Isaac Turley

Born: 22 November 1837 in Churchville, Ontario, Canada1
Died: 4 December 1908 in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico2
Buried:  December 1908 at Panteón Municipal #02 (New Colonia Juarez Cemetery) in Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico3
FamilySearch ID: KWZD-SHV
FindaGrave Memorial ID: 37880201

Isaac was the son of Theodore Turley and Frances Kimberley.

Isaac married Sarah Greenwood on 11 March 1861, likely in Beaver County, Utah.4 Isaac was sealed to Sarah Greenwood on the same day that he married and was sealed to a plural wife, Clara Ann Tolton. They were sealed on 4 October 1867 at the endowment house in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. Isaac Turley had twelve children with each of his two wives.

Children of Isaac Turley (1837-1906) and his first wife, Sarah Greenwood (1844-1887):

  1. Isaac Marion Turley (1861-1876)
  2. Theodore Wilford Turley (1863-1930) m1. Mary Agnes Flake, m2. Sarah Ann Salina Smithson
  3. William Henry Turley (1865-1896) m. Mary Skousen
  4. Herman Turley (1868-1869)
  5. Alma Rubin Turley (1869-1938) m. Delilah Jane Willis
  6. Joseph Hartley Turley (1872-1941) m. Abbie Nina Cluff
  7. Frederick Turley (1874-1875)
  8. Hyrum Turley (1876-1946) m1. Pearl Sevy, m2. Lottie Babb Stockett
  9. George Albert Turley (1878-1908) m. Ida Belle Farnsworth
  10. Charles Dennis Turley (1881-1942) m1. Myrtle Hatch, m2. Roberta Flake Wood
  11. Sarah Ann Turley (1883-1883)
  12. John Andrew Turley (1885-1951) m. Electa Drucilla Westover

Children of Isaac Turley (1837-1908) and his second wife, Clara Ann Tolton (1852-1932):

  1. Edward Franklin Turley (1869-1940) m1. Ida Elizabeth Eyring, m2. Annie Sarah Martineau
  2. Esther Turley (1871-1963) m. David Alvin McClellan
  3. Frances Turley (1873-1953) m. Miles Archibald Romney
  4. Ernest Turley (1875-1957) m. Sarah Centenna Wilson
  5. Ida May Turley (1877-1877)
  6. Mary Ann Turley (1879-1880)
  7. Clara Ellen Turley (1881-1933) m. George Jasper Walser
  8. Moroni Turley (1883-1885)
  9. Rachel Turley (1885-1888)
  10. Isaac Turley, Jr. (1888-1977) m. Ida Mae Lake
  11. Walter Turley (1891-1891)
  12. Anna Priscilla Turley (1892-1935) m. Albert Van Wagoner
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Life Sketch

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Biographical Sketch from The Theodore Turley Family book (p. 86-88)

The following is a history of ISAAC TURLEY submitted by his son, ISAAC, with the help of his daughter, Viola T. Haws:

ISAAC TURLEY Sr., the eighth child in his parents’ fam­ily of five sons and five daughters, was born on November 22, 1837 to Frances Amelia Kimberley and Theodore Turley, in Churchville, Ontario, Canada. His maternal grandparents were Sarah Hitchens and Thomas Kimberley; his pater­nal grandparents were Eliza­beth Yates and William Turley.

ISAAC was born about eight months after his parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and while his father was laboring on his mission in Canada, to which he was called the day following his baptism in March 1837. He was named for Isaac Russell who baptized his father. In midsummer of 1838, they, with a company of converts, moved to Kirtland, Ohio where the main body of the Church was located, and it was there that they became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family. In the Spring of 1839, they moved to Nauvoo, in which city his father, Theodore Turley, built the first home to be built by the Saints. It was a neat, stone structure, located on the same block upon which Joseph Smith afterwards built the Nauvoo Mansion. About six months later, in September 1839, ISAAC’s father left for his mission to England. ISAAC was the baby of the family during those historic events. His youngest sister, CHARLOTTE, was born after his father left
for his mission.

At a very young age, ISAAC took a great interest in helping to do chores for the Prophet Joseph Smith, such as feeding and watering his favorite riding horse, a chestnut sorrel, named “Joe Duncan”. It was a great source of pride to him to know that the Prophet trusted him to do the various chores for him. It was through this service that he rendered, as well as the opportunity to live close to the leaders of the Church, that ISAAC developed a great love for them and for the Gospel. He was very proud that his father had been selected by the Prophet to be one of his body guards.

Some of ISAAC’s earliest recollections were of the uncertainty and persecutions of the converts to the Church by the unrelenting mob. Before ISAAC’s eighth birthday, the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, were martyred in Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844. About two years later, conditions became more traumatic for the saints: many lost their lives, homes were burned, and their possessions destroyed. They were compelled to leave the state of Illinois and go west to the Rocky Mountains.

When the saints left for the West, Hyrum’s widow and family were numbered with the same company as Theodore Turley and his family. ISAAC, then eleven years of age, and Joseph F. Smith, Hyrum’s son, ten years of age, were each given a yoke of oxen and a wagon to manage, which was quite objectiona[bl]e to some of the men, but Theodore promised them that he would see to it that the boys would do alright. Some of the men in the company objected to Sister Smith and her family going west at that time, because Joseph F. was not yet old enough to assume the necessary responsibility to help his mother on such a long journey, but Theodore told the men that she could travel in his part of the company, and he would see that she and her family would be taken care of.

One day, on their way along the Platte River, there were many carcuses of dead buffalo, which caused the oxen to stampede and become uncontrollable, but to ISAAC and Joseph F., that was fun. So they lanced their oxen, making them run faster and faster, until they were ready to stop and be guided back on the trail. As they camped that night, the men were very happy to recognize the boys’ ability to manage the oxen. ISAAC and Joseph F. were close friends as they shared the many experiences along the arduous trek to the Rocky Mountains.

Because of the scarcity of food, the people had to re­sort to making soup from the hides and bones of the dead buffalo along the trail on the Platte. As the result of eating such food, the severe weather conditions, and other hardships, many people became ill, and a great number of them died. ISAAC’s mother, Frances Amelia, was one of them. She died on August 30, 1847 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. His father’s fourth wife, Sarah Ellen Clift, had died also at Winter Quarters on May 4, 1847.

According to the Turley Family Records, Theodore Turley and his families arrived at Winter Quarters before November 28, 1846, and went on to Utah in the year 1849, or early in 1850, for their names appear on the Census Record. Accord­ing to the family records, Theodore lost three children in 1846, three children in 1847, one child in 1848, (one child was born in 1847, and no death date is recorded, so it is as­sumed that she died shortly after birth during the hardships at that time.) Thus, eight of his children and two of his wives were buried along the trail west, most of them at, or near, Winter Quarters.

Those extreme hardships, and many others, tested the faith and strength of all of those brave souls who were able to endure to the end of their journey. ISAAC was about thirteen years of age when he and his father and the remaining members of his family arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley.

Late in 1850, or early in the Spring of 1851, ISAAC and his father and other members of his family, along with about 500 other saints, went to settle the San Bernardino, Calif­ornia area. ISAAC helped his father clear the land and plant fruit trees. While there, he learned to speak Spanish fluent­ly, which was a great advantage to him the rest of his life.

In 1857 the leaders of the Church learned that Johnson’s Army from the Eastern part of the United States was on its way to invade Utah territory, so President Brigham Young asked that all of the saints from the outlying territories return to Utah. Theodore and part of his family complied with his request.

ISAAC later went back to San Bernardino, and there he married SARAH GREENWOOD on March 11, 1861. To them were born twelve children (eleven sons and one daughter). Soon after their marriage, ISAAC and SARAH moved to Minersville, Utah. About three years later, they move on a short distance to Beaver. While there, ISAAC became acquainted with CLARA ANN TOLTON and they were married and sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on October 4, 1867. He was sealed to his first wife, SARAH, on the same day. To ISAAC and CLARA ANN were born twelve children (seven daughters and five sons).

During the ten years they lived in Beaver, ISAAC was in charge of the Beaver Co-op Cattle Corp. and ran a Co-op Butcher Shop. He, being a very good blacksmith, did a great deal of that type of work as well. While in Beaver, ISAAC’s father, Theodore Turley, passed away in that city on August 12, 1871 after suffering several years from cancer of the mouth.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s during the Black Hawk War, many of the white men’s cattle were stolen and driven away by the various tribes of Indians, and some white men were killed. President Young called ISAAC to serve as the Lieutenant Officer to recruit as many men as he deemed nec­essary in striving to bring about a peaceful relationship between the white people and the Indians. He and the men who worked with him undertook many dangerous missions as they carried out their assignments, traveling on horseback over Beaver County and around the settlements along the Sevier River, They covered an extensive area during cold or warm weather. ISAAC served on this assignment during the seven years of the war, furnishing his own horses and supplies, without remuneration.

On one occasion, a big buck Indian ambushed the white men. ISAAC saw the buck, and he immediately dropped off the opposite side of his horse and cut the Indian a blow in the chest with a rifle shot. The Indian dropped down in the brush, and left as fast as he could possibly escape. When ISAAC arrived at the area, no one was to be found, but there were blood splashes on rocks and brush. He had made his get-away. ISAAC and the other men followed the Indian many miles but were unable to overtake him. Three years later, in a store on the Sevier, ISAAC walked up to an old buck Indian and asked, “Where have I seen you?” And he replied, “Do you remember three years ago when I thought I had you for my bacon, and you slipped off and hit me before I thought you could? I crawled and hobbled for fifteen miles. Doc Bill (an Indian doctor) pulled me through.” He opened his shirt and showed ISAAC the scars on his chest and on his shoulder blade.

In another instance, one of the men, named John Butler, who was asked to labor with ISAAC in establishing peace with the Indians, jumped out from the brush where they were hiding from the warriors. ISAAC shouted, “Get back, or you’ll be shot!” Before Butler could move, he was shot in the chest, and he dropped like a dead man. ISAAC and the other men dragged him into the brush and there one man had to stand on his body while another pulled with all his might to remove the arrow from between his ribs. They took him back to the settlement at Kanosh, Utah, to a doctor. His life was spared and he lived for several years afterward.

On another occasion, an Indian shot an arrow through ISAAC’s ear, slitting it in two pieces. Later, an arrow was shot through the crown of his hat, and another one pierced his vest at the side of his body, but he was never seriously injured, which verifies a promise that was given to him in a special blessing by President Brigham Young in which he told him that if he would try to do the right thing by the Indians and would not seek to draw blood, they would not take his life.

At the October Gen[er]al Conference in 1876, ISAAC was called by President Young to take his family to Arizona and help establish settlements there, along with Daniel W. Jones and others. ISAAC was named Wagon Master of the Company. He left Beaver City about January 1, 1877, with SARAH and her boys, and met the rest of the company at St. George, Utah, where they started their journey together on January 10th, and arrived on the Salt River, Arizona Territory March 6, 1877. ISAAC pitched his tent the first night about where the Lehi School now stands, and he and his boys helped in clearing land and digging out the ancient Indian Canal, which was to be their means of irrigation.

Due to the heat of the desert at Jonesville (Lehi) and SARAH’s health, ISAAC returned to Utah the following September and attended October Conference in Salt Lake City. Pres­ident Young had passed away on August 29, 1877, so ISAAC explained their circumstances to President John Taylor, who released him from his Mission with the Jones Company. He was then called to help settle the St. Joseph, Arizona area on the Little Colorado River, near Sunset and Brigham City, where the United Order was being established.

On his way South, ISAAC went by Beaver City, where he had left CLARA ANN and her children. He sold their homes and left Beaver with three large new wagons loaded with flour and provisions, one light spring wagon, 200 head of cattle, and a band of 100 horses and brood mares. He put all of his earthly possessions into the United Order, except one sack of flour, which he divided between his two families and which they ate only on very special occasions. It is not really surprising to note that those who contributed little, or nothing, to the United Order were quick with their criticism of ISAAC for withholding that one sack of flour for his fam­ilies, which only bears out the well-know adage: “When a mule is busy pulling, he doesn’t have time to kick !”

He did the blacksmithing for the camp, as well as shoeing the horses and oxen and assisting with the dairying and farm­ing . He worked from four o’clock in the morning until sun­down and dark at night, but the day was never too long, and he was never too tired to draw his family around him after the evening meal and read from the Bible about the life of the Savior and to have family prayer.

The United Order in Joseph City lasted only three or four years. ISAAC came out with only part of that which he had put in, but with that, he was able to make a new start for himself in Snowflake, 45 miles away, where he moved with his families on May 7, 1881. There he bought three city lots: one for each family and one for a blacksmith shop. He bought a dry farm 22 miles away in the mountains and raised good crops of corn, wheat, etc., and herded their horses at Mormon Lake. He did blacksmithing, farming and stockraising during the five years they lived in Snowflake. He was Deputy .Sher­iff there, and the children attended public school. They built homes, planted gardens and orchards, and were happily situated during the time they were there.

Conditions became very difficult for the people who were living plural marriage. Many of the men were sent to prison in the Federal Penitent[i]aries at Yuma, Chicago and elsewhere. They had to either put away their wives, leave the country, or go to prison. ISAAC decided to go to Old Mexico, since the Church Leaders had suggested that area as a possible place of refuge for those who were being persecuted.

In the Spring of 1885, ISAAC took SARAH and most of her family, along with enough livestock and horses for their use. They were among the first settlers who went into Mexico; ISAAC was the Wagon Master of that group. They first stopped for a short time in Corralitos, but they soon found that this was not a satisfactory area in which to establish settlements.

In February, the pioneers traveled on into the Casas Grandes Valley and settled in an area which they called Turley’s Camp, which is now San Jose, across the river from Colonia Dublan. ISAAC was called to be the Presiding Elder of Turley’s Camp, comprising more than twenty-five families. They soon decided to leave that area and move on south and west, about ten miles from the Mexican town called Casas Grandes Viejo. They established their camp near the San Diego Ranch, located on the Rio Verde.

After building an adobe house for SARAH and her family, and preparing for the planting of crops, he returned to Snowflake to get CLARA ANN and her children, and the belongings that he had left there. Just beyond the border, as they were going into Mexico, he felt very uneasy about SARAH, so he left CLARA ANN and her children to make the rest of the trip alone while he rushed on ahead on horse-back to see what could be wrong. When he arrived back at the settlement, he found the people returning in their wagons from the cemetery where they had just buried SARAH. She had passed away, after a brief illness, on January 13, 1887, at the age of 43 years. JOHN, her baby, was 21 months old.

The following Spring, after the crops were planted and more homes had been built, the people received a notice from Chihuahua City, telling them that they had established residence on ground within the survey of the San Diego Ranch, and it would be necessary for them to move on up the river about three miles. With this they complied, and they reestablished themselves in the area that is known as Colonia Juarez. ISAAC, along with other townsmen, helped to lay the plans for the streets, blocks, home-sites and public buildings.

Apostle Erastus Snow, A. F. McDonald and Moses Thatcher, who were the leaders, called ISAAC, Jerome Judd, Orson P. Brown and others to explore areas in the mountains that would be adequate for town-sites and ranches for the settlers there to maintain a livelihood. Among the locations which were selected was Pratt’s Ranch, which was occupied by Helaman Pratt, on which property there were hot and warm springs which bubbled up from the earth. Some of the Colony people spent periods of time bathing there for health purposes. This ranch was twenty miles up the Rio Verde. The Parson Williams Ranch was located about three miles further up the river, west of Pratt’s Ranch. A few miles beyond that was “Cave Valley”, which received its name because of a huge cave found up high on the side of the mountain facing the east, looking over the beautiful valley and canyon, and timber-covered Garden of Eden. Within the cave, which covered at least one acre of ground, there was an immense urn, or oya, made by ancient inhabitants in which they had stored various kinds of corn and grain. The Urn is about fifteen feet high and reaches its widest diameter up about eleven feet, then tapers in about three feet in diameter, and then swells or flairs out to make it some wider at the top edge. The Urn was made of a mixture of grass and clay, and was glazed on the outside to keep moisture from penetrating its surface. When ISAAC procured a pole with which to climb up to investigate the workmanship and purpose of the Urn, he found inside many varieties of corn: yellow, dark blue, pale blue, grey, and red; and other types of seeds and grains which were placed in heavy buck­skin pouches, each holding about five gallons.

Fifteen miles farther south, following along the course of the Rio Verde, they selected a location which later was called Colonia Pacheco., Ridges and mountains slope down to the river’s edge, closing one little valley from another. Two miles south of Colonia Pacheco, they selected a ranch site, which later was Corrales Ranch, where the Lunts and Palmers homesteaded. Then about six miles east, on the river, another ranch site, later called “Hop Valley Ranch”, became an agri­cultural center and lumber camp. Continuing on south about eight miles, they entered a circular valley which they named “Round Valley.” A mile or so farther on, another [b]eautiful valley opened to view, which is Colonia Garcia. Surrounded with tall timber of pine and oak, the valley is situated on a gentle slope towards the center, and a little creek in rainy season drains the water into the main creek, which eventually is carried into the Verde River. This is a produc­tive valley for corn and vegetables, production of much cheese and butter, and a sawmill for the production of lumber and shingles.

Southeast of Colonia Garcia, “Mound Valley” was selected. Its name was derived from the mounds of earth that covered an ancient city of, apparently, considerable population. It is more in open country and must have been a great central place for the inhabitants of the surrounding country. There is an adjoining city area with a few rolling ridges separating the two. This was called “Meadow Valley”, and was in the high mountains. The ridges surrounding these valleys are covered with huge pines, some of whose trunks measure four to six feet in diameter.

About ten miles southwest of those valleys, they dropped down into a valley with a stream running through the center, which empties into the Valilan River, and in turn, empties into the Yackie River, and goes to the west coast. This is a good cattle ranch area, which was named “Juan de Dios”. From here they proceeded in a southeasterly direction about thirty miles, and they found themselves in a beautiful fer­tile valley surrounded by high mountains. This was named Colonia Chuichupa, an Indian name. It is an area of about 8,000 feet above sea level but far enough south that they can grow apples, pears, peaches, currents and strawberries. All of those valleys are good areas for raising vegetables, grain, dairy products, and for the production of lumber.

Those great men of courage felt that they had accomplished a great duty which was, in reality, a difficult one for the time and effort they spent to make those findings. As they were returning home, they decided to explore a more direct route to and from those valleys, excluding the river’s course. When they came to the crossing of the Rio Verde, near Colonia Pacheco, they turned East, and continued in that direc­tion to the top of the mountain, above the lower colonies. As they traveled, they decided what would be the most logical route for freighting lumber, shingles, ties, etc. down to the lower colonies, which could be used for the construction of homes and public buildings.

ISAAC, being ambitious in helping the colonies thrive in horticulture, hooked up a four-mule team with a large triple-bedded wagon and left in the winter of 1890 for San Bernardino, California, to obtain fruit trees of specified classes of fruit and grapes and shade trees from a nursery. It took him four months to make the trip. Upon his return to Colonia Juarez, he distributed trees to all who desired to raise fruit.

The colonies proved to be a very productive area for fruit growing. Today, out of Colonia Juarez alone, they ship to various parts of Mexico more than 2,000 car[loads] of fruit annually, with eight hundred boxes to each car. The quality of fruit compares well with any grown elsewhere. That was the beginning of the colonies’ fruit-production enterprises.

ISAAC, along with the McClellans, Johnsons, Spilsburys, Judds and others, helped in building roads into the mountains, digging ditches and developing other civic projects. In those days, also, one might hear ISAAC’s anvil ringing early and late from his blacksmith shop, that people might have wagons, plows, and teams shod for use on their farms and other purposes. In 1903 and 1904, he made all of the tools that were used for the cutting of the decorative pink sandstone on the windows, foundation and pillars of the Juarez Stake Academy.

As ISAAC lived among the natives of Mexico, he sensed a feeling of unrest among them, and heard their comments of dissatisfaction because of the inequality of the division of land ownership among those people, which cause him in 1906 to make a statement to this effect: “Beware of the conditions in the Republic of Mexico. There will be a terrible revolution very soon. Large land owners will have to divide their lands and possessions for the benefit of the thousands of families that have no land at all.” He felt that a revolu­tion would equalize the ownership of much of the property in Mexico. (The Mexican Revolution began in 1910. In 1912, nearly all of the Mormon people left their homes and belong­ings in Mexico, and fled to the United States.)

ISAAC’s son, ISAAC, JR., relates that upon one occasion when he and his father were on a trip to Colonia Dublan and Casas Grandes to take a load of fruit, they learned that Pres­ident Joseph F. Smith had arrived for Stake Conference, and for the dedication of the Juarez Stake Academy. Wanting to see his old friend, ISAAC Sr. immediately drove to the home of Helaman Pratt, first counselor in the Stake Presidency, where President Smith was staying. When ISAAC and Joseph F. met, after so many years, they threw their arms around each other and shed tears of joy. Together, they recalled past experiences and renewed the close feelings they had formerly felt. ISAAC JR., then about sixteen years of age, recalls the appreciation that President Joseph F. Smith expressed for the assistance that Theodore Turley and his family had rendered to him and his widowed mother as they crossed the Plains. After President Smith dedicated the Academy, ISAAC Sr. requested that he dedicate his home and eat dinner with him and his family. This was a memorable occasion.

For eight years ISAAC served on the Stake High Council during the leadership of Anthony W. Ivins, who was the Pres­ident of the Juarez Stake. It was always a source of great joy to him to be able to help others by contributing his means, crops, service, and encouragement to those who were in need, or who were not as blessed as were he and his family. He was a friend to all. He took particular interest in young people who needed the lift of an encouraging word to help them pursue a straight course. Honesty, sincerity, clean­liness of speech and action were outstanding in his character.

His main concern was for the well-being of his family, both temporally and spiritually. He felt, keenly, the challenge that his father, Theodore Turley, placed upon his shoulders when he said, “ISAAC, a great amount of Church activity and responsibility of “my descendants will be carried on through you and your posterity.”

In the fall of 1907, ISAAC’s health seemed to be failing. At the insistence of CLARA ANN and the children, he went to California to see [if] a rest and change of climate would effect improvement in his health. On that trip he was able to visit members of his family who had remained in California. Also, he visited his children in Northern Arizona, which lifted his spirits somewhat. However his condition did not improve a great deal. He suddenly became extremely ill, and about five days later, on December 3, 1908, he passed away at the age of 71 in the home that he had built in Colonia Juarez. His wife, CLARA ANN, and some of his children were with him. He was buried the following day beside his wife, SARAH, in the cemetery on the southwest side of town, which he had worked hard to help prepare as a final resting place for the townspeople.

May the traits that made him great, and that inspired the love and confidence of those who knew him, live on in us, his numerous posterity–then, even in death, his goals and purposes shall not fail.

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Important Places

Churchville, Ontario
Far West, Missouri
Nauvoo, Illinois
Winter Quarters & Kanesville
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Bernardino, California
Cedar City, Utah
Washington, Utah
Minersville, Utah
Beaver, Utah
St. Joseph, Arizona
Snowflake, Arizona
Colonia Juarez

  1. Family Memorial
  2. Isaac Turley’s civil death registration stated that he died at 12:30 a.m. on 4 Dec. 1908. Registros civiles del municipio de Casas Grandes, 1867-1963, p. 112-113, no. 66, death of Isaac Turley, 4 Dec. 1908, image 474 of digital film 7624493 at,, accessed July 2021.
  3. Family tradition states that Isaac died 3 Dec. 1908 and was buried “the following day,” understood as 4 Dec. 1908. His civil death record, though, indicated that he died at 12:30 a.m. on 4 Dec. 1908, so it’s unclear if the burial took place on 4 Dec. or 5 Dec., memorial page for Isaac Turley (22 Nov 1837–3 Dec 1908), memorial ID 37880201, citing Panteón Municipal #02, Colonia Juarez, Casas Grandes Municipality, Chihuahua, Mexico; Registros civiles del municipio de Casas Grandes, 1867-1963, p. 112-113, no. 66, death of Isaac Turley, 4 Dec. 1908, image 474 of digital film 7624493 at,, accessed July 2021.
  4. Although several family histories state that Isaac and Sarah were married in San Bernardino, California, I have not been able to locate them in any civil marriage records there from 1860 to 1865. Sarah Greenwood resided in Beaver with her parents in the 1860 census, and Isaac and Sarah’s first child was born in Minersville in December 1861. It seems unlikely that they would have traveled to California to be married in March 1861. Unfortunately, civil marriage records were not kept in Beaver County at that time.