By Viola Haws, daughter
Isaac was one of the first children born in the settlement that became Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico. He was born on April 11, 1888 to Clara Ann Tolton Turley and Isaac Turley Sr. named for Isaac Russell who baptized his parents, Theodore Turley and Frances Amelia Kimberly in Churchville, Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1837.
Some of Isaac’s earliest recollections include the primitive lifestyle which surrounded his childhood, such as the crude shelters, hauling water from the creek one-half mile away, clearing the land of mesquite brush and wild growth of trees, and leveling the ground; in preparation for the construction of homes, outbuildings and fences.
Isaac Turley, Jr. seated front row on the left.
At a very young age, he was given responsibilities of helping his father care for farm animals and assisting his mother with household tasks such as scrubbing clothes over the wash board and sweeping floors.
In his youth, Isaac was active in his priesthood quorums, and sang in the ward choir. For seventy-two years he sang in various ward and stake choirs. He developed a love for art, and was privileged to study with Sister Maggie Ivins Bentley, a very noted artist who resided in Colonia Juarez.
Isaac’s father took a three-month journey by triple-bed wagon and a four-mule team to San Bernardino, California to bring a great variety of fruit trees to the colony for the needs of the people. That was the beginning of the fruit industry which today is the main source of income for the present day colonists.
Isaac helped his father in the fields and orchards, in the blacksmith shop and in carpentry. He had many talents, and was a hard worker.
Ida May Lake was born on December 8, 1890 in Colonia Dublan, Chibuahua, Mexico to Mary Edda Foster and George Lake, the first Mormon pioneers to settle in Colonia Dublan. She was the twelfth daughter and thirteenth child of her polygamous father.
Ida May was seven years of age when her father died. He had been the only doctor in the area of Colonia Dublan, Nuevo Casas Grandes and neighoring settlements. He was a blacksmith and a shoemaker. The last pair of shoes he made before his death were those worn by Ida May.
Shortly after the death of her father, a flood overflowed the banks of the Piedras Verdes River, and destroyed their home. Her eldest sister and young nephew passed away–all within three months, Ida May’s mother and the family of young children endured many trials. Her mother had to take in washings to support the family.
Ida May assisted her mother as much as possible, lifting heavy buckets of water and scrubbing clothing on the wash board for neighbors and other people, all of which affected her health the rest of her life. Her schooling was limited because of the stresses at home. However, she was an apt student and demonstrated her great desire for learning and later attended high school at the Juarez Stake Academy in Colonia Juarez, a colony eighteen miles west of Colonia Dublan.
Because of modes of travel–horse and buggy or horseback–there was very little communication or interchange of social activities between the colonies. On Ida May’s first day of school at the Academy, as she was walking down the sidewalk, a handsome young man, later known to her as Isaac Turley, Jr., was tying his horse to the tie-rail in front of the Co-op Store, across the street. They exchanged glances and as their eyes met, it seemed that their destiny was sealed. Shortly before they saw each other Isaac had received his Patriarchal Blessing in which he was promised that the first time he would see the one that he was to marry he would recognize her by the same familiar feeling that he had for her in the pre-existence. That was verified when he saw beautiful black-haired Ida Mae Lake.
They soon became acquainted and enjoyed a six-month courtship, preparing for their wedding, which took place in Ida May’s home in Colonia Dublan, on July 4, 1912. Bishop A. D. Thurber performed the ceremony.
The Mexican Revolution of 1912 was in progress, and it was unsafe for travel between colonies. The colonists had been advised by Church Leaders to leave the colonies at once. Thus, three weeks after their wedding, Ida May with her mother and mother-in-law and many other women and children and elderly men boarded the flat cars of the Nor-Oeste train in Colonial Dublan and traveled to El Paso, Texas. The young men and boys walked or rode any available horse across the Chihuahua prairies to meet their loved ones who had previously departed.
Isaac and Ida May and their mothers spent the next seven years in Beaver City and St. George, Utah. It was in St. George that they were sealed in the temple, and three children were born to them, namely, Melvin Isaac, August 31, 1913, George Lake, December 16, 1916, and Viola May (Haws), January 26, 1919. (A fourth child, a stillborn was later born in Colonia Juarez.)
In November 1919, Isaac re-established his family in Colonia Juarez after the rumblings of the revolution had subsided. Upon his return, he served as a counselor in the bishopric, and in subsequent years filled seven stake missions–four of which were served jointly with Ida May. Isaac was an avid sportsman, hunter, and horticulturist. He was sought after for his healing arts, and he and Ida May together cared for numerous sick and down-trodden people, frequently opening their home for weeks at a time to the distressed. Many people were converted to the gospel through their diligent teaching and kind and loving service.
Isaac and Ida May took up residence in Mesa, Arizona in the summer of 1961. There they were called as temple workers. Five years later, Ida May’s health began to decline which led to her death on December 18, 1968.
Left to right: Annie Sariah Martineau, Ida Lake Turley, Isaac Jr, Pearl Frost Turley, and Esther Turley McClellan seated.
Isaac continued his work in the temple and shared Books of Mormon with his non-member friends and acquaintances. His health began to deteriorate due to cancer, and he passed away September 16, 1977 while living with his daughter, Viola May, and her husband, David Y. Haws, in Los Animas, Colorado. He was buried beside his dear wife, Ida May, in the Mesa City Cemetery.
The memory of the unselfish service rendered by Isaac and Ida May Turley will forever endear them to their family and friends, and to all whose lives they touched.