Citation for this should be in the following form:
Anonymous, “Open reply to LDS scholar Craig L. Foster: Underage brides of Leroy S. Johnson”, F-LDS The Principle, http://politicsrusprinciple.tumblr.com/post/98082571083/open-reply-to-lds-scholar-craig-l-foster-underage, September 21, 2014, accessed on [insert date you last read this]
Note: Just “The Principle” or any other form of reference/footnote that does not include the full http address is not acceptable! Thanks.
You wrote me a message asking me who the wives of FLDS prophet Leroy S. Johnson (1888-1986) were. You said in your message that you were working on a book about the wives of both fundamentalist Mormon (including Rulon and Warren Jeffs) and earlier polygamist LDS leaders and that you hadn’t been able to find Uncle Roy’s wives.
Immediately my alarm bells started ringing, for several reasons.
One is that there is rarely a real possibility of critical polygamy scholarship by LDS scholars- see what happened to Michael Quinn. Either you lose your job or your faith or both - or it contains sentences like “Joseph Smith is unlikely to have consummated his marriages to his younger wives”. (O RLY? Tenure saved.)
This slight skepticism was reinforced by the fact your book would place FLDS leaders’ polygamy in a direct line, mention them in the same breath, as LDS leaders’ plural marriage. Which would make a critical view that doesn’t sweep child sexual abuse, White supremacy and brainwashing under the rug, even more difficult.
I vaguely remembered that you were in my mental folder of “problematic” polygamy scholars, but couldn’t recall why exactly. So I went digging. I found it in your (and Newell Bringhurst’s) afterword to Rebecca Musser’s autobiography:
The FLDS is the largest organized group of Fundamentalist Mormons, boasting at present approximately 10,000 members. This group enjoyed stability for some three decades under the relatively benign leadership of Leroy S. Johnson, as senior member of its Priesthood Council from 1954 to 1986. Johnson, who came of age in the Big Horn Country of Wyoming, projected a down-to-earth demeanor reflective of his rural roots. Affectionately known as “Uncle Roy” to his followers, he enjoyed the universal support of his Fundamentalist Mormon followers. The church’s large, impressive Colorado City Meetinghouse was named in his honor.
While Uncle Roy was generally loved and admired by his followers, he could also be strict and outspoken about issues for which he felt strongly. For example, it was Leroy Johnson who pushed his female followers to abandon the more modern dress-styles and revert back to the long, less form-fitting dresses, reminiscent of the nineteenth century, commonly called “prairie dresses” by outsiders. Representative of his attitude toward women and their clothing were his teachings in a 1970 sermon:
"I hear from time to time women discussing how they would like to have their dresses made. Can I make it a quarter of an inch shorter and still be recognized by the Priesthood? Why couldn’t they say, "Could I please the Priesthood a little more by making my dress a quarter of an inch longer?"
On another occasion he stated:
"We have been trying for the last thirty-five years…to get our women folks to notice their dresses, bring them down where they ought to be, cover up their nakedness, and let us not be found wanting when the day of grace is over."
In spite of Johnson’s hard stand on some issues like style of dress, his genuine openness and concern for his followers presented him as truly a man of the people. In contrast, Rulon Timpson Jeffs, who succeeded Johnson, was a very different leader.
So you publicly declared Leroy S. Johnson “benign”, “truly a man of the people” and basically the ‘good guy’ without KNOWING the age of his wives? Whoa.
When I first read the above passage, I assumed that you knew about Leroy S. Johnson’s pedophilia and White supremacist views, but brushed them aside.
I guess the reality is more that you did not know and instead of indicating that you did not know, pegged him as “folksy benign grandpa”.
That only works if one ignores all books ever written by ex-FLDS with the exception of Ben Bistline’s “The Polygamists”.
That “folksy good grandpa” storyline is however a common view among “involuntary” ex-FLDS adult men (kicked out as adults) who still cling to their faith and have had the privilege in their FLDS life that “sex slave to a man in his 70s or 80s” was simply not on their life menu due to their gender. Some of these men are too young to properly remember Leroy S. Johnson, but they need ‘proof’ that only Warren is evil. That there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the faith, traditions and community that they were raised in. Leroy S. Johnson in this narrative becomes the benign opposite of evil Warren Jeffs. Funny that, cause John Y. Barlow married a 12 year old, Leroy S. Johnson married a 12 year old and a larger percentage of underage women and with a much larger age gap than Warren Jeffs or Rulon Jeffs. Pedophilia is a constant, not the exception, among FLDS prophets (Ironically enough Rulon Jeffs is the only FLDS prophet to not have married a 12 year old. His youngest wives were 16 years old.). Leroy S. Johnson also has the distinction of marrying off a girl even younger than Warren did (at either age 9 or age 10, compared to Warren’s youngest victims who were 12).
Moving on to Leroy S. Johnson’s wives: With the exception of a few widows, all of his wives were teenagers. Most of these were married off to him, sacrificed as vestal teenage virgins to this geriatric horndog under the age of 18, but even for those who were 18: How many men in their 60s, 70s or 80s did you have to sexually service once you turned 18? And did scholars then write about you as that old man’s “husband” instead of his victim?
Which is an important point: You wrote to me that you will write about the wives’ relationship to one another. Umm… How will that work? Will that include Warren Jeffs’ group rape? Baptism font sex? Temple sex? The reinterpretation of “the law of Sarah” by Rulon Jeffs (but properly implemented only by his son Warren) as women watching other women and girls have sex? Or nah…? Will this include Warren Jeffs’ “you need to sexually satisfy the other wives” or nah…? What about existing wives raising the next rape victims (see also: Alex Joseph’s wives, see Tom Green’s wives or check out Gwen Balmforth and Veda Barlow)?
Lyle Jeffs said according to his son Matt when asked whether 12 year old wasn’t too young for sex since Matt’s uncle Warren Jeffs married several 12 year olds, that “no, it was okay, because they were his wives”.
Just let that sink in for a moment, please.
"It was okay, because they were his wives."
How will you ensure that your narrative does not play directly into Lyle’s argument?
Already the mere term, “wife” instead of victim, creates a narrative of legitimacy and stability, family.
Back to Uncle Roy.
First the Cooks, then the Mackerts and then the wives.
Beth Louise Stokes Cook and Colleen Stokes Cook, daughters of Clela June Crouch Stokes (1921-1985) and Alfonzo “Alonzo jr” Laker Cook (1890-1960), were married off by Leroy S. Johnson to his brother and their stepfather Warren Elmer Johnson (1890-1979) when they were 9 or 10 (Colleen) and 12 (Beth Louise) years old and their ‘husband’/stepfather/abuser was in his 60s. Beth and Colleen Cook are half-sisters of Merril Jessop’s tortured late wife Foneta Cook. Beth Cook was born in 1942 or 1941. This would have therefore been in the early 1950s. By 1947, their mother Clela June was married to Warren Elmer Johnson (1890-1979), Leroy S. Johnson’s brother.
Both Beth and Colleen later (after this first “marriage”/abuse) escaped this situation by marrying John Taylor Allred Kunz (this would have been by the latest in the early 1970s, since the daughter of Beth and John, Linda Kunz, was born around 1973). Beth Cook Johnson Kunz then, in the 1980s, left John Taylor Kunz for Tom Green. She took her and John’s daughter Linda Kunz with her. Beth Cook Johnson Kunz’s half-sister/stepdaughter June Johnson Beagley (first husband Jesse Beagley) married Tom Green as well after Beth had married him. Tom Green started raping his stepdaughter Linda Cook Kunz when she was either 12 or 13 (she had her first child with him when she was 14) and stopped being interested sexually in Linda’s mother Beth (how surprising… NOT). He similarly started raping June Johnson Beagley’s daughters, his other stepdaughters, Shirley and Leeann Beagley when they were ca. 14 (he “married” them to sanctify the abuse at age 15). He obviously (DUH!!!!) also lost interest in June Johnson Beagley.
Today (2014), Tom Green is still married to his former stepdaughters Shirley Johnson Beagley (again: first rape when she was 14) and Linda Cook Kunz (first rape when she was 12 or 13) as well as Cari Bjorkman (first rape age 14).
[BTW: Colleen Stokes Cook and Beth Louise Stokes Cook are not to be confused with Beth Black Cooke and Colleen Jenson Cooke, wives of Lynn Cooke. Jon Krakauer made that mistake in his book “Under the Banner of Heaven”: He consistently misspells it as “Beth Cooke”, which is a completely different FLDS woman.]
Moving on to the Mackerts.
You could speak to Rowena “Rena” Mackert, who had to give her father Clyde Mackert blowjobs when she was 4 or 5. Rowena’s mother Myra Allred Kunz is the full sister of John Taylor Kunz and the half-sister of Rebecca Kimbel (yes, I know- polygamists’ family trees are THE WORST).
Rowena Mackert was born in Short Creek the year of the raid, then moved to Salt Lake City with her polygamist family when she was 6. […] Mackert said she was an “old maid” at age 17 when she was ordered to marry a man. He never took on another wife and eventually left the group in 1976, she said.
Soon afterwards, Mackert was called into the office of Roy Johnson, the polygamist leader at the time.
“He wanted me to marry his brother who was also married to one of my sisters,” she recalled. “I told him I couldn’t, that I was traumatized by a lot of things. … I told him that my father had been molesting me.”
Johnson accused her of lying, she said. “He told me that I was to follow the revelation that God had given him.
“And I told him to go to hell.” [Rena left in 1977.]
Staying with the Mackerts: Rena’s full brother Paul Mackert had had a sexual relationship with a woman who had either had a consensual relationship or was raped by a Black man (depending on who you ask, but this was irrelevant to Leroy Johnson anyways). Having had (and yes, I will be this crass, cause that is REALLY what we’re talking about - you need to call a spade a spade in order to make clear just how ridiculous and terrible this all is) a Black penis inside her (“curse of Cain” in its crassest shape) meant that she had lost all hope for salvation and the same applied to any men who in turn put their penis into her now cursed and defiled vagina afterwards. Which was the case of Paul Mackert. Just to be clear: Not because he had pre-marital or extra-marital sex per se, but specifically because his penis entered a vagina in which previously a Black man’s penis had been in. Uncle Roy declared that he would not be allowed to marry any FLDS girls, since his penis who could not be saved anymore would also defile them and Paul’s seed was now defiled; any children would be damned as welll - the curse of the Black man’s penis as some sort of spiritual STD. White male supremacy at its most laughable and yet not any less vile. So Paul Mackert lost priesthood. He pointed out to Uncle Roy that Clyde Mackert, the father of both Paul and Uncle Roy’s underage ‘bride’ Carole, had had extramarital sex with a Black woman during WWII and that by Uncle Roy’s “logic”, Uncle Roy would need to immediately stop putting his penis into Carole cause Carole had been conceived with “contaminated” seed. Uncle Roy simply replied that “it didn’t work that way”. So apparently prophet penises are magical (good to know!) and immune to the “curse” of the Black penis.
For this story, speak to the Mackerts (all of ‘em) and read Brian Mackert’s book “Illegitimate”.
Moving on to Leroy S. Johnson’s (other) wives. I don’t have all of them - I’m missing either one or two wives. Two years before he died Leroy S. Johnson had 13 living wives and I only have 12, so I’m at least missing one there.
Leroy S. Johnson (1888-1986) moved to Short Creek in 1929 and became prophet in 1949.
- Josephine Judd Ford (1886- 1962, married 1914. Age bride/age Leroy S. Johnson at time of wedding: 28/26. Children with Josephine Judd Ford include daughters Permelia Johnson Jessop (1919-2000, wife of Uncle Fred) and Esther Johnson, who was married off to 63-year-old John Y. Barlow when she was only 15 in 1937. After John Y. Barlow’s death, she was passed on to Lorin Holm’s father Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm (who had previously received 16 year old Rachel Black and 14 year old Florence Jessop as “wives”). Esther Johnson’s and John Y. Barlow’s son Edwin Ford Barlow is the biological father of Winston Blackmore’s wife Marjorie Johnson.
- Wilma Foote Black (1909-1984, married in 1945, 36/57) Parents: Sarah Lavinia Foote & James Edwin Black. Josephine Ford & Leroy S. Johnson’s daughter Eda married Wilma’s brother Millard Black.
- Ida Mae Critchlow Barlow Bateman (1898-1972). Daughter of John Y. Barlow and Ida May Critchlow, widow of Daniel Rapalya Bateman, who died in 1942. WIDOW.
- Mildred Barlow (1933-2008, already married to Leroy S. Johnson during the raid in 1953), so in the best case scenario (highly unlikely), she was 20 and he was 65.
- Sarah Elizabeth Marriott Barlow (1924-2013). Married off to Leroy S. Johnson in 1938, three weeks after her 14th birthday. She was 14, he was 50. Daughter of John Y. Barlow and Ada Marriott. UNDERAGE TEEN BRIDE.
- Gwendolyn “Gwen” Heward Balmforth Barlow (*January 15, 1928), Both Gwen and her sister Norma were married off to John Y. Barlow in 1944- Gwen on January 6, 1944 when she was 15 and he was 69 years old; Norma was 12. Gwen was passed on to Leroy S. Johnson a few months after John Y. Barlow’s death, in 1950, when she was 22 years old. Norma was instead passed on to Rulon Jeffs. Daughters of Joseph Rudolph Balmforth and Rachel Alberta Heward. Gwen adopted the children of John Y. Barlow and Martha Jessop after their death, including Veda Barlow and Truman Barlow. (originally) UNDERAGE TEEN WIDOW.
- Carole Anne Eads Mackert (*1944). Married off to Leroy S. Johnson in 1961, when she was 17 and he 72 years old. After his death passed on to her brother-in-law Bill Shapley - the husband of her sisters Connie and Lucy -, later to Truman Barlow. Parents: Clyde Mackert & Mildred “Midge” Eads. UNDERAGE TEEN BRIDE.
- Veda Jessop Barlow (* November 8, 1940). Daughter of John Yeates Barlow and Martha “Mattie” Yeates Jessop. Veda’s mother Martha died in 1944, when Veda was 4 years old. Her father, FLDS prophet John Y. Barlow, died in 1949, when she was 9. Since she and her siblings were now orphans, they were adopted by the new prophet Leroy S. Johnson. He moved John Y. Barlow’s former child bride Gwendolyn Balmforth in his bed and and took in Veda Barlow and her siblings Truman Barlow, Nephi Rulon Barlow, Sam Barlow, Alvin Barlow and Ada Rae Barlow at least (probably more, these were the ones still living with Leroy Johnson during the raid in 1953). Gwendolyn raised the Barlow children. Leroy S. Johnson married his adopted daughter a few days after her 14th birthday, on November 14, 1954, when he was 66. Passed on to Wendell Nielsen at one point after his death. ADOPTED DAUGHTER & UNDERAGE TEEN BRIDE.
- Thelma Rae Balmforth Cooke (*1945). I don’t have their marriage date, but he was 57 years older than her. Daughter of William Benjamin Cooke (1890-1976) and Rachel “Raedee” Heward Balmforth (1923-2003). He had four wives, including three Balmforth wives, sisters Josephine Ruth “Josie” (1911-1990) and Rachel “Raedee” Heward Balmforth (1923-2003) plus their mother Rachel Alberta Heward (1890-1963, widow, first husband Joseph Rudolph Balmforth, 1873-1942). Note how the mother is HIS age!!
- Margaret Lucille Hunter Jessop (*1948). I don’t have their marriage date, but he was 60 years, six decades, older than her. Parents: Edson Porter Jessop snr & Margaret Lucille Hunter. Passed on to Truman Barlow, then to Wendell Nielsen after Leroy S. Johnson’s death.
- Caroline Cooke (sorry, not sure which one)
- Shirley Steed (*1952). Married off to him in 1969, when she was 17 and he was 81 years old. Nurse, passed on to Truman Barlow, then her son-in-law/stepson LaMar Balmforth Johnson after Leroy S. Johnson’s death. Was sent away to repent by Warren Jeffs in ca. 2011. Moved to Sandy, Utah. This woman here. UNDERAGE TEEN BRIDE.
- Tammy Barlow (*1958). Married off to Leroy S. Johnson in 1976, when she was just 18 and her ‘lucky’ husband was 88 years old. Tammy Barlow was one of the last wives that Leroy S. Johnson had sex with, although only less than a handful of times. Passed on to Merril Jessop after his death. Was on the Oprah Winfrey show during the Yearning for Zion ranch raid and showed Oprah Winfrey around her classroom. Was told to repent from afar by Warren Jeffs after the Yearning for Zion ranch. Was earlier this year (2014) involved in a child abuse case in Idaho. See here. TEEN BRIDE.
- Laverne Marriott Barlow Musser (1929-1990, daughter of John Y. Barlow and Ada Marriott, widow of Guy Hill Musser, who died in 1983) WIDOW
- Ireta Cathleen Barlow (*1966). Married off to Leroy S. Johnson in 1983, when she was 17 years old and he was 96 years old. At this point, he luckily enough couldn’t get an erection anymore. He kissed Cathleen and told her that he wished he could still get it up in order to be able to have sex with her. Passed on to Merril Jessop after his death. She was on CNN’s Anderson Cooper during the Yearning for Zion raid. (See here and here). I don’t know who Cathleen’s parents are, but due to her name my guess would be Louis Barlow and Ireta Hammon. UNDERAGE TEEN BRIDE
- Ada Rae Barlow Johnson Timpson (*1939), Leroy S. Johnson’s stepdaughter. Postmortem marriage for eternity by proxy in 2000, for time first married to Uncle Fred, then passed on to Wendell Nielsen. First marriage of Ada age 12 (!) as second wife to 29 year old Orval Ford Johnson, son of Leroy Johnson and Josephine Judd Ford. Ada Rae is the exwife/widow of Alma Timpson. Alma’s and her baby starved to death in 1970. Daughter of John Y. Barlow. POSTMORTEM.
According to at least three independent accounts, Leroy S. Johnson married a 12 year old. Candidates for Leroy S. Johnson’s 12 year old victim are now Mildred Barlow, Margaret Lucille Hunter Jessop, Caroline Cooke and Thelma Rae Balmforth Cooke.
After Uncle Roy’s death most of his wives were passed on to their stepson and brother-in-law Truman Barlow, Veda Barlow’s brother. Just like Veda Barlow had been raised as Leroy S. Johnson’s daughter before he mandated her to join his marital bed, Truman Barlow had been raised as son of Leroy S. Johnson after the death of Veda’s and Truman’s biological father, John Y. Barlow.
When Truman Barlow was thrown out, some of Leroy S. Johnson’s wives were passed on to Uncle Fred and several later ended up married to Wendell Nielsen.
Other Johnson wives of Wendell Nielsen were Eva Mills Heaton Johnson (widow of her first cousin Carl William Heaton Johnson, who died 1974) and Olive Rose Steed Johnson Jessop (widow of Carl William Heaton Johnson, who died 1974 and Uncle Fred, who died 2005). It is possible that both widows were also passed on to Leroy S. Johnson after Carl William Heaton Johnson’s death in 1974.
In 2010, Warren Jeffs mandated that the remaining wives of Uncle Roy in the houses of hiding are to be married, many to their stepson LaMar Balmforth Johnson.