The Theodore Turley Family Book, pp. 338-343 [Complied in June & July 1976 by Hazel M.B. Mortensen]
Esther Turley, born Jan. 9, 1871 at Beaver, Utah, was the first daughter and second child of Isaac Turley and Clara Ann Tolton Turley, his second wife. Esther’s grandparents, the Turleys, Toltons, and the Tomlinsons, all lived in Beaver where Isaac had been prosperous. Esther remembered very little of her life in Beaver, except how in the winter the wind whistled around the corners of Grandfather Tolton’s two-story red brick home and made weird sounds.
Due to much persecution because of polygamy, many families were “called” on colonization missions, and Esther’s father was called with the Daniel W. Jones Company to help settle on the Salt River in Arizona which was a Territory in 1877, and the area was desert wilderness’96 barren wasteland. Isaac Turley’s first wife, “Aunt Sarah” and her family of 5 boys were in the first company to the Salt River March 6, 1877, but due to her health and the extreme heat, their mission was changed to the Little Colorado River at St. Joseph (Allen’s Camp) near Sunset or Brigham City, where they joined the United Order.
Esther’s father sold his possessions in Beaver and left Utah with his second family in November 1877 with 3 new wagons loaded with flour and provisions, one new buggy, 150 head of cattle, 75 band of horses, and their children: Edward F., Esther, Frances, Earnest, and Ida Mae. Esther’s mother drove one team and her father had two teams of horses on his large wagon, with a trailwagon attached. Ed helped drive the stock while riding his pony, and the rest rode with their mother’96 Esther holding the sick baby. They went from Beaver to Panguitch, up the Sevier River, over the mountains to Long Valley, and across the Buckskin Mountains. On Dec. 9, while going down the last five-mile steep hill or grade on the east side, Clara’s 5 ½ month old baby died as Esther held her. They made camp as soon as they could and Clara and Sarah Gale stayed up all night, with coyotes howling around their camp, making burial clothes while some of the men went 10 miles for water. After burying the completely frozen-through body of little Ida Mae before sunrise, they drove on to House Rock Springs.
In telling her story, Esther remembered water trickling through the rocks at House Rock Springs where they filled their barrels and saw where many people had written their names on the walls of reddish color. Then on to ferry across the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry’96 a hair-raising experience; then on to Navajo Springs, then Bitter Springs on Christmas Day, and ate New Year’s Dinner (1878) around the Big Table at Sunset Camp where Lot Smith and his people were living the United Order. They reached St. Joseph (now Joseph City) on Esther’s 7th birthday and settled 5 miles below St. Joseph where she started school and attended for three years.
Esther said, “I can remember taking my little bucket to the Commissary to get our milk.” They had lots of innocent fun’96 gathering short boards to make play houses, etc.; “mine leaned against our home.”
On May 7, 1881, Esther’s father withdrew from the United Order and moved 45 miles away to Snowflake for 5 years. Here Esther attended school, went to Mutual, joined the Ward Choir at age 12, and worked and played.
(Esther is standing far left.)Again for protection in living religious principles, it was necessary to move, so in the spring of 1885, Esther’s father took Aunt Sarah and her family to Old Mexico. Isaac Turley, Ernest L. Taylor and Peter N. Skousen were the original settlers of Colonia Juarez. Isaac Turley was assigned to head the group and Camp Turley, on the outskirts of the town of Casas Grandes, was founded in March 1885 and abandoned Dec. 7, 1885. The first birth in New Juarez was James Skousen on Jan. 27, 1886. Then on May 3, 1886, Esther’s father met her mother and her family at Fort Apache (a 2-3 days’ drive from Snowflake in that day). They lost some of their furniture crossing the Black River and Chief Geronimo and his Apache Indians gave them a few scares, but they enjoyed a day or two at Pima and Central, Arizona. They arrived at String Town (now Quatemoc, Mexico) on May 27, 1886 on the Piedras Verdes (Green Rocks) River.
Thirty families camped on Governor Luis Terrazas’ Ranch during the summer while the Church completed negotiations for purchase of land. The birthday of Benito Juarez was celebrated March 21, 1886, but rumor proved true that the colonists had settled on San Diego property instead of on the del Campo purchase’96 two miles to the north between the narrow hills through which the Piedras Verdes River trickled. By Jan. 1887 families began moving to the new town site, and then came the earthquake which caused the Saints to exclaim “God moves in a mysterious way” when they discovered that nature’s gigantic spasms had opened new fissures and springs of water all along the river’s course and there was plenty of water for the Mormons and natives, too, and all were better off. The new town site was dedicated Jan. 1, 1887 and named Juarez after the famous Mexican patriot and general.
About Oct. 15, 1886 someone at a big “Young Folks Party” held at the tent home of Uncle Sextus E. Johnson in String Town (Stink Town) saw to it that Dave (David A.) McClellan
and Esther Turley became acquainted. It was love-at-first-sight for him and she was strongly attracted to him, even for her tender age. Time passed and feelings deepened until they became betrothed for some time when he was prepared to take care of her. Circumstances worked out that they would have company traveling to a temple if they married by spring, so they settled on March 13, 1888 and had their Wedding Dance on the 14th, and left Juarez that night for the Manti Temple by team and wagon, and were sealed July 5, 1888. They left Utah for home on Oct. 5th and arrived at Colonia Juarez Dec. 5, 1888 in a wagon that had no springs on the seat or in the wagon, so the riding was rough’96 no paved roads. Their first child was born Jan. 30, 1889, almost on the spot where her parents were married.
Dave had bought a lot in Feb. 1887 and had planted trees, grapes, etc., but they had little else to start married life. It wasn’t long before an adobe dwelling was on the way, but the wagon box served as their bedroom and their stove and table were under a shed until facilities grew. Things of this earth came hard for this couple, but the jewels of eternity were showered upon them by the dozen.
In April 1904, Dave left for the South Western States Mission with child number 9 small and seven children at home; both privations and blessings were great during the next 25 months. Esther and her family worked hard selling grape juice and making cheese for Mexican soldiers to raise money to keep their missionary. When he returned, he resumed work on a story-and-a-half red-brick home. Lean-to’s had been added to the adobe room as the family grew until when the eleventh child came along, she was born in the unfinished house with one room closed in for better comfort of mother and babe in the November cold.
Due to economic conditions and political unrest in the Mexican government in Juarez, Dave and Esther decided to join some Saints in the state of Sonora; so in Feb. 1919, they moved to San Jose. As the baby wasn’t doing well, Esther and the smaller children moved to Colonia Morrelos in the fall to be nearer a doctor and the older children could go to school. Life was terribly hard for Esther in San Jose and Morelos with Dave working at Pearson to furnish money to fill their needs. Probably due to overwork and stresses, Esther was troubled with indigestion and the doctor had her eat unleavened crackers. By a special process, Esther made her own, which was a real accomplishment and they were very good, which took care of her problem.
Another baby girl (#12) was delivered May 31, 1912, and on Aug. 21st was the great exodus from Mexico. At San Jose and Morelos they farmed mostly wheat, had peanuts and a good garden. Esther baked bread (and/or biscuits) for the Mexican soldiers’96 100 pesos in three weeks’ time. Pioneering in Mexico was just a continuation of the hardships they had endured in Arizona. David and Esther with 8 children crossed “the line” or “border” at Agua Prieta into Douglas, Ariz. where they remained in “Tent City” (tents furnished by Uncle Sam) for two months. Child number eleven was never very strong and became so ill the Bishop advised that she get to the LDS Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City as soon as possible. Esther took Ivis to care for Fulvia, the baby, while she took care of Hazel. The anxieties and the trip, beginning Nov. 1, to Salt Lake City, and the following month were almost more than Esther could bear, but the Lord came to her rescue in many ways: friends, money, etc. Esther, Ivis and the baby returned to the family in Tucson Dec. 20th, in time for a very Merry Christmas’96 a decorated mesquite tree, with picked cotton for snow, and family love and warmth.
After Dave and others had cleared a large tract of desert land, the owner wouldn’t keep the agreement, so Esther’s family went back to Douglas in Febr.1913, hoping to be able to return to their home in Mexico. Esther’s eldest son, David, had moved to Tempe, and wrote for his folks to join him in the Salt River Valley. They left Douglas on Aug. 23, 1913 for Tempe, stayed a few days there, moved to Mesa for 2 weeks, and on Oct. 4 moved to Chandler where dairy work and farming, and life in general, was hard in those early days.
In Oct. 1913, the older girls got jobs and worked. In 1914, Esther became a counselor in the ward Primary and taught a Sunday School class of boys. In Dec. 1914, Dave’s health became so poor he was unable to work. Living in a tent with a big family in desert country was extremely hard, especially at dust-storms seasons. Early in 1915, Esther learned of a 12 x 18 foot frame building for sale, but the family had no money. In the spring, Esther and her children chopped mesquite trees down and into fire-wood and sold it to purchase the building which served them well as long as they remained in Chandler. Among hair-raising experiences while there were run-away horses on buggies, kerosene lamps that exploded, rattlesnakes, gila monsters, coyotes, lizards, etc.
In 1916, when genealogical work started in earnest in Chandler, Esther was a genealogical visiting teacher for a long time. On Dec. 31, 1916, she became second counselor to the Relief Society President (Adelaide Peterson) while still serving as a Primary Counselor. Before long she was doing free nursing in homes as part of her Relief Society assignments. On Jan. 21, Esther became the Chandler Ward’s third Relief Society President. About Nov. 1918, the frame chapel was set afire and burned to the ground, and the Relief Society topped maize by hand, picked cotton, made and sold quilts, and did all sorts of work to raise funds for the new chapel and the Relief Society Organization. Esther was released as Relief Society president on Feb. 20, 1921.
Esther was an extremely frugal woman and did all she could to help her husband provide for the big family. While in Mexico she made and sold bread, cheese, boys’ suits, men’s work clothing (jumpers and overalls); did dressmaking, nursing, and dried and canned fruit for sale. On the “Walker Ranch” in Chandler in the ’20’s, she made and sold butter, raised and sold blackberries, and shipped hundreds of turkeys to the markets in Los Angeles. When they first moved here, Dave raised ribbon or sorghum sugar-cane, and made sorghum and molasses that was “out of this world” on hot bread, cold bread, or just licking the spoon. He also raised maize for the stock, chickens, ducks and turkeys, and at times it was hard to keep the turkeys out of the grain patch.
After ten years on the farm, they had bad luck again, and in March 1928, they moved to Mesa where they built a small home for the rest of their days. Dave was custodian for Second Ward for years, and Esther helped him. In Mesa, off the farm, they now had time for the finer things of life and things they wanted to do. They both spent a great deal of time and effort in genealogical and temple work. It was here that Dave made his hobby of pioneer miniatures. Esther, even though having exceptionally large hands for a woman, made exquisite items in crocheting, knitting, tatting, needlepoint, embroidering, quilts, etc. She had taken painting lessons in Mexico from Maggie Bentley, and in the summer of 1947 she took ceramics while in Salt Lake City and made beautiful items. She was well known as a good cook, especially making bread, cakes, pies, butter, canning fruit, meat, pickles, garden produce, etc.
Esther had great faith in the Priesthood’s healing power. While in Mexico in her early married life, she was instantly healed of Scarlet Fever and numberless are the times that she and members of her family were blessed and protected by Priesthood powers. She was extremely well-versed in the Scriptures, and enjoyed choir work in Mexico, Chandler, and Mesa Second Ward. She was always faithful about seeing that her children got to Sunday School, Primary and their church meetings.
In 1916 Esther had a dream that caused her to realize her responsibility to her dead ancestors, and from then on she was zealous in the work’96 performing over a thousand ordinances for women and sponsoring the men’s work for the couples.
Esther was a typical pioneer woman in many ways, especially in means of travel. She went by team and wagon from: Beaver, Utah to Arizona; Arizona to Old Mexico; Juarez to Manti Temple and back to Juarez; Juarez to Morelos and San Jose; and Morelos to Douglas. Then from Douglas to Salt Lake City and back to Tucson she rode the train. Then Tucson to Douglas and to Salt River Valley by team and wagon. She also traveled to Salt Lake City and back by airplane, and enjoyed radio and television, and for a while had a Ford car that she drove.
She lived to be 92 ½ years old, with poor health the last twenty years, and passed away on July 10, 1963 in Mesa, Ariz.
Children of Esther Turley and David Alvin McClellan:
Clara Estella McClellan Bradshaw, born Jan. 30, 1889
David Alyin McClellan, Jr., born Nov. 27, 1890
Esther Almeda McClellan, born Nov. 4, 1892; died July 31, 1893
Vessa McClellan Peel, born Oct. 13, 1894
Lucille McClellan Haymore, born July 3, 1897
Ivin McClellan, born May 25, 1899; died Aug. 12, 1899
Mary Ivis McClellan Fish, born May 25, 1899 (twin)
Hortense McClellan Fuller, born Sept. 22, 1900
William Ray McClellan. born Oct. 15, 1902
Beth McClellan Moon, born July 1, 1907
Hazel McClellan Mortensen, born Nov. 7, 1909