Monday, September 17, 2012

Ada Turner Gets Married

Ada Turner was one of the lesser known figures connected to the Cane Creek Massacre. At age sixteen she joined the LDS Church and subsequently - a few weeks before the massacre - immigrated to Utah with her eighteen year old sister Josie and their aunt Lovona Shaw. Their departure has been suggested as one of the causes that led to the violence. More than one missionary serving in Tennessee at the time connected their baptism and immigration to the increased anti Mormon sentiment leading up to the shooting. Leaving ones parents was viewed in Tennessee as a harsh form of disloyalty, though her parents didn't see it that way. Local folklore going back to 1906 speculated that since both girls were shipped off to Utah in 1884, they would have soon become part of some polygamous marriage. Some people got pretty agitated that Mormons were carrying off girls to Utah. The truth, however, was the two went to Utah to go to school. Ada finished high school, went on to finish college, though it was her sister who graduated at the top of her class. After school, Ada opened a kindergarten in Rexburg, Idaho. In 1897, she married Samuel Ricks, monogamously. The two had one child. The marriage ended in divorce ten years later and Ada moved to Salt Lake where she raised her son with the help of her sister Josie.

A couple of years ago I was given two photos for which there was circumstantial evidence that they were the two Turner sisters, Ada and Josie. The photos were taken in Salt Lake City and sent back to Lewis County relatives. They were not labeled and over the years no one could remember who they were. Nearly everybody baptized at Cane Creek were related, and as more years passed the relationships became more interconnected. But only three women baptized at Cane Creek went to Utah: Ada, Josie and their Aunt Lovina. The rest went to Colorado, Missouri, or stayed in Tennessee. Lovina had a debilitating case of Dropsy, and had suffered from it most of her life, making it difficult to even walk. Her condition would be obvious in any photograph. So the theory was these two photos might possibly be the two sisters.

To prove it, I needed to track down a verifiable photo of the sisters. For the last two years I have trolled genealogy message boards and similar sites for people who are working on Ada Turner's family history. Because Josie never married, it was less likely I would find anyone working on hers. Last week it paid off. I received a copy of a photo of Samuel Ricks and Ada Turner. It appears to have been a wedding photo.
But was it a match for one of the two sisters I already had photos of? There is some superficial similarities to one of the photos, hair style and expression in the eyes, but the shape of the face is not quite right. What do you think?

The other mystery woman has no similarities at all. (see the other photo here)

So while you might think this was a bust, what I really am is excited. I have a photo of another member of the Cane Creek Branch!! As for the two unidentified women? I have other possible matches. There is no rule that says they can't have been women who immigrated to Colorado who had their photos taken during a visit to Salt Lake City. Or perhaps formwe Cane Creek resident John Westbrook, who had a history of sending photos back to Lewis County, sent a photo of his first wife: Juda Elizabeth Samples. Elizabeth died young of consumption. I have been unable to locate comparative photos of her either. While I may not spend as much time on this as I have in the past, it is still an unanswered question. Who were these women?

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