A History Tour of Brigham Young’s Beehive House

BeehiveHouseSLCOn June 19, 2014 I visited Utah and took a tour of the Beehive House, Brigham Young’s principal residence in Salt Lake City. Guided through the 1854 home by two young sister missionaries, I learned a lot about the comfortable pioneer life enjoyed by Mormonism’s “Lion of the Lord” during the second half of the 19th century. However, much of what I learned was not true. For example, I was told that:

  • Lucy Decker Young was the only wife of Brigham Young that ever lived in the Beehive House. [Actually, Mary Ann Angell Young (Brigham’s only legal wife) also lived there until she opted for quieter surroundings, moving to another home in 1860 (see John G. Turner, Brigham Young Pioneer Prophet, 236, 377).]
  • The famous Lion House, located next door to the Beehive House, was built as a storehouse; no wives or women ever lived there. [Actually, the Lion House was built in 1856 to house Brigham Young’s growing family. In that year a “large number” of Brigham’s wives began living next door to him (Turner, 236).]
  • The only reason Mormons practiced polygamy in Utah was to care for the many women who lost their husbands back east because of persecution; legally, these widows were not allowed to keep their property or children. Mormon men married them in order to provide for their needs. [Actually, women had strong property rights as individuals in the 19th century. They did not need husbands to retain property or keep their children. And very few women became widows because of persecution. Additionally, there were more men than women in Utah Territory; why wouldn’t single men have married and cared for any needy women? This whole explanation made me wonder why, if Mormons were so committed to obeying the supposed laws regarding property rights, they did not feel constrained to obey the marriage law that said polygamy was illegal.]
  • A very small number of people practiced polygamy in Utah. [Actually, an average of 20-30% of Mormons lived in polygamy between 1850 and 1890, amounting to tens of thousands of people.]
  • Brigham Young with some of his 55 wives

    Brigham Young with some of his 55 wives

    Brigham Young didn’t want to engage in polygamy, but he did it in order to help these widows legally and financially. [Actually, some of Brigham Young’s 55 wives were women who divorced their husbands just prior to marrying Brigham Young, women who had other interested suitors, and women who already had living husbands (Turner, 374-382; Richard Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History, 45). Furthermore, Brigham Young’s stated rational for polygamy was theological, not altruistic (Turner, 205). See “Polygamy, Brigham Young and His 55 Wives” by John Turner for further reading.]

  • Once married, Brigham Young never even saw most of his plural wives again. [Actually, Brigham Young’s 58 children suggest otherwise (Turner, 375). But if this were the case, Brigham Young completely disregarded the biblical model of marriage that provides for a man and a woman to complete each other – the two become one flesh (Genesis 2:22-24). The husband is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” cherish her, and hold fast to her (Ephesians 5:25-31).]

In case you’re wondering, during my tour I didn’t challenge the sister missionaries about their misinformed history; I imagine they were just repeating what they have been told. But here’s the thing I struggle with. The Mormon Church knows its history. Given that, it seems to me that the Church can choose one of three options:

  1. It can choose to invite people to tour Mormon sites of historical significance and tell visitors the difficult but unvarnished truth;
  2. It can choose not to provide historical tours at all (or to provide unguided tours) and thereby be relieved of any obligation to reveal embarrassing truths; or
  3. It can choose to invite people to tour Mormon sites while lying about Mormon history.

The Church has chosen the third option. Why? It could choose to act faithfully, but instead has chosen that which is an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22).

Why has the Mormon Church made such a bad choice? Why does it choose to cast its lot among the wicked?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Brigham Young, LDS Church, Mormon History, Polygamy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to A History Tour of Brigham Young’s Beehive House

  1. cattyjane says:

    Why lie? Because most of the people who will visit those sites are LDS. Its a good opportunity to imprint what they want their members to believe. Over time people will learn to accept the lie as the truth and say everything else is just lies against the church. Also people who are not members of the church have an opportunity to see that Mormonisms history wasn’t as bad as what they have been told. So then when people discuss the evils of Mormonisms past they can defend it with the stories they were told at these sites. Its just a sales gimmick. A pretty new package to wrap mormon history in.

  2. MJP says:

    Well now, who is lying? Are these girls lying? Do they know any different?

    I know the question goes higher up than the actual girls giving the tours, as they have to be repeating the stories told them by their supervisors. But I can see it much easier to decide to say things like this through other people rather than directly themselves. In other words, using the girls, maybe their direct supervisors, etc. all the way to the people that really know and allow it.

    This ends up demonstrating not just the propensity to distort the truth, but an utter lack of education among those who should be responsible for knowing the information.

    I have a Mormon friend who went to Nauvoo this summer, and while he did not tell me about the spiritual side of things or even the direct history of it, he was in awe of the experience and raved about how great a time it was. (I’d be curious to go there myself, if only to experience the kids playing, etc. and also to see what Falcon has talked about. I’d be hard pressed to keep quiet, but I think I could.)

    I have a feeling that Mormons simply eat this stuff up, without ever do a little research outside of the official publications and stories. After all, the set up is a complete and undying belief that the prophet and leadership cannot lead them astray…

  3. falcon says:

    When my wife and I went through the historic site in Omaha, NE our guide was a cute little gal from Japan. She could turn on the emotions as she told the story at each little stop along the way in the museum recounting the trip out of Nauvoo and to Utah.
    I don’t think she could believe that I’d turn down a free offer of a BoM, but then neither could my wife since she knows how much I like “free”. They did have “adult” supervision there and I got a kick out of the transparency of their techniques. One of the ladies was carrying around something that looked like the Gutenberg Bible. It was huge. She comes scurrying in where we were standing, with the Bible that should have been on wheels, saying something like, “I found it in Matthew. It says……” I thought, “Right lady. Nice try.”
    At the Carthage jail our guide was a cute little blond gal from Utah. Very earnest and vulnerable appearing. We’re up in the murder room and she really turns it on. You could tell it was show time. The scary thing is that I would judge her to have been an honest Kool-Aid drinker who believed it all herself. The point was to give the assembled Mormons a “spiritual” experience.
    I know something about psychological traps and these young women are what I would call the “bait” to draw people in. I would also say it’s a good way to keep folks like me from “picking on the girl” and not raising any thought provoking questions or making pointed comments.
    Interestingly enough, you don’t get any of that at the Community of Christ sites at Nauvoo and these folks own a lot of the place. The young man I talked to at length basically viewed the whole deal as part of their history. That was it. No big emotional hook.
    I think I’ve talked about when we took the wagon ride around the Nauvoo countryside. The guy at the reins was this old fossil who was beyond TBM. He stops in this “grove” and tells the riders to imagine this is what it was like when Joseph Smith ventured forth into the woods and met Heavenly Father and Jesus. Then he led them in some sort of Mormon primary Sunday school song that my wife and I didn’t know. I’m like, “Oh brother, somebody slap those horses on the butt so we can get out of here”.

  4. cattyjane says:

    Ya that is the part that always bothered me with LDS. The story of when the “Heavenly Father” appears to Joseph. Either all the scriptures im about to list below about God not being a man are just lies, or Joseph Smith was a liar. I think I will go with the scriptures below speak truth and Joseph Smith is the liar. We are taught in scripture that we cannot confuse God and Man.

    Any man who claims that he is God is reprimanded Ezekiel 28:2. Pharaoh is a good example of this. The Egyptian people worshiped him as God so the He sent plagues to show that only He is the true God who existed before time Exodus 12:12.

    Hosea 11:9 states that God is not a human being.

    Numbers 23:19 shows that if God were a human being he would be a liar and would also be in need of repentance. If God were a man he would not be able to keep to his word.

    God is not a man, he has never been a man and human beings are not able to become God.

  5. MJP says:


    Maybe I am just twisted, but I think that would be a hoot. Due to my kids involvement in Boy Scouts, I’ve been to a couple LDS churches recently. Its fascinating walking around and reading everything on the walls.

    I’d go to a service if I knew it was not going to invite people asking me to join. I really try to be cordial, but that might be difficult after awhile politely declining. I’m not that patient.

  6. cattyjane says:

    I hope its ok to do this.
    I responded to something you wrote on the blog about the lost books regarding a NT scripture interpretation. I was late reading that blog and so I just responded. I hope you read it.

    Sorry for the interruption.

  7. Mike R says:

    Of the three options that Sharon lists which the Mormon church could opt for , # 1 will never
    be the one they choose . They have been quite successful with their presentation of half truths ,
    both with how they present their history as well as their doctrines , so why change now ?
    With Mormonism it’s all about presentation , ( visual appeal , carefully crafted sales techniques
    etc ) . Dealers of the half truth can fool people into buying into a counterfeit — church and
    gospel , and the statements by these missionaries Sharon encountered ( and similar
    type dialogue experienced no doubt by a multitude of others ) is a example of how this can
    transpire .

    My wife and I visited Salt Lake City ( B.Y’s home , Temple square etc ) in 1986 .

  8. falcon says:

    The difference between the LDS folks and the Community of Christ reps I interacted with was stunning. The LDS are in some other time-space continuum. The CoCs appeared to me more reality based, feet firmly planted on the ground, seeing it for what it is. In fact it sounded to me like some of the CoC guides liked to “poke” the LDS members who’d come by the CoC center.
    With the LDS at Nauvoo it would be like visiting a sort of Disneyland and believing it was reality. With the CoC they seemed to “get it”.

  9. falcon says:

    One thing we know for absolutely sure is that the LDS church will not be honest and forth coming about their history.
    Now Mormon apologists will say something like the information is all there for anyone who wants to find it. The problem is that there is that actual history and then there is what the LDS church puts forth to its members and the public at large.
    There is a reason why those members who start looking for the truth and find it, feel like they’ve been had. And what’s that line from Mormon leadership that not all history is “helpful”. So it may be true but it may not be helpful because it isn’t faith enhancing. So ignore the truth if it starts to erode your faith. Continue to believe something that’s not true because to do otherwise will cause you to not believe in the Mormon church, Joseph Smith or the Mormon prophet.

  10. Mike R says:

    I offer a way to minister to those Mormon missionaries serving at various Mormon historical
    sites . After they tell their audience what they want them to know about Mormon history
    relative to the particular site , then ask them if they have an inner witness that what they have
    stated is in fact accurate , i.e. do they have testimony that the info they gave their audience is
    correct ? Gently encourage them to take time to compare it with what is available on
    Mormon history . Hopefully down the road if they take time to actually look into this they
    will realize something has’nt been quite right . That in turn may cause them to look further .
    Hopefully they will eventually walk away from their church and leaders realizing there is a
    better way to be accepted by God . Jn 14:6

  11. SR says:

    It’s hard for me to comprehend either side of this.

    1. That someone doesn’t know their church history correctly when they’re in a position of giving tours of historic sites like this.
    2. That someone who does know their church history is so willing to completely lie about it.

    Honestly, I have a hard time most of the time understanding the illogical mindset and refusal to look at fact and history that many Mormons I’ve come across live with.

    My God is a God who wants me to ask questions, wants me to doubt, because it’s through doubt that faith is strengthened. He wants me to know Truth and He wants me to know Him completely, not know fallible men who twisted His words and His divinity into something that was wrong.

  12. falcon says:

    Some random thoughts from the falcon.

    *lying for the Lord. A common tactic within Mormonism as well as other cults.

    *because they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, God gives them over to a diluted spirit.
    Mormons of course don’t see themselves as unrighteous but as wholesome, devout, sincere followers of “God”. That’s part of the problem. How could the LDS church and its members be seen as anything but the image. That’s why these attackers of the truth like MRM are so wicked. It’s a total brain flip.

    *How could Mormons not possibly be aware of their own history?
    Lyndon Lamborn is my favorite exhibit for this one. A devout Mormon with roots going back to the handcart days, Lyndon took an off-hand remark from a co-worker and began to investigate the religion he had belonged to all of this life. The impetus was when the co-worker said that he had just read “Under The Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer and told Lyndon there was “some interesting things in it about your church”. Because he liked the author and had read his previous book, “Into Thin Air” he read “Banner”. The rest, as we say, is history.

    Here’s what Lyndon found as he began looking into the history of his church.

    Unfortunately, the last I knew, Lyndon was a sort of “deist” not a believing Christian. He is, from the knowledge I have of him, a person whom integrity is foremost in his life. That’s why he had such a difficult time reconciling what the LDS projects as its history and the reality of what it really is.

  13. MJP says:

    I once gave tours of the US Capitol building when I worked as an intern in DC for a Congressman. It was fun. But I have to admit I never did a detailed study of the history of the building, even as I read up on various literature on the building. I also know some of the things I told were mythical exaggerations– but I disclosed that when appropriate. I am sure it is the same with these girls, who probably don’t know any different.

    I can’t blame them directly, the girls. Arguably they should read up on the history. However, I understand the reality is that they probably don’t. There is a problem there, though, is that these stories are apparently presented as fact, and probably so from above. So there is a distortion of truth, and this distortion comes from leaders in the LDS church.

  14. spartacus says:

    Falcon has the right of it when he said that LDS defenders claim that members can find the history if they want to.

    I’ve been hearing this a lot. They say it’s funny how critics claim the LDS church is hiding history but then use church sources to show the history.

    But, as has been said before, the members don’t have time to look into the history for all their responsibilities and activities with their church. Also said here before, is the issue of knowing what to look for. If you don’t even know what polyandry is or the names of Joseph’s additional wives, it’s going to be that much more difficult to find with your busy LDS schedule.

    But there’s more! The LDS church raises it’s members on suspicion of nonmembers from the cradle. This includes any historian that is not a member, and as soon as they do come across something they don’t know, and is unflattering, it just confirms their distrust of nonmembers.

    So then there is member historians. But when you have the September Six and apostolic warnings to teachers against spreading (read “truth”) germs, who else is there?

    The LDS church, that’s who. They don’t hide their history? (Cough) LDS publication that failed to mention more than one wife on Brigham’s bio. They don’t lie? (Hack) Then what’s with all the pictures in the Ensign and everywhere else that depicts Joseph “translating”the plates by looking directly at them instead of with his head in the hat or behind the spectacles and breastplate?

    Sharon has given us another great example. This is a church owned and (you better believe church run) historical site and service and they can’t get the guides to line up with the new Gospel Topics essays? Really?


  15. falcon says:

    Yes indeed that new tactic of saying the history is right there and thus not hidden is a real red herring.

    Andy Watson use to carry around this messenger bag packed full of LDS publications that, yes, had the seal of the LDS church right on it and the Mormons he’d talked to still wouldn’t believe what was right in front of their eyes. What’s that line about something being “hidden in plain sight”?

    Who knows how these folks’ minds work? Look at the Mormons we have show-up here and post, are exposed to the facts/truth and yet come up with some of the most convoluted reasoning to reinforce what they want to believe. That’s what is so exasperating about dealing with them. We’ve had grindeal practically write them a book in his posts with all well documented sources. They still deny or rationalize away the information (since they can’t refute the accuracy of what he’s written).

    I think, for example, that our Aussie friend Ralph believes he’s had some spiritual experiences that serves as proof that the restored gospel of Joseph Smith is the real deal. I’ve heard Michael Quinn say much the same thing and he wrote a book chronically the magical worldview of Joseph Smith.
    Here’s an article about Quinn that for me is sort of mind blowing.


    Quinn to me appears to be some sort of genius level dude, but I think my comments above regarding delusional thinking might just apply to him.

    I don’t know how many Mormons out there that believe it all despite knowing the facts of it. Take the BoA for example. These folks will say that maybe Smith’s source doesn’t say what Smith said it said but maybe God gave it to him for “inspiration”. That’s diluted thinking to the max!

  16. falcon says:

    Here are some excerpts from a good article on MRM about Michael Quinn and his book regarding early Mormonism and its connection to the occult. I’m posting it here as more of a look at how the LDS church approaches its history than the topic of Smith’s practicing of folk magic.

    “Quinn admits that what he writes in his book is not what readers might find in a brochure given out at an LDS temple open house. “Instead, they will discover that the LDS prophet certainly participated extensively in some pursuits of folk magic and apparently in others…. I have found that the ‘official version’ of early Mormon history is sometimes incomplete in its presentation and evaluation of evidence. Therefore, official LDS history is inaccurate in certain respects. …LDS apologists often do not inform their readers that pro-Mormon sources corroborate the statements made by anti-Mormons” (p. xxxviii).

    “Quinn is not happy with attempts by LDS Church revisionists to deny Smith’s foray into the occult and folk magic realm around him. While this is the apparent attitude church members have now, it wasn’t always like this, he says. The attitude change began in the 1880s, he says, when the last of those in the Mormon leadership who had been familiar with Smith and the occultic practices died. “Their successors had more in common with denominational Christianity than with the folk religion of many first-generation Mormons,” Quinn writes. “It is astonishing how some LDS apologists can misread (or misrepresent) all the above evidence for the magic use of seer stones and divining rods…” (p. 59). After noting that BYU biblical professor Stephen E. Robinson denied that these things had anything to do with magic but rather were influenced by the Bible, Quinn is very strong. “This is self-parody by an LDS polemicist,” he writes in part (p. 60).

    “There is no doubt that Quinn has a vendetta in re-releasing his book. His LDS critics were merciless in attempting to destroy Quinn’s credibility and hence his career. His honesty was not appreciated by either the leadership or those who are paid in Provo to defend the church from scholarly critics. Now that Quinn is no longer on the membership roles, he took off the proverbial gloves. He abandoned the use of the “could haves” and “might have beens” and instead became quite definitive in his writing. In addition, it is obvious that Quinn wrote as he pleased because LDS leaders no longer hold any authority over him. After all, what can the Mormon prophet do to a man who is already excommunicated?”

    Again, MRM’s article is insightful as to how the LDS church handles history.


  17. falcon says:

    So how can people, like Michael Quinn for example, know all they know about Mormon history, been excommunicated from the LDS church, still believe in Smith’s claims? In fact Quinn believes he is suppose to become one of the leaders of the LDS church.

    Well some believe that the LDS church is corrupt. That’s the switcheroo on the “apostasy” charge applied to the LDS church. In Quinn’s case the Joseph Smith magic show and all of the occult folk magic of the early Mormon church aren’t all that different from happenings in the Bible. That’s an interesting take since the Bible clearly condemns the things these early Mormons were doing.

    And then of course there’s the personal spiritual experiences that I noted in the post above. This discounts the fact that all religions claim spiritual experiences and that the soul of man can produce all sorts of experiences that appear spiritual in nature. The older I get the less I’m impressed by people claiming supernatural experiences and messages from God.

    Lastly, I haven’t had anyone show me how what the LDS church believes, teaches and practices was present in the first century church. In fact, instead of supporting Mormonism, the Bible destroys it.

  18. falcon says:

    Here is the conclusion to Eric Johnson’s excellent article on MRM cited above. In talking about Quinn’s book:


    “In the first part of this review, I asked, “Is Quinn’s book worthy to be read?” My answer is quite simple. Yes it is. Every interested Mormon and Christian should read it in conjunction with other excellent books on Smith, including Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History and David Persuitte’s Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. No matter what your opinion of Quinn is—whether he offends you because he was excommunicated by the Mormon Church, that he is an avowed homosexual, or that he writes historical books that are not what you might call “faith promoting”—he is not a slouch.”

    “As mentioned in this review, I disagree with several of his views. For instance, I don’t agree that the Bible encourages necromancy, magic, dealing with occultic materials, and the like. But when it comes to the facts about how Smith himself was involved in magic, Quinn’s historical points are well documented and leave little to debate. I appreciate that Quinn seems to be very honest, wanting to know just what the facts are all about. To do any different is to be a revisionist, and that is just not honest, as Quinn makes this a big point in his criticism of Mormon apologists, especially those who work at LDS-controlled FARMS. I give the book a 5-star recommendation, as long as the reader promises to read carefully, slowly, and with a critical mind.”

    I think Quinn has been attacked and some attempts have been made to discredit his work in LDS circles because he’s a homosexual. I don’t really know what his sexual orientation would have to do with the quality of his research.

    Let’s face it. The LDS church does not want new converts or prospects to be exposed to this historic information because these folks have not been “Mormonized” yet. It’s more difficult for someone to jump ship if they’ve been fully indoctrinated into the club and enough fear has been instilled in them about becoming a son of perdition.

  19. grindael says:

    It is painfully obvious that these people don’t ever pick up any books and read them. I mean, any good bio of Young would have explained all the points that Sharon makes. Even “faithful” bios. Who do they think they are fooling with this tripe? It’s no wonder that when many Mormons FINALLY do pick up some books to read, they get angry. I know I did. This goes beyond just slanting the truth, it is really outright lying. Brigham Young had at least three wives before Joseph Smith died. I find all of their supposed “objections” to be nothing but later posturing to try and seem more moral. Brigham Young was as amoral as they get. Here is a tidbit that would just blow their poor minds. Joseph Smith once said, in relation to the dissenters that turned on him because of polygamy:

    “I despise the man who will betray you with a kiss,” Smith added; “and I am determined to use up these men, if they will not stop their operation. … I will disgrace every man by publishing him on the house top, and who will not be still and mind his own business.” (Smith, History of the Church, 6:238, 239).

    Now, Smith’s use of the phrase “use up” must have been disconcerting to his audience, because it meant KILL THEM. Consider some of Brigham Young’s later use of the term in reference to the Utah War:

    As U.S. troops approached, he boasted that “we could go out and use them up, … but we do not want to kill men (Journal of Discourses, comp. George D. Watt, 26 vols. Liverpool: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1854-86, 5:234; cf. 1:171, 10:110; History of the Church, 2:181; 6:559). Wilford Woodruff recorded Young as saying,

    “if an army comes to help them in the spring we will use up this army first & then we will use up the others before they get to the South Pass. In the spring we must ask Allexander what He intends to do. Inform him He must not stay there untill He gets reinforcements in the spring and if they will not leave in the spring we will use them up first the best we Can. In 10 days we can put 2,000 men around them which would soon use them up. I do not believe that they will have 500 fighting men in the spring. They are in a vary Critical situation. They say they have no other way to get a living for their families but to war. I think it is better to let the Army alone this winter. They will die many of them and others desert & many be weakened with the scurvey & in the spring we will wipe them out if necessary if they do not go away. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 116, October 26, 1857)

    On the 28th of October, Young spoke about “using up” (killing) the American troops again,

    President Young said if any officer Comes to the Armey the Govornor or Judges & send word that they want to Come in Just inform them that they are as near as they can Come. Had they have Come without a military aray they could have come & not been molested but now they cannot Come. We will not have any Cursed scoundrel forced upon us to Judge or rule over us and they shall not Come among us.

    If Johnson Comes with troops & intends to Come in I expet they will leave their baggage Battery & a company to guard it and come in on a forced march without it. Then we must not let them sleep but use them up as soon as we Can. Work night and day & not let them sleep. Brother Wells thinks they are determined to try to Come in. I have sent word that if General Harney is on the way to get into Camp & kill him if Possible and take the Animals from Johnson if Possible & take Charge of the Goods train.

    Presidet Young said I am glad of one thing ie this thing will be Just as the Lord wants it. If He wants them to Come & get killed it will be so. If He wants them to go north South or East He will [p.118] have it Just as He wants and this I am thankful for and I feel perfectly easy about it all. You will find when the Lord sees that we are willing to fight & get Just ready to shoot that He will fight our battles. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, pp. 117-118, October 28, 1857)

    This shows that to “use up” someone was to kill them. In another incident involving Peter Conover, one of Joseph Smith’s bodyguards in Nauvoo, Woodruff records that,

    It was reported that Peter Conover was drunk in a Store & nearly Crazy. Hopkins Pendor a Policeeman went in to take him when some of his friends said they would take care of him He said that was all he wanted was to have him taking Care of. As he was leaving the Store Calvin Foss Came to him and asked him if he was the man that Chased him the other night (as two men were Chased who had taken away a roans wife & daughter for the purpose of whoredom & was shot at while in their flight). He answered yes. Foss then said dam you I will shoot you if you ever follow me again. You just try it again & I will use you up.

    Hopkins Fendor went into the street & told the Mayor of [it]. He asked him why he did not knock him down. He said why did you not go into the street & get help? The remark was made that He ought to be taken up. one said I would not take him up if he was to threaten my life in that way. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 234, November 8, 1858. For more on Conover go here.

    Calvin Foss was also a Mormon. A last incident of using people up (or killing them) is worth mentioning, also from Woodruff’s Journal,

    We met at the Historians Office at 1/2 past 5 oclok & ordained 4 men to the High Priesthood & High Councillers of this Stake of Zion. Presidet Young Blessed Brother Long. Brother Kimball Blessed Brother [ ]. John Taylor Blessed Brigham Young jr. W Woodruff Blessed Howard Spencer. We ordained them High Priest & High Councellors. When I had done Ordaining Howard Spencer President Young said yes & I ordain you to kill evry scoundrel that seeks your life & when you Come across such men use them up. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 573, May 12, 1861).

    Howard Spencer had murdered Sergeant Ralph Pike on a Salt Lake City Street on August 11, 1859, in revenge for Pike having hit Spencer with the butt of his gun and cracking his skull open, during a disturbance in Rush Valley on March 21, 1859 over grazing rights between the Mormons and Johnston’s Army.

    Spencer had come at Pike with a pitchfork, and Pike had defended himself, it was claimed by the soldiers. The soldiers offered to take Spencer to Camp Floyd for treatment, but the Mormons refused and Brigham Young personally sent his carriage to take Spencer to Salt Lake City for an operation to remove bone fragments from his brain. Spencer survived the operation, but received a metal plate in his skull.

    Five months later, Spencer, along with Wild Bill Hickman and some others, planned to murder Pike, who had been cleared by the Army, and then subsequently indicted by the Mormons for attempted murder. On his way to the courthouse, he was shot by Spencer. Pike lived long enough to identify the man who shot him, Howard Spencer. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but never acted on. Spencer was finally arrested and tried in 1889 but was acquitted by an all Mormon jury. Young’s “blessing” showed that he condoned the murder and advocated using men up (killing them) in revenge.

    In a lengthy Sunday morning editorial under the headline “Farce Follows Tragedy,” the Salt Lake Tribune concluded that although insanity had been presented as a major factor in the case, it was a screen to hide Spencer’s guilt. “The facts of the case were that Spencer was an old time blood-atoner. He was in perfect accord with those other lambs HICKMAN, LUCE, STRINGHAM, TAYLOR, and the rest.” To the Tribune the real villain in the case was the Mormon church and its leadership and its teachings in the decade of the 1850s. With an alternate view, the Sunday morning Salt Lake Herald noted:
    We doubt that there is more than one fair-minded and honest man in the territory who does not agree perfectly with the jury in the HOWARD SPENCER case. The solitary exception seems to be Judge Judd, and we think the reasons why he occupys the lonely position is because he doesn’t understand the case…Killings are not always willful murders. They are sometimes excusable, sometimes justifiable, and sometimes praiseworthy. This assertion is based on law, justice, and common sense. It seems to us that if there were ever an instance of justifiable or excusable taking of human life that was the case when HOWARD SPENCER shot Sergeant Pike…all the jurors will know that the public, almost without exception, are with them in acquitting the defendant. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1889 & Salt Lake Herald, May 12, 1889).

    As RICHARD W. SADLER writes,

    The Spencer-Pike affair and the events surrounding it from Rush Valley to Salt Lake City in 1859, and then the trial of Howard Orson Spencer thirty years later provides a glimpse of attitudes and actions that characterized Mormon-Federal relations during the difficult years of the Utah War and its aftermath. Furthermore, the 1889 jury decision finding Spencer innocent reveals an ambivalence about law and order that existed in many parts of the country as well. Brigham Young’s 1861 statement recorded by Wilford Woodruff in the 1889 Salt Lake Herald indicate that Spencer did kill Pike. However, two questions remain—who posted Spencer’s six thousand dollar bail, and who financed the first-rate set of four lawyers who defended Spencer in his May 1889 trial? It appears that Mormon church leaders and members did not want Spencer to be convicted of murder. Vindicated, Howard Spencer quietly returned to beautiful and isolated Long Valley where for the remaining three decades of his life he farmed and ranched while render ing community and church service. He died at the age of seventy-nine on March 4, 1918, after an accidental fall from a bridge over the Virgin River in Glendale—nearly sixty years after the encounter with Ralph Pike in Rush Valley.

    As noted, Hiram Clawson and Brigham Young Jr. were both married to Howard Spencer’s sisters. Hiram Clawson was also married to two of Brigham Young’s daughters and had served as Brigham Young’s private secretary. Both Clawson and Young had access to money and influence and both were very interested in seeing Spencer found innocent.

    Joseph Smith and Brigham Young advocated killing those that disagreed with them. Pike didn’t “seek Spencer’s life”. But that didn’t bother Young. Young even went so far as to make a known murderer a High Councilman, and BLESS HIM to murder more people. Now this is REAL Mormon History.

  20. Mike R says:


    Thanks for the information you just shared .
    Concerning what these women missionaries said that Sharon encountered at the
    Bee Hive House goes , I suppose we should’nt be surprised at their statements which more
    or less involved the issue of polygamy . These young women follow leaders who have not
    been as forthright as they should have in how they have dealt with this issue in public
    interviews and church publications . Polygamy embarrasses rank and file Mormons and
    those who lead them . If one reason is needed of why the Mormon church is a man made
    religious organization then looking at how Mormon leaders handled polygamy would be
    that reason .

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