Autobiography of Samuel Turnbow
Samuel Turnbow, born in Lexington, Kentucky, on the 16th day of October, 1804. My Father was Isaac Turnbow who, at the time of his death, lived in Forkdeer, Tennessee. He fought in the Revolutionary War, and he died in his 106th year and 11 day. In course of time, my father moved from Kentucky State to Tennessee State and in the year of 1812 he and two of his brothers (Robert and Jacob) enlisted to serve in the United States service during the war of 1812 under General Andrew Jackson, at which time they were successful in victory. When peace came, my father moved into the so called Indian Country. He soon decided to leave this wilderness and moved on to Canahauba River, Perry county, Alabama, where he resided until his death June 11, 1827.
Many years previous to his death there were many religious parties raised up among the people throughout the surrounding county as well as in the neighborhood. These parties pretended great religious revivals by saying the day of the coming of the Lord was soon at hand and that he would come in the cloud in the heavens in great power and glory. My father was also visited by the people and he conversed with them about the preparatory work that should first take place before the time of Christ's appearance in the clouds. He said, "There shall first be raised up among you a prophet, and Apostles who will preach the Gospel to this generation." That this was near at hand, even at their doors and that this must be done in fulfillment of the word given by the prophets to prepare the way for the coming of the Christ on earth, and thus he continued to talk until the last day and night before he departed this life.
He spoke much unto those that stood in the house and watched at his bedside. I stood at the head of his bed and listened to all that he said, for I did love to hear the word that my father spoke unto his friends about the great events that should take place. That a great Prophet would soon appear among the people, a prophet who would declare the principles of the everlasting Gospel. He called me in the morning, by name and said unto me, "Have you heard all the words I have spoken unto my friends?" I answered, "Yes."
"My son, you have honored your father and mother, and your days will be long upon the earth and you will see that Great Prophet who shall come to prepare the way, who will bring back the former blessings, and the Church of Christ will once more be established, with all its gifts, with Apostles who will receive Revelations from God, with the power to heal the sick, and all the gifts as it was in the ancient Church. And you, My son, will do great and good works on the earth through your life, for you will see much of this good work wrought in your days."
My labor was then continued on the homestead as our occupation was to cultivate the farm and to raise stock where by an honest livelihood was sustained to the good of my family. (My brothers having gone to other states, these duties fell to my lot even though I was the youngest son.)
On the 13th day of November, 1833, I was laid down upon my bed when an aged person appeared at my bedside and said, "Arise and go with me." At this word I wondered where I was to go, for it was very dark and I could not see my way, but he said, "Start on," and I did, and I perceived before me a small strand of light, and he said, "Keep in the narrow way of light for on either side is death." At the hearing of these words I began to pray unto the Lord, asking that the light become more clear, so that I might see this narrow path more clearly. Behold the light grew brighter and more bright, as I traveled on my way and now - whole on the journey, behold a dark and very dismal cloud appeared to come my way, and now I began to pray more abundantly. I walked on and the light became more brilliant, and I felt much strengthened to go on my way, until I met another very terrifying, fierce, and very angry cloud, and it broke out in great and very terrifying thunder, insomuch that the Heavens and the earth did shake terribly.
I did bow down upon the earth and prayed incessantly to my God, that my life might be preserved, and my prayers were heard, and the fierce element was dispersed, and I found myself surrounded with a much more glorious light which caused me to rejoice and I continued to follow this light as I was commanded, and I came to a house where I saw the Prophet Joseph Smith, preaching the First Principles of the Gospel. He consecrated a bottle of Olive Oil and set it apart for the healing of the sick, and the opening of the eyes of the blind, and the bringing the ears of the deaf to hear, and to bring the lame to walk. He anointed a sick woman and blessed her, and she was made well and the blind man received his sight, and, likewise he anointed a deaf man and his hearing returned. These things passed before my eyes, and I knew this man was a righteous man, and a holy Prophet of God.
I then was led into a large white house and I beheld the Prophet's Uncle, John Smith, the Patriarch, and he laid his hands upon me and blessed me, and I saw the Saints receive their anointings and beheld that they received their blessings in a Temple. Then I went out of the house of the Lord and stopped to look up at the heavens, and I beheld the Angel of the Lord in the Heavens above, a trumpet in his hands and he raised it in his hand as if to give sound, but he uttered the word "Time" and then he said "Time shall be no more." And then he came to earth and he placed one foot on the sea and he placed the other foot on the land, and the elements were moved into the falling of the stars from the upper deep, and there became great distress and consternation upon all the face of the earth, and all the heavens weeped, because of the awful destruction that fell upon the children of men that dwell upon this earth, and I was brought to see myself in the usual bed in my home.
My labors now continued on the homestead until the death of my mother (Margaret Talkington Turnbow) August 5, 1835. At this time I moved about two miles distance from my parents' home. All the things proved favorable until the year 1840. At this time a man visited my home who proved to be an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by name Benjamin Clapp. He taught me the plan of salvation by preaching the first principles of the Gospel as it is to be found in the records revealed in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine of Covenants, which I did receive joyfully and yielded obedience to the mandates of heaven and was baptized in March, 1840 and was successful in the building up of a branch of the church, numbering 56 members and by the faithful discharge of duties I remained until the spring of the year 1844, at that time, I, in obedience to appointments, filled a traveling mission to the Mississippi. Here I preached wherever my lot was cast among the inhabitants of the county and held a general Conference in the Month of July, and returned home about the middle of the month of August.
At that time my wife had been on a visit at one of our member's brothers (John Utley) where she had been ministering to their sick daughter, who had said that if Elder Turnbow could be there to minister to her the ordinance of the Holy Anointing, she would be restored to health. My wife, on returning home, reported the circumstances. I immediately turned from my house and went with Brother Utley and ministered this Holy Ordinance, and the daughter was instantly raised up unto perfect health and strength, and the tears of sorrow of the family were removed from them for they had said she was dead and the last word that she had spoken was that she might be ministered to by me, and to accomplish her desire I had come just in time. This miraculous manifestation ordered by revelation through the Holy Priesthood where in all gave praise and thanksgiving to the giver of all good gifts.
My labors were then continued as before until the autumn of 1845, when Elder Wm. Steward came with a circular to leave Nauvoo, for the Church was then to move into the wilderness. To fill this council I then sold all that I possessed, and came by steamboat to Nauvoo about the middle of February, 1846. Here I made all necessary preparations to go on after the Camps of Israel, who were then traveling through Iowa, with an outfit of wagons and cattle also provisions. In company with Elder W.W. Woodruff and A.O. Smoot we left early in the month of June, and came to Mt. Pisca (Ohio). A child was taken sick and died and was buried on the way. After the burial Elder Smith and his wife took out their suits of Temple Clothes and when I saw them I did recognize them as those that I had seen in the vision in the year 1833, and these Holy raiments were showed unto my good wife and men, and she did acknowledge that her husband had described this clothing to her exactly as they were then presented. Time and time had these things been made mention of, as the most beautiful of all things to behold for the Saints to be clothed in. These things drew away our weight of sorrow at heart and we both felt comforted with the hope the someday in the future we would be worthy to receive our endowment s and be strengthened to go forward in the works of the Church, and the blessing of the Lord were realized.
In company with my Brethren and sisters in our journeyings in the then Indian Country, which we had to pass through at this critical time the company continued on until we came up with the camp at Council Bluffs on the 15th of July, 1846. It was then and there that I saw on the next day the members of the Mormon Batallion have their farewell party and heard the President Brigham young give his instructions to the officers and Batallion. At that time I beheld five hundred young men, marching off leaving their wives and children on the campground, destitute of every necessary comfort of life. Some mothers of children, soon after their husbands left them died and were buried, and others were very sick. Many children were left motherless and fatherless and must be cared for by all who could help them. One woman in her distracted state threw herself into a shallow creek and held onto weeds on the bottom until she had drowned and I fetched her out dead, and many others died from want and exposure. In witnessing these things I was blessed in doing good to all that I could give a helping hand.
We moved across the river where hay was cured and provided for our stock for the approaching winter. Houses and places of shelter had to be provided for all the destitute. We were but a few men and mostly old and aged left to care for the remaining camps. It fell to my lot to raft the logs down the river to supply the people with timber, and then I left camp and took my teams and wagon with my son and me and proceeded down into the state of Missouri, where I had great success in obtaining provisions for our brethren, and I was greatly blessed of the Lord in all my endeavors to do good to the people in the helpless condition, unto that they may remember their father who has sought to lay a foundation of good works for them to build upon, and to follow my example in the fear of God who has dealt mercifully with his people in this generation where I do acknowledge his hand in all things that I know and all good that is done.
In the month of January 1847, Patriarch John Smith gave me my patriarchal blessing (in fulfillment of that blessing I received, while in the vision of the year 1833). I had this bestowed upon my head by his own free expression, being prompted by the spirit of is Patriarchal office, in the everlasting covenant, which is in fulfillment of all my desires and ever will be a comfort to me and my posterity after me.
The pioneers left for the valleys of the Mountains in the month of February, and the June following, we moved onto the Horn, and organized, and I was set apart as a captain of ten in Capt, A.O. Smoot's company of fifty, and we continued across the plains after the pioneers, and met the pioneers at Pacific Springs on their return trip to Winter Quarters, where we camped together. A sharp reproof was given by President Brigham Young to those that sought to make different organization from that of Wisdom dictated in him before he left us in the spring. The chastisement was received by those concerned, and according to their desires they were forgiven. We then continued on our journey to Salt Lake Valley about the first of October 1847, where I began to operate with my might in union with my brethren to secure our self and families from being molested by our red brethren, the natives of the wilderness, being favored with pleasant weather through the winter season, during which time a general effort was made to break land and cultivate the soil, and all sorts of grain and seeds was sown and planted in good hopes to raise a plentiful harvest, which was successfully done by a general steady labor in fighting the crickets and making ditches for the convenience of watering our farm lands and gardens. About the last of July, through the rain clouds that came in our favor, with it also the great seagulls in great white clouds. These devoured our surrounding country, the raising grounds above our farms and devoured the crickets and we were relieved in our arduous toil in fighting our common foe. On the anniversary day held in remembrance of the arrival of the pioneers of 1847, our tables abounded with plenty of our production from our new farms and gardens with was gratefully enjoyed by all the saints and some strangers that had come in our midst shared alike with us.
There was a constant labor performed in January and improvements made into the spring of 1856, at this time I was appointed to go to Las Vegas on a mission. A farm was made in progression and also labors performed in the lead mine. In company with my brothers, who were engaged in that business, and as it proved to b our own disadvantage and finally became a failure, we returned home in the year 1857 and came to my former residence. Then came Buchanans Army and I made all the necessary arrangements to prepare for a move to Lehi. After making all things comfortable for my family, I returned and tended my farms and raised a splendid crop for the support of my family, and when all peaceful alliances had been made, my family was brought safely home again, and we continued in our peaceful, harmonious life for many years.
Through this peaceful duration of time, I had another vision. Being taken in the spirit, I saw a renewal of that vision from 1833 and what should take place in the same time. In the future the destruction of Nations, and that within the next years that Savior would make his appearance amongst his people. In consequence of so many conflicting scenes that have been the experience of my travel through existent life, and marvelous manifestations of the power of the over-ruling hand of God, made known unto me, in the bringing to pass the deliverances of his people from all their dangerous foes of every description that can be mentioned. As my lot has been cast amongst the best of friends of God, and in his fellowman, I thought it wisdom to write but a few lines. In what is written will be seen the hand of our God in fulfillment of the words spoken by the spirit of prophecy, through his faithful servants and the fulfillment of those things made known to me by the visitations of Holy Angels as perchance I, by the grace of God, have been permitted to enjoy and mentally and physically and to the relief of my afflictions of a physical nature. I had been taken sick much and was restored to health by the power of the Priesthood, and the blessing of the ordinance of the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the time of my recovery from my illness in the fall of the year, 1876, two special Elders came to visit my home and my family. I enjoyed much comfort their united faith in the Lord, one of them, when they left me to go to the homes in the south, said "If we leave you, you will have visitors to make up our absence." And this came to pass. In the first part of December, I saw myself setting in an armchair in my room and a man clothed in grey clothes, sitting on my sofa and I looked upon this person as one whom I had seen before in my previous visions while I had been in the spirit with him, for he appeared naturally as one of my old friends and I desired to call him by name, but I could not give utterance until he spake to me first, and said "What do you think of affairs as they are now?" I then answered and said, "It appears to me as there will be a great war pending through the United States." He then said, "Yes. There will be a great bloodshed through the whole world," and I now desired to call him by name, but did not want to let him know that I had not his name in my memory. I saw then Brother John come by name he said, "I have returned to see you again," when I congratulated him as my welcome guest, he then looked at my companion, who still remained in his seat on the sofa, and my friend John recognized him and stepped up to him and shook his hand with the warmth of brothers saying, "I'm glad to see you Moroni, you have come to visit my friend, Brother Turnbow." He replied "Yes, I do visit your friends" and disappeared. I found myself filled with much joy, and I more abundantly feel prepared to be visited by his messengers, as shall be his will. Amen
Reference: Journal of Samuel Turnbow
A Vision of Father Samuel Turnbow
He was traveling down the state road going to his field to work when his horses were frightened and ran away. He was thrown from the wagon and was picked up apparently dead and lay seriously ill for weeks, and during this time one of his old friends by the name of Jonathan Pugmyer dide (sic) and he frequently asked how Br. Pugmyer was and they always told him that he was better, and the Night he had this vision his Spirit left the body and went to the Spirit World and the first person that he met was his old friend Jonathan Pugmyer as he was always called and he greeted him and said well old Friend you have come but not to stay this time and then he saw his wife that had been dead for years and in great joy he threw open his armes and said Sylvira come to me but she did not move and there was a person standing by her and they seemed to understand each other at a glance and he said again more earnest Sylvira won't you come to me and still she did not move but both of them looked at him and smiled and then just like a flash he thought of another Name and called her by that name and she rushed to his armes and greeted him and just at this time there came a man dressed in a beautiful suit of gray clothes and he told him the names of over one hundred of his relatives and then told him that he must return now to his body and do the work for them and as soon as he came to himselfe he called his son Franklin and told him to get his pen and Ink and write down the Names as he told them to him and he did so and after he was better he learned by writing to his cousin Pleasant C. Turnbow in the South that the Names and relationship was correct and he came to the House of the Lord and with the help of his children and friends he completed a record worthy of being proud of and he has now gon to enjoy the happiness that he had the pleasure of tasting in his dream and his last words to me was Sophronia look after the poor and the afflicted and be faithful and come home to father.
Transcribed from Samuel Turnbow's "Genealogical and Blessing Book."