Mormonism: “The Big Con?” (pt 13: Paradigm Shift)

Welcome to the madness.

This is part 4 of my Mormonite polygamy posts. It’s also part 13 of my Mormonite series.

And to think this whole thing was originally meant to be just a section of “The Religious Wrong (pt 3: The Great(?) Awakening)“. Some things just take on a life of their own.

Mormon ChronologyParadigm Shift, pt. 1

I think it finally dawns on Joe that he can’t keep beating cheeks with every female “lil’ Joe” takes a liking to and expect to keep it all secret. Especially now that the “bang a bunch” movement is spreading among his cohorts.

Emma can’t be much of a jewel to live with at this point. She doesn’t know nearly the extent of it, but she knows that other buns are wrapping Joe’s salami. (Or is that a Vienna sausage? Inquiring minds want to know!)  Emma is NOT happy!

Emma isn’t the only one upset with all this sperm spreading. Some other #1 wives aren’t too fond of the situation either. On top of that, the flock is restless, and the rumors are now nation-wide thanks to Dr. John and others.

Joe even called a special conference back in April to challenge anyone to say anything to his face right there in the conference. (Yeah, like that was really gonna happen.)

What to do? What to do? What to do?

The first thing seems to be to get Emma and the other restive wives to accept their new sausage sharers and get off their philandering hubbies’ backs.

After all, a woman’s primary duty (besides cooking, cleaning, child-bearing and plowing the back 40) is to keep hubby happy. And, what makes a man happier than having lots of holes to plug? (At least from Joe’s perspective.)

(5/4/1843) Joe invents the temple endowment!

Well, he doesn’t exactly invent it, he modifies some Freemason rituals to fit his purpose.

While we’re on the subject, this is not the only temple ritual that looks like a Masonic regurgitation. Back in the Masons, Mormonites & Mrs. Harris segment of my “Uncivil War” post, I touched very briefly on a small part of the Mason-Mormonite connection. The connection is worth a post on its own at another time.

Suffice it for now to say that Joe’s dad was a Mason and bro Hyrum is a Mason, as well as most of the Mormonite “elite”. Joe is the Grand Chaplin of his own personal Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo. The lodge has 1500 members at a time when there are only 150 non-Mormonite Masons in Illinois.

There are nine attendees at Joe’s endowment introduction announcement. All of them are Freemasons. Most, if not all, are polygamists (aka fornicating adulterers).

Although, it’s a temple endowment, there is the minor problem that there’s no temple to be endowed in. No matter, Joe fixes up the 2nd story over his store as an imitation temple.

Joe tells the men that there is an additional hoop to jump through if you want to make it to the highest degree of heaven. You have to go through the endowment ceremony.

Hand gestures that accompanied the blood oaths that were part of the endowment ceremony back in the days.

Hand gestures that accompanied the blood oaths that were part of the endowment ceremony back in the day.

Here’s the best part. The endowment will be extended to women on certain conditions. One of those conditions is to bow to the will of their husbands in all things, including multiple mates. If the wives don’t accept those terms, they’re stuck at a lower degree of heaven while their spouses are spending eternity living La Dolce Vita. Devery S. Anderson & James Bergera, eds: Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History p.5, Signature Books (2005)

That might silence most of the complaining wives, but it doesn’t work on Emma. She knows Joe for what he is. (And, for what he is not!)

Also,the hoi polloi aren’t ready for this yet. so the lyin’ and denyin’ with continue as usual. (In case you didn’t know, “hoi Polloi” is ancient Greek for “the majority”. So now you know some ancient Greek!)

At a church meeting a few days later, bro Hyrum, who was at the endowment introduction, tells the congregation that only the Devil would give a revelation approving “wives and concubines”.

(5/11/1843) Sarah Lawrence 17 (single)

(5/11/1843) Maria Lawrence 19 (single)

Sarah and her sister Maria, follow the same route as Emily & Eliza Partridge. After serving apprenticeships as “helpers” in Joe’s mansion, they are promoted to “wives”. Of course, these are secret promotions. Other than the participants, NOBODY, especially Emma is supposed to be aware of their new status.

One of Maria’s friends says later that she has mixed feelings about all this. According to the friend, she feels that if Mormonism is true, she’s saved. If it isn’t, she’s just fucked. (Although, I don’t think she used the “F” word.)

Joe’s relationship with Maria will turn out to be one more step down the path leading to the morphing of Joe’s “magic undies” from holy to holey. (More later. etc., etc.)

(5/22/1843)  Emma catches Joe bagging a partridge in an upstairs bedroom. Eliza Partridge, to be exact. (Shades of Fannie Alger!) William Clayton: Claytons Secret Writings Uncovered: Extracts from the Diaries of Joseph Smith’s Secretary pp 105-06, Modern Microfilm (1982)

Emma is heartbroken (again). Then she gets mad (again). Then she decides to get even.  But, before that happens, we’ve got a couple more “weddings” to attend.

(6/1/1843) Elvira Annie Cowles (Holmes) 29 (married)

Elvira’s father moved the family to Nauvoo in 1840. He quickly rose in the ranks to become a counselor in the Nauvoo stake. (A Mormonite stake is about the same as a Catholic diocese.) Elvira was hired as part of Joe’s household staff. Her duties are a little vague. Some historians speculate she was a maid, others, a nanny.

While in Joe’s employ, he introduced her to Jonathan Holmes. Joe marries the two of them in September of ’42. Eight months later Elvira gets added to Joe’s harem.

Nobody knows if Jonathan knows, but Elvira’s daddy knows, and he’s pissed. He resigns his position in the church and plays a crucial part in greasing the slide to Joe’s destruction. Todd Compton: “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” p. 592, Signature Books (1997) (All together now: “MORE LATER!”)

(6/12/1843) Rhoda Richards 58 (single)

Not a lot of juicy on this one. Rhoda is 58 and a bit passed the “juicy” stage. Her bro is Willard Richards, one of Joe’s henchmen apostles. In fact, Willie performed the “marriage”. After Joe joins the “Boot Hill Bunch”, Rhoda “marries” Brigham (the bigot). After all, according to Brigham, what was Joe’s is now his. (see Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs))

Paradigm Shift, pt. 2

(7/12/1843) Big Daddy pulls a 180! (Well, Joe says he does anyway.) Sometime between June 28th and July 11th, Big D has another chat with Joe. This results in D&C 132. All of a sudden, multiple matings aren’t abominable anymore. (There goes Jacob 2:23-24.) Now, the church’s spinologists suggest that B.D. gave J.S. the O.K. back in ’31. Minor problems (as usual) with this spin.

First of all, that was the same year that Joe said Big D said “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” D&C 42:22). Secondly, if that really happened, why was Willie Wine Phelps the only person Joe ever told about it? If he even told Willie. And why doesn’t Willie ever mention it until a letter to Brigham (the bigot) in 1861? Plus, if Big Daddy actually did approve back in ’31, why has Joe has been lying about the matter for 12 years? Or do lies magically become truths when uttered by “prophets”?

Actually, D&C 132 says a lot of things. For those of you too busy to read all 66 verses, I’ll provide a précis: (For the “red state” educated among you, a précis is a summary of a text or speech.)

The first few verses suggest that Joe has asked Big D for some clarification justification for screwing lots of ladies. The passage in Jacob doesn’t leave a lot of loopholes. And since Joe doesn’t like what Jacob says, B.D. has changed his mind on the matter. Not only that, but if you don’t go along with the “new and everlasting covenant”, “then ye are damned!”

Despite what you may have learned, everlasting does not mean eternal. In this instance it means 47 years. That’s the time period between D&C 132 and the “1890 Manifesto“, which advises against any future polygamy in the church. It’s either that or a number of church leaders are going to take extended vacations at the Iron Bar Inn and Utah can forget about statehood. That manifesto only prohibits future “spiritual wifery”, it grandfathers the existing ones. It isn’t until the Second Manifesto (1904) that it’s made retro-active. (And Big D. doesn’t object? I have to say, for a “GOD“, B.D.’s a total screw-up!)

The next few verses are Big D doing a bunch of chest-thumping. If nothing else, B.D.’s always been an egotistical son of a bitch.

Then, we get to the meat: Unless you marry in the church, you’re splitsville post dirt-nap, since Big D doesn’t recognize non-church marriages.  In fact, you automatically become a servant to your betters who have married in the church.

If you do marry in the church, you’re stuck with each other for eternity, (which would make Heaven Hell to some Mormon couples I know). On the plus side, it’s one more step on the way to “God-hood”. As “Prophet, Seer and Revelator” Lorenzo Snow later puts it, “As Man is…God once was…As God is…Man may become”.kolob12 copy

Yes, you can be planet Wojahowitz’s “Big Daddy”.

B.D. goes on to misquote Mathew 7:14 (strait is the gate, etc.)

Then we come to the part (verse 26) that states that if you shed innocent blood, you’re going to Hell! And, btw it’s “blasphemy” against the Sacred Spook. Not sure what he/she/it? has to do with it, but whatever. The operative word here is innocent! I call this Joe’s “Get Out of Hell Free” verse, since Joe would argue that Grandison Newell, Governor Boggs, the Missourians and the others didn’t have a drop of innocent blood. In fairness, I’d have to agree with him about some of the Missourians. This brings me back to a question I keep asking, ‘Why the hell does GOD need a hitman?”

In verse 30, we learn that Joe is Abraham’s direct descendant. “…from whose loins ye are, namely, my servant Joseph…” Funny, he doesn’t look proto-Jewish.

In the next few verses, B.D. endorses the Old Testament world-view, especially as it pertains to multiple wives/concubines.

Finally in verse 40, Joe’s appointed Big Daddy’s Earth Agent : “I am the Lord thy God, and I gave unto thee, my servant Joseph, an appointment, and restore all things.”

And verily, verily, I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever you bind on earth, in my name and by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you retain on earth shall be retained in heaven.” It goes on like this for a few verses.

In verse 50, Joe gets forgiven for all his sins.

Verses 54 through 56 are a warning to Emma to get off Joe’s back about his screwing other women OR ELSE! “for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law” This is supposed to be Big Daddy sending a message, but Emma knows it’s Joe making the threat. She also knows what he’s capable of having done to her. Opie Rockwell, “God’s gunslinger”, is still around and itching to fill any request Joe might have of him.

Finally, we come to verse 61: “…if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him…”

And verse 62 “And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.”paradigm copyThe next few verses flesh out Big D’s rules on legal (according to the him) adultery. Funny thing is by Big Daddy’s own rules, several of Joe’s affairs are still adultery. So far, at least 12 of Joe’s “wives” were already married (some with children). No virgins there. Then there’s Joe’s bro’s widow and I can’t vouch for how many of the single ladies hadn’t “done the deed” prior to their “wed spread”.

In verse 64, B.D. also threatens to “destroy” any wife that doesn’t go along. I guess he doesn’t want Emma to feel picked on.

In the last verse, Big Daddy’s ego strikes again, “Behold, I am Alpha and Omega“. Most scholars will tell you that symbolizes beginning and end. Well, his beginning was as “El” in the Canaanite pantheon and his end can’t come soon enough.

If you (or Joe) thinks D&C 132 solves the problem, you (and Joe) need to put another quarter in the “thought machine”. The uproar over polygamy, in and out of the church, is going to make the previous crises (Zion, the Kirtland Anti-Bank fiasco, the 1838 Mormon War) pale in comparison.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, back on the home-front.

On October 7, 1866, Brigham (the bigot) claims…….You know, I think I’ll let Brigham tell it: “Not six months before the death of Joseph, he called his wife Emma into a secret council, and there he told her the truth, and called upon her to deny it if she could. He told her that the judgments of God would come upon her forthwith if she did not repent. He told her of the time she undertook to poison him, and he told her that she was a child of hell, and literally the most wicked woman on this earth, that there was not one more wicked than she. He told her where she got the poison, and how she put it in a cup of coffee; said he, ‘You got that poison so and so, and I drank it, but you could not kill me.’ When it entered his stomach he went to the door and threw it off. He spoke to her in that council in a very severe manner, and she never said one word in reply. I have witnesses of this scene all around, who can testify that I am now telling the truth. Twice she undertook to kill him.” Brigham Young: “The Essential Brigham Young” p. 188, Signature Books (1992)

This is most likely a humongous pile of guano (bat shit). There’s no proof of the bigot’s allegations, and it’s a lot more in character for Joe than Emma. There is an incident on record in which Joe gets sick after drinking a cup of Emma’s coffee, but from the description it’s ulcers rather than rat poison. I think this claim probably has more to do with the fact that Emma is on another side of the post-Joe power struggle.

As to what really happens, Emma, “Spoke repeatedly about that pretended revelation … [and] says[,] ‘I must submit or be destroyed. Well, I guess I have to submit.'” Interview of William Law, March 30, 1887, Salt Lake Daily Tribune (July 31, 1887)

Emma decides to apply a bit of “sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander” logic. “He [Joseph Smith] knew she [Emma] was disposed to be revenged on him [Smith] for some things. She [Emma] thought that if he [Joseph] would indulge himself she [Emma] would too.” William Clayton: Claytons Secret Writings Uncovered: Extracts from the Diaries of Joseph Smith’s Secretary p 108, Modern Microfilm (1982) 

William Law (1809-1892)

William Law (1809-1892)

She’s decided she wants Joe’s 2nd Counselor, William Law, because he’s a “sweet little man”. Joseph H. Jackson: A Narrative of the Adventures and Experience of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo  (1844)

This is fine with Joe, since he wants a crack at Mrs Law’s crack.

It isn’t fine with William Law. Willie has been one of Joe’s prime defenders against the polygamy charges, and now Joe wants Willie to “bone” Emma?

Joe and Emma both talk to Willie’s wife Jane, but she isn’t going along either.

The Laws have this funny idea that Big Daddy laid it straight back in Jacob 2: 23-24 when he talked about “whoedoms and concubines being abominations and how he was pissed at David and Solomon for their female menageries.

Despite this, several months later, Joe tries to get into Jane’s bloomers (or whatever they wore back then). FAIL!

This and other events will result in Willie turning on Joe and abetting Joe’s slide into “martyrdom”. I’ll explain when we get to ’44.

(7/1843) Desdemona Fullmer 32 (single)

In the spring of ’42, Desdemona is living in Joe’s Mansion. However, she moves out before she and Joe are “hitched” in July of ’43.

Desdemona is very leery of being around Emma after the nuptials. “In the rise of poligamy [sic] I was warned in a dream Amy [Emma] Smith was going to poisen [sic] me” Newell & Avery: Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p 165, University of Illinois Press (1994)

Emma doesn’t poison Desdemona. In fact, Desdemona outlives Joe by two husbands. (Back-to-back, not side-by-side.) She passes away in 1886 in SLC and is buried as Desdemona Fullmer Smith.

(Summer/1843) Mary Ann Frost (Pratt) 34 (divorced)

I guess Joe forgets about the “virgin” clause in D&C 132, or more likely just ignores it. In April Joe marries Mary Ann’s sister, Olive, and you know how much Joe likes “sister sex”. And, remember, Joe has the power to change Big D’s mind if he doesn’t like a rule. (Brigham (the bigot) will have the same power, at least when it comes to racial relations.)

Mary Ann had been married to Parley P. Pratt (PPP). She even went on a mission to England with him. However, she left him there, came home to Nauvoo and dumped his ass. At the time she “marries” Joe, she’s divorced and carrying somebody’s baby. It’s not Joe’s and it’s not PPP’s but it’s somebody’s.

(9/20/1843) Melissa Lott 19 (single)

Melissa, “a tall, fine-looking woman with dark complexion, dark hair and eyes. She was a good singer, quite celebrated in a local way.” works in Joe’s mansion. (Haven’t I heard this story before?) Mellissa’s daddy is Joe’s farm manager.

By June, Melissa is back on the farm for whatever reason. Late in the month she gets a visit from Liz Durffee, a “Mother of Israel” (euphemism for Joe’s pimp-ets) along with couple more “wives” (Eliza Snow & Elvira Holmes) and the mother (Elizabeth Whitney) of a fourth. It appears the four are on a recruitment mission, (see “pimp-et” snark) because it isn’t long before she joins Joe’s stable.

In researching, I ran across a copy of their wedding vows: “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition, that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others during your lives.” And yes, Joe said “I do!” to the vows.

However, despite the vows “I did not go to church with Joseph Smith, was never seen on the streets or in public places with him as his wife during his lifetime.” Todd Compton: “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” p. 598, Signature Books (1997)

But, never fear, the marriage does include sex. Affidavit of Melissa Willes,  (8/3/1893)

(8/11/1843) Joe presides at bro Hyrum’s first plural marriage.

William Clayton (1814-1879)

William Clayton (1814-1879)

He tells Willie Clayton that he should get all the wives he can. William Clayton Journal 2, “Nauvoo, Illinois,”(8/11/1843)  This presents a small problem the following month when Willie wants the same woman Joe wants.

Willie’s already married two sisters and he wants the third one. Unfortunately, Joe wants the same lady (Lydia Moon). He tells Willie that B.D. has popped by again to tell Joe [that] a man could only take 2 of a family.” Willie goes along with this, but Lydia doesn’t. She wants to join her sisters. William Clayton Journal 2, “Nauvoo, Illinois,” (9/15, 17 & 21/1843)


(10/19/1843) Willie Clayton has a problem! One of his extra “wives” is about to give birth and he’s worried about the fallout. Joe tells Willie “Just keep her [the mother and baby] at home and brook it and if they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptise [sic] you and set you ahead as good as ever.” William Clayton Journal 2, “Nauvoo, Illinois,” (10/19/1843)

(10/30/1842) Brigham (the bigot) baptizes two sisters (Cuoub [Cobb & Hari[e]tt Cook).

(11/2/1843) Brigham (the bigot) marries two sisters (Cuoub [Cobb & Hari[e]tt Cook), Joe presiding. Brigham Young Diary, (10/30/1843)

(11/2/1843) Fanny Young (Murray) 56 (widow)

Fanny Young Murray is Brigham (the bigot)’s sister and a close friend of Joe. One day the three of them are discussing the “plural marriage” requirement to make it to the highest degree of heaven. Fanny says “Now, don’t talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, if I ever get there, I shall request the privilege of being a ministering angel; that is the labor I wish to perform.”

Joe replies “Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want. Here, Brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me.” And it was done. Journal of Discourses vol 16 pp166-67 Strangely, Fanny was one of the few “Joe wives” that weren’t re-sealed to him when the Nauvoo Temple is finished. I have a gut feeling that there wasn’t any sex involved in this “marriage’. At least if there was, nobody talked about it.

For those readers who have not read “Marching to Zion & Fancying Fanny’s Fanny, and wonder why I keep referring to brother Young as Brigham (the bigot), here’s why:Damn Niggers(1842 or 1843) Nancy Mariah Winchester 14 (single)

When I began the posts on plural marriage, I mentioned the fact that in several cases, due to the illegality and the need for secrecy, some of the dates could not be definitively nailed down. Nancy is a prime example of that. The marriage is undocumented, and there is some controversy but according to Andrew Jenson, an official church historian, they were married when she was 14 or 15. Todd Compton: “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith” p. 606, Signature Books (1997)

After Joe is worm food, Nancy joins six other “Joe wives” and becomes one of Heber C. Kimball’s 39 wives.

This brings us to the end of this section of the saga.There are a number of other nominations for members of Joe’s harem, but the “wives” I’ve listed are the ones most historians agree on.

As my regular readers know, I like to slip in one final vid at the end of each episode. As with the other inserted vids, I try for at least a loose (sometimes very loose) connection to the episode’s theme or a tease for the next episode. The research for these has led to some exciting (at least for me) discoveries of talents I didn’t know existed. People like Adriano Celentano, Alvin StardusteLi, or that Mormon girl singing about polygamy. This episode’s ender is another one of those pleasant discoveries: Virgil the Clenhills the III Junior (aka Gareth Owen). Check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ve been foreshadowing Joe’s demise for the last several posts and next time we head down that road. Joe’s got about six months to live and there’s a lot going down between now and then. i.e. the fecal matter is about to collide with the air distribution system.

As I used to say when I was (MUCH) younger, “Till next time, toke it easy”.


p.s. I’m going to take a hiatus from the series for a while. I was hoping to do that after Joe dies, but I’ve been writing the series for eight months to the neglect of a couple other series (The Myth, Mythos & Myths of the NRA and Repugnut Thoughts) that I need to finish up before they’re completely obsolete. Plus, it’s campaign season and there are all those TeaPublicans to skewer. I’ll be back here right after the elections, or sooner if I have the time.

In the meantime, check out my “Grouchy’s Grumbles” page on FaceBook. If you take a likeing to it, I’d love it if you “liked” it.


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