Legacies of Silver Reef, Washington: Turnbeaugh family reunite for Memorial Day

Setting the new Turnbeaugh family headstone in Washington City Cemetery, Washington, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Angie Adams and Hans KIrchhausen

WASHINGTON CITY – With Memorial Day just around the corner the headstone of William and Malissa Turnbeaugh is about to be replaced with a new structure that may be the tallest (at over 5 feet) in the Washington City Cemetery, including the names of all 25 of their children written on the back side of it. Great-grandchildren Alene Adams  and Theo Pendleton donated the stone.

The family is reuniting at 11 a.m. on May 27, that is. on Memorial Day. Washington City has Booth Turnbeaugh to thank for the beauty that Washington Cemetery is as he has spent years in up-keep, raking the leaves, pulling the weeds–free of charge.

William Turnbeaugh & Malissa Turnbeaugh
William Turnbeaugh & Malissa Turnbeaugh, location and date not provided | Photo courtesy of Angie Adams and Hans KIrchhausen

 William Turnbeaugh

William Turnbeaugh was born June 15, 1847, in Pleasant Hill, Pike, Illinois. He was the fourth child of five children of John Turnbaugh and Ruth McLain. He had four half brothers and sisters. Their stepmother was Melzenia Huff. After his own mother died, William Turnbeaugh’s father married Melzenia Huff. He ran away from home and joined the Army. He changed his name by putting “e” in his last name, spelling it “Turnbeaugh” instead of Turnbaugh so his family couldn’t find him. He fought in the Civil War.

William Turnbeaugh married Malissa Averett Riggs, Jan. 10, 1871 in Washington, Utah. William Turnbeaugh was an owner and operator of the Silver Reef Mine at Silver Reef, Utah.  He and his sons worked the mine. His family lived in Silver Reef when it was a booming town.

William Turnbeaugh’s half brother, John Turnbaugh, who’s mother was Melenzia Huff,  married Susan Greenstreet and later married Nancy Margret Carter. William Turnbeaugh’s sister, Nancy Ann Turnbaugh, married George Washington Gill Averett, younger brother of Elijah Averett.

For many years William Turnbeaugh was the town marshal for the little town of Washington, Utah. William also was known as the town bull. He spent his declining years of life in Washington. He was operated on in the St. George Hospital and never recovered from that operation.  He died June 13, 1915, in St. George, Utah. William Turnbeaugh was known as “Uncle Bill” until his death and was laid to rest in the Washington Cemetery.

Malissa Averett Turnbeaugh

Malissa Averett Turnbeaugh was born in Manti, Utah, March 19, 1853 . She was the daughter of Elijah Averett and Cherizade Grimes. Malissa was baptized in March 1861.   She was married at 13 to William Riggs, by whom she had two daughters and separated. The daughters were Cherizade Woodward and Ellen Morris.

Some years later Malissa Averett Turnbeaugh married William Turnbeaugh January 10, 1871, and was later sealed, an LDS practice of binding one’s family for eternity, in the St. George Temple  on April 20, 1949.  She was endowed, an LDS practice in the temple where participants take a number of solemn oaths and make covenants with God, on May 6, 1927. She had 25  children with five sets of twins. One of the children weighed 15 lbs. at birth.

Malissa was the first white child born in Manti, Utah, and came to Utah’s Dixie in 1862. She passed through many hardships in the early days of the settlement of Dixie. Malissa’s only brother was killed by Native Americans in 1866. When she was a girl, she helped pick cotton and sheep; the cotton and wool were the first to go through the factory at Washington, Utah. Her parents were among the first to be baptized after the organization of the LDS Church and came across the Plains in 1848. Malissa’s father helped work on the foundation of the first four Temples in Utah.

Malissa Turnbeaugh was a kind and loving wife and mother and always kind to the needy. It gave her joy to have her friends come in and talk of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for she was a devout Latter-day Saint.

She passed away in Cedar City April 13, 1927. Funeral services were held in Washington, on April 16, 1927, and she was laid away by the side of her husband in the Washington Cemetery.   She was endowed on May 6, 1927 and sealed to William Turnbeaugh on April 20, 1949, in the St. George Temple.

Birth dates Names of her children
Dec. 23, 1867 Cherizade Riggs (From previous marriage)
April 8, 1869 Ellen Riggs Turnbeaugh Morris
Oct. 20, 1871 Ruth M. Turnbeaugh
Jan. 11, 1873 William Elijah Turnbeaugh
Nov. 8, 1874 Emma L. Turnbeaugh
Dec. 23 1875 Malissa Helen Turnbeaugh
Aug. 5, 1877 John J. Turnbeaugh
Dec. 21, 1878 Edgar Elizabeth Turnbeaugh (twin)
Dec. 22, 1878 Edna E. Turnbeaugh (twin)
Oct. 4, 1880 James M. Turnbeaugh
Jan. 25, 1882 Joseph Lawrence Turnbeaugh
Sept. 30, 1883 Hyrum Clarence Turnbeaugh
Dec. 26, 1884 Irmanda Turnbeaugh (twin)
Dec. 26, 1884 Icavianda Turnbeaugh (twin)
Feb. 22, 1886 George Washington Turnbeaugh
Jan. 23, 1888 Steven Wallace Turnbeaugh
Jan. 31, 1889 Maggie A. Turnbeaugh (twin)
Jan. 31, 1889 Murray C. Turnbeaugh (twin)
July 17, 1890 Daniel Avery Turnbeaugh
Jan. 18, 1892 Adoniga P. Turnbeaugh
Aug. 4, 1898 Richard Turnbeaugh


In addition, The couple had two pairs of twins born prematurely. 

Melissa was 13 when she had her first child and 45 when she had her last child.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Derived from submission by Angie Adams, a relative of the Turnbeaugh family

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @sarahisaacson1

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Angie Adams and Hans KIrchhausen
St. George, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Angie Adams and Hans KIrchhausen










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  • Colleen Turnbeaugh Ruesch May 27, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I was so excited to see this article! It was always very important to my father Lawrence Mclain Turnbeaugh to see that the family took good care of the Washington cemetery. Thank you Theo and Angie and Booth!

  • Kisha Turnbeaugh May 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

    This is pretty awesome to see family history being honored and recognition given to those that started our legacy of the Turnbeaugh’s

    • rebecka kellogg October 19, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      Mellissa is my great great great grabdma her daughter edna had agnes she had leona shr had laurie she had me

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