JOHN GILLENROY TURNBOW
Pioneer of 184 7
(Written by Pauline Joyce Turnbow Bronson, great-granddaughter in 2003)
Autumn colors were beginning to splatter paint on the hills around Hamburg, Perry County, Alabama where John Gillenroy Turnbow was born on September 13, 1833. He was the first of his parents, Samuel Turnbow and Sylvira Caroline Hart Turnbow's eleven children, so we can imagine how grateful and happy they
were to have him.
Perry County is located in the middle of Alabama and is about one-third of the distance inland from its western border. The Creek and Choctaw Indians occupied this region, but a decline of these Indian nations began when the
Spaniards began to explore the region in 1519. Spain, however, failed to establish a firm foothold in Alabama. It was the French who founded the first permanent white settlement at present day Mobile in 1711. The French also
established large farms and in 1719 imported the first black Africans to work as slaves on these farms.
In 1763 France ceded Alabama to Great Britain, and in 1783 most of it became part of the United States. The Spanish had taken the region around Mobile during the American Revolution, and it was captured by the United States in 1813. Also, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1812, the power of the Creek Indians was crushed by U.S. troops under Andrew Jackson. During the following twenty-five years, nearly all of Alabama's Indians were removed to the western United States.
Two of John Gillenroy Turnbow's great-grandfathers, John Andrew Turnbow and Robert Talkington, fought in the American Revolutionary War. Their families probably
knew one another while living in South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee before
moving to Alabama.
Alabama was organized as a separate territory in 1817, and on December 14, 1819, it was admitted to the Union and became the 22nd state. At that time, rivers were still the prime means of transportation, but in 1832, one year before John Gillenroy was born, Alabama's first railroad began operations even though the state was still overwhelmingly rural. Alabama's economy was agricultural, and cotton was the only important cash crop when John Gillenroy was a boy.
The church of Jesus Christ was organized in 1830--three years previous to John's birth. Elder Benjamin Clapp of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was serving a mission in Alabama and teaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to Samuel Turnbow's family. They received the message with joy.
Samuel Turnbow said he was baptized in March of 1840, but John, who was six years of age at the time, would be baptized in a time and place far from Alabama.
Five years later, in the fall of 1845, word came for the Saints to gather at Nauvoo, Illinois and prepare to leave for the West. They would, in June, follow the trail made by the fleeing saints earlier that year. Samuel Turnbow sold everything he owned to obey. Samuel, Sylvira and the children traveled up the Mississippi on a steamboat to Nauvoo in February of 1846. Here preparations were made to follow the Pioneer Trail across Iowa to a settlement the saints would build on the Nebraska side of
the Missouri. John left Nauvoo with his family early in June. They stopped at Mt.
Pisgah, a resting place built by the saints who had gone ahead. Here John's young sister, a little girl named Laura Ann Turnbow, died and was buried. With heavy hearts, they continued their journey and arrived at Council Bluffs on July 15, 1846. It was a long and grueling trip, yet they did not suffer or have as many
difficulties as those who fled from Nauvoo in the dead of winter.
The men of the Mormon Battalion were about to leave Council Bluffs when John G. Turnbow and his family arrived. They were instructed to stay and help the remaining Saints, and the women and children belonging to the men of the Battalion. John was only thirteen, but with so many of the men called away, he had to do the work of a man.
Soon after the Battalion marched away, the Saints moved across the Missouri River to a place in Indian Territory they called Winter Quarters. Samuel and John Gillenroy, worked to provide places of shelter, and to obtain food for themselves and others in dire need. Olive Stone said "He (John G.) helped chop down trees for shelter and firewood to keep them warm and for the cooking. He also had to hunt to supply the much-needed meat for their winter needs."
Samuel, with John's help, was also preparing for the trek to the Utah Territory the following year. His history said, "I left the camp with my son, John, and went down into the state of Missouri where I had great success in obtaining provisions of every good thing for my family and others as well."
Endowment House and Ward Records show that John was baptized on September 15, 1846-two days after his thirteenth birthday. If this date is correct, he was probably baptized at Winter Quarters. John, still growing toward manhood, was now fourteen, and traveled with the first company that followed Brigham Young to the Great Basin in 1847. This company established a rendezvous on the Elkhorn River a few miles west of Winter Quarters in February where they began making final preparations for the one-thousand-mile journey to the West.
The Saints were divided into four companies of hundreds for the trek. The Turnbows were assigned to Abraham O. Smoot's fourth hundred with George B. Wallace as their captain of fifty. Each assembly of fifty was then divided into five groups of ten. Samuel Turnbow was the captain of the fifth ten. He would be responsible for organizing and assisting thirty-five souls with twenty wagons, and 121 oxen and cows, throughout the trip.
One well-to-do English woman wrote home:
Do not expect me to describe our road, as they call it. It is a perfect succession of hills, valleys, bogs, mud holes, quagmires with stumps of trees a foot above the surface of the watery mud, so that without the utmost care, the wagon would be overturned ten times a day. Today we came to a bog so deep that it took sixteen oxen to a wagon, so we could proceed but slowly.
A long season of rainy weather made the streams higher than usual. Of one
day's travel, the same woman wrote:
Our men rose at four this morning to make a bridge when one of the storms came, and in a few minutes they were drenched through. They finished the
bridge at eight, had breakfast and began to get the wagons over. The creek was rising very fast, about three feet in three hours. They got four wagons over the bridge when it was washed away. We waited until the water subsided, rebuilt the bridge and got the rest over by six o'clock. A hard day's work and plenty of misery.
Everyone had his chores. One would go after water, another to get fuel for the fire, and the third would cook the evening meal. When they were ready to eat, they sat on the ground or on the wagon tongue with a tin cup in one hand and a slice of bread in the other. Indians stampeding the cattle caused the pioneers' most serious trouble. Following the train for miles, and shaking buffalo robes at the animals, the red men were sometimes successful in scattering the pioneers' horses and cattle. On dark and rainy nights, they would sneak into camp, cut the horses loose and scatter them on the prairie. After the pioneers had rounded up what they could,
the Indians would gather the animals that were left behind.
As the Smoot Company came into buffalo country, the hunters tried their luck at bringing down the big animals to add to their food supply. Sometimes the wagon train halted for two or three days while hunters loaded with the meat, walked back to camp, sometimes followed by wolves.
When Smoot's Company met Brigham and his pioneer band traveling back to Winter Quarters, the two groups of saints camped together at Pacific Springs in present-day Wyoming immediately west of South Pass on the western slopes near the continental divide. President Brigham Young spoke on the importance of following all organizational procedures given by him, and the main topic of
conversation was their gathering place in the West.
Abraham O. Smoot's company began to enter the valley on September 20, 1847. The Turnbows rolled in a few days later on September 24, just two months after the first settlers arrived. Footsore and weary, with worn out animals, there was no time to waste. Samuel and John started at once to build a home and prepare for winter. Luck was with them for this winter proved to be very mild. Because there was no deep snow in the canyons, the men were able to get into the mountains all winter and bring down logs for building and fuel.
Christmas Day of 1847 fell on a Saturday. The pioneers carried on their work as usual. The men gathered sagebrush for fuel, and since the ground was not frozen, they went steadily on with their plowing. The following day, they gathered around a flagpole in the center of the fort and held a quiet, though very happy,
celebration with song and prayer. Samuel and John labored throughout the cold weather to build a place of shelter, probably an adobe house in the old Pioneer Fort, where they lived until the spring of 1848. Early in February, the brethren began getting the ground ready to plant seeds. The wheat and rye that had been planted the year before had begun to sprout. In spite of Jim Bridger's warning that the summer season would be too short for corn to ripen, they were hopeful that some crops could be grown. With no other option, they planted seeds and took the risk.
At that time a vast field of 8000 acres was surveyed south of the city and divided into five-acre and ten-acre lots. Sophronia said, "A drawing was held for the lots of land that people should have." Samuel Turnbow's lot was in the 14th Ward on the east side of Second West, two lots north of Second South. The only cost was a small fee to pay the surveyor. A few families moved out of the fort and built on their city lots in 1848. Sylvira said Samuel's home was one of the first to be
The emigration of 1848, which numbered nearly 2,500, increased the population in the valley to nearly 5,000 people, including those who had come from California. Feeding everyone all that his or her belly needed throughout that winter would be impossible. The harvest of 1848 had been devastated by
crickets and would have been a total failure had not the gulls come from the lake
and devoured them. By living on short rations, sharing food with one another, and even eating rawhides, sego lily roots and thistles, the Saints managed to eke out their existence during this severe winter. Extreme cold lasted from December 1,1848 until the end of February 1849. On February 5th the mercury dropped to 33 degrees below zero--too cold for a starving people with little food and shelter
to keep them warm!
During the spring of 1849, nearly everyone moved out of the stockade, and, as the city grew and extended, the fort gradually disappeared. Soon there was nothing left to show where it had stood except a few adobe walls.
Sophronia, Robert and John G. Turnbow were present when Richard Ballantyne organized the first Sunday School on December 9, 1849. It was held in a room of Brother Ballantyne's log house located on the comer of First West and Third South Streets in Salt Lake City. The 1850 Census of Utah gives us a view of the Turnbows living in the SLC 14th Ward. It shows Samuel Turnbow 47, born in KY, Silvia (Sy'viria) 30, born in SC, John 15, born in ALA., Adeline 14, born in ALA., Franklin 11, born in ALA., Sophronia 9, born in ALA., Milton 8, born in ALA., Margaret Ann 3, born in Ind.T.
(Indian Territory), Samuel J. 1, born in DES (Deseret).
On September 9,1850, Elder Albert Carrington traveled east with Captain Howard Stansbury's Expedition. Stansbury was a gentile civil engineer who in 1849 had army orders to lead an expedition to the Great Basin where he was to survey and map the Great Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley in order to evaluate the various emigrant roads in the area and to examine and report on the capability of the Mormon community to provide food and supplies for overland travelers. Elder Carrington's letter, sent to Brigham Young from Fort Bridger, told what Stansbury had said about the Kamas Prairie through which he had passed a few weeks previous.
The area would accommodate a large settlement of stock and dairy farmers. Very likely wheat, oats, barley, etc. can be raised there in great abundance as the soil is very rich and well watered and lies admirably for irrigation should it be needed. There were little streams wandering through the prairie and the broadleaved grass in the neighborhood was nearly up to their horses' breasts.
Elder Carrington suggested to Brother Brigham that "Still another reason (perhaps) is the accommodation it will afford to all of our
immigrants that purpose settling in Utah and the valleys south, as they can easily
pass down the Provo from Kamas Prairie, saving themselves much travel. The
Provo River runs nearly southwest from the Kamas Prairie to Utah Valley."
Back in Salt Lake in the fall of 1852, Samuel and Sylvira Turnbow brought Harriet Utley and her younger brother, Gabriel, to live in their home. The Utleys had been neighbors of the Turnbows in Alabama. Most of the Utley family died at Winter Quarters, but Harriet and Gabriel's father died of cholera while crossing
the plains leaving them orphans. Harriet's autobiography said:
When we reached Salt Lake City, we felt like strangers in a strange land. Redden Alred who lived north of Salt Lake was very kind, and we lived with him until Brother Samuel Turnbow, a friend of my parents from our home in Alabama, heard we were there. His oldest son John came for us, and we returned to Salt Lake in October. I was very glad to see him, and Sister Turnbow was like a new mother. Six months later Sister Turnbow died, and I cared for her family until 1853. We lived with them until I was eighteen years old and was married to William Carter on November 29, 1853.
John Gillenroy was not married at the time and was probably living with his parents--at least part of the time. His mother died a few months later on April 27,1853. John was nineteen going on twenty when she passed away. Samuel
Turnbow remarried two women the same day in 1855.
The Territorial Legislature created Summit County in January of 1854. Nearly two years later, in December of 1855, Thomas Rhoades, a roving hunter and legendary prospector, obtained a land grant from the legislature for the Kamas Prairie. Exciting stories about Thomas Rhoades tell how he and his son Caleb worked gold mines and found "black minerals" in the area-coal that became part
of the church mining properties. In the spring of 1857, President James Buchanan appointed a gentile, Alfred Cumming, to replace Brigham Young as governor of the Utah Territory and
dispatched troops to enforce the order and to exterminate the Mormons.
Persecuted and pushed around long enough, the Mormon people prepared to defend themselves and their property. Young declared martial law and issued an order on September 15, 1857 forbidding U.S. troops to enter Utah. The order was disregarded, and throughout the winter sporadic Mormon militia raids were
conducted against army troops. During the Echo Canyon War, also known as the Buchanan Expedition, John G. Turnbow served in Lot Smith's company. Among the soldiers of Mormon Israel, there was perhaps not one so fitted to open this very peculiar campaign as Lot Smith. His lion-like courage and absolute fearlessness of personal danger marked him as "the man of men" to execute one of the most daring guerilla exploits on record. Lot's narrative begins with a conversation he had with General Wells over dinner. General Wells, looking at me as straight as possible, asked if I could take a few men and turn back the trains that were on the road, or bum them? I replied that I thought I could do just what he told me to do. The answer appeared to please him, and he accepted it, telling that he could furnish me only a few men, but they would be sufficient. for they would appear many more to the enemy.
At 4 a.m. of October 3, 1857, Major Lot Smith's troops numbering forty men, (John G. Turnbow could have been with him) started out to annoy and harass the army whom they considered to be the enemy. Their tactic was to slow the
advance of the army by stopping the flow of supplies. Riding into the night, the next morning they came in sight of a U.S. ox train headed west. On calling for the captain, Major Smith ordered him to turn his train and go the other way until he reached the States. The Captain "swore pretty strongly," faced about and
started to go east, but as soon as he was out of sight he turned again towards the mountains. Lot Smith camped near the U.S. troops that night on the banks of the Green River. Smith's story continues:
Losing the opportunity to make much impression on Rankin's train, I thought
something must be done speedily to carry out the instructions received, so I sent Captain Haight with twenty men to see if he could get the mules of the Tenth Regiment on any terms. With the remaining twenty-three men, I started for Sandy Fork to intercept trains that might be approaching in that direction. On the road, seeing a large cloud of dust at a distance up the river on the old Mormon road, I sent scouts to see what caused it. They returned, overtaking me at
Sandy, and reported a train of twenty-six large freight wagons.
We took supper and started at dark. After traveling fourteen miles, we came up to the tran, but dscovered that the teamsters were drunk, and knowing that drunken men were easily excited and always ready to fight, and remembering my
positive orders not to hurt anyone except in self-defense, we remained in ambush until after midnight. I then sent scouts to thoroughly examine the
appearance of their camp, to note the number of wagons and men and report all they discovered. When they returned and reported twenty-six wagons in two lines a short distance apart, I concluded that counting one teamster to each wagon and throwing in eight or ten extra men would make their force about forty.
I thought we would be a match for them, and so ordered an advance to their camp. On nearing the wagons, I found I had misunderstood the scouts, for instead of one train of twenty-six wagons there were two, doubling the number of men and putting quite another phase on our relative strength and situation. There was a large campfire burning, and a number of men were standing around smoking.
I arranged my men and we advanced until our horses' heads came into the light of the fire. It was then that I discovered that we had the advantage, for looking back into the darkness I could not see where my line of troops ended and could imagine my twenty followers stringing out to a hundred or more as well as not. I inquired for the captain of the train. Mr. Dawson stepped out and said he was the man. I told him that I had a little business with him. He inquired the nature of it, and I replied by requesting him to get all of his men and their private property
as quickly as possible out of the wagons for I meant to put a little fire into them.
He exclaimed, "For God's sake, don't bum the trains! I said it was for His sake that I was going to bum them, and pointed out a place for his men to stack their arms, and another where they were to stand in a group, placing a guard over both. I then sent a scout down towards Little Mountaineer Fork, failing to put one towards Ham's Fork on the army. While I was busy with the train, a messenger from the latter surprised us by coming into camp. I asked him if he had any dispatches and to hand them to me. He said he had, but they were verbal. I told him if he lied to me his life was not worth a straw. He became terrified. He said afterwards that he expected every
moment to be killed. His verbal orders to the U.S. train were from the commander to Camp Winfield, and were to the effect that the Mormons were in
the field, and that they must not go to sleep, but keep night guard on their trains and that four companies of cavalry and two pieces of artillery would come over in the morning to escort them to camp.
When all was ready, I made a torch, instructing my Gentile follower known as "Big James," to do the same, as I thought it was proper for the "gentiles to spoil the gentiles." At this stage of our proceedings, an Indian came from the Mountaineer Fork, and seeing how things were going asked for some presents. He wanted two wagon covers for a lodge, some flour and soap. I filled his order, and he went away much elated. Out of respect to the candor poor Dawson had shown, I released him from going with me when we fired the trains taking Big
While riding from wagon to wagon, with torch in hand and the wind blowing, the covers seemed to me to catch very slowly. I so stated it to James. He replied, swinging his long torch over his head: "By St. Patrick, ain't it beautiful! I never saw anything go better in all my life."
About this time, I had Dawson send his men to the wagons not yet fired to get us some provisions, enough to thoroughly furnish us, telling him to get plenty of sugar. On completing this task, I told Dawson that we were going just a little way off, and that if he or his men molested the trains or undertook to put the fires out, they would be instantly killed. We rode away leaving all of the wagons ablaze.
After burning the first train, the other was treated in a like manner. A third wagon train carrying food and ammunition for the army was attacked and burned while nooning between the Green River and Ham's Fork the next day. Following these open-act-of-war attacks against the United States, Lot Smith and his men withdrew to Fort Bridger where the fort and its supplies were burned to the ground leaving only stonewalls.
The supplies that were burned in the Green River Valley were in all about 75 wagons containing the following provisions: 2,720 pounds of ham; 92,700 pounds of bacon; 167,900 pounds Offlour; 270 bushels of beans; 8,850 pounds of Rio coffee; 330 pounds of Java coffee; 1,400 pounds crushed sugar; 2,970 gallons vinegar; 800 pounds sperm candles; 13,333 pounds soap; 84 gallons
molasses; 134 bushels dried peaches; 68,832 rations of desiccated vegetables; 705 pounds tea; 7,781 pounds hard bread and 9 lanterns.
Another source verifies the destruction of the army's wagons and supplies:
On the nights of October 4 and 5, 1857, Major lot Smith, with a small command of men, burned seventy-four of the government's supply wagons near the Big Sandy and the Green Rivers, and thereafter ran off nearly 1000 head of their cattle. This was, indeed, a serious blow to the Army, for their provisions were cut off, and they were forced to spend the winter near Fort Bridger instead of traveling into the Salt Lake Valley.
Information in the Utah History Encyclopedia gives the following:
In 1857, Lot Smith outshone the more famous figures of Orrin Porter Rockwell and Robert Taylor Burton in leading a militia force against the supply trains and livestock of the approaching Utah Expedition under the command of Albert Sidney Johnston. Burning several wagon trains and seizing 1,400 animals, Lot and his troops were instrumental in forcing the army to winter near Fort Bridger.
And winter they did. Poor weather conditions hindered the army's advance, at one point taking 15 days to cover a distance of 35 miles. The troops fought snow and sleet storms and temperatures that dropped to 16 degrees below zero.
Explaining the reason for burning the supply trains of the expedition, Governor Brigham Young said:
I have to inform you that the demonstrations upon your animals and trains have been made solely to let you emphatically understand that we are in earnest when we assert that we will not tamely submit any longer having our constitutional and inalienable rights trampled underfoot. I have further to inform you that by
ordering you here upon pretext solely founded on lies, all of which have long been exploded, the president has no more regard for the constitution and laws of the United States and the welfare of her citizens than he has for the constitution, laws and subjects of the kingdom of Beelzebub.
As the U.S. Army advanced, the Mormons retreated to their fortifications in Echo Canyon nearer Salt lake City where they kept up a constant attack of guerrilla warfare in an effort to hold back and discourage the advance on Salt Lake.
Meanwhile, during that winter, Thomas Kane, a friend to the Mormon people since their days in Nauvoo, contacted President Buchanan. The president empowered Kane to proceed to Utah to serve as mediator. Kane arrived in Salt
lake on February 25, 1858 and was successful in working out a settlement that was satisfactory to both the Mormon people and the United States Government.
Before the middle of June 1858, a Federal Peace Commission arrived in Salt Lake City offering a free and full pardon to all Mormons guilty of treason who would return their allegiance to the U.S. government. Having completed his militia assignment, John Gillenroy Turnbow rode back into Salt Lake City where he resided in the 14th Ward and received his temple ordinances in the Endowment House on Thursday, February 11, 1858. He was twenty-four.
During 1858, Thomas Rhoades renewed his attempt to colonize the Kamas Prairie. He requested the permission of Brigham Young to resign his position in the local government in Salt Lake City and begin a settlement in the valley. Brigham Young consented with the primary condition that Rhoades allow other
settlers to accompany him. Thomas entered the prairie with twenty-five men, and they erected a stockade in the vicinity of the Douglas Simpson Ranch on the east side of the valley.
A segregated band of Ute warriors soon let the white men know this was their tribal home and that they were not welcome! Under threats of annihilation, Rhoades and his men abandoned their attempt and returned to Salt Lake City.
Two years later, in 1860, Thomas Rhoades and George W. Brown returned to the mountain prairie and became the first known white men to stay throughout the winter. The next spring Thomas reiterated to Brigham Young what Stansburyhad said-the prairie held great possibilities for livestock. One drawback--the mountains surrounding the prairie were infested with cattle-killing grizzlies.
The 1860 census shows that John Turnbaugh was still a member of the Salt Lake City 14th Ward-probably living with his parents.
On July 17, 1860, John Gillenroy Turnbow, now nearly twenty-seven, married Miss Sarah Elizabeth Horne in Salt Lake City, Territory of Utah. Sarah was born on July 13, 1839 in Friendship, Lincoln County, Maine and was nearly six years younger than her husband. Five months after their civil mamage, Brigham
Young sealed them for time and eternity in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City on December 29,1860. Sarah was the daughter of Moses Horne who died in the rock quarry in Nauvoo while helping to build the temple there. Her mother, Angeline Hodgkins Horn later married Albert Perry Rockwood and resided with him and his other wives in Salt Lake City.
A year later, in the spring of 1861, Brigham Young called John and his young bride to settle on the Kamas Prairie now named Rhodes Valley after Thomas Rhoades. It was situated about forty-five miles east, and two days by horse and buggy from Salt Lake City. The newlyweds found it to be a beautiful place
flourishing with plant and animal life. Its streams were filled with fish and furbearing
animals such as the beaver and the muskrat. Deer, elk, bighorn sheep, buffalo, rabbits, fox, bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes and pine martins were also found in great numbers.
At first John and Sarah lived in a protective stockade on the east side of the valley. Here, a spring supplied fresh water for the settlers. John soon claimed about 100 acres of land by "squatter's rights." The property was situated in the north end of Kamas. Some of the land was fertile grassland that would provide good pasture for his cattle and milk cows. Because Sarah was expecting their first child, a shelter of some kind was an absolute necessity. John built a log home with a dirt roof and floor before the heavy snows of that winter set in. A homemade table, chairs and bed may have
been the only furniture they had. He also began clearing the land of its sagebrush and bushes so that he could plant seeds and raise food for his family.
Bringing the land under cultivation was no easy task. Seeing his crops devoured by crickets or taken by frosts wasn't easy either. During their first winter in the valley the entire community was dependent upon one coffee mill in which they ground, the little wheat they had succeeded in raising, into flour for bread. The settlers worked the mill day and night, but even
so they could not manage to grind enough for everyone and were reduced to boiling the kernels and eating it whole.
John and Sarah Turnbow's daughter was born in Rhodes Valley on December 28, 1861. They named her Sylvira Elizabeth Horne Turnbow after her grandmother. Two girls followed--Martha Jane born in February of 1863, and
Angeline Horne in June of 1866. Angeline was born at Parley's Park near Salt Lake City and was blessed in the Salt Lake City 14th Ward by Bishop Hogland.
My father gave the following information about his Granddad Turnbow, which cost him the sight in his right eye: "Granddad was cutting down sucker cottonwood trees. He put his arm around a bunch to cut them down. One
flipped out and put his eye out." A slightly different version of this said that John was going into the canyon to cut or gather a supply of wood when a large limb smacked him in this right eye.
Black Hawk, in 1865, became chief of the Utes. The war that he waged in order to avenge the wrongs of his people lasted from 1865 until August of 1868. He, more than once, rode into Rhoades Valley with a band of braves and threatened the settlers. Because of Indian bullying, in the spring of 1866 the Rhodes Valley pioneers were advised to move into the partially finished Sage Bottoms Fort at
Peoa--eight miles to the north. John probably helped complete the fort where he, Sarah and their three small girls lived throughout that summer.
Moving back to their homes in the fall of 1866, Rhodes Valley residents started to build a large, hewn-log fort of their own. It was completed in 1867. The thirtyrod-square fortress covered the entire block where the Summit Hotel is now located. It's protective walls were sixteen feet high. John shared in the
responsibility of bringing logs from the canyons and helped with its construction.
A History of Kamas said that thirty-two families moved into the fort. When one family moved out, another moved in. John Gillenroy Turnbow's cabin and land, several blocks north of the fort, were a short distance on horseback. He undoubtedly improved his family's living conditions, cultivated his land and planted a garden and crops while living at the fort.
No date is given, but the following episodes probably happened during the Black Hawk War. Ute's drove off the settlers' livestock time and again. And as often as their cattle and horses were stolen, tracking parties followed Indian trails in order to recover their animals--riding, at times, over 500 miles. Going without
food and having only a saddle blanket for a pillow, they suffered many hardships but were usually successful in bringing back their animals.
Early residents of Rhodes Valley have handed down this story about a time when Chief Black Hawk and his braves rode into the valley where they camped west of the fort. On long poles, they displayed the scalps of several white people. The populace gathered into the fort where the women and children were placed in the schoolhouse for extra protection. They, expecting an attack, spent an uneasy night and were very surprised to see the Indians leave early the next morning.
The D.U.P files contain another incident written by Willet S. Harder who tells about Black Hawk and his people camping near the fort where they set up almost thirty lodges. Harder said, "They stayed several days and were very saucy. Black Hawk would go each morning to W. S. Harder's place at five o'clock and
demand his breakfast. The Indians killed cattle which the settlers were obliged to pay for in cash amounting to $196.00."
Another saga tells of white men tracking Utes who had stolen several of their horses. They captured an Indian lad, chained and took him back to the fort for questioning. The next morning when the chains were removed, he escaped, and was shot in the hand by one of the settlers. He was able, however, to rejoin his
tribe on the Weber River. Two or three days later, the injured boy and a goodsized band of braves rode into the fort demanding beef and provisions in payment for the boy's injury. In order to avoid bloodshed, leading settlers
decided to give in to the Indians' requirement. The Utes were fed, a beef was killed, and provisions of various kinds were given to them. Satisfied, the Indians rode back to their tribe.
John Gillenroy Jr., the Turnbow's first boy and fourth child, was born in January of 1869 at Kamas. Goods from outside the valley were first brought into Rhodes Valley in February of 1869. Men's suits were made by the women, usually out of gray linsey and lined with factory. Their women had previously made all of the
fabric by spinning the threads and weaving them together. During the winter, men wore German and Norway socks that had been knit by their mothers, wives or daughters.
In September of 1869, President Brigham Young, his counselors, and several of the twelve apostles, visited Rhoades Valley and taught the people. Some of the brethren lodged in the fort.
Before the Rhodes Valley Fort was abandoned in 1870, about forty-seven families had lived there. The three years spent there proved to be years of hard labor, persistent worry and intense sorrow as well as years of proud
achievement, friendly sharing and good fellowship. A Kamas Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on August 20, 1870, about the same time the fort was deserted.
Frontier children had to work. After grass sprouted in the spring, Sylvira, the eldest of the Turnbow children, was given the responsibility of driving the family's cows to and from the hills where they grazed during the day. Indians, attracted by her beautiful, long, red hair, chased her on their ponies a number of times.
John and Sarah warned her to keep a constant vigil for clouds of dust and to listen for sounds that would indicate Indians might be coming. If she saw or heard anything unusual, she was to hide under a sage bush.
John and Sarah endured the hardships of living on the frontier and succeeded in providing for themselves and their children. My grandfather, Samuel, the youngest of the Turnbow children, was born on February 6, 1871--ten years after
his parents had settled in the valley. He was named in honor of his Grandfather Turnbow.
John and Sarah's five children grew to maturity and were educated in local schools. Martha Jane Turnbow was baptized on August 13, 1871. Sylvira Elizabeth, who was older than Martha, went into the waters of baptism in November of the same year. W. A. Williams rebaptized John Giflenroy and other members of his family on August 2,1877. J. K. Lemon reconfirmed him the same day. A few days later on August 7, John received his Patriarchal Blessing in Kamas. He was nearly forty-four.
A blessing given by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of John Gillinroy Turnbow, son of Samuel and Sylvira Turnbow, born in Hamburg, Perry County,
Alabama Sept 13th 1833. Brother John, according to thy desire, I place my hands upon thy head to
pronounce and seal a blessing upon thee. I ask God the eternal Father for his Spirit to invite the same and fill thee with the influence thereof. I say unto thee, be of good faith and of good cheer, reflect upon the past, and thou shalt realize thy position. Look forward to the future and thou shalt comprehend the blessings promised unto the sons of Zion-among those thou art numbered.
Thou art of the House of Israel and of the lineage of Ephraim and entitled to the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the gifts of the Priesthood.
Therefore, I say unto thee, honor thy calling, hold sacred thy covenants, and seek to know the will of the Lord concerning thee, and thy mind shall be
enlightened in regard to the principles of life and salvation. Listen to the promptings of the Spirit, for thy guardian angel will whisper in thine ear, yes, warn thee of danger, give thee council in time of need, strength in time of trial, and power over evil and unclean spirits. Thou shalt be enabled to control thyself and hold the adversary at bay.
Thou shalt council also in righteousness among thy brethren, for thou shalt realize that there is a God in Israel who will hear and answer the prayers of the
honest. Know of assurety that his hand is over thee for good, and that he has preserved thy life for a wise purpose and delivered thee from among thine enemies, for the visions of thine understanding shall be opened and thou shalt comprehend things past, present, and to come.
Thy duty shall also be made known unto thee, and thou shalt have joy in performing the same. Therefore, be prudent and adhere strictly to the
promptings of the monitor within thee, and thy days and years shall be prolonged upon the earth until thou art satisfied. Therefore, again, I say unto thee, be of good cheer for the Lord hath heard thy petition. He knoweth the secrets of thy heart and better days await thee.
Thou shalt assist in gathering scattered Israel and be prospered in thy journeying at home or abroad and in thy labor spiritually and temporally. Thy name shall be handed down with thy posterity in honorable remembrance.
This blessing I seal upon thy head, and I seal thee up unto eternal life to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection with many of thy kindred and friends, even so, amen.
(Copied by J. E. Forsgren)
Film 170,598, Book D, (Special Sections) shows that John Gillenroy Turnbow was sealed to four deceased women in the St. George Temple on November 30, 1882.
John and Sarah's son Samuel was baptized in 1883, but no day or month was recorded in the Kamas Ward records.
On October 9,1884, Martha Jane Turnbow became the bride of John Wehrli Carpenter.
Sylvira Elizabeth Horne Turnbow was twenty-seven when she married Randolph Murphy on January 26, 1888. Theirs was a handwritten Certificate of Marriage stating that he was from Woodland, Summit County, Utah in the Territory of Utah. S. F. Atwood, Bishop of the Kamas Ward, married them. They made their home in Woodland afterward.
John G. Turnbow received land, eleven acres in Section 8, Township 2, from George Naylor and his wife on September 6, 1888. The Quitclaim Deed was not recorded until July 28, 1890.
Samuel Turnbow chose Emma Ursula Burbidge for his bride. They were married
on June 29, 1899 at Kamas, Utah by Jesse Rhodes Burbidge, Emma's father. Sam was twenty-eight and Emma nineteen years of age. Sam and Emma went in their buggy to visit Sylvira and Randolph Murphy in Woodland up until the time that Sylvira died on April 13, 1902. Family records do not show the cause of her
death and there is no ward record for that time period.
Two of John and Sarah's children were married in 1904. Bishop Dan Lambert of the Kamas Ward married Angeline Horne Turnbow to Thurston Simpson on February 24, 1904. Later that year, John Gillenroy Turnbow, Jr. married Hephzibah Alice Woolstenhulme on November 9 at Coalville, Utah. He was thirty-four and she thirty-five years of age. My father, Appollos (Jeff) Reginald Turnbow, loved his Granddad Turnbow.
When he was a child, he followed him into the fields to irrigate. "Granddad would cut a thistle, pull the skin down, and we'd eat the inside. It was mighty sweet and good." One of his granddad's frequently used expressions was, "Right, Rogers, Right!"
Kamas, Utah L.D.S. Record of Members 1901-1909 shows that John Gillenroy Turnbow, Sr. was rebaptized again, this time by John J. Benson on August 18, 1907. Dan Lambert reconfirmed him the same day.
John Gillenroy Turnbow died four months later at 10 p.m. on December 26, 1907. His death was caused by sclerosis of the liver. T. A. Dannenberg, M.D. signed his death certificate, which shows John Turnbow's age at the time of death was 74 years, 3 months and 13 days. It also points out that his occupation was a
farmer and that he had been a resident of Kamas for forty years, but forty-six years would be more correct. Mrs. John G. Turnbow was the informant. She would live alone for another twenty years. A large photograph of John and his obituary printed in the Deseret Evening News on January 4, 1908, said:
John G. Turnbow
One of the Pioneers of 1847 Whose Demise Occurred This Week
John G. Turnbow, one of the pioneers of Kamas, Summit County, was buried at
that place Monday, December 30,1907. He was the son of Samuel and Sylvira Hart Turbow and was born in Perry County, Alabama Sept 13, 1833. Mr. Turnbow had been a resident of Utah since September 24, 1847 when he arrived in Salt Lake Valley in Capt. A. O. Smoot's company. Mr. Turnbow saw service in the Echo canyon war, known as the Buchanan expedition, being a member of Lot
Smith's company of cavalry. He married Elizabeth Horn and is survived by five children. He was a brother of Robert F. Turnbow of Farmer's ward. It was in the year 1861 that John G. Turnbow and his wife moved to Kamas and that was his home until his death.
The funeral was largely attended, and President Moses W. Taylor and other
speakers dwelt upon the upright life of the deceased.
John was buried in the old Kamas Cemetery one mile south of town on December 30, 1907. A tall, white headstone marks his grave in the northwest corner of the cemetery. Sarah is buried beside him.
Despite any faults he may have had, John Gillenroy Turnbow will undoubtedly be blessed for his daily labors, service to others, and the sacrifices he made in establishing Zion.