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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: September 19, 2021 10:36PM

My mother was born in the early 20th century in central Utah. My maternal grandmother died when my mother was young. Her father remarried. Mom always referred to the new wife as Aunt (first name), not as her stepmother. The second wife died and grandpa married again. This wife was also referred to as Aunt rather than stepmother.

I got wondering why. Was it just a peculiarity of our family? Was "stepmother" somehow improper back then? Was it a broader cultural thing of the times? Or was it an artifact of polygamy where all your father's other wives were called aunts?

No one is around anymore who can answer my question. Do any of you have insight on the matter?

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 12:34AM

My great grandfather married after the death of his wife and the kids from his first wife refered to her as aunt. (Circa 1915)

It also applied to close family friends even though they were not related.

I always refered to my father's best friend of 75 years as Uncle.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 09:06AM

I had close female friends of my birth family were addressed as "Aunt." One was elderly, and even my parents called her "Aunt Sue." But I am curious if this was common, or standard, among polygamous groups.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 12:54PM

Yes, I'm familiar with people close to the family but not related by blood or marriage being called Aunt or Uncle.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 01:14AM

Our closest friends kids call me uncle and I am honored that they do.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 12:12PM

My sister's sister wives are "aunts" to her kids. The term stepmother is nonexistent in the polygamist groups I know about.

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Posted by: Maca not logged in ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 01:08PM

Sounds like a respectful way to adress people, better than just by first name or step... which may imply not the real mother or brother.

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 01:21PM

When Gramps married again (twice) he found younger women who were the same age as his kids (ewww). Whenever a wife died, he headed to the temple and picked up a new one (ewww).

The step mothers were called by their first names since they were peers to the kids.

I have heard of people calling dear friends of the family auntie as a way to endear them and include them in the family. Maybe it is just a thing some people do. I suspect it probably was used sometimes in polygamy situations.

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Posted by: anybody ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 02:49PM

I don't think so. Just a "courtesy" title.

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Posted by: Rubicon ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 02:58PM

My great great grandfather was a prominent leader in the church who was a polygamist. In the 1970’s they would have these big family reunions to celebrate the old church patriarch and it was always strange to be asked what wife you came from. The wives had numbers. The first wife would be number one. I came from the youngest wife and the offspring of the last wife were viewed as being less as the first wife. It was very strange. It was like Chinese families where the first cousin has rank over the number two cousin and you visit the first cousin first.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 03:23PM

Hive with a queen.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 04:03PM

Rubicon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I came from the youngest wife...

I came from two generation of not-first-wives on both of my parents' family trees. (Or would that be the family orchard?) Whatever else I might think about polygamy, I wouldn't be here if it hadn't happened.

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Posted by: Rubicon ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 02:08AM

Polygamy always bothered me and my mom would say if it weren’t for polygamy you wouldn’t be here. The thing is, everybody probably comes from polygamy if they go far enough back. Mistresses and concubines were common in the old aristocracies. Wife number one was the queen but the king was banging others and had the others stashed away in apartments in the royal palace. Illegitimate children still were considered royal. Just less Royal than from wife number one. So we all come from the big milkshake. We come from whatever taco the sour cream got shot into.

So really. Brigham just dug up the old ways. Mormons were distrusted by Americans because they were a theocracy with a socialist system. It went against the individualist and free thinking ideals the revolution fought for.

Brigham was a king with a harem and a short lived kingdom.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 03:27AM

Rubicon, I've read a number of contemporary attacks on JS and BY and none of them mentioned "socialism." You have to remember that Marx didn't publish anything until 1841 and his early works were on philosophy and not economics. It was only in the late 1840s that he wrote about openly socialist topics and it would be many more years before anyone on the American frontier read those ideas.

Besides, Mormonism was "socialist" for about two weeks. By the time they had arrived in MO and IL, they weren't doing that anymore. The reason people despised Mormons was because they were a totalitarian cult, they voted as a block, and they treated their neighbors terribly.

It's a mistake to read later preoccupations into earlier history.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: September 22, 2021 12:16PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's a mistake to read later preoccupations into
> earlier history.

And it is how we humans work. Memory recall is information drawn from the context of now from storage without much of a context of then.

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Posted by: heartbroken ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 03:52PM

Maybe it's a Utah thing. Where I come from I've never heard a stepmother referred to as aunt. I didn't call my stepmother aunt and my step siblings didn't call my mom aunt. I addressed my step parents by their first names. I didn't call anyone aunt or uncle unless they really were my aunt or uncle.

I think it's a little odd referring to dad's new wife as Aunt. It implies that dad went for his dead wife's sister after she died. Raises a few eyebrows...

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 04:42PM

Well, we are talking about polygamy.

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 05:45PM

In polygamy it is quite possible they followed Joseph's example and married sisters. In which case step mom is really their aunt.

Could apply if a woman passed and the man married her sister.

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Posted by: heartbroken ( )
Date: September 20, 2021 06:01PM

My family converted to the Mormon church. We were the first Mormons. I didn't grow up in the morridor. I guess that is why polygamy is so foreign to me.

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Posted by: lisadee ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 12:33AM

...Take my father's first wife, "Aunt" Barbara (we were taught to refer to our non-birth moms as aunts, so that outsiders wouldn't suspect our family practiced polygamy...

Escape From Polygamy
KATHY JO NICHOLSONJAN BROWN
MAY 31, 2007 8:00 PM

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.glamour.com/story/polygamy/amp

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 12:49AM

That's a seriously good article. If you are one of the authors, you should be proud.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 03:06AM


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Posted by: lisadee ( )
Date: September 21, 2021 10:23PM

Lot's Wife Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> That's a seriously good article. If you are one
> of the authors, you should be proud.


No. Just one I found.

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