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Questions Regarding Lorin C. Woolley’s Line of Priesthood Authority

             Two years prior to his death 1934, Lorin C. Woolley shared his beliefs regarding priesthood keys:

    Six have held Keys to the Kingdom: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, John W. Woolley and now Lorin C. Woolley.

    Six have held Keys to Presidency of Church:  Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, never passed to Heber J. Grant.

    Six have held the Keys to the Patriarchal Order:[1] Joseph Smith Sr., Hyrum, “Uncle” John Smith, John Smith, John W. Woolley and Lorin C. Woolley.[2]

             The idea that the priesthood “keys” could be divided into three (to the Kingdom, to Presidency of Church, to Patriarchal Order) is unique.  Even more surprising is the teaching that a man could hold only one or two of these sets of keys.  From Joseph Smith to the present, no priesthood leader has ever taught that priesthood keys could be divided.  Dividing the keys creates confusion regarding who presides and who is the “one” man mentioned in D&C 132:7, 18, 19.

            Regardless, Lorin described his crucial position as the “one” man[3] - who by his own account is the holder of priesthood keys he described as the “Keys to the Kingdom” and the “Keys to the Patriarchal Order.”[4]  Woolley also taught that after the death of his father in 1928, he was the last member of the 1886 Council of Friends.[5]  These remarkable assertions deserve special examination. 

Questions About the Keys of Sealing Leaving the Church 

            The first question to address is when did the Church President stop being the “one” man?[6]  The answer is of paramount importance because all Church Presidents have believed that they held the keys and have exercised those keys to seal eternal marriages in their respective times.[7] 

            Fundamentalists possess different opinions regarding the answer.  Was it:  (1) At the time of the reported 1886 ordinations?[8] (2) At the time Wilford Woodruff issued the 1890 Manifesto?[9] (3) With the death of Wilford Woodruff?[10] (4) At the time Joseph F. Smith[11] issued the 1904 “Second Manifesto”?[12] (5) In 1914 when John W. Woolley was excommunicated?[13] (6) In 1918 when Joseph F. Smith died?[14] or (7) With the death of Anthon H. Lund in 1921?[15] 

Despite the apparent confusion, most Mormon fundamentalists today agree that John Woolley had seniority after 1921 and was the “one” man by that time, although he left no testimony to that effect.[16] 

Questions About the Described 1886 Ordinations

            Lorin Woolley described how he and four other men were ordained with special priesthood authority in 1886.  For a discussion of the evidences supporting and against the likelihood that such ordinations were performed click here.

 Questions About John W. Woolley

             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 only one woman during his lifetime (making him a monogamist in eternity).  That woman was 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.  President Joseph F. Smith performed the civil wedding in 1910.[17]   John was active in the Church up until 1914, 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. 

            While John W. Woolley was known to perform plural marriages up until his death, in 1928.[18]   there is apparently no record of any conversation or discourse wherein he claimed to be the “one” man holding the keys of sealing authority.  Several individuals, including his son Lorin, would make the claim for him after his death, but apparently nothing is available that was recorded during his lifetime to support the assertion.  There is evidence that John Woolley was involved with a few impromptu meetings of polygamists in the 1920s, but he did not attend in the capacity of a presiding priesthood official.  Price Johnson recalled: “John W. Woolley would not preside in any meeting outside of his own home.”[19]

            Regardless, John W. Woolley 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.[20]  “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.”[21]  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.[22]  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.[23]

            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.”[24] 

            During his excommunication proceeding, which was initiated by President Joseph F. Smith, John W. Woolley said nothing about an 1886 ordination to special priesthood power.  Neither did he make claims to higher authority than the men who excommunicated him.  This behavior is strange in light of later fundamentalist traditions concerning him.  In fact he defended his actions by implementing Matthias Cowley who vehemently denied authorizing John.

            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.”[25] 

            During the years following his excommunication, John Woolley desired to be reinstated[26] and in 1918 he asked his half-brother, George E. Woolley[27] to assist as an intermediary with the General Authorities.[28]  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.[29]

            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.”[30]

            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.”[31]

            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.”[32]  

            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...”[33]  On that occasion, John did not assert any priesthood authority, giving only a prayer.  He died a nonmember.

 Questions About Lorin C. Woolley

             A primary question for readers regarding Lorin Calvin Woolley boils down to this: Was Lorin C. Woolley a great prophet and president of priesthood or was he simply a kindly storyteller, with many stories to tell?  And it might be added, most of Woolley’s teachings impressed his listeners and place him in a position of importance.

            Concerning the super-important 1886 ordinations, which Lorin described.  Woolley reported that thirteen people attended the eight hour meeting before they were performed, but only Lorin left his testimony, keeping it hidden for thirty-five years.  This lack of witnesses to these crucial ordinations contrasts scriptural guidelines.  We are told that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (D&C 6:28, 2 Corinthians 13:1).  When important priesthood ordinations occurred, at least two witnesses were present. For the bestowal of the Aaronic priesthood (D&C 13:1), the Melchizedek priesthood (D&C 27:12), and important keys of the Priesthood (D&C 110:11-13), both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were there bearing witness.

            Precisely when Lorin first claimed to have 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 his journal:

             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 the other twelve attendees, ever mentioned it or recalled anything that transpired that day prior to Lorin Woolley’s April 9, 1922 teaching, which Musser transcribed.[34] 

            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 currently available.[35]  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 it 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.[36]

             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.’”[37]  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.”[38] 

            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 other twelve 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.”[39]  Perhaps Lorin remembered certain details that were not necessarily initially forgotten, but had never actually occurred.

            Most of the men and women who listened  to Lorin Woolley teach in the 1920s and 1930s remember him sharing stories about his visit(s) to the Yucatan, Mexico.[40]  Reportedly, one such visit occurred the night of 7 April 1932.  One account of that visit states that while in the Yucatan, Lorin Woolley gave all his priesthood keys to a “mighty and wise prophet” living there: 

             On April 7th, 1932, according to Lorin Woolley’s testimony, he was visited in the night by an angel of the Lord, who conducted him to the southern end of Old Mexico, to a holy city of white Indians, or Nephites, well concealed on a high plateau of a great jungle vastness.  He found them with their temple and a quorum of twelve, living the fullness of the gospel to perfection.

            Under the direction of this angel, Lorin C. Woolley conferred all the priesthood keys which he held upon the head of their senior chief apostle, -- the mighty and wise prophet, known better in holy writ as the Branch.

            Two years later, on Sept. 19, 1934, Lorin C. Woolley passed away, thereby making the transfer of seniority to this great Branch Prophet complete.[41]

          This account suggest that whatever authority Lorin Woolley possessed  was transferred to an Indian prophet in the mysterious Yucatan in 1932, thus making that authority unavailable to anyone after Woolley's death two years later.

          Doubtless the best source for learning of Lorin Woolley's teachings is a manuscript entitled:  "The Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser."  Despite having it in their possession for decades, fundamentalist leaders have not allowed it to be published.  Many of  Lorin’s prophesies are published therein.  Here are several: 

             Look for the earth to be so wasted with calamities during next four years, the Lord will come and reorganize the government.  [Recorded November 8, 1932.][42]


            Anarchy may be manifested in streets of Salt Lake and other cities of 100,000 people, or less, before March 4, 1933.[43]


            At 1886 meeting John Taylor said: “Kings and Queens and the rulers of the earth will pay tribute to some of you and your associates.”[44]


            Don’t expect another presidential inaugurated under present form of government after March 4, 1933... [45]


            [9 March 1933] War eminent [sic] between Japan and United states.  50,000 Japs [sic] recently sent in to Mexico to colonize.  About 200,000 Japs there now.  They will likely take West Coast making San Diego a base.

            Russia has so much of the blood of Israel.  Millions will likely receive the gospel when the time comes, after which there will probably be a financial fight between Russia and England.”[46]


            Temple of Jackson County to be built before 1936, perhaps  by next April (1934).  Saw temple lot swept clean - being cleansed by hundreds of men with rakes, hoes etc.[47]


            Joseph Smith prophesied they (the Saints) would be using the temple (Jackson County) within 100 years from October 1834...

            President Taylor said, “Lorin boy, with hands on my head, ‘your spirit will not leave this place until the end of the millennium, then you will be one of those who will be changed in the twinkling of an eye’.”

            Brigham Young said, “You will be one of those who will not see death until after the millennium.”[48]


            On the 100th anniversary of the prophet’s martyrdom, a sacred council will be held in the temple in Jackson County, of Sanhedrin, Grand Council, Patriarchs.  Summer of 1936 Temple will be ready for ordinance work and will be commenced before the end of 1934.  Five feet longer and 2 1/2 feet wider than the Salt Lake Temple.[49]

            Lorin taught that after his father’s death in 1928, he alone held the authority necessary to call additional High Priest Apostles,[50] which he did between 1929 and 1933.  Lorin Woolley  proceeded to “bless” and set apart six other men, calling them to be members of the Council of Friends so that by the end of January of 1933, the Council of Seven Friends was full:[51]

 J. Leslie Broadbent  6 March 1929 (first)

John Y. Barlow           6 March 1929 (second)

Joseph W. Musser    14 May 1929

Charles F. Zitting       22 July 1932 (first)

Legrand Woolley       22 July 1932 (second)

Louis Kelsch              26 January 1933[52]

 The line of priesthood authority runs through this group of men.

 Questions About J. Leslie Broadbent

             For the majority of the fundamentalists who followed Lorin Woolley and the Council of Friends, the transference of authority to Broadbent was uneventful because he had seniority over all other Council members based upon the date of his being set apart as a High Priest Apostle.  In addition, he had also been designated Lorin’s “Second Elder.”  Oliver Cowdery was Joseph Smith’s “Second Elder” (D&C 20:3) meaning that as long as he was faithful, he would have succeeded Joseph as President of the Church had the Prophet died.  These two claims allowed Broadbent to assume leadership in a smooth transition.


            Born 3 June 1891, J. Leslie Broadbent married his first wife in 1906 and then polygamously joined Rula Louise Kelsch in 1915.[53]  Leslie gained some notoriety through the publication of his 1927 pamphlet, Celestial Marriage?, one of the very first Mormon fundamentalist tracts.  His defiance of Church leaders lead to his excommunication in July 1929.[54]

            On 16 March 1935, after presiding in the Priesthood Council for only six onths, J. Leslie Broadbent succumbed to pneumonia.  Musser was shocked:

            Bro. Joseph Leslie Broadbent has passed on!  Leaving the office last Monday, with a cold and tired feeling, he took to his bed.  The trouble developed into pneumonia.  However, he seemed in no serious danger until yesterday. The brethren of the Priesthood attended him faithfully and prayed mightily with the Lord for his restoration, but without avail.  ‘I am perfectly resigned to either stay or go as the Lord desires,’ he said shortly before his death...  I loved this man of God as only a man in the Priesthood can love.  We have been closely associated together.  He was God’s medium on earth - holding the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood.  Four wives and five children survive him.  His life was noble, big and unselfish.  He contended valiantly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.[55]

            One expectation of all members of the Council of Friends was to meet the Savior personally.  Musser and Broadbent explained in 1934: “To be such an apostle [High Priest Apostle] one much be personally anointed by Jesus Christ.”[56]  However, when revising this chapter from Supplement to a New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, to be republished as Priesthood Items months later, Broadbent and Musser modified this sentence to read: “To function in such a calling one must be chosen by direct revelation from God through His Medium.”[57]

            Regardless, during his years as a member of the Council of Friends and as a High Priest Apostle, J. Leslie Broadbent sought a personal confirmation from the Lord.  “On the day he died, Louis Kelsch asked him if he had received what he was seeking (meaning an actual visitation and direction from heavenly messengers).  He answered that he hadn’t yet but said, ‘If they come to get me, I can tell them I am still in the work,’ pointing to a stack of his books they had ready to mail.  Leslie apparently had not received that kind of confirmation...”[58]

Questions About John Y. Barlow

            At Broadbent’s death, two men made claim to be his rightful successor.  Charles “Elden” Kingston, son of Charles W. Kingston, asserted that Leslie had designated him as the “Second Elder.”[59]  The Kingstons would eventually establish the Davis County Cooperative Society, remaining entirely separate from all other Mormon fundamentalist groups.

            John Y. Barlow, who sat next in line in seniority of the Council of Friends, also asserted his position as the “Senior Member.”  Many also believed that Broadbent had designated him as “Second Elder.”  Regardless, the majority of polygamists followed Barlow’s leadership, believing him to be the presiding priesthood leader on earth.  It was a calling that he readily accepted.

            On 8 November of 1935 fundamentalists from Short Creek traveled to Salt Lake City to visit Joseph Musser and gathered to share their convictions and testimonies:  “Held meeting with the Saints in the evening...  Elders Jessop, Bistline, Wayman and Mart Olsen spoke, all bearing record of knowing where the keys to Priesthood lay (with the brethren of the Seven).”[60]  Despite testimonies such as these, within a year problems arose in conjunction with the leadership of John Y. Barlow at Short Creek.  As the presiding member of the Council of Friends, Barlow directed the activities of the United Trust organization, being responsible for both the spiritual and temporal activities of all Short Creek fundamentalists.[61]  Disagreements occurred and as a result, some participants questioned Barlow’s priesthood calling and authority.

            In response, Musser visited the area and explained the process through which each follower of the PRIESTHOOD organization might come to know if John Y. Barlow was then the “one” man holding the sealing keys:  “I testified that John Y. Barlow at Short Creek was a servant of the Lord and was doing a good work. [I] told the Saints if they wanted to know who the one that held the keys to priesthood was, to put themselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord, and ask the Lord for the information; that if He wanted them to know, they would find out.”[62]

            However, questions persisted as some adherents chaffed under Barlow’s dictatorial attitudes as director of the Trust, which prompted Musser and fellow Council of Friends member Louis Kelsch to intervene.  Joseph wrote for 8 November 1936:

            Thursday Lewis [Kelsch XE "Lewis Kelsch" ] and I had a personal talk with Bro. John Y. Barlow.  We pointed out our fears that under the present set-up the group could not prosper;  that there seemed a disposition toward a one man rule; that the present arrangement was not in accordance with the spirit of the action of the Priesthood recently taken, whereby it was advised that Bro. Barlow resign from the Management of the affairs of the group and confine his labors more particularly to the spiritual field; that our work was especially along the line of keeping faith in patriarchal marriage alive, and not in the directing of colonizing. 

            Bro. Barlow was asked if he claimed to hold the keys of Priesthood, which he answered in the negative XE "John Y. Barlow:Admits not holding the Keys of the Priesthood in 1936" , saying, however, that he had dreamed of a personage coming to him and handing him a bunch of keys, and leaving without explanation.  He did not know that that had any special significance.[63]

            Barlow’s admission regarding his lack of priesthood keys created doubt and confusion.  A few days passed and Musser attempted to assuage these concerns:

            The majority expressed the belief that Brother John Y. Barlow held the keys to Priesthood and was the mouth-piece of God on earth, and with some this was the only reason for accepting Bro. Barlow’s Management of affairs.  Elders Covington and I. W. Barlow expressed emphatic dissent, stating they did not believe Brother Barlow held the keys to Priesthood, but that he did have authority to seal and was the senior member in the Priesthood group, and as such presided at the meetings of the group, etc.[64]

            During this episode, John Y. Barlow explained to his listeners that he did not hold the keys of the priesthood.  Notwithstanding, many fundamentalists have testified before and after that date that Barlow did in fact hold the priesthood keys, despite the his plain admittance that then he did not.[65]  

            John Y. Barlow, Joseph Musser and thirteen other fundamentalist men were imprisoned in 1945 for practicing polygamy.  At one point, those men were presented with a “Declaration of Policy” to sign:

            To whom it may concern:

            The undersigned officers and members of the so-called Fundamentalist religious group desiring to bring about peace and harmony within the Church, and recognizing the futility of disobeying the laws of the land even in the practice of a religious belief, do hereby declare as follows:

            That we individually and severally pledge ourselves to refrain hereafter from advocating, teaching or countenancing the practice of plural marriage or polygamy, in violation of the laws of the State of Utah and the United States.

            The undersigned officers of the religious group above referred to, further pledge ourselves to refrain from engaging in or solemnizing plural marriages from and after this date.[66]

            In response, Louis Kelsch, a High Priest Apostle responded: “It sounds like another document to catch the Saints and priesthood, and if signed by  us, would be the means of abridging our right to carry on...”[67]  Charles F. Zitting, also a member of the Council of Friends (Priesthood Council) assessed: “It is another Manifesto and God said in 1889, not to put ourselves in the hands of our enemies.  If I signed it, I would feel I’d be doing wrong.”[68]  Regardless, within hours, seven of the men signed the paper.[69]

            Discord among the fifteeen men was prominent.  At one point, they asked John Y. Barlow to provide direction.  He prayed throughout the night.  The next morning Boss recorded: “As soon as the doors opened to our cells, brother John Y. Barlow was dressed and went direct to Joseph’s cell to deliver some statement... [Then] John Y. came walking up the isle to where we were.  He stopped at the door and looked at us.  As I looked at him, I said, ‘Well I hear you got something last night?’  Tears started down his cheeks; his lips quivered and his chin moved up and down as he tried to control himself; then he said, ‘Yes, and definitely too.’  He then walked away....  Joseph took the lead in speaking.  He said, ‘Brethren, we called you back here.  We had a document for you to consider about going out of prison, but last night the word of the Lord came to brother John and said not to sign it, so that ends the matter.’”[70]

            Nevertheless, the matter did not end.  Two days passed and the group was approached by Frank E. Jensen, the government official who authored the first declaration.  He again invited all present to sign the original declaration.  After their meeting, Barlow told fellow High Priest Apostle Zitting: “We will have to conform to the laws of the land.”[71] 

            After considering the document three more days, Zitting told Arnold Boss: “I was told by the Lord last night to be firm in my stand.  And when I stake a stand for God, to be firm in that stand.”[72]  Two days later he added: “If the first document is signed, it has been revealed to me that John and Joseph would lose their presidency seniority and I would come to the head.”[73]  He believed that those who signed “would never have the privilege of going back to Jackson County, Missouri”[74] and later taught that the document “was from the lowest regions of hell.”[75]

            Nevertheless, within days, both Barlow and Musser and nine more of the fifteen signed a slightly altered version of the original declaration.  Abstaining were Priesthood Council members Charles F. Zitting and Louis Kelsch, accompanied by Morris Q. Kunz and prison historian Arnold Boss.  Boss considered this signed document to be “almost a duplicate” of the first.[76]  Polygamist Fred Cleveland, who possessed many doubts recorded in his own journal: “Today Lewis Kelsch, Morris Kunz and I were with John Y. Barlow...  I came up and asked John, ‘I understand that there is a new paper to sign.’  ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘there is.’  ‘Did you sign it?’  He said, ‘Yes.’  I asked him point blank, ‘What has the Lord told you to do about it?’  He said, ‘The Lord has not told me to do anything about it.’  I said, ‘I thought the Lord revealed to you that you should not sign it because they [the government] would not keep their promises.’  He said, ‘Oh, that was something else; that was in the first paper and that is not in this one.’  I said, ‘Do you think we should sign this one?’  He said, ‘Yes.’”[77]

            On the date of the signing, Boss lamented: “It is just fifty-five years to the same day later, when our brethren signed their manifesto, from the day President Woodruff signed his.  Today the first two brethren in the Priesthood Council signed their names to a document far more reaching than their predecessor.  I call it unconditional surrender.”[78]  He also recorded:  “Morris [Kunz] and Fred [Cleveland] told me they questioned John [Y. Barlow] through the day about the document asking him how it was he had signed it, after saying the Lord told him not to sign it.  John told them, ‘This is a different document.  The Lord told men not to sign the first document and I did not sign it.  This is a different one with several things left out of it that were in the first.’  The brethren said, ‘John told them, ‘HE HAD NO REVELATION CONCERNING THIS LAST ONE.’  But so far as I can see or understand the English language, it all contains the very heart and skeleton of the first one.”[79]

            Those who refused to sign were pressured to join with the others.  On 5 October 1945 Boss wrote: “John Y. appeared at our cell.  His face was all red.  He spoke up and said, ‘Now what do you think about it?’  ‘We think just the same as we have been thinking.  We will stand where we have decided to stand.’  With that John got some what indignant.  He said, ‘My advice to you as head of the priesthood is, to sign up and go out.’  With that he walked away.”[80]  A month later Barlow repeated the admonition.[81]  Neither Zitting nor Kelsch acquiesced to Barlow’s instructions.

            One of the fifteen, J. Lyman Jessop then wrote:  “The actions of my brethren are such a maze of contradictions in my mind that it puts me in a puzzle greater than ever before in my present recollection, viz, Joseph says, its been the will of the Lord all the time [to sign] the first paper...  John said, he had received the mind of the Lord upon it which was to not sign it...  Charles F. Zitting (one of the priesthood council) refused to have anything to do with it as also did Louis Kelsch, also of the Priesthood Council.”[82]

            Joseph Musser later reasoned: “It is futile for a small group such as ours, trying to resist the laws of the land, when those laws were being enforced not only by the civil authorities but by the Church of God.  The Church, at one time, resisted the laws of the land, and for good reasons, but now that the Church has entered the fight with the civil authorities it is but reasonable that we take notice of the fact and act accordingly.”[83]  “After spending about six months in the ‘Bug House,” eleven of the fifteen received parole.[84]

            On several occasions after their departure, both Barlow and Musser sent instructions for the remaining inmates to appease the government by seeking parole, instructions that were universally ignored.[85]  Zitting's unwillingness to follow his file leaders appears to have created a rift in the Priesthood Council.  On 15 December 1946, Boss noted that after Musser was paroled, he maintained friendly contact only with one of the remaining four convicts, Louis Kelsch: “Joseph [Musser] has never recognized any of us other three men, except to write a business letter to Charles [Zitting].”[86]

            On 12 September 1946, Arnold Boss wrote: “This morning while milking at the cow barn, the subject of holding the keys of the priesthood came up.  It was discussed.  Louis Kelsch said to brother Zitting, ‘I don’t think John [Y. Barlow] ever held the keys of the priesthood...  When a man can’t get the word of the Lord when he needs it, or should get it, he can’t say he really holds those keys.’”[87]

Questions About Joseph W. Musser

            Days after John Y. Barlow admitted he did not hold the keys of the priesthood, Musser recorded:

            J. W. Musser explained his views on Priesthood matters:  That the special mission and labors of the Priesthood group was [sic] to keep plural marriage alive; that we were not called upon to colonize only as the Lord might dictate such a move...  That the time had not come for the establishing of the united order.... 

            Stated the Lord had not revealed to him [Joseph Musser] who held the Keys to Priesthood, but that Bro. Barlow, by reason of his seniority in ordination presided over the group; that questions pertaining to the mission of the group, when acted upon by unanimous vote, were properly settled and such action became the word of the Lord upon the points thus involved....

            That when the Lord wanted any man to know who holds the keys to Priesthood, and that man was prepared to receive the fact, He would reveal in a clear way.[88]

            Here in 1935, Musser acknowledged his ignorance regarding the location of the priesthood keys.  Notwithstanding Musser asserted those keys after the death of John Y. Barlow in 1949. 

            In December of 1942, some eight years after Joseph Musser, with Woolley and Barlow, had introduced the Priesthood organization to the world, Musser expressed his concerns regarding its origin:  “I am convicted with the feeling that the Priesthood is one organization and the Church is another, and that Pres. [Heber J.] Grant has jurisdiction in the Church.  If I am wrong I pray the Lord to correct me and to assist me in getting back into the proper channel.  Up to date, however, in all the reasoning power I have, and listening to the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, I am convinced that I am right.”[89]  An entry in Arnold Boss’ Prison Diary for 24 November 1945 (when Musser was incarcerated) recounts Musser’s confession to Edmond Barlow: “There is nothing above the Church; that when he [Musser] got home he was not going to any more meetings; and expected to rejoin the Mormon Church.”[90]

            Once acknowledged in 1949 as the head of the Priesthood and the Priesthood Council, Musser set Rulon C. Allred to be his successor by calling him as his “Second Elder.”  In 1934, Joseph Musser and J. Leslie Broadbent had written: “The keys to Priesthood descend either to the one designated as the “Second Elder”... or the worthy senior in ordination.”[91]  The “either” option  became pivotal in determining who would eventually succeed Musser as presiding authority in the Priesthood Council.  If Allred was appointed as Musser’s “Second Elder,” did that calling bypass the seniority of the other members of the Priesthood Council?  Council members did not believe that Musser could single-handedly place Rulon ahead of them.  Two of the Council were most vehement in their resistance, Guy Musser and Legrand Woolley.  After they discussed their concerns with Musser, Joseph responded, “I will have a Second Elder...  I have asked the Lord for a counselor, and I am going to have one.”[92]

            Musser made his choice, releasing the old Priesthood Council (except for Zitting, Legrand Woolley, and Kelsch), and calling an additional seven men to a new Priesthood Council.  Under Musser, Allred presided over the new council. 

Questions about Charles Zitting

            After Musser's death, disputations occurred regarding which of the three fundamentalist leaders, Zitting, Allred, or Johnson held the keys of sealing and should lead the groups.  According to Lorin Woolley's 1930s teachings, Zitting clearly presided.  But from a practical standpoint, he was a lone voice leading only his plural families.        

            Zitting had predicted his leadership calling.  As noted above, in 1945 while incarcerated with Barlow and Musser, Charles (third in seniority in the Priesthood Council) received a revelation that stated: “If the first [1945 Manifesto] document is signed, it has been revealed to me that John [Barlow] and Joseph [Musser] would lose their presidency seniority and I would come to the head.”[73]  Barlow and Musser signed a slightly modified version of the 1945 Manifesto to gain their freedom, but Zitting did not sign, remaining in prison for more than two more years.  Neither did Charles' revelation come true.  He never asserted himself as the leader of the Council or the group even after he was released.

            Unlike Musser and Barlow, Zitting had significant financial assets.  Perhaps this is why he refused to contribute to the united order enterprises established by the senior Priesthood Council members.  While in prison, Arnold Boss recorded:

            "Nearly all the time we have spent in prison Charles’ mind has been working on financial matters.  On how to make a lot of money; how to make millions.  He has created invention on invention with plans ahead to make lots of money when he gets out.  He has thousands of acres of land oil and mineral lands, also undeveloped agricultural lands.  He has stocks and bonds.  He watches the stock market like a cat and has original charts he makes for his guidance.  He reads financial articles.  He is now playing the stock market with his money.  This has been going on for over a year.  I have observed his mind is deeply engrossed with finances, economics, stocks, bonds, etc. etc.  Never have I seen any one who has such a craving for means."  (Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 3 October 1946.) 

            Three months after this entry, while still incarcerated, Boss wrote: “Charles has claimed to be ill for nearly a week now.  He claims he is sick, but he looks well to me.  Every morning he says he is sick but later arises to work on his own silver shortly after we leave the barracks.”  (Ibid., 13 December 1946.)

           Throughout his decades as a member of the Council of Friends, Charles successfully shielded his financial resources from the United Effort Plan.  With his wives and children, he maintained a definite physical, financial and emotional distance from Barlow and Musser.  Nevertheless, Zitting vocalized his feelings in the 1952 "split" of the Priesthood Council, strenuously disapproving of Rulon C. Allred's appointment, which Musser disregarded.

            Perhaps due to Zitting's comparative isolation, Zitting's seniority in the Priesthood Council was ignored after Musser's March 29, 1954 death.  Zitting became a High Priest Apostle and member of the Council of Friends on July 22, 1932, ordained by Lorin Woolley himself.  Leroy Johnson was ordained almost a decade later by John Y. Barlow on May 21, 1941.  Rulon Allred's first ordination to the Priesthood Council (one of several) came from Joseph Musser on September 18, 1950.  Clearly Allred and Johnson were down the line beyond Zitting, Legrand Woolley, and Kelsch.  Regardless, both men ignored these seniority problems with Allred immediately presiding over the new Priesthood Council in Salt Lake City and and Johnson assuming control over the old Priesthood Council at Short Creek.

            Prior to Zitting's death, Leroy Johnson permitted Charles to speak to the Short Creek fundamentalists, though none of his sermons have been published.[93]  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.”[94]

            The thorny problem of Zitting's senior position ceased to be a concern for Allred and Johnson as Zitting died three and a half months after Musser's death, on July 14, 1954.[95]

Questions about LeGrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch

            With Zitting’s death, only Legrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch were left from Lorin Woolley’s 1933 Council of Friends.[96]  Next to them in seniority were men called by John Y. Barlow, first LeRoy Johnson and second Marion Hammon, who were added to the Council in 1941, with Johnson being ordained first.  Reportedly, Leroy approached Legrand Woolley and asked him if he was going to assume the leadership of the fundamentalist “group.”  Legrand was preoccupied with his medical office – to lead the fundamentalists would have required him to abandon his patients.  He conversed with fellow Council member Louis Kelsch who told the doctor, “I wouldn’t have anything to do with it.”[97]  Dr. Woolley maintained his practice until his death 10 December 1965. 

            One fundamentalist leader would later claim that Legrand Woolley “was not faithful in his responsibilities to the Priesthood.”[98]  Despite his ordination as a High Priest Apostle, Legrand Woolley’s children remained active in the Church, with his sons serving LDS missions.  Reportedly, when “the burden rested on him to take over the leadership of the [polygamist] group, he had to turn it down because he was so deeply entrenched in the Church.”[99]

            Leroy Johnson also approached Louis Kelsch:

            LeRoy Johnson came to Louis and asked him if he was going to lead the people.

            Louis said, “Roy, have you had a revelation that you should lead the people?”

            Roy said, “Well, no.”

            Louis said, “I haven’t either.”

            Roy said, “What shall I do?

            Louis said, “Roy, do what you want to do.”

            Roy Johnson went and told the people that Louis told him to take the leadership and that Louis had stepped down.[100]

            Kelsch continued to perform plural marriages when requested, but he never asserted himself in the leadership of the fundamentalists.  His persistent cohabitation with his plural wives resulted in a second prison term beginning 17 December 1955.  He was released 4 December 1959 after almost four years and remained aloof from the fundamentalist “groups” until his death on 16 July 1974.  He has been considered the quintessential “independent” fundamentalist by some observers. 

            With the death of Zitting, and the refusal of both Legrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch to lead either fundamentalist group, Leroy Johnson stood as the unchallenged leader of the group of Short Creek fundamentalists.  To the north, Rulon Allred continued to preside over followers of the new Priesthood Council.

Over the years since 1929, three separate Mormon fundamentalist Priesthood Councils can be identified.  Lorin Woolley called his seven member council from 1929-1933; John Y. Barlow called seven new members between 1941 and 1949; and ultimately, Joseph W. Musser called his own seven in 1952.  Ironically in 1954, all three Priesthood Councils existed (in some form)  simultaneously and independently of each other.


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[1]   Woolley also taught: “Keys of the Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood, are not necessarily held by the Presiding Patriarch of Church.”  ("Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 34, 25 August 1932). Charles Zitting recalled Lorin’s teachings regarding the patriarchal keys:   “[John W. Woolley] told [Eldred Gee Smith that] he had the keys and other things to give to him [Eldred G. Smith] as soon as he would qualify [become a polygamist].  He never did qualify.  The patriarchal keys were transferred to John W. Woolley to be held in trust after the death of Hyrum F. Smith (who was not accepted because he used tobacco), and when John W. Woolley died, Lorin held them in trust for the heir who would qualify...   Lorin offered them to Hyrum G. Smith, if he would qualify.  I am sure he gave them to Eldred Gee Smith with sacred and valuable papers and revelations, for he told us this young man was 25 years of age and had qualified.”  (Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 7 April 1946; see also excerpt from “C.F. Zitting’s ‘Record Book.” for 7 April 1946.  Typescript in Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 271, publisher’s 394.)

[2]   "Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser," 15 (6 March 1932), emphasis added.  Names were abbreviated in original.

[3]   On several occasions Woolley told his listeners: “I am no one but little old Lorin Woolley” (Bishop, 1886 Visitations of Jesus Christ, 158).  He also assured his listeners: ‘I am not the one mighty and strong, I am not the David of the Last Days, I am not the Marred Servant, etc.  I am just Lorin C. Woolley, and have been set apart to keep Plural Marriage alive” (ibid., 157).  On one occasion a man approached Lorin saying: “‘I have just spoken with John T. Clark, and he thinks he is the One Mighty and Strong.  Now, who in the hell are you?’  Lorin Woolley put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and then, with penetrating kindness and mildness, said, ‘My boy, I am just Lorin C. Woolley. If you love me, pray for me.’” (Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 151.)  In 1972 Rhea Allred Kunz Baird remembered: “Once Lorin said that when stranger to this work came to him asking questions, he would answer thus: ‘My work is to keep plural marriage alive and other than that I am just Lorin Woolley.’  Someone present then remarked that some of us knew that Lorin had a very important calling and mission.  Lorin said simply to the handful gathered there in Leslie Broadbent’s home, ‘Whatever you know about that, the Lord has shown you.  I didn’t tell any of you such things,’ and he smiled his sweet, kindly smile.” (Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 4:163).

[4]   LDS scholar Hyrum Andrus provided this discussion:  “The Melchizedek and the Patriarchal Priesthoods are essentially the same Priesthood, but they differ in their organization and in the rights and prerogatives they possess. The Patriarchal Priesthood is the Melchizedek Priesthood organized according to a family order. Hence it is called the Patriarchal Priesthood. By contrast, the Melchizedek Priesthood is organized according to a system of quorums and presiding offices. Though the rights and privileges of the Melchizedek Priesthood are not appointed by promise to a given lineage within the chosen family, those of the Patriarchal Priesthood belong by right to a chosen lineage which God has appointed.”  (Commentary on the Pearl of Great Price, 357.)  The “Keys of the Patriarchal Order” were restored to Joseph Smith in 1833 and were to “continue through his posterity descending from generation to generation” as the legal right of the first-born (Smith and Stewart, Life of Joseph F. Smith, 34).   Since Lorin Woolley was not a descendent of Joseph Smith, it is unclear how Lorin might make claim to the “Keys of the Patriarchal Order.”

[5]  Moroni Jessop recalled in 1942: “Lorin and his father had possession of the Gold Plates, the sealed part of the gold plates which Joseph the Prophet had in his hands, the Urim and Thummim, Sword of Laban, Ball of Lehi, Seer Stone, and other sacred records.  They were forbidden to show them because of the wickedness of men.  I never saw them, but they admitted to me they had them.  They told me ‘if the people knew what they had out there, they would dig up the whole farm to try to get them.’” (“Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 25.)

[6]  See discussion in Messenger Volume 1, 52-54.

[7]  All available research supports that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant etc.each believed he personally held the sealing keys while they serving as President of the Church.

[8]   LSJ Sermons 7:379, 4:1575.  Jesse B. Stone states that the “Keys of the Kingdom” were given to John W. Woolley in 1886 allowing him to “preside over the grand council of the kingdom.” (Event Of The Underground Days, 8 ).

[9]   Truth 6:21-22, 8:262, 9:142, 144, 251, 16:79; Musser explained in 1941: “Wilford Woodruff... lost the keys of the Priesthood because of the Manifesto,” (Sermons of Joseph W. Musser 52).  But a few years later he provided a different view:  “President Woodruff functioned in two offices.  In the one, as President of the Church, he signed the Manifesto to satisfy the apostate element in the Church...  In the other, and greater office – as President of Priesthood, he appointed men... to exercise the sealing powers of Elijah in inducting worthy men into that principle, in their Priesthood capacity” (Truth 10:329-330; Sermons of Joseph W. Musser, 79).  See also LSJ Sermons 1:211;  Rhea Allred Kunz, Branch Prophet, 228.  Moroni Jessop recalled Lorin Woolley’s teaching: “President Woodruff wrote nothing in [the Manifesto], all he did was attach his name to it.  Inside of 24 hours, or less, from the time he signed it, keys and other sacred things which had been entrusted to him, were take from him.  I have understood he never after ever met with the Grand Council.”  (“Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 14.)  In the 1950s Guy Musser had put together a collection of ten photographs depicting the President of Priesthood according to the Polygamist’s teachings: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, John Woolley, Lorin Woolley, Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow, Joseph Musser, and Charles Zitting.”  (Bistline, Colorado City Polygamists, 107.)  Joseph F. Smith explained in 1883: “It would be absolutely inconsistent, unreasonable and absurd to suppose that after God had called one man and appointed him to this work, that He should pass him by and go to somebody else to accomplish the same purpose.  No sensible person would accept for one moment such a proposition.  To seriously contemplate any such idea would be charging the Almighty with inconsistency, and with being the author of confusion, discord and schism. The kingdom of God never could be established on earth in any such way.”  (JD 24:188.)

[10]    Joseph W. Musser (autobiography), 54;  Items 14; Stone, Event On The Underground Days, 8.  See also Truth 9:74-75. Contrastingly, Rulon C. Allred and Lorin C. Woolley taught that the 1890 Manifesto did not cause Wilford Woodruff to lose his position as President of the Priesthood (discourse given 16 November 1966, Gems, 1:3 and "Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 15 respectively).

[11]    .  A common Mormon fundamentalist belief is that just prior to John Taylor’s death, Joseph F. Smith was summoned from Hawaii and ordained as a member of the Council of Friends at that time (Musser, Priesthood Issue, 25).  Regarding President Taylor’s last days on earth,  Samuel Bateman recorded: 

18 Monday [July, 1887] At Do.  I stayed with the President till after 12 o’clock midnight.  He seemed to be about the same, only a little weaker.  Was bothered in his mind a good deal as he has been for several days.  Rained quite a shower.  No mail today.  This afternoon Joseph F. Smith arrived here from the Sandwich Islands.  Bro. Albert Davis went and met him up in Idaho territory.  Bro. John Woolley met them at Brigham City and brought them here....

20 Wednesday ... The President seems about the same only weaker.

21 Thursday ... The President still weaker...

22 Friday ...The President still continues to grow weaker.

23 Saturday ... At 1 o’clock. the President took a decided change for the worse, his pulse stopped beating.

24 Sunday ...The President no better, still weaker.

25 Monday At Do. The President much weaker.  I lay down after 4 o’clock.  Got up before 10 o’clock a.m.  Stayed by the President the rest of the day.  At about 6 o’clockm., he took a decided change for the worst.  At bout a quarter to 8 o’clockm., I saw that he was going.  I told Bro. Malin to call the folks in, and he breathed his last 5 minutes to 8 o’clock.... 

These journal entries show that President Taylor was “bothered in his mind” prior to the arrival of Joseph F. Smith and that his health only deteriorated until his death a week later.  Such a condition would make it difficult for President Taylor to instruct and ordain Joseph F. Smith after the latter arrived in Utah from the Sandwich Islands.

[12]   Apparently  no fundamentalist writer has suggested that this event caused the sealing keys to leave the Church.  However, it seems that if President Smith was the “one” man in 1904, then issuing the “Second Manifesto,” which ended plural marriage authorizations from the Church President, might be considered by Mormon fundamentalists as the triggering event through which the keys were transferred to the external PRIESTHOOD organization.

[13]   Evidently, no fundamentalist author has associated the loss of the keys of sealing (from President Joseph F. Smith) with the excommunication of John W. Woolley in 1914.  However, it can be easily concluded that if John W. Woolley was a member of a Council of Friends or even the Senior Member, he might have taken the priesthood keys with him as he was expelled from the Church, an action that was initiated by Joseph F. Smith personally.  Precisely who presided between 1914 and 1918, John W. Woolley or Joseph F. Smith, is also unclear.  Allred fundamentalists asserted:  “Although John W. Woolley had been ‘cut off’ from the Church, Joseph F. Smith continued to acknowledge him in his true position, received council and worked hand in hand with him as brethren, High Priests unto God and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Star of Truth 4:51).  This assertion is unsupported by contemporary documents and seems inconsistent with John W. Woolley’s behavior after 1914 (see chapter six).  Moroni Jessop recalled: ‘I was told [by Lorin C. Woolley], President John Taylor would stand next to Joseph Smith the Prophet in the Presidency of the Church and that President Joseph F. Smith would stand in the Presidency next to him.”  (“Testimony of Moroni Jessop,” 19.)

[14]   Woolley taught that the “Keys to Kingdom” went from Wilford Woodruff to John W. Woolley and that the “Keys to Presidency of Church” were kept by Joseph F. Smith and never passed to Heber J. Grant ("Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 15).  Openshaw, The Notes, 394;  Items 12, 28; B. Harvey Allred Leaf in Review, 40-41; Rulon C. Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 2:201.

[15]   See Openshaw, The Notes, 395.

[16]   While John W. Woolley was known to perform plural marriages up until his death, there is apparently no record of any conversation or discourse wherein he claimed to be the “one” man holding the keys of sealing authority.  Numerous individuals, including his son Lorin, would make the claim for him after his death, but apparently nothing is available that was recorded during his lifetime to support the assertion.  There is evidence that John Woolley was involved with a few impromptu meetings of polygamists in the 1920s, but he did not attend in the capacity of a presiding priesthood official.  Price Johnson recalled: “John W. Woolley would not preside in any meeting outside of his own home” (Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed.,2:65).  Concerning his teachings, Fred Collier wrote: “notes on his [John W. Woolley] speeches were also taken at the time and have been preserved” (Collier, “Re-Examining the Lorin Woolley Story,” 4).  Other than this brief reference, the author has found no other evidence for the existence of “notes” from John W. Woolley’s teachings either in or out of Mormon fundamentalism.

[17]   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.

[18]   17 February 1924 Baldwin recorded: “George E. Woolley spoke against his brother John Woolley and Lorin C. And classed them as apostates.”

[19]  (Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 2:65).  Concerning his teachings, Fred Collier wrote: “notes on his [John W. Woolley] speeches were also taken at the time and have been preserved” (Collier, “Re-Examining the Lorin Woolley Story,” 4).  Other than this brief reference, the author has found no other evidence for the existence of “notes” from John W. Woolley’s teachings either in or out of Mormon fundamentalism.

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

[21]   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.)

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

[23]   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).    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.)

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

[25]   Quinn, Extensions of Power, 814.

[26]  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.)

[27]   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.

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

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

[30]   Ibid.

[31]   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” ("Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 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. Muser," 65, recorded 10 August 1933).

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

[33]   Ibid.

[34]  See fundamentalist apologists who discuss the described 1886 ordinations.  For example, Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 146-88; 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.

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

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

[37]  Quinn, Extensions of Power, 809.

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

[39]  1929 Statement recorded by Joseph Musser.  Musser and Broadbent, Supplement, 58-59.  The evidence regarding the possibility of the occurrence of this meeting has been critically analyzed by J. Max Anderson, Polygamy Story, 45-54.

[40]   See also Reminiscences of John W. and Lorin C. Woolley, 2nd ed., 4:189, Bishop and Bishop, Keys of the Priesthood Illustrated, 317-18, 329-30.   In 1946, Morris Kunz recalled Lorin’s teachings : “[Lorin] introduced the ordinance of the sacrament among that white people there [in the Yucatan]... the most beautiful women I ever me or set my eyes upon in my life were down there.  The day will come when their fathers will ask some of you men here to marry their daughters to show you are one with them.”  (Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 8 August 1946.  See also 10 August, 24 August 1946.)

[41]   Pierce, 3 1/2 Years, 77-78.; italics added.

[42]   "Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 45, entry for 8 November 1932.

[43]    Ibid., 49, entry for 25 November 1932.

[44]    Ibid., 54, entry for 25 January 1933.

[45]    Ibid., 56, entry for 16 February 1933.

[46]    Ibid., 57, entry for 9 March 1933.

[47]     Ibid., 61, entry for 5 April 1933.  See also Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 27 September 1946.

[48]    "Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 62, entry for 5 April 1933.

[49]    Ibid., 72, entry for 10 January 1934.

[50]   See Musser Journals, 30 September 1934.

[51]    "Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Muser," 48; Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 24, 27.

[52]   Some accounts list the date as 26 June 1933.  See Hammon, Betrayal of the Godhead, 9.

[53]    Ancestral File.

[54]    Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 25.

[55]    Musser Journals, 16 March 1935.

[56]  Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, 100

[57]   Joseph W. Musser and J. Leslie Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 1934, 23.

[58]   Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 32.

[59]   Wright, “Origins and Development,” 58.  The paragraph that discusses this issue has a footnote with sources listed as a Joseph Thompson interview 17 July 1962 and a Rulon C. Allred interview 29 June 1962.  Other sources have not been identified to independently verify this assertion.

[60]   Musser Journals, 8 November 1935.

[61]   Rulon Allred remembered: “John Y. Barlow was the senior member of the Council.  But like Jared turned to his brother, Mahonri Moriancumr, to get the word of the Lord, John turned to Joseph to get the word of the Lord, because Joseph could get the word of the Lord.”  Rulon C. Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:220-21.  See also 2:120.

[62]  Musser Journals, 2 November 1936.

[63]   Ibid., 8 November 1936.  Emphasis added.  Also quoted in Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 34.

[64]   Musser Journals, 13 November 1936; italics added.  Also quoted in Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 35.

[65]   Joseph Smith cautioned:  “It is necessary to know who holds the keys of power, and who does not, or we may be likely to be deceived” (TPJS 336).

[66]  Ibid., 21 August 1945.  Also in Zitting, Charles F. Zitting, 92.

[67]  Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 21 August 1945.

[68]  Ibid.

[69]  John Y. Barlow, Joseph W. Musser, Edmond F. Barlow, I.W. Barlow, Oswald Brainisch, Adelbert Timpson and David B. Darger.  Refraining were Charles F. Zitting, Lewis Kelsch, Morris Kunz, Arnold Boss, and Heber K. [Fred] Cleveland.  Rulon C. Allred, Joseph Lyman Jessop, and Albert E. Barlow were not present, being incarcerated elsewhere.  (Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 21 August 1945.)

[70]  Ibid., 23 August 1945.

[71]  Ibid., 25 August 1945.

[72]  Ibid., 28 August 1945.

[73]  Ibid., 30 August 1945.  Italics added.

[74]   Rulon C. Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, 1:217.

[75]  Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 11 August 1946.

[76]  Ibid.

[77]  Fred Cleveland diary, 25 September 1945.  Typescript in Arnold Boss Prison Diary.

[78]  Arnold Boss Prison Diaries, 24 September 1945.

[79]  Ibid., 25 September1945.  Emphasis in original.

[80]  Ibid., 5 October 1945.  Italics added.

[81]  On 2 November 1945 John Y. Barlow advised the four who had not signed the declaration: “As the head of the priesthood, I advise you to sign it.”  (Arnold Boss Prison Diaries for date.)  Boss added that afterwards:  “He seemed to walk away in disgust.  It looks like the priesthood wants to bear down upon us now too.”  (Ibid.)

[82]  Joseph Lyman Jessop diaries, 1 October 1945; see also entry for 12 December 1945.  Also in  Kelsch, Louis Alma Keslch, 64.

[83]  Letter from Joseph W. Musser to Laura Tree Zitting, 22 February 1946.  Typescript in Arnold Boss Prison Diaries.

[84]   Musser, Joseph W. Musser, 15.

[85]  Ibid., 3 April, 11 August, 1 December 1946, 14 September, 2 November 1947.  On 15 December 1946, Boss noted that after Musser was paroled, he maintained friendly contact only with one of the remaining four convicts, Louis Kelsch: “Joseph [Musser] has never recognized any of us other three men, except to write a business letter to Charles [Zitting].”

[86] Arnold Boss Prison Diaries for date.

[87]  Ibid., 12 September 1946.

[88]   Musser Journals, 13 November 1936; italics added.  Also quoted in Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch, 35.

[89]  Musser Journals, 28 December 1942.

[90] “In an interview with O. Brainisch, I was told that Joseph W. Musser was reported to have said to Edmond Barlow,

[91]  Musser and Broadbent, Priesthood Items, 45; italics added.

[92]   Melba F. Allred, Gems, 37 (discourse given 15 May 1966); see also Solomon, In My Father’s House, 28-29.

[93]  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.

[94]   Ibid., 3:855.

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

[96]   His obituary published in Truth, 20:97-100 (August 1954) failed to mention his calling as a High Priest Apostle or member of the Priesthood Council.  Guy Musser was the editor at that time.

[97]   Kelsch, Louis Alma Keslch, 86.

[98]   Ormand F. Lavery, discourse given 1 February 1967, Gems 19.

[99]   Letter from Raymond Taylor to Samuel W. Taylor dated 28 November 1955.

[100]   Kelsch, Louis Alma Keslch, 86.