Women of Mormonism
Chapter 8 - A Slave to the First Wife
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
Sorrows of Plural
Wives.-An Elder's Importunities.-An Unwilling Consent.-Slavery.-A Disappointed
Lover.-Escape from Home.-Tracked.-Driven Back.-Shameful Neglect.-Leaving Home a Second
Time.-Lying Justified.-A Husband's Treachery.-Doubts and Apostasy.
 WE now present another
story of a second wife, which illustrates still another phase of the " divine
ordinance," and shows the motives that sometimes induce first wives to give other
women to their husbands. This young girl was very sweet and amiable naturally, and the
woman who treated her so harshly was never considered as either cruel or vindictive, until
polygamy developed, or perhaps engendered, these evil qualities. There is a great deal of
truth in the remark once made by an old Mormon, " My wife was a perfect angel until I
took a second, and then she became a perfect demon."
"The majority of people have the idea that in polygamy the
grievances are all on the side of the first wife, and that the other women spend the most
of their time in planning how to annoy her and make her miserable. Let me relate my 
story and people will see that the plural wives also have their sorrows, and are deserving
of commiseration and sympathy too. It will also be seen that the first wives are not
always so averse to their husbands' going into polygamy as outsiders often think. In my
own experience, I have known more than one first wife to choose a second wife for her
"I came to Utah a number of years ago, when I was about eighteen
years of age. There were quite a number of Saints going from our town, and my parents
allowed me to go with a neighbor's family, because I was in rather delicate health, and
one of the elders told my mother that the climate of Zion would soon restore me to perfect
strength The rest of the family and my parents were to :follow in the course of a year or
two, and in the meantime I was to be partially in charge of the elder and his wife, who
promised to find me a good situation. I was an excellent needle-woman, having lived for
years in a nobleman's family as nursemaid, and latterly as seamstress; but my failing
health had obliged me to leave my place and return home.
"After we had started on the journey I found that the fact of
the elder's having a wife did not prevent him from offering me what I thought were decided
insults, and, what astonished me still more his wife did not resent his attentions to me.
I knew very well that the Saints in Utah practiced polygamy, but I never had any thought
of entering it, for  I had a. sweetheart in England who was to emigrated later on with
my own family.
"Soon after arriving in Salt Lake City I was taken down with
intermittent or mountain fever, and was very ill for many weeks. The elder and his wife
were very kind to me, and nursed me as if I had been a, sister. But as soon as I was able
to be around a little, they both commenced to talk polygamy to me, told me it was my duty
to enter it, not only to repay them for their kindness, but also as the means of saving my
soul. I objected very strongly, told them I could not marry at all, because they knew very
well that I was engaged before I left England, and I had no idea of giving up my own lover
for another woman's husband. But the more I objected, the more they urged me,' and at
last, being weak from recent illness, and being entirely penniless and a stranger, without
a friend in the place, (my neighbor's family from England having gone to one of the
settlements), I consented. What made me yield was the threat that if I persisted in
refusing, I should be turned out of doors, and the Saints all told that I was a bad
character. As I said before, I was very weak and not at all able to shift for myself, and
under these circumstances consent was wrung from me. They both promised that I should
always be well cared for, and be treated in the family as an equal in every respect.
"If I had not consented, I presume that I should have been
turned out of doors, perhaps in the night, 
for such things used to be of frequent occurrence in early days.
After I had become a plural wife, I heard of one instance where a young girl refused to
become the fourth wife of a certain bishop, and she was sent away from the house at
midnight. Of course the neighbors- missed her, and inquiries were made, but no one seemed
to know what had become of her. A few days afterward it was rumored that her body had been
found in the Jordan river, and in relation to that fact, a good Mormon remarked in our own
house, that ' Dead people tell no tales.'
"But to return to my own story. Before many months had passed I
found out that she, at least never had any intention of keeping the promise that I should
be well treated, and that she urged him to marry me simply because she wanted a servant. I
believe that he would have been kind to me, if he had not been so completely under her
influence. He was naturally a peaceful man, and did as she desired him in order to avoid
having trouble with her.
"I had been married to him but three months, when a younger
sister of his told me that Polly supposed the president (Brigham Young) would make him go
into polygamy some day, and she wanted him to marry me because I would make a good
'nigger,' for she meant the second wife to be nothing but a 'nigger' who would know her
place, and keep it, too. She told me, also, that it was arranged between them before they
left England that he should marry me when we reached the valley,  and that I should
be entirely under her control and direction. She was willing he should be exalted in
heaven; but she was also determined to recompensed for it on earth.
"For three years she did with me just as she pleased. I was as
much of a slave as any negro who ever lived. I could not begin to tell the privations I
endured. Sometimes I was without food, except little dry bread, for two or three days
together, often without fire in the winter, and in addition, had scorn and insults to bear
from the first wife. She would often call me by names that decency will not let me repeat,
and if the husband attempted to take my part, she would turn on him to. He sometimes
promised to leave her entirely an take me away, but he never could shake off her influence
long enough to think or act for himself.
"I did all the household work for the family, and when there was
nothing else to be done in the house washing and ironing and fine-sewing, were taken in
which I did, and she put the pay in her pocket. I had no friends in whom I could confide,
because she always took good care that I should not leave the house except in her company,
so I never had the chance of making any acquaintances of my own.
"I threatened to leave the house once, and she told me that I
would be glad enough to come back again, for she had informed every one that I was only an
outcast whom they had picked up in the streets of Liverpool, and were trying to reform. I
presume she would never have gained  so complete a mastery over me, if my intellect
had not been seriously weakened by the fever. I never should have gone into polygamy if I
had been entirely ill my right mind.
"The young man to whom I was promised had been my sweetheart
from the time we were village children together, and we were very much attached to each
other. If I had been perfectly myself, I know I could not have been false to him. When he
heard what I had done, he went to Australia instead of coming to America, and I never
heard anything more from him.
"My first child was born dead. I was in labor two days, and had
no assistance whatever until a kind neighbor who learned my situation, came and did what
she could for me. My husband's first wife said she was glad the little- was dead, for if I
had a child to take care of, I should not be fit for anything else. She said, also, what I
myself believe now, that there was no place for polygamous children in this world; but for
all that, I shed many tears over the little girl whose face I had only looked on for a
moment before she was taken away from me forever.
"For shame's sake, they gave me pretty good care for a week or
two, because the neighbors were beginning to talk about the way I was treated. After that,
things went on in the same old way again. Three weeks after my illness, I was doing all
the work, besides some extra washing. I cannot express the suffering of both mind and body
I endured all through that winter. I believe I  should have taken my own life if I
had not been sustained by the thought that my parents would soon be here to rescue and
"But when spring came, instead of having my anticipations
realized, I was doomed to disappointment. My father, who was a carpenter by trade, had
been seriously injured by falling from a scaffolding, and of course the family could not
emigrate until he should recover. This news almost drove me wild, and in desperation I
left the house secretly, and made my way to the residence of a Mrs. W., a Gentile lady
whom I knew by name, and who, I had heard a neighbor say, was in need of a nurse and
seamstress. I had nothing with me but one change of clothing.
"She happened to be at home, and in my despair I told her the
whole story of my wrongs, and begged permission to remain at once. She said I could stay
for the present, and if she found my story true, she would befriend me. I do not know what
inquiries she made, but she kept me on from day to day, and week to week, and seemed well
satisfied with me. I never left the house, for fear of being discovered and I had asked my
fellow-servants not to mention the circumstances under which I had come there . I have
reason, however, to think that one girl a good Mormon, betrayed me; for when I had been in
the house about three months, I was called down stairs one evening, and there in the
kitchen was my husband talking to my mistress.
"You may imagine how I felt; but he spoke  very kindly,
promised faithfully that I should be well treated if I would return home with him, and
said that if the first wife did not do right by me he would complain to the president.
"I did not want to go back, because I thought I could save
enough from my wages to keep me comfortable until I could work again, and my kind mistress
told him that as long as I wished to remain under her roof, she would retain and protect
"He appeared very sorry; said it was Polly who had tracked me;
that she would make a dreadful row and perhaps it would be better for all of us if I would
go home quietly. But I refused, and he left the house, and I heard nothing more for a few
days when my mistress told me with tears in her eyes that I must go home, as her husband
had been warned by the church authorities that it would be the worse for him if he kept me
in the house.
"There was not much chance of getting justice in those days,
even in a Gentile court, and he did not care to involve himself in difficulties for a
perfect stranger, and a polygamous wife at that although he felt very sorry for my
situation. People may think that this is exaggeration; but thousands in Salt Lake City can
bear witness to the fact that there was a time when the Gentiles could not protect Mormon
women, except at the risk of their own lives.
"I went back with my husband that same evening. I suppose some
people will say I was very foolish to do it. But I was without a friend in the  city,
turned out of the only place of shelter, and expecting to be a mother again. I might,
perhaps, have gone to the Jordan and drowned myself, or lain down in the streets and died;
but that would have been poor consolation for my parents on their arrival, and in all my
suffering I had thoughts of them.
"My husband was out of town on business when my second child was
born. The same neighbor who had been with me in my first trial, kindly assisted me, and
made me and my baby boy comfortable before she left us. It had been arranged before my
husband left that an experienced midwife should attend me; but as he was absent, his first
wife refused to allow her to be sent for, saying I could get along very well without such
a fuss being made over me; it was all nonsense
treating polygamous women as if they were first wives.
"And to their shame be it said, many of the first wives look
upon the plural women as if they were more like animals than human kind, and think that
they and their children need not be better housed nor fed than the horse in the stable or
the ox in the yard. I suppose it is only natural for a first wife to be jealous of the
second, and look upon her as a usurper of her rights; but if she professes to believe that
polygamy is a divine institution, she ought certainly to allow the second wife to have her
"Those who preach polygamy always say that the wives are all
equal in the sight of both God and  man; but in many cases, plural wives are treated
as if they were on a level with those women in the outside world who lead lives of shame.
I do not wonder that Gentiles sometimes consider the polygamous women as no better than
sinful creature; for in many instances the first wives have set them the example.
"After my neighbor had rendered us comfortable, she was
prevented from coming again for about twenty-four hours, and during that time the first
wife never came near me. I was left those
twenty-four hours entirely alone, without so much as a drop of water to moisten my lips.
My poor baby wailed all through that long night. I was unable to rise and get him anything
to satisfy his hunger, and, nature had, not yet provided, anything for him.
"We were both so nearly dead when my friend came again, that the
first wife was really frightened, and did all she could for our restoration. Sister A.
told her that if we died, she would proclaim her as a, murderer before the whole city. If
this part of my story is doubted, I can mention more than one responsible person in the
city who can substantiate my statements on oath.
"When my husband returned, he was very indignant at the way I
had been treated, and assured me that anything like it should never happen again. But I
knew better, and made up my mind quietly, without saying a word to any one, that as soon
as I was able I would come out of polygamy if it should  cost me my life. Rather than
live any longer to be treated worse than a dog, I would die like a dog, in the streets, if
I could do no better.
"After awhile I confided my intention to sister A., with whom I
had become quite friendly, and she promised to aid me all in her power. When my baby was
six weeks old, I left home and went to sister A.'s house, simply leaving a few lines for
my husband, telling him that I had left the family forever, and would kill myself and
child rather than return. He came directly after me, but my mind was firmly made up, and
was not to be changed.
"Sister A. talked very plainly to him; said their treatment of
me had become town talk, and even if he had not been cruel to me himself, he had not
controlled his first wife as he should. She ended by telling him that a man who could not
govern one wife had no business to be a polygamist, for the true doctrine was that a
husband should keep all his wives in subjection.
"Through the influence of sister A., who was universally loved
for her kindness of heart, I obtained some sewing to do in the house; and my old mistress,
Mrs. W., was also very kind to me, although she did not dare employ me in her family. She
gave me work at home, however, and paid me so liberally that I was able to pay sister A.
for my board, and was ,saving a little besides for a rainy day. My baby was growing to be
a fine, healthy fellow, and I was beginning to feel almost like a young girl again, when
sister A.'s husband  told me one evening,-she had not the heart to tell me
herself,-that I must find another home, for his reputation as a Saint was becoming very
much compromised by harboring an apostate.
"I replied I was not an apostate. I had not abandoned Mormonism,
nor had I any intention of so doing. I had only left a house where I had been
ill-treated,-yes, shamefully abused,-and without any cause whatever.
"He said he felt very sorry for me; that as far as he could see
I had behaved like a good woman since I had been in their house, but there were many ugly
stories afloat about me, and for the sake of his own family he felt obliged to tell me
that I must look for another home.
"And then it transpired that the first wife had been circulating
some outrageous stories about me,-that I was not a good woman, had a very passionate
temper, was almost everything wicked, and worse than all, I was a vile apostate, and ought
to suffer the most severe punishment for my sins. I had been kept so much in the
background that people knew but very little about me and as an evil word flies quicker
than a good one, there were many people who were ready to believe all she said, and
consequently I found myself in a pretty bad situation.
" But I determined not to lose courage, for I was expecting my
parents in a very short time, and although I should be obliged to leave sister A.'s house,
yet she promised to still befriend me. She  procured me a lodging with a friend of
hers in another part of the city,-a woman whose husband was absent somewhere in the
settlement with another wife.
"An emigration had just come in, and we three agreed to say that
I was one of the new-comers so as to put the first wife off the track. In my girlhood I
,should have thought it very wrong to tell what now seemed a justifiable falsehood, but I
had found since I came to Utah that the Saints did not stop at telling what was not true
when there seemed to be good occasion for it. They falsified whenever it pleaded them to
do so. I never was so horrified in all my life as when I heard President Young say on the
stand that nowhere could be found greater or smoother liars than among the Mormon people.
That was really the first thing that shook my faith in the principles of Mormonism.
"Another circumstance occurred about that time which weakened my
faith still more and which probably had great effect in causing my final apostasy. There
lived a short distance from us a high Mormon who had only one wife, and who had at her
entreaties, managed to keep out of polygamy, although he was reputed quite wealthy. But
all at once the wife imagined that he was paying altogether too much attention to her
servant-girl, whom she discharged immediately.
"Shortly after, the husband became very anxious about the health
of his wife, she being near her  confinement, and he suggested that she should take
her other child and ,stay with her mother until her trial was over. Not suspecting any
treachery, she acceded to his desires and left him at home, as he said that he could shift
for himself very well for a few weeks. Her mother lived in an extreme part of the city,
but he seemed very attentive, coming to see her almost every day.
"When her child was about a week old, a talkative neighbor
revealed the fact that her husband had been sealed to the girl she had discharged some two
or three weeks previous. The wife would not believe it, and was very indignant, but the
old lady insisted it was true, and added rather tauntingly, 'When you go home you will see
that she is already mistress in the house.'
"Almost maddened with grief and excitement, the poor woman rose
from her bed and went home, where she found it to be just as the old lady had said. The
girl told her insultingly that she was a servant no longer but as much of a lady as she
was now. The injured wife fell fainting at the feet of her treacherous husband, was taken
to bed, never regained consciousness, and in two days was carried to her grave, 'the
victim of a husband's perfidy.
"Though I personally had no reason to feel any sympathy for
first wives, yet this occurrence set me - thinking that a system which was productive of
so much sorrow and evil as even my own limited experience had seen, could not have been
ordered by God. "When once I began to have doubts regarding  the divine origin
of polygamy, it was not long until I disbelieved other portions of the Mormon creed, and
when my parents arrived, about two months after I had left sister A., they were both
grieved and shocked to find that I was on the high road to apostasy.
"Even after I had related all my wrongs and sorrows, as well as
what I had seen others suffer, they said: 'Never mind, daughter; though you had the
misfortune to fall in with those who were wolves among the sheep, yet you must not let
that shake your faith in holy revelation and the Latter-day prophets.'
"I did not say much, because I had been brought up to be
respectful, and to pay much deference to my elders; but I hoped and felt sure that their
eyes would be opened before they had been in Zion twelve months.
"I was not mistaken; and although we had a very hard time to get
along for awhile, yet by keeping quiet, and not giving any publicity to our real
sentiments, we escaped much trouble that might have fallen to our lot. After the Gentiles
began to come in, we had no trouble in getting plenty of work, and we soon had a
comfortable home again.
"I am married now, and have a husband of my own,-one whose
kindness has atoned for some of those dark days of my past life-but I can never repress a
shudder when I think of what I endured in polygamy, and it is hard for me not to wish that
the woman who was the cause of it all may yet receive the punishment which she so richly
Next: CHAPTER IX. EVIDENCE VS. STATEMENTS
Incident of the Endowment House.-Statement of a Mormon Bishop.-Testimony of a
Victim.-Result of a Second Marriage-Testimony of the United States District Attorney for
Back: CHAPTER VII. A VICTIM OF PIOUS WORDS
Married to a Missionary.-The Awakening.-Tempted to Murder Her Own
Children.-Apostasy.-More Demon than Woman.
Index: INTRODUCTION AND TABLE OF CONTENTS
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