Theodore Wilford Turley b. 17 Aug 1863 “The race is not to the weak or the strong, but to he that endureth to the end.”


From the Theodore Turley Family Book, pp. 100-105.

Theodore Wilford Turley

Theodore Wilford Turley, son of Isaac and Sarah Greenwood Turley was born in Minersville, Beaver County, Utah, August 17, 1863. His ancestors were of English and Canadian birth. His grandfather, Theodore Turley. who was”the first ancestor to join the church, came to Canada from England as a minister of the Methodist Church. Two missionaries, Parley P. Pratt, and Isaac Russell asked Theodore if they could use his Chapel for a meeting. He loaned the Chapel and also invited his congregation to attend. They sang, prayed and listened to the message. Theodore said to himself “That is the truth and I shall be condemned if I do not accept.” In the words of Theodore Turley, “He (Isaac Russell) came to me and said he had been inspired in a dream that he must come to my house and preach. I received the truth the first time I heard it, and my wife also was baptized on the 1st of March 1837 into the L. D. S. Church.”

When Theodore Wilford was two weeks old his parents moved to Beaver, Utah. They lived there until the fall of 1877. He was fourteen when they were called to go to Arizona. Leaving Beaver, they went to St. George, Utah, and worked on the Temple six weeks until they received orders to go on.

They arrived in Lehi, Arizona, in February 1877. Here they made ditches and put in crops. In August of the same year they went back to Utah to get the rest of the family and on their return trip they came back in company with the William J. Flakes. Here he met Mary Flake who afterwards became his wife.

Theodore drove cattle. It was a very hard trip coming over the mountains in the winter with so much ice and snow. On New Year’s night it was so cold that seven calves froze to death. The only way the men could keep from freezing was to build large fires letting them burn about four hours, then scraping the coals away and making their beds on the warm ground.

This time they located in Joseph City, 1878, living in the United Order three years. Here Theodore acted as messenger boy for Brother Richards, taking letters etc., to Brother Lot Smith who lived in Sunset. These had to be taken at night so that he could help them in the daytime making dams.

He lived in Joseph City in the fall of 1881. When they moved to Snowflake in the fall of 1882 he made another trip to Utah but for a different reason than before. He and Mary Agnes Flake, daughter of William J. Flake and Lucy Hannah White Flake went to get married in the St. George Temple. They went by team and wagon; the trip took them 21 days each way. When they arrived at St. George they called on Brother Snow who informed them that their recommends had not been signed by the President, and that they would have to be sent back to Salt Lake City. This would take a week. Of course their hopes fell, for they would be at an expense waiting so long. However, Brother Snow decided to take the responsibility upon himself. He sent a telegram to Salt Lake City to President Taylor and they were married after one day delay.

Theodore gave Mary a wedding ring he had made from a 25 cent piece. When this ring wore thin and finally broke, Mary showed it to Theodore and he said “I won’t have to stay with you any more, our bargain is broken.” He didn’t say anything but went outside and came back with a heavy black ring from a shoe and said, putting it on her finger, “When this wears out I will give you my permission to leave.”

Upon coming back-to Snowflake, they cleared out a chicken coop belonging to her brother James and began house keeping. All the furniture they had was just those things which were absolutely necessary, such as, two spoons, two plates, and a bed. For a broom they took rabbit brush and tied it together. They used this kind of broom for six months.
Theodore and Mary started out in very humble conditions but were always happy and contented and looked on the bright side of life. Theodore was a very hard working man and had to begin at the very bottom. He worked at blacksmithing, farming, freighting, storekeeping and any honest labor that would bring in a living. They ran a trading post at Adair for four years, taking care of the Post Office and store for travelers and Indians.

He and Mary were willing to share with others. Several times they had money saved up to put in a bank or to invest in something when they would have to spend it on some one else. His mother died in Mexico and five of his brothers came to him for help. The youngest being two years old and the oldest twenty-one, they were all barefooted and in very destitute condition, but they were given a home and help. He helped to finance two brothers’ wedding trips, by team, to Utah. One made their home with him for several years. They didn’t help people grudgingly. Theodore was called on a mission to the Southern States. He hadn’t been well for sometime before he left. Perhaps on this account his health was not very good, and after staying ten months in the mission field he came down with chills and fever and had to lie in bed 41 days, so he had to return home. He had to sleep out in the dew and rain so many nights not being able to get a bed.

While on his mission he traveled without purse or script and only paid out seventy five cents in the ten months for meals and bed, but he often went hungry and had to sleep out in the damp without anything but an umbrella over him. Quite often he found a haystack he could crawl into.

While on his way home he had quite an experience. When the train stopped in Kansas City he got off to get a drink of ice water. When he returned to the train he couldn’t find his ticket. He even turned his pocket where he kept the ticket inside out, but it wasn’t there. He went back to where he had a drink of water and the train had left him. So he went over to the hotel, and got him a room so he could lie down. Soon after he felt in the same pocket and to his joy there was his ticket. The train that left him was wrecked, so he has always felt that the Lord had taken this way to take care of him. This has been a testimony to his family.

He was bedfast for three months after he came home. The next few years brought them very hard luck. All three horses died, also six head of milk cows. Every six months a cow would die, but “The race is not to the weak or the strong, but to he that endureth to the end.” At times they felt discouraged but they kept struggling on, both working very hard trying to educate and care for their family. They had a family of 10 children: 4 girls, 6 boys (the last being twin boys.) Two children died in infancy.

Theodore and Mary both liked camping trips so quite often they would take their family and go to the mountains. For years Theodore hauled freight from Holbrook to Fort Apache. He had two wagons and four or more horses. He would go to Holbrook one week to load it, taking three days to go down, load up, and back to Snowflake. The next week he would leave early Monday for Fort Apache and it would take all week to make the trip. One of the boys, Ormus or Barr, would drive one of the teams. The men were great hands to trade horses. One day while freighting he met a man who wanted to trade him horses. Father asked “Is he any good?” “Well,” the man replied, “he doesn’t look very good.” (He had long shaggy hair). Theodore made the trade and in traveling that afternoon the horse stumbled quite a bit. When they unharnessed that night they found the horse was blind, Theodore decided that “He doesn’t look very good” had a different meaning than he thought. He took it as a joke, thinking the man was very clever.

On another trip, Ormus was driving a mule and horse and was back of his father and his load when they came to a long steep hill. The mule decided to go down the hill in a hurry so he circled around Theodore’s wagon and ran down the hill as fast as he could. Ormus was trying to get the brake on and was still hanging to it when they reached the bottom. He was uninjured. Theodore said that if he had had a gun he would have tried to shoot the mule when he passed him because he thought for sure Ormus would be killed.

Theodore, Mary, Barr and baby Roberta went up to Taylor, 3 miles above Snowflake for some hives of bees. Coming home, one of the hives tipped over and the bees came out fighting. Theodore threw a quilt over Mary and the baby; the bees were on the horses and they were running and plunging. Theodore climbed down from the wagon and with a great effort unhitched the horses and took them back to Taylor. Mr. Lewis had come out and smudged the bees so all was quiet by the time Ormus got there.turley-mary-agness-flake-with-twins-harvey-and-harry
Mary Agnes Flake with twins, Harvey and Harry b. 1905.

Outstanding in Theodore’s life was the camping trips he took with his family. Although he had to work hard he did take time off each year for an outing. He always encouraged his children to take their friends. They would go in wagons and horse back. One time there was 72 in the group at the White Mountains. He was a great foot racer, although he was born with a crooked foot. He would challenge a man or woman or girl for a race (after he was old) and he nearly always won. He had a way of getting in front and holding them back so they couldn’t pass him. Mary had a hat shop and the women liked to have Theodore there to tell them which hat to buy; he had good taste.

Finally, as all of his land had washed away, they decided to homestead up in the mountains near Heber, Arizona. They were the first homesteaders and were about twenty miles from Snowflake. They spent two summers there, building a log house. They moved to town for the winters. They had many a good time.

Theodore’s greatest sorrow came when the second summer Mary became ill at the Ranch. They moved to town but she gradually became worse and on Dec. 19, 1909 she died, being just 43 years old. But she had lived a full life.

Turley, Sarah Ann Salina Smithson
He married Sarah Salina Smithson May 31, 1911. They had one child, Nina, who died at two years of age. Aunt Saline was a mother to the children at home and a good helpmate for Theodore. She had raised her own brothers and sisters after her mother’s death.
Theodore served as Sunday School Superintendent at Adair, now Showlow, for one year, 1891-1892. He was President of Y.M.M.I.A. for 2 years in Snowflake. He was one of the finest Mutual Missionaries ever sent from Snowflake Stake, serving 3 months.

While at Joppa he was the first Sunday School Superintendent, serving two years and was released to be presiding Elder for two years.turley-theodore-wilford-60th-birthday-familyTheodore Wilford Turley’s 60th Birthday

When he moved back to Snowflake he was chosen as Superintendent of Sunday School for 3 years and in that time he only missed two Sunday Schools. One of them he was in Miami Sunday School and the other one he was in Mesa, Arizona to Sunday School. At the time of his death on November 15, 1930, he was mayor of Snowflake and a very good one. He was buried in Snowflake. At his funeral they spoke of him as “The Village Blacksmith” and brought out “He was an honest man.” He was very strict with his children always being on time to anything they went to. I don’t think he was ever late in his life.

Theodore had 146 living descendants in 1959.
Children of Theodore and Mary Agnes Flake Turley:
James Theodore Turley, 1883-1884.
Pearl Turley Frost, 1885-1970
Sarah Turley, 1886?-1887.
Lucy Turley Bates, 1888-
Ormus F1ake Turley,1890-
Lowell Barr Turley, 1892-
Frederick Andrew Turley, 1895-
Roberta Turley Tanner, 1898
Harvey I. Turley, 1905
Harry William Turley, 1905

Children of Theodore and Sarah Ann Salina Smithson Turley:
Nina Turley, 1912-1914.

You can read more about Sarah Ann Salina here:


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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