The Saints living in Nauvoo knew they needed the blessings of the temple to strengthen them for the ordeal of their journey into the wilderness. They needed temple covenants to protect them and help them endure the challenges overland travel would bring. Hundreds of worthy people, including the Turley family, flocked to the Nauvoo Temple in the winter of 1845-46 to receive their temple blessings and make covenants.
Even when Brigham Young encouraged them to begin their exodus, they could not bear to leave. He said, “Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive. . . . I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing. Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2d ed. rev., 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932–51), 7:579. )
Here is a fascinating journal account of what was happening in Nauvoo at that time, written by John Pulsipher (1827-1891).
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JOHN PULSIPHER
The teaching of the Twelve was to build the Temple and finish the work that Joseph had begun. The people were obedient to counsel and exerted themselves to do all they could to accomplish the work.
On February the 9th, 1845, I was ordained to the office of a Seventy at the Seventies Hall in Nauvoo. I was placed in the Second Quorum and attended the meeting regularly and got much good instruction.
Our enemies were not satisfied with what they had done, so they continued their depredations. In the small settlements in the country the mobs collected, drove our brethren from their homes, burned their houses and grain and killed some who could not get out of the way. In the fall, the mob collected in the south part of the county and in about two weeks they burned 200 houses to ashes. The inhabitants had to flee to nauvoo to save their lives. A great amount of grain and property was destroyed, cattle and hogs were stolen and killed almost without number. Old father Durfee was shot and killed by the mob while he was trying to save his property from the flames. Many others died from exposure after being robbed and driven into the wood. Their sufferings were so great that they could not endure it.
The Saints gathered into Nauvoo, labored and toiled to finish the temple. Our enemies at the same time were planning to drive us from our city and from the United States. In the fall the temple was dedicated to the Lord, thus far completed. Prayer pronounced by President B. Young. The building was finished with the exception of a little inside work which was done during the winter.
Seeing that the church could have no peace in the United States just because we were saints, our enemies were allowed to rob, mob, plunder and drive us from the pleasant homes that we have worked so hard to make; not satisfied with that they would kill without cause and without fear. All seemed combined from the head of government down. There was no peace for Mormons and no man punished for murdering them. Seeing this, President Young and the Twelve gave orders for the saints to prepare and in the spring start into the wilderness, to a place where we can hide up among the mountains till the Lord shall execute judgment among the wicked. This was joyful news to all Saints. They started with one accord to prepare to start. The winter was spent in building wagons and buying teams.
Most of the Saints, men and women, had the privilege of receiving their endowments, learning the order of the Priesthood, the fall and redemption of man, in the temple in the city of Joseph. Nauvoo was called by that name after the death of Joseph. I think it was in the month of January that I and my brother Charles received our endowments. The building was filled up in the nicest style. It was built according to the pattern that the Lord gave to Joseph. It was accepted of the Lord and His holy angels have ministered unto many therein and now because of persecution we must leave it and in leaving it we leave a monument of our industry which was reared in our poverty. It was the finest building in all the western country.
At the west and about 100 (?) feet from the ground was the following inscription in large gold letters:
THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
BUILT BY THE CHURCH OF
JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS
Commenced April 6th, 1841
Holiness to the Lord
At the east end of the House, inside, was arched the following sentence:
THE LORD HAS BEHELD OUR SACRIFICE, COME AFTER US
President Young, learning that our enemies were planning to come and drive us, considered it best to start before they came that they might see that we were going. He invited men to come forward with teams and provisions and go as a pioneer company, to make roads and prepare the way for the Church to follow.
On the 2nd of February, father and Charles, my brother younger than I, started having fitted out a four-horse team, with father and Wm. Burgess, and loaded it with provision and seeds. They crossed the Mississippi River with the first of the pioneer company. They were out with Pres. Young and the Twelve the remainder of that cold stormy winter, working their way westward. When their provisions were gone, they went down to the nearest settlements in Missouri and worked for more. They made a road west thru the wilderness of what afterwards became the state of Iowa. Father left me at home with the instructions to sell the property, get teams and bring the family along. On account of the people all wanting to sell so they could go and as our enemies would not give much for our possessions because they thought we would leave them and they could get them without paying, we were obliged to sell for just what we could get. About $2,000 worth of property I had to sell for $300, because I could do no better. We got teams enough so as to let Horace and William Burgess, Jr.–my brothers-in-law–have a yoke of oxen each and helped Elias Pulsipher my cousin, to some team and took the family of Wm. Burgess, senior, into one of our wagons. All things being made ready, we left our home about the 20th of May and started in pursuit of the camp of Israel, with light hearts full of joy.
After traveling five days with our light teams and heavy loads, to our great joy we met father, Charles and father Burgess coming back to get us. They supposed that we had not started and they feared that our enemies would be upon us. They had given their load to the company and returned to help us. A happy meeting it was!
We traveled till we came to a settlement on the Des Moines River and then stopped and worked about two months and got some more provisions and clothing, traded horses for oxen and on the 10th of August we started again on our journey in company with Wm. Burgess, senior, Wm. Burgess, Jr., Horace Burgess and others of our neighbors. After travelling 21 days, we passed by Garden Gove and Mr. Pisgah, resting places, where poor Saints had stopped to raise crops so they could pursue their journey. We arrived at the headquarters of the Camp of Israel on the west side of the Missouri River. This was the 1st of September. The Saints were scattered from Nauvoo to this place and many had not started because they could get no teams.
Heber C. Kimball acted as scribe at the temple during this time. His journals can be found in BYU Special Collections. Here are some pages I transcribed from those journals:
Heber Chase Kimball
MSS SC 1859
21 November 1845 to 7 January 1846
11 December the Temple opens for Ordinances and from then on each day has many pages of details of who came when and received which ordinances by whom.
20 December 1845
At 6’oclock Theodore Turley and his family having arrived at the Temple the ordinances were administered to them as follows viz:
Theodore Turley ^ H Priest Born 11 April, 1801 was washed and anointed by William Crosby.
The females as follows commencing at 15 minutes before 6’oclock
Frances Turley born June 22, 1800
w. by Nancy Winchester A. by Leonora Taylor
Percila Turley born June 1, 1829
w. by Polly Z. Johnson A. by Patty Sessions
Frances Amelia Turley born 1 Jany 1825
w. by Nancy Winchester A. by Patty Sessions
Mary Ann Turley b July 13, 1827
w. by Nancy Winchester, A. by Leonora Taylor
Mary Henderson born Feby 18, 1823
w. by P. L. Johnson A. by Patty Sessions
Finished here at half past 6 o’clock
Eliza R. Snow, Clerk.
At 10 min past 7 [commenced receiving (gives names of who played each part of the endowment)]
At half past 9 o’clock commenced receiving Elder Turley & family into the upper department in the following order
Theodore Turley by PP Pratt
Frances Turley “ T Turley & PPP
Frances Amelia Turley by T Turley
Mary Ann Turley by T Turley
Mary Henderson by Isaac Allred
Finished at 10 o’clock
John D. Lee afficiated as prompter
Pres Young left the Temple about half past 4 o’clock to be absent for the night.
At 5 o’clock a meeting was held in Er. Kimballs room. Present H.C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, P. P. Pratt, Amasa Lyman, George A. Smith, John Taylor, W. W. Phelps and George Miller – clothed in peistly apparel, they offered up thanks to God and asked for the health of Bishop Whitneys chid, also Elder Kimballs and that God would away the wrath of this government from us and over rule all things for good.— Elder Kimball being mouth—
564 Persons have passed through—
95 this day —- —– —–
Sunday 21 December 1845
Theodore Turly attends meeting in the temple. 75 persons present, HCK presiding.
22 Dec 1845
. . . at Twelve O’clock P.M. all petires? (parties?) Except Pres. B. Young, H. C. Kimball Amasa Lyman John D. Lee Levi Rollin David Coinclance? Theodore Turly, H C. Hanson Peter Hanson H. G. Sherwood
These slept in the Temple
Theodore Turley is listed as the #3 person officiating in the middle department.
At 20 minutes past 12 William Miller who was arrested yesterday, came into the Temple, having been liberated from arrest at Carthage last evening when they found out that he was not Brigham Young. He was not ill treated.
The following persons have labored in the Temple this day – viz.
(A list which includes Theodore Turley)
Tuesday, December 25th 1845
Pres. Brigham Young H. C. Kimball, George Miller and others who were here yesterday with some others. The morning is fine, the sun shining clear and bright upon the light covering of snow which fell last night–
In the female department the following persons were washed and anointed commencing at 5 minutes before 11 o’clock viz.
(A list including Sarah Ellen Clift born May 3. 1814 w. by Arteminia Snow an. by Mary C. Miller)
At 15 minutes after 3 o’clock commenced receiving into the upper department company No. 2 in the following order, viz:
(List containing Sarah Ellen Clift – by Theodore Turley)
Bushman family members receive temple blessings
Theodore Turley mentioned as in the temple that evening
Monday January 5th 1846
High Priests: Robert Clift born Sept 20 1791
Women: Priscilla Clift born August 1815
5 p.m. upper department: Robert Clift by P. P. Pratt
Priscilla Clift by Robert Clift
After the labors of the day were over (9pm) more music and dancing in the Temple until midnight.
Here are some another interesting journal entries by Heber C. Kimball from the following days:
26 December 1846 (my notes of this entry)
People didn’t come to the temple today because BY said there would be no business there today. A few stayed to watch the doors, Eliza R. Snow was there and some women sewing garment. BY said from now on, no more sewing in the temple, houses would be designated for that. He also told them no more eating or cooking on the 4th floor.
There were some things going on in the temple that should not have been-there were a few men (some names mentioned) who introduced women into the temple (not their wives) and were living with them in the side rooms—cooking, sleeping, tending babies “and toying with their women.”
Reported that there were also some men who came to the temple who weren’t so well prepared (worthy) and some women and children who “who were not well entitled to the ordinances. Also many who were “lounging about, who had no particular duty to attend to, but who thought they had a right to be present because they had once passed through the vail.” Also a few veil workers who didn’t have BY’s permission to work there, etc.
January 1st 1846 Thursday
This day is the first of another year—the morning is rainy, the ground very soft, and the mud very deep. A heavy mist rests upon the low ground under the bluff—the sun light is very dim being nearly shut out by the bleak heavy clouds which overspread the whole face of the sky and every thing around wears a gloomy and dismal aspect – but notwithstanding the unfavorable appearance of things, the brethren and sisters are assembling together to the house of the Lord to receive their washings & anointings. . . .
The plasterers have commenced this morning to plaster the arched ceiling of the lower hall of the Temple, the floor is laid, the frame work o the pulpits and surrounding seats for the choir and band, is put- up and the work of fitting the room or dedication & holding meetings therein progresses very fast –.
Men consecrated more perfumed oil, prayed to God, “that he would preserve us from all the snares and traps that were laid by our enemies, that he would paralyze their power, and turn away their wrath, that we might have means & power to remove from this place and for the continued prosperity of the Church, &c. &c. &c.
(A full day of temple work—pages full of names of people who came)
After a little time had elapsed (it was after 9 p.m.) the whole company were assembled together in the east room, in number about fifty and all kneeled down upon the carpet and united with Elder H. C. Kimball in thanksgiving to God for his great mercy, and goodness to us in granting us this opportunity of meeting together in the House of the Lord and in prayer to him that he would continue to bless us—that he would bless Pres. Brigham Young with health and wisdom, that he might be able to lead and direct this people, and that the same blessings might be extended to all his brethren of the Twelve, and on all the saints, and that God would bless our wives and give unto them strength of body, that they might live and administer to the servants of God that they might see three peace years and ten, and behold the kingdom of God established in the earth. — And that we might be enabled to continue in Nauvoo in peace, until all the faithful Saints have received their endowments and that when the time to leave here should arrive, that we might have those things that we need to enable us to go away in comfort—that to this end our possessions might look good to those who are round about us that they may buy them and pay us gold and silver, and such things as we need. Also that God would bless our children, and all that pertains to us, and dedicating the whole company to God, give him the glory through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
BY performed a marriage in one of the rooms, then they had a super in the Temple, then dancing. BY got up and preached about dancing in the temple—and instructed the people not to dance with the wicked. He asked who was willing to make a covenant “that they would not mingle with the wicked any more in their amusement.” BY chastised his daughter, Vilate, who was dancing.
(Testimony of a fiddler who played for the wicked.)
The spirit of the Lord was present and the spirit of meekness & humility & gratitude to God for the great privileges we enjoy that tears came into the eyes of many of those present. Love and union, peace & harmony prevailed, the utmost decorum was observed, not a loud laugh, nor a rude jest saluted the ear — All were in the most perfect subjection to the word of the President, and when he told them at about half past 2 o’clock that it was time to quit and seek repose this whole company assented without a murmur, although may would have been gad to have continued the exercises longer.
The sisters retired to the side rooms & the brethren stretched themselves on the floor, or on the sofas and all were soon in the embraces of “tired nature’s sweet restores, balmy sleep.” With the exception of the Bridegroom & Bride, and a few of their friends, who, being unable to close their eyes in sleep, from the abundance of their joy, passed the short hours of the morning in agreeable conversation in the offices.
(List of all those persons present for the celebration that evening.)