Families of Theodore Turley and Ruth Jane Giles

On the 18th of June in 1850, Theodore Turley married Ruth Jane Giles in Salt Lake City. They had 3 children, Joseph Orson, Jacob Omner and Alvin Hope.  Here is some information about their family written by Theodore Hope Turley (b. 1890), who was the son of Jacob Omner Turley.

These are the three sons of Theodore and Ruth:  Joseph Orson, Jacob Omner and Alvin Hope:

Theodore Turley had one son, Alvin [by Ruth Jane Giles], who was born in San Bernardino in 1855, who died in Salt Lake when he was seventeen, but my father, Jacob Omner, born in San Bernardino on January 30th, 1852, and died in Boise, Idaho in September of 1924, was his youngest son who lived to maturity. He left seven sons of which I am the fifth and only one living. My two oldest brothers were born in Beaver, Utah. Jay [was born] on April 16, 1877, [and] grew to be 6′ 6″ tall and became a civil engineer; he was an engineering genius who could tell by just looking at the landscape whether it would be cheaper to build tunnels through the ridges and siphons across the canyons or a surface canal all the way around. He chose the site and planned what has been built by the U.S. Reclamation Service on the San Juan River in northwest New Mexico as it emerges from the mountains of Colorado. He planned this project in 1907 and my third brother Walter G., later of Santa Fe, did most of the surveying for it. I have a picture of him perched on top of a 2,000 foot cliff with his left heel hooked around the left side of the point of the cliff so he could lean over to the right to look through his surveying instrument which he entitled “Hanging Around the Thin Edges.” The project was to be built by the same company that built the famous Twin Falls Project in Idaho. They sent a man named Hollister out from Chicago to sign up my brothers but the bank’s stringency the late summer of 1907 closed all the banks in the U.S. for 16 months and no one could get a dime from any of them so when Mr. Hollister reached Durango, Colorado on his way to Turley, New Mexico (it is still on some of the highway maps) at the head of the San Juan Valley, somewhere east of Farmington, he received a telegram with the sad news that they could not get financing to go through with the project. The present project will irrigate 180,000 acres mostly for the Navajo Indians. My brother’s plan included a tunnel under the Continental Divide to take water through the Rio Grande Valley around Albuquerque. Think what it would’ve meant to my brothers and the whole of New Mexico to have had that development in 1907. The present project (the dam) wasn’t completed until 1962.

My oldest brother went to New Mexico shortly after the turn of the century and made friends with Governor Otero. He wrote the code of irrigation law for the Constitution of New Mexico when it became a state in 1912. He also studied law and was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in the boundary dispute with Texas involving the old course of the Rio Grande River. He also came down here and warned the Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles that the San Franciscito Dam on the Los Angeles Aqueduct would never stand because it was built with only a 20 foot foundation not on bedrock as it should’ve been but on clay, and you all know what happens when clay gets wet. The dam began to leak and the watchmen called frantically to headquarters in Los Angeles and when Chief Engineer W. M. Mulholland and his Chief Assistant Van Norman went up there at 5 p.m., the roadway was already washed out for two miles and they had to leave their car and walk but Mulholland said, “Oh, that’s nothing, all dams leak.”

They had an electric timer stretched across the top of the dam; it went out at 12:00 that night. A wall of water [surged] 200 feet high that lifted and pushed the whole dam for one-half mile down the canyon before the water would escape around the end; it filled the whole valley 10 feet deep (the Santa Clara Valley) with sand and silt and a loss of over 450 lives. This happened in 1928 and the City of Los Angeles had to pay many millions of dollars for damages. That same year, we voted a bond issue of 28 million dollars; at the fork of that river, it seemed an ideal spot for the dam would back water up the east fork and the west fork from one hundred eighty degrees. He tried to point out to the engineering profession that vertical concrete dams are a mistake, that the water pressure is downward and is shoving them downstream and the downstream slope cannot hold the tremendous pressure. Whereas, if the upstream side of the dam were sloped the downward pressure of the water would hold the dam in place and it would be safe. In 1927 and 1937, they had tremendous floods in the Mississippi Valley; in one of those years, 32 of the vertical concrete [dams] in Pennsylvania went out.

He also pointed out that the Grand Canyon was not made by water alone; if so, there would’ve been waterfalls at what are now the vertical cliffs, the famous redwall and hardrock sides of the canyon. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is now 7,200 feet above sea level and the North Rim, 8,100 feet. But in Cedar Breaks in Southern Utah, where the first colored motion picture, “Drums Along the Mowhock” was made and later, “My Friend Flicka,” the top of the plateau, east of Cedar City, is 10,000 feet high but it slopes down to a very broad shallow valley, possibly 60-80 miles wide, near the Utah-Arizona state line and is covered with washed gravel, showing that it was the ancient bed of the Colorado River, but when the earth was cracked by a tremendous earthquake, and opened up a lower channel to the south through the Grand Canyon, the water flowed there. It is also proved by the sharp angles of the river below the Grand Canyon where it makes a sharp turn from northwest to south and water naturally has no such sharp angles.

My second brother, Louis Alvin, took his M.A. and Ph.D. in Harvard University with the shortest dissertation ever submitted for the Ph.D. degree at Harvard, but with two models which were life-size models of the human kidneys, that were so perfect and accurate, in every detail, that they were used as models for classroom instruction in the medical school and were written up and photographed for Life Magazine in its third issue in December 1937. He was a professor of pathology at the University of Oklahoma, School of Medicine from 1908 to retirement 1940-1944 and was written up in “The American Men of Science” series in the 30’s and early 40’s. He was called an expert witness in court cases involving diagnosis in five states from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. He stopped an epidemic of encephalitis (sleeping sickness) in Durant, Oklahoma by forbidding the dragging of dead horses through the dirt streets to the edge of town for burial. He was the author of at least eight scientific treatises and “THE FIRST HISTORY OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF MEDICINE.” He was 6′ 4″ tall, broad-shouldered, but slender; his average weight was 156 pounds. He also drew the plans for several of the University buildings and the New School of Medicine in Oklahoma City and superintended its construction so that all its contractors had to do was furnish the men and materials and collect their pay; so they gave him a new car and offered him twice his University salary just to travel and design their special buildings for them, although he had never studied architecture. He was also offered a position at Harvard University, which he declined because promotion was so slow and he was head of his department at O. U. But when the first world war came, several of the Harvard professors left to enter government service so he would’ve become head of the department of pathology there and regretted that he had not accepted that offer. He died of a heart attack at 74 ½ years of age. My third brother, Walter Guy, was born on the Holcomb Ranch five miles above Boise, Idaho on the way to Yakima, Washington, October 4, 1881.

My parents remained in Idaho because my oldest brother, then aged 4 ½, rode on a giant rutabaga for a hobby horse and my father said that any land that could produce such a giant vegetable was good enough for him; so he remained in southern Idaho. My parents spent their first winter there in charge of the Willow Creek stage station on the old Oregon Trail, 18 miles northwest of Boise, the first station on the way to Portland, Oregon.

Without any cookbooks, our mother devised 38 different ways of cooking potatoes and her fame spread as far as San Francisco. The next spring my father homesteaded on the Paytte Ranch six miles west from Emmett, then only a crossroads with only three of the four corners occupied, but now a thriving town of several thousand people. Our place where I was born August 3, 1887, was so far out and isolated that there was only one house within sight and that was 1 ¾ miles away.

My second brother, Louis Alvin, received a university scholarship when he was a junior in high school to make drawings of insects for lantern slides for the professor of Entomology to exhibit to farmers throughout the state for 15 to 25 cents an hour to put himself through college. Before graduation, he had written three scientific articles to be read at National Scientific Conferences, and one [at] an international meeting in Berlin, Germany, telling scientists of the world things they did not know about their own specialty. When I asked him how come that he, a poor farm boy a way out in the sticks had been able to do this, he replied, “I’ll tell you why. Most people do not see what they are looking at.”

Walter Guy became a graduate engineer and in 1905 joined his older brother, Jay, in New Mexico. They chose the site, made the plans and surveys, for a dam and irrigation canal from the San Juan River in northwest New Mexico. I have a picture of my third brother on top of a 2,000 foot cliff with his left heel hooked over a side so he could lean over the other side and sight through his surveying instrument which he entitled “Hanging Around the Thin Edges.”

This project included a tunnel underneath the Continental Divide to carry water to the Rio Grande Valley in central New Mexico around Albuquerque. It was to be built in 1907-1908 by the same company that built the famous Twin Falls project in southern Idaho, but owing to the rivalry of two Montana copper mining millionaires, WMA Clark, who built the Salt Lake Railroad from Salt Lake City to San Pedro, California and became U.S. Senator and built a $5,000,000 “cottage” in New York City and a rival named Heinze who went to New York City and began buying up banks when he had acquired control of two of them, Clark passed the word to Morgan, Gould, Vanderbilt, et. al., that they shouldn’t allow Heinze to get control of New York banks for he would ruin them all. So they passed out the word to the public in the late summer of 1907 that Heinze’s banks were unsafe; the public just got the word that the banks were unsafe and they made a run on all of them; no bank in the world can pay all of its depositors on sudden demand, so they all went and closed their doors and for fifteen months no one in the U.S. could get a cent of his money from any bank. They passed out pieces of white paper they called “script” merely stating that the bearer had so much money on deposit in their bank.

So, when the irrigation company man named Hollister reached Durango, Colorado on his way to sign a contract with my brothers, to build a project, he received a telegram that the deal was all off, the company could not get any money to finance the project. The dam was finally built in 1962 by the U. S. Reclamation Service to water only 180,000 acres of land (the Turley project was to cover 210,000 acres, ½ for the benefit of White and the other half for the Navajos). Think what it would’ve meant to the development of the state of New Mexico and the development of the Turley family fortunes if they had been able to build their project 54 years earlier!

Walter Guy then located in Santa Fe and was for many years an engineer for Santa Fe Company and the State Highway Commission and surveyor of Santa Fe, and his obituary in the Santa Fe New Mexican said that he had a better set of maps in detail of the city of Santa Fe than the City Engineer had and that most of the people of the city had their land located and measured by my brother. It was to his house that Cousin Charles Turley went in his last illness and my brother and his wife took complete care of him until he passed away. One of your number visited him later and reported in the family newsletter that he was a “true Turley all right.” He had no children of his own but he reared his wife’s nephew and put him through the University of New Mexico and gave him the only job he ever had and when he entered Government Service in the last World War, he left his two small children with Uncle Guy and his wife to rear also, which they did and took him on trips to the mountains, fishing and so forth and gave him the only job he ever had up to the time of his passing. He went to his reward on Thanksgiving Day of 1966, aged 85 years and 55 days.

My oldest brother, Jay, was 6′ 6″ tall and was a captain in the rainbow division (“because it had members from every state in the Union in the United States and was the first American troops that were sent to France in World War I”). He went to France but as a teenager learned the Chinook language, a little Latin and Spanish, which he learned in New Mexico. He came back knowing thirteen languages and when he went to London on leave, he was accepted immediately by one of the largest clubs there and invited to stay at their Clubhouse because of his Turley name.

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About annlaemmlenlewis

I am member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am currently serving as a Missionary in the Washington Yakima Mission. Welcome to my personal blog, Ann's Words, and my Mission blog, Our Yakima Mission. If you are interested in family history stories and histories, you can find those posted in Ann's Stories. Thanks for looking in!
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