Churchville, Ontario

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Historical Overview

Family significance: Theodore and Frances moved to Churchville, Ontario, around 1830. Two of their children were buried there, likely in the Churchville Cemetery. Theodore and Frances were introduced to missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while living in Churchville. They were baptized in March 1837 and moved south to gather with other Latter-day Saints the following year.

Historical overview coming soon.

Ann Lewis standing next to the Churchville Village sign, courtesy of Ann Lewis

Watercolor Painting of Churchville in the 1830s by Brian Turner

Note: the original watercolor painting pictured above was created by Brian Turner, a professional artist in Canada. View the painting at his website where you can zoom in and see the incredible details. The artist’s description: “Visited by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1837. The large white home in the center of the painting was an inn built in 1831 and is still standing today. It is likely that the prophet Joseph would have visited the inn while meeting with members in Churchville.”

Dedication of historical marker commemorating early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Churchville (8 July 2017)

Photo from Canadian Newsroom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Original caption: Richard E. Turley Jr., managing director of Public Affairs for the Church, with Helen Warner, public affairs director for the Brampton Ontario Stake, and Sarah Pengilley, representative of the Churchville Cemetery Board, surround the historic marker honouring the early Mormon converts in Churchville, Ontario. Courtesy of Tammy Morse.

Early Mormons in Churchville

In August 1837, Joseph Smith, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), came to Churchville, Ontario. Here, he and other Church leaders visited and preached to recent converts to the faith.

A year earlier, in April 1836, missionary Parley P. Pratt, travelled to Toronto and neighbouring areas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing copies of the Book of Mormon, and introducing the Church to those who listened. Hundreds believed his words and the message of other missionaries who followed him.

Those converted became missionaries themselves, sharing their newfound religion and the Book of Mormon with family and friends in Churchville and other communities. As a result, leaders organized numerous congregations to support the growing Church membership.

During his stay in Churchville, Joseph Smith encouraged the new converts to gather with the main body of the Church. Most followed his counsel, gathering with other members of the Church in the United States, eventually settling in the American West. An estimated 2,000 converts moved from Ontario. They made significant contributions as settlers, missionaries, and leaders.

historic marker Placed in the churchville cemetery by the Brampton Ontario Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2017

Ontario Canada Church History Conference July 8, 2017
By Natalie Tanner (from the March 2018 Theodore Turley Family Newsletter)

My husband David and I had a wonderful time at the first Canadian LDS History conference. Canada is celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2017, and this conference was part of that commemoration. It was held in July at the Brampton, Ontario Stake Center, located right next to the Toronto LDS Temple. The whole event was extremely well planned out and well attended. The organizers did an amazing job putting this event together. There were a number of Stakes included as well as the missionaries from the Toronto Mission. Attendees and presenters came from all over Canada.

Richard Turley, Jr. was the keynote speaker and the visiting authority. People were so thrilled that he was willing to participate. He gave a great address about the early church in Canada and Theodore Turley’s part in that history.

The Cultural Hall was filled with exhibits as well as a “living statues” presentation, where you could go up to a person dressed in period costumes and they would give you a first person biography of the historical figure they were depicting. One of these people was Theodore Turley. These individuals were played by missionaries as well as local members of the church. The displays and “living statues” were very well done, and a lot of time went into making it very interesting.

After the conference was over a number of us went to the nearby Churchville Cemetery where Richard Turley, Jr. gave a beautiful dedication to a historical marker commemorating the early saints in the Churchville area. Theodore Turley has two family members buried in the small, but beautiful cemetery, but their location within the cemetery is unknown. Special and complicated permission from the Churchville community had to be granted for this marker to be placed in the cemetery by the Brampton Stake. It was a beautiful day, in a beautiful location with perfect weather.

Just a few hundred yards from the Cemetery is the location of the Theodore Turley property on the beautiful Credit River. It was our first time to this area and very exciting to stand in some of the same places and see some of the same views that the Turley family would have experienced some 180 years ago. We were very grateful for this experience and for the wonderful hospitality shown by the organizers of the conference. I wish we’d have had more notice so that more people could have joined us. It was a delightful place to visit that we’d love to return to some time.

Related Links

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

From Ann Lewis’ website:


The Turley family, then consisting of Theodore, Frances, Theodore Jr., Frances A., Mary Ann, and Priscilla Rebecca, moved from York to Churchville, Ontario, sometime between 1829 and 1832.

May 23: A son, Frederick Turley, was born to Theodore Turley and Frances Kimberley in Churchville, Ontario. He was their fifth child.1

June 20: Theodore and Frances purchased a seventy-five acre tract of land in Churchville from Erastus Wiman.2
July 5: A child, Obia Turley, was born to Theodore and Frances. The baby only lived a few weeks.3
July 29: Obia Turley was buried in Churchville, Ontario.4

May 15: Theodore and Frances mortgaged their seventy acres for fifty pounds to a local shopkeeper.5
September 24: A daughter was born to Theodore and Frances in Churchville. They named her Sarah Elizabeth Turley.6

March 1: Theodore Turley and his wife, Frances, were baptized and become members of The Church of Jesus Christ. Missionary Isaac Russell most likely performed the baptism.7
April 24: Parley P. Pratt ordained Theodore to the office of a priest at a church conference in Churchville.8
August 3: Theodore and Frances sold their seventy-five acre tract of land in Churchville for three-hundred-twenty-five pounds. Fellow Latter-day Saint William Law was one of the two witnesses to the property transfer.9
September: Theodore was called on a mission to Canada. He later reported he “Built up a Church . . . of 17 members in 3 wekes[;] among the Number was Elder Mulholand[,] Standing & Mulliner.”10
November 9: Theodore wrote a letter to his friend, Isaac Russell, who was on a mission in England. Theodore reported on a recent trip to Kirtland, Ohio, where he had the opportunity to visit with Russell’s family. Theodore also mentioned missionary efforts and the recent death of his son, Theodore Turley, Jr.11
November 22: A son was born to Theodore and Frances in Churchville. They named him Isaac, after their friend Isaac Russell who introduced them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.12

Theodore and Frances left Churchville and traveled with a group of fellow Latter-day Saints to settle in Far West, Missouri. The group was led by Elder Almon W. Babbitt. Theodore later recalled that he, Frances, and their six children (Frances A., Mary Ann, Priscilla, Frederick, Sarah, and Isaac) made the journey with two wagons and four horses.13

July 8: Dedication of historical marker in Churchville Cemetery by Richard E. Turley, Jr., commemorating early Latter-day Saints in Churchville.14

Places to Visit

  • Churchville Cemetery – two of Theodore Turley’s children were likely buried at the Churchville Cemetery: Theodore Turley, Jr., and Obia Turley. In 2017, a historical marker was placed in the cemetery commemorating early Latter-day Saints in Churchville. See description of dedication above.
Churchville Cemetery, photo by Ann Lewis
  • Credit River – baptisms of early Latter-day Saints were performed in the Credit River. The views pictured below are from property that belonged to Theodore Turley.
Views from the Turley property along the Credit River, Churchville, Canada, photos by Natalie Tanner and shared in the March 2018 Theodore Turley Family Newsletter

  1. Family Memorial-Frances Kimberley. Frederick was named after Theodore’s little brother, Frederick, who died in England just two years earlier, in July 1830. Theodore’s brother was only seventeen years old. For more information, see the Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter installment by Richard E. Turley, Jr., “2: The Pre-Conversion Canadian Years.”
  2. See Richard E. Turley, “2: The Pre-Conversion Canadian Years,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series, citing Toronto Township Deeds No. 11149.
  3. It is unclear is Obia was a boy or a girl. Family Memorial-Frances Kimberley.
  4. Family Memorial-Frances Kimberley.
  5. Richard E. Turley, “2: The Pre-Conversion Canadian Years,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series.
  6. Family Memorial-Frances Kimberley.
  7. Although Theodore seems to suggest Parley P. Pratt baptized them in his personal life sketch written c. 1840, that is impossible; Pratt was in Kirtland, Ohio, on March 1st. See Richard E. Turley, Jr., “3: Joining the Latter-day Saints,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series.
  8. Historical Department journal history of the Church, 1830-2008; 1830-1839; 1837; Church History Library, accessed 27 April 2020, See also Richard E. Turley, Jr., “4: Church Life in Canada, 1837-1838,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series.
  9. Toronto Township Deeds No. 14467.
  10. Transcription by Richard E. Turley, Jr., in “4: Church Life in Canada, 1837-1838,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series. See also Theodore’s personal history written circa 1840. Samuel Mulliner was baptized 10 September 1837 (FamilySearch ID KWJY-JSG). James Standing was baptized 24 September 1837 (FamilySearch ID KWV3-VYZ).
  11. View transcript of letter here. Russell, Isaac 1807-1844. Isaac Russell correspondence, accessed 15 April 2020, See also Richard E. Turley, Jr., “4: Church Life in Canada, 1837-1838,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series.
  12. Family Memorial-Frances Kimberley; Richard E. Turley, Jr., “4: Church Life in Canada, 1837-1838,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series
  13. Richard E. Turley, Jr., “5: Gathering with the Saints, 1838,” Theodore Turley: A Biography newsletter series, citing Theodore’s missionary diary.
  14. The dedication was held in conjunction with the Ontario Church History Conference. See description of dedication above.