The Dedication of Louie B. Felt

In December of 1866, three months after they first met, 26-year-old Joseph H. Felt and 16-year-old Sarah Louisa (Louie) Bouton were married in Salt Lake City. Louie became the first Primary general president in the Mormon Church, serving in that capacity for 45 years. She is featured in an article found in the July 2014 Ensign magazine.

Louie B. FeltThe article praises Louie’s sacrifices, dedication, and life’s work with children in the Church. Though childless herself, according to the article, she “found fulfillment in loving, teaching, and serving others’ children.” Louie B. Felt sounds like remarkable woman. But she was dedicated to more than just children.

After nearly 10 years of childless marriage, Louie sat her husband down and suggested that he take a plural wife – a young woman from her ward that Louie cared deeply about, Alma Elizabeth (Lizzie) Mineer. It was Louie’s hope that Lizzie and Joseph would have the children she longed for, so on August 23, 1875 35-year-old Joseph wed the beautiful 20-year-old Swedish girl that Louisa loved. Lizzie and Joseph had 6 children together. Louie called Lizzie to serve with her in the Primary General Presidency as Louie’s First Counselor, where Lizzie served for six years. When Lizzie’s oldest daughter died in 1916, Louie took in her four children and raised them to adulthood. One biography I read said that Lizzie was at Louie’s side when Louie died in 1928. Louie and Lizzie were very close throughout their entire lives. But Lizzie isn’t mentioned in the Ensign article.

About six years after bringing Lizzie into her home as a sister wife in 1875, Louie again prevailed upon her husband to marry another of Louie’s young friends. In March of 1881 Elizabeth Liddell from Northumberland, England became the third wife of forty-one-year-old Joseph Felt, two days after her 20th birthday. Joseph and Elizabeth became the parents of 7 children.

Louie encouraged her husband to live The Principle of plural marriage, enduring hardship because of it. When the government began clamping down on polygamy, Louie’s family had to split up and flee their home, spending months in exile. And twice Louie was compelled to leave Utah Territory altogether to avoid having to testify against her husband.

maskPredictably, the Ensign left all of this out of its biographical article on Louie B. Felt.

Polygamy is controversial, but it is a defining element in the history of Mormonism. Everybody knows this (or they should). Mormon women like Louie sacrificed so very much in order to live the dictates of their religion. It seems a great disservice to their memories, to their sacrifices, and to their dedication, to sweep their true “family life” under the rug so that Mormonism can present a prettier face to the world — a face that continues to hide behind a fabricated mask.

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 Early Mormonism, LDS Church, Mormon History, Polygamy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The Dedication of Louie B. Felt

  1. Clyde6070 says:

    It would be very interesting to figure out what was wrong with Louie and why she could not have children? Now we can address those issues. In the past we couldn’t.

  2. falcon says:

    WOW………………now that’s a TBM.
    This is one marvelous example of how polygamy can work to the benefit of all involved if they are willing to set aside their own feelings and embrace the principle. All LDS sect women should be willing to do this and be like Louie. It was her unselfishness that allowed her husband to become a god and continue to do what he obviously was good at; procreating children and managing more than one wife.
    I think it’s really too bad that the Ensign article that had as it’s goal, to use this woman as an example to all LDS women, didn’t present the entire picture.
    OK, I know that was a long time ago and the LDS folks don’t practice polygamy any more and I guess, in a way, that’s my point.
    Are current LDS women members fully aware of what the Mormon church was like in the era of Louie? It’s not the same religion today. If these women want to know what the religion was like, they need to take a good look at the FLDS. I don’t know how many LDS members leave that sect to join the FLDS but they do it because they want that authentic 19th century experience.

  3. Mike R says:

    Clyde, why is it that you seem to not address the point of these threads ? Do you see what
    Sharon’s point is here ? Do you understand why Mormon leaders introduced polygamy ?
    Why are they so embarrassed about it nowadays ? This is’nt the first time a prominent LDS
    was show cased in a magazine / sermon where it was carefully excised out as being a part of
    their life etc .

  4. falcon says:

    Leave it to you to miss the point! Does it really matter why Louie couldn’t conceive? Isn’t that sort of a personal matter?
    The point is that Louie had drunk the Kool-Aid. Can anyone think of another example where a woman decided to take matters into her own hands because she couldn’t conceive?
    Ten points if you say Sarah who solved the problem by giving Abraham her servant Hagar by whom to conceive an heir.
    Louie was into the Joseph Smith program big time. How in the world were her and hubby going to have any sort of god/goddess program without off-spring? I don’t know her motivation was, but by all description, Louie was a true believer.
    This is what happens when people get sucked into cults and buy whatever program the (cult) is selling.

  5. falcon says:

    Think about this.
    In order to get to the highest level of Mormon heaven, a man had to practice “the principle”. That revelation went away because of government threats. So now the fall-back position for the LDS crew is that they don’t have to “practice” it, they just have to “believe” in it.
    Louie knew the score while practicing her eras Mormonism. So what was her motivation? Did she just want to hear the pitter patter of little feet around the house or did she realize that if her husband didn’t get into polygamy, their chance for the Mormon brass ring was in serious jeopardy? We’ll never know of course but what I’d like to know is if LDS women who fail to conceive in this life will be able to do so in the next? I would think that if child bearing was such an important part of the eternal system of deification, the Mormon god would see to it that no LDS women would have fertility issues.
    I’d just like to point out that there are other sects of Mormonism that don’t buy-into the men-to-gods program that is embraced by the LDS/FLDS. So who has the restoration? Well none of them actually because there never was an apostasy and therefore no need for a restoration. There is no need for the priesthood because Jesus fulfills that role. Jesus is the King, the High Priest, the Savior and the eternal God.
    Mormonism is a made-up of a conglomeration of wild ideas that does not honor God and certainly does not honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

  6. Mike R says:

    I guess Clyde wants us to think that polygamy was introduced by Joseph Smith because there
    were some women who could’nt bear children so they asked their husbands to find an additional
    wife(s) to solve that problem etc. Sorry Clyde but do you want to try again ?

    Mormon men who were deemed worthy and through a spiritual witness felt God was therefore
    them they could take additional wives these men complied with this new doctrine introduced
    by their prophet . Mormon leaders have claimed it is an important ordinance of their church
    it was deemed an essential one much like baptism was . It enabled Mormon males to faster
    build up kingdoms in the hereafter when they would continue producing progeny to rule over
    as Almighty Gods and Goddesses — heavenly fathers and mothers .

    Though Mormon leaders have claimed to be the exact same church that Jesus established
    through His apostles and with the very same gospel which those apostle preached far and
    wide (Rom 1:16 ) , we can dismiss that claim because Jesus’ true apostles introduced no such
    ordinance in the church they served in , the New Testament reveals this fact . When Mormon
    leaders introduced polygamy and the reason for it , it is a good example of men in the latter
    who succumbed to what Paul warned would happen after he was gone — 2 Tim 4: 3,4 ; Gal 1:8

    Please wake up Clyde . We pray for your freedom .

  7. falcon says:

    As a man, I wonder how I would manage polygamy. Quite frankly I couldn’t do it. Maybe I could pull it off if there were like six or more wives. Why? Well at a certain point the expectations to meet the emotional (and other) needs of the wives would have to be pretty low. I’m talking about living in the same house with all of these women.
    I know some of these guys have the women parked in different houses. Some are on welfare as un-wedded mothers. In fact, some of those polygamy cults brag that they are ripping off the system. They have all of these wives and kids and they don’t really have to contribute financially to their support.
    But there’s another scenario. That is when the women see the man as a god (in waiting) and are totally sold out to the program. This appears to be how Louie pulled it off. I’m thinking she was sort of the “first” sister wife and provided guidance to the younger women; sort of the “head wife”.
    Yes she is a woman that LDS (women) need to admire and emulate. It is possible that these women are going to have to share their husbands in the Celestial Kingdom if the Mormon god decides to assign him more wives.

  8. MJP says:

    Clyde, it would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

    But what would it change?

  9. RikkiJ says:


    I’m really a newbie compared to a great many other posters on this forum. How goes? Have you any comments about recent blog articles, aside from something passing?

  10. falcon says:

    Ah RJ
    Clyde is one of our “drive-bys”. Not really a bomb thrower or a troll; just a drop-in. Nothing in depth. Just some random thoughts.

  11. falcon says:

    I should do my riff here on the different kinds of Mormons. Jim Spencer in his book, “Have You Witnessed To a Mormon Lately” does a great job of profiling Mormon believers. It goes all the way from the “arrogant true believer” to the “naive true believer” to “the doubter”. There’s a few others that I can’t recall right now and I’m not going to go down to the basement to get the book!
    Clyde is a “naive true believer”.
    Although Jim doesn’t address it, there are also “social Mormons”, “cultural Mormons”, “Jack Mormons”, “Temple Mormons” and “cafeteria Mormons”. This is not an exhaustive list of course.
    We often think of Mormonism as an “all in” or “all out” religion. I would venture to guess that faithful LDS folks think the same thing.
    In the article above Louie is an “all in” true believer probably stronger in her faith than Joseph Smith himself was!

  12. Mike R says:

    The issue of polygamy being introduced by Mormon leaders is a good example of why we can’t
    follow these men . They’ve claimed to be prophets , apostles , personally directed by Jesus to
    lead His church and preach His gospel since 1830 , however when we look at the mess they
    created with polygamy , we can see that they are only religious men who’ve inserted their own
    ideas onto Jesus’ gospel and presented them as “gospel doctrine ” . This activity is not new —
    ( Gal 1:8 ) In fact this behavior of religious leaders who resorted to mixing their own ideas
    into the true Gospel preached by Jesus’ apostles is what commenced the great apostasy
    according to Mormon authorities . So by their inserting polygamy onto the true gospel of
    salvation ( Rom 1:16 ; Col 1:23 ) Mormon leaders succumbed to this same serious error .
    We are to beware of prophets in these latter days who come preaching a imitation gospel —
    Matt 24:11 .

    The way Mormon authorities have handled the subject of polygamy in the 100 years is one
    that could only be described as embarrassment . It’s a subject , until recently ( because of
    pressure by a growing number of LDS to want answers from the leadership ) that has been
    swept under the rug in significant ways . Church hierarchy issued a paper recently in an
    attempt to respond to the growing number of questioning members . Yet it is seen as another
    anemic response on the subject from the sole official source of Mormon belief .

    The Mormon people who followed Brigham Young needed to hear the true gospel of salvation ,
    it was in the New Testament and free from what Mormon leaders amalgamated to it with their
    latter days doctrinal innovations . Sadly the Mormon people were detoured by a latter days
    prophet not sent by Jesus ( Mk 13:22-23 ) , and accepted a commandment of men ( titus 1:14 )
    as being a ” gospel doctrine ” .

    We can only have respect for all those Mormon women who struggled to endure the domestic
    turmoil this doctrine brought to their lives as wives . They were truly short changed .

  13. falcon says:

    So Joseph Smith “restored” real first century Christianity. That is, what the LDS church teaches, believes and practices today was the same thing as the first century Christian church. But wait a minute. There’s been a lot of different forms to this Mormonism. Was the religion that Smith originally established in the same as the first century church? Was the morphed to religion of say 1840 Nauvoo, Illinois the same as the first century Christian church? Was what was practiced in Utah in the 19th century real first century Christianity. I think you get my drift.
    The point is that there is no evidence that anything that the LDS church practices, teaches and believes has anything to do with the first century church. So a faithful LDS member might say that it was the “priesthood” that needed to be restored. Problem again is that the first century Christian Church had no priesthood. Smith reestablished something that was never a part of the Christian Church. It would be more accurate to say Smith established it in Mormonism.
    So it goes with men becoming gods, polygamy or even something as trivial as restrictions on food/drink.
    It is truly sad to see someone like Louie thinking that what she was doing had anything to do with Christianity as originally practiced by the first century Church.

  14. Mike R says:

    Falcon, you brought up the crux of the question concerning Mormonism , i.e. is it the restored
    church / gospel of Jesus Christ ? After people listen the Mormon Missionary lessons or read
    what the church P.R. dept dispenses to the public , they can be persuaded it is Jesus’ church
    restored . However , when a person looks beyond what the Missionaries say it becomes evident
    that Mormonism is not a restoration of Jesus’ church but rather it is a substitution . A imitation
    substituted in place of the true one . The fact is that Jesus’ church did not die off , become
    extinct , on earth soon after the death of His apostles because of a complete apostasy followed
    by 1700 years of darkness with salvation unavailable until 1830 when it was then restored
    by God through a person named Joseph Smith . That claim is a simply a ruse .

    We get to remind people , who may be looking at all the eye appeal the Mormon church
    publically projects , that this claim of a restoration is a clever way to get people’s attention to
    buy into joining a man made religious organization run by men who have attempted to mimic
    the authority of Jesus’ true apostles in order to convince people to believe their teachings —
    like when they introduced polygamy as a essential church ordinance .
    This type of spiritual danger is not new — 2Cor 11:13 ; Rev 2:2 .

    Sincere people can be easily fooled by religious men who act polite , smile a lot and dress well .
    Mormon leaders are such men .

  15. falcon says:

    My question is, “Would Mormonism have survived if the 1890 manifesto ending polygamy hadn’t been brought forth or enforced”. The reason I say that is because Mormonism as practiced by the LDS church is a high commitment proposition. There are plenty of LDS low commitment members, most are, but in order to really get into the program, a person has to be all in.
    We know that not all Mormon males practiced polygamy even in its hay day in 19th century Utah. The LDS church basically dumped the practice to survive. Had they not stopped it, the church would be limping along today. Part of it has to do with people not even wanting to be part of an organization that promotes plural marriage. It’s just very unnatural to our cultural sensibilities.
    So “Louie” was an extremely high commitment Mormon who not only encouraged but promoted polygamy within her own marital relationship. How many “Louie’s” are there in the general population that would join the LDS church under the circumstances of polygamy? Very, very few if any modern women would jump into it.
    If the LDS church hadn’t stopped the practice, they’d be the FLDS size today.
    Yet Brigham Young was stubbornly steadfast regarding plural marriage:
    “We are told that if we would give up polygamy–which we know to be a doctrine revealed from heaven and it is God and the world for it–but suppose this Church should give up this holy order of marriage, then would the devil, and all who are in league with him against the cause of God, rejoice that they had prevailed upon the Saints to refuse to obey one of the revelations and commandments of God to them.” Later in the sermon President Young asked, “Will the Latter-day Saints do this? No” (JOD 11:239).

    John Taylor, Mormonism’s future third president, accused those who opposed polygamy within the LDS Church as “apostates.” He said:

    “Where did this commandment come from in relation to polygamy? It also came from God…When this commandment was given, it was so far religious, and so far binding upon the Elders of this Church that it was told them if they were not prepared to enter into it, and to stem the torrent of opposition that would come in consequence of it, the keys of the kingdom would be taken from them. When I see any of our people, men or women, opposing a principle of this kind, I have years ago set them down as on the high road to apostacy, and I do to-day; I consider them apostates, and not interested in this Church and kingdom” (JOD 11:221).

    The high commitment Mormons of yesteryear would be aghast at what happened to their religion. The Mormon leaders of 1890 had to decide between a practice that former leaders declared a revelation from the Mormon god or survival of the religion. They chose survival.

  16. Mike R says:

    Falcon , I think you’re right about how early Mormons would be aghast at what their church
    has morphed into nowadays . Along the way there has been much doctrinal flip flops and a
    assorted array of teachings that have been denied , down played or dodged by church leaders
    in public venues nowadays as the top leadership have built a billion dollar financial empire
    where rank and file members are’nt allowed to know answers to important issues ( ” salaries ” ?)
    but who are told to keep in line . To believe that their leaders are missing the mark and could
    be giving faulty counsel is to play Satan’s favorite game [ Deseret News 5-26-1945 ] .

    Let’s look at what Mormons were testifying about polygamy as they followed their leaders :

    – to enter polygamy was to ” embrace the whole gospel ” of Jesus [ Bethsheba Smith ]
    – ” It is a principle of the gods ; it is heaven born . God revealed it to us as a saving principle …”
    [ Zina D. Jacobs Smith Young , plural wife of B.Y. , 1876 statement ]
    – ” It is only our want of knowledge that we not hail it ( polygamy) as our greatest gift . ”
    [ Esther Penrose ]

    From Mormon leaders they testify :

    – ” … it will fostered and believed in by the more intelligent portions of the world , as one of
    the best doctrines ever proclaimed to any people .” [ B.Y. Deseret News 9-15- 1852 p.25 ] .
    – the practice of polygamy is ” the popular religion ” in heaven . [ B.Y. Jof D v9 p 322 ]
    – ” Thus this monogamic order of marriage , so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy
    sacrament and divine institution , is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.”
    ( B.Y. taught that by adopting the order of marriage of the founders of the old Roman empire-
    monogamy– the early Christians thus apostatized from the older divinely approved practice of
    polygamy ! Deseret News 8-6- 1862 , see Doing the Works of Abraham p 86 -87 ) .

    – If all the above teachings would’nt fully convince people that polygamy was mandated by
    Jesus to be accepted as a essential church ordinance and important part of His gospel then
    some Mormon leaders played their ultimate trump card — they taught that Jesus their
    great Exemplar was a polygamist and so was His Father !

    The above is but a tiny example of the gospel knowledge from Mormon leaders as they served
    their flock as guides in spiritual truths . Matt 15: 14 .

    But nowadays what have Mormons said about polygamy :

    – Bruce McConkie says that those who practice polygamy are guilty of ” gross wickedness”
    [ Mormon Doctrine p 579 ] .

    – Spencer Kimball said that LDS are being ” led astray ” if they practice polygamy .
    – Mitt Romney called the practice of polygamy ” bizarre ” [ Feb , 2007 A.P. article ]
    ( Romney himself has polygamist Mormon ancestors )
    – other Mormon groups who practice polygamy are called ” cults ” [ by Spencer Kimball
    Oct 1974 Conference Report p 5 , cited in Mormon Polygamy , by Richard Van Wagoner p200]

    Bottom line : Mormon leaders , with what they done by introducing polygamy as a vital part
    of Jesus’ gospel , have succumbed to the very error that Jesus’ true apostles warned would
    happen — 2 Tim 4: 3, 4 ‘ 2 Jn 7-9 — and this problem again made an appearance with the
    advent of Mormonism’s ” restored gospel ” . Polygamy is one example why Mormon leaders
    should’nt have been trusted as guides in gospel preaching , and they still should’nt today .

    In the latter days , when false prophets are abundant ( Matt 24:11 ) safe ground is available
    for those who desire to follow Jesus by anchoring their beliefs in His apostles preaching
    and not fall for the appealing ” new light ” latter days prophets offer about Jesus or His
    gospel of salvation — Rom 1:16 .

  17. falcon says:

    While finding out about someone like “Louie” could make an LDS member to doubt about Mormonism it could also cause that person to develop an explanation. Explanations regarding Louie type information generally come across sounding like rationalization. However if the LDS person who comes into this information has the courage to investigate, then a rationalization won’t do.
    The information found might disgust such a person. It might even lead them to investigate further about other aspects of the Mormon religion. The more rocks that get over-turned, the more information garnered might lead this LDS member to conclude things they really don’t want to conclude. And haven’t doubters been warned that it’s really Satan doing this; causing the doubts? But I think it takes courage to be a doubter, a skeptic.
    The bottom line isn’t about polygamy. The bottom line comes in three words. Who is Jesus?
    There are Mormons deciding every day that what they have put their faith in won’t result in their salvation. There is no “one true church” in a denominational sense. There is only One True God and One True Savior. The LDS church misses the most important of all revelations and that is, who is Jesus? Time spent investigating who Jesus is will be well spent and will lead to knowing the pathway to salvation.

  18. Mike R says:

    You’re right Jesus is key .
    If Joseph Smith would have actually been directed by Jesus to restore His church / gospel he
    would not have drifted from what the New Testament teaches about marriage by introducing
    polygamy and polyandry . Instead he drifted away into error and lied to the church body about
    his involvement ( marriage ) with other women .

    Also if Brigham Young was being personally directed by Jesus he would not have continued
    to teach false doctrines concerning marriage ( polygamy ; Mormon males forbidden to marry
    black women ) instead he would realized his error and returned to the doctrinal safety of the
    New Testament . Instead he refused to see his error and railed against anyone who dare call
    into question his ” gospel preaching ” .

    Both of these prophets are why Jesus pre warned his followers in the latter days to beware of
    such men . Mk 13:22-23 .
    Mormon leaders have not been personally directed by Jesus , in fact they have succumbed to
    feeding their flock false teachings about Jesus , which would help explain their other errors .
    Paul has warned of that danger — 2 Cor 11: 4 .
    The Mormon people need to dismiss their leaders and seek the safer way concerning accurate
    information about Jesus ( or God ) — it’s in the Bible . We pray for them to make that
    liberating decision .

  19. Clyde6070 says:

    It is amazing that none of you were able to see what is wrong with my first comment. You need to read the post very carefully.

  20. Mike R says:

    We did’nt see what was wrong with your first comment ? You mean you were wrong in what
    you posted ? Actually Clyde , we did bring to your attention what was important , i.e. your
    refusal to address what Sharon posted , and now it seems you won’t address what any of us
    have said also . Oh well .

    You don’t have to follow latter days false prophets Clyde . Freedom is available if you would
    only take a big step and trust God to help you . It’s all about Jesus , not secret temple rituals ,
    nor a man at the top of a billion dollar corporation claiming to be God’s sole mouthpiece today.
    May you soon come to understand that fact .
    Take care

  21. Clyde6070 says:

    Mike R.
    If you had read the article in the Ensign or link Sharon provided you would have noticed why she could not have children and realized that I had not read the article either. You can speculate all you want about polygamy and come to any conclusion you desire. It will always interest me how people react to polygamy both those who practice it and those who don’t.

  22. MJP says:

    Clyde, you must think you are clever. But what does her barrenness have to do with anything?

  23. Clyde6070 says:

    No not clever just pointing out my own draw backs.
    Her barrenness could explain (possible) why she did not mind the practice of polygamy.

  24. Mike R says:

    Clyde, I don’t ” speculate ” about polygamy . I merely show why Mormon leaders altered the
    gospel of Jesus Christ by introducing it as an essential church ordinance . You chose to ignore
    that point , and no wonder , because it gets to the heart of why people should’nt have followed
    Brigham Young then and why you should’nt follow his successor today .
    We keep praying for you .

  25. MJP says:

    What you’ve done Clyde is avoid talking about the issue at hand. Thats all.

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