Women of Mormonism
Chapter 16 - The Effects of Polygamy
THE WOMEN OF MORMONISM:
THE STORY OF POLYGAMY
As Told by the Victims Themselves.
JENNIE ANDERSON FROISETH
Editor of the Anti-Polygamy Standard, Salt Lake City,
C.G.G. PAINE, DETROIT, MICH.
Copyright, 1881 and 1882
By Jennie Anderson Froiseth
Affects Unborn Generations-Young Girls.-Remarkable Statement.-Testimony
of Stenhouse.-House of Correction.-An Apostles Son.-A Bishop's Hopeful
Heir.-Taylor's Refusal. -" Poor Boy."-Unfortunate Girl.-" Surprised that
they Lived together so Long."-Fifty Children in the Cemetery. Joseph Smith's
Son.-" Queen of the Harem."
IN a previous chapter it was
asserted that the Mormon children and youth are extraordinarily precocious in evil, and
that they grow to manhood and womanhood without being taught the common decencies of life,
to say nothing of its refinements. This is due to several causes, each and all of which
have their origin in polygamy.
This phase of the subject is one that it is difficult to deal with,
because every feature of it is so repugnant; yet it is one which needs to be exposed as
fully as possible. If the wrongs and evils of polygamy affected only its present victims
there might be some excuse for letting it die a natural death; but it is entailing wrongs
that will blast thousands of lives, and giving to a vast multitude of children still
unborn a heritage of woe and crime. . And it is no less for the sake of these unborn
thousands than for its present victims that we plead for measures which shall tend to
check the abomination.
It is a notorious fact that ninety per cent of these unholy alliances
are contracted when the former wives are in that condition which most craves a husband's
tender care and sympathy. It is not an uncommon occurrence for a wife to be near the hour
of trial when the husband is off on a honeymoon with another woman. The inevitable
mourning for the loss of her husband, the longing for his society, and hatred of the other
wife, exercise the most deleterious influences upon the moral faculties of the children.
It sometimes happens that a wife under these circumstances will
resort to the use of stimulants or potent drugs in order to drown her sorrows, and for the
time being render her oblivious to her own grief, or the triumphs of her rival. Tastes and
predilections are thus imbibed and acquired by children, which often result in their early
ruin. That these are not mere baseless assertions can be proven by the history of some
leading polygamous families in Utah,-families whose wealth and position, it might be
thought, would keep them exempt from the vices of the poorer and more degraded classes.
One of the effects of polygamy is that young girls brought up in the
system do not think it a possible thing for a wife to be the only mistress of a pure and
happy home, and the only recipient of a true and honorable husband's devotion. They have
been taught that a man who does not have plural wives  must keep mistresses, and as
they have always heard polygamy compared with the social evil, they soon learn to place
the two systems on the same level. And as a consequence. girls who have seen the utter
misery produced by the one system do not hesitate about embracing the other in preference.
There is a certain noted woman in Salt Lake City, who declares that during her residence
there, she has refused admission to hundreds of young Mormon girls who would lead
voluntary lives of shame.
One of the reasons given by the apostles of polygamy for its
acceptance is, that its practice will redeem the race from the many evils which are
prevalent in modern society; that it respects the desires of every woman to be an
honorable wife and mother, and leaves no unmarried element to go astray.
In a recent newspaper article, one of the Mormon leaders made the
remarkable statement that the Mormons held chastity in man as a virtue that should be
maintained as rigidly as in woman, and that it should be valued and cherished in both
sexes as more precious than life itself. We repeat, a "remarkable statement,"
because none knew its falsity better than the man who made it; and it was made for the
express purpose of deceiving those people who were inclined to favor legislation against
Mormon polygamy. But let us see if the history of Mormonism will bear out any of these
specious reasons given for the practice of the peculiar institution.
Stenhouse, who was a Mormon for twenty years  or more, and whose
"Rocky Mountain Saints" is admitted by the most bigoted Mormons to be a true and
impartial history of their sect, says, in speaking of the early days of Mormonism: "
Even at this time a few of the new converts appear to have exhibited loose notions of
morality. Of these, some charged with being adulterers and adulteresses were stated to
have been turned away, and others were warned to beware and repent speedily."
He further says: "All through the history of .the church, during
the lifetime of Joseph Smith, may be noticed a disposition to free-loveism." These
statements are very mild compared with those of other authors, but we do not think they
prove very conclusively that this virtue was rigidly observed in the early days of the
To show that the morals of the Saints had not improved very radically
in the days of the prophet Brigham, we will quote again from Stenhouse, in regard to the
famous (or infamous) "Reformation" in Utah. It is recorded that "on one
occasion, a public meeting was called at the Social Hall, which was, very largely attended
by the priesthood or male members only. Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others
addressed the elders. Brigham, in his speech, requested all present
who had been unfaithful to their marriage vows to stand up. To the surprise of some, and
the chagrin of the presidency, more than three-fourths stood on their feet. It is related
that Brigham was as much appalled at this sight as was Macbeth when he beheld the woods of
 Birnam marching on to Dunsinane. A bishop arose and asked if there was not some
misunderstanding among the brethren concerning the question. He thought that perhaps the
elders understood Brigham's inquiry to apply to their conduct before they had thrown off
the works of the devil and embraced Mormonism; but upon Brigham's reiterating that he
referred to sins committed since they had entered the church, the brethren to a man still
stood up. Brigham had evoked a specter that he little expected. Of course, no women being
present, the men only answered for themselves-the inference had to be imagined about the
Now, in order to prove that the status of morality is no higher at
the present day, especially among the children and youth, we need only give the testimony
of the Mormons themselves.
One of the church organs has made the depravity of the youth of this
Territory, the subject of more than one leader during the past year, and has strongly
recommended the establishment of a House of Correction, or some similar institution, where
children might be placed for reformation. For whose children? it may be asked. Certainly
not for those of the Gentiles; for there are comparatively very few families among the
Gentile residents, the bulk of that class of the population being miners, and men who have
It is a source of constant complaint among those who have children,
that with all their care, they can scarcely prevent them from coming in contact with 
the accursed influences that surround the rising generation of Mormons. What some of these
influences are may be imagined when it is known that the bishops of many settlements have
been complaining to the priesthood that a large majority of the marriages contracted
between young persons during the past few years have occurred under compulsion, because
circumstances obliged the bride's honor to be vindicated.
The bishop of one settlement not very remote from Salt Lake is the
authority for the statement that in one year more than twenty illegitimate children were
born (outside of polygamy), and not one Gentile in the place. The Mormons are wont to say
that it was the Gentiles who brought all social irregularities into Zion, but this
instance is at least one refutation of that assertion.
Not many months ago, a son of that selfsame apostle who pays such
high tribute to the virtue of this people, was compelled to leave his home in one of the
Northern settlements of Utah for a flagrant breach of social decorum. He had a nice young wife, and a baby only a few months old; but this
did not prevent him from indulging in celestializing propensities, and the worst of it was
that he omitted going through the Endowment ceremonies with the young lady.
A still later case is that of a bishop's son,-and the facts have
appeared in the local journals,-who has three wives, two of whom he married within a few
weeks of each other, and both under compulsory circumstances. It was proved beyond a
shadow of doubt that the brutal instincts of this young Mormon, came through his parents,
and that every child of theirs had been almost on a par with this one, -showing how truly
Mormon polygamy makes beasts of nearly all who become entangled in its folds.
A reputable female physician who had a very large practice in Salt
Lake City among what is called the higher class of Mormons (they never employ male
physicians except in extreme cases), has made the statement repeatedly, that a majority of
her patients were in need of her services when they had been married six or seven months;
and for a young mother to have been married nine months was something of a rarity.
Only a few weeks ago a certain Mormon asked permission of John
Taylor, the present head of the church, to take another wife. To his credit be it said,
when he became acquainted with the circumstances, he refused to allow the marriage to take
place, saying that polygamy should not be used as a means of covering sin. But if he had
been as discriminating in every case of the same kind during the past few years, the
number of " waifs " thrown on the world would be alarming.
But a tree is known by its fruits, and in lieu of any more comments
on the system, we submit the following incontrovertible facts, known to thousands of
people at present living in Utah. We suppress names, because there are members of each
family  still living. Persons are
nothing, but facts speak for themselves, and we leave any candid man or woman to judge
from the effects of polygamy whether it should be crushed as a poisonous viper, or still
be allowed to spread its venomous slime under the name of Religion!
The first wife of a prominent Mormon had several sons, one of whom
evinced a most cruel, vindictive, and blood-thirsty disposition almost from his birth.
From his earliest childhood, he seemed to take the greatest delight in torturing and then
killing animals or birds; as he grew older he became a perfect terror in the neighborhood
where his parents lived.
When people came to his mother to complain, or to demand satisfaction
for some new depredatory act upon fowls or animals, or some cruelty perpetrated upon their
children, she would shake her head sorrowfully and say, " Poor boy, it is not his
fault, it is only his misfortune."
When asked for an explanation of her words, she declined to give it,
but would repeat them over and over again, much to the disgust of her friends, who
pronounced him to he, " without exception, the worst child they had ever seen or
heard of." Neither the tears nor prayers of his mother, nor the punishments of his
father, made any impression upon him. He grew steadily worse.
When he was about sixteen years old he went away from home, and for
some time nothing was heard from him, until at last it was discovered that  he was
living with a band of desperadoes who were both robbers and murderers. More than once were
his hands stained with the blood of a fellow mortal. His own death occurred by being
lynched by an infuriated mob for a peculiarly unprovoked and outrageous murder.
When his mother heard of his dreadful end, she shook her gray head
sorrowfully, as she had done of old, and repeated the same words, " Poor boy, it was
not his fault, only his misfortune. I knew it would end just as it has."
Shortly afterward, some friends came to condole with her, among whom
was a person high in authority in the church. An eye-witness said that she should never
forget the scene.
After a few sympathetic words had been said, the poor, half-crazed
creature rose, and looking the elder straight in the face, said in thrilling tones:- "You are responsible for the fate of my poor
boy; you and the infernal doctrine of polygamy. It was you who persuaded my husband to
take another wife, to live up to his privileges, as you termed it. We had lived happily
until that time, but polygamy made our home like the abode of Satan. For months before the
birth of that boy, I felt as if I wanted to kill his father's second wife, the woman who
had destroyed our home and robbed me of my husband's love. Murder, and nothing but murder,
was in my heart all the time. I never looked at her but I wanted to kill her. There were
times when I would willingly have yielded up my own life, if I  could have had the
satisfaction of seeing her dead first, and by my hand. That poor, unfortunate boy has only
paid the penalty of his father's sin and his mother's sorrow." Then raising her
withered hand on high, she continued, " I pray God that the curse
of an injured wife and a bereaved mother may follow you all the days
of your life, for it was you who led my husband into polygamy.''
Immediately after the publication of the foregoing incident in the Anti-Polygamy Standard, the following letter was
received by the editor:- " The article
in the last number of your valuable paper entitled ' The Effects of Polygamy' recalled to
my mind another incident illustrative of that same point, which occurred in a family of my
"The first wife fell into a state of despondency on account of
her husband's neglect of her, and devotion to another woman, and nothing could arouse her
from her constant condition of sadness and lethargy combined. Formerly the neatest and
most active of women, she became the most careless and indolent. Her house, children, even
habits of personal neatness, were entirely neglected; and she did scarcely anything but
sit in a most careless undress, and silently bemoan the sad fate which had robbed her of a
" After a period spent in the foregoing manner, a reaction came,
defiance took the place of sorrow, and a restless, aimless energy succeeded apathy and
" The child
that was born .soon after is a compound of all these elements. At times she will sit
around, or lie in bed for days; will say she is ill but will never permit any remedies to
be given her. All she wants is to be let alone. Then, after that mood has passed, she will
fly around and yet accomplish nothing, as some of the family say. "
Her energy can never be directed to any permanently useful or
beneficial channel, and it scarcely ever lasts more than long enough to clear away the
debris accumulated during her period of inactivity and despondency.
The poor girl is
of no earthly account to herself or to others. Who is to blame? I may answer in the words
of your other correspondent, ' The unfortunate child is only paying the penalty of her
fathers crime and her mother's sorrow.'"
Instances of a similar nature might be multiplied almost without end.
A most striking illustration was made public during a divorce suit a
year or two ago. Both the parties belonged to leading Mormon families. The husband sought
a dissolution of the marriage tie on account of the furious and almost ungovernable temper
of his wife. Her fits of passion were perfectly extraordinary. He deemed the lives of
himself and of his children to be in constant danger.
She was not by any means an evil-disposed woman, and after her storms
of passion were over, her penitence and remorse seemed so deep and sincere, that for a
long time he hesitated about taking  the final step, but at last he felt compelled to
do it for the sake of his children.
Of course the affair was the subject of many and varied comments, but
to those who knew her best, the sequel was not a matter of surprise.
Said one aged relative, who was still a member of the Mormon church:
" I am only surprised that they lived together as long as they lid. For that girl,
though not wanting in many excellent qualities, had the temper of a demon; and, to tell
the truth, it was hers honestly.
"Her mother was a second wife, and for some years had been the
idol of the husband. But a new face charmed him, and he decided that he must live his
religion to a still greater extent.
"As it often happens, the second wife made more objections to
the third marriage than did the first; indeed, the latter was quite willing that the power
of the second woman should be broken. She was naturally high tempered, but after the
advent of number three, she used to have such terrible fits of passion as to frighten
every one with whom she came in contact.
"The scenes that occurred in that household would put to blush
the Prince of Darkness. It was not an uncommon event for the bishop of the ward, or men in
higher authority, to be called in to calm her passion, and restore peace in the family.
" Before that girl was born, her father was heard to remark more
than once, that it would be a happy circumstance for the child if it should be born dead.
 He had seen enough of polygamous life, and could not close his eyes to its effect on
children. And I feel justified in saying that if
he could have had his way, she would not have lived very long after her birth. Shortly
before he died, which was when she was about eight years old, he said, ' I am afraid that
Mary will yet curse the day she was born.' "
This principle of the transmission of hereditary traits was
acknowledged by Brigham Young, himself to such an extent that he virtually discarded one
of his wives, who possessed a very violent and ungovernable temper. She had only one
child, and the prophet said plainly that he did " not intend to have any more of that
Brigham Young, who certainly was very shrewd, and had the most
practical ideas of life, is accredited - with saying more than once that if he had his way
he " would discriminate among the women, and not all the wives, by any means, should
We shall say but little of the physical effects of polygamy on the
children, although this is a very important phase of the subject. The rows of tiny mounds
in the Mormon graveyards tell the tale briefly, but forcibly.
A noted polygamist in Salt Lake City was said before his death to
have more than fifty children buried in the cemetery, who had died in early infancy. We
might pursue this subject further, but our present mission is to deal with the moral
phases of the question.
One very noted polygamous family in Utah furnished a number of
pregnant illustrations of the deleterious effects of the system. The legal wife is a very
elderly lady now, and has had a number of children, all of whom, so far as living, are
quite advanced in life.
It is said, on pretty good authority, that she was a plural wife of
the prophet Joseph, and her eldest son belonged to that worthy, though always bearing the
name, and being generally recognized as the child, of her husband. Let us glance at the
lifepages of that son.
From his earliest boyhood he indulged in nearly every kind of vice,
and was frequently sent on missions, in order to effect a reformation, but he invariably
returned worse than ever. He continually drank to excess, and besides being a "
fourply" polygamist, he had the well-inherited reputation of trying to insult every
woman he might happen to meet.
Shrewd and unprincipled in business affairs, in private life he was
equally unreliable, and was held in just odium by the entire people of the Territory.
He met his death in a fitting manner, being shot by an incensed
brother, for an attempt upon his sister's honor. He was in his usual state of beastly
intoxication at the time, and the avenger shot him down like a dog.
Another cause was given for his death, but by command of his father,
the matter was instantly hushed up, and few members even of his own family learned until
months afterward how a swift Nemesis had overtaken him.
Rt. Rev. Daniel
 His body was brought to Salt Lake City (he had been living in
one of the settlements for the previous year), but was interred quietly and immediately
and was not permitted to be seen by a single person. This was in accordance with his
father's instructions, and for obvious reasons.
His oldest daughter married in polygamy, but not until she had
several " little affairs" with other gentlemen. It was well known. that her
married life was very unhappy.
The fact of her being a wife did not prevent her from enjoying the
society of gentlemen, and forming other attachments. One of these proved unfortunate. The
gentleman did not return her friendship, and in a fit of desperation she threw the life
aside that had been only too full of vanity and vexation of spirit. She was found dead one
morning and a little vial which was clasped tightly in the ice-cold hand told the sad
The polygamist in question had perhaps twenty wives, none ever knew
the exact number but himself, and it is doubtful if even a complete record is extant in
the Utah Endowment House, as a number were sealed to him in the old Nauvoo days.
One of those plural wives, who was for a long time reigning favorite,
was married to him when very young, and people who knew her at that time ,say she was a
most beautiful girl. She held her position for many years as " Queen of the
Harem," but her time also came to be displaced. Without doubt, she had been devotedly
attached to her husband,  and being also somewhat of an invalid, the blow struck her
with greater force.
One day a small quantity of laudanum was administered to her to
deaden an acute paroxysm. It lulled her bodily pain and soothed her mental anguish, and
from that moment until the day of her death she used the deadly drug continually. For
years she was a confirmed opium-eater, and made to efforts to control the habit which
consumed her own life and exercised such a baneful influence upon the lives of others.
A member of the family says that the deathbed of this woman was
horrible in the extreme. In a frenzy of despair and agony, before the last fatal dose was
administered to " quiet her nerves," she had every one of her children called to
her bedside, and made them swear a solemn oath that they would never go into polygamy,
that they would then and there forever renounce the foul demon that had ruined her, body
They took the oath, and have kept it; but the fatal curse that
wrecked their mother's life has followed more than one of them.
Two of the daughters are almost hopeless inebriates. Another is an
equally hopeless opium-eater, and an outcast in every sense of the word. She is bright,
intelligent, generous to a fault, and in her first youth was as lovely as her ill-fated
mother. She evidently does not consider herself to blame for her frailties; for she asked
a friend who was remonstrating with her on the course she was pursuing, if it was
.strange that a man who had so many wives should transmit to his daughters a penchant for numerous husbands.
Truly what is written in the sacred Word has been fulfilled in this
man's family,-The sins of the fathers shall be visited on those of the third generation;
for many instances may be cited where his children have escaped, but the curse has fallen
on his grandchildren.
An old lady who is thoroughly acquainted with this family remarked,
not long ago, that unless every law which governs hereditary transmission should be at
fault, the next generation of this brood would furnish almost innumerable materials for
the insane asylum and the scaffold.
Two plural wives of this man were driven insane by polygamy, one died
a raving maniac, calling upon Heaven to curse her husband, and declaring that she was
going to hell, sent there by polygamy. as yet, her children have shown no decided symptoms
of her malady, but there are people who declare that the curse will not pass them by.
Several other wives were sent k the grave broken-hearted, by neglect and ill-treatment;
and one, at least so it is whispered, paid the penalty of unbelief in the divinity of
Mormonism, with her life. A number of his children are already lying in drunkards' graves,
and more will lie beside them before many years.
Many others have avowedly no faith in Mormonism, though not formally
separated from the church. In belief they are either infidels or atheists, and their 
children will be launched on the world with no faith in God, heaven or hell, no sound,
moral principles, and no respect for a Government which has permitted the continuation of
that system which has made them, in a measure, outcasts from civilized society. This is a
brief statement of some of the effects of polygamy in only one family in Utah.
We could fill volumes with facts of a similar nature regarding almost
every single polygamous family of note in the Territory, and those whose social position
does not bring them into so much prominence are much worse.
As people descend in the social scale, their family relations will
bear less investigation; but we do not know that morality is any more outraged. The
outward surroundings, however, appear more hideous, probably because vice is not so well
concealed as in those who are favored by more fortunate circumstances. The effects of the
system are precisely the same in all classes of society, and a general description of its
results in one family or community will answer for the entire people.
Polygamy is utterly at variance with every known principle of law, order, or
morality; and people who practice it as in Utah, if let alone will soon degenerate into
mere brutes. Its effects are to destroy the moral and intellectual nature, and develop
only the animal. It remains to be seen whether the American nation will permit such an
institution to be perpetuated within its borders.
XVII. A HEART HISTORY
Wedding Anniversary.-Mormon Missionary-his Visit.-The Shock.-The Old Home.-Invalid
Sister.-The Mother's Advice.-The Journey to Zion.-Bishop Parker's Wives.-A Solemn
Promise.-The New Home.-Obscene Sermons.-Mrs. Parker's Friendship.-Unwelcome
Back: CHAPTER XV. THE BEAUTIES OF POLYGAMY
A Saintly Husband.-A Wedding and a Funeral.-The Trio Victorious.-"It Rejoices
Mother Beyond Measure."-"I Prefer to Scratch for Myself Now.
"-" I am Heart-Broken. "-The Black Eye.-An Eastern Lady.-Four Wives and
Three Beds. -Sixteen Children Left.-Peculiar Consolation.-Would Visit His Sick Wife Next
Sunday.-Would not Harmonize.-Arraignment of Polygamy by a Victim.
Index: INTRODUCTION AND TABLE OF CONTENTS
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