Copied from the typescript publicly available at the FamilySearch Digital Library. Even though this was written by Theodore, historical records indicate not all the listed dates are accurate. Theodore likely wrote this at the end of his mission in 1840. (Capitalization and spelling reflect the typescript.)
Theodore Turley, son of William and Elizabeth (Yates) Turley, born in Birmingham England, April 10, 1800.
Emigrated to Canada 1825 with my wife Frances Amelia and two children. Commenced preaching Methodism in 1818.
Continued in that course in England and Canada, until Elder Parley P. Pratt came to Canada; baptized Elder Isaac Russell. He came to my house and said he had been warned in a dream that he must come to my house and preach. I received the truth the first time I heard it, and my wife also was baptized the 1st of March 1837.
Baptized, Confirmed and Ordained a Priest by Elder Parley P. Pratt March 1, 1837.
Called to take a mission March 2, 1837, built up a Church of 17 members in three weeks, among the members was Elders Mulholand, Stauding and Mulliner. Then I was ordained an Elder by P.P. Pratt, continued preaching until we went to Kirtland and from there to Missouri and remained one year. Was appointed one of the committee to remove the poor after Bogs’ extermination order. Remained there until all the saints were removed and Joseph Smith got out of prison. I was with the Twelve at the fulfilling of the revelation concerning the re-laying the foundation stone of the Temple in Far West and then taking leave to go upon a mission to Great Britain.
I was ordained a Seventy in Far West in 1838 by Heber C. Kimball. I came to Nauvoo with Joseph Smith the Prophet and built the first house that was built by a Mormon in Nauvoo; was one of the committee to fix the size of the lots and run off streets & Co. In September 21, 1839 was set apart by the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith, when John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff was to go to England. Went to Kirtland with Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, R. Hadlock, and John Taylor, received my Washings and Annointings under the hands of the Twelve. Went to England in Company with Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor. September the 12th, 1840 sailed with the first company of 209 Saints for Nauvoo.
Background of Theodore’s autobiography provided by Richard E. Turley, Jr., at the 2016 TTFO Temple and Family History Day Presentation. (As reported in the March 2018 Newsletter.)
[29:32] Years ago when I was doing work on Theodore Turley’s mission journal, I found in the BYU Special Collections a typescript of Theodore Turley’s journal. They had the actual journal there as well, so I was able to compare the typescript to the actual journal. And what I discovered is that the typescript had more information at the beginning than was in Theodore’s journal. So I got the original journal out, and I looked at it very, very carefully. There were no missing pages. So I asked myself the question, where did the typist get all of this additional information that was at the front of this typescript and that just smoothly flowed into the journal? And I had a couple theories, one of which was whoever created the typescript was a family historian who wasn’t particularly careful about distinguishing his or her own research from the journal itself. And they had just sort of thrown this information together and then let it smoothly flow into a typescript of the journal.
Years later in the 1990s, when I was managing director of the Church Historical Department, a patriarch from California walked into the Church Archives. He was there for the purpose of donating his patriarchal blessings, which patriarchs do from time to time. But he brought with him a series of papers that had been recently given to him. And the staff saw what he had and brought them in to me, and I talked with him.
This was his story. He said, “I’m in the movie industry in Southern California, and I have a friend who’s also in the movie industry. I’m a Latter-day Saint; he is not. One day, he and his wife were looking through some old papers in their possession which they were about to throw away. As they were going through their old papers they found this stack, and they noticed the name Joseph Smith. And they immediately recognized that as a famous name, and they knew that Joseph Smith was a Latter-day Saint prophet. So the man came to me and said, ‘If we give you these old papers, what will you do with them?’” [The patriarch] said, “I told them that if they gave them to me I would take them to Salt Lake City, and I would donate them to the Church Archives. So that’s what I’ve done,” he said.
Well, what he donated was Theodore Turley materials passed down through his daughter, Sarah, to this line of people who, the wife was probably a descendant. I don’t know the name, that’s been lost. But they eventually just walked into the Church History Library where they are today. It turned out to be, in Theodore Turley’s handwriting, a personal history that he had drafted as a kind of prelude to his mission journal. And so we now have this personal history, which will be included in the [Theodore Turley] Papers, in which he describes his early life. [32:38]