THE MORMON POOR
Brigham Young's Fondness for the In-heritances of Mormon Widows. CRUELTY AND PERSECUTION
How the Wives of Missionaries are Supported.
AN AFFECTING CASE.
Trapping Young Girls into Becoming Po-lygamous Wives.
&c., &c., &c.
SALT LAKE CITY, November 20.
I now purpose giving same of the most interest-ing information obtained by me during my visits to ladies who have left the Mormon Church, and are looked upon by the church leaders as apostates. A story has lately been going the rounds of the papers, East and West, about a Mrs. Cook and her son, the latter having been made crazy by atrocious conduct on the part of Brigham Young towards his mother. An account of the affair was published in the San Francisco Call, which was incorrect in some of its particulars, and Mrs. Cook, influenced by her fears that the story might prove prejudicial to her property interests in Utah, contradicted it. The correct history of her trouble with Brigham was re-lated to me by a lady well acquainted with her and her past life.
THE STORY OF MRS. COOK.
The husband of Mrs. Cook was a policeman, and entirely dependent upon his salary for the support of himself and his family. One night he was mortally wounded by a rowdy while endeavoring to quell a street disturbance. His death left the family entirely destitute, and the corporation of Salt Lake City voted the sum of two thousand dollars to purchase a homestead for his widow. Brigham obtained pos-session of the two thousand dollars, and gave Mrs. Cook a city lot, having upon it a tumble-down shanty with but one room in it, the whole having cost Brigham a yoke of cattle, valued at one hundred and fifty dollars. He delayed giving Mrs. Cook a deed of the property, making some flimsy excuse when requested to do so. In the meantime, Mrs. Cook and her sons continued to live upon and improve the place, enlarging and making additions to the house, until her property had increased largely in value. This was what Brigham had been waiting for, and one day, when the widow called upon him for her deed, the flint-hearted, avaricious "prophet" informed her that she could only have it upon the payment to him of several thousand dollars more. This unex-pected blow fell with crashing force upon the poor woman, who had believed that she had a home of her own, and that she had been dealing with a “saint" instead of a devil. Her pleadings and en-treaties were lost upon Brigham, who brutally ordered her from his presence. She had acted in Brigham's theatre to obtain a precarious livelihood, and had received for her services a mere pittance from Brigham's tithing office in return. Brigham had the audacity to reproach her with being the creature of his bounty, saying that he had fed her from his table, and this was the ungrateful return which she made him, in presuming to ask for the deed to her property without paying him a few additional thousands of dollars. Such conduct on the part of Brigham told heavily upon the health of Mrs. Cook, and she became seriously ill. To add to her misfortunes, while descending a flight of stairs leading from the dressing-room to the stage of the theatre, she fell and broke her arm. Her youngest son, a sensitive youth, took the troubles of his mother greatly to heart, and they preyed upon his mind to such an extent that he be-came insane. The "tokens of a mind diseased" manifested themselves, at first slowly and by de-grees, but at length his mother was obliged to ex-ercise a constant watch over him to prevent him from committing acts of violence. His aim, when in his paroxysms of madness, seemed to be to get hold of Brigham and punish him in some way for the wrongs he had done his mother. Pre-vious to his aberrations of intellect, he had visited Brigham's office, and was refused an interview. This also weighed heavily upon his mind, and he would repeat the words, "he wouldn't let me see him," over and over again. At last Mrs. Cook, earful that in some moment of neglected watchful-ness he might attempt a desperate act of violence upon the sanctified hypocrite who had so bitterly wronged his mother, which would involve both of them in trouble, determined to remove him to Cali-fornia and place him in one of the insane asylums in that State. Still anxious to conciliate Brigham, in the hope that he might yet re-lent and give her the deed to her property, she called upon him to inform him of her determination, but his spies had been before her and communicated her intention to him. He granted the interview, probably to ascertain from her, if he could, the full extent of her future plans. Old, infirm and broken down in health, Mrs. Cook, the poor widow, stood in the presence of the great Brigham, who claimed to be a prophet and the leader of God's chosen people. He did not rise at her en-trance, nor did he offer her a chair, or request her to be seated, so she stood during the entire inter-view. Looking at her sternly he said, "So you are going to California with your son."
“I have found it necessary to do so," she replied, "a change of climate having been recommended as beneficial by his physician, and he can receive there skilful medical attention."
“Well," replied Brigham, “I hope you will go, and never come back here again to feed upon my bounty."
“I have never," said Mrs. Cook, “fed upon your bounty, but have fairly earned—yes, more than earned—by hard work, every cent I have ever re-vived from you."
Brigham then poured out upon the trembling and bowed form which stood before him a torrent of vituperation and abuse, until the very sycophants who attended him became ashamed and disgusted. Finally, he again demanded payment of the addi-tional sum charged by him for the property which, almost worthless when sold to her, had become so greatly enhanced in value by the labor of herself and family, and refused to give her a deed until she had done so. With tottering steps, almost heart-broken, she left the presence of the “righteous" Brigham, and the devils rejoiced that another act of his had forged an additional link in the chain of sin which bound him to them. Mrs. Cook soon after started for California with her son, leaving her property in the hands of friends who will see that Brigham does not obtain possession of it.
After arriving in Sacramento, Mrs. Cook found her health and that of her son much improved, but the latter only experienced a temporary benefit from the change. It was finally found necessary to place him in an insane asylum, and he was examined in one of the courts by the State Commissioners of Lunacy. It was the report of this examination which appeared in the San Francisco Call, and which Mrs. Cook saw fit to contradict in some of its unimportant features, fearful of ill consequences to her property in Utah, should she not do so. The true facts of the case are far worse and more damn-ng to Brigham than the meagre report which ap-eared in the Call.
The case of Willard Richard's widows presents a n-other and more successful attempt upon the part of Brigham to despoil the widow and orphan. Dr. Willard Richards was Brigham's first counsellor, and owned some very valuable property, consisting of several lots, in the very heart of Salt Lake City. After his death, Brigham removed the widows from this property, and gave them some land in the coun-try far less valuable than that of which he had de-prived them. The easily acquired and valuable city lots were transferred to Joseph A. Young, Brigham's eldest son, who now resides upon them.
It appears that Brigham has established a church law, which requires every Mormon to consecrate his property to the church, or in other words to give Brigham a deed of all his real estate in consideration of the love and good will which he bears to the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." The parties so "consecrating" their property then hold merely as tenant at will to Brigham who has the power, or rather would have the power if there was no United States courts in the Territory to prevent him, of ousting them at his pleasure. On the death of his serfs, Brigham takes possession of the prop-erty, while the widows and children are driven forth to find shelter and food as best they can, unless the interposition of the United States judges is called for, to make Brigham disgorge and then the consecration deeds are declared void for want of consideration. Men are frequently called upon by Brigham to go out into the world upon missions, leaving their families to the tender mercies of the church authorities for support. God help them then, for the tender care which they receive is like that bestowed by the wolf upon the lamb be would devour. The wives of missionaries are sometimes permitted to obtain a little flour, potatoes, or meat at the tithing office. In win-ter they may possibly obtain a limited supply of wood from the bishop of the ward in which they reside. This, however, depends greatly upon the good nature of the bishop under whose rule they live. The Thirteenth Ward, comprising the east side of the main business stress, and several blocks of the most thickly settled portion of the city, inhabited by some of the wealth-iest Mormons, is ruled over by a bishop named Wooley. A poor woman applied to him one day last winter for a little food and fuel, for she was almost in a starving condition, and nearly frozen for want of a fire. This model bishop told her to go to some other ward and obtain relief, for the Thirteenth Ward had enough to look after and provide for. At the same time he had money in his pocket, received by him from charitably disposed Gentiles and Mormons to be applied to just such cases of want. What a beautiful commentary upon a system, the advocates of which claim that poverty, want, and wretchedness do not exist among them!
CASE OF A MISSIONARY.
George Q. Cannon, now the Editor of the Deseret New, and at one time Brigham’s private secretary, was sent several years ago to Europe, as President of the European mission. He had two wives; the first he took with him, and together they revelled in all the luxuries which the will-filled coffers of the European mission, replenished from the tithing of the people, could afford them. Cannon, having been engaged most of the time as a missionary, was not very well off, and left his second wife in great desti-tution in Salt Lake City. The tithing-office clerks had no certain hours upon which to deal out flour, meat, &c, for it was very often the case they had none of those articles on hand when wanted. As Cannon’s wife was dependent upon the tithing office for her support, she was obliged to spend the most of the time in visiting that insti-tution, and waiting, sometimes the whole day, be-fore she could obtain anything, to the neglect of her children who were crying with hunger at home. If fortunate enough to obtain a small piece of meat, of a few pounds of flour, she would have to walk with it a long distance, through the snow and slush, her feet almost bare, and the wind piercing through her scanty clothing, until she reached a comfortless, cheerless home, very often with-out a fire to warm her benumbed frame. The son of my informant had often seen this woman among a crowd of rough men, who, while working on the temple, were supplied with food from the tithing office, vainly endeavoring to approach the room from whence ration were issued to obtain her share. Pressed backwards, almost crushed and trampled under food by the crowd, she never succeeded in obtaining anything until the men were all supplied, and then very often there was nothing left for her. Such was the life of a plural wife whose husband had been sent upon a mission, and this is only one instance out of hun-dreds which have and are now occurring in Salt Lake City.
An affecting case.
A lade informed me of a case which occurred last winter and which, if the scene had been located in a Gentile community, would have been depicted in moving terms by the Mormon papers as a fair speci-men of the way in which the Gentiles took care of their poor. One day the neighbors were alarmed by the shrieks and cries issuing from a tumble-down shanty in the Nineteenth Ward, in which lived the deserted plural wife of a prominent man residing in that ward. While the poor woman was away after a pail of water, the clothes of her little boy, who was about three or four years old, had caught fire, and he was burned so badly that he died in a few hours afterwards. The interior of the room presented a picture of extreme destitution. The only furniture was an old stool and a rickety table. A fire smouldered upon the hearth, for she had no stove, and no more fuel could be found upon the premises. There was nothing in the house to eat, and the remaining children were crying with hunger. The neighbors at once procured food, med-icine, and fuel, and a small amount of furniture was contributed to make the room more comfortable. The woman said that she had applied to the bishop of the ward for assistance, but he had refused to render her any, and told her to go to her husband for support, although he knew at the time that her husband had deserted her.
After the child was dead, this model Mormon polyg-amist husband came and upbraided the nearly heart-broken woman as being the cause of her child’s death, and coolly informed her that she could obtain no assistance from him.
The lady who gave me this information was present at the time, and said that she felt as though she could scratch out the eyes of the brutal husband for his outrageous conduct.
For several winters scores of children, boys and girls, have made daily trips to Camp Douglass, with sleds and baskets, to obtain the refuse coal and pieces of firewood thrown out by the soldiers. They were the children of poor Mormon parents who were obliged to adopt this method of obtaining their fuel.
About ten or twelve years ago the Mormon leaders inaugurated a "reformation” movement among the people. Elders were sent as missionaries through-out the Territory, the burden of whose preaching was that the people had displeased the Lord by not promptly paying tithing, and neglecting to take a plu-rality of wives. A catechism was prepared, contain-ing the most searching questions concerning the eve-ry-day life of the person catechized. Teachers were appointed in each district, who visited the houses of individuals and questioned each member of the fam-ily separate and apart from the rest.
These teachers were all men, and the questions put by them to the women were of the most search-ing character, concerning their actions and marital relations.
The revelations sometimes obtained from the ac-knowledgments of men and woman were startling and unexpected. Many a wife whose husband had placed the most implicit confidence in her confessed to a criminal intimacy with certain of the brethren. Wives found that their husbands had not been all that they should have been, and unmarried women were involved in the general exposure. So great were the iniquities practised by the people that Brigham decreed a general baptism of the church member, male and female, and, as a Mormon while preaching once expressed it: “Heavy leads of sin, washed from the souls of the people, were borne upon the waters of the River Jordan down to the waters of the Great Salt Lake.” A lady, first wife of an apostle, refused to be inter-rogated By these teachers in private, and nformed them that she could hear and answer their questions equally as well in the presence of her husband and children. She finally ordered them to leave the house, and considerably accelerated heir move-ments with a well-wielded broom-stick.
The young girls were especially impressed with the importance of their immediately becoming plural wives. All the girls, 12 years of age and upwards, were required to remain after meeting on Sundays and listen to lectures, often of the most disgusting nature, upon polygamy and marriage. Many girls, 12 and 13 years of age, were made the plural wives of old reprobates, who promised to send them to school until old enough to fulfil the duties of wives. There was scarcely a single in-stance where this promise was ever kept. Many of the girls, when old enough to ac for themselves, left their husbands and married soldiers at Camp Doug-lass, or left the Territory, while some became women of the town. In one settlement, situated about fifty miles south of Salt Lake City, fourteen young girls were shut up in the meeting-house without food or drink, until they had consented to become the plural wives of various men in the place.
The Mormon reformation demonstrated conclu-sively that the people of Utah, while claiming to be the most moral people in the world, were secretly the most immoral.
During these times of super-religious zeal, the first wife of a Mormon bishop endeavored to leave Utah, and return to her friends in the East. The bishop took a knife and cut her throat from ear to ear, while she knelt vainly imploring him to spare her life.
A favorite method employed by the old men to ob-tain young wives, is to engage girls newly arrived from Europe as domestics. After these girls have been in the employment of the old reprobates a short time, various artifices are used to induce them to become polygamous wives, and the most dis-honorable means are often employed to force them to give their consent. After they are once entrapped into these Mormon dens of iniquity, they find it a very difficult matter to escape. Phineas Young, an old man whose face is wrinkled with age, and who is a brother to Brigham, is noto-rious for his attempts upon the virtue of girls whom he entraps into his employment. Upon one occasion, a girl more spirited than those he had been accus-tomed to deal with, having been insulted by him, seized a large carving-knife, and would have plunged it into his wile heart had he not sought refuge in the room of one of his wives and locked the door. A young lady, one summer, opened a school in the meeting-house in his ward. Phineas Young succeeded in seducing her, and then informed her that he had a revelation re-quiring her to marry a young man in his employ-ment. The marriage took place, and not long af-terwards the young man found that he had been grossly deceived. The first wife is very rarely con-sulted by a husband who wishes to take another wife, and never when she is inclined to offer the slightest opposition to his wishes in that respect. The Mormon leaders would have outsiders believe the contrary, but the testimony is too strong against them to be controverted. The impression seems to be strong in Utah that the government will soon do something towards breaking up polygamy, but as to its successful accomplishment the opinions are various and conflicting. H.
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