first chapter of his life which opens in the month of March in 1847, when he was born in the town of Alva, Scotland.

His first business experience was in the tweed wool manufacturing industry in the Old Country where he learned the wool trade thoroughly from the “sheep’s back to the finished cloth.” While still in the Old Country he took up gardening, serving his apprenticeship at Tulliallan Castle and it was this profession that he followed when he came to America in 1870, and to California in 1874 and got his start.

Mr. Turnbull assumed full charge of the buildings and the gardening work of the W. H. Charles Crocker bought this estate, and remaining there until 1907.

In 1903 Mr. Turnbull entered the lumber business with the Jas. Wisnom Lumber Company and became a silent partner from 1903 to 1906. He continued as a member of the firm when it was succeeded by the Loop Wisnom Lumber Company. Then he became identified with the San Mateo Water Company of which the Peninsula Water Company is the successor. This company of which he is the superintendent is a sound financial success. It draws its supply from local wells and a riparian right with the Spring Valley Company which entitles it to 30,000 gallons of water daily. Mr. Turnbull controls a large interest in this company.

Mr. Turnbull believes in taking an active part in public life, as his serving on the Board of School Trustees, readily shows; he still nevertheless does not care for politics as he considers it a rather expensive profession to follow.

He is a member of the San Mateo Elks Club and.of the Masonic Order, Royal Arch Chapter F. & A. M., of San Mateo.



Alexander, Philip W.; Hamm, Charles P. History of San Mateo County from the Earliest Times: With a Description of Its Resources and Advantages: and the Biographies of Its Representative Men. San Mateo County, California: Press of Burlingame Publishing Company. 1916.

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