Isaac Turley b. 22 November 1837, Churchville, Upper Canada


The Theodore Turley family were living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the time of Isaac Turley’s birth, 22 November 1837. Soon after his birth, the family were converted to Mormonism through the efforts of Parley P. Pratt, Isaac Russell, and I think John Taylor. As a Methodist Minister, Theodore Turley invited his congregation to follow him as he now knew he had found the true religion and was happy to be connected with it. He sold his property, changed his efforts as a Minister to that of a humble member of the L.D.S. Church, moved to New York and then on to Nauvoo.

When the “Call” came from the Leaders of the Church, Theodore was sent to England on a Mission, making 5 Elders, along with Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor and others; during their labors, 4,000 new members were gathered in.

Isaac had older brothers and sisters and it became convenient to do chores for the Prophet Joseph. One of these duties was to see that his choice horse, a chestnut sorrell, was fed and watered. Isaac said the Prophet was very attractive. He often mentioned later in life that he truly was a wonderful Prophet. In June of 1844 the Prophet and Hyrum were martyred in cold blood.

The Saints remained until the early part of 1847 when they felt it was necessary to leave with their Leaders and go West in companies of a Hundred or Fifties, to better take care of each one traveling. Hyrum Smith’s family was told to remain until later, but Theodore Turley informed the Officer in charge that he would sponsor the family, and young Joseph F. could manage a yoke of oxen with a wagon and family and travel with his part of the company. Isaac managed one yoke along with Joseph F. When they were on the way along the Platte River, passing the carcasses of several dead buffalo caused a stampede with the oxen. These two boys thought it was great to see the oxen run so they began lancing their oxen, urging them to run faster. In a short distance they brought their oxen to a stand-still, while the men drivers traveled many miles before quieting their oxen and getting back on the trail again. When the company had gathered around the camp for the night, the Officers remarked how well the two boys were able to manage the driving. While they were at Winter Quarters, Theodore’s wife, Frances Amelia and seven others of the family died and were buried there.

After reaching the Salt Lake Valley, the family moved on to San Bernardino, California. They planted orchards, orange groves and other fruits, etc. After a few years, the Church Leaders in Salt Lake City sent word for them to return to Utah, and join the body of the Saints. Isaac and some of the younger ones returned, but the older ones did not because they had married out of the Church (or non-L.D.S.). Theodore’s family settled in Minersville and then moved to Beaver City, Beaver, Utah.

Isaac first married Sarah Greenwood in 1861 and married Clara Ann Tolton in 1867.

Indian raids were terrible at times, and Isaac was called to serve as a Lieutenant and select a group of men who would be willing to risk their lives for the protection of the small communities through the Southern area of Utah. Some of these bands were very hostile and difficult to bring into subjection to give up their raiding. Isaac was promised in a blessing that while doing his duty the enemy would never take his life. After seven years, conditions quieted down and he was released.


The Isaac and Sarah Greenwood Family

About Jan. 1, 1877 he answered a “Call” to help colonize in Arizona Territory in the Daniel W. Jones Company. Taking Sarah and her family they went through St. George, Nevada, near Kingman, near Prescott, through Wickenburg, Phoenix, and Hayden’s Ferry (now Tempe). March 6, 1877 found the Dan Jones company on the Salt River (some bathing in it) and camped at what they called Jonesville (what is now known as Lehi). They at once began digging out the ancient canals, making dams and plowing ground to plant crops.

After several months Isaac returned to Utah and attended the October General Conference in Salt Lake City. Pres. Young had died so Isaac reported to Pres. John Taylor their circumstances at Jonesville: Sarah’s health was not good and the summer climate was terribly hard on her as she weighed better than 240 pounds. Pres. Taylor released Isaac from the “Call” with the Jones Company and reassigned him to St. Joseph on the Little Colorado, near Brigham City and Sunset.Turley, Isaac family home Beaver

In November 1877 he returned to Beaver City, Utah to get Clara Ann and family, sell their two homes, get provisions and their livestock to take South. They arrived at St. Joseph on Jan. 9, 1878 and before long returned to Jonesville for Sarah and her boys. Upon returning to St. Joseph, he turned hundreds of head of livestock and a couple of tons of flour into the United Order — then did blacksmithing to help out in the Order, as his share, for their necessities. The wives helped out with the dairy work – making butter and cheese, while others did other assignments.

After a few years, the United Order broke up, it proved not an entire success. Why? You will always find some men and women who are not converted to work or doing their part, while others are continually working early and late to accomplish the task, some idling along living off the fat of the land. The settlers moved to Snowflake and other small towns to live. Isaac with his two families moved to Snowflake and set out orchards, did farming and cattle raising. The polygamist raids became very difficult to bear and those who were willing to make another move of pioneering were called to go on to Old Mexico. See Colonia Juarez <juareztemple.htm>for information on the temple now located there.

Isaac Turley and others took part of their families and left for Mexico, arriving at Corralitos, made camp and planted crops; Sarah and family were in this first group. From here they moved to Turley’s Camp or San Jose where Isaac was the presiding Elder over more than 25 families and one crop was raised. Then they decided to make further findings for settlements near the San Diego Ranch at what became “String Town” on the Piedras Verdes River. Adobe houses and stockade homes were built, a field fenced, a mile-long canal dug for water and the San Diego Canyon Road was built, etc., with Isaac and his sons helping in the undertakings.

Turley, Isaac Family
In 1886 Isaac returned to northern Arizona to get Clara Ann and her family, their belongings and some livestock, and go on further into the area of Casas Grandes, Mexico.

In the fall and winter of 1885, land had been purchased for the Mormon colonists. When the townsite of Colonia Juarez was surveyed and laid out into blocks and lots, Isaac and his two wives picked out their lots.
Late in 1886 Isaac went back to northern Arizona for the rest of his livestock. While he was returning to “String Town,” he felt uneasy about Sarah. He left the men to come on and he rode ahead, arriving just in time to meet the Saints returning from the cemetery after having buried his first wife, Sarah Greenwood. This was a terrible shock and hard to experience. This was on January 15, 1887. (See letter at the end of this biography for Isaac’s feelings regarding this tragedy.)

Not long after this, they were notified that they had settled on the wrong land and must move three miles on up the river to what is now Colonia Juarez. The group in charge had laid off blocks, dividing lots according to the families’ necessities; the streets and avenues to correspond; digging of a canal and ditches, building roads and extending mountain roads; assisting in establishing of saw mills and other conveniences were all undertaken for the betterment of the people. Isaac assisted in doing much of this work! A few men were “Called” to go into the mountains, following up the Piedras Verdes River to locate Ranches and communities for the extra Saints to gain and maintain a livelihood. Isaac Turley was one of the men chosen to make these findings along with Jerome Judd, O. P. Brown (I think), and a few others who were in the group. They located and staked off for a ranch up on the river about 30 miles, which the Pratts took up. About 3 miles further on up the river was staked off and Parsons Williams occupied it.

A short distance further on they located Cave Valley. Up high on the mountain side of the canyon is located a huge cave having a large Oya or earthen urn made of clay, straw or grass to support the clay and sand mixture of mud. This vessel stood 15 feet high and about 10 ft. in diameter. It was about 5 ft. at the bottom, tapering out to about 10 ft. at about 10 ft. high, then tapering back to a narrower circumference and widening to a top edge. This was burnt and glazed to endure a long period of time. Poles about 4 or 5 inches in diameter were cut and placed inside at the narrow part of the structure to support the storage of grains and seeds to be kept indefinitely. The men found a pole on which they might climb up on, and find out what this oya contained. There they found many kinds of seeds, and especially various colors and kinds of corn — yellow, blue, reddish color — different types of Indian corn. They were preserved in animal pouches made of tanned hides, drawn together with heavy leather strings, fastened to these poles.

The men continued their journey and about 10 miles further on was located what was called Pacheco. Then on a short distance from here was Corrales, and a few miles south-east was found the townsite Hop Valley. Then back south about 10 miles is found a round valley with mountains surrounding this spot of beautiful farming area, which was called Garcia. Then again back east is located Meadow Valley and Mound Valley. Going possibly 25 or 30 miles further south is found another beautiful high valley well adapted for agriculture and dairying with hills surrounding; this was called Chuichupa. These names were given to commemorate the heroes many of whom had paid the price of their lives for the freedom of Mexico when they fought for their independence from Spain. Then these men returned to the valley below and made their report to the leaders in charge.

Soon after this, Isaac Turley decided to take a four-mule outfit, with a large three-bedded wagon, and go to San Bernardino, California to bring nursery stock – a variety of fruit trees – to try out and see if it would be worthwhile to establish production in that climate. He was four months making the trip; and on arrival he divided out among the people according to the amount they could take care of; the varieties were apples, pears, peaches, plums, quince, apricots, almonds, various kinds of walnuts, pomegranates, and various kinds of grapes. They found it to be a very good location for fruit at about 4500 feet elevation – some springs are severe with frost to destroy the blossoms, but with smudging it helped a great deal. This little town of Colonia Juarez is noted for the fruit it puts out each year, some years much over a thousand car loads as train loads, and much is hauled in semis and trucks.

Isaac’s labors were mainly blacksmithing, fruit growing, and gardening on a large scale for the benefit of many people who did not grow gardens. He was a generous provider for his family. He often said every family should grow a good garden and have a nice orchard with a variety of fruits and berries, so that the children would not be tempted to take from the neighbors if the family had none.

turley-isaac-b-1837        turley-isaac-b-1837-oval

He was a friend to children and tender-hearted to the worthy poor and those in need. Many times he would give a horse or team to those in need, or a good milch cow to a family who did not have one. Or, if they needed financial help, he often gave of his means – hundreds of dollars did not mean a hard task for him.
He was a faithful tithe payer and generous in contributing to offerings and donations, and he served for many years on the Stake High Council.

Often when young men came home from school in the evening, they would call in at the blacksmith shop to challenge him to twist a shovel handle to see who had the better grip in the arms or hands. I never recall him being beaten in the twist. He was an exceptional marksman with a rifle, always got his game, but did not kill in excess but just what might be needed.

After supper Isaac would read the scriptures, or sometimes tell a good joke; it could be on himself. I do not remember of him ever telling a dirty story or joke or using foul language. He sometimes spent the evening around the fireplace telling of his experiences with the Prophet Joseph’s family. How wonderfully the Prophet influenced his life, and this has influenced my life as one of Isaac Turley’s sons; knowing that he spoke the truth and desired his children and all who might listen to his words or testimony, that Joseph Smith was one of the most wonderful Prophets that ever lived upon the earth.

I, Isaac Turley, Jr., wish to say that the information mentioned in this Biography of my father I know to be true. I have just mentioned some of the highlights of his life.
Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ was Isaac’s life. The last few years his health was very poor and he died Dec. 3, 1908 at Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Isaac Turley, Jr. – March 28, 1967Turley, Isaac headstone Col. Juarez

NOTE: Isaac Turley, Jr. was born on April 11, 1888 to Isaac Turley, Sr. and Clara Ann Tolton Turley. He was named for Isaac Russell who baptized his parents, Theodore Turley and Frances Amelia Kimberly in Churchville, Toronto, Ontario, in 1837. Isaac died on September 16, 1977, in Los Animas, Colorado. He was buried beside his wife, Ida Mae, in the Mesa City Cemetery.

SOURCE:  (From Roy Turley). Sheet from Journal of Isaac Turley in poss of Floyd Turley; recs kept by Delilah Jane Willis Turley in poss of Rhoda Turley Brinkerhoff, 447 East Millett, Mesa, AZ; Recs of Mrs. Della Turley Shook 2403 West Main, Mesa, AZ. Corr with desc of children on this sheet.


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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