Hay view from Castle

Hay view from Castle
Hay-on-Wye, Powys (formerly Breconshire), Wales. The "Town of Books" (and Vaughans!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Springville in Context, 1856-1857 (Part II)


Let me start by saying very clearly, I am not a proponent of modern, current-day polygamy. And neither is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church does not accept the membership or participation of those who practice polygamy. I do respect my ancestors, and there were several of them, who lived this religious principle of plural marriage to the best of their abilities.

The only doctrinal basis and the only real explanation I can give for plural marriage are in the scriptures, both for the establishment of the doctrine and practice in Doctrine & Covenants 132, and for the disestablishment of the practice in Official Declaration No. 1. Still, a bit more historical explanation is needed to the extent that it helps us understand Elinor and where she was after arriving in Utah.

President's Office between the Beehive House (1854)
on the right and the Lion House (1856)  on the left
We know that Eleanor Jenkins Vaughan was sealed to Charles Hulet of Springville Utah on March 23, 1857,  by Heber C. Kimball in the President's Office, Salt Lake City, Utah. I have seen a copy of the ledger book. It is in Special Collections at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City and because it contains sacred Temple records, they only let you take notes. You cannot make a copy. Also sealed to Charles Hulet at the same time was another handcart widow, Mary Lawson Kirkman (1823-1899). Hulet already had four other wives, one having died in 1813, another dying in 1851, another that died later that same year of 1857, and another that the family claims may have divorced him. (I think that makes six - but not all at the same time!)

Springville, Utah was a active place of polygamous marriages during the Reformation of 1856-1857. This is established by a discourse given by Apostle Orson Hyde, February 11, 1857, in Springville. I will not copy over the entire transcription as Luke Gallup did in his journal. You can read at as this link if you want. My interest in it is rather limited and specific.

(And I have to insert this long parenthetical to explain that what Orson Hyde preached that evening in Springville was not all official doctrine of the Church, and it certainly isn't official doctrine now. It never was reviewed and accepted by the presiding quorums of the church nor by the body of the church which I think is required for binding, doctrinal teaching with the authority of scripture. If it somehow spoke to someone at the time spirit to spirit, fine. But I didn't get any of that myself from this speech. In the early days of the LDS Church, Apostles were free to speak as they felt they were moved by the Holy Ghost - as Apostles are today. But in those early times, there was much more personal interpretation and speculation that was not always solid doctrine even if the Apostle may have thought it was at that particular time. So, take most of what Elder Hyde said with a grain of salt, even the part I'm going to share here.)

Excerpts of Elder Hyde's talk below regarding polygamy are from Luke Gallup's journal:
". . . . If you have gone into this, with the sanction of your Bishop, or the First Presidency, all is right; but if not, it is not right. It is true I labored to show up the principle, & tell the people where they were binding; but I did not give any one, the right to act. I could not give that which I did not possess. I only tried to remove the obstacles. I hear that they have gone in couples, triples, quadruples, & even sextuples, to Salt Lake City: & the President may think I am raising the very Devil here. It has been said by some that from what I preached when here before, that a woman or girl has no voice, in the selection of a husband; no volition. I said plainly, that no man should use his Priesthood, to force a girl against her will, did I not? (Yes) Would I force a girl into a union with me when she told me plainly she did not love me; would I thus destroy the peace of my own kingdom with my eyes open?            No, I would not, but I would advise parents, to be obedient to those over them in the Priesthood, & children to obey their Parents. Children will not receive the interference of even a higher Authority when it comes between them, & those immediately above them, & I don’t blame them."
There it is! Springville was so motivated for plural marriage during the Reformation that men went up to Salt Lake City with multiple women at the same time to be married to them! This talk was given the month before Hulet's plural sealings. That matches perfectly with Eleanor and Mary being sealed to Hulet on the same day. I understand from my historian friend that this was fairly common practice, not just in Springville. And Elder Hyde took some personal satisfaction that the members in Springville were so zealous towards the principle.

Eleanor may have heard that discourse. Hulet very likely did. Luke Gallup thought it important enough to copy it verbatim into his journal from another clerk. Luke did not enter into plural marriage until after his first wife died. And this is where the story gets a little sad.

Brother Gallup had some serious marital problems in the late 1860s & '70s. It was actually multiple marital problems. He had some unhappy and jealous wives with accusations back and forth and then directed at him. Luke was called before church courts and ended up bitter to the point that he lost his testimony. He "went to California" in 1888 which in those days was a euphemism for leaving the church. He did take one of his later wives with him.

At the time of Elder Hyde's discourse, Luke took the Reformation seriously in spite of his weaknesses. He came to an insightful balance that moved me philosophically and spiritually. His journal for February, 1857 continues:
Feb. 12th Prest O. Hyde Delivered the Dedication Sermon in our New Meeting House.
Sun. 15th Some Danes passed a night with us – going to Sanpete.
      17th Made out a Report of provisions from Teachers report.
      21st Attended Teachers meet. at Wm Robinsons house in   Fourth Ward & read these lines.
     My desire is to reform & do better & to improve my habits, praying that the spirit of the Reformation may increase in my heart till every desire & thought, is in subject to the will of God. For when our thoughts are pure our works will be also. I feel that I am not as good & faithful as one ought to be yet realizing the dullness & blindness there is in me to my true interest I feel as though I was doing about all a person could do in my sphere of action. The evils in me that are inherited & cultivated have caused me unhappiness of mind in desiring to be rid of them. I may still continue to be deceived by my weaknesses & errors yet I pray that I may not always serve the ways of evil, that I may have strength & presence of mind to shun the ways of evil that it may not get power over me.
      I think the spirit of God is striving for my welfare and the spirit of the Adversary to destroy my happiness. May we all listen to the Good Spirit & realize our situation. My feeling of late have been somewhat tried, yet it is all right – the Laws of God are just and true & if I don’t obey them the consequences will be upon me.
      The Revelations from Heaven will come as fast as we are ready for them & too fast for sinful nature. I feel dependant upon God for strength to do good & without a portion of his spirit we cannot do any good.
      My enemies who are so thro' ignorance I feel to forgive. The Adversary I have no friendship for knowingly & want him to stay on his own ground or in Hell where he belongs. I want the friendship of all the Saints on Earth & in Heaven & their prayers for my good, that I may overcome my follies my mind has been darkened by evil & sometimes have had gloomy feelings come over my mind & felt that I was not fit to be a seventy (though ordained to that office) lacking a spirit to magnify my calling in the Priesthood & thereby gain an experience to be useful, yet there is no desire in me to back out from the work we are all engaged in.
      I feel determined to be more watchful and prayerful in future & strive to hold out faithful. Lately some strange feelings have been operating on my mind – the power of good & evil have been at war with each other in me. Expect to be judged by my daily works and conversation. I take this course to express my feelings as I am such a poor speaker in public for want of language and sufficient presence of mind.
      Sun. 22nd Meeting in Big House -- & attended an eve. Meet at Houtz Mill. Commenced in the Tithing Office morning 24th worked five days there.

March 1857
Sun 1st Br. U. Curtis preached some plain facts. 2nd Br. O. Hyde preached to us. 5th Fast Day meeting & a large turn out. Gardner G. Potter & Abram Durfee were disfellowshiped by the people. 
We still don't know how Eleanor dealt with plural marriage or what the arrangements actually were in the Hulet home or if she was even there. By the tone of Elder Hyde's speech and in spite of the oddities, the meaning is very clear that the purpose of plural marriage was for spiritual and family propagation reasons, not for lust or sexual gratification. Eleanor was far past child-bearing years. But as an elderly widow in a wild frontier, it was good to have someone to help provide the necessities of life and celestial salvation. All we have so far of her record in Utah are two trips to Salt Lake City for sacred priesthood ordinances. And that's good.

Because things got a lot worse than plural marriage in Springville 1857 before they got better.

To be continued. . . .

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