There are many resources available to help us better understand both the life of Theodore Turley and his descendants. Here are some books and websites we hope you find valuable. Please contact us if you have other recommendations!
Resources Provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Through the FamilySearch.org website, users can search the Church’s extensive family history records collection, add genealogical data to a universal family tree, and attach “Memories” (photos, documents, stories, etc.) to individuals in that tree. FamilySearch’s Family Tree is an efficient way to quickly access vital statistics and uploaded histories and photographs for any deceased individual, not just Turley relatives. You can access Theodore Turley’s profile page directly here (login required).
The stories of Theodore and his immediate family members are intricately tied to the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This new official history published by the Church History Department provides an easy to read introduction. Although Theodore is never mentioned by name, this narrative provides useful context for his conversion in Canada, his ill-fated move to Far West, Missouri, his experiences building up Nauvoo, his mission to England with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his experiences surrounding the martyrdom of Joseph Smith.
For more on the origin of Saints, including the integral role of one of our own in that project, see the 2019 TTFO presentation by Richard E. Turley, Jr.
If you need more bite-size chunks, check out the Church History Topic Essays released along with the 2018 publication of Saints. Topics pertaining to Theodore’s experiences include: Canada; Far West; Mormon-Missouri War of 1838; Nauvoo (Commerce), Illinois; Council of Fifty; Joseph Smith and Plural Marriage; and Departure from Nauvoo.
Other resources sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
–Theodore’s Turley’s biography at the Joseph Smith Papers website.
–Theodore’s Turley’s biography at BYU’s Mormon Missionary Diaries database. (Including images of Theodore’s missionary diary)
–Theodore Turley’s profile in the Church History Department’s Early Mormon Missionaries database.
San Bernardino History
This publication by BYU’s Religious Studies Center is relatively easy to read. Like Saints, it’s available to read for free online. Chapters 8-10 specifically cover the San Bernardino era. (Recommended by Kay Lovell in the March 2018 TTFO Newsletter)
Leo Lyman was the featured speaker at our 2018 TTFO Temple and Family History Day Presentation, and is a noted expert on San Bernardino. Like the histories above, this book is available to read for free online. One reviewer said, “A timely new comprehensive study by historian Leo Lyman, San Bernardino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community, brings forth new details and provides fresh insight into the importance of the Mormon colony at San Bernardino and its context in the settlement of the West and southern California. It will serve as the standard interpretation for many years to come.” (Larry E. Burgess, Southern California Quarterly)
Spiritualism and the Godbeite Movement
Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young (1998) by Ronald W. Walker: Book
Most of Theodore’s descendants are aware that he was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for involvement in spiritualism shortly before he died. This book, although never mentioning Theodore by name, provides useful context for the movement of which he and his more prominent son-in-law, apostle Amasa M. Lyman, were a part. (Recommended by Janet Packham at the April 5th semi-annual meeting.)
Biographies & Family Histories
Leo Lyman was the featured speaker at our 2018 TTFO Temple and Family History Day Presentation, and is a descendant of Amasa M. Lyman. Kay Lovell recommended this book in the March 2018 TTFO Newsletter. He wrote,
Few of us are well acquainted with the culture and circumstances of the Mormon settlements in the late 1800’s and the challenges they faced. One work that presents a new view on that period is “Amasa Mason Lyman, Mormon Apostle and Apostate: A Study in Dedication” by his descendent Edward Leo Lyman. The life and times of Amasa Lyman parallels and intertwines with Theodore Turley.
Theodore and Amasa joined the Church at approximately the same time. Both sacrificed much for the restored gospel. Both were close to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Amasa worked for Theodore in Nauvoo. One of Theodore’s daughters, Pricilla Rebecca, married Amasa as a polygamist wife. Both were original settlers in San Bernardino and both later relocated to Southern Utah. Both had a contentious relationship with Brigham Young and were excommunicated. Ultimately, both Theodore and Amasa had their blessings restored after their deaths.
Edward Lyman’s account of Amasa Lyman’s life gives a unique view of Mormon pioneers in the Western frontier and the world in which they lived. Lyman’s book is different than others because he gives a detailed account of Amasa’s life, both the good times and not so good times. Because Theodore’s life paralleled Amasa’s, this book provides a great view of Theodore’s later life about which little has been written.
Edward Leo Lyman taught history at North High School, Victor Valley College, California Polytechnic University at Pomona, and California State at San Bernardino. His book is available for purchase on Amazon.
The Theodore Turley Family Book (1978) compiled by Nancy Romans Turley: Book (out of print) and PDF
Many members of the Theodore Turley Family Organization worked for years to gather family history data and photographs in this colossal work covering the lives of Theodore Turley and his descendants through the 1970s. The volume has well over 500 pages, and because of it’s color is often just referred to as the “Red Book.” Physical copies are limited and can be expensive, but a digitized version of the book was created in 2002 by Robert Turley. (Contact us to get a copy of that PDF.) A text-only version of the book is available online via FamilySearch. Much of the material in the red book can be found in the “Memories” section in FamilySearch for Turley descendants. Some family members have also reproduced extensive material from the Red Book (plus additional research) on their own family history websites, such as Ann Lewis and Frances & Wally Gray. (We have also reprinted an updated version of Ella Mae Judd’s biography of Theodore Turley from the Red Book on our website.)