ANN ELIZA AND BRIGHAM.
A Spicy History of Their Great Divorce Case.
It Would Now Appear They Never Were Married.
Only a "Celestial" Wife, Which is not the Regulation Article. Brigham on the War-Path—An Un-pleasant Outlook.
Special Correspondence of The Chicago Tribune.
SALT LAKE CITY, NOV. 18.— Ann Eliza Webb was born of poor but orthodox Mormon parents. She was educated, or rather brought up, in that faith. In 1863, when 19 years' of age, she was married at Salt Lake City to one James L. Dee, a steady, honest, hard-working brick-mason, who was also a simon-pure Mormon. They were married in the Endowment, "for time and eter-nity" according to the rites and ceremonies of the Mormon belief. Two young saints were the result. In 1867, at the insti-gation of Brigham Young (it is said and reasonably believed), she obtained a divorce from Dee, on the Usual grounds— cru-elty and failure to provide all the luxuries her fancy dictated. In the spring of 1868,—a few months later,— she was
SEALED TO BRIGHAM
in the Endowment House, according to the rites of Mormonism, and thus became his nineteenth "Celestial Wife." All Mormon wives are Celes-tial. There was not at that time (and is not now) any civil marriage-law in Utah. The Ter-ritoral Legislature, composed entirely of Mor-mon members, in its early settlement passed an act incorporating the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" and among the many other things empowered the Church to unite people in mar-riage, in accordance with the rites of that Church. Ann Eliza and Mr. Dee were husband and wife from a Mormon view, but not according to Gentile laws. But as they lived together as man and wife, claiming each other as such,—he taking no other wife and she no other husband, they both being competent and willing to contract matrimony, and there being no legal impediment in the way—the social laws and common cus-toms of society considered them as morally and legally bound to each other. The Probate Court which granted her a divorce from Dee had no jurisdiction in such cases. In 1872 Congress passed an act empowering the Probate Courts of Utah to grant divorces, and legalized the proceedings in such cases that were pending at the time of the passage of the act. But, as Ann Eliza had received
HER DIVORCE FROM DEE
in 1867, this act did not affect her case, and, con-sequently, the divorce was illegal, and her sub-sequent marriage with Brigham Young null and void, from a Gentile standpoint— and that is the standpoint from which she is now suing for a divorce from the Prophet. So, admitting that she was, according to the usages and customs of Gentile society, the wife of James L. Dee, it is plainly shown that she was not legally divorced when she married Brigham. But even admitting that she had been legally married to and legally divorced from Dee, and perfectly competent to contract matrimony, she could not have become Brigham Young's wife as long as he was living with and publicly claiming one of his many women as his wife. And, further, as Brigham and Ann Eliza were married ac- cording to the rites of the Mormon faith, and not Gentile law, her only recourse would seem to be an application to the church authori-ties for a divorce, and not the Gentile Courts, which have no jurisdiction, except to punish both for polygamy.
CAUSE OF THE DIVORCE.
When the Prophet and Ann Eliza were "seal-ed" for "time and eternity" as one flesh and one spirit, he was 66 years of age, she 23. Probably it was a case of mutual spiritual love! Most probably not.
Brigham Young was raised to hard work, and even now, in his old age, is a very hard worker ; also, miserly. The first lesson he teaches his children is to work early and late. He requires his wives to earn their own living at sewing, gardening, dairying, etc. Neither does he let his mother-in-law stand around and "boss" things; she, or rather they, work, or else leave the house. It is an erroneous belief that Brig-ham has all of his wives in one house. Only four or five live in the "Lion House" with him ; the others have each their cottages at different points in the city. Ann Eliza's residence was about two squares from the "LionHouse"— Brigham's residence. The Prophet directed her to "take in" boarders, and made her and her mother do the "housework." This was the in-ception of the rebellion. The mother-in-law, like all others, of course, objected to anything like work, and put the same defiant spirit into Ann Eliza's head. Mormons don't board much. They generally keep house, or live with their neighbors. Consequently, Ann Eliza's patrons were mainly Gentiles, and among them a certain Gentile limb of the law. After hearing her recite her numerous wrongs, he briefly advised her to bring an action for divorce,— and
ALIMONY, PRINCIPALLY ALIMONY.
Alimony always follows divorce. The action was commenced, and the cause assigned, "cru-elty and failure to provide." Brigham Young, in his formal answer, admitted that she was his "celestial" wife, according to the Mormon faith. The presiding Justice, McKean, would not receive this qualified admission, saying that the law only knew one kind of a wife, and, as he had admitted her to be his wife, that part of the admission would hold good in law, and the "celestial" part of the answer not admitted. On this technical- ty she was granted the unusual large alimony of $500 per month, pending the trial of the suit, and $3,000 counsel fees. The case was delayed nearly two years,—until the alimony amounted to $9,500,— the object being alimony, the plain- tiffs knowing that, as there had been no mar- riage, there could be no divorce. Last Feb- ruary,
ordered Brigham to come forth and pay the $9,500 alimony and $ 3,000 counsel fees. The Prophet refused, and was com- mitted to the Territorial Penitentiary twenty- four hours for contempt of court. In a few days the President removed Justice Mc- Kean. evidently because of this order to enforce the payment of alimony, which gave a legal sanction to polygamy by legally recognizing her right to a divorce. Pending the arrival of Mc- Kean's successor, the alimony duef or that month—$500— was paid, and the new Justice re- fused to commit Brigham for disobeying the order of court made by his predecessor, as it was no contempt to the then presiding Judge. Shortly after, this Justice resigned, and recently the case came up before
who was temporarily assigned to this district. On Brigham still refusing to pay the money, he was imprisoned at his own residence,— be being too sick to be taken to jail. While imprisoned, the newly-appointed Chief-Justice arrived, called the case up, and ordered the Prophet to be released, that he was not in contempt,— thus virtually admitting that the order granting ali-mony is illegal. Consequently, the divorce suit of Ann Eliza Webb, or Dee, may be virtually considered at an end.
The Prophet has at last carried his point and saved his money. Had he denied his marriage with Ann Eliza, and set up as proof his prior marriage with MaryAnn Angell, at Kirtland, O., Jan. 10, 1834,— with whom he is still living,— he would have gained a legal victory, but all of his other wives, and in fact the entire female Mor-mon fraternity, would with united voices want to know what they were if they were not wives, and polygamy would fall to tho ground. So, for the sake of the Church, he was compelled to admit that Ann Eliza was his wife. This her attorneys knew, and, had he paid the alimony as fast as it accrued, the case would have never been brought to trial as long as he continued doing so, or they could have found a pretext for continu-ing it. The Prophet is now
ON THE WAR- PATH,
and has brought suit against the United States Marshal for false imprisonment; It is possible he may sue the Justice who made the order, and very probably attempt to recover the $500 he was forced to pay Ann Eliza, with the $3,000 counsel fees. As the Prophet is of rather a vin-dictive nature, he may even go so far as to have the gentle Ann Eliza indicted for perjury in swearing that she was his nineteenth wife, and convict her on her own technical admission, as Gentile courts allow but one wife to one man—at a time.
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