Monday, June 13, 2016

The Turner Sisters' Grave

This last weekend I attended the 2016 Mormon History Association annual conference. Because it was being held in Utah this year, I took the opportunity to visit a few places with connections to Tennessee.

I started my first day with a visit to the Salt Lake City Cemetery. I wanted to visit the graves of Josephine Turner and her sister Ada Rex. For those of you who may not remember, it is my theory that it was the baptism of Josephine Turner in May of 1884 by John H. Gibbs that led to a violent opposition to Mormon preaching in Lewis county, Tennessee. Josie and Ada left for Utah later that month to attend school. The missionaries continued along with their travels and didn't return for a couple months. By the time missionaries returned the opposition fervor turned violent and led to the death of Gibbs and another missionary William S. Berry on August 10, 1884. This has since become known as the Cane Creek Massacre.

Back in the west the sisters finished school and lived their lives. Josie's life took her for a while to Chicago, while Ada went to Idaho. Ada married, had a son, and divorced. Josie never married. Eventually the two moved in to a home in Salt Lake City, where they raised Ada's son together. It was there that the two lived the rest of their life, and died; Ada in 1940 and Josie in 1956. Not being flush with cash, Ada's son had them buried in the same plot. You can read more about them here.

The location of the plot was easy to find online. (W-6-7-1-E). But there was no photograph of the gravestone. This I intended to remedy on my visit. Armed with plot numbers and a cemetery map I drove to City Cemetery. I quickly found section W-6. Admittedly I had little understanding of the number scheme but I guessed I could wander section W-6 until I found what I was looking for. After 20 minutes in the section, and an encounter with a curious fox, I was unsuccessful. 

This cemetery, unlike many in Tennessee I have haunted, had an office with a very helpful staff. In 5 minutes I had a more detailed map than the one I found online marking the location of the plot along with neighboring graves for reference. This time it would be easy. I parked close to right section and walked straight to right place and found nothing. To be more specific I found grass but no marker. 

The neighboring graves told me I was in the right place but probably due to the families lack of resources, no stone marker was ever placed on their grave. I knew from my research that the family had struggled with money. I can only guess that in the midst of that struggle, money for a stone marker was not forthcoming. 

I can't help thinking they deserve one. But for now I will have to be satisfied with writing about them; the one kind of memorialization I can do best.  


Ardis said...

This kind of a memorial -- remembering them and caring enough to write and VISIT -- is meaningful. Perhaps with the internet being what it is, it will be at least as permanent as a stone marker.

BruceCrow said...

Thank you, Ardis. I hope that is true.

It was good to see you last weekend. I'm sad I had to leave early.

Kristine A said...

Wow. I agree w Ardis, this was touching.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks Kristine.

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Very sad that there is no marker, but they are being remembered and honored by many because of your efforts. Thank you for telling their stories.