Hell on Earth, Part 2

This entry is part 18 of 50 in the series 2011A

We arrived in the Mormon capital, Salt Lake City, August, 1868, having traveled the last 560 miles over arid plains and rocky mountains by wagon. Here I was in “Zion, the perfection of beauty,” beautiful for situation on the sides of the north. I certainly must say I found Salt Lake City a beautiful place “where every prospect pleases and only man is vile.”

I had thought to have found these so-called saints approaching something near perfection, but alas, found that human nature is human nature even in Zion. The first thing that attracted my attention on arrival was two “saints” drunk-the one trying to help the other home, and both swearing outrageously. On going up to them to ascertain if they were really saints, the answer I got was “Why, certainly.” I also found on enquiry that the Church manufactured a villainous sort of whisky, which the saints called “Valley Tan,” a little of which will go a long way toward making a man drunk; this whisky is sold in stores over which is a sign, having thereon the “All seeing eye” and the words, “Holiness unto the Lord.”

On going further up the street I found a crowd of men discussing the suicide of a saint, which had that day taken place. I was as much surprised to find that a saint had committed suicide as that saints could get drunk. I asked what had caused him to commit this rash act, and was informed that he had married two sisters in addition to the wife he already had, and that notwithstanding, as sisters they had got along all right, yet as wives to the same man they were not a success. They used to fight as Polygamic wives will, and pull each other’s hair, and made things generally very uncomfortable for the affectionate husband, which preyed upon his mind, and finally led him to commit suicide. Poor fellow! In sympathizing with another I always put myself in his place. I thought if I had married three wives who fought and cut up as they did, I should be tempted to commit suicide also.

I was introduced to the Prophet, Brigham Young, a man about 70 years of age, a tolerably fine-looking thick set man, possessing an indomitable will, very austere, and well calculated to govern the dupes that surrounded him. Brigham Young was married. He looked every inch a married man; in fact I found him muchly married, the most married man I ever saw.

That Brigham Young was married, no one can dispute; that he was a father is clear to most minds. He, more than any man, could sing ” Tis’ nice to be a Father.” If asked how many children Brigham had, I treat it as a conundrum, and give it up; who can count the “chips off the old block,” which lay scattered all over the territory of Utah.

The illustrious parent himself seems to have forgotten (if he ever knew) the vastness of his progeny. One time when some boys were fighting in the street, Brigham undertook to chastise them. One young urchin bawled out, “say old man my dad will fix you for hitting me.” Brigham demanded to know who his father was. The boy replied “Brigham Young’s my dad, and ee’d go for you.” The boy ran off and reported the circumstances to his mother, describing the old villain,, and urged his mother to persuade dad to have his revenge out of the old cuss.

When relating this circumstance to a Mormon Elder, I asked if it were possible that there should be men in Utah that did not know their own children? The Elder assured me that he himself had children he should not know were he to meet them. At this juncture, a little girl, whose hoop had trundled into the stream from which she could not recover it, stood crying. The Elder took no notice of the little one, being, as I supposed, too much used to children’s screams. Having secured her hoop and wiped away the tears, I asked the child its name. To our surprise she gave the name of the Elder I was with, and in reply to a question from the Elder said her mother’s name was “Liz, you Bet,” and pointed to the house where she resided, thus the father and child were made known to each other.

It is a wise father in Utah that knows his own child. Brigham’s children are mostly girls, and now that they have grown into womanhood and married, Brigham declares the Devil owed him a grudge, and paid him off in son-in-law’s. In regard to Brigham’s children they are in a very tangled condition, and to cut a long story short, I will merely say they are too numerous to mention. But what is home without a family. Some have asserted that the wives of Brigham Young were more numerous than his children. One thing is certain the name of his wife is Legion. In this Brigham has loved not wisely but to many well.

The bosom of his family is somewhat extended, and one would fancy that with so many gentle loving wives to minister to his comforts and soothe his oft distracted mind, his life would be a heaven below; but with the heart-burnings, hair-pullings, and jealousies of polygamy, such is not the case; for instance, when he has a few unpleasant words with Amelia, and that fair creature sends the sewing machine crashing over the stairs after him, the feelings engendered are anything but lovely; and again when Ann Eliza sues for a divorce and alimony and shows the old man up in his true color and loosens his purse strings, it is anything but pleasant.

His wives are expensive; they always want something. In one of his sermons Brigham said “I have not a wife but would see me in hell rather than she should not have what she wanted,” and in the same sermon he threatens them all with a divorce, and says, “I will go into heaven alone, rather than have them scratching and fighting around me.”

His wives fight and scratch so among themselves, that when they get into a row he allows them to fight it out according to Hoyle, or any other style that suits them, and after the melee one may gather enough hair to stuff a mattress. The cares of married life weighed heavily on the Prophet, and hee offtimes wished he had remained single. It has been estimated that if Brigham were to undertake to kiss his wives the operation would take just six weeks to perform. I once ventured to ask the Prophet if he considered he had secured all his lost ribs, or was he yet a rib short? “Well,” said Young, “my heart is like a crowded omnibus, there is still room for another.”

I saw his mother-in-law while I was there, I can’t exactly tell how many there is of her, but it is a good deal. It strikes me that one mother-in-law is enough in one family, unless a man is over fond of excitement. One is often unbearable; imagine vast numbers afflicting one poor unfortunate man. I was once introduced to a Bishop who had married six sisters; when I asked his reason for doing so, he replied “don’t you see by marrying these six sisters there is only one mother-in-law to the batch, whereas had I married six from different families, I should have had half a dozen mother-in-laws, by this transaction I escape five rascally mother-in-laws.” [More anon on this..]

No trouble can arise on the deceased wife’s sister question. In Utah; they simply marry all the wife’s sisters at once and have done with it. Said one Mormon “What ridiculous nonsense to make the gals wait for their dead sisters’ shoes, I’ll marry the whole lot of any mother’s daughters; they are dragged up together under one parental roof, I’ll take the batch and let ’em jog along together under my roof. One dad is enough for the lot and so is one hubby. I think any gal who wants a whole man all to herself is almighty selfish and ought to go to hell.” If the mother happens to be a widow, the Mormon will marry mother and daughters, and thus become “Husband to the Widow and to the fatherless” and keep the family together, as it were_ In England a man is prohibited from marrying his wife’s sister whether the wife is living or dead: he is actually prevented from marrying his grandmother; yet we call this a land of Liberty, nice Liberty that: for no matter how badly a man wants to marry his grandmother, he is not allowed to do it. There are no such “ungodly” restrictions in Utah

I never ventured into the sleeping apartments of the Harem, but I have seen a blanket that would cover the inmates of a good sized female reformatory; this was said to be Brigham’s blanket. I have also seen a picture of a bedstead about 500 feet long, described as the bed of the Prophet, but latterly Brigham took to sleeping alone in a little chamber behind his office for quiet and safety.

I don’t blame him, poor man, he must have been bewildered. We sometimes sympathise with Poor Caudle, but then there was but one Mrs. Caudle; imagine hundreds of Mrs. C’s lecturing one poor fellow, and you will readily perceive the wisdom of the master mind of Brigham in preferring to sleep alone; it is a wonder that with such a confused state of affairs he could sleep anywhere. Brigham Young has departed; I don’t blame him; I think if I were in the position he was, I should want to depart. But his widow survives.

When I think of the Widow Young and compare her with the Young ‘Widow surely “Comparisons are odious.” She who manifested such selfishness as to become the sole and only partner of his joys and sorrows, finds-herself solitary and alone at the grave with no one to share her grief. Whereas the one who could share her husband’s affections with scores of other women, as in a sort of Joint Stock Company, finds herself only a shareholder in the grief of the concern, according to the stock held by her in this limited liability association.

It was remarked at Brigham’s funeral that no tears were shed; how could that be? Take for instance the tears of the average lone widow, and divide them among the widows of this arch polygamist, it would not amount to a tear each, and in the dry climate of Utah, should a tear have struggled to come to the front it would have evaporated ere it crossed the eyelid.

I have stood at the grave of many Mormon Polygamists when the numerous widows paid their last respects to THEIR dear departed ONE, and judging from the expression of their countenances, their feelings, if uttered would be “Our husband is gone; he is taken from a world of care and excitement, happy release, what he suffered at our hands, and tongues cannot be described. Let him RIP. (Rest In Peace.) Peace to his ashes,” and after taking a last look they move off in search of another victim.

Weller had no idea of the widows of Utah or his loathing of ” vidders ” would have been greatly intensified, The Utah widow emboldened by the doctrines of the Church becomes brazen and seldom “lets up” until she is united to some old polygamist. The faithful elders are admonished to take these widows and perform the kinsman’s part to their dead brother, thus-A, takes the widows of B. to wife, while the issue resulting from the Union belongs to and is called by the name of B. The Great Fundamental Principle of Mormonism being to “Increase and Multiply” widows past a certain period of life are “turned out to grass,’. and not allowed the happy privilege of “roping in” another “Saint.”

The Prophet was interred in the private grounds of his estate, but his grave is sadly neglected, no monument or headstone marks his last resting place. This results from leaving too many afflicted widows-what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. When the condition of her late husband’s grave is mentioned to Mrs. Young No. 10, she replies, “well if he wants a tombstone let that proud, stuck up Susannah Young get him one, its, -as much her business as it is mine,” and when the subject is brought to the .attention of the said Susannah who is Widow Young No. 48, she retorts, ” Let Margaret Ann Young attend to it; she has known him longer than I.” And it looks as if he would never get a tombstone.

I am often asked how the practice of Polygamy works among the” Latter-day Saints.” Briefly I reply that Polygamy is about the same today as when Sarah cried, “Cast out the Bondwoman and her Son.” All first wives feel like casting out the Hagars and their offspring. To assert that a true woman can share her husband with another is a gross libel upon her nature.

I visited their Polygamic harems, but failed to find a happy one. At one place I found a little girl gathering up hair that had been made to fly during a recent fight among the affectionate wives of the harem. I asked the child what she was gathering the hair for? She replied, “to make my doll a mattress.”

I invariably found that when Polygamy came in at the door, joy and peace flew out at the window. If my readers imagine they know anything about jealousy, let me remind them that none but Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines could inform the world that “Jealousy is cruel as the grave.” Outside of Polygamy Jealousy is a mere phantom. You, dear readers, are ignorant of Jealousy, and “Where ignorance is bliss ’tis folly to be wise.”

To find jealousy in its zenith go into the Mormon harems where every word and action, every crevice and key hole are avenues of that most vehement flame spoken of by the said Solomon. Polygamy is Slavery. Men barter, sell, or exchange wives with impunity. I witnessed a mule trade where a man threw in a wife and five dollars to boot, and got the mule. I find most men inquisitive to know how so many wives are supported: that they have enough to do to support one. Why not ask how slaveholders support so many slaves? The fact is, the wives are slaves; these work in the fields, the very affectionate husband sits on the fence with a whip-if they lag, he whips them like a refractory mule, in fact, he holds a mule in higher estimation than a woman for if he beats his mule to death it costs money to replace it, whereas he can get another wife without money or price at anytime, or so soon as a new batch of emigrants arrive from Europe.

One man I know well, who has twelve loving wives-fancy thirteen souls with but a single thought, thirteen hearts that beat as one. He takes contracts for sheep shearing, and loading up his dozen wives in a waggon, each armed with a pair of sheep shears, he drives them to the field of operation-there, like a nigger driver, he sees that they perform their work faithfully. When sheep shearing is over the haying time has come, then follows the grain harvest, and when out-door labour is over, the spinning jenny and loom are kept busy by the same wives.

One man has a ranch and dairy, which the wives attend to while he sits in the shade in summer, and toasts his shins by the fire in winter-the wives, of course, hauling in the wood-and woe to the wife who dares sell a pound of butter, a chicken, or egg. His first wife, a poor old cripple, fancied a cup of tea-a luxury denied the women of Utah. It would never do to have all these women tea-drinking. It would ruin any man, it costs too much: water is cheaper. This poor old wife, when her lord was absent, exchanged a few eggs for the wherewith to make the coveted beverage. Her hubby found it out; by the way they find out everything. The reigning favourite wife watches the other wives, and is a perfect tell tale. When he found that his first wife had committed the enormous crime of drinking tea, he dragged her to the stream, plunged her under water, and kept ducking her till she promised never to repeat the offence. I could enumerate scenes of this kind, but there are other features of Polygamy.,

A Bishop married a young girl while his first wife was on her deathbed. One blunt old lady remarked, “it is rather out of place.” The kind-hearted husband replied, “It’s _rather rough on Jane that she can’t join us, but we could not have a spree right after a funeral, so we thought we’d have the wedding before Jane died.” What a festive occasion: one wife dying, another being duly installed. The poor first wife died in agony, crying “As eternity of happiness cannot recompense me for this torture, but the husband of her youth and father of her children was not present either at the death or burial – he was off with his young bride.

One grief-stricken wife, finding her husband determined to take another wife, implored him not to, saying:  we have been so happy together; I shall die if you take another.” Hear the response of the affectionate husband: “Die then! Hundreds of better women than you are in their graves, who died from the same cause.” Accursed Polygamy, when the sorrows of a woman become too great to bear, she is roughly told to join hundreds of others who have died from its blighting and withering effects.

I will now give another feature of Polygamy. One woman had several sons before her husband took another wife; these are all good young men, but the one born after his father took a second wife was a desperado whose hands were fearfully stained with blood, and was finally lynched for a most diabolical murder. When the poor mother heard the fate of her son, she exclaimed “Poor boy, it’s not his fault, its the accursed Polygamy; for months before that boy was born I wanted to kill his father’s second wife. Murder, and nothing but murder was in my heart all the time; that poor boy has paid the penalty of his father’s crime and mother’s sorrow.” Then raising her withered and trembling hand she cursed Polygamy as only an injured wife and bereft mother could. The anathemas, as I have heard them in Utah’s harem’s, make one shudder; not only do the women curse it, but the offspring, as they verge into maturity, curse the system which made them what they really are, illegitimates; and yet the system continues.

In 1876, while Americans celebrated the glorious achievements of one hundred years of liberty and progress, one thousand polygamic marriages took place in Utah. America should at once put a stop to this degrading evil of Polygamy, or cease boasting of her advancement and civilization.

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8 thoughts on “Hell on Earth, Part 2

  1. I have no doubt this guy saw some of what he “reports”. But at least the first two thirds of this smacks of retelling stories. It reminds me of the talk that goes on among a bunch of rascals bragging about their sexual conquests – 99% untrue and stretching very thin the few parts that are true. The surest way to get a viciously distorted view of a man’s character is to ask his ex-wife. This guy sounds just like an ex-wife badmouthing every detail of her ex-husband’s existence.

    The fact that this guy started out by retelling all the standard polygamy jokes as if they were his personal observations makes me distrust all else he says.

    I, on the other hand, witnessed polygamy where the parties seem quite content. I think their theology is mistaken but they like it and they seem quite committed and happy. I know many of these relationships reach much higher than this guy gives them credit. I know one threesome who fell in love in college with zero supporting theology – they simply fell in love succeeding now for several decades.

    Now, despite my objections to this “witness”, I know polygamy, especially in the old West, was a situation ripe for abuse. I know many men would happily follow their lower emotions not only into polygamy but also into abusive selfishness. Yet that possibility does not, in itself, condemn polygamy any more so than the same possibility condemns monogamy. As far as I’m concerned, if anyone wants to enjoy non-standard relationships, I will not stand in their way. I will happily buy and sell with them and do all manner of other community stuff with them and even entertain their friendships just as good as any other. I can do this while choosing for myself to live in the kind of intimate relationship(s) that suite(s) me.

    I do not practice nor do I preach polygamy. But this guy’s vitriol brings a very bitter taste to the table. He leaves me with the very same sick reaction I felt one time eating lunch in a carpenter shack while I worked on a Safeway remodel. Most all the carpenters took turns telling “pussy” jokes. I just don’t like that kind of disrespect and I can’t help but feel those jokers deserve the soap opera drama their lives reflect. This guy brings very little actual facts. Though I have no particular reason to defend polygamy, I don’t think this guy’s words are fair at all.

    Your brother,
    Larry Woods

  2. JJ Quote for Today

    Intuition Examined #2

    “Intuition is not a gut feeling. Intuition is not necessarily a psychic impression. Intuition is not channeling. Intuition is not the Holy Spirit but may involve the Spirit. Intuition is not a feeling that something is right, but may bring this feeling. Intuition is not illogical, but may seem illogical. Intuition is not a received communication containing directions or data. Intuition does not originate from the solar plexus or lower emotions.

    What then is the intuition?

    Intuition is a higher octave of the emotional self.

    Intuition opens the window of the soul and communicates with the world above the mind or higher – the formless worlds. It receives in the language of the soul. And what is that? It is the language of principles. Perhaps DK describes it best when he uses the words “flashing forth” as descriptive of the intuition at work.”

    http://www.freeread.com/archives/2094.html

    Copyright 2003 by J.J. Dewey, All Rights Reserved

  3. Unfortunately there is a lot of truth to what he says even though he is saying it from an antagonistic point of view. The fruits of polygamy from Mormondom have been disastrous, even to this day. It is interesting how it seems to attract the same authoritarian men who oppress women whether Muslim, Mormon, or whatever. Some one once said the worst reason to enter polygamy is for religious purposes, and I can;t help but agree.

  4. “The poor first wife died in agony, crying “As eternity of happiness cannot recompense me for this torture, but the husband of her youth and father of her children was not present either at the death or burial – he was off with his young bride.”

    Striking.

    “The fact is, the wives are slaves; these work in the fields, the very affectionate husband sits on the fence with a whip-if they lag, he whips them like a refractory mule, in fact, he holds a mule in higher estimation than a woman for if he beats his mule to death it costs money to replace it, whereas he can get another wife without money or price at anytime, or so soon as a new batch of emigrants arrive from Europe.”

    All their hopes and dreams of a new life in the land of the free crushed.

    There is karma and I hope there is a recompense scheme built in for not every misfortune we suffer is a fault of our own, or a negative karma from either this
    lifetime or a previous one.

  5. “I visited their Polygamic harems, but failed to find a happy one. At one place I found a little girl gathering up hair that had been made to fly during a recent fight among the affectionate wives of the harem. I asked the child what she was gathering the hair for? She replied, “to make my doll a mattress.””

    What about the kids in this environment? Sad really. It is not affectionate towards them.

    Just law is love.

  6. “Accursed Polygamy, when the sorrows of a woman become too great to bear, she is roughly told to join hundreds of others who have died from its blighting and withering effects.”

    Sad.

    “Poor boy, it’s not his fault, its the accursed Polygamy; for months before that boy was born I wanted to kill his father’s second wife. Murder, and nothing but murder was in my heart all the time; that poor boy has paid the penalty of his father’s crime and mother’s sorrow.”

    My mom always wanted a spiritual child.

    I this case of the Mormons then a entity of low vibration was attracted and it also shows the effects of breaking the natural law.

    “but latterly Brigham took to sleeping alone in a little chamber behind his office for quiet and safety.”

    He was not a true lord or husband but let the wifes just fight among themselves never making a judgement call about anything like a husband should or a lord of
    the house for that matter. Of course everything descended into chaos. And I think some of the wifes knew this and hated him for it, one of the reasons why he always
    had to sleep with one eye open.

  7. He is like the 1800’s Wiki leaks man. I would imagine that if these women incarnated into a future lifetime (as females again), they would abhor marriage and relationships and probably have some issues about men that would need healing.

    Ruth

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