From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (African American Women Veterans in and from Kentucky)

Turner, Joanna M. Keys

(born: February 5, 1896  -  died: May 16, 1980) 

Military Branch

Women's Army Corps

Active Duty Entered

February 17, 1945

Active Duty Exit

October 8, 1945


Joanna M. Keys was a teacher in Lexington, KY, as early as 1925, and she is listed as a member of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association in 1924. She was a college graduate, and she was married when she enlisted in the Army in Cincinnati, OH, according to her record in the National Archives, Access to Archival Databases. She was the wife of Estell Turner. Joanna Keys Turner was one of the older women to join the WAC; she was between 45 and 50 years old when she enlisted.

The discrepancy in her age is due to there being more than one birthday and varying ages. According to her military record and other records, Joanna M. Keys was born in Lexington, KY, on February 4, 1900, the daughter of Mary Haskins and Henry Keys who was a horse trainer. According to the birth notice in the local newspaper, she was born four years earlier. "February 5. - To Henry Keys and Mary Haskins, colored, a daughter." Source: Sunday Leader, 02/16/1896, p.4. Henry Keys had two daughters, according to his 1943 obituary, Joanna and her half-sister Julia who was born in 1905 and died in 1964.

Joanna M. Turner left Kentucky and was a teacher in Cincinnati, OH. In October of 1946, she filed for divorce, and the divorce was finalized in January of 1947. Joanna was said to be 45 years old. In 1951, she was a teacher at the Allen House, an Emergency Child's Placement Center with the Hamilton County Welfare Department in Cincinnati. She remained in Cincinnati where she died in 1980 and she is buried in the Spring Grove Cemetery.

Sources: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death Files in Ancestry; Ohio Death Records in Ancestry; "Colored Notes: Henry Keys," Lexington Herald, 10/05/1943, p.11; "New Suits Filed: Court of Common Pleas. A101364 Joanna K. Turner vs Estill G. Turner. For divorce.," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/19/1946, p.20; "Divorce by Judge Schneider," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 01/11/1947, p.9; May Dearness, "Kids Find Fun: at Allen House in escaping sad family life," The Cincinnati Enquirer, 04/22/1951, p.95; "Colored Notes and News: Mrs. Julia Keys Smith," The Lexington Leader, 03/24/1964, p.16; Joanna K. Turner at Find A Grave; R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) Directory, 1925, p.499; and the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, 48th Annual Session, April 23-26, 1924, p.56. 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Ancestry (online)
NKAA Source: The Daily leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Lexington herald (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Cincinnati enquirer (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Lexington leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: R. L. Polk & Co.'s Lexington (Kentucky) directory, 1925
NKAA Source: Kentucky Negro educational association journal (periodical)
NKAA Source: National Archives, Access to Archival Databases (online)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Turner, Joanna M. Keys,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 7, 2022,

Last modified: 2021-10-06 15:45:57