LDS Church founder espouses polygamy
Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, shares the principle of polygamy with an inner circle of
Smith discloses the principle of celestial marriage.
Some Mormons relocate to Mexico to escape persecution for polygamy,
settling in Corralitos, Chihuahua.
LDS Church Apostle Orson Pratt gives a two-hour sermon on
plural marriage during conference. It is described as ”one
of the best doctrines ever proclaimed to any people.”
Brigham Young tells Mormon women who complain about polygamy that
they have two weeks to “make up their minds whether they would
stay with their husbands or be liberated at the General Conference.”
The first federal law is passed outlawing polygamy.
Women seek law’s repeal
A petition signed by 22,626 women in Utah asks Congress to repeal
the anti-polygamy law of 1862.
The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a guilty verdict in Utah territorial
court against polygamist George Reynolds, Brigham Young's personal
secretary. The case was meant as a challenge to federal anti-polygamy
Polygamists flee to Juarez, Mexico, and Alberta, Canada.
LDS President John Taylor is allegedly visited by Joseph
Smith and Jesus Christ, who confirmed to him the righteousness
of polygamy. Fundamentalists say Taylor asked five men to ensure
the practice lives on.
Edmunds-Tucker Act reiterates U.S. ban on polygamy with stiffer
Contrary to the laws of the land
As Utah vies for statehood, LDS Church leader Wilford Woodruff
issues "Official Declaration" suspending the practice
of polygamy because it is contrary to the laws of the land
LDS president issues polygamist warning
LDS President Joseph F. Smith's “Second Manifesto”
states that any person solemnizing or entering a plural marriage
will be excommunicated.
J.M. Lauritzen, a non-polygamist, settles the Short Creek
area near the Utah border in Arizona.
Lorin C. Woolley, in a story told about a meeting with Taylor in
the Woolley home, confirms LDS president’s account of a vision.
|Heber J. Grant
LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, a one-time polygamist, reiterates
that no man has the right to perform plural marriages.
The first polygamists move to Short Creek, enticed by its isolation.
Joseph Musser consolidates accounts of Taylor's 1886 vision, including
Lorin Woolley's story. Most fundamentalists view this publication
as the standard recounting of the event.
Woolley dies and is succeeded by J. Leslie Broadbent as council
J. Leslie Broadbent dies. John Y. Barlow is named his successor,
causing a rift with those who believed Elden Kingston was next in
line. Kingston leaves to start his own group.
John Y. Barlow moves to Short Creek to establish a United Order,
in which polygamists share resources. That same year, Arizona authorities
raid the town and arrest six polygamists, two of whom are imprisoned.
The United Effort Plan is formally established to manage properties
and affairs for the fundamentalists.
Federal agents again raid polygamists at Short Creek. Simultaneous
sweeps are carried out in Utah, Idaho and other Arizona sites.
John Y. Barlow dies. Joseph W. Musser takes over the group.
Joseph Musser ordains Rulon C. Allred as first counselor —
thus making him next in line to lead the group — over the
objections of some in the council.
Musser appoints a new council, effectively splitting the Short Creek
group. Charles Zitting becomes the unofficial head of the Short
Creek community while Musser oversees a gathering in the Salt Lake
Arizona law enforcement descends on Short Creek on July 26 and arrests
31 men and nine women practicing polygamy. Some 263 women and children
are taken into state custody.
Joseph Musser dies; Charles Zitting becomes presiding elder. In
July, four months after being named president, Zitting dies, LeRoy
S. Johnson takes over as the presiding elder.
Hildale established on Utah side of border.
Fred Jessop establishes Hildale, across the creek from Short Creek;
it is officially incorporated as a Utah town in 1968.
Canadian polygamists near the Idaho border align with fundamentalists
in Short Creek.
Short Creek is renamed Colorado City, Ariz.; it is incorporated
“The Child Bride of Short Creek,” a movie featuring
future stars Diane Lane and Helen Hunt, is released. Lane plays
a young girl promised to her boyfriend's polygamist father.
Political infighting leads Marion Hammon and Alma Timpson to be
dismissed from the Hildale/ Colorado City Priesthood Council. Followers
of the two men begin meeting and in 1986 found Centennial Park,
|Rulon T. Jeffs
FLDS President LeRoy Johnson dies. Rulon T. Jeffs is named president.
Winston Blackmore of Canada is named as a trustee.
Families sue the United Effort Plan over ownership of property in
the Hilldale/Colorado City community; in court documents, defenders
of the trust identify themselves, for the first time, as the Fundamentalist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Marion Hammon dies. Alma Timpson is named leader of Centennial Park.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is
In August, FLDS members pull children from public schools, causing
enrollment at Phelps Elementary School to plummet from 350 to 16.
The school closes and, in 2002, the building is sold by the Washington
County School District to residents of Hildale. It is reopened as
a private school.
On May 30, Rulon Jeffs dismisses Winston Blackmore
as bishop of the Canada branch.
On Sept. 8, Rulon Jeffs dies. He is succeeded
by his son, Warren Jeffs.
Judge dismisses suit against Jeffs estate
On Feb. 14, a federal judge dismisses a lawsuit
by jilted husband Jason Miles Williams against church leaders.
On March 5, the Utah Legislature approves tougher
penalties for men who take young girls as their plural wives. Child
bigamy, or marrying a second wife who is under the age of 18, is
punishable by 1 to 15 years in prison.
On May 20, former Washington County attorney Eric
Ludlow, criticized for overlooking the practice of taking child
brides in Hildale, is unanimously confirmed as a 5th District judge
by the Utah Senate.
On June 10, David Ortell Kingston is released
from prison after serving four years for having sexual relations
with his 16-year-old niece.
On July 15, “Under the Banner of Heaven:
A Story of Violent Faith,” a non-fiction book that explore
Mormon belief and centers on polygamy, goes on sale.
On July 26, under the direction of Colorado City
Mayor Dan Barlow, a museum and monument commemorating the 1953 Short
Creek raid are dedicated without approval of FLDS Prophet Warren
In August, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs orders museum
closed and monument destroyed.
On Aug. 1, Mary Ann Kingston, a former plural
wife in the Kingston family, files a lawsuit seeking more than $110
million from the clan over her forced marriage to her uncle when
she was 16. Kingston was belt-whipped by her father for trying to
On Aug. 14, Hildale police officer Rodney Holm,
who was wed in a “spiritual” marriage to his wife's
sister, is convicted of one count of bigamy and two counts of unlawful
sex with a minor. In October, he is sentenced to one year in jail.
On Aug. 22, Utah and Arizona officials hold a
summit in St. George to discuss polygamy issues.
On Sept. 25-26, the plural wives of Centennial
Park, Ariz., take the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona on a
tour to drive home the message that they freely chose their way
On Oct. 16, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, backed
by the Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, announces his
intention to investigate the Hildale police force and recommend
decertification for all officers who have multiple wives.
On Nov. 18, Tapestry Against Polygamy protests
a decision by the Utah Attorney General's Office to include a plural
wife in a project to aid those leaving the polygamous lifestyle.
FLDS leader expells 21 men from church
FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs exommunicates 21 men, order-ing
them out of the community and stripping them of their wives and
In January, two teens flee Hildale/Colorado City
and are placed in a Phoenix safe house. One teen says she left because
she feared being married to an older man.
On Jan. 12, three Utahns who want to live legally
together in a multiple union file suit against Salt Lake County
clerks for refusing to issue them a marriage license, challenging
state law against bigamy and polygamy.
On Jan. 14, an anonymous letter circulates in
Hildale and Colorado City that describes a revelation calling for
Louis Barlow, one of the men evicted, to be the FLDS prophet.
On. Jan. 16, Social workers, law enforcement and
members of victims' rights groups agree on a campaign to assure
women and children that they have a safe place to go.
On Jan. 23, Colorado City resident Ross Chatwin
says he will ignore an order by Warren Jeffs to vacate his home.
A lawyer for the FLDS Church says Chatwin was asked to leave because
of bad business dealings and other issues. Court records show protective
orders to keep him away from two teenage girls.
On Jan. 27, The Mohave County (Ariz.) Board of
Supervisors approves up to $200,000 to lease land from Mohave Community
College in Colorado City for a justice center.
On. Feb. 2, Utah officials apply for a federal
grant to serve victims of domestic violence in rural areas and benefit
women and children who live in polygamous communities.
In February, Arizona adopts a child bigamy statute.
Sources: "The Forgotten Kingdom" by David
L. Bigler; "The Polygamists: A history of Colorado City"
by Benjamin Bistline; "Mormon Polgyamy: A History" by
Richard S. Van Wagoner; "Kidnapped From That Land" by
Martha Sonntag Bradley; Tribune archives
Reporting by Brooke Adams,
Pamela Manson and Hilary Groutage Smith