Turlington Harvey was a nineteenth century inventor and entrepreneur prominent in the history of Chicago and of Otoe County, Nebraska. Harvey had come from New York to Chicago at the age of nineteen in 1854. By 1859 he was the junior partner and soon afterward owner of T. W. Harvey Wholesale Lumber. He used new processes and innovations to speed lumber from the forest to the mill and to the customer.
He first came to Nebraska in 1871 following the death of his first wife. He so enjoyed the climate and excellent hunting afforded by Otoe County that he returned year after year. He purchased a tract of land there and built a large summer home for his family and for entertaining his friends. The surrounding farm eventually grew to almost two thousand acres. Registered horses and polled Aberdeen Angus cattle were raised. The nearby settlement of Turlington (founded in 1884) boasted a store, elevator, stockyard, post office, and rail depot with telegraph. Otoe County in the 1890s was influenced not only by Harvey’s emphasis on improved breeds of livestock, but by his cultural influence and that of his family and friends, who brought new fashions and ideas from Chicago.
In the late 1880s Harvey founded the town of Harvey, Illinois, near Chicago, which he tried to maintain as a model community. A town with businesses, schools, churches, libraries, and houses built of Harvey lumber seemed a good financial move and an extension of Harvey’s philanthropic instincts. The city boomed until the panic of 1893 brought financial disaster to Harvey’s lumber and other interests. His Otoe County property was gradually sold to pay debts. Harvey paid his last visit to Syracuse, Nebraska, about 1904. He died in 1909 in New Hampshire.