New Book!

 

 

Charles F. Zitting 

Charles F. Zitting’s entanglement with the law began on 1 April 1931 when he was arrested for practicing polygamy.  The next day he was bailed out of jail by three members of the Council of Friends, Lorin C. Woolley, J. Leslie Broadbent, and Joseph W. Musser, who invited him to join them as a Council member within a few months.  Charles recalled that,  “One day in the early spring of 1932, I was called into a meeting of the Priesthood Council and notified that I had been called by revelation from God through their Senior Member, to be ordained a Patriarch and an Apostle to our Lord Jesus Christ.”[1]  Two months later he was ordained.

On the same day Zitting was set apart as a High Priest Apostle,  Legrand Woolley was similarly ordained.  Born in 1887, Legrand came from devout Latter-day stock and was a cousin to Lorin Woolley.[2]  His father, Edwin Dilworth Woolley, served as the second stake president of the Kanab, Utah Stake from 1884 to 1910, where Legrand was raised.  He married Alida Snow in 1911 and Caroline Keturah Parry shortly thereafter.[3]

Educated and licensed as a medical doctor, Legrand Woolley eventually established a successful medical office in the Medical Arts Building across the street from the Church Office building in downtown Salt Lake City.  In June of 1930, Dr. Woolley diagnosed appendicitis in Musser’s daughter, Helen.  She underwent a successful operation, but Musser was nonplused writing:  “Reject necessity of this operation.  Do not believe in them at all, but at times through wrong living and lack of faith, such occurrences seem to be necessary.  Praise the Lord for the successful way it was done.”[4]  The next month Legrand discovered breast cancer in Mary, one of Musser’s plural wives.[5]  His busy medical practice prevented the level of participation contributed by Barlow and Musser.  However, it appears that he accepted his PRIESTHOOD calling seriously as indicated by several experiences like speaking at J. Leslie Broadbent’s funeral in 1935 and being was arrested for unlawful cohabitation in 1944 along with dozens of other polygamists.[6]  Also eight years later he actively participated in leadership crisis that eventually split the Priesthood Council. 

Charles Zitting Becomes the Senior Member 

Incapacitated for several years prior to his death in 1954, Joseph Musser’s passing had little practical impact on either Priesthood Council.  In the Salt Lake City area, Rulon Allred was presiding as a “counselor” and “Second Elder” to Musser, and also serving as the Senior Member of the new 1952 Priesthood Council.

Even before Musser’s death, the polygamists at Short Creek had distanced themselves from Musser’s authority.  Next in the line of seniority was Charles Zitting (followed by LeGrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch).  In a 1953 discourse, Leroy Johnson, acknowledged Charles Zittings’ position in the Council:  “Brother Zitting is my head, or he is above me in the Priesthood Council.”[7]  Despite this observation, Johnson was making the decisions for the group before and after Zittting’s demise, which occurred less than four months after Musser’s passing.

On occasion, Zitting was allowed to speak to the group, though none of his sermons have been published.[8]  In 1974, Johnson related one of his teachings: “I believe it was Brother Zitting one time in one of his speeches said, ‘We are not waiting for the commencement of the Millennium, for it has already started.’  This, I believe.  I believed him then, and I believe him now.  We had better believe him, or we will be sloughed off and our identity will be forgotten.”[9]

          Regarding his last illness, Zitting’s biographer recorded:  “All that loving care and tender nursing could do was done for him.  He refused to have a doctor, other than a naturopath, who made several visits and prescribed for him, but to no avail.  His call had come.  He grew weaker and weaker day by day until on the evening of July 14, 1954, he quietly slipped away and went to meet his Maker.  He left at his death, to face the unknown future and to uphold and sustain his honorable name and the cause for which he lived and died, five wives (living), eighteen sons, sixteen daughters and many grandchildren.”[10]


[1]    .  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 60-61.

[2]    .  Lorin’s father John W. Woolley was a half-brother to Legrand’s father, Edwin Dilworth Woolley.

[3]    .  Ancestral File provides a marriage date for LeGrand and his second wife, Caroline Keturah Parry, in 1962, one year after  LeGrand’s first (legal) wife died, and three years before LeGrand’s death.  However, it also shows the first child for that union (LeGrand and Caroline) being born in 1913, suggesting that she actually became his plural wife before that date.

[4]    .  Musser Journals, 7 June 1930.  “Daughter Helen in intense pain since yesterday morning.  After working with her some hours called in Dr. LeGrand Woolley who pronounced it acute appendicitis and urged an immediate operation.  Took her to L.D.S. hospital at 1:30 operation 1:45.  Appendix  in very inflamed condition, about 4_ long.  All appears to be well.”

[5]    .  Musser Journals, 28 July1930.

[6]  Musser, Joseph W. Musser, 13.  It appears that Musser’s biography  may have been in error in that LeGrand was not held nor prosecuted.  However, Dr. Woolley visited the incarcerated polygamists 21 August 1945 and agreed with their signing the “Declaration of Policy” that eventually led to the parole of eleven of the fifteen.  (See Arnold Boss Prison Diaries for date.)

[7]    .  LSJ Sermons 5:34.

[8]  It appears that transcripts of talks given by some fundamentalist leaders during the 1940-52 era were made (see The Sermons of Joseph W. Musser 1940-42 and Selections of the Sermons of John Y. Barlow 1940-1949).  If Zitting’s discourses were similarly transcribed, to date, none have been published.

[9]    .  Ibid., 3:855.

[10]  Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 116.