Subject: A personal look at polygamy.
Date: Mar 15 12:38 2004
Author: Stray Mutt

Here’s a brief look at part of my polygamous ancestry – from my exmo point of view. I've shared some of this before.

One of my great-great-grandfathers was Frederick Walter Cox. At least three other people who visit this site are also descended from him. He was a notable Mormon who joined the church in the early years, was driven from Nauvoo, and helped settle the Manti area. He was one of four who dedicated cornerstones for the Manti temple. So I think it’s safe to say he was representative of orthodox 19th-century Mormonism.

Many modern Mormons are under the impression polygamy was practiced so old maids and widows could have husbands to protect and provide for them. F. W. Cox’s story doesn’t support that. Mormons who learn Joseph Smith was sealed to extremely young women (and the very few Saints who admit he had sex with them) try to excuse it with the claim people married much younger in those days. F. W. Cox’s story doesn’t support that either. (Neither do marriage records of the day.)

Frederick Walter Cox was 23 when he married his first wife, Emeline Whiting, who was 18 at the time. Nothing particularly unusual about that. Sounds like your typical modern LDS marriage: twenty-three-year-old RM, eighteen-year-old BYU co-ed. Only it was 1835. They had 13 children

On the same day in 1846, in the Nauvoo temple, Cox was sealed to wife number one and to brand new wives two and three: Jemima Losee and Cordelia Morley. (I’m descended from Jemima Losee.) Cox was 34 at the time and both new wives were 23. Neither were old maids, neither were widows. The eleven year age difference is a bit large, but not scandalous. He had 11 children with Jamima and 8 with Cordelia.

Eight years later Cox took a fourth wife, Lydia Losee. She was 17 – and Jemima’s sister. He was 42 – old enough to be her father. This was after the Saints were safely established in Utah. They had only three children together.

Four years later, Cox married a 40-year-old woman, Mary Ann Darrow. “Ah-ha,” the faithful saints must be thinking. “Finally a widow or old maid!” Actually, neither. This is where the strange tale of polygamy gets even stranger.

It starts with Mary Ann and her husband, Edmund Richardson, and their two children, in a wagon train headed for Oregon. Their ox team dies and they limp into the Salt Lake Valley while the rest of the train goes on. The Richardsons convert to Mormonism and are sent to Manti by Brigham Young. However, as part of his previous religious convictions, Edmund had been castrated. (And you thought Mormonism was extreme.) Naturally, wanting to be a good Mormon woman/builder of the Kingdom/brood mare, Mary Ann wanted more children. And so, a plan was worked out, thanks to the wisdom of Brother Brigham. Edmund and Mary Ann divorced. Mary Ann was then sealed to Cox but continued to live with Edmund and her first children. She had two children with Cox (and might have had more if menopause hadn’t set in) but they were named Richardson. Some reports have it that after having all her children Mary Ann divorced Cox and remarried Richardson. Next on Jerry Springer…

Finally, when F. W. Cox was 57, he married 19-year-old Emma Smith Petersen. Now we’re almost in the range where Cox is old enough to be her grandfather. He died ten years later, after siring six children with Emma.

So that’s the short scoop on Frederick Walter Cox. Six wives, 43 children. And he’s just one of four polygamists in my family tree.

Subject: Here's one of mine.
Date: Mar 15 12:59
Author: activejackmormon

My great-great-great-grandfather was a man named John Lyon. He had joined the church while in Scotland and emigrated to the United States and joined the saints in Utah. He was a poet and was quite well published and well respected. He was good friends with Brigham Young and Brigham would showcase my ancestor to passing literary dignitaries attempting to show them that "we Mormons have culture too". Because of his age, apparently John Lyon thought polygamy was not something he should engage in. He even wrote a poem poking fun at polygamy, which Briggie did not appreciate. So Brigham Young commanded him to take a second wife much to the consternation of my G-G-G Grandmother who was enjoying being a grandmother.

So here is the data. John Lyon, age 53, married Caroline Holland, age 16 and proceeded to have seven children, the youngest being born in 1872 when John Lyon was 70 years old. This man, born in 1803 still has grandchildren walking the earth. Yes, fundie Mormons are more like 19th Century Mormons than current Mormons are.

I have several other polygamous ancestors with similar stories.

Subject: Boy, if that were today, COB would place a post on its "Mistakes in the News" page.
Date: Mar 15 13:33
Author: NEPA

My wife has a strikingly similar family tree. Somehow the current TBMs with similar ancestry somehow overlook their commonalities with the FLDS happenings. Go figure.

NEPA out.

Subject: JD Lee mess and poly beaverats -
Date: Mar 15 15:56
Author: Susan I/S

Well, I have tangled Lee roots. JD married MaryAnn Williams in 1857, he was 45 she was 13. They had no children, divorced, and she married his son John Alma in 1859, he was 19. They had their first child 10 months later. I have always wondered why she was his only wife. Was it something in his childhood? Something in her life with JD? And what must family get-togethers have been like with JD not being shot till 1877? I also believe he was buried from their house in Panguitch. One thing about being a Lee, you can always find a lot of cousins here on the board!
The beaverats are really nutria. We just found out we have them in our back yard :( I did a little research on them yesterday and found out they were polys, 3ish females to one male and they all live in the same den. Strangest things you have ever seen. Creepy and cute at the same time...

Subject: Another little tidbit I'm researching.
Date: Mar 15 17:47
Author: Stray Mutt

There's conflicting data to wade through, and by genealogist brother might have the answer, but right now it looks like another g-g-grandfather married a 14-year-old.

Subject: Re: A personal look at polygamy.
Date: Mar 15 18:37
Author: IDTortfeasor

Awesome geneology, Stray. When I read your story, it sounded familiar. So, I just copied it and sent it to my wife. Yep, she comes from F.W. Cox herself. She's going to check which wife, she doesn't know off-hand. And yes, the stories told in her family was that she did divorce Cox, and remarry Richardson.

On a similar line, the house we live in now has some odd history. The house was originally built by a family who had some "help" in getting their kids.

The man went off to WWII, and received an injury, the type of which he could not have kids.

When he returned, an agreement was made between the ward leaders, that it would be allowed for the wife to become pregnant by someone else, and they would call the child his. Apparently she had 3 or 4 children, all with the approval of the Bishop. I have no clue who volunteered, but since its a rural area, EVERYONE out here knows the story.

Subject: Same deal with my polygamous ancestors.
Date: Mar 15 18:55
Author: Makurosu

I'm descended from six polygamous marriages that I know of. In most cases, the new wives were under the age of 25 and often they were teens.

A good example is would be my ancestor Rasmus Nielsen Jeppesen (born 1820), one of the 12 families that founded Mantua, Utah. My 3rd great grandmother, Ellen Catherine Ottesen, married him in 1859. She was 16. He was 39. She was his 5th wife. Rasmus had seven wives in all. Here they are:

1840 - Margaretha Christine Alexander, age 16. (He was 20)
1844 - Anne Hansen, age 17. (He was 24)
1845 - Mary Cristina Sorensen, age 27. (He was 25)
1857 - Emma Emilie Bravant, age 20. (He was 37)
1859 - Ellen Catherine Ottesen, age 16. (He was 39)
1867 - Inger Pedersen, age 27. (He was 47)
1876 - Margretha Christina Alexander, age 22. (He was 56)

It appears that Inger Pedersen was a widow. Her husband died in Denmark the year before she married Rasmus in Utah. I'm not sure what the story is there. Mary Cristina Sorensen also had been married to another man in Denmark. I don't have any more information about that either. I also don't know why his last wife had the same name as his first wife.

I have another ancestor, Lars Anderson Larsen, who had eight wives. The information I have is sketchy, but many were teens. I wish I knew more about Lars Larsen, because I have some interesting data. One of his wives had been married four times, and three of her husbands were named "Lars."

What troubles me are the ones that died in childbirth. For example, Lars Anderson Larsen, married 20 year old Judithe Hirsche. She was his third wife. She married him about a year after her family came to Utah from Switzerland. She died in childbirth a year later with my 2nd great grandmother Emma Rosine Larsen.

Emma married Charles Nielsen Jeppesen when she was 24. (Yes, Rasmus' son.) She was Jeppesen's first wife, and they were two days apart in age. By all reports, he loved her dearly, but she died in childbirth with my great grandfather Charles Emil Jeppesen. My mother knew him, and he told her that he was raised by a mean step-mother. Pretty sad. Wish I knew more.

Subject: Jeppesens.....
Date: Mar 16 05:53
Author: Randy J.

Fascinating. I dated a girl for a year whose mother was a Jeppesen from Brigham City. Her father was in the AF stationed in Alabama. She was the oldest of 10 kids. On their dining room wall they proudly displayed a framed newspaper article concerning the arrest of a polygamous ancestor (who, as I recall, was a Smoot).

I was very serious about the girl, but her father got transferred to CA and she went to BYU, while I stayed in Alabama. A few months later, I met my wife, who is a sweet and beautiful southern girl. If the Utah girl's family hadn't moved, I would have most likely married her, and would probably have never found my way out of the church.

It's a small Mormon world out there.

Subject: Jeppesen's from Brigham City...
Date: Mar 18 18:58
Author: Makurosu

Yes, those would have been my Jeppesen's. I'm not related to the Smoot's, unfortunately. I'd love to have a news article of some polygamous ancestor who was arrested to put on my wall. LOL! Yeah right. My wife would kill me.

Anyway, my mom spent her high school days in Brigham City living with my great grandma Jeppesen. Wait.. maybe she was a Weaver. Anyway, many of my Mormon ancestors come from places like Brigham City, Corrinne, Mantua, etc. (I have no idea if these places are even nearby each other.)

Incidentally, I found a whole bunch of new information on the Jeppesen's. I found them in the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel lists. They were using the name of Andersen at the time.

I also discovered that I have ancestors who went west in six different companies, and ten lines of Mormon ancestors who came west. Eeek! Anyway, I'm kind of excited about it, and I'm trying to learn more.

BTW, it sounds like you're lucky to have escaped the clutches of this Jeppesen girl. They're a pretty hardcore TBM bunch.

Subject: My father's family was from Brigham City.
Date: Mar 18 19:18
Author: Stray Mutt

But none of them have lived there in 75 years. Grandpa came over on the boat from Denmark, a first-generation Mormon and American. He was a local politician, a Democrat back when that was acceptable in Utah. He also had orchards where the Intermountain Indian School was built. I never knew him because he died when my father was 16.

Brigham City played a key role in my USU dating years -- and not in a good way. There was a freshamn girl from BC who would go home on weekends to work in a supermarket. I would go down and hang around waiting for her to finish work, Then we'd drive out to some back road and make out. One day while I was waiting for her, a local dude pulled up next to me and started yelling that if I didn't leave his girlfriend alone he'd kick my ass. I told him it was pretty much up to her who she dated. But she was kind of psycho and I lost interest her. She certainly wasn't worth the schlep from Logan to BC.

A couple of years later I fell really hard for another BC girl. I wanted to marry her, she said no. Ripped out my heart and stomped on it. Then, just for a little extra torture, she sent me a wedding announcement a few months later. Damn Brigham City women. No wonder Dad left when he got the chance.

Subject: Re: Jeppesen's from Brigham City...
Date: Mar 18 20:51
Author: Randy J.

>BTW, it sounds like you're lucky to have escaped the clutches of this Jeppesen girl. They're a pretty hardcore TBM bunch.

Indeed they were borderline fanatics. Although the girl was sweet and a great kisser. :-)

Her mother's name was Shara Lee, if that rings a bell. She married a convert she met at BYU named Harrison. I guess she'd be about 65 now.

Subject: Math dictates brides in polygamous societies get younger and younger.
Date: Mar 15 19:24
Author: Stray Mutt

(Oh, like I'm any good at math.)

So, you have the first generation of polygamists. Most adults are already coupled up when word comes down to acquire another wife. Where would those wives come from? Most women your age are already married, so after you use up the small supply of widows and old maids, your only choice is younger women who haven't married yet -- say those in their early twenties. But, of course you're competing with guys in their twenties. By the time the next generation comes along, all the women close to their age and a little younger are already taken, so they have to dip into the next younger pool of young women. And so on until you have a situation like the modern polygamist colonies where they're fighting over 13-year olds and reassigning wives. You'd think if God wanted us to practice polygamy he's have women outnumber men by at least two-to-one.

Subject: My understanding re: Cox/Richardson. (pardon me if I swear)
Date: Mar 15 21:18
Author: Shummy

Thanks a lot, Stray, for airing our dirty family laundry in front of everyone here!

Just kidding. It is good to acknowledge our history that has been such an influence on what we have now become. There is no shame in it for us unless we refuse to deal with it.

A couple of points to make regarding the saga of Mary Ann, Freddie and Eddie and their game of musical beds. Most of my information comes from the biography of my grandfather, co-authored by my aunt and my mother. Its un-assuming title is "CHARLES EDMUND RICHARDSON: Man of Destiny" by Annie R Johnson and Elva R Shumway, so I only know their version of events. What actually took place is anyone's guess.

Mary Ann and Edmund were sealed in 1857 by BY in his office, along with Mary Ann's 2 children from a prior union. Later that year when they came before BY with their quandry about Edmund's sterility, wise old Briggy told them:

"Brother and Sister Richardson, the teachings and work of the devil have taken away your posterity. But the teachings and authority of Christ can restore it, if you are willing to make great sacrifices for it." He then told Edmund: "You will need to give Mary Ann a civil divorce and allow her to have a civil marriage with another man. Any issue from such a marriage," he proclaimed, (BS alert) "would belong to you because you and Mary Ann are sealed for time and all eternity. THIS IS POSSIBLE ONLY BECAUSE THE LORD HAS RESTORED POLYGAMY IN TIME TO HELP YOU." (emphasis mine).

BY gave Mary Ann a choice of 3 worthy Manti men. After civilly divorcing Edmund, she then civilly married Fredrick Walter Cox. Mary Ann and Edmund did not co-habitate during her union with Cox. Edmund instead went off to work in the Tintic mines (near Tooele) for 2 years while Cox was fathering his 2 future sons.

The civil divorce, marriage, divorce, and re-marriage process was a simple matter due to BY's authority as the supreme civil ruler of Utah at the time.

According to my understandig, Cox and Darrow were never temple-sealed to each other, as you have suggested in your post above.

Thanks again for bringing this all to light, my dear Stray One. An outsider might say that all this doesn't add up to dry shit, but to the surviving posterity, it really does.

Ironically, if the truth were known, we're probably related to a bunch of the BIC exmos here at RfM. I have a great affection for you all. Whether you're my kin or not, you are my family.


Subject: You're killing me here...
Date: Mar 15 20:48
Author: ExCatholic

What was the whacked out religion that required castration from its adherents? You wouldn't think they'd get too many converts.

Subject: I've been trying to find out.
Date: Mar 15 20:53
Author: Stray Mutt

No luck yet, I'm afraid. The closest I've come is one history that says the Richardsons were Presbyterians at one time. The castration cult must have come later.

Subject: Re: I've been trying to find out, too.
Date: Mar 15 21:52
Author: Shummy

I have no information either, concerning how g-grandfather Richardson became a "eunuch-priest".

It wasn't until many years later that I realized why Mom always railed against vasectomy.

She went to her grave never knowing that I had one.

Sorry, Mom.


Subject: They wanted to have more children.
Date: Mar 15 22:26
Author: Lara C

This is why they didn't marry widows or older women. So, that explanation has never washed.

Subject: Re: A personal look at polygamy.
Date: Mar 15 23:42
Author: notapioneer

Huh. That's a tidbit I'll have to share with my mom the next time she starts in about our glorious polygamous ancestors, LOL.

Subject: Inter-generational effects of polygamy... er.... horniness.
Date: Mar 16 03:00
Author: Ken

Families are forever, right?
So, I have to live with the fact that there were some polygamists in my family tree.
I eventually realized that figuring all that out was a) boring (to me), and b) something I could do nothing about. So I never really got into the details.
But...... I do remember that there were some sisters named Josephina and Brighamina (where do you think they got those awful names for little girl babies??). They grew up (not sure how "grown up" they were) and married the same man. I don't know who the lucky guy was, but it was one of my g-g-g-grandpapas. My mom told me that the family history gossip included how the sisters would fight over who was the favorite.
But me, I heard that "inbreeding" (like polygamy) caused all sorts of ills, like low IQs and big ears. It kept me wondering about my just how far my own ears stuck out, and why my test scores were sometimes low.
Such are the inter-generational effects of "polygamy" which I now know to be simply the result of Joseph's horniness.

Subject: I did not save my earlier reply but I said something about how BYU stopped
Date: Mar 16 17:24
Author: SusieQ#1

it's DNA research project, claiming they ran out of money. I wonder if they found anything interesting in the DNA of all the people who are descendants of early polygamy.

Anyone know any of the inside scoop on that DNA research?

Too bad we do not have any way of proving which children JS fathered from all those plural wives.

Subject: Hey CUZ!!
Date: Mar 16 23:34
Author: Fishblitzer

Sounds like you know our family history quite well. Fredrick Walter is a brother to my decendent Orville Southerland Cox and don't forget their sister Mary. I knew Walter and Orville were polyg's but I'm not sure about Mary. Interesting!! can you imagine how big this family has become? I see IDTortfeasor wife in the line up also.

We need to chat

Subject: After reading this I can see why Steve Benson's post on genetic issues is a real problem
Date: Mar 18 20:49
Author: Ann

You might not even know you are intermarrying second cousins etc. SO what known genetic issues do pop up in descendants of polygamy? I know about the short men and have met lots of seriously low IQ guys but those are things that don't drastically effect your quality of life. If you have to be taller you can be and you can fix your kids while they are growing and if you are dumb then you probably don't know it. I am hearing about a disease here I never heard of Celiac seliac disease, is that a result of Polygamy?

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