The Theodore Turley Family Book, pp. 366-370
Frances Turley Romney, daughter of Isaac and Clara Ann Tolton Turley, was born April 21, 1873 in Beaver, Utah. When she was five years old, her parents were called by President John Taylor to join the United Order in St. Joseph, Arizona. On their journey, after passing the Colorado, Clara continued to drive the team for one of their three wagons while her eldest daughter, Esther, held her dying baby. After the latter’s death and burial by the wayside, Isaac, with his family and possessions, struggled down the Buckskin Mountains. In camp one evening, while running to feed, a stallion kicked Frances in the head, severing her ear and causing her to almost bleed to death. Her resourceful mother, using pine gum, stopped the bleeding and stuck the ear into place so well that later there was no scar visible.
Arriving in St. Joseph, Isaac, considered a wealthy man, turned over his possessions to the United Order, including hundreds of cattle and horses. Then, as a member, he labored 12-14 hours daily while Clara worked in the dairy. Frances later recalled a dispute she and another girl living in the Order had over a cat. In the pulling match which ensued, Frances won the cat, but, losing her balance, she tumbled over backwards into a tub of water.
Some of the members of the United Order were less industrious than the Turleys so, after three years, the Order being dissolved, Isaac took his families and relocated in Snowflake, Arizona. Here they planted orchards and sent the children to school.
At age 13, Frances was a grown young lady with blonde curly hair and a sunny disposition. She quite charmed her first beau, but alas, he was destined to move to Mesa, Arizona, while she, at the same time with the Turleys, departed for Mexico in May, 1886. With the other Mormon colonists, they settled, after leaving Camp Turley, in Old Town on the Piedras Verde River in Chihuahua, Mexico. Here the family built a stockade, but the girls preferred sleeping in the wagon box. In this rude setting, Frances completed her schooling, finishing all the grades then offered. Self-education, however, she considered most important and continued the process throughout her life. One day while she was in the stockade kneading bread, an earthquake occurred. Running out in the open, she noticed the hills ablaze with fire and later found the upheaval had released springs of water badly needed for their crops.
Leaving Old Town, since it was not the site originally purchased, the people moved north to the present site of Colonia Juarez. Here, not far from the Piedras Verde River, Isaac built his houses and blacksmith shop and planted his orchards and gardens. A tall man, 6′ 4″ in. in height, he often spoke endearingly of his daughter “Franty”. He was an excellent provider for his family, and friends enjoyed calling in to sample the good food and hospitality. Entertainment was provided for the young people, and Frances, after working all day, found relaxation during the evenings in square dancing and acting in “dialogues.” She was too shy to keep company with the boys, the exceptions being Dave McClellan and Gaskell and Miles A. Romney. When the latter proposed to her, using some of the words which a hero in one of his father’s plays had spoken in proposing to the heroine, she accepted. They were married September 15, 1889. How strange is fate. That early beau, traveling all the way from Mesa, Arizona, now appeared in Colonia Juarez to visit Frances, but finding her married, sadly returned home.
Frances went dutifully to live with Miles’ parents on a mountain ranch near Pacheco, where she helped them make cheese and learned from her mother-in-law how to make suits for her husband. While living there, her first child, Pearl. was born Sept. 9, 1890. All of her other children, except the last, were born after the young couple moved back to Colonia Juarez.
During the early 1890’s, Miles filled a mission in England while Frances supported the family and sent him what she could spare, earning her money in a cannery. However, during this absence, Miles acquired a fondness for the “English,” for after his return his attentions turned to the daughters of Elizabeth Burrell-Coonwalzer; the lady and her daughters were emigrants from England. One by one, he married all three of the daughters: Lily, Elizabeth, and Emily in polygamy, although the Church was discouraging such practices. Frances tried to be friendly with Lily, and together they took oil painting lessons. Some of these oil paintings Frances hung, after completion, in her living room.
She served the Church by being president of the YLMIA. However, as her family grew in size, Frances decided to move to a farm north of town where, with the help of her children and with emergency contributions from her father, she managed somehow. Eight and a half years intervened before her next child was born on Oct. 10, 1907, and on March 18, 1911 another daughter.
Because of lawlessness incurred by the Mexican Revolution, Miles’ families, together with the other colonists, left Mexico for El Paso, Texas on July 28, 1912. There, during the exodus, Frances youngest son was born April 21, 1913. After living temporarily in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and during the fourth exodus, Miles decided to again take his families to Mexico. But Frances preceded the other wives, facing the dangers of Mexican outlaws for the sake of having, once more, a home of her own. Hard times, ruined homes, and illness from malaria depleted, the family energy in their struggle against poverty. While working to aid the family, the eldest son, Miles, was killed by accident in Miami, Arizona and his father brought his body to the colonies for burial.
After the acute problems of food, clothes, and shelter were solved, Frances began to accumulate some books and subscribe to good magazines. Becoming adept at fashioning her own patterns and using available materials, she sewed clothes for her family in the latest styles. Sewing, a task relegated to the evening hours, she undertook only after the daily tasks were finished.
After the older children left to attend college in Utah, she moved to a home across the street from the Academy, There, on a 3/4 acre lot surrounding her home, she raised a variety of garden vegetables and fruit, including figs and grapes. She had a constant surplus which she gave away to friends, neighbors, and others in the family. What an exuberant spirit she was! Like a skylark, she rose above her many troubles, deprivations, and frustrations which beset her throughout most of her married life, and her clear, lovely voice was raised in song early in the morning as she went about her chores. Occasionally, after a morning sojourn, she would awaken her three youngest children, saying merrily, “Come You are missing the best part of the day.” Besides her flower garden of roses, sweet peas, and delphinium, she filled her windows with ever-blooming houseplants, raised and cared for domestic animals, and provided nourishing lunches for out-of-town relatives attending the Academy.
After her three youngest children left home to attend college, Frances stayed on in Juarez a number of years after Miles death November 28, 1939. Since his father had died leaving no will, Gordon, acting as executor, divided the property among the three wives, Lily being deceased. Later, Frances sold her home and bought a small one near Gordon and Beth in El Paso, Texas. Now she had time, not only to attend Church, but to visit and, with Beth’s guidance, to have her hair done and to occasionally buy a pretty hat.
During an interview on the radio one day, she stated that her happiest moment was when her first baby was laid in her arms; and the most embarrassing one was when she had company for dinner one day, but forgot to put soda in her biscuits.
Over the years, Florence had provided her mother with tickets for many trips to Shreveport, Louisiana, where she was lavishly entertained, sending her home with clothes of the latest fashion. Frances also enjoyed herself thoroughly on a trip to New York City to visit Pearl and Helen, returning with the latter by car to El Paso in June, 1938. In 1951-52, after a trip to Marguerite’s in Phoenix, Arizona, and another to Edna’s in Santa Rosa, Calif., she had a delightful visit in Old Mexico. However, when Gordon and Beth were leaving to head the mission in Guatemala, she collapsed with a stroke. After a temporary recovery, Frances lived with Keith and Ruth, the latter caring for her during her last illness. She died in their home in Las Cruces, New Mexico, June 19, 1953 and was buried in El Paso, Texas June 25, 1953. Although Pearl could not attend because of poor health, the rest of her children were present at the funeral.
Considering her children her greatest treasures, Frances encouraged them in their education and insisted on their maintaining high principles of honor. She was most heroic in her absence of fear and her fortitude to face dangers and heartaches, disliking, above all, lies and deceit. To those who had less than she, her kindness overflowed as she gave, with both hands, her life and goods. Her children tried to follow her precepts and they took on responsibilities, and she found joy in their accomplishments.
Children of Frances Turley and Miles Archibald Romney:
Pearl Romney Chipman, born Sept. 9, 1890
Miles Romney, born June 16, 1892
Edna Romney Noall, born Jan. 28, 1896
Florence Romney Lieber, born Oct. 3, 1897
Gordon M. Romney, born May 14, 1899
Helen Mar Romney Biddulph, born Oct. 10, 1907
Marguerite Romney Pyper, born March 18,1911
Keith Romney, born April 21,1913