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Theodore Turley: A Biography
Richard E. Turley, Jr.

[This is another in a continuing series of newsletter articles that together will make up the first rough draft of a biography of Theodore Turley. The draft will undergo considerable revision before being published in book form. I invite all family members to read it critically, make suggestions, and offer additional information for possible inclusion. Feel free to e-mail me.]

27 On with the Work, May 8-28, 1840

On Friday, May 8, 1840, following his release from jail, Theodore visited Lane End and Stoke, where he found Saints who, he wrote, “were Delighted to see me.” Word of his release spread, and that night at John Rowley’s home where he spent the night, several Saints came to see him. He “Laid hands on Sister Elderson she being sick,” and it must have seemed wonderful to him once again to be free to enjoy the fellowship of the Saints.1

Elder George A. Smith spent the night with him and all day Saturday. In Stoke, they ordained a man “to the office of Priest.” Although the ordained man had been “very much afflicted” with rheumatism, Theodore wrote, “He jumpt up and ran after us praising God.”

Elders Smith and Turley walked together from Stoke to Burslem, where they “viseted a many of the saints” who “rejoiced much at my delivera[nce].” They then attended a small conference of Church members, and Theodore helped ordain men to offices in the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods.2

On Sunday, he and Elder Smith went to Hanley, where Elder Smith preached that afternoon. “I met the Churches here,” Theodore wrote, “and Broke bread with them.” In the evening, “I Preached for a wile,” he recorded, as did Elder Smith. They confirmed one member and ordained another to be a deacon.3

On Monday, Theodore wrote to his brother John and walked to Stoke for a visit with Saints there. From Stoke, he walked to Lane End to visit the Saints. “I hope they all will be able to re[s]ist the Devil,” he wrote. “I Preached to a Large congregation.”4

On Tuesday, May 12, Theodore spent time with Saints in Lane End before walking to Stoke, where he “laid hands on Sister Handerson.” While in Stoke, he and Elder Smith “Visited The Pot manufactory.”5 Stoke was one of several towns that together made up the Potteries, an area famous for its manufacture of pots and other ceramic wares.6

Walking to nearby Hanley, Theodore baptized a woman and spent time talking with her family. He then walked to Burslem, where he spent the night at the home of a Brother Johnston.7

On Wednesday, May 13, Theodore traveled to Newcastle “to Preach and Teach to the Church there.” He and George A. Smith preached in the streets and baptized one person.8 The next day, they “viseted the Churches in Hanley & Burslem,” preaching in Hanley. They baptized two more persons, worked until midnight, and ended up walking ten miles.9

After being cooped up in jail for weeks, the success Theodore experienced during his first week of freedom must have been exhilarating to him. He had preached to many people, blessed and comforted the Saints, baptized and confirmed converts, and ordained growing leaders to the priesthood. What a vivid contrast to his period of confinement.

The success continued from Friday, May 15 to Monday, May 18, as Theodore traveled through Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, and Leek, preaching, baptizing, and visiting the sick. On Tuesday, Theodore reached Burslem at noon and met George A. Smith. The following day, the two men “Viseted Several Famelies of the Baptist Order” and “Preached to them the Truths of the Gospel.” They “also viseted the Bretheren.”10

On Thursday in Hanley, Theodore ate dinner with a Mr. Taylor and “Spent the afternoon with him” and some “of the Baptists of this place.” He “Preached hard against the erors of the Day.” That evening, he met with Brigham Young and George A. Smith and spent the night with them. Theodore wrote that they “Thought it Best for Br Smith & I to Tary in this reg[i]on till conference.”11

Theodore spent Friday morning with the two apostles, and Elder Smith asked him to preach at Lane End that evening. Theodore walked to Lane End via Burslem, visiting Saints along the way. Reaching Lane End, he preached there as assigned that night and spent Saturday “visiting the Saints in this place.”12

With their emphasis on obeying the Word of Wisdom, a revealed health code that discouraged the use of liquor and other harmful substances, the Latter-day Saint missionaries found an ally in the local temperance societies.13 “This morning,” Theodore recorded on Sunday, May 24, “I Preached in a room obtained from the T. Totals Society.” That afternoon, he met with the members of the church branch in Lane End.14

“This day Still in Lane end,” he wrote on Monday. “I hope to See some fruit of my labours.” That evening, he “Preached to a large congregation” with some success. “A number followed me to my lodgings too inquire after the truth,” he wrote with apparent satisfaction.15

After spending the next morning “with the Saints in Lane end,” Theodore traveled on to Stoke and Burslem, visiting and preaching. Wednesday, he went on to Hanley, where he “Taught from house the things of the Kingdom and at night Preached to a large congregation on temperance.”16

He had enjoyed considerable success during his nearly two weeks of post-prison preaching in the Potteries. Yet the salvation of his own family members remained an abiding concern. On Thursday, May 28, he wrote, “I was this morning inclined to go to Birmingham to See my parents.”17 He had tried and failed previously to interest them in the gospel that he preached. He now felt he needed to try again.

[Next issue: “Preaching Again to the Family”]

© 2005 by Richard E. Turley, Jr. (Reprinted with permission.)
Originally published in the June 2005 Theodore Turley Family Organization Newsletter

  1. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 8, 1840.
  2. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 9, 1840.
  3. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 10, 1840.
  4. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 11, 1840.
  5. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 12, 1840.
  6. See http://www.thepotteries.org/six_towns/stoke.htm.
  7. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 12, 1840.
  8. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 13, 1840.
  9. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 14, 1840.
  10. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 15-20, 1840.
  11. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 21, 1840.
  12. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 22-23, 1840.
  13. Richard L. Evans, A Century of “Mormonism” in Great Britain (Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1894), 47-49.
  14. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 24, 1840.
  15. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 25, 1840.
  16. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 26-27, 1840.
  17. Theodore Turley Mission Journal, May 28, 1840.