by Ann Laemmlen Lewis
One of Charlotte Turley’s treasured childhood memories was of being held on the lap of the Prophet Joseph Smith while her family hid him from the mobs in their cellar. She was six or seven years old.1 The Prophet Joseph was her neighbor.2 Joseph would tell her stories to help distract her and keep her quiet.
Charlotte was born on 15 April 1840 in Nauvoo3, during a time of relative peace and prosperity. Her parents, Theodore and Frances Amelia Turley had been converted by Parley P. Pratt and his companions while they lived in the Toronto area of Canada in 1837. The following year they left mounting persecution in Canada, and with Charlotte’s seven older brothers and sisters, left their Canadian homestead to join the Saints in Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. Frances and Theodore sold their farm for $1400, and traveled in two wagons with four horses to Far West, arriving on July 28, 1838.4
In the face of persecution and poverty Church members still in Kirtland were striving to complete the Temple. It was a dark time for the Church. In the latter part of 1837, over half of the members of the Church in Kirtland were either excommunicated or left the Church. Because of persecution both within and without the Church, the leaders were forced to flee for their lives. They were followed by the loyal members of the Church in the latter part of 1837 and the early months of 1838, their destination: Far West. A large group of Canadian emigrants, including the Turley Family, joined them there.5
Persecution, however, followed the Saints to Far West. Their time there was short-lived. By April 1839, the last of the Saints had gone from there. The Turley family stayed behind until all the Saints had gone and Joseph Smith was out of prison. Theodore recorded in his journal:
I left in Caldwell a dwelling house and stable, garden well of water with conveniences, a work shop well fitted up, ten acres of timber land, two town lots. Unrighteously driven from the same, with about 10,000 souls in company, trusting till God shall redeem us from the injustice of man. . . . Laboring variously for the relief of my brethren and sisters for the space of nearly six months; after the fatigues of war. The particulars of which is impossible to describe. Then journeying with my wife and children 200 miles in a wet time; living in a tent for the space of 13 weeks and never having the privilege of sleeping under a roof for this time.6
The Mormon refugees traveled to Quincy, Illinois, where they were received with kindness. However, Brigham Young and other leaders quickly realized that this large group of exiles needed a permanent place to call their own.
On April 22, 1839, Joseph Smith and those who had been imprisoned with him in Liberty, Missouri, arrived in Quincy. Their guards had allowed them to escape and they made their way to the Illinois side of the Mississippi. The following day a conference was called by the Prophet and a committee was detailed to investigate the purchase of lands. On May 1 the initial purchase was completed, and other purchases were subsequently made until extensive holdings were secured on both the Iowa and Illinois sides of the river.
The principal location was the site of Commerce, Illinois, about forty-five miles north of Quincy. At this point the river makes a broad bend giving the land on its east bank the appearance of a promontory. At the time of the purchase one stone house, three frame houses, and two blockhouses constituted the village.
It was an unhealthy place, so wet that a man had difficulty walking across most of it, and teams became mired to their hips. Of the place and its purchase, the Prophet later said: “Commerce was unhealthy, very few could live there; but believing that it might become a healthy place by the blessing of heaven to the Saints, and no more eligible place presenting itself, I considered it wisdom to make an attempt to build up a city.”
The Prophet’s faith in the future of this site is evident from the name he gave it— Nauvoo derived from the Hebrew and meaning “the beautiful location.”7
Charlotte’s father Theodore was a man skilled in many areas. After planting his corn and potatoes, he built the first home in Nauvoo, on Hyde Street just northeast of Joseph Smith’s homestead. Homes typical to this frontier area could be quickly built from logs. Many Nauvoo residents whitewashed both the exterior and interior to dress them up. The Turley home was set on a simple foundation and provided the Turley family a place to live when he left on his mission three months later.8 Theodore Turley had been called to accompany members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a mission to England. He was desirous of leaving his family with adequate shelter and provisions before his departure in 1839. Theodore recorded:
We arrived in Commerce, Illinois, in the Spring of 1839. It being a new place on the banks of the Mississippi, hence without a house or convenience of a house to shelter in, but the spring being far advanced feel it necessary to set on to plant some corn, potatoes, etc., before I start to build my house.
After accomplishing the same began to get logs, stone, etc. My family having the expanse of the firmament for a covering besides a tent made of factory cotton. Frequently when I come home I find my family wet through to the skin, and the fire all washed away and my dear little children cuddled under their mother’s cloak. Myself as wet as possible, and no fire to dry our clothes. Sometimes the bed wet when we would rise in the morning, this would try the faith and patience of all.9
When Elder Turley left on his mission in Sept 1839, there was much sickness among family members. Frances was with child and had seven youngsters in tow. It must have been hard to send their father and provider so far away.
The following spring, on April 15, 1840, Charlotte was born.10 Charlotte was described having dark hair and black eyes.11 At that time, her father, was being imprisoned on false charges in England.
In this same spring of 1840, two missionary Elders set off to preach the gospel in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Their names were Elisha H. Davis and H. Dean.12 Martin and Elisabeth Bushman and their family were living in this area. They were a religious-minded family and investigated the new doctrine, accepting it whole heartedly. Martin and Elisabeth were baptized on May 10, 184013. In spite of criticism and ostracism by friends and family members, their faith grew and they were filled with the desire to gather with the Saints to Nauvoo.
Martin and Elisabeth stayed in Lancaster long enough to help provide for their aging parents and sold their farm at a loss. Then with little more than a team and wagon and the necessary provisions for the thousand-mile trip, their family of six set off for Nauvoo. Jacob’s brother Martin later shared this account of their journey:
After many hardships and trials they arrived among the Saints in Nauvoo , and they had the privelidge of seeing the Prophet whom they loved and were happy to meet. They rented a farm from Edward Hunter near Nauvoo and went to work with all their energy to make themselves comfortable, everything prospered in their hands, they were able to feed and cloth their children and they helped to build the Temple the Saints were building at that time.14
This was an exciting time to be in Nauvoo. The city was growing rapidly. New Saints arrived weekly. Don Carlos Smith wrote an article celebrating the arrival of spring in 1841, and reported, “Habitations are reared for miles in every direction, and others are springing up. . . . Hundreds of houses, shops, mills, &c., are expected to go up in the course of the summer, when our city will present a scene of industry, beauty, and comfort hardly equaled in any place in our country.”15
About the time Charlotte’s father returned from his mission, Heber C. Kimball, also returning from England, wrote back to Parley P. Pratt describing the Nauvoo he came home to:
. . . we were surprised to see what improvements had been made since we left home. You know there were not more than thirty buildings in the city when we left about two years ago, but at this time there are twelve hundred, and hundreds of others in progress, which will be finished soon.16
It was during this time that it was decided to build a temple in Nauvoo. On April 6, 1841 ten thousand members of the church assembled for the laying of the cornerstones of this structure. By November 8 the baptismal font was completed and by October 30, 1842 the building had progressed enough so that the Saints were able to hold meetings in some of the rooms.17 Jacob would have been ten years old when the cornerstone was laid, and Charlotte would have been just one year old. Charlotte’s youngest brother, Jonathan, was born September 30, 1842.
In a letter to his brother, John describing their activities in April 1843, Jacob later wrote: Father put in quite a crop that year, and every 10th day we would go and haul rock for the Temple. We raised a very good crop but it was very hard to get milling done. Had to go some of the time 35 miles to mill and we had a good deal of sickness the first two years. Still we got along very well having to stand guard [at the temple] very often.18
Jacob’s younger brother Martin Benjamin described what it was like to be in Nauvoo with the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum:
My parents. . . were happy to be with the Saints and see the Prophet Joseph Smith and his Brother Hyrum. It was there that I had the privlage of seeing them and sitting on their laps. They helped to build that Temple. I also had the privlage of going into that most sacret house and while living there.19
Many distinguished visitors called at Nauvoo during this period of intense activity. In 1843 an English writer described the Mormon community in an article which was widely published:
The city is of great dimensions, laid out in beautiful order; the streets are wide, and cross each other at right angles, which will add greatly to its order and magnificence when finished. The city rises on a gentle incline from the rolling Mississippi, and as you stand near the temple, you may gaze on the picturesque scenery around; at your side is the temple, the wonder of the world; round about, and beneath, you may behold handsome stores, large mansions, and fine cottages, interspersed with varied scenery . . . Peace and harmony reign in the city. The drunkard is scarcely even seen, as in other cities, neither does the awful imprecation or profane oath strike upon your ear; but, while all is storm, and tempest, and confusion abroad respecting the Mormons, all is peace and harmony at home.20
Three years later Colonel Thomas L. Kane visited Nauvoo. His description is particularly interesting:
Ascending the upper Mississippi in the autumn, when the waters were low, I was compelled to travel by land past the region of the Rapids . . . My eye wearied to see everywhere sordid, vagabond and idle settlers, a country marred, without being improved, by their careless hands. I was descending the last hillside upon my journey when a landscape in delightful contrast broke upon my view. Half encircled by a bend of the river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright, new dwellings, set in cool green gardens, ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was covered by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold. The city appeared to cover several miles; and beyond it, in the background, there rolled off a fair country, chequered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry. The unmistakable marks of industry, enterprise and educated wealth everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.21
But these happy and peaceful days of childhood would not last for the Bushman and Turley children. Tides changed, persecution arose. In 1842 Joseph Smith had prophesied that the Saints would suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains.
On June 27, 1844, the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered. Martin B. Bushman, Jacob’s brother, later wrote that they could hardly believe “that their beloved Prophet was killed. It almost kill them to look upon their deathly faces of them that they loved so deerly.”22
During these years, the family had grown. The Prophet Joseph had received a revelation on plural marriage that changed many families. Between January 1842, when Theodore Turley became the second polygamist in Nauvoo, and June 1844, more than two dozen of Joseph’s confidants received sealing blessings with their first wives and then married additional wives.23
On January 2, 1842, Theodore took a second wife, Mary Clift.24 She would bear four children. Frances delivered her last child, a baby boy named Jonathan, September 30, 1842. Theodore was married to Mary’s sister, Eliza Clift March 6, 1844.25 She had two daughters. A third sister became a wife on April 26, 1844, when Theodore married Sarah Ellen Clift.26 She had two sons from a previous marriage and bore three more, each died in infancy.
As the Mormons were driven out of Nauvoo, they fled across the Mississippi River and camped at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. The Turley family left during the cold February of 1846. Provisions were scarce and conditions were harsh. They struggled to survive. On March 4 Sarah Ellen Clift , Theodore’s fourth wife, died. Then on May 12, 1846 Charlotte’s little three-year-old brother, Jonathan died. Eliza R. Snow wrote the following entry in her journal:
“I saw the funeral train following to its wilderness grave a little child of Br. Turley. It was a lonely sight–my feelings truly sympathize with those who are call’d to leave their dear relatives by the way.”27 On August 30, 1847, Charlotte’s dear mother, Frances Amelia Kimberley Turley died at Winter Quarters. Her cause of death was “scurvy.” She joined in death her daughter and first grandchild, being laid to rest in their grave site #20. Both daughter and granddaughter were named after her.28 In all, Father Theodore would lose ten members of his beloved family by December of 1848.29
While the Turleys suffered on the other side of the river, the Bushman family had been asked to stay behind in Nauvoo to plant crops to provide food for the new members who would be arriving from the East. The crops prospered, but the mobbers moved in before the harvest, driving the remaining Saints from Nauvoo. Jacob’s son later described this experience:
A dark seen [sic] was before them. Their prophet was slain in cold blood. Their people plundered and in September 1846 they were driven from their homes leaving their crops standing in the fields and everything else. They had only a few things they could put into a wagon. A short time previous to leaving Mother took her children by the hand and led them to the Temple that they might see it and behold its beauty out side and in side too. That perhaps they might when they got older remember how it looked. It was a place that they had loved and a place where they had received their sacred blessing.30
For the rest of their lives, Jacob’s siblings remembered seeing the baptismal font on the backs of the twelve bronze oxen.31
Theodore and Frances Amelia Turley received their temple blessings in the Nauvoo Temple December 20, 1845 and Martin and Elizabeth Bushman on Christmas Day.32
The Bushman family was forced to leave Nauvoo with just a few hours’ notice. They were ill-prepared for the 500 mile trek to Council Bluffs, Iowa. It was the dreary rainy season and the roads were nearly impassible. Winter came on and the family suffered from hunger and cold. During this trying time, they lost two of their little girls, Elizabeth, age nine, and beautiful dark-eyed Hetty, who was a year old. They died one week apart, from exposure. Their brother, Martin Benjamin later described placing them “in their graves without coffins as there was nothing to be had to make them with, their bodies were lightly wrapped and a few branches of trees laid over their bodies to protect them from the dirt.”33
The family mourned their heartbreaking loss, and continued their journey with the Saints. They stopped in Highland Grove near Council Bluffs, where father Martin built a house of logs covering it with sticks and dirt. Then he went to Missouri to find work and food. Jacob cleared land for a farm and then he and Sarah also went into Missouri to see if they could find work to help the family. Sarah taught school through the winter.
After some time father Martin returned with some corn meal and pork and a few other provisions. The family stayed in Highland Grove four years, raised crops, and saved until they had sufficient provisions to make it the rest of the way to Utah. During these four years Jacob took charge of the farm while his father was away working. By the time he was eighteen years old he went alone to Missouri to work, returning home with his father to begin the last leg of their journey in May 1851. They had one wagon with two yoke of oxen and two yoke of cows hitched to it with enough provisions to last the next five months.34 They traveled with the Kelsey Company.35 Martin Benjamin Bushman, later wrote :
They went to council bluff in western Iowa they lived there for four years to get an outfit to come to utah. My Father and older brother went to another state to get work to get some thing for us to eat and clothes us. then I had to get the wood and chop it for to burn also had to feed the cattle. I also had to grind corn on a coffe mill for us to eat I also made traps to ceth quails for help out our meals. It was there that I was paptised also received a Patarcal blessing. at the end of four years we was ready to come to utah our outfit was one wagon four oxin and four cows and provision for four month on the way we see many buffalows and killed some for meet to eat that helped us in our living. We see thousand of indians on that journey of one thousand miles but they did not molest us wich we was thankful for.
We staid one week in Salt lake City then came thirty miles south to lehi then called dry creek. I was then ten years old for the next ten years of my life I stayed with parents helps them build houses make correls and shed and make fenses plow the ground harvest the crops. Also hearded the cows many times bare footed and done many other things in building up a new country. many time was short of clothes and food but we made the best of our lot and was not annoyed by our enemies.36
During the trek West, Jacob did not stay with his family. He drove an ox team for Henry Kearns in the Isaac Allred Company, reaching Utah a month before his family.37 When they arrived, he went with them to Lehi, but then returned to Salt Lake in November to work in a livery stable. In the Spring, he drove a baggage wagon to Carson Valley, Nevada, for an Indian agent. There he washed for gold until late July, when he headed for California.38
In the meantime, the Turley family had also made their way across the plains in the Silas Richards company of 1849.39 When the pioneers arrived in Salt Lake, President Brigham Young almost immediately instituted his great colonization program. In the early 1850s the Turley family was sent to southern California to settle the San Bernardino area–the western-most boundary of the Utah Territory.
Brigham Young desired the establishment of a colony on the Pacific coast as an outfitting post where European converts might land instead of New York harbor. This would shorten the journey to the Salt Lake valley by two-thirds. In June 1851, eight to nine hundred Mormons reached the Cajon Pass, and from there they bought food then, on credit, purchased the Rancho de San Bernardino. Soon after taking possession of their land, Indians threatened war, and a fort which covered ten acres was built in 1852. The Mormons lived here until 1853 when they began to spread out over the newly-surveyed land.40
Brigham Young asked Jacob Bushman’s family to settle in Lehi, Utah, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. It was here in April 1851 that Jacob was baptized and confirmed by Elisha Davis, the missionary who taught his family in Pennsylvania.41
In 1852 Jacob went to California, finding work along the way. He eventually learned of a group of ten families going to San Bernardino, and he joined them:
Arrived there about the Fall of 1855, and I thought it was a fine place. I went to work for Brother Theodore Turley and John Cook. A short time. Then went on the mountain to run and Engine for a saw mill for Gilbert Hunt. I was there about 3 months. In the Fall of 1856, I went to work for George Crisman. And in March 3, 1857, I was married to Charlotte Turley, daughter of Theodore Turley and Francis Kimberly Turley. Then news came from Salt Lake for all that called themselves Latter Day Saints to come back to Utah, and the most of the Saints started back in December 1857.
I left Sanbernardino on the 25 day of Dec. 1857 in company with my father-in-law and two brother-in-laws and about 20 other families for Utah. We traveled along until we arrived at the Muddy on the night of 22 of Jan. 1858. And on the 23 of Jan. My first child was born, a girl Pricilla Elizabeth. We had a hard time from there until we reached Cedar City about the first of Feb. 1858. I left my wife there with her father and went on to Lehi with one of my brother-in-laws Stephen Franklin, and we arrived in Lehi about the 10th of Feb. 1858, being gone nearly six years.
In March, I returned to Cedar City for my wife and child, traveling through snow sometimes three feet deep. And started back for Lehi the first week in April 1858. Had to shovel snow going back. Arrived there about the middle of April.42
Family records show that Priscilla Elizabeth died in Muddy, Washington, Utah, August 15, 1859.43
The Bushmans were among the first families to settle in Lehi.44 After Indians threatened the new settlers, the homes were moved end to end into a fort formation which was surrounded by a dirt wall that was twelve feet high in some sections and three feet across at the top. The Bushman family home was located on the east side of the fortification.45
Life in Lehi’s early years was difficult. Charlotte was a young bride, marrying Jacob at age seventeen. Jacob was ten years her senior and already had many experiences under his belt. He was described as a responsible and reliable man. With his brothers and father, Jacob took up farming. In the spring of 1863 Jacob and John farmed the John C. Naile farm by Saratoga Springs on shares.46 Until the railroad came in to the southwest part of Lehi in 1881, dry goods had to be brought in a thousand miles by ox team. Of these years, brother Martin Benjamin later wrote:
We came thirty miles to lehi then called dry creek. I was then ten years old. For the next ten years of my life I stayed with parents helps them build houses make correls and shed and make fenses plow the ground harvest the crops. Also herded the cows many times bare footed and done many other things in building up a new country. Many time was short of clothes and food but we made the best of our lot and was not annoyed by our enemies.47
From 1860 to 1884, nine more children were born to Charlotte and Jacob in Lehi. Charlotte Amanda was born July 31, 1860; Theodore Martin was born October 20, 1863; Frances Ann was born April 17, 1866, and died 26 January 187448; Sarah Erminie was born March 17, 1869; Mary Emma was born October 5, 1871; Grace Honor was born June 15, 1873; Jacob Isaac was born March 16, 1876; Ida Roxana was born September 14, 1879; and Ella Isadora was born February 3, 1884.
Jacob’s mother, Elizabeth Degen Bushman offered her services as a midwife in Lehi as soon as they settled there. It was probably comforting to Charlotte to have her helping hands near by.49
In the fore part of 1851 [the Bushman family] arrived in Salt Lake City. One week later the family made its way to Lehi and there Elizabeth began her service as midwife in the community. She brought three hundred and fifty seven babies into the world and the most she ever received was $2.50, for more than two weeks work. Most of the time she walked on these errands of mercy but sometimes she rode on an old hayrack. The last visit she made was during a rainstorm. A cold developed and she never got out of bed again. She was ill six weeks and then was called home May 21, 1878, at the age of seventy-six years.
During their thirty years in Lehi, Jacob served as a Marshall and was a school trustee. He held various church offices, and in 1871 went on a four-month mission to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. While in Pennsylvania, he gathered a great deal of genealogical information on his relatives there. When the family organized themselves, Jacob became the first President, overseeing temple work for the Bushman family.50
Charlotte’s life was no doubt busy raising and caring for her large family. There was much work to do. In his journal, Martin Benjamin Bushman later described about how difficult it was to get supplies for their families. The only thing they could do was procure it from the soil. He told of raising the grain and threshing it and raising corn and vegetables. They went into the canyons for wood to burn and timber for building. They raised sheep for wool which the women spun into yarn, then wove it into cloth for clothing.51
In those days young women were expected to keep a home immaculately clean and sweet, to cook, to knit, darn, sew and patch, spin, weave, embroider and make lace, either knitted or crocheted or both.52 In addition to these domestic activities, Lehi’s young couples had many social activities which included dances and balls, amateur theatrical productions, concerts, home socials and parties. Charlotte is reported to have been a good dancer.
Church meetings were held on Sundays and evening prayer meetings on Thursdays. Fast Meetings were held on the first Thursday afternoon of each month.53 Lehi was a religious community, and there was little differentiation between church and community activities. Families prayed together and worked together.
In 1867 Brigham Young re-instituted the Relief Society organization under the direction of Eliza R. Snow. She came to Lehi on October 27, 1868 and organized the Lehi Female Relief Society in the Meeting House. The sisters in Lehi raised funds by selling homemade goods, ward dinners, bake sales, bazaars and the gleaning of wheat. With their own funds and their own hands, they built their own adobe hall where they gathered for meetings.54
Many interesting events are associated with the Relief Society Hall in Lehi. It was the site of numerous outpourings of the spirit–particularly “speaking in tongues,”55 a gift that Jacob’s mother possessed.56
In 1884 Jacob and Charlotte and their young family were called on a settling mission to help colonize St. Johns Arizona. Jacob sold his property in Lehi and prepared for a permanent home in Arizona. They took their herd of forty head of cattle and traveled by covered wagon. They slept in the wilds with rattlesnakes so close that sleep was difficult. Food was baked over rocks.57
It took them six weeks to reach their destination after traveling through Indian country, the petrified forest, and fording rivers of mud and mire. From St. Johns they were sent eight miles to Concho, where they settled for two years. Jacob built a log house for the family there and all was well–until the terrific rainstorms and floods came. The floods were so treacherous that they were forced to return to St. Johns where they rented a farm. The children attended school with 500 Mexican children.58 It was said that Charlotte also learned to speak Spanish quite well.59
After six years of struggling to survive the harsh elements, President Wilford Woodruff sent a letter of release urging them to return to Utah as soon as possible. By now, the family’s savings were depleted. Jacob and Charlotte had just enough left to return to Fairview, where their daughter Sarah and her husband, Henry Fowles, lived.
Jacob leased a farm from Henry with seven acres of dry land and an old log house and once again he and Charlotte made their home. In the 20 October 1888 Minutes of the Branch Council Meeting in Fairview Ward, the Jacob Bushman family was received into the Ward.60
Eleven years later on November 1, 1899, Charlotte died from pneumonia.61 Her daughter, Ida often paused to look at a photo of her mother, exclaiming, “Mother was a very beautiful woman. Her creamy white complexion, her black eyes and silky black hair made her one of the most beautiful women I ever knew!” Ida also enjoyed telling how mother Charlotte always took great care in her appearance. She had a neat black dress with a pocket in the skirt where she kept pieces of candy for her children and grandchildren.62
A granddaughter, Ora Anderson, remembered her mother telling of Charlotte’s devotion to her children, husband, and the church. She assumed any hardship that came without complaint, accepting each day as it came and thanking God for her lovely family.63
Jacob lived in Fairview twenty more years until his death on March 25, 1919, at age eighty-eight. He spent those last years farming, helping to design and construct irrigation ditches, and working in his garden until he was bedridden in 1918. All of Jacob and Charlotte’s children were in attendance at his funeral. Their posterity numbered 106: 65 living and 41 dead. It was the end of an era. Jacob and Charlotte experienced times of great diversity in their lives. They were Pioneers. They watched the Kingdom begin to roll forth. They struggled through hard times and they rose to meet every challenge in the best way they knew how. They raised a righteous and faithful family. They were normal people who lived extraordinary lives.
Charlotte and Jacob Bushman:
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