Here is a look at the life of Priscilla Rebecca Turley who married Amasa Mason Lyman in 1846. She was a daughter of Theodore and Frances Amelia Kimberley Turley. This account was written by Priscilla Lyman Rice, a granddaughter. (The Theodore Turley Family Book pp. 74-78.)
The lives of the pioneers should be written in Poetry and on golden plates for their children and children to read. This has not yet been done, but it was written in the lives of others, in toil-worn hands, in dimmed eyes that just had to make another quilt, another knitted rug, or help another baby into the world, or care for someone in need of a light to lead the way.
So I shall tell you about the grandmother for whom I was named. She had beautiful gray eyes, a kind smile, a heart full of love, and still wanted to dance when past seventy years of age. She saw me as a baby, but, as I was only six weeks old, I do not remember her. My father and mother have told me many little stories about her so that I feel that I almost know her.
Priscilla Turley was born June 1, 1829 to Theodore and Frances Kimberley Turley, in Toronto, Canada, just across the St. Lawrence River from the United States. They crossed this river one night when she was less than ten years old. Her brothers and sisters were as follows: Mary Ann Turley Cook, Isaac, Charlotte Turley Bushman, Sarah Turley and Fredric Turley.
After moving here and there for a short while this family of eight Turleys came to Missouri. They lived on a farm in the summer and in town in the winter in order to enable the children to attend school. About this time the Saints came to Missouri and the Turleys heard the Gospel, and were all converted and later persecuted along with the other saints.
As mentioned in the history of Amasa Lyman, Priscilla hid him from the mob, thus probably saving his life.
Sometime after this, the mob was after the Prophet Joseph Smith and he was in hiding. Different families took turns carrying his dinner to him so one day her mother sent Priscilla to Whatmers with a basket of food. As she walked along the path a man stopped her and said, “Little girl, your folks know where Joseph Smith is. Now, you tell me.” She looked at him and said, “If they did know, they wouldn’t tell a little girl like me.” The man stepped aside and let her pass. Thus again she helped save a man’s life by telling a lie and both times she was praised for it. She often said she had been praised more for prevarication than for telling the truth.
During the time polygamy was being practiced, Amasa Lyman’s friend Theodore Turley asked him to take one of his daughters, suggesting one of the older girls, but Amasa told him if he took any it would be Priscilla as he wished to protect her always. She became Amasa Lyman’s seventh wife, January 16, 1846, at the age of 16. Priscilla continued to live with her parents for a long time She went to school, worked for others, etc. She came to Utah with the pioneers in Brigham Young’s Company in 1848.
Priscilla went with her husband across the desert to San Bernardino in 1851. While waiting for the ranch to be purchased they were encamped near a fine vineyard. One day they were wishing for some of the grapes and with the help of their interpreter secured some from the bearded Spaniard who was in the vineyard. The man took hold of Grandmother’s arm and made it known he wished her to come with him further into the vineyard. At first she was reluctant to go, but the interpreter assured her that it was quite safe. The man then took her to a certain vine and showed her the largest bunch of grapes she had ever seen. They were ripe so the man picked them and gave them to her. She said the stem was as large as her thumb and the bunch as long as her arm. (This incident took place the day they arrived.)
While living in San Bernardino her two oldest children were born. Their names were Theodore and Ira. About this time Cornelia Lyman (another wife of Amasa Lyman) became ill, leaving her two boys, Lorenzo and Henry to be cared for, so grandmother cared for them along with her own children. She was set apart as a midwife to care for mothers and babies and so helped more than a hundred lives into this world, although she never advertised nor sought after this work. Grandmother was best known as “Aunt Persillie.”
In 1858 most of the San Bernardino colonists were called back to Utah because of the coming of Johnston’s Army. Grandmother went back to Fillmore where she lived for some time. Four more children were born there, two dying in their early years.
After her two oldest sons were married the family went to Idaho and thus Lyman Town came into existence. To them it was only a ranch between the forks of the Snake River–the best place in the world in the summer but a bad place in the winter. They were often “snowed in” and in the spring the ice broke up and the river went wild on both sides of them.
Her oldest son’s wife died and left three boys about two, four, and six years of age-Frank, Elmer and Guy. These she cared for until the oldest married. Her only daughter married young and lived near them in Idaho. Later (1886) they all went again over the “Old Spanish Trail” to California and lived near San Bernardino. Her daughter died and left three little girls Edna, Florence, and Maude Barry. Her son Theodore told her that she was not to raise them as she had done her share of such work. However, she helped a lot and my own parents went to help them for a while.
In addition to all the work of caring for these many children, she pieced many quilts and knitted many beautiful rugs. She especially wanted each of her children to have one.
Grandmother spent many months of her life traveling from place to place in a covered wagon. A true and courageous pioneer, we can never honor her and her kind enough.
While living at San Luis Rey, California, grandmother’s hip was injured by a severe fall at her son-in-law’s house while dancing one of the square dances. The party was in honor of the new school teacher. Grandmother had done extra work that day but still enjoyed dancing. She was nearly seventy years old at this time and so was forced to spend her last few years on crutches. She did her work neatly with the help of her son and three grandsons.
Another story about Priscilla Turley Lyman (from the Personal writings of Amasa M. Lyman) is told:
This story is related by an old lady in Utah who says that she was alone in her home in Far West when a man with his arm and wrist terribly swollen rushed up to the door and asked her to hide him quickly from the mob who were on his track in a fury and about to overtake him. When she told him she was alone and could not take an utter stranger into the house, he begged her the more to hide him or he would be killed by the men soon to come in sight.
Being assured by something in his face that he was not to be feared, this girl in her teens ran and brought a ladder which she fixed to a covered opening in the ceiling, and told him to climb up there and hide between the ceiling and the roof. When he had placed the cover over the hole and she had little more than returned from taking the ladder back to its place, the mob appeared and demanded to know where that man, Lyman, had gone, swearing that if he had not been “caught away by the Holy Ghost,” they would make an end of him.
When she told them she knew no man named Lyman, they began hunting inside the house and out. Finding the ladder, one of them declared it had but recently been moved but another was sure it had not been disturbed for a long time, and without looking above the ceiling, they gave up the search and went on.
When Theodore Turley and his wife returned home, their daughter, Priscilla told them a man was hiding overhead, and they helped “him”down, We have no way of knowing Amasa’s first impression of these Turleys, but considering the part was to take in his life, he should have felt towards them some what as he had felt towards the Tanners and the Partridges. There is no reason, however, to think that in his tribulation of that time, he envisioned Priscilla going with him and seven other women across deserts and mountains to the western sea.
All he says about it is that while he was helping the Saints convey their property to their enemies, and keeping out of sight as best he could, “I boarded with Brother Theodore Turley’s family. Sister Turley was most kind and unremitting in her attention to my comfort, and under her treatment I recovered my Health,”
A part of the trip to Salt Lake City: On the second of March Amasa Lyman and family which though not traveling together, included the two Partridge ‘women, “Aunt” Priscilla, “Aunt” Dionetia, and perhaps the other two wives with their outfits of “ox teams arrived at sundown” in the next camp to the west. (Eliza’s journal.)
. . . “Aunt” Priscilla was traveling now in the same wagon with Eliza, and Eliza’s references to this woman, as to the other six wives, was always with the tenderest care as of one sister for another. With these seven wives, to be joined later by an eighth, every one of them women of vigorous temperament and pronounced individuality, the surprising fact that they got along together in peace, cooperating with their husband and with each other under tremendous difficulties, is proof that he was a master diplomat, or that he really did hold, as he declared, the power of Divine Priesthood which maintains its dominion by righteous measures. He had been taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who sounded the ‘ note of true government when he said, in answer to the query , as to how he was able to govern the thousands of people in and around Nauvoo, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”
Children of Priscilla Rebecca Turley and Amasa Mason Lyman:
Theodore Kimberley Lyman, b. 1853
Ira Depo Lyman, b.1855; m. April 30, 1855, Elizabeth Ann Rowley
Isaac Newton Lyman, b.1857; d.1858
Albert Augustus Lyman, b. 1859; d.1860
Stephen Alonzo Lyman, b.1865
Frances Priscilla Lyman, b. 1868