Sharing our Links to the Past
by Wally and Frances Gray


In Memorium
Of Turley Family Members Lying in Unmarked Graves
By John Romney Pyper (1)
2000 By John Romney Pyper
Published by Permission


The Unknown Grave
There's an unknown grave in a lonely spot
And the form that it covers will ne're be forgot
Where the heav'n trees shade
And the wild locust wave
There's a snowy white flower
O're The Unknown Grave,
Over The Unknown Grave

This hymn, popular for many years (2) was written by David Hyrum Smith in memory of his father the Prophet Joseph, whose body and Hyrum’s, were buried secretly so that they could not be desecrated. Certainly it evoked memories in many singers of loved ones who didn’t make it to Zion but were laid to rest in lonely graves or the ocean deep. In the Turley family there are several unknown and unmarked graves which certainly represent great sacrifices made for the establishment of Zion. Theodore Turley lay to rest seven children and two wives (3) in the forced Exodus from Nauvoo. Perhaps these experiences could have been his greatest sacrifices, causing him the greatest grief, among the many sacrifices that he made during his life.

But direct information from the pen of Theodore Turley or family members of the years in Nauvoo and during the Exodus is not available as far as I know. No journal from Theodore is known for this time period. That is understandable given the particular circumstances of Theodore: he had tremendous family responsibilities, he was being pursued on false charges, his families were suffering, the passage through Iowa in the early spring was very difficult and he probably was using his skills helping others all the time. Ella Mae Turley Judd’s biography [Biography and Autobiography of Theodore Turley] of Theodore, extracted from a number of primary sources of LDS history, contains some valuable information. Many primary sources are now more readily available, with index extractions, in various LDS libraries and recently have become available on CD-ROM (e.g. InfoBase). (4)

Turley Deaths in the Nauvoo Exodus [*]

1st death: Henrietta, the first child of Eliza Clift died on March 6th, 1846, exactly eight months old. Theodore was near Farmington/Lick Creek at this time. Was she buried along the trail? Or could she have been taken back to Nauvoo as was done for Sister Caroline Spencer who died nearby? Her mother Eliza had a second child, Emma, on Jan. 7, 1847 in Nauvoo. What happened to Eliza and Emma apparently is not known.

2nd death: On the 12th of May four-year-old Jonathan, the youngest child of Frances Amelia Kimberley died. Theodore and families were at Garden Grove. We are indebted to Eliza R. Snow for an entry in her journal,

I saw the funeral train following to its wilderness grave a little child of Br. Turley. It was a lonely sight--my feelings truly sympathize with those who are call’d to leave their dear relatives by the way. (5)

Theodore arrived in Winter Quarters sometime before the 28th of November.

 3rd and 4th deaths: Frances Amelia Turley, 22 years old died December 1st. She is Theodore's eldest daughter. She was married January 24, 1846. Could this death have been from complications of a childbirth? Yes! The Winter Quarters Burial Ground records (6) provide the answer. The 4th entry of the record is: "Frances F. Daniels, daughter of Cyrus & Frances A. Daniels, (7) died on 1 Dec 1846, born 1 Dec 1846." The 5th entry is: "Frances A. Daniels, age 21 yrs and 11 months, wife of Cyrus Daniels (d)", (8) with cause of death, "childbirth". Both mother and child were buried in grave #20. (9)

(5th death?): Cyrus Daniels does not appear in the Winter Quarters Burial Ground records nor in Nauvoo burial records. He had suffered a serious gun shot wound in Sep. 1844 shattering his left arm, which could have developed complications during the strenuous activities of the Exodus. But no information has been found yet regarding him in the Exodus.

6th and 7th deaths: Sarah Ellen Clift delivered twin boys (10) on the 5th of December who lived only a few months. Joseph Smith Turley died the 5th of March 1847 and Hyrum Smith Turley died the 29th of April. They were both buried in grave #95. The cause of death of Joseph was "water in brain" and for Hyrum it was "croup".

8th death: Sarah Ellen Clift, the poor mother, died on May 4th. She was buried in grave #148. The cause of death was "scurvy". Such sad effects of malnutrition it seems.

9th death: Frances Amelia Kimberley. Theodore’s first love, died on Aug 30, 1847. Her cause of death was listed as "scurvy". She joined in death her daughter and first grandchild, being placed in their grave site, #20. That is particularly fitting, as they were both named after her.

10th death: Three days later on September 2, 1847 Princette, the oldest child of Sarah Ellen Clift passed away. (11) She is buried in grave #148 with her mother. The cause of her death was "fever".

11th death: Theodoreus, son of Mary Clift died 31 Dec 1848 at seven months of age. He does not appear on the list of those buried at Winter Quarters.

12th death: The death of Mary Ann Clift in SLC 30 Mar 1859 may have been related to the hardships of the Exodus from Nauvoo or possibly marginal conditions in SLC. Whatever the cause it must have been of some shock to Theodore and been a significant stress factor.

[* The wives and children of Theodore Turley are listed in his web site at Theodore Turley.]

A surprising ending: When I finished this review to this point I thought that it was rather comprehensive, except for the unknown grave of Ida May Turley, fourth child of Isaac and Clara Ann Tolton Turley, who died December 9th, 1877 at five months of age, in the descent of Buckskin Mt. (Kaibab Plateau) as her family was moving to Arizona to colonize. But then I remembered that Theodore himself suffered the fate of an unmarked grave for some time in the cemetery at Beaver, Utah.


1. Eldest son of Wm. R. Pyper & Marguerite Romney; g-son of Miles A. Romney and Frances Turley; gg-son of Isaac Turley and Clara Ann Tolton. Grew up in Phoenix. Lives in Houston, TX.

2. It was #8 in 1909 edition of the Deseret Sunday School Union hymnal.

3. Theodore had married three Clift sisters in the 1840’s in Nauvoo per Joseph S. "Sol" Turley in Sept. 1972 T. Turley Family Newsletter. Two were widows and one a spinster. They and 10 of their children died within 10 years.

4. A week after I submitted a draft of this paper for the Turley Family Newsletter I became aware of a three volume set of summaries of day-by-day activities of the Saints beginning Wednesday October 1, 1845 and continuing through 1847. This was prepared during the Sesquicentennial observance in 1997 by David R Crockett, (gg-son of Frances Turley and Miles A. Romney).

5. Crockett, (1996) 1:314.

6. FHC fiche #6031588 Records copied by Ethel B. Kirby from Early Church Records loaned the Genealogy Society of Utah by the Historian’s Office.

7. Her spouse was Cyrus Daniels, an early member of the church, born in 1803 in Nelson, Madison, NY, and not a Cyrus Daniel born about 1822 in England.

8. No explanation of (d). But it must indicate deceased as it is only used with "spouse of….

9. I first learned of this in Crockett’s compilation: "December 1, 1846, Winter Quarters: Francis Turley Daniels, age 21, died from childbirth. She was the wife of   Cyrus Daniels. Their infant daughter Francis F. Daniels, also died. (2:310)

10. Crockett (1996) 2: 316 indicates only one child born, Joseph Smith Turley.

11. Two children from a previous marriage survive her.

Reflections of the Trials of Theodore Turley

As I reflect upon just this list of trials and sacrifices of Theodore Turley my respect for him and my appreciation that I am a descendent has increased considerably. The deaths during the Exodus could well have been his worst trials. Imagine them happening, one after another, without much of any recourse. When his prior trials are added onto the list one can easily imagine that it required a great soul to keep his course true and his faith intact.

Perhaps he may have sold his holdings in Canada for a loss to hurry to Zion. He arrived just in time to suffer the great persecutions of the last year in Missouri. He lost a great deal of his possessions and wealth when he left Far West under great duress and also suffering physical harm. He coped with the unhealthy conditions in the original swampland of Nauvoo erecting the first Mormon-built residence. As sick as Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, he also went to England as a missionary. Soon there he was thrown in jail because of old debts. His brother-in-law refused to help him, possibly because Theodore rejected the offer to manage a pottery factory and thereby have an easier life for his family. When he left Nauvoo in 1846, it was under duress and surely he lost a considerable portion of his wealth. In the duress of crossing the muck of Iowa he was pursued, probably as a bail-jumper. He watched his children and two wives die one after the other, with no recourse. I stand in great amazement at the fortitude of my great-great-grandfather.

When, years ago, I first read the Lectures on Faith which were used in the School of the Prophets my soul delighted in the powerful doctrine in the Sixth Lecture, and I knew nothing of Theodore Turley’s trials:

5. For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor, and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also -- counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ -- requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when those sufferings are ended, he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God.

7. Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.

I can imagine Theodore receiving these teachings and putting them on like a long-lost pair of favorite boots. He had to have on such boots to walk the path he walked for his life certainly is a manifestation of this doctrine. Theodore’s experiences and commitments serve as a powerful example and beacon to all of his descendants.

Home | Biographical Index |
Theodore Turley
The Missing Clifts: Robert, Eliza and Emma Found!

Frances McNabb Gray Ancestor Chart |
The Theodore Turley Family
Biography and Autobiography of Theodore Turley
The Value of Genealogical Stories


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