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Background Information

Below are some excellent articles on the history of polygamy in America; the founding and development of the Hildale, UT/Colorado City, AZ (Short Creek) areas; background information on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS); and some of the current conditions in these two towns.   There is also some good background information on their Canadian "Sister-Sect" located in Bountiful, British Columbia.   These news articles are just listed in random order.
For a good overview of a "Lines of Authority" starting with Joseph Smith and going through the current offshoot groups, look at this excellent diagram created by the Deseret Morning News.   Please be aware that this is a large Adobe Acrobat file.   Click here for the Deseret News'   Lines of Authority as claimed by Fundamentalist groups.
Today in history
The Georgian Messenger
Tbilisi, Georgia (Caucasus)
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

1831 - Mormonism founder Joseph Smith, Jr. receives a revelation in Jackson County, Missouri on plural marriage that introduces polygamy in Mormonism.
Modern history of polygamy
The Arizona Republic
Originally published May 30, 2008

1820s: Joseph Smith experiences visions and revelations.

1830: Joseph Smith founds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York; the Book of Mormon is published.

1831: Smith has revelation on polygamy; church moves base to Ohio and Missouri.

1839: LDS church flees persecution to Illinois.

1843: Smith's disclosure of a "celestial plural marriage" doctrine increases persecution.

1844: Smith is killed by a mob in an Illinois jail.

1845: Mormons migrate to territories of Utah and Arizona.

1852: Polygamy becomes an official tenet of the LDS religion.

1862: Congress passes the Morrill Act to criminalize polygamy in U.S. territories.
Read more
Most polygamists trace lineage to 1929 group
By Elaine Jarvik and Carrie Moore
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, September 9, 2006

Most polygamous groups and independent fundamentalists trace their lineage back to the men they say were "set apart" by Lorin Woolley in 1929, who in turn claims to have been secretly authorized by LDS Church President John Taylor to perform plural marriages.  Taylor is believed by Mormon fundamentalists (but not by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to have had a revelation in 1886 to continue the practice of plural marriage despite federal opposition (and an eventual LDS Church decision to stop the practice).  The names of Woolley's "Council of Friends" can still be found in polygamous communities today: Broadbent, Barlow, Musser, Zitting, Woolley and Kelsch.  John Y. Barlow, in turn, ordained men who would become key leaders: LeRoy Johnson and Marion Hammon, and later Rulon Jeffs, father of Warren Jeffs.  In 1940, Barlow started a United Order in Short Creek, the little out-of-the-way town on the Arizona-Utah border that eventually became the Fundamentalist LDS Church communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.  Not long after he died in 1949, next-in-line Joseph Musser had a series of debilitating strokes and was treated by a Salt Lake polygamist naturopath named Rulon Allred.  That's when the cohesive lineage started to fall apart.  Musser ordained Allred first elder, a move that angered the other council members and split the group.  When Musser died, the Short Creek group went to Charles Zitting and then to LeRoy Johnson; the Musser line went to Allred, who organized legally under the name of the Apostolic United Brethren, headquartered in the south end of Salt Lake County.     Read more
Plural lives: the diversity of fundamentalism
By Carrie Moore and Elaine Jarvik
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, September 9, 2006

The recent capture of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs — now off the FBI's most-wanted list and waiting his fate in the aptly named Purgatory Jail — once again puts plural marriage and Utah under international scrutiny.  The world press is clearly intrigued, while at the same time baffled by polygamy's modern-day complexities.  In the shorthand of daily journalism, polygamous fundamentalism is often pictured as a monolithic culture full of sister wives in dowdy ankle-length dresses.  Though estimates put their number at less than 40,000, "Mormon fundamentalists" are often confused in media reports with the 12.5 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In reality, modern-day polygamous fundamentalists are a diverse lot, full of rival leaders and a contentious history, as well as thousands of members who follow no leader at all.  Some live in isolated communities (one group worships in a pyramid on the Utah-Nevada border); some may live next door in the Salt Lake Valley, not unlike the folks on HBO's "Big Love."  Others live at Jeffs' new, secretive FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) temple compound in Eldorado, Texas, in polygamous colonies in northern Mexico and western Canada, and in tiny outposts scattered around the Intermountain West.  Despite the imprisonment of the movement's most visible leader, polygamous fundamentalism appears to have a staying power that makes it unlikely to disappear anytime soon, according to experts both inside and out.     Read more
Polygmist: A long road to travel
The Associated Press
East Valley Tribune
Originally published August 8, 2005

PHOENIX (AP) -- Polygamists who founded the communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, picked an isolated location where they could live in seclusion.   Colorado City is in a part of Arizona known as the Colorado Plateau, a sparsely populated high-desert region that is north of the Colorado River as it courses the Grand Canyon.   The community is 266 miles by highway from Kingman, the Mohave County seat, and 388 miles from the State Capitol in Phoenix, according to   To reach either Kingman or Phoenix from Colorado City by the shortest highway route, a motorist has to leave Arizona and cross parts of both Utah and Nevada before circling back into Arizona.   In Utah, the nearest sizable community to Hildale is St. George, located 43 miles away by highway.  Salt Lake City is 315 miles away, according to
What is the FLDS?
The Associated Press
KGBT TV Channel 4 - Harlingen,TX
Originally broadcast March 17, 2005

ELDORADO, Texas The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been led by its reclusive prophet, Warren Jeffs, since his father's death in 2002.   The Mormon splinter group is one of several that split from the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the decades since it renounced polygamy in 1890.   The FLDS began migrating 77 years ago to a remote area along the Utah-Arizona state line.  Its members live in almost complete seclusion in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.  Members aren't allowed newspapers, radio, TV or the Internet and are forbidden to speak with outsiders.   The sect may have as many as ten-thousand members and has a history of polygamy that's long been an open secret in Utah.  Lawsuits filed recently by former members accuse Jeffs of sexual misconduct and assigning young girls as wives to older men.   But authorities say the accusations aren't sufficient to produce criminal charges because they can't get anyone to talk about Jeffs.
Polygamists on Utah-Arizona Border Under Scrutiny
By Howard Berkes
All Things Considered
National Public Radio
Originally broadcast May 3, 2005

Last week in Arizona, police and prosecutors from three states met behind closed doors to consider their response to one of the nation's largest groups of polygamists.   The FLDS Church, as it is known, has long dominated twin towns on the Utah-Arizona border and now has a new settlement outside a rural town in Texas.  Most people in the sister communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., believe salvation depends on each man having at least three wives and as many children as possible.   "I have never seen a community where there are families that have more love in them, more love for their children, and more order and organization," says Hildale Mayor David Zitting, an FLDS member.  "There's no place in America, in any community, that has the type of situation like this community has."   The community's polygamists derive their theology from early Mormon teachings.  But they're not Mormons, and they're not welcome in the Mormon faith, which abandoned polygamy long ago.   The county seat for Hildale is 40 miles away.  The county seat for Colorado City is a 300-mile drive.  For years, the towns' isolation kept the law at bay.     Read more
Warren Jeffs and the FLDS
By Wade Goodwyn
National Public Radio
Originally published May 3, 2005

Upon the death of his father, 49-year-old Warren Jeffs took over as prophet of the FLDS, or Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in September of 2002.  Jeff's father, Rulon T. Jeffs, had been the group's prophet for the previous 15 years.  He died at the age of 92, leaving an estimated 75 widows and 65 children to mourn him.   The nearly two-decade tenure of father and son has split the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border.  After taking power in 1986, Rulon Jeffs slowly abolished the seven-member Priesthood Council that had previously governed the sect.  Rulon Jeffs eventually claimed a "One Man Rule" and as a result, part of the group split away and founded their own polygamist settlement nearby.   According to former followers, the prophet is considered to be God's mouthpiece on earth.  It is believed that God speaks directly to Warren Jeffs to reveal His will.  And through the prophet, God directs which male members are worthy of entry into heaven (females are invited into heaven by satisfied husbands).  Jeffs is also the only person who can perform marriages, and it is through him that wives are assigned to their husbands.  Pleasing the prophet can result in loyal members being rewarded with one or more wives.  Wives are considered to "belong" to their husbands for eternity.     Read more
Polygamy in the American Southwest - Child Brides, Polygamous Communities
Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah
By Elizabeth Mitchell
About, Inc., A part of The New York Times Company.
Originally published September 3, 2006

If you happen to be driving along in Utah or on the Utah-Arizona border you know you are in a land founded by hard-working Mormons.  As I visited Bryce and Zion National Parks, we encountered some charming villages down some of the back roads that had, as their centers, a Mormon Church.  The Mormons have had a very positive effect on the countryside.  The towns are orderly and close-knit.  While these small towns are charming, there is a darker side to aspects of fundamentalist sects that have their roots in the Church of Latter-Day Saints.  There are those that have carried things to the extreme.  The Salt Lake Tribune published a "Polygamist Leadership Tree" that provides an excellent overview of the origins and linkages between Polygamist sects in the United States and Canada.  Polygamous sects have founded isolated communities in the Southwest, and have developed a society that defies the laws of both Arizona and Utah and supports polygamous marriage including the marriage of under-age girls and older men.  One such community is located in Colorado City, Arizona.  Colorado city (map) is in Mojave County.  The closest larger community is St. George, Utah, known as a retirement and recreation community.  St. George is quite a distance away.  Colorado City is very isolated.  Another community, Hilldale, Utah, is home to the nation's largest polygamist community.  It is across the border from Colorado City.  It is important for visitors to the area to be aware of this community.  Strangers are not common and the isolation has allowed a radical sect of polygamists to establish control over the families and children that live there.     Read more
FACTBOX: Five facts about polygamists in U.S.
Originally published June 12, 2007

(Reuters) - Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to have the practice decriminalized on religious grounds.

The following are five facts on modern U.S. polygamists:
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon faith is formally known, practiced polygamy before the Civil War and then banned it in 1890 when the federal government threatened to deny statehood to Utah.

  • In 1879, the Supreme Court said the First Amendment did not protect polygamy. In Reynolds v. United States, Chief Justice Morrison Waite wrote "Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and, until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people." In Utah today, polygamy is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, but the law is rarely enforced.
    Read more
'Under the Banner of Heaven': Short Creek
By Jon Krakauer
Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
Originally published May 3, 2005

In his book Under the Banner of Heaven, author Jon Krakauer examined the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and of fundamentalist splinter groups, who are not Mormons and who broke off from the church after it abandoned the practice of plural marriages. The book excerpt below looks at the history of the polygamous community in Colorado City, Ariz. We should note that though Krakauer cites the population of Colorado City as 9,000, census figures for both Colorado City and its sister community in Hildale, Utah, combined are 6,000, and just under 4,000 for Colorado City alone. Since the book was first published, the community's prophet, Rulon Jeffs, has died; he was succeeded by his son, Warren Jeffs.

Book Excerpt: From Chapter 2

Snaking diagonally across the top of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a stupendous, 277-mile rent in the planet's hide that functions as a formidable natural barrier, effectively cutting off the northwestern corner from the rest of the state. This isolated wedge of backcountry -- almost as big as New Jersey, yet traversed by a single paved highway -- is known as the Arizona Strip, and it has one of the lowest population densities in the forty-eight conterminous states.

There is, however, one relatively large municipality here. Colorado City, home to some nine thousand souls, is more than five times as populous as any other town in the district. Motorists driving west on Highway 389 across the parched barrens of the Uinkaret Plateau are apt to be surprised when, twenty-eight miles past Fredonia (population 1,036, the second-largest town on the Strip), Colorado City suddenly materializes in the middle of nowhere: a sprawl of small business and unusually large homes squatting beneath the towering escarpment of vermilion sandstone called Canaan Mountain. All but a handful of the town' s residents are Mormon Fundamentalists. They live in this patch of desert in the hope of being left alone to follow the sacred principle of plural marriage without interference from government authorities or the LDS Church.     Read more
Mormon polygamy stirred anger from the start
Joseph Smith's first wife wasn't too keen on the idea
John MacCormack
San Antonio Express-News
Originally published May 9, 2004

For the Mormon fundamentalists in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, the long road now leading to Texas began more than a century and a half ago and far to the north in Nauvoo, Ill.   It was there, in 1843, that Joseph Smith, the original prophet of the Latter Day Saints, said he had received a revelation regarding the sacred principle of "plural marriage."   The revelation, in part, held that, "If any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another ... then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him."   But the "principle" that became a cornerstone of the Mormon faith quickly brought dramatic consequences.   "It very nearly shattered the church, brought about Joseph's death at the hands of a lynch mob, and has been reverberating through American society ever since," wrote Jon Krakauer in "Under the Banner of Heaven."   It also went over like a bad rash with Smith's wife Emma, who threatened to take additional husbands if her husband persisted in polygamy.   "She thought that if he would indulge himself, she would too," Smith wrote in a plaintive note to his secretary.   Krakauer writes that Smith had taken multiple partners for years before introducing the concept to his followers.     Read more
Here and Now - Infamous Arizona
1953 Sentencing Remarks of Judge Robert Tuller to Short Creek men convicted of polygamy
KJZZ 91.5 FM

Originally published February 14, 2007

(Phoenix, AZ) In this hour of Here and Now we take you back to statehood and learn why women's suffrage was not part of Arizona's constitutional convention. We also examine an episode that happened 50 years ago that caused the state to be hands off toward polygamy, and we'll look at the turmoil surrounding the election and removal of the most controversial governor in Arizona history.

**Governor Howard Pyle Radio Address on Short Creek Raid Sunday, July 26, 1953**

"Before dawn today the State of Arizona began and now has substantially concluded a momentous police action against insurrection within her own borders.  Arizona has mobilized and used its total police power to protect the lives and future of 263 children. They are the product and the victims of the foulest conspiracy you could possibly imagine.   More than 120 peace officers moved into Short Creek, in Mohave County, at 4 o'clock this morning.  They have arrested almost the entire population of a community dedicated to the production of white slaves who are without hope of escaping this degrading slavery from the moment of their birth.  Highly competent investigators have been unable to find a single instance in the last decade of a girl child reaching the age of 15 without having been forced into a shameful mockery of marriage.     Read more
Not So Spiritual Marriage
By Céleste Perrino Walker
Liberty Magazine
Vol 102 No. 2 March/April 2007

For months he kept Osama bin Laden company on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.  Then, on the quiet evening of August 28, 2006, Nevada State Trooper Eddie Dutchover pulled over a 2007 Cadillac Escalade on Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas during a routine traffic stop.  In the back seat, his carotid artery pumping so hard it tipped off Officer Dutchover, was Uncle Warren (Jeffs), president and self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) — which is not affiliated with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The ordinary traffic stop ended with Jeffs' arrest, terminating a manhunt that many feared would finish in bloodshed and violence.  Jeffs is wanted in both Arizona and Utah on charges of rape as an accomplice for allegedly arranging marriages between underage teenage girls to older, married men.  "A former church member says he ‘spiritually married' her to an older man when she was a minor and then ordered her to submit to sex with the man or face eternal damnation."  It's a charge Jeffs will have trouble denying if he wants to maintain any credibility within his religious community.     Read more
Hellfire and sexual coercion: the dark side of American polygamist sects
By Julian Borger in Manti, Utah
Guardian Unlimited - Manchester England
Originally published Thursday June 30, 2005

James Harmston's letters to his youngest bride threaten fire and brimstone for her refusal to sleep with him.  Not only would Rachael, 43 years his junior, have "a lonely miserable life" in this world for not going to his bed, but it would be far worse in the next.   "Rachael, the facts are, whether you want to believe or not, the end is coming and judgment will be executed in severity, especially for those who have broken their covenants," Mr Harmston wrote, adding: "For certain I will deal with you in the future eternity."   He signed himself "Your Husband, King and Priest", and sent copies of his letters to five of his 18 wives, one of whom was Rachael's mother, Pauline.   They would be troubling letters from any jilted husband.  But from Mr Harmston - the self-declared prophet of a polygamist and apocalyptic sect, the True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days - they were terrifying.   They also shine a light on a dark place in the American west.  Polygamy is something that has officially been consigned to history, but it is still very much alive.   Watchdog groups believe there could be between 30,000 and 100,000 Americans living in polygamy today, many of them in Utah, where the practice first took root, and others scattered across the North American continent.   They live independently, shut up in reclusive homes out of public sight, or in self-contained communes governed by idiosyncratic rules and beliefs.   But everywhere it goes, critics and former sect members argue, polygamy takes with it the danger of institutionalised abuse of women and children, over whom it gives men supreme power.     Read more
By Michael J. Gaynor
Originally published March 18, 2005

The San Francisco judge who ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriages is irrational and invoked the California Constitution's equal protection clause to permit them is guilty of both judicial activism and historical ignorance.   Had he studied the case law on polygamy, he might have developed a greater appreciation for "the sanctity of marriage" and avoided his grievous error.   The United States Supreme Court was unanimous.   The Constitution does not permit polygamy.   So the Court ruled in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145.   In 1879.   George Reynolds had been convicted of bigamy in the then territory of Utah.   The federal statute under which he was convicted stated:   "Every person having a husband or wife living, who marries another, whether married or single, in a Territory, or other place over which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction, is guilty of bigamy, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500, and by imprisonment for a term of not more than five years ..."   The trial court declined to instruct the jury that if they found that Reynolds had married in pursuance of and conformity with what he believed at the time to be a religious duty, their verdict should be "not guilty."   Instead, the trial court instructed that if Reynolds, under the influence of a religious belief that it was right, had "deliberately married a second time, having a first wife living, the want of consciousness of evil intent -- the want of understanding on his part that he was committing crime -- did not excuse him, but the law inexorably, in such cases, implies criminal intent."   And added: "I think it not improper, in the discharge of your duties in this case, that you should consider what are to be the consequences to the innocent victims of this delusion.  As this contest goes on, they multiply, and there are pure-minded women and there are innocent children, -- innocent in a sense even beyond the degree of the innocence of childhood itself.  These are to be the sufferers; and as jurors fail to do their duty, and as these cases come up in the Territory, just so do these victims multiply and spread themselves over the lane."   The jury found Reynolds guilty.     Read more
Arizona Strip jaunt takes 16 hours
By Caleb Soptelean
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published October 28, 2004

KINGMAN – My trip to the Arizona Strip on Monday was an enjoyable one.  I toured the northernmost portion of Mohave County with District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers on Monday.   We left at 5 a.m. and made our way over Hoover Dam and through Las Vegas.  Traveling northeast on Interstate 15, we stopped in Mesquite, Nev., for gas and a notebook.  I had left mine at the office (but remembered the camera!).   We crossed the Nevada line back into Arizona and drove through Scenic, an unincorporated residential community next to Mesquite.  This very northwestern corner of Arizona is isolated from the rest of the state by mountains and the Grand Canyon.   We traveled on some six miles of paved road and over a recently built bridge that, Byers said, will open up Scenic to growth.   Getting back on I-15, we continued northeast through the beautiful Virgin River Canyon and stopped for a photo at Cedar Pocket State Park.   The interstate continued into Utah and through beautiful St. George.  Shortly thereafter, we exited the freeway and drove east through Hurricane, Utah, and then southeast toward Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona line.     Read more
Big Trouble in Polygamy Town
City of God—The fundamentalist strongholds of Colorado City and Hilldale are being divided by issues of plural marriage, outside scrutiny and prophet motive
By Richard Abowitz
Las Vegas Weekly
Weekly edition Feb. 5 - Feb. 11, 2004

"The Prophet is a fool. The spiritual man is mad for the multitude of thine iniquity and the great hatred."
—Hosea 9:7 as quoted by the prophet Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes
I was asleep when the call came. But there was a message:   "Yes, uh, Richard, if you would go to the north side of the Warren Jeffs compound, on the northwest corner there is a couple of utility boxes, and there by those utility boxes, behind them, there is an envelope for you.  I would like to talk to you in person, explain more and see if you have any questions.  But I'll just have to leave it at this for now.   Thanks."   Warren Jeffs is prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (FLDS) and virtual ruler of Colorado City, Arizona, and neighboring Hilldale, Utah, hamlets largely noted for their widespread polygamous practices.  The towns (160 miles from Las Vegas) and church have been the subject of a small media circus recently as divisions within the sect—marked by mass excommunications, young brides fleeing polygmous unions and unprecedented stirrings of defiance against the prophet—have opened a window onto this peculiar closed society.     Read more
Not From Around Here
An outsider's view of an insider's world
By Kate Silver
Las Vegas Weekly
Weekly edition Feb. 5 - Feb. 11, 2004

A harlot and a Jew ride into a religious, polygamous town in a hot red convertible, and the Jew notices that the town—Colorado City, Arizona—smells like shit.  The harlot, who's wearing pants—pants!—knows that it's cows and that this is a pastoral community, but she keeps her mouth shut.   They drive past unpaved roads, beside looming houses that look like unfinished barns with additions tacked on here and there.  Though they've only traveled 160 miles from Las Vegas, their car has veered into a parallel universe, a town ruled by a prophet who on January 10 excommunicated and banished Colorado City's mayor, along with 20 other men.  The two have been called here, but it wasn't a religious invitation.  As with the other media drawn by the fracas, it was fascination, confusion and spectacle that beckoned them.     Read more
Polygamy key to FLDS church
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, February 22, 2004

"The great and grand purpose of the Law of Celestial Marriage is to perfect a man and his wives, his dominion in this order under the family Order of Heaven, and to bring forth and bear the souls of men," the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints prophet Rulon Jeffs preached in 1964 to his followers.   While polygamy was preached and practiced by early prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the principle was abandoned when Utah sought statehood.   The LDS Church excommunicates any members who practice polygamy.   The FLDS church, on the other hand, teaches its members that the modern-day Mormon or LDS Church turned its back on God by rejecting the one true principle of celestial or plural marriage.   Men and women in plural marriages are expected to create as many children "as the Lord requires of them."  Women often have more than a dozen children and men with more than one wife routinely count their offspring in double digits.     Read more
Polygamy's Odyssey
A brief history of the Mormon tenet
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published March 13, 2003

Joseph Smith, a 24-year-old New York farmer, founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830.  Relying heavily on Old Testament teachings, Smith introduced polygamy to fellow "Saints" in 1843 in Nauvoo, Illinois.  A year later, Smith was assassinated in Carthage, Illinois.   Polygamy became a fundamental tenet of the Mormon Church in 1852 under the direction of Brigham Young, a polygamist who in 1847 led the Mormons into what is now Salt Lake City.   Young warned that Mormons risked their salvation by refusing to accept polygamy.   The early Mormon Church believed that God ordered man to practice plural marriage through an Old Testament commandment to Abraham to take his handmaid, Hagar, as a second wife, after his first wife, Sarah, was unable to bear a child.   Polygamy, however, met with widespread public disapproval and, along with slavery, vehement opposition from the federal government.     Read more
An Abbreviated History of Polygamous Communities
Timeline Compiled by Patti Epler
Phoenix New Times
Originally published October 3, 2002

1920s -- Short Creek, Arizona, was founded by a group of Mormon polygamists calling themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Polygamy had been disavowed by the Mormon Church in 1890 as a condition for Utah's admission as a state.  Today the isolated polygamist community, the largest in the U.S., now includes two towns -- Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, just across the state line.

1942 -- The United Effort Plan (UEP), a religious charitable trust, was formed at Short Creek by the FLDS.  The trust, which still operates today, owned all real estate in the area and assigned men tracts of land to live on.  In exchange, the men gave 10 percent of their earnings to the UEP.  Families could build houses on the property but the buildings remained the property of the UEP.     Read more
Short Creek raid remembered
By Abbie Gripman
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Thursday, July 26, 2001

It was 48 years ago today that a tiny town in the far northern reaches of Mohave County went from relative obscurity to national infamy.   "Striking swiftly through the pre-dawn darkness more than 100 Arizona police officers moved on tiny Short Creek, Ariz., last Sunday morning to stage the largest mass arrest of men and women in modern American history," wrote C.R. Waters in the Aug. 30, 1953, edition of the Mohave Miner.  "The entire populace of the small farming community, with the exception of five adults and the children, were charged with conspiracy which includes polygamy."   One hundred men were arrested; 236 children were taken into custody by the state.   Then-Arizona Gov. Howard Pyle orchestrated the raid that he later said destroyed his political career.   His target was the members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.     Read more
Focusing on polygamy on the Arizona-Utah line
By Al Herron
Prescott Daily Courier
Originally published Wednesday, July 2, 2003

Something very disturbing is happening up along the Arizona – Utah border.   It is illegal, immoral, traumatic to most of the people involved, and you and I help pay for it.  We're talking about polygamy.   Those who have lived in Arizona for more than a few years have heard about the renegade Mormon settlement up in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hilldale, Utah.   (It's really one community with the state line going through it.)   Don't confuse this group with mainstream Mormons who gave up polygamy more than 100 years ago.     Read more
Spotlight shines again on Colorado City
By Abbie Gripman
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Friday, July 27, 2001

The Mormon presence in Colorado City dates back to an apocryphal anecdote involving church prophet Brigham Young.   Legend has it that in the 1850s, Young was returning to Salt Lake City from a visit to the pioneer settlement of Pipe Springs, 20 miles east of present-day Colorado City.  Young instructed his buggy driver to stop at the top of Cedar Ridge and, as he looked down over the Short Creek area, declared, "This will someday be the head and not the tail of the church.  These will be the granaries of the Saints."   When the church disavowed polygamy in 1890 and began to excommunicate those who would not give up the practice, a group of stalwarts settled in remote Short Creek (now Colorado City) and called themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   Colorado City's remote location and the low profile kept by residents allowed the church to prosper.     Read more
Get a Grip: More on Colorado City
Column by Abbie Gripman
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Wednesday, August 15, 2001

I recently wrote a three-part piece on Colorado City, Mohave County's northernmost town.  When I first decided to do the story I talked to a few people in town who had been to the remote community and all of them told me that in order to understand the infamous polygamous town, I'd have to visit.  So I did.   But my visit, and subsequent research, left me with more questions than ever.   Since it wouldn't be right to include my personal thoughts and observations in a news article, I'm going indulge myself by using this space to fill some gaps in the story.   Most of the residents of Colorado City live in polygamous families.   The town has been a haven for the members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose founders were excommunicated by the Mormon Church in the late 1890s after the church gave up polygamy as a condition to Utah statehood.   Polygamy is illegal in the United States.  It is specifically forbidden in Arizona's constitution.   However, most attempts over the years to prosecute practitioners have met with resounding defeat.     Read more
The practice of polygamy: a Mormon colony stirs a B.C. controversy.
By Steve Weatherbe
Maclean's Magazine
Originally published August 16, 1993

Unlike many other parts of British Columbia's mountainous Interior, the town of Creston is no tourist mecca.  A pleasant community of 4,500 people, Creston's trim frame homes sprawl across a ridge in the southeastern part of the province, just north of the U.S. border.  The town boasts no hot springs, no water slides -- not even a miniature golf course to amuse visitors.   But about 15 km south of Creston, along back roads choked with wildflowers, lies a collection of large modern homes scattered among 700 acres of hay fields.  And it is here, in a place known as Bountiful, that a small colony of practising polygamists has, for better or ill, put Creston on the map.   Over the past three years, the 400 members of the Bountiful colony have found themselves in the glare of unwelcome publicity.  During that time, the colonists -- part of a fundamentalist sect that broke with the Mormon church over the latter's decision to abandon the practice of polygamy -- have been the subject of a 13-month RCMP investigation.   It concluded that two of Bountiful's leaders should be prosecuted for violating the Criminal Code's prohibition of polygamy -- a recommendation that is currently the subject of heated debate between British Columbia and federal justice officials.   As well, in four separate criminal cases, four former members of the colony have been convicted of sexual assault charges.     Read more
State estimates 25,000 Utahns involved in polygamy practice
The Associated Press
Originally published April 21, 1999

Some 25,000 Utah residents are involved in polygamy, says Lt. Mike King of the attorney general's criminal division.   The following are brief descriptions of the state's prominent polygamist groups, based on information from King and other sources:
Corporation of the President of the Fundamentalist Church Rulon T. Jeffs is the leader of 8,000 to 12,000 members.   The headquarters are in Sandy, Utah, but the group has a strong presence in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Those towns, once known as Short Creek, were the site of the last effort to prosecute polygamists in 1953.     Read more
Johnson visits polygamous communities
By David Bell
Today's News-Herald - Havasu City
Originally published Tuesday, July 25, 2006

While Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith successfully prosecutes Colorado City men accused of having sex and fathering children with underaged girls, Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson is making sure the victims are still being heard.   Johnson was in Colorado City and sister city Hildale, Utah, over the weekend, once again speaking with those that are seeking a change in the community, as well as those that believe their religious freedoms are being challenged.   "I'm trying to get more information about how things are progressing, trying to get more help for the people trying to get out," said Johnson.  "People are seeking help now.   Some don't want to do away from the lifestyle, they just want a new leader."   Johnson, along with former state Sen. Linda Binder and the late Marie Meahl, for years fought for investigations of alleged abuses in the northern Mohave County Community.  Abuses that former resident Flora Jessop said continue to run rampant under the authority of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).     Read more
Latter-day Saint offshoots rever plural marriage
First in three-part series
By Heather Robinson and Marc Dotson
University Journal - Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah
Originally published October 29, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a three-part series, published on succeeding Mondays, about fundamentalism in southern Utah.

Polygamy is often seen as synonymous with Mormonism, even though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discontinued the practice more than 150 years ago.  However, a variety of fundamentalist groups still practice the principle of plural marriage as taught by early church leaders.  While the Warren Jeffs trial has drawn national attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those practicing plural marriage, confusion and misunderstandings still persist concerning fundamentalists and their relationship with the church, observers have said.  "It's long been assumed that everyone in Utah is of the same ilk, and that is certainly not the case," said Richard Christensen, Cedar City LDS Institute of Religion director.  The term "Mormon" is commonly used in reference to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  However, "Mormon" can more broadly describe a variety of groups derived from the church founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.  The largest of these groups is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - at more than 13 million members - followed by the Community of Christ, formerly The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - at more than 250,000 members - and a variety of fundamentalist groups - with about 20,000 adherents collectively - according to, and Marianne Watson, a self-employed historian and Lehi resident who specializes in fundamentalist topics.  There are about 30 groups, as well as large, independent families, practicing plural marriage under the banner of Mormonism, Watson said.  Even though the groups professing Mormonism are varied, their history has a shared beginning.     Read more
Doctrine: Latter-day Saint schisms hinge on priesthood, salvation
By Heather Robinson and Marc Dotson
University Journal - Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah
Originally published November 5, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series, published on succeeding Mondays, about Mormonism and fundamentalism in southern Utah.

For fundamentalists, plural marriage is essential to receive eternal life, hence the multiple schisms in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to perpetuate the principle.  About 30 groups, not counting independent families, practice plural marriage under the banner of Mormonism, said Marianne Watson, a fundamentalist and self-employed historian.   "Mormon" and "Mormonism" describe a variety of groups connected to Joseph Smith, Jr. and the church he founded in 1830: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Richard Christensen, Cedar City LDS Institute of Religion director, said it is a nationwide misconception for the terms "fundamentalist, Mormon and polygamist" to "paint all groups" beneath the umbrella of Mormonism.  "There is no such thing as a 'Mormon Fundamentalist,'" said Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in an October 1998 general conference address.  "It is a contradiction to use the two words together."  Additionally, "not all fundamentalists are polygamists by any stretch of observation," Watson said.  The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is one of the largest of the splinter groups, Watson, a member of the Allred Group, said.  Other groups include Centennial Park, the Kingston Group, the Peterson Group and the Apostolic United Brethren, or Allred Group.     Read more
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