NANCY ANN TURNBEAUGH
(1836-1909) m. George Washington Gill Averett, brother of Elijah Averett
Written by Effie B. Syphus, Nancy's granddaughter.
It is my desire that a sketch of the life of my grandmother be preserved for her descendant’s to read. I also hope that they might know something of her life, and also that others might remember her. I am writing this from my recollections of her.
We know nothing about her life as a child, or her parent’s life. Her mother died when she was 16 years old. When she was 17 she was married to George Washington Gill Averett. Judge Alexander Hemphill married them on 24 February 1853, in Pleasant Hill, Illinois. Later, Heber C. Kimball sealed them in the Endowment House of Salt Lake City, Utah, on 14 June 1867.
The journey to Salt Lake was made with a team and wagon. The journey took three weeks to make. Her first home was built on 5 acres of ground, which her father gave her. Grandma had three brothers, James, Robert, and William. Her brother William came to Utah and married Melissa Averett. They raised a large family. He was a Civil War Veteran on the North side. Her sister, Margaret, married John Moore and came to Utah. They soon became discouraged and went back to the "States." She had a half brother named John. He also came to Utah, along with two half sisters, Melzenia, and Florida.
Nancy and George soon made a home, and three boys born to them, John William Riley, Murray Elijah, and Erastus. Since George’s mother was a widow he had her make her home with them until her death. Erastus also died, so they felt blue and lonesome. They soon sold their home and decided to start for Utah. Both of them had joined the church, so they were anxious to follow the church Westward. We know nothing of the conversion, but Grandfather was baptized along with his parents, and most of his brothers and sisters, in 1835.
They started the Westward journey on 18 April 1859. They reached Utah in the fall. They had been on the journey for nearly five months. Just after October conference they moved to Manti, Utah, where George’s brother Elijah was living. Grandfather made them a dugout under the hill where the Manti Temple stands. A baby girl was born to them on 25 June 1860. This was my mother. They named her Eliza Melzina. The next year Orson Hyde visited the Averett family and asked them to go to Dixie. When the church authorities ask the Saints to do anything they considered it a "call" and obeyed, even if it was a trail to go make a start in a new and unknown place. They never forsaked or gave up a "call," because the Lord had called them to carry on his work. They did not wait to harvest their grain, but were soon on their way. Here, they built a small shack to live in until a better home could be built. Later on, Grandfather went back to get the grain and flour.
I have heard my grandmother tell of how many people gathered in to get a little of the flour. White flour was so scarce, so it was a luxury.
Grandmother had very little schooling, so she learned to write after she settled in Washington. She often told how she roasted the green coffee, and grounded it to make good coffee. She always had a lot of coffee visitors. Some of the visitors even stopped on their way to the field for a cup.
She smoked a pipe for a while after being married, but Grandpa bought her a clock to get her to throw away her pipe.
She was the mother of eleven children. All but one of her children grew to maturity. They all married and raised large families. Gillford, her youngest son spent his mature years in Idaho. He died there on 13 December 1945, without marrying. A niece, Hattie Griffith Price made her home with them for several years until she married and moved to her own home.
In the spring of 1885, my Grandfather became so discouraged over putting in dams and making new ditches, only to have them washed away with the floods, so he decided to move. He traded his belongings in Washington to a man in Eastern Arizona. He then went by team with his family to settle in a new land. My father, mother, Thomas, Dean, and more of their married children also went along. They left right around the time when Geronimo was making raids and stealing the horses and cattle. Geronimo also killed some of the settlers who were their near neighbors. The property that Grandfather traded for, so they were anxious to leave the Indians and come back to their own property.
They only stayed in Arizona nineteen months. One grandchild was born there, my sister Nellie. She was born in Layton on 26 April 1886.
Nancy was an extra large woman. She weighed 240 pounds at one time. They couldn’t get her casket through the door, so they carried her out on the porch to put her into the casket. Her son Elijah made the casket. My mother helped him to cover it with cloth, and trim it with lace and braid. The Averett family helped make most of the caskets that were used in Washington for many years. Grandmother was a widow for seven years. My sister Hazel lived with her for four or five years, so she wouldn’t have to be alone. She raised a garden, her own fruit, kept a cow, and raised a pig, so her needs were few.
She had a carpet loom on her back porch. She wove hundreds of yards of rag carpet for ten cents a yard. Some days if a woman was in a hurry for a new carpet she would weave ten yards. Now days a weaver can get as much for weaving one yard as she did for ten yards.
She was good company. Many young girls and boys would come and visit on her old black porch with her while she weaved. She wove cloth also. George A. Smith carried a piece of cloth with him that she had spun and woven. As he traveled about the church he would bring the cloth to show it to the women. She kept some honeybees by the side of the walk down in the lot, which we would have to pass as we went out to pick her fruit. If we ever had any new children with us we got chased back to the house by the bees.
She died 18 April 1909, only being ill a few weeks. She was buried in Washington, Utah where she spent the greater part of her life. She was a good, honest woman. She paid an honest tithing. She loved and respected every one. She was also a good relief society worker.
One day while she was dismissing Relief Society a mouse ran up her leg, she squeezed it with her hand and let the mouse drop dead on the floor. Then she quietly finished praying.
She has hundreds of descendants living today. There are about seventy grandchildren who will all be glad to know about this wonderful woman.