Sarah Ann Turley was born on this day in 1870. At age 40, she married Theodore Wilford Turley in 1911 after his first wife, Mary Agnes Flake died in 1909, leaving him with a large family. Theodore Wilford Turley was the son of Isaac Turley and Sarah Greenwood Turley. I would have enjoyed knowing this faithful pioneer woman.
Sarah Ann Salina Smithson Turley
An Enduring Legacy, Volume Five, p.28-32
Pioneering necessitated the doing of many unusual tasks by the women and children, but probably none of these people, with the possible exception of the subject of this story, can lay claim to having “freighted.”
Saline, as she was familiarly called, was the third in a family of thirteen and when her services could be dispensed with at home she often went with her father from Holbrook to Fort Apache, Arizona, driving her four- or six-horse team with as great ease and skill as her father or older brother.
Coming as she did from pioneer ancestors (her grandfather and grandmother Smithson both emigrated to Utah from the South, and her grandparents on her mother’s side pulled or pushed their handcart from the Missouri River to Salt Lake Valley) and then moving from place to place in the colonization scheme of the West, Saline inherited a disposition to make the best of things and do her part.
Not a manger, but something even more humble a dug-out was the birthplace of Salina, in a little settlement called Kanosh in Millard County, Utah. The daughter of James Daniel and Elizabeth L. Dorrity Smithson, she was born October 13, 1870.
Before the beginning of Mormon colonization in Arizona, Jacob Hamblin with a party of selected men made several trips to that section of the country to confer with the Indians and try to make peace with them. He succeeded so well that a large number of families were called by Brigham Young to bring all of their possessions and settle there. James D. Smithson was one of the men who went with Jacob Hamblin on that perilous journey. The company crossed the Colorado River on a reef of rocks known as Ute Crossing. Two horses were tied together so that if one slipped off into the deep water, or lost his balance and fell, the other horse and rider could pull him back. The company made a safe landing, and held a council with the chiefs of the Navajos, with whom they made peace and obtained permission to pass through their territory unmolested. After visiting some of the Navajo and Hopi villages and doing a little exploring in the vicinity of northern Arizona, the company returned and reported to President Young. Despite the many hardships encountered the trip had been made in safety and they returned a favorable report.
On the first day of February, 1881, the Smithson family started out alone, bound for Arizona to find a new home. By this time a fairly good wagon road had been made by the hundreds of emigrants who had passed that way before. On the first of March they reached a place on the Little Colotado where the camp of John W. Young, a contractor for the railroad, was located. This was between Joseph City and Holbrook. Here Mr. Smithson obtained employment for himself and his older boys, while Mrs. Smithson and her daughters cooked for about one hundred men. At the end of four months they moved up the Little Colorado to the settlement of Woodruff where seven families had already located. When they arrived Mother Smithson said, “This place is good enough for me,” so here they began making their home. This was their last pioneering, for years later both died and were buried in the little town each had done so much to establish.
Mr. Smithson and his oldest son claimed to have hauled the first freight that went into Ft. Apache on wagons. Until the advent of the railroad, when a forwarding station was established in Holbrook, the freight for the soldier post had been carried on muleback from Manuelito, New Mexico. After the railroad was completed, men with teams had steady work hauling supplies as long as the government maintained a fort there.
Now came the freighting days, and during one of those trips Saline had an experience about which she often laughed, though it was no laughing matter at the time and it didn’t put an end to her career in freighting. On one of Saline’s trips she wore a red calico dress trimmed with white braid. A young Indian who saw her was much pleased with her looks, so he offered one of the men of the company ten horses for her. The man, not realizing the harm he was doing nor that an Indian never jokes about such matters, told the Indian he could have her for two horses. The Indian rode away but soon returned, bringing the two horses and another Indian with him. All of the men were out of camp caring for their teams. The prospective bridegroom motioned for Saline to get on his horse behind him, and when she refused he tried to pull her out of the wagon. She put up a brave fight, but the Indian was determined. Then she thought of her blackwhip, a weapon she had become pretty expert with in the management of her team, so she reached down to get it from the bottom of the wagon. He then grabbed her by the back of the dress and was pulling with all his might when she raised up and gave both him and his horse a sharp crack with her whip. The astonished horse plunged and ran, and before the rider could get his horse under control and get back to the wagon the men had returned. Saline’s brother, with pistol in hand, ordered the Indians away. When the Indians had gone, the commanding officer of the post told them of their danger and said they must not stop until they were off the reservation.
She had another exciting adventure during the St. John’s War, as it was called, a fight between the cattlemen and the Mexican sheepmen. Already a number of people had been killed on beth sides. The Greer boys were cattle owners who had been having trouble with the Mexicans. Feelings ran high at this time, and when the Greers had to be away from their ranch they sent to Woodruff for Saline to come and stay with their sister, Mrs. Blassingame.
One evening after the women saw Mexicans riding around the place at some distance, Mrs. Blassingame decided it would not be wise for the two of them to remain there alone so at daylight they started to walk to Nat Greer’s ranch, six miles away. Mrs. Blassingame was ill, which necessitated their walking more slowly, so it was sunrise before their destination was reached, and they found only Mrs. Greer and her two little beys at home. For three weeks these women and the two children were there alone. Sometimes the men would come in before daylight to get supplies, and often Saline would walk to a designated place and leave food, or any news they might have. Each woman had a six-shooter, and during the three nights that the Mexicans were prowling around the ranch, she armed herself and sat by one of the windows all night ready to shoot should the Mexicans attack the house.
At another time there was a robbery of the Arizona Mercantile store in Woodruff, and Saline was selected to spread the alarm to the men who were working in their fields a short distance from town. She remembered feeling like she was flying rather than running as she leaped the irrigation ditches in her, excitement. But neither the outlaws nor the money were ever heard from again.
During the early days in Woodruff the Smithsons often housed travelers, and many times when all the other beds were occupied Saline and her mother would give up theirs and sit by the fire all night, employing their time in knitting or crocheting to keep awake.
When Saline was seventeen she took her team and wagon and with other members of her family drove to Utah where she took a course in sewing. For twenty years she did custom work in both men’s and women’s clothing. During part of this time she was employed by the largest store in Holbrook to make dresses and baby clothing, and as a sunbonnet maker she gained a reputation that brought orders from far and near from ladies who valued their complexions.
Saline was twenty-one years old when her mother died and left seven unmarried children to her care. The brothers and sisters older than she and a younger sister were already married, so the burden fell upon Saline. The oldest child at home was twelve, and the youngest, the twins, were sixteen months old. While the task of raising these children was a trying one, it was not without compensation, for one of her brothers later paid her this tribute: “No one, no matter who or where they are, could have kept house better and taken better care of the children than she did.”
These were hard years for the people of Woodruff, for they depended on irrigation to raise their crops, and the dam would be washed out of the river almost every year. Many times they hardly knew where the next meal was coming from. At times the men would have to go away from home to seek employment and the work at home would have to be done by the women and girls. Saline said she had done every kind of work on the farm except running the modern machinery. She had plowed, cut, raked and hauled hay, and would hire out at twenty-five cents a day binding grain behind the man who cut it with a cradle. If anyone wanted whitewashing and housecleaning done, she did it, taking anything they could afford to pay that would help sustain her family. Besides all the other work she took in washing and wove hundreds of yards of carpet. Anything she could do to help her father support the family, she did willingly. This never ceased until all were grown and married, except the youngest brother, who died at the age of twenty-one.
At the time of her mother’s death, Saline had promised never to marry as long as her father lived. This promise was faithfully kept. Though he married and lived in another house, he knew Saline was always ready and willing to help him in any way she could. His last year was spent at the old home, where she gave him tender care until he died.
She was now free to choose her own life, but it was not one of ease, as she chose to marry a widower with a large family. On May 31, 1911, she became the wife of Theodore W. Turley. This marriage was a very happy one, and became more so to her because she was again called to be a mother to another motherless family and, by strange coincidence, the youngest were twins, husky boys of six. Saline’s experience in child care coupled with her true mother heart served her in good stead, and she could point to this family as well as that of her mother with pride at the success she made. She was blessed with only one child, a baby girl, and then was permitted to keep her just twenty-six months. No mother was ever more proud than this forty-two-year-old woman, and she enjoyed her precious baby as long as she was spared to her.
When death came to her beloved husband November 15, 1930, after eight months of illness, Saline was left alone for the first time in her life. All of the second family of seven were now married. Her life had been too busy in the past to spend the rest of it in grieving, and when the heart is willing the hand can find plenty to do. There were always those less fortunate to care for and Saline did her part in this as in the other tasks she had borne.
Eighteen months’ schooling was all she had, yet she was a well-informed woman. Always in her girlhood she had wanted to take music lessons. At last the chance came: by walking two miles, often carrying the baby with her, she was able to take organ lessons for several weeks.
Having been blessed with exceptionally good health Saline was always very busy, with a kind word and helping hand for anyone who needed her. Few mothers have had the respect and love she was given by those who benefited from her service.
— Marguerite Romney Pyper
From Pioneer Women of Arizona by Roberta Flake, pp. 630, 12.
Sarah Ann Salina Smithson Turley was a freighter. She plowed, cut hay, raked and hauled hay, earned twenty-five cents a day binding grain behind the man who cut it with a cradle, took in washing, and wove hundreds of yards of carpet.
When her husband decided to drive thirty head of brood mares with mule colts from Snowflake to Tuba City, ninety miles north of Flagstaff, another frontierswoman, Susan Temperance Allen, accompanied him, modestly riding sidesaddle the entire distance.