The Asa Turner Society – A Giving Community for a Future Grinnell College

Asa TurnerIn 1843, 10 men joined Asa Turner on the frontier and organized into what became known as the “Iowa Band.” They came to Iowa with an inspired plan: “Each to found a church and all a college.” With this inspired vision of the future, Turner and the Iowa Band established what we know now as Grinnell College.

The Asa Turner Society is a group of Grinnellians who have chosen to support the College through an estate provision or a deferred gift, helping to make it possible for Grinnell to continue the work of Asa Turner and his followers.

A Legacy for the Future

Making a planned gift is one way to “let the future bear witness” to your love for Grinnell, with potential benefits for you as the donor, your heirs, and the College. The Asa Turner Society honors those who have made this choice to help Grinnell sustain the excellence that began in 1846.

You can become a member of The Asa Turner Society by:

  • Documenting the fact that Grinnell College is a beneficiary of your will, retirement account, life insurance policy, or living trust
  • Establishing a deferred gift for Grinnell College’s benefit, such as a charitable annuity or unitrust

About Asa Turner – A Man with a Vision, The Man Your Gift Honors

Born June 11, 1799, in Templeton, Mass., Asa Turner was the grandson of a Revolutionary soldier. A quick and agile scholar, he taught school before entering Yale. He graduated in 1827, eager to evangelize and civilize the frontier.

In 1830, Turner met and married Martha Bull. With a group of like-minded Yale men, the newly-ordained minister and his wife traveled to Illinois, where they established churches and founded Illinois College (where Turner was a trustee).

Turner was eager to cross the Mississippi into the newly opened Iowa territory, where the magnificent landscape struck him powerfully. “It is so beautiful there might be an unwillingness to exchange it for the paradise above,” he wrote. Still, Turner campaigned hard for more missionaries to join him on the raw edge of the frontier, where their civilizing influence was badly needed. “Do try to find some more good men and true,” he wrote back to friends in the East. Finally, his prayers were answered with the Iowa Band.

“Father Turner” was a mentor and guide to the 10 young clergymen. In 1846, with Turner present, James J. Hill threw down a silver dollar to create an endowment for Iowa College, to be located in Davenport. The group voted in the first board of trustees, on which Asa Turner served for 40 years. As a tireless fundraiser and abolitionist, Turner supported the admittance of women to Grinnell, and, according to Joseph F. Wall '41, “more than any other single individual could be given the accolade ‘founder of the College.’”

Asa Turner served the College until his death at age 86 in 1885.