The Colonia Garcia School where George Albert Turley and Ida Belle Farnsworth attended, abt. 1894, Mexico

George Albert Turley was born in Snowflake, AZ on 28 November 1878.  In 1885, when George seven, his parents were called, along with many others, to move to Old Mexico, District of Galeana, in the Casas Grandes Valley. They first settled in Camp Turley on the west side of the Casas Grandes River across from Colonia Dublan. Then, one year later, they settled about three and one-half miles south of the location which now is Colonia Juarez, north on the Rio Verde. They and the other settlers built homes of mud and rock, and some of adobe.

The Turley family later relocated in Colonia Garcia where the Farnsworth family had settled.  Below is a photo of the school house in Colonia Garcia taken about 1894.  George and Ida and their friends attended this school.  They were married in Colonia Juarez 16 February 1899 when George was 20 and Ida was 18 years old.

Turley, George Albert 12, Ida 13, in the Garcia School

The Colonia Garcia School ca. 1894


History by Thomas Cottam Romney from “The Mormon Colonies in Mexico.”

“The founders of Colonia Garcia were Alonzo Lafayette Farnsworth and his wife [Mary Ann Staker Farnsworth] and children who arrived in what is known as Round Valley on March 1, 1894. [Alonzo also was married to (2) Christiane Dorthea Nielsen Bertelsen on 9 March 1874 in Salt Lake City, and (3) Ida Henrietta Tietjen on 8 April 1875 in Salt Lake, Salt Lake. Alonzo died on 16 May 1931 at Colonia Garcia, Chihuahua, Mexico.]

The valley as the name implies, forms almost a complete circle and when the first colonists arrived it was a veritable paradise of waving grass and beautiful flowers. Surrounding the valley was a forest of pines, whose trappings of green formed a beautiful background to the variegated colors of the encircled meadow. The valley contains about 1,300 acres of the choicest land imaginable, but its altitude of more than seven thousand feet brings early and late frosts that frequently threaten and occasionally cut down the harvest before it has reached maturity.

By December of 1895, a sufficient number of settlers had arrived in the valley to justify the organizing of a branch of the L.D.S. Church. This was attended to by Elder Francis M. Lyman of the Council of the Twelve, with the assistance of President Ivins. Present also was Edward Stevenson of the First Council of Seventy, whose home was in Salt Lake City.  John T. Whetten was selected as presiding elder and Alonzo L. Farnsworth and Brigham H. Bingham were to act as counselors. On January 5, 1896, the following year the Sunday School was organized with Orson Cluff as superintendent, and the Relief Society with Agnes Ayrd Macdonald as president, while Hyrum Cluff was called to the leadership of the Mutual Improvement Association.

The houses were built chiefly of logs and adobes, both of which were cheap and very serviceable.

On February 7, 1898, President Anthony Woodward Ivins and Alexander Findlay Macdonald visited Telesforo Garcia in Mexico City and negotiated for the transfer of the Garcia lands to the Mexican Colonization and Agricultural Company. Garcia allowed the forty-three colonists a small bounty on their colonization papers amounting to 123.23. The balance due on the land at this time amounted to $1,987.50, which was paid to Mr. Garcia by President Ivins, representing the Mexican Colonization and Agricultural Company.

On March 9, 1898, Apostles John Henry Smith and John W. Taylor visited Colonia Garcia and organized it into a ward. John T. Whetten was sustained as the Bishop and the counsellors selected were Vance Shaffer and James A. Macdonald.

In addition to farming the people engaged in the cattle, lumber, and shingle business. The lumber and shingles not used for home consumption were freighted in wagons to the colonies below the mountains or were delivered at Pearson, a railroad station near Colonia Juarez, to be shipped out of the country. This was a hard life owing to the mountainous character of the road and the exposure to all kinds of weather. The distance from Colonia Garcia to Colonia Juarez was thirty-five miles while Colonia Dublan lay sixteen miles beyond. In the event of the lumber being taken to Colonia Diaz a further haul of about fifty or sixty miles must be made.

Another distressing and expensive feature of the life lived in these mountain colonies was the freighting of all the flour and other merchandise consumed by the settlers, from the valley below up the steep winding canyon road to the top of the Sierras and thence on to its destination over a road that today would seem impassable. The women shared with the men many of the hardships of the mountain life, in most instances with a patience and fortitude seldom witnessed in men. As I contemplate their life of toil and struggle and their deprivation of even the bare necessities in the home I am led to glorify the name of woman.”  — T.C. Romney

Colonia Garcia Church and School ca. 1899

Colonia Garcia Church and School ca. 1899

Colonia Garcia early 1900sColonia Garcia Post Office ca 1899


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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