First Negro constable of St. Louis was Charles H. Turpin, a taffy-colored Republican ward heeler. Son of an amiable colored saloonkeeper named Tom ("Millions") Turpin, he too opened barrooms in St. Louis' black belt with Brother Tom Jr. Three years he spent in California selling a mouse poison of his own invention. Back in St. Louis he was elected constable, and next turned his hand to running a cinemansion, the Booker T. Washington, the present site of St. Louis' massive Municipal Auditorium. Showman Turpin prospered, built the gaudy Jazzland dance hall where brother Tom thumped the piano. When Charles Turpin died of an insect bite in 1935, he left a $119,000 estate consisting chiefly of 700 shares of American Telephone & Telegraph Co. stock.
Charles Turpin willed that his stock should be held in trust for his sister, Mrs. Nannie Thomas, whom he named executrix. More unusual, he directed that upon her death, the income was to go to scholarships for Negroes "who desire higher education along business lines."
To Charles Udell Turpin, only offspring of his four marriages, Charles H. Turpin bequeathed $1. Last week Son Turpin, Columbia and Northwestern Law School graduate, who already has obtained removal of his aunt as executrix, had suit begun in Circuit Court to set aside his father's trust, recover the Negro pupils' money for himself.