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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.]

46 A Growing Family

Even before Theodore reached Nauvoo with the members of his emigrant company, word of his coming reached the Latter-day Saints in the region and made national news. On Saturday, November 21, 1840, the Niles’ National Register newspaper of Baltimore, Maryland, reprinted an article from the Quincy Whig, a newspaper published south of Nauvoo.

The Baltimore paper introduced the article by saying of the Saints, “The rapid increase of this society is one of the wonders of the day. It is said that they now have nearly one hundred thousand members.” It then quoted the Quincy article:

This people held a conference at Nauvoo, on Saturday last, which continued three days. It is estimated that there was not far from three thousand in attendance. A gentleman who was present, speaks in the highest terms of the appearance of the immense assemblage, and the good order which prevailed. The mild and humane principles which abound among this people are having their just and proper effect upon the people. Their society is not only increasing in numbers, but individually their condition is greatly improved, surrounded as they are by the gift of an overruling power. We learn that they are expecting a large accession to their numbers in a short time from England—one of their preachers, a Mr. Turley, having met with distinguished success in that country.1

Nauvoo had indeed changed in the short time Theodore had been in England. The number of residents and homes had grown, and his family members had grown too. The 1840 U.S. Census for Nauvoo shows Theodore’s household included two adults and seven children.2 The oldest was fifteen-year-old Frances, her mother’s namesake, and the youngest was seven-month-old Charlotte, who had been born while Theodore was in England. The homecoming must have been a sweet one for the whole family.

The Turleys’ neighbors included the church’s prophet leader, Joseph Smith, and his family, who at the time were living just down the street from them but would eventually move next door.3

The closeness of the families would become clear as Joseph developed a trusting relationship with Theodore and revealed to him some of his most important teachings. Some of those teachings related to the ordinances or ceremonies that would one day be conducted in the Nauvoo Temple, a building whose construction was then under contemplation and for which ground would soon be broken. Joseph Smith himself never lived to see the structure completed. But he introduced what would take place in the temple to a few of his closest associates. Some of the principles Joseph Smith taught related to marriage and would lead to the expansion of Theodore’s family. They would also, for a time, cause a public stir for him and his family.

[Next issue: “Polygamy”]

© 2016 by Richard E. Turley, Jr. (Reprinted with permission.)
Originally published in the March 2016 Theodore Turley Family Organization Newsletter

  1. “Mormon Conference,” Niles’ National Register, November 21, 1840.
  2. 1840 U.S. Census, Hancock County, Film 0007642, Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  3. 1840 U.S. Census, Hancock County.