Year of Polygamy: Plural Marriage and the Martyrdom, Episode 36

Join Lindsay as she discusses the events leading up to the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and how it affected the Saints and plural marriage afterwards.


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Episode 42: The Succession Crisis and LDS Priesthood.

5 thoughts on “Year of Polygamy: Plural Marriage and the Martyrdom, Episode 36

  1. I have a question for Lindsay. At minute 26 in the podcast, you talked about John B. Lee’s account that there were some times when a man raped a woman in order to coerce her to marry him, but that “rape” is not the word Lee used. I’m curious to know how exactly Lee did describe it? Thanks so much!

  2. Here’s an excerpt for context: ” –Page 275–

    There was a man living there by the name of Robert Gillespie. He was a member of the Church, had one wife, and owned a fine property. Gillespie wanted to be sealed to his sister-in-law, but for some reason his request was denied. He had known of others obtaining wives by committing adultery first and then being sealed to avoid scandal. So he tried it, and then went to the apostle George A. Smith, and again asked to be sealed to the woman; but George A. had a religious fit on him,, or something else, so he refused to seal him or let him be sealed, giving as his reason for refusing, that Gillespie had exercised the rights of sealing without first obtaining orders to do so. A warrant was issued and Gillespie arrested and placed under guard, he was also sued in the Probate Court, before James Lewis, Probate Judge, and a heavy judgment was rendered against him, and all his property was sold to pay the fine and costs. The money was put into the Church fund and Gillespie was broken up entirely and forced to leave the Territory in a destitute condition.
    Many such cases came under my observation. I have known the Church to act in this way and break up and destroy many, very many men. The Church was then, and in that locality, supreme. None could safely defy or disobey it. The Church authorities used the laws of the land, the laws of the Church, and Danites and “Angels” to enforce their orders, and rid the country of those who were distasteful to the leaders. And I say as a fact that there was no escape for any one that the leaders of the Church in Southern Utah selected as a victim.


    The fate of old man Braffett, of Parowan, was a peculiar one, and as it afterwards led me into trouble, I will give the story briefly, to show the power of the Priesthood and the peculiarity of the people there.
    Old man Braffett lived at Parowan, and in the Fall of 1855 a man by the name of Woodward came to Braffett’s house and stopped there to recruit his teams before crossing the deserts. Woodward had two wives. He had lived in Nauvoo, and while there had been architect for the Nauvoo House. While Woodward and his family were stopping with Braffett, one of his wives

    –Page 276–

    concluded that she would be damned if she went to live in California–leaving the land of the Saints–and she asked to be divorced from Woodward and sealed to Braffett. At first Braffett refused to take her, but she was a likely and healthy woman. She made love to the old man in earnest, and finally induced him to commit adultery with her. The parties were discovered in the act by old Mrs. Braffett, and she was not so firm in the faith as to permit her husband to enjoy himself without making a fuss about it. The authorities were informed of Braffett’s transgressions, and he was arrested and taken before the Probate Judge and tried for the sin of adultery. He made a bill of sale of some of his property to me, for which I paid him before his trial. After hearing the case, the Probate Judge fined him $1,000, and ordered him to be imprisoned until the fine and costs were paid. Ezra Curtis, the then marshal at Parowan, took all of Braffett’s property that could be found and sold it for the purpose of paying the fine, but the large amount of property which was taken was sold for a small sum, for the brethren would not bid much, for property taken from one who had broken his covenants.
    Being unable to pay the fine, the old man was ordered to be taken to Salt Lake City, to be imprisoned in the prison there. I was selected to take him to Salt Lake. I took the old man there, and after many days spent in working with Brigham Young and his apostles, I succeeded in securing a pardon from Brigham for the old man.
    Braffett was put to work at Salt Lake by Brigham Young. He dared not return home at that time. His property was all gone, and he was ruined.”

  3. And then this, “The most deadly sin among the people was adultery, and many men were killed in Utah for that crime.
    Rosmos Anderson was a Danish man who had come to Utah with his family to receive the benefits arising from an association with the “Latter-Day Saints.” He had married a widow lady somewhat older than himself, and she had a daughter that was fully grown at the time of the reformation. The girl was very anxious to be sealed to her step-father, and Anderson was equally anxious to take her for a second wife, but as she was a fine-looking girl, Klingensmith desired her to marry him, and she refused. At one of the meetings during the reformation Anderson and his step-daughter confessed that they had committed adultery, believing when they did so that Brigham Young would allow them to marry when he learned the facts. Their confession being full, they were rebaptized and received into full membership. They were then placed under covenant that if they again committed adultery, Anderson should suffer death. Soon after this a charge was laid against Anderson before the Council, accusing him of adultery with his step-daughter. This Council was composed of Klingensmith and his two counselors; it was the Bishop’s Council. Without giving Anderson any chance to defend himself or make a statement, the Council voted that Anderson must die for violating his covenants. Klingensmith went to Anderson and notified him that the orders were that he

    –Page 283–

    must die by having his throat cut, so that the running of his blood would atone for his sins. Anderson, being a firm believer in the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church, made no objections, but asked for half a day to prepare for death. His request was granted. His wife was ordered to prepare a suit of clean clothing, in which to have her husband buried, and was informed that he was to be killed for his sins, she being directed to tell those who should enquire after her husband that he had gone to California.
    Klingensmith, James Haslem, Daniel McFarland and John M. Higbee dug a grave in the field near Cedar City, and that night, about 12 o’clock, went to Anderson’s house and ordered him to make ready to obey the Council. Anderson got up, dressed himself, bid his family good-bye, and without a word of remonstrance accompanied those that he believed were carrying out the will of the “Almighty God.” They went to the place where the grave was prepared; Anderson knelt upon the side of the grave and prayed. Klingensmith and his company then cut Anderson’s throat from ear to ear and held him so that his blood ran into the grave.
    As soon as he was dead they dressed him in his clean clothes, threw him into the grave and buried him. They then carried his bloody clothing back to his family, and gave them to his wife to wash, when she was again instructed to say that her husband was in California. She obeyed their orders.”

  4. Lindsay, thanks so much for copying all this into the comments. After reading it I went over and read much of the original text. Crazy! While I would call the forced marriages a form of rape, I still don’t see allegations of rape in these particular stories. In the first story, it doesn’t seem to say, either way, and in the other stories, the women all seem to be willing. Maybe there’s something I’m missing?

    At the same time, the violence Lee describes is pretty shocking and crazy.

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