Administration from the Underground

Eric Perkins and Mary Jane Woodger

Eric Perkins and Mary Jane Woodger, “Administration from the Underground,” in Champion of Liberty: John Taylor, ed. Mary Jane Woodger (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009), 347–70.

Eric Perkins was a graduate in history from Brigham Young University, and Mary Jane Woodger was a professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University when this was published

On a late summer afternoon in 1886, President John Taylor was sitting in the George Stringfellow parlor with Charles Barrell, one of his bodyguards, when the bulb of a nearby lamp burst, sending broken glass shooting throughout the room. At the time little more was thought of the incident. However, a week later President John Taylor dreamed that there was symbolism in the broken lamp. Another bodyguard, Samuel Bateman, recorded in his journal that the “breaking of the globe was interpreted to him [President Taylor] in a dream that the deputies surprised us and we were scattered and nary two of us were together.”[1] Up to that point, despite several close calls, President John Taylor and his entourage had managed to stay together and escape being arrested by federal deputies by using tips and informants. If, as the dream suggested, President Taylor and his group were separated, it might lead to their greatest fear: the prophet’s arrest.

Some Latter-day Saints may be surprised to learn that a President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lived a clandestine existence in danger of being imprisoned. What precipitated this situation was legislation which made it easy for the government to prosecute polygamists. In March 1882, President Taylor became aware of impending danger due to legislation. “Upon learning of the passage of the law,” President George Q. Cannon wrote to Church attorney Franklin S. Richards, “knowing that he [President Taylor] would be selected as a target for attack, . . . he called his family together and submitted to them a proposition that his wives should each return to her private residence . . . and leave him to live in the Gardo House [Presidential residence].”[2] Ultimately this plan did not work, and John Taylor was forced into hiding.

In this environment, General Authorities were protected by bodyguards and forced into hiding. Samuel W. Taylor, author and grandson of President Taylor, wrote, “Underground headquarters for the church was variously called ‘Safe Retreat,’ ‘Halfway House,’ and, most generally, the ‘DO.’ Undergrounders were ‘on the dodge,’ thus, ‘DO’ in the ‘cohab code.’”[3] Though it is impossible to pin down who first used this codeword, “DO” it is commonly found in journals and letters from those associated with General Authorities of the time.

John Taylor’s administration was limited by exile. Forced to move from hideout to hideout, he was rarely in a safe enough position to meet with his counselors in the First Presidency, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, or members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Furthermore, his presidency was limited by his inability to be among general Church membership. On the other hand, those Saints who harbored the President during this time (1885–87), found their lives enriched through a close association with their prophet. This chapter offers a glimpse into John Taylor’s life while in the DO, including the hardships he experienced trying to lead while in hiding, which included the inability to meet and consult with other General Authorities, his disconnection from the body of the Church, and the abnormal lifestyle of a man on the run as opposed to the regimented schedule of a seasoned Church leader. Especially damaging was the loss of contact with his family.

With the body of the Church outside the United States borders, the practice of plural marriage went public in August 1852 during a special conference called by Brigham Young. In an address by Orson Pratt, plural marriage was officially announced to the three thousand in attendance.[4] For many the announcement did not come as a surprise. It was common knowledge that some of the Saints practiced plural marriage. What was surprising was that Church leadership publicly announced what most already knew.

When the Church was headquartered in Nauvoo, the majority of the Twelve and First Presidency had received an invitation to practice plural marriage from the Prophet Joseph Smith. In November 1842, Joseph Smith, speaking of plural marriage, told Elder Taylor privately, “Those things that have been spoken of must be fulfilled, and if they are not entered into right away, the keys will be turned.” After some thought, Elder Taylor hesitantly replied, “Brother Joseph, I will try and carry these things out.”[5] Taylor’s selection for his first plural wife was Elizabeth Kaighin, the cousin of his first wife, Leonora Cannon. John and Elizabeth were married in December 1843. Subsequently, he married sixteen women.

At the time of President Taylor’s second marriage, the Church was experiencing relative peace in Nauvoo; however, that peace did not last, as the Saints were forced to flee in 1846 and arrived in the Great Basin the following year. Aided by isolation during the mid-1800s, the Church enjoyed prosperity living along the Rocky Mountain corridor. The first federal legislation aimed at Church members practicing plural marriage came on July 1, 1862, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act. This act was intended to punish any U.S. citizen practicing plural marriage. The act remained in force despite petitions from the Church and Utah Territory’s inability to prosecute offenders. Little was done to enforce the law, mostly because the federal government was preoccupied with the Civil War.[6]

Twenty years later, in 1882, Senator George Edmunds stirred up new interest in legal action against polygamy. His amendment to the Morrill Act included the prosecution of those practicing unlawful cohabitation through requiring licenses for marriage. It restricted polygamists’ rights to serve in public office, vote, or serve on a jury and granted amnesty for those who denounced the practice.[7] The Edmunds Act was passed by Congress on March 14, 1882, and signed into law by President Chester Arthur the following week. Latter-day Saints felt that these legal actions, aimed directly at them, were made by corrupt legislators and were an infringement upon their rights. Joseph F. Smith’s feelings about the United States at the time were typical of most Saints’ views. Writing from a place he only identified as “Camp Terra Incognition,” he declared, “I have almost come to the conclusion that in the future [the United States] should be styled the land of oppression and the home of the slave. . . . Legislators, executors, and adjudicheiors [sic] of the government are and have been for years corrupt, rotten to the very core, and they yearly grow worse and worse until by and by the whole structure of the government will be shattered to the foundations and riven to atoms.”[8]

When enforcement of the Edmunds Law seemed probable, President John Taylor and other Church leaders began considering options against prosecution, which included relocation of the Church body. In a letter sent to stake presidents in Arizona on December 6, 1884, Presidents John Taylor and George Q. Cannon wrote, “A general attack is being made upon our liberties throughout all the Territories where our people reside. . . . There can be no question that there is apparently a concert of action on their [the federal officers’] part to push our people to the wall and to destroy our religious liberty and with it our religion itself.”[9] Within a few weeks of drafting this letter in January 1885, Presidents Taylor, Cannon, Smith, and various members of the Quorum of the Twelve traveled south to inspect temporary relocation sites in Arizona, California, and northern Mexico.[10] En route, they met Apostles Erastus Snow and Moses Thatcher, who were returning from a similar trip to Mexico. Neither the First Presidency nor the Thatcher–Snow trips proved successful. It was deemed impossible, after forty years of growth in the Salt Lake Valley, to coordinate moving the entire Church body. Besides, federal officials were not after all Church members: their main targets were the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On the last leg of the trip, in California, the First Presidency received news that federal deputies in Utah had issued warrants for their arrest.[11] Of the trip Joseph F. Smith reported: “To me it is very funny that a man should be suspected of matrimony with every young lady who may chance to call on his folks. . . . I parted with the brethren. They sped off towards home and I remained alone to return to the Pacific and there embark for distant lands.”[12]

President Taylor’s counselors—slightly younger and carefully watched by federal officials—ended the exploratory trip early and entered exile, while President Taylor returned to Salt Lake City at the end of January 1885.[13] With exodus out of the question, options were to either accept imprisonment or go into hiding. Subsequently, “a family council was held and [it was decided] all the wives but one, Margaret, who had the largest family” should move from the presidential residence known as the Gardo House and return to their original residences known as Taylor Row, on 100 West and 45 South in Salt Lake City.[14]

On February 1, President Taylor entered the Salt Lake Tabernacle to deliver his last public address. Deputies stood at the exits, waiting until the end of the conference to make an arrest. It is difficult to understand what kept deputies from going inside and arresting President Taylor.[15] Uncertainty filled the air as President Taylor addressed the congregation:

It may suit others to violate the law, to trample upon human rights and desecrate the sacred temple of liberty . . . in the name of Justice; but we profess to be governed by higher, by nobler and more exalted principles . . . ; and if Jesus could afford to endure the attacks of sinners against Himself, we . . . ought to be able to endure a little. . . .

When men begin to tear down the barriers and tamper with the fundamental principles and institutions of our country, they are playing a very dangerous game, and are severing the bonds which hold society together.[16]

President Taylor delivered a warning that must have greatly impacted the congregation. John Knells Whittaker, who would later marry Ida Taylor, one of the President’s daughters, recorded, “I was there when President Taylor got up and delivered the last address he ever delivered in public. . . . I can see that old gentleman pull his overcoat up, hold it together, and he said, ‘We’ll hold it together until this storm passes. And it will pass.’”[17]

After speaking for almost two hours, he closed with a final warning: “You will see trouble, trouble, TROUBLE enough in these United States. And as I have said before I say today: I tell you in the name of God, woe! to them that fight against Zion, for God will fight against them.”[18] He then exited through the Tabernacle’s basement, where his bodyguards, Charles Barrell[19] and Samuel Bateman, were waiting.

From the Salt Lake Tabernacle, President Taylor immediately went into hiding. His first secret residence was the home of Bishop Samuel Bennion in Taylorsville. During the first year, he switched locations eighteen times, often returning to previous hideouts. In over two years of exile, the party stayed in twenty-two different locations, from Nephi to Kaysville.[20] On more than one occasion, they were forced to flee in the middle of the night. One such incident took place just a month after President Taylor had been in the DO, when the Hansen home in Sugarhouse was discovered by deputies. Bodyguards Samuel Bateman and Charles Wilcken hurried him into the night in search of a new hideout. Not sure of where to go, and going against the sound advice of his bodyguards and good judgment, President Taylor settled into the Gardo House for the rest of the evening. His insistence on going home for one night nearly led to his imprisonment.[21]

After he entered the Gardo House, Taylor’s family wasted no time in nursing him. President Taylor had a cold, and escaping into the cold night had done little to help it. His wife prepared a pan of hot water to soak his feet and applied various treatments to alleviate his congestion. All seemed calm and safe when suddenly Taylor ran from the room to the third floor to hide in a secret closet built for just such an emergency. He had heard a noise outside, a preselected warning sound that provided him with enough time to hide. Deputies sent the household into a frenzy. Helpless to defend his family or himself, Taylor listened as the women pled with deputies to be careful with fragile items during the search. The sound of heavy boots ascending the stairs grew louder as two deputies insisted on searching the room where he was hiding. Luckily for the President, after a quick glance into the room, the deputies believed the excuse given by John W. Taylor, President Taylor’s son, that the room was used mainly for storage. They left without discovering the hidden prophet. Deputies searched the house for a few more moments, and then left, satisfied that he was not there. Before sunrise the next day, the exiled party was secreted away to west Salt Lake to the farm of David James.[22]

News of this dangerous night spread fast. Of that close call, young William Brown wrote to his parents on March 15 that he was “happy to say that they did not get him [President Taylor].”[23] President Taylor never returned to the presidential residence again.

Any reputable source of warning justified relocation, but traveling during either the day or night was unsafe. Short, quick trips from one residence to another were the best way to stay undetected. Families like the Stringfellows made it possible for President Taylor to evade arrest and find comfort, though “life on the fly” was constantly unnerving for a man who was “perfectly immaculate in his dress,” wearing “fine linen shirts and ties.”[24]

One of the most visited homes during exile was the John Carlisle home in South Jordan. The Carlisles had met John Taylor when he served a mission to the Isle of Jersey in England. Elizabeth Carlisle said that “he was such a fine, humble man, and when these men were in need of help she was proud to have them stay at her home.”[25] Located near the Jordan River at 4060 South and 700 West, the home was well situated for safety and security. There was a double-door barn for quick and easy unloading of hay and other supplies. This barn also was a convenient place for President Taylor to hide when he came hurriedly from the nearby William Hill house. Also, there was a boat that could be used to cross the river in a hurry. Family tradition holds that Elizabeth Carlisle hung quilts along a clothesline in the back yard in order to give those in hiding some space to get some exercise without being discovered.

Just a little further east of the Carlisle home was the home of William H. Hill. The friendship between the Taylors and the Hills dated back to the 1830s when both families, who were living in Toronto, joined the Church. The Hill home, located between 300 and 500 East and 3900 and 4500 South in what is known today as the Millcreek area (Salt Lake City), had twelve rooms, allowing for the accommodations of family members and several Church leaders at a time. Even before the exile, General Authorities had stayed overnight at the Hill residence during conferences and other meetings rather than travel home at night. On more than one occasion, President Taylor and others were hidden in a cellar under the Hill house or transported to the Carlisle home in a wagon full of hay. President Taylor’s respect and concern toward the families who housed him is recorded by a Hill relative who said, “While at the Hill house, he [President Taylor] dedicated the place as one of safety for Brother and Sister Hill and family, and their posterity.”[26] Realizing he was not only avoiding his own arrest by evading authorities but also putting those who hid him in jeopardy, he offered blessings and dedications of their homes.

Evidently his blessing on this residence was efficacious for William Hill, who was set apart to serve a mission on November 20, 1886. According to the family, federal authorities arrived at the Hill residence with the intent to arrest Hill just moments before his departure on his mission. Rather than exiting through the front door, he barely escaped through a back window.[27]

Though families like the Carlisles and Hills provided protection for the prophet, the thought of him being cared for by others was a frequent concern for his wives. Being aware of their worry, he often sent reassurance that he was in good hands. For instance, on March 10, 1887, he wrote to his wife Maggie: “We are quite comfortably situated and I am camping out quite well, and although we are supported for the time being I do not forget you and your family in my prayers, that God may preserve you, comfort you, and teach you, lead you in the path of life, and that we may keep our covenants unimpaired, faithfully to the end.”[28]

Such letters to his family provided reassurance that separation did not take them out of his thoughts. Always signing his letters, “I remain your affectionate husband,” he wrote Maggie on September 8, 1886, “I have not forgotten you, nor do I suspect to in time or in eternity.”[29]

Though exile limited his ability to fulfill his role as his family’s patriarch, it did not diminish his desire. By way of illustration, when John Knells Whittaker proposed marriage to his daughter Ida, President Taylor was extremely upset that Whittaker had not informed him of his intentions, though such a meeting to obtain permission was impossible with the prophet in hiding. President Taylor wrote to Ida, “No man has a right, without the consent of the father, to make such a proposal.”[30] When the situation was ironed out, the couple was married on September 22, 1886, though President Taylor was unable to attend any of the festivities.

John Taylor was also very anxious to provide for the temporal needs of his family even though he was in hiding, and he counseled others in the same predicament do likewise. In a letter from exile to Bishop J. H. Richards, he counseled that the families of brethren who were imprisoned or on the run “should be cared for during the absence and confinement of their natural protectors, and not be allowed to suffer for the want of any of the necessities of life.”[31] An example of John Taylor’s dedication to the physical well-being of his family is found in a letter sent in October 1886: “The children must have had the shoes that you refer to, and I also enclose an order for $10 on ZCMI and an order for $10 for a coat you speak of for Maggie. I also send $10 for yourself and $10 in cash for the purchase of the wrap that you speak of. If you can add $4 to it, it will make up what you wanted, as I do not wish to make such heavy drafts at one time.”[32]

By today’s standards, the money he sent in this letter would be nine hundred dollars.[33] While shoes and coats were needed, what his family wanted most was to have some physical contact with their father and husband. This desire was mutual. He wrote, “You say you would be pleased to see me and I know you would, but that could not give you more pleasure than it would give me to see and embrace you and our dear children again. I thank the Lord, however, that you and they are so comfortably situated, and if I can do anything to add to your comfort, I shall be happy to do so.”[34]

The separation was especially poignant on special occasions. On his seventy-eighth birthday he disclosed to his family, “You speak in regard to my birthday, that while I did not want any ostentatious display, I would like to have the family get together in that day, and if I can find time, will write something for the occasion. . . . In regard to my seeing you I have not been able to, up to this pursuit, make arrangements which were satisfactory . . . I should be quite as much pleasant to see you as you would to see me.”[35]

Neither he nor his family members were ever granted their desire to be together. His family celebrated holidays as if he were present and sometimes would send him gifts through a secretive mail route, such as a beehive decoration to attach to the pocketwatch he received for his birthday.[36] Though he was not able to enjoy time with his family, President Taylor found time to do a few things he enjoyed. Much time was spent competing against his bodyguards in checkers and “pitching quoits,” a game similar to horseshoes, one of his favorite pastimes while in exile. Bodyguard Samuel Bateman made many journal entries about who won for the day, recording that the President played quoits even when he was not feeling well.[37]

His exile was not synonymous with leisure, however. President Taylor, describing his life in the DO, said to his family, “While you and the family have very little to do outside of your few domestic chores, I am kept busy every day with the duties of my office, just the same as when at home, surrounded without the endearments of family.”[38]

John Taylor met exile resolutely. Reflections on his circumstances revealed meaning to his hardships. He was not simply hiding from being imprisoned for laws he did not agree with; rather, he was suffering an almost necessary persecution that would refine him for future glory:

These experiences, however, are necessary for . . . the role of Saints as it is for others who have walked in the footsteps of Jesus. . . . When men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for my name’s sake, rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. This is a singular. . . . It is true. Yes, it was true in the prophets’ days, it was true in the days of Jesus, it is true in our day. . . . You may ask, “Do you do this?” Yes. I feel to thank God that I am a Latter-Day Saint and considered worthy to share . . . what the former-day saints had to pass through. And it is only a very little that I and my brethren endure when compared to that what the Saints endured in former times.[39]

Despite this positive attitude, his ability to lead was greatly diminished in hiding. Whereas his pre-exile administration had established the Primary Association in 1878, celebrated the forgiving of the poor’s debt in the Jubilee Year of 1880, ordained six Apostles, and dedicated the Logan Temple in 1884, his postexile administration was unmarked by major organizational developments. The long administrative period of silence was interrupted only by one new directive when President Taylor called for the publication of a new Church hymnal, the first to include both lyrics and musical scores.[40]

Most of the Church’s business took place through secret correspondence. Though Joseph F. Smith’s administrative duties must have been less than the prophet’s, he reported in one day receiving eight pounds of mail during hiding.[41] Issues facing the prophet through a constant stream of letters were varied and daunting. For instance, during two days in November 1886, letter books show President Taylor dealt with the construction of a canal on the Sevier River, a woman wanting to prove her husband’s guilt in committing adultery, and a suit against trespassing and damages to Church property in Laie, Hawaii.[42] Much of the correspondence sent to President Taylor’s attention included requests for the specific disbursement of Church funds. One such letter was a request for money to be sent to provide for homesteads for Native Americans.[43] By the summer of 1887, exile was beginning to take its toll on his health, but did not slow down his attention to his duties. Family members observed, “What a volume of business Taylor attended to as a dying man!”[44]

During exile John Taylor never personally addressed a Church body. His addresses were read by others at general conferences held in outlying areas rather than at the Tabernacle. Any revelations received by a Church President in hiding presented special challenges. One situation still clouded with controversy is a supposed revelation given to President Taylor on September 27, 1886, that dealt with the new and everlasting covenant. Historian Brian C. Hales tells us that “though unsigned, [the revelation] appears to be in Taylor’s handwriting.”[45] We have no record that John Taylor discussed its existence or significance with other General Authorities or Church congregations.

Of all uncanonized revelations, this one coming from the secrecy of hiding may be one of the most controversial because many modern polygamists have used its phraseology to support their continued practice of plural marriage. In a fundamentalist tract written decades later, Lorin C. Woolley, who supported plural marriage long after the Manifesto of 1890 by President Wilford Woodruff, claims to have been present as a teenager when the revelation was received. In the ensuing years, “Mormon fundamentalists have rallied round in opposition to what they perceived as a cover up,” but Hales challenges the Fundamentalists’ interpretation of the Taylor revelation: “Asserting or believing that the wording of the revelation . . . alludes to broader and more numerous gospel principles than plural marriage alone. . . . The divine process that produced the 1886 revelation to John Taylor was continuous revelation. Church members might argue that this revelation did not, and could not, signal an end to additional continuous revelation being received by the “One” man regarding plural marriage. Nor should any particular revelation be considered to be the final word on the topic it discusses. . . . The great significance of the 1886 revelation stems not from what it says but from the reaction of some Church leaders to its existence.”[46]

Almost five decades after the alleged revelation, the First Presidency declared in 1933:

As to this pretended revelation it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such revelation; the archives contain no record of any such a revelation, nor any evidence justifying a belief that any such revelation was ever given. . . .

Since this pretended revelation, if ever given, was never presented to and adopted by the Church or by any council of the Church, and since to the contrary, an inspired rule of action, the Manifesto, was (subsequently to the pretended revelation) presented to and adopted by the Church, which inspired rule in its terms, purport, and effect was directly opposite to the interpretation given to the pretended revelation, the said pretended revelation could have no validity and no binding effect and force upon Church members, and action under it would be unauthorized, illegal, and void.[47]

One can see from this example that the difficulties of administering from the DO lingered long after General Authorities came out of exile.

The chase for the prophet did not lessen as time went on and added to his declining health. As late as February 9, 1887, just five months before he passed away, deputies searched the temple, tithing offices, and the Gardo and Lion Houses for some of the Brethren and offered eight hundred dollars for information leading to their capture.[48] In May 1887, George Q. Cannon wrote to John W. Young, “President Taylor’s health is not good and I heartily wish that something would be done in his case. It seems most cruel and barbarous proceeding for him to be kept as he is.”[49] On July 1, 1887, President George Q. Cannon confided to Elder Wilford Woodruff: “It becomes my painful duty to advise you concerning President Taylor’s health.” Cannon wrote that he noticed a steady decline in the President’s health, though he “constantly asserted that he would recover.”[50] By July 1887, Salt Lake resident and entrepreneur Joseph A. West acknowledged in a letter to the prophet the “distressing confinement to which you must be subjected in order to avoid the very vigilant watch of the diputies and to prevent them from discovering your hiding place.”[51]

On July 29, Presidents Cannon and Smith announced the death of President Taylor in the Deseret News. The counselors thanked Church members for their sympathy for the President of the Church being forced to live out the rest of his life in hiding. They informed the readers that “his constant desire was to do everything in his power to relieve the Latter-day Saints from the oppression under which they suffer.” The edition included an editorial written by future Apostle Charles W. Penrose, who insisted that exile was a leading factor of the prophet’s declining health and death. Penrose explained that part of the problem lay in the lack of “proper exercise,” which caused his limbs to swell. Even more directly, he stated, “President John Taylor has been killed by the cruelty of officials who have . . . misrepresented the Government of the United States.” It was then emphatically declared that the Church would continue on as it had when Joseph Smith and Brigham Young passed away, despite the fact that most general Church leaders remained in hiding.[52]

The interpretation of the broken lamp in President’s Taylor’s dream of September 1886 eventually came true, but not in the way President Taylor first feared. With his death the group that protected him disbanded. His bodyguards continued to avoid capture, but eventually found it possible to return to their families. For the families who harbored President Taylor, life returned to normal. President Taylor’s counselors lived in exile until President Cannon was arrested and imprisoned for a short time. As the dream’s interpretation suggested, those in hiding faced loneliness when they were separated. For those forced to remain in hiding, that loneliness lasted until President Wilford Woodruff received the Manifesto, ending plural marriage and Church administration from the underground.

Appendix A

Reward Sign for President John Taylor“$800 Reward to be Paid for the Arrest of John Taylor and George Q. Cannon.” (Church History Library, M243.964, 89e 1887.)

Appendix B

Transcript of John Taylor’s Hiding Places, 1885–87; in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, folder 6, 411; J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.


February 1st

1 Bishop Samuel Bennion

Taylorsville, 48th South, 17th West

February 10th

Bishop’s sister-in-law Bennion

Taylorsville, 48th South, 17th West February 15th

Chas Bagley

Big Cottonwood


February 20th

Peter Hansen

Sugarhouse Ward

March 28th

David James Farm Sam Obray

North Point (over Jordon)

July 11th

2 Bishop Bennion

Taylorsville (took a trip to Nephi)

July 14th

2 John Carlisle

8th West, 30th South

July 15th

Mormie Hintze

East Millcreek

July 17th

2 Peter Hansen

Sugar House Ward

August 13th

George Baylie

East Millcreek

August 19th

James Godfrey

South Cottonwood

Sept 28th

3 John Carlisle

South Cottonwood

October 2nd

2 James Godfrey

South Cottonwood

December 9th

Wm Taylor

Little Cottonwood

December 10th

3 James Godfrey

South Cottonwood

To Parawan, Christmas



January 10th

4 John Carlisle

Mill Creek

January 20th

Frank Armstrong

11th Ward, Salt Lake City

Feb 8th

Alfred Solomon

19th Ward, Salt Lake City

March 11th

S. J. Sudbury

City Creek Canyon

March 16th

Wm White & sons

16th Ward, Salt Lake City

June 10th

2 Alfred Solomon

19th W, Salt Lake City

June 30th

Henry Day


July 12th

James Livingston

Stone Quarrie Little Cottonwood

July 14th

4 James Godfrey

South Cottonwood

July 15th

2 Henry Day


July 18th

1 Bishop Stuart


July 20th

3 Henry Day


July 27th

2 Bishop Stuart


Aug 6th

4 Henry Day


Aug 6th

John Carlisle


September 5th

George Stringfillow


September 5th

2 Wm White & sons

16th Ward, Salt Lake City

September 14th

John W. Woolley


October 11th

Orren Randall


October 12th

2 John W. Wooley


November 3rd

3 Wm White & sons

16th Ward, Salt Lake City

November 9th

3 J. W. Wooley


November 22nd

Thomas F. Roueche



[1] Diary of Samuel Bateman, 1886–1909, September 14, 1886; typescript, L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

[2] George Q. Cannon to Franklin S. Richards, April 1887, MS 0050, box 1b, folder 33, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

[3] Samuel W. Taylor, The Last Pioneer: John Taylor, a Mormon Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), 336n1.

[4] David J. Whittaker, “The Bone in the Throat: Orson Pratt and the Public Announcement of Plural Marriage,” Western Historical Quarterly 18, no. 3 (July 1987): 301–3.

[5] John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 24:231.

[6] Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1992), 107.

[7] Edmunds-Tucker Act, March 3, 1887, ch. 397, 24 statute 635; see also Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 117.

[8] Joseph F. Smith to Mary Taylor Schwartz, December 10, 1884, in Joseph Fielding Smith Letters, MS 18620, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

[9] First Presidency to Stake Presidents, December 6, 1884, in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 20, folder 3, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[10] Taylor, Last Pioneer, 327.

[11] See appendix A.

[12] Joseph F. Smith to John Henry Smith, January 19, 1885, John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 7A, folder 19, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[13] Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 122–124.

[14] William Brown Papers, March 15, 1885, MS 18232, Church History Library; see also Julia Taylor Neville, interview with Ezra Oakley Taylor, MS 10004, 5, Church History Library; Margarite Whittaker Chipman, The Life of Ida Oakley Taylor Whittaker, MS 9737, Church History Library.

[15] Other Church leaders experienced similar events. Apostles Wilford Woodruff and Erastus Snow were able to walk undetected by a group of deputies waiting for them outside the Church Historian’s office (MS 9737, vol. 1, Church History Library).

[16] John Taylor, “Discourse by President John Taylor, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday, February 1, 1885,” Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[17] John Knells Whittaker interview, 1957, AV1068, 7, Church History Library.

[18] Taylor, Last Pioneer, 335.

[19] Charles Barrell, who sometimes went by “Birrell” to mislead enemies of the Church, was a natural-born actor. Barrell was capable of disguising his voice, physical appearance, and whatever else was needed for hiding his true identity. It was said of him, “Many were the dangers and experiences he gladly faced to save lives of others in those trying times” (O. K. Neilson, The Life of Charles Barrell, in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 8, folder 17, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library).

[20] For a complete list of all locations, see appendix B.

[21] Taylor, Last Pioneer, 337–38.

[22] Taylor, Last Pioneer, 338–39.

[23] To Mother and Father from William Brown, in William Brown Papers, March 15, 1885, MS 18232, Church History Library.

[24] Chipman, Life of Ida Oakley Taylor Whittaker; Church History Library.

[25] Alfred Carlisle, interviewed by Etta Carlisle, April 6, 1978, MS 2088, Church History Library.

[26] Carlisle interview.

[27] Carlisle interview.

[28] John Taylor to Maggie Taylor, March 10, 1887, in Margaret M. Taylor Papers, 1866–94, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[29] John Taylor to Mrs. Margaret “Maggie” Taylor, September 8, 1886, in Margaret M. Taylor Papers, 1866–94, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[30] Elaine Chipman Hepworth, “Sketch of John Knells Whittaker,” in Whittaker Family Biographical Sketches, MS 9737, Church History Library.

[31] John Taylor and George Q. Cannon to Bishop J. H. Richards, St. Joseph Apache Company, Arizona, May 19, 1885, MS 15646, Church History Library.

[32] John Taylor to Mrs. Maggie White Taylor, October 11, 1886, Margaret M. Taylor Papers, 1866–94, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[33], accessed August 15, 2008.

[34] John Taylor to wife, February 2, 1887, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[35] John Taylor to Mrs. Maggie White Taylor, October 11, 1886, in Margaret M. Taylor Papers, 1866–94, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[36] John Taylor to wife, November 19, 1886, in Margaret M. Taylor Papers, 1866–94, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[37] Bateman Diary, April 10, 1887.

[38] John Taylor to wife, February 2, 1887, MS 2185, Church History Library.

[39] John Taylor to wife, February 2, 1887.

[40] Paul Nolan Hyde and Dennis A. Wright, “John Taylor,” in Presidents of the Church: the Lives and Teachings of the Modern Prophets, ed. Craig Manscill, Robert C. Freeman, and Dennis A. Wright (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort, 2008), 76–77.

[41] Joseph F. Smith to My Darling Boy, August 26, 1886, in Joseph Fielding Smith Letters, MS 30633, Church History Library.

[42] John Taylor to James Jack, November 19, 1886, Salt Lake City, MS 0050, box 3A, folder 23, 306, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library; John Taylor to Angus Cannon, Salt Lake City, November 19, 1886, in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 3A, folder 23, 306a, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library; and John Taylor to James Jack, box 3A, folder 23, 308, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[43] President John Taylor to James Jack, Esq., September 25, 1886; and Thomas E. Taylor to John Taylor, March 25, 1886, in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050 box 6, folder 16, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[44] Internal correspondence between Samuel and Raymond Taylor, MS 0050, in John Taylor Family Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[45] Brian C. Hales, Mormon Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2006), 37.

[46] Hales, Mormon Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism, 41.

[47] “Official Statement on Plural Marriage,” Church News, June 17, 1933.

[48] From Joseph F. Smith to My Sweet Companion, March 4, 1887, MS 18620, Church History Library.

[49] George Q. Cannon to John W. Young, May 20, 1887, John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 3A, folder 23, 308, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[50] George Q. Cannon to Wilford Woodruff, July 1, 1887, in John Taylor Family Papers, MS 0050, box 3A, folder 5, 169, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[51] Joseph A. West to John Taylor, July 4, 1887, MS 0050, in John Taylor Family Papers, 1b, 38, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.

[52] George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, “Announcement of the Death of President John Taylor,” Deseret News Semi-Weekly, July 29, 1887; and Charles W. Penrose, “Honor to the Departed,” Deseret News Semi-Weekly, July 29, 1887, MS 0050, 1B, folder 39, in John Taylor Family Papers, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library.