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Plural Marriage 1904-1934 – PRE Mormon Fundamentalism 

Most historians agree that the 1904 "Official Statement" represents a watershed with respect to plural marriages authorized by the Church President, then Joseph F. Smith. Nevertheless, it did not stop new plural marriages among Church members.  Carmon Hardy has identified thirty-seven plural marriages that appear to have been contracted between April, 1904 and about 1910 when his research ends.[1]  How many of these were authorized by President Joseph F. Smith?  Hardy doesn’t say, listing the names of the officiators without addressing the source of their apparent authorization, in only eight of the cases.[2]  D. Michael Quinn states that President Smith did authorize “about ten” plural marriages after he issued the Second Manifesto, although Quinn does not provide additional details.[3]  Assuming that Hardy’s list of thirty seven plural marriages includes the names of the “about ten” marriages Quinn referred to, that would leave at least twenty-seven post April 1904 plural marriages that occurred without the consent of the “one” man holding the keys of sealing.  No wonder that by 1909, rumors of new plural marriages were publicized in the Salt Lake Tribune.[4] 

In response, a committee consisting of Apostles Francis M. Lyman, John Henry Smith, and Heber J. Grant was organized to investigate.  Their work would eventually expand to include other members of the Quorum.  They concluded that anyone married in polygamy before 1904 would not be disciplined by the Church, but Francis M. Lyman "strongly demanded" that individuals entering into plural marriages after the 1904 statement be excommunicated.[5]  Various individuals were called in and questioned regarding their knowledge and involvement with post-1904 plural marriages with guilty parties being excommunicated and notices published in the Deseret News.

To bypass President Joseph F. Smith's refusals to authorize new plural marriages, individuals who sought polygamous wives after 1904 adopted other strategies ostensibly to obtain access to valid sealing authority.  Sources included: 

1.  John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley - Former members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

2.  Unauthorized Temple Sealers

3.  Patriarchs 

Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley assumed that their previousordinations as apostles or perhaps authorizations given by deceased prophets could legitimize their post-1904 plural marriages.  Another source appears to have come from men set apart as temple sealers.  Having been authorized to seal marriages prior to April 1904, a small number of them attempted to use that power afterwards.   

John W. Woolley 

One example of a temple sealer who performed plural marriages after 1904 is John W. Woolley.[6]  John Woolley was the father of Lorin C. Woolley.  John holds and immensely important position in Mormon fundamentalist tradition.  Most polygamists today believe that at one point before his 1928 death, John held the keys of sealing and was the "President of the Priesthood" (a priesthood office unheard of prior to 1933).  An interesting picture of John Woolley emerges as contemporary documents are consulted and fundamentalist traditions scrutinized.

For most of his life, John W. Woolley was a monogamist.  He experienced plural marriage with two wives for only six years between 1886 and 1892.  John was sealed to Julia Seales Ensign March 20, 1851 with whom he had six children.  On October 4, 1886, he wed Ann Everington Roberts for time only and lived the principle of plural marriage until 1892 when his first wife died.  Roberts was the widow of B. H. Roberts and bore Woolley no offspring.  Ann passed away January 11, 1910 and two months later on March 23, John married 39 year old Annie Fisher for time only as well.  Despite the comparative brevity and limited plurality that John experienced in his personal polygamy, he was nevertheless a constant follower of plural marriage.

John Woolley was devout in his devotion to the Church, serving as a stake high councilman in 1877, a Salt Lake Temple worker and sealer in 1894 and was ordained a Stake Patriarch in June 1913.  However, he also secretly performed the sealings of Warren Longurst and Evan Allred in Salt Lake City, Utah, 17 November 1909 and was involved with other polygamous marriages prior to that time.  Subsequently, John W. Woolley was called into a session with the Council of the Twelve, but disclaimed any association with those who were involved with new plural marriages.[7]

As a close friend of John Woolley, President Smith performed his civil marriage in 1910.[8]  "Some time later, President Smith said to him, 'John, I am happy to know that you have not been involved in any of those so-called plural marriages.'  John W. Woolley hesitated a moment and then replied: 'President Smith, I cannot lie to you.  I am guilty.'  Then he confessed his wrongdoing."[9]  Upon learning of this, President Joseph F. Smith notified Francis Lyman, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

A Church Court was held 16 January 1914 resulting in Woolley's disfellowshipment.  In an attempt to retain his membership, he wrote: "Some months ago I met Matthias F. Cowley on the street and he asked me if I was familiar with the sealing ceremony.  I told him I was.  He said, 'If any good men come to you don't turn them down.'  I believed from that statement that it was still proper that plural marriages be solemnized, and that President Smith had so authorized Cowley to instruct me.[10]  Since that time I have married wives to Nathan G. Clark, Joseph A. Silver, Reuben G. Miller, and K. Lemmon, Jr."  All of these men were subsequently called up for Church discipline.[11]

The Quorum of the Twelve considered Woolley's case on March 30th.  Apostle James E. Talmage recorded: "It became our painful duty to take action by which Brother John W. Woolley was excommunicated from the Church for insubordination and disobedience to the regulations of the Church.  It may be here stated that Brother Woolley, according to evidence and his own confession, has been instrumental in bringing about the unauthorized and sinful pretenses for plural marriage in the cases of other brethren who have been of late visited with the extreme penalty of excommunication."[12] 

Having already excommunicated most of the men sealed by John Woolley, a letter from the First Presidency was sent addressing the status of the women who were also involved in those plural marriages.  On 11 March 1915, Apostle Francis M. Lyman was instructed: "Joseph F. Smith recommends 'disfellowship or excommunication' for plural wives and polygamous marriages performed by John W. Woolley."[13] 

During the years following his excommunication, John Woolley desired to be reinstated[14] and in 1918 he asked his half-brother, George E. Woolley[15] to assist as an intermediary with the General Authorities.[16]  John related how "he felt very keenly being on the outside of the Church" and confessed that "he had suffered very much in his feelings" as a consequence of his excommunication.[17]

George Woolley described the situation to his brother Orson who lived in Magrath, Canada: "I told him my advice to him was to go personally to Bro. [Heber J.] Grant and tell him just how he felt etc.  That if he would go to Bro. Grant in the proper spirit personally that it would do more for his cause than having other people always bothering the authorities.  He did not take kindly to my suggestion, however, stating that they were responsible for his condition (they, meaning I took it, the Twelve) and they would have to take it up and make matters right.  I felt very little humility in his attitude, but he says he is humble and could only show it more by digging a hole and getting in it and pulling the ground in on him.  To me it is a pitiable condition."[18]

George also disagreed with John regarding the writings of dissident Heber S. Bennion[19]: "Bro. Heber Bennion of our stake has written a book called Gospel Problems.  John has read it and is testifying that it is inspired and is the truth.  I have read the book and know that it breathes the spirit of apostasy and is written in the spirit of fault finding.  John has placed himself in a position to be led astray by just such writings and I fear for him."[20]

In another letter, George wrote:  "[John] had been to me and asked me to use my influence in getting him back into the church but I cannot consistently do any thing for him as long as he takes the attitude he does.  I told him when he came to me that he ought to go direct to Pres. Grant himself and put himself in their hands to do just as they might direct.  This he refused to do and I know from his spirit that he is not in the least repentant...  What I wanted was to have him conduct himself in a way to secure reinstatement."[21]

Shortly after John Woolley appealed to George for help, John was asked to dedicate the grave of his deceased sister-in-law.  This request put him in a delicate position as he did not want to further agitate Church leaders by claiming to use priesthood authority after his excommunication.  Yet, he also wanted to fulfill the petition to dedicate the grave.  George believed that "if it became known that he was doing these things after being cut off, that it would be construed as defiance of their act by the Twelve and he would be just that [much] more likely not to be reinstated than if he would lay low."[22]  

George recalled that as they were riding to the grave site:  "I asked John if he intended to dedicate the grave.  He said he did not want to but they had asked him and he didn't know what he would do.  I told him in my judgement, it would be a mistake and gave him my reason...."  George then reported: "Well, John dedicated (?) the grave.  Did not do it by virtue of any priesthood..."[23]  On that occasion, John did not assert any priesthood authority, giving only a prayer.  Despite his actions, John Woolley continued to promote and perform a few plural marriages up until his death in 1928.[24]  He died a nonmember. 

Patriarchs Hold "Sealing Blessings" 

Another source of sealing authority asserted after 1904 was found in the calling of patriarchs.  The Doctrine and Covenants specifies that the Church patriarch "shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people, That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven... [the Church Patriarch holds] the sealing blessings of my church, even the Holy Spirit of promise, whereby ye are sealed up unto the day of redemption..."  (D&C 124: 92-93, 124; italics added).

If these three verses were all the instructions available to Latter-day Saints on the subject of sealing authority or the duties of patriarchs, they might possibly assume that a patriarch did indeed have the ability to seal a marriage.  However, Church leaders have explained that patriarchs hold "sealing authority" to seal patriarchal blessings upon the heads of Church members.[25]  Church members observe that prior to 1904, no one proposed that a patriarch inherently held authority to seal eternal marriages and that if somehow patriarchs did possess such sealing authority, they would still be subject to the "one" man.

The problem with patriarchs assuming sealing authority caused President Heber J. Grant to announce in 1921: "We have excommunicated several patriarchs because they arrogated unto themselves, the right, or pretended right, to perform these ceremonies, and after our having excommunicated several patriarchs, another one, so I am informed, has committed the same offense. I announce to all Israel that no living man has the right to perform plural marriages. I announce that no patriarch has the right to perform any marriages at all in the Church."[26]

In 1910 Judson Tolman, a stake patriarch, was called before a council of the apostles and questioned regarding his involvement with post-1904 plural marriages.  Apostle Reed Smoot recorded: "We had before us Patriarch Judson Tolman having cited him to appear and answer to the charge of his having married different men to plural wives contrary to the rules and regulations of the church.  We tried to get the whole truth out of him but could not do it.  He acknowledged to having performed fifteen plural marriages.  We tried to get out of him who they were but he said he could not remember...  Found out that he had married a woman himself but did not know who performed the ceremony.  The party had a mask on.  He, himself, married most of the parties on the street and some in buggies and one or two in a house...  He insisted all were before April 1904, the year of the declaration of President Smith.  It was evident to all that he was not telling the truth."[27] 

Two days later Patriarch Tolman gave the apostles additional details: "He told a little more about how he came to perform the illegal marriages and had been instructed to put them all back of April 1904, by Henry S. Tanner and others because it was necessary to save himself and others.  He continued to evade and even lie about certain actions of his."[28]

It was concluded that the marriages Tolman performed between 1906 and 1910 were without authorization and he was excommunicated 3 October 1910.[29]  A year and a half later Judson was rebaptized by his son, Jaren Tolman and confirmed a member of the Church by Davis Stake President Joseph H. Grant. He died 6 July 1916 a short week before his ninetieth birthday.

In 1912, Lorin Woolley Writes of an 1886 Visit of Joseph Smith to John Taylor 

During the latter part of the 1880s, a number of the General Authorities of the Church went into hiding on the "underground" to avoid federal marshals.  Lawmen were on the lookout, seeking to arrest Church leaders on polygamy charges.  Between October of 1886 and February of 1887, Lorin was helpful to some of the brethren primarily by carrying the mail for them.  Samuel Bateman, one of the bodyguards of Church leaders during that period, recorded Lorin's participation, noting the dates that he "brought the mail" or "took the mail" or socialized with Church leaders.[30]

In 1912, Lorin wrote an interesting account concerning John Taylor who had been staying at his father's home in September, 1886: 

In the latter part of September, 1886, the exact day being not now known to me, President John Taylor was staying at the home of my father, John W. Woolley, in Centerville, Davis County, Utah.

At the particular time herein referred to, President Taylor was in hiding (on the under-ground).  Charles H. Bearrell and I were the "guardsmen" on watch for the protection of the President.  Two were usually selected each night, and they took turns standing guard to protect the President from trespass or approaching danger.  Exceptional activity was exercised by the U.S. Federal Officers in their prosecutions of the Mormon people on account of their family relations in supposed violation of the Federal Laws.

Soon after our watch began, Charles H. Bearrell reclined on a pallet and went to sleep.  President Taylor had entered the south room to retire for the night.  There was no door-way entrance to the room occupied by President Taylor, except the entrance from the room occupied by the guardsmen.  Soon after 9 o'clock, I heard the voice of another man engaged in conversation with President Taylor, and I observed that a very brilliant light was illuminating the room occupied by the president.  I wakened Bearrell and told him what I had heard and seen, and we both remained awake and on watch the balance of the night.  The conversation was carried on all night between President Taylor and the visitor, and never discontinued until the day began to dawn -- when it ceased and the light disappeared.  We heard the voices in conversation while the conference continued and we saw the light.

My father came into the room where we were on watch, and was there when President Taylor came into the room that morning.  As the President entered the room he remarked, "I had a very pleasant conversation all night with the Prophet Joseph."  At the time President Taylor entered the room his countenance was very bright and could be seen for several hours after.  After observing that some one was in conversation with the President, I went out and examined all of the windows, and found them fastened as usual.

The brethren were considerably agitated about this time over the agitation about Plural Marriage, and some were insisting that the Church issue some kind of edict to be used in Congress, concerning the surrendering of Plural Marriage, and that if some policy were not adopted to relieve the strain the government would force the Church to surrender.  Much was said in their deliberations for and against some edict or manifesto that had been prepared, and at a meeting that afternoon, at which a number there were present and myself,[31] I heard President Taylor say; "Brethren, I will suffer my right hand to be cut off before I will sign such a document."

I, Lorin C. Woolley, of Centerville, Utah, do hereby certify, that I have carefully made and read the foregoing statement of facts and the same is true to the best of my knowledge.  Dated this 6th day of October, 1912.


(signed)   Lorin C. Woolley[32] 

Although this document was recounted twenty-six years after the incident reportedly occurred, it contains information and historical detail that is consistent with the time described. 

One element included by Lorin that is unsupported by available records is his claim to have been a "guardsman," or bodyguard to John Taylor.  Inspection of journals of known bodyguards and the diaries of Church leaders during that time fails to identify any instance where he was listed as fulfilling that role.  Generally, the men selected to guard Church leaders, like President Taylor, were chosen for their physical qualifications such as size and strength.  Described as "a rather small man, slightly built, not very tall,"[33] Lorin's physical stature was generally considered unsuited to "protect the President from trespass or approaching danger."[34] 

1920s - Lorin Woolley Remembers More Details 

Without a doubt, the most significant teaching Woolley ever shared was an expanded account of the 1912 incident cited above.  In the 1920s, Lorin elaborated on his former recollections regarding the described 1886 occurrences, providing many more particulars including three significant assertions previously never mentioned.  Reportedly: 

1.      An eight-hour meeting, attended by fourteen people, was held on Monday, 27 September 1886.

2.      John Taylor received a revelation during that meeting (the 1886 "revelation" discussed in chapter three).  Five copies of the revelation were made and distributed. 

3.      Five men were ordained with priesthood authority that allowed them to perpetuate plural marriage, independent of Church leaders.[35] 

The third event described by Lorin provides the foundation for the confidence held by most Mormon fundamentalists today, confidence that their polygamous marriages are legitimate.

          It appears that Lorin Woolley withheld these details from his listeners until decades after they reportedly occurred.   Precisely when Lorin began claiming that he had been ordained in 1886 with special priesthood power is difficult to discern.  Lorin did very little writing and did not keep a journal.  He might have mentioned the ordinations in his 1912 “Statement of Facts” of the 1886 activities with John Taylor, but didn’t.  The earliest reference I have found is April 9, 1922 where Joseph Musser recorded: 

          In evening I attended meeting with wife Ellis at Brother [Nathaniel] Baldwin's in East Mill Creek ward...  Brother Woolley occupied most of the time and related the circumstance of the rejection of the manifesto by the late president John Taylor at the home of John Woolley in Davis County.  Pres. Taylor had told the brethren -13- in all, that the time would come when the brethren would be handled and ostracized for practicing the principle of the Gospel for which they were then in hiding - plural marriage- but, he said, woe, woe unto those who should do such things...  Brother Woolley was ordained an Elder at the age of 13, and was ordained an Apostle by President John Taylor and Geo. Q. Cannon. 

While this account does not report an 1886 ordination with special priesthood power, it does state the Lorin was ordained an “apostle” by John Taylor and appears to be the first recorded instance where in he made such a claim.  It also is the first known source recounting a meeting with John Taylor, where thirteen “brethren” were in attendance.  To date, believers in Lorin Woolley’s teachings have yet to produce additional evidence that anyone, including any of those thirteen individuals referred to, ever mentioned it or recalled anything that transpired that day prior to Lorin Woolley’s April 9, 1922 teaching, which Musser transcribed.[36] 

          This profound thirty-five year silence in the historical record regarding such an important religious incident could be explained in several ways.  First, those in attendance might have been sworn to complete secrecy although the account does not state or otherwise imply that the meeting, or its proceedings were in any way secret.  It seems that on closer examination, the described ordinations have been labeled “secret” by believers, perhaps in part to help explain the vacuum of supporting historical evidence supporting their occurrence.[37]  Nothing mentioned in the account of the ordinations or meeting suggests that they were secret and needed to be concealed.  And even if they had been secret, it is difficult to believe that such an unparalleled and immensely significant event could have been kept entirely concealed until Lorin Woolley mentioned them in the 1920s.  One might ask how the five men might have been able to fulfill their priesthood responsibilities if they couldn’t tell anyone about their ordinations?  Hence, it is difficult to believe that the activities of that day were secret and that that secrecy was perfectly maintained for thirty-five years.

          A second potential explanation is that the 1886 meeting and ordinations were indeed cautiously mentioned in contemporary documents (journals, letters etc.), but that those documents have yet to be discovered.  Regarding this possibility, historian D. Michael Quinn gave this report to the Allred polygamist group in 1991: “I find no historical contemporary evidence to support that [1886] ordination.”  He also added: 

As a historian, I have no evidence that there was a setting apart or an ordination... in 1886. However, I do have as early as 1906 a reference by loyal Church members that there had been men who had been set apart to keep plural marriage alive no matter what. And that certainly is a support for the account of 1886, but it doesn't refer in any specific way to the 1886 ordination... I would be more than happy to find verification, and if I did find it, I certainly wouldn't conceal evidence of the ordination of men in 1886... to continue plural marriage. But aside from the one reference I gave to you, in 1906, I find no evidence of that event prior to Lorin Woolley's detailed statements on various occasions in the 1920s concerning the 1886 ordination.[38] 

          In a later publication Quinn identified his “1906 reference”: “October 10, 1906: Mission president tells Apostle Francis M. Lyman ‘President Taylor died in exile for this principle and he gave men authority to perform the ceremony of marriage which authority I have been told was never revoked – etc.’”[39]  Quinn does not provide the name of the mission president mentioned.  Nor is it clear how President Taylor could have bestowed authority that would have transcended his own presidency, when he was no longer living, when he was no longer the “one” man holding the keys of sealing.

          The only other similar pre-1922 account I have been able to locate that lends any support to a belief in 1886 ordinations is found in the Journal of Carlos Ashby Badger for October 8, 1904: “A.B. Irvine told me that Apostle Woodruff told him that a certain number of worthy people had been commissioned to keep alive the principle of plural marriage.”[40] 

          Both of these third-hand historical sources might support 1886 ordinations in a very general way or they might simply be a misconception or the recantation of a baseless rumor.  Mormon fundamentalist researchers currently have a great opportunity for additional investigation, since no pre-1922 accounts or second-hand references to the described 1886 meeting and ordinations from any of the thirteen purported participants have been yet identified.

          A third possible explanation is found in Woolley’s comments in the later part of the 1929 Account where he admits that “Many of the things I forgot, but they are coming to me gradually, and those things that come to me are as clear as on the day on which they were given.”  Perhaps Lorin remembered certain details that were not necessarily initially forgotten, but had never actually occurred.

          Regardless, in 1912 Lorin Woolley introduced an idea and proclaimed a lone witness regarding priesthood sealing authority.  His claims would form the under girding for the Mormon fundamentalist movement that would emerge in the 1930s. 


It wasn't until the 1920s that various polygamists began congregating to share their feelings and testimonies.  Over sixteen years had passed since the 1904 "Official Statement" signaled an end to plural marriage authorizations from the Church President.  During that time two important changes had occurred with the first involving secrecy.  Plural marriages contracted prior to 1904 were kept secret from the government for obvious reasons.  Those entered into after 1904 were kept even more secret because, both Church leaders and government officials were on the look out.  The excommunication of John W. Taylor and the disfellowshipping of Matthias Cowley in 1911 demonstrated the sincerity and determination of Church leaders to stamp out new plural marriages.  Consequently, those engaging in new polygamous unions were more careful to conceal their clandestine relationships from neighbors and other acquaintances.

However, during the decade between 1910 and 1920, the need for secrecy diminished as the government showed less inclination to prosecute polygamy as they had in the past.  In addition, Church leaders had already excommunicated dozens of people for entering into the principle of plural marriage.  "Excommunication notices" were routinely published in the Deseret News.[41]  Having already endured the Church's greatest punishment of excommunication, secrecy was far less important to these individuals.  Living beyond the reach of further Church discipline, they felt a freedom to more openly congregate, exchanging testimonies and convictions, even publishing them.

The second change that transpired in the 1920s involved the raw number of individuals who now found themselves outside of the Church.  As the quantity of excommunications grew throughout the 1910s and 1920s, a critical mass of dissenters formed that would give rise to various groups and alliances for decades to come.  Coupled with Church members who sympathized with their views, a "fundamentalist" movement was coalescing across the Wasatch Front.

Despite their disagreements with Church beliefs and practices, many excommunicated individuals continued to attend their LDS wards and stakes.  However, by 1921, small groups of budding fundamentalists would congregate at homes, offices, buildings, and even in open air settings.  While no identifiable leaders would emerge until the 1930s, several individuals became prominent within the informal gatherings, either because of their testimonies, convictions, publications, financial successes or claims to priesthood authority.  These men included John T. Clark, Nathaniel Baldwin, Lorin C. Woolley and Joseph Musser.  Woolley and Musser would join with J. Leslie Broadbent and John Y. Barlow to form a fundamentalist leadership council that would endure into the 1950s.


 [1]  See Solemn Covenant, Appendix II, #9 Israel Barlow, III, #15 Frederick Beesley, #30 Richard Daniel Brown, Jr., #31 George Henry Budd, #32 Francis Nell Bunker, #48  Heber Otto Chlarson, #51 Rudger Clawson, #52 Nathan Clayson, #56 Matthias Foss Cowley, #70 Edwin Evans, #71 John Reese Evans, #76 David Pile Felt, #88 Victor C. Hegsted, #93 Alpha Jedde Higgs, #103 Charles Gill Jarman,#115 Don Moroni Le Baron, #119 Warren Longhurst, #120 Walter Clisbee Lyman, #125 Donald Alpine Mc Gregor, #126 Theodore Mc Kean, Jr., #127 John Williams Mc Laws, #130 "Mr" Merrill, 139 Dan Muir, #140 Joseph White Musser, #161 Samuel John Robinson, #165 William Galley Sears, #173 John Taylor Smellie, #185 Henry Smith Tanner, #186 Joseph Marlon Tanner, #187 Alonzo Leander Taylor, #188 Ernest Guy Taylor, #189 Ernest Leander Taylor, #191 John Whitaker Taylor, #198 Judson Tolman, #208 George William Willis, #211 Lycurgus Arnold Wilson, and #216 Charles Woolfenden.

[2]  According to Appendix II in Solemn Covenant, Patriarch Judson Tolman performed marriages for #9 Israel Barlow, III, #130 "Mr" Merrill, and #139 Dan Muir.  Patriarch John W. Woolf solemnized marriages for #56 Matthias Foss Cowley and #188 Ernest Guy Taylor.  Apostle Matthias F. Cowley sealed marriages for #187 Alonzo Leander Taylor and #191 John Whitaker Taylor.  Temple Sealer Joseph W. Summerhays officiated at the marriage of #165 William Galley Sears.  Summerhays claimed he was authorized by President Smith, which President Smith denied (Heath, Smoot Diaries, October 12, 1910, 73; Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 314).  #161 Samuel John Robinson claimed authorization from Joseph F. Smith for his 1907 plural marriage but was disfellowshipped when the Juarez Stake learned of it (Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 315). Besides these post-1904 plural marriages listed by Hardy, D. Michael Quinn also taught that “Rudger Clawson himself married a plural wife, and the ceremony was performed by Apostle Cowley in August 1904” ("Plural Marriages After the 1890 Manifesto,” 17.) “George Reynolds [secretary to the First Presidency and a temple sealer] also performed a plural marriage in 1907”  (ibid.,8) and  “John W. Taylor performed plural marriages in Canada in August of 1904...  John W. Taylor apparently also performed two other plural marriages in Canada in September 1904” (ibid., 12).

[3]  Quinn, Extensions of Power, 183.

[4]  See Salt Lake Tribune 24 August 1909, 4.  Also "Some New Polygamists" and "Always More to Add," 13 and 14 November 1909, respectively.  In Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 389-90, 393 en 6.

[5]  Ibid., 290.  In a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve 27 September 1910, Senator-Apostle Reed Smoot recorded: "I made a statement regarding the new polygamy cases and insisted that the church take action against them at once.  I believe that every person taking a plural wife since the manifesto should not be sustained in prominent positions in the Church where the people have to vote for them and I strongly demand that cases at least since April 1, 1904, be excommunicated and vigorous action commenced at once."  Heath, Diaries of Reed Smoot, for date.

[6]  John W. Woolley is held in the highest esteem by Mormon fundamentalists today because a vast majority believe that prior to his death in 1928, he was the "one" man holding the keys of sealing, the President of the High Priesthood, and the presiding priesthood authority upon the earth.

[7]   Letter from Joseph Fielding Smith to Dean Jesse, 13 July 1956.  In J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 141. 

[8]   John Woolley was a widower when President Joseph F. Smith performed his civil marriage to Annie Fischer on 23 March 1910.  The Ancestral File does not list that Fischer had been previously sealed, so the reason for a civil marriage is unclear.

[9]   J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 141-42. Another account written by Lloyd Ririe includes other details: "While in President Joseph F. Smith's office in Salt Lake City, John W. Woolley came into the President's office and asked if he could have a few weeks off from his work in the temple in order that he could visit with his Brother Sam who was then President of the Mission in the South Sea Islands.  I believe it was Samoa.  Brother Woolley was a worker then in the Salt Lake Temple.  President Smith gave him the time off that he wanted, and just as Brother Woolley was about to leave the President said, 'John it has been brought to my attention that you have been performing plural marriages in the Salt Lake Temple, is that correct?'  Brother Woolley, he said, rather hung his head and answered, 'Yes, President Smith I have.'"  (Statement written 13 April 1964.  Special Collections, B.Y.U; in J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 141-42.)

[10]   Matthias Cowley "vehemently denied" that he had so authorized John W. Woolley.  Quinn, "Plural Marriages After Manifesto," typescript 6 .

[11]   J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 143.  Affidavit is found in the Anthony W. Ivins papers, Utah State Historical Society.  Joseph A. Silver was excommunicated 14 January 1914, Nathan G. Clark on 20 January 1914 and Reuben G. Miller on 29 January 1914, each for  "insubordination to the government and discipline of the Church" (James E. Talmage Diaries for dates, CHD restricted).    Peter K. Lemon doubted the authenticity of the marriage sealed by Woolley (see Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 328).  Anthony Ivin's recorded 1 March 1914:  "In the evening K. Lemmon called at the hotel. I served notice on him to appear before the Council of Twelve and show cause why he should not be excommunicated for unlawfully taking a wife. He stated to me that Nathan G. Clark had written him that if he wished to take a plural wife to come to Centerville where he - Clark - would meet him at a house 2 blocks West. He followed directions and went to the house of a young man named Woolley and told him what he come for. The young man said there would be a man there soon to attend to the matter for him. Later an older man came to him and performed the ceremony. After concluding the man told him that he must say nothing about the marriage as they would both be excommunicated if it were found out. He told the girl, as soon as they were alone, that he did not believe it was a marriage at all, and it was all off. He had never lived with the girl as his wife and did not intend to do so until he had come to Salt Lake and satisfied himself that the ceremony was performed by proper authority. He had never talked with Bro. Cowley on the subject. He would appear before the Council and make a full statement of the facts. He had met Bro. Musser at the Fisher some time ago and he had told him that [John W.] Woolley had given the whole thing away."  (In Jesse, "Comparative Study," 242.)

[12]  James E. Talmage Diaries, 30 March 1914, CHD, restricted.

[13]  Quinn, Extensions of Power, 814.

[14]  In contrast, granddaughter Olive Woolley Coombs, remembered in 1971 that sometime between 1914 and 1918 they met President Joseph F. Smith at a stake conference.  "President Smith put his arm around Grandfather's arm and said, 'John, I'm very sorry about what has been done.  I want you to know it wasn't my will.  It was voted.  But I have the assurance that if you will come back into the Church secretly we are ready and willing.'  And he (Grandfather) said, ' I appreciate that very much, but since I was taken out publicly, the way you must take me back is publicly, because I feel I have done no wrong..."  (Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 1:14.)

[15]   John Wickersham Woolley was the eighth child of Edwin Dilworth Woolley and Mary Wickersham Woolley.  George Edwin Woolley and Orson Alpin Woolley were third and fourth children of Edwin Dilworth Woolley and Mary Ann Olpin.

[16]   Letter from George E. Woolley to Alvira Woolley, 26 July 1918, CHD.

[17]   Letter from George E. Woolley to Orson A. Woolley, Magrath, Canada, 27 July 1918, CHD.

[18]   Ibid.

[19]  Brother‑in‑law to Heber J. Grant, Heber S. Bennion served as bishop of the Taylorsville ward and later had an open lively disagreement with Church leaders and specifically with James E. Talmage over specific gospel teachings.  In 1920 (?) he authored Gospel Problems and in about 1922, Supplement to Gospel Problems (Salt Lake City: The Theatre Book Shop, 1922).

[20]   Letter from George E. Woolley to Orson A. Woolley, 15 April 1920.

[21]   Letter from George E. Woolley to Orson A. Woolley, Magrath, Canada, 11 December 1918.   Fundamentalists would later assert that during this period John Woolley was a High Priest Apostle, holding a priesthood office higher than that of the Church President.  Price Johnson remembered in 1971:  "John W. Woolley and Lorin Woolley were called in on several, yes, on many occasions for consultations with President Joseph F. Smith in regard to the policy of the Church.  When any great questions came up he called them in to consult with them and get their advice, acknowledging them in their positions as the heads of the Priesthood."  (Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 2:55.)  On 9 February 1933 Lorin C. Woolley taught: "James E. Talmage tried to get John W. Woolley to seal a plural wife to him in March 1900, but was refused" (BOR, 55).  Two weeks after the death of Elder Talmage, Lorin explained:  "As James E. Talmage approached the gates of heaven, he was accosted by John Taylor and John W. Woolley et al. and felt to be embraced by them, but was told 'your place is way down there, how far we don't know, only Christ knows'" (Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, 65, recorded 10 August 1933)

[22]  Letter from George E. Woolley to Alvira Woolley, 26 July 1918.  Italics added. 

[23]  Ibid.

[24]   17 February 1924 Baldwin recorded: "George E. Woolley spoke against his brother John Woolley and Lorin C. And classed them as apostates."

[25]   See TPJS 151 and an article written by Apostle John Taylor, 1 June 1845, Times and Seasons, 6:920-22.

[26]   Conference Report, April 1921, 220; MFP 5:196.

[27]   Smoot Diaries, 1 October 1910.

[28]   Ibid., 3 October 1910.

[29]   Historical Record Book A 1909 to 1919, of the Bountiful First Ward, Davis Stake.   In 1991, D. Michael Quinn taught:  "There is no evidence that I've seen that Joseph F. Smith commissioned Patriarch Judson Tolman to perform plural marriages from 1906 to 1910. But President Smith did protect a few men who were married by Tolman. Even though this Patriarch and several of the others he married were excommunicated by the apostles, the Church President, Joseph F.; Smith intervened. He not only prevented the excommunication but he even continued in prominent Church offices men who had been married by Judson Tolman as late as 1907 and 1908."  ("Plural Marriages After Manifesto," typescript 5.)  Since this information was shared in a talk given to the Allred Fundamentalist Group, no documentation for Quinn's claims was then provided.  

[30]   Entries include: 

"Loren [sic] C. Woolley went with the mail."  (21 October 1886)

"At night we were all invited over to Lorin C. Woolley's to supper."  (1 November 1886)

"At night Lorin Woolley went with the mail."  (19 November 1886)

"D.R.B. [Daniel R. Bateman] and Lorin Woolley went to Bro Rouche's with the out-going mail."  (8 December 1886)

"Lorin C. Woolley came with the mail at half past 12 o'clock."  (10 December 1886)

"I went over to Lorin Woolley's.  Changed mail."  (25 December 1886)

"At night I went to the city, took the mail.  H. C. Birrell went with me.  Met B. Young [Brigham Young Jr.] at tithing office.  Stayed at Sister Burt's.  Met Sister Luke there, Lorin Woolley went in my place while I was gone."  (31 December 1886)

"I sent Lorin Woolley with the mail to the city.  He got back a  little before 6 o'clock p.m.  His wife went with him."  (7 Janunary 1887)

"All day at Do [Church President's hideout], reading, playing checkers Lorin Woolley, I beat...  Lorin Woolley came at 2 o'clock a.m.  Went away at night and took the mail."  (11 January 1887)

"Lorin Woolley came this morning at one o'clock a.m."  (24 January 1887)

"Lorin C. Woolley came at 1 o'clock."  (29 January 1887)

"Lorin Woolley came at half past 5 o'clock a.m.  At night took the mail on horse back."  (3 February 1887)

"At night I left G.Q.C. [George Q. Cannon] at the half-way house.  Lorin Woolley was to take him back.  Lorin had come down.  He had gone up to my place.  He brought the mail."  (5 February 1887)

[31]   In the original statement, parts of this line were crossed out (presumably by Woolley himself) and the wording was altered. The above account reflects the modified version. The original (before alteration) read as follows: "Much was said in their deliberation for and against some edict or manifesto that had been prepared, and at a meeting that afternoon, at which there were present: George Q. Cannon, John T. Caine, Hiram B. Clawson, Charles H. Wilcken, John W. Woolley and myself, I heard President Taylor say" ("Statement of Facts,")  In J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 3 fn. 2 and in  "Mormon Fundamentalism," Section: The Lorin Woolley Story.  

[32]   Lorin C. Woolley, "Statement of Facts," 1912.

[33]   Recollection of Price Johnson, Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 2:61.

[34]  Some of Lorin's descendants suggest that while Lorin never functioned formally as a "bodyguard," he might have been recruited informally to stand as a "watchman" at times when the Church President was staying at his father's residence.  (Personal communication.)  While this might be a possibility, it seems that such an informal role would not have given Lorin the opportunities in the 1880s to accomplish all the remarkable feats he related during the 1920s regarding his experiences as a bodyguard of Church leaders.

[35]   Fundamentalist writer B. Harvey Allred added that besides being commissioned to seal plural marriages, "These men were instructed to go into different stakes throughout the Church and ordain other men to the same power and calling."  (A Leaf in Review, 187.)

[36]  See fundamentalist apologists who discuss the described 1886 ordinations.  For example, Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 146-88; Robert Openshaw, The Notes, 427-29; Bishop, The 1886 Visitations, 78-294;  Collier, “Re-Examining the Lorin Woolley Story,” 1-8.  Collier alludes to the existence of supportive evidence, but fails to cite anything specific. 

[37]  See Fulton, Most Holy Principle, 4:142-43; Robert Openshaw, The Notes, 425-31.

[38]  Quinn, “Plural Marriage After the 1890 Manifesto,” 27. 

[39]  Quinn, Extensions of Power, 809.

[40]  Photocopy in Carl A. Badger Collection, Archives and Manuscripts, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo.

[41]   See Deseret News 28 September 1910 (Israel Barlow), 3 October 1910 (Judson Tolman) and 23 March 1921  (Joseph W. Musser).