Alma Reuben Turley was born December 29, 1869 in Beaver, Utah to Isaac and Sarah Greenwood Turley. His ancestry has been traced back to Birmingham, England. He was the fifth child in a family of twelve children, eleven boys and one girl.
His family resided in Beaver, Utah until he was seven years of age and then moved to Salt River at Lehi, Arizona in answer to a missionary call, as did so many of the Arizona pioneers. They moved to the Salt River Valley with the Daniel Jones Company and arrived at Lehi on March 6, 1877.
The family lived in a tent and his mother, an extremely large woman, suffered from the intense heat in the Lehi Valley, so Alma’s father got permission to move his family to Northern Arizona where the climate was cooler. In his life story Alma states, “My father then moved my mother and family in the spring of 1878 to St. Joseph (now Joseph City) near the Little Colorado River. We there lived the United Order. We stayed there about one year, when my father moved his two families to Snowflake.”
It was while they lived in Joseph City that Alma was baptized on April 3, 1879 by Joseph Richards and confirmed the same day by his father, Isaac Turley.
His schooling began in Snowflake, Arizona. Alma states, “I never had the privilege of attending school but very little, for I had to spend my time on the farm herding cattle and horses, and my parents were on the move so much, pioneering new settlements.”
He also states, “In the spring of 1885, my father, my mother and family moved to Old Mexico because of the persecution that was made against polygamy.” Colonization seemed so desirable in that country. Alma stayed in Snowflake until his father could return for them. They had a hard time moving to Mexico. Alma goes on to say, “In the winter of 1886 father returned to our former home in Snowflake, taking me along to drive our cattle and horses to Old Mexico. It was a very hard trip moving them in the wintertime. When within a few days drive from our home, we received word that my mother had died with a hemorrhage. I was left with a hired man to continue the rest of the way, driving the stock. Father hastened on but got home only in time to meet the Saints returning from her burial in the new cemetery.
The following fall of 1887 I returned to my old home, in company with father Ralph Ramsay and family. I lived with my brother Theodore and family that winter and worked for Charles L. Flake that spring and summer, tending his farm for awhile. In the fall I worked for William W. Willis.” It was here that he met his future wife, Delilah Jane Willis, daughter of William Wesley Willis and Gabrilla Stratton Willis.
Alma writes: “In November (?), 1888, in company with William R. Willis of Taylor and Hans Yorgensen, with their wives, I started to Utah with Delilah Jane Willis to be married in the St. George Temple, traveling by team and wagon, taking sixteen days. I had some difficulty in getting a license because I was not twenty-one years old and no parents or guardian to give their consent, for the Government had enacted some very strict laws for marrying in the Temple because of polygamy. But through the work of a good County Attorney making out papers that I had no parents or guardian in the United States, we were only detained one day. Delilah Jane Willis and I were married November 3, 1888 in the St. George Temple by J. D. McAllister. We made the round trip in five weeks.”
He goes on to say: “In 1890 I bought a city lot, built a two-room house on it, also a good barn and corral. We lived there for ten years. I then bought a home and farm in Woodruff, Arizona where I moved my family, my wife and five children, having lost one child, a little blue-eyed girl three years old. While we lived in Snowflake, I made our living by freighting for the Government from Holbrook to Fort Apache; I also did some farming. After moving to Woodruff, we had a great deal of trouble by having the dams go out on the Little Colorado River, through floods, which caused a great deal of hard labor and hardships and many privations for the necessities of life.”
Their move to Woodruff in 1900 took them into a life of hardship, trying to get a living from the soil without any assurance that water would be available. Many years passed before Delilah became reconciled to living in Woodruff. She longed to live in Snowflake with her people. Thirteen healthy children were born to Alma and Delilah Turley–six sons and seven daughters. Delilah was always active in the Church.
Alma was an excellent farmer and provided well for his family. He loved good stock, cattle and horses particularly. Besides freighting and farming, he also did some road contracting. A man of shy and retiring nature, Alma found it difficult to take part in Church and social affairs. In spite of this, he was honest in his dealings, loved the gospel, and taught his children to be honorable men and women.
One of his daughters writes about her father, Alma: “My father had faith in God and lived according to the principles of the Gospel. As I remember, he read daily the scriptures, the only reading I remember him doing. He was a tithe payer, attended his meetings. He kept the Sabbath Day and we always had family prayers and blessing on the food.” She also states: “There was never any vulgarity or profanity in our home. He was a good provider for his family. I remember him rocking and singing to his babies in the evening. He didn’t sing a variety of songs, the one I remember him singing was ‘Down by the River’s Verdant Side.’ He was never raggy or dirty, and he was regular with his bathing, and mother always kept all of our clothes in good repair.
He was a parent who had his children work along with him. His animals were always well cared for, and his garden and fields free of weeds.”
His daughter also writes: “A man in town was always having black hay to haul and put in his barn because it got wet with rain. This man said, ‘If you want green hay to put in your barn, watch Al Turley when he cuts his hay, he never has black hay.’ I never remember tromping black hay. Father would get up two o’clock in the morning after he had cut the hay the day before and rake it up in piles. Then the next morning he would get up at the same time while the dew was on the hay and cock it ready for hauling. If a threatening storm caused him to haul the hay before it was dry enough for storing, he would sprinkle salt on it in the barn.”
Alma writes in his life story: “The first fall after getting a dam in that was secure, my son Charles H. was called on a mission to the Southern States. We were thankful for him to get this call and always felt like we were greatly blessed in keeping him in the mission field. On September 27, 1924 another son was called to take a mission to Nevada in the California Mission. Tillman Willis was the second one to go.”
He continues to write: “I have always been of a very quiet, reserved disposition, not caring to take part in public affairs. I spent the winter of 1935-36 in Mesa doing work for my dead kindred, doing endowment work for one hundred fifty male names. I also did some sealings. My health beginning to fail in 1932, caused from taking a heavy cold settling in my lungs.”
His daughter, Josephine, writes about her father: “In my memory I see Alma, my father, going through the shocks of corn taking the ears of corn off the stalks and shelling the corn into the nose bags of the horses for their eating. He was a wonderful parcher of corn for our own eating. He parched it in a frying pan on the fireplace coals.”
Alma records: “I was ordained a Deacon in December 1884 by John Kartchner, ordained an Elder October 19, 1888 by Bishop John Hunt, set apart as ward teacher in the Snowflake Ward, Snowflake Stake, 1899.”
Some of the other accomplishments throughout his life were: he was set apart as Second Counselor to Ezra Hatch in the Elder’s Quorum in the Snowflake Stake by Jesse N, Smith, March 24, 1900; he was district school trustee in Woodruff for three years; he also acted as one of the members on the Board of the Woodruff Irrigation Company. He helped to build and construct six dams in the Little Colorado River, also a canal four miles down the river from the last dam built in Silver Creek, above where the two rivers join together.
Alma Reuben Turley died in Woodruff, Arizona on March 15, 1938 from pneumonia, leaving a wife, nine children – four boys and five girls, all married, with families. He had at that time fifty-seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren. His posterity has grown a great deal since then.
Tillman tells this about his father: “While father was on the Woodruff Irrigation Board, the company had to borrow money from the Merchants and Stockgrower’s Bank in Holbrook. The men all signed the papers except father. He did not want to go into debt. When the President of the bank did not find father’s name on it, he said, ‘I will not make a loan without Al Turley’s name on it.’ President Samuel Smith of the Snowflake Stake, with others, came to talk with father. When President Smith asked him to sign, he did. It was said at his funeral, ‘Al Turley was an honest man.’ I never did hear him tell a smutty story in my 35 years around him.”
*History of Alma Ruben Turley, by his daughter Josephine Turley Hatch.
*Alma Ruben Turley, Good Farmer and Provider, p. 40 in Our Town and People, a Brief History of Woodruff, Arizona.
*History of Alma Ruben Turley, written by himself.
*Family records of his immediate children, compiled by a great granddaughter, Mary Josephine Bennett Rasband, daughter of Reva Hatch Bennett, daughter of Josephine Turley Hatch, daughter of Alma Ruben Turley.
Records of Delilah Jane Willis Turley say Alma Ruben was baptized 3 Apr 1879, while the ward records of Joseph (GS.ser no 1213, F Ar Jl) say the date was 13 April 1879.
PRIESTHOOD: Ordained an Elder on 13 Oct 1888 at Snowflake, Snowflake Stake, by John Hunt.
MARRIAGE: Published in “Biograhical Sketches” on page 907 is the following notation about Alma and Delilah’s marriage: “They were married in the Saint George Temple on November 2, 1888. When the couple arrived in Saint George for the ceremony, it was discovered that Alma was not yet 21 and needed parental consent. Since his parents were in Mexico, it was impossible to get their consent, but finally a lawyer friend vouched for him.”
Holbrook Tribune, Friday, March 18, 1938, pg 1. (Obituary File, Document #82) Text includes: “A. R. Turley was buried Wednesday. He passed away at his Woodruff home Tuesday. Funeral Services were held in Woodruff, Wednesday, for A. R. Turley who passed away at his home on Tuesday. Many persons from Holbrook and Joseph City motored to Woodruff for the funeral. Mr. Turley would have been 69 years old December the 29th and would have celebrated his 50th Wedding Anniversary November 4. (Discrepancy with day) He was married March 4 (Discrepancy with the month and day), 1888, to Delilah Willis of Snowflake. Thirteen children were born to the Turleys and nine are still living. Eight children attended the funeral. They were Wesley Turley, Charles Turley, Martha DeWitt, and Rhoda Brinkerhoff, all of Woodruff; Leora Kartchner of Linden; Tillman Turley of Eagar; and Josephine Hatch of Provo, Utah. Mr. Turley was 61 times a grandfather and 4 times a great-grandfather. Four brothers also survive. Funeral services were conducted by Bishop Floyd Turley and about 800 people were present. Those from Holbrook were Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Cross, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace Ellsworth, Mr. and Mrs. G. N. Key, Mrs. Edna Fisher, Mrs. Arthur Palmer, Mrs. and Mrs. John Heward and children. From Joseph City were Mr. and Mrs. Joe Turley, Mrs. John Turley, Mrs. Harvey Randall, Mrs. Clifford Tanner, Mrs. Arthur Tanner.”
BAPTISM: He was baptized by John Bushman and Confirmed by Bishop Joseph Richards, but does not give a date. 2) Joseph City Ward Records – (GS F002, 401 p. 66) and (GS Ser No 1213 F Ariz J) St. Joseph, say that Alma Ruben was baptized 13 Apr 1879. St. Joseph, Yavapai, Arizona is now Joseph City, Navajo, Arizona. 3) Personal Records of Delilah Jane Willis Turley, wife, say that Alma Rubin was baptized 3 Apr 1879. 4) “The Theodore Turley Family Book 1978”, Theodore Turley Family Organization, records baptism as 3 Apr 1879, baptized by Joseph Richards and confirmed the same day by his father, Isaac Turley.
NOTE: On Alma’s son’s, (Charles Herman) Patriarchal Blessing which was recorded by Hyrum Smith and on the marriage certificate of Alma Reuben and Delilah Jane Willis, Alma’s middle name was spelled Reuben. It is spelled Ruben in the Joseph City Ward Records and in the Birth Certificate of his daughter, Martha and in information submitted to the Ancestral File by some of Alma’s descendants. It is spelled Rubin on Charles Turley’s Death Certificate, in information submitted to the Ancestral File by some of Alma Ruben’s descendants and most importantly, in the handwritten records recorded by Alma Rubin Turley, himself. You will see spelled all different ways. I chose to go with Rubin as that is how Alma Rubin Turley wrote it himself.