My Review of My Aunt Charlotte LeBaron’s “Maud’s Story”

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a short biography of Maud Lucinda McDonald LeBaron. that consists mostly of a published collection of letters supposedly written by her* — and some run-together, often hard-to-decipher paragraphs/vignettes “in Maud’s own words.”

It appears, at the time of this book’s writing, Aunt Charlotte still belonged to “The Church of the First Born.” Her “Maud’s Story,” contains a revised version —  a rewrite of the history of the Joel-LeBaron-Prophet saga, wherein she turns the tale upside down — and him into a martyred Prophet. Thus, she shows, though not intentionally, how religious myths are made.


As a word of clarification, Maud Lucinda McDonald LeBaron is my maternal grandmother, of whom I am “the spittin’ image” (I was always told this while growing up). In fact, the above photo of her looks so much like me at that age, I look at it and think it’s me. I can’t tell the difference!




Still, I resent she used Grandmother — Matriarch Maud Lucinda McDonald LeBaron’s story to draw in Grandmother’s progeny, relatives, and others, so as to promote her’s (Charlotte’s) and Uncle Joel’s Church of the Firstborn doctrine — a la Charlotte LeBaron’s viewpoint. In that sense, “Maud’s Story” really should be “Charlotte’s Story.”


But to give Aunt Charlotte credit, though I was disappointed “Maud’s Story” wasn’t imbued with more of Grandmother’s colorful history, she includes in her booklet numerous short vignettes which I’ve coined: “Quotes from Grandma’s Notes.”


Perhaps, to get more of Grandmother’s history, Charlotte expects us to read “The LeBaron Story,” which she also helped her husband, my Uncle Verlan, pen. (This book strikes me as an apologists’ chronicle, and also largely written to preach the Church of the Firstborn doctrine.)


I find its covert preaching of the Church of the First Born dogma distasteful — especially the revising of its doctrine and history to make it more palatable than it was when my Uncles Ervil and Joel LeBaron first spawned this sect/cult in the early to mid-1950s.



 





(Comments transferred from Facebook”:)

Says Moira Blackmore:
I knew Maud, she went out of her busy days by visiting me all alone in Galeana with my 4 baby girls, and when their were shooting guns in my back neighborhood… thank you Steff … I love you, Maud, I love Charlotte as well, years later … 

 Steph Spencer

Steph Spencer: I appreciate your feedback, Moira, and your attempts to always be positive and loving. That’s what makes the world go around. I’m so happy Grandma visited you and helped lift your spirits during a very bad time.

I remember her being concerned about your being over there alone, and her begging someone to take her over to visit you. I do not remember who she got to do the driving as she could not drive.

And now I’m getting off onto a bunny trail: I know she visited you out of care and concern for you and your situation. But she was also often there for visitors and people she was trying to help convert to the cult. Converts meant more tithing money — and consecrations of all their wealth to the Bishop’s storehouse!

Such money was largely how Grandma and her sons managed to survive down in the Mexico LeBaron colony. Especially was more money needed as each of her sons married more and more wives who bore more and more children. 

Given her help with the church’s conversion of new members, it seems Grandma Maud had no energy and time left over for her own hundreds of grand, great-grand, great-great, and great-great-great-grandchildren … not to mention her thousands of other relatives ad infinitum.

I recall only a very few times after we moved to the LeBaron colony that she ever came by her daughter’s/ my Mother’s place to visit during the two years I lived at home before I was married off at age 16 — even though we lived within walking distance of Grandmother Maud.

 Nor did Grandmother Maud ever visit me, once I was married, even in my hours of need and desperation. I may as well have not had a grandmother. But she did help Mother a lot after my father died. I was 18 and married — no longer living with my mom. 

When I was fourteen and we moved from the United States to where Grandmother lived in Mexico, I had thought, “Now I will finally have one of those grandmothers I have so often read about in children’s books and longed for as I was growing up.” 

But Grandmother Maud, though she had favored and spoiled Mama when she was raising her, was never emotionally there for me nor the rest of my mother’s thirteen other children, as far as I know. Not much anyway.

Certainly never was she a grandma that made cookies for her grandkids, let alone did she give us grandchildren any other gifts. Not even hugs. She always had a big twinkling smile for me and her other grandchildren, though, whenever we saw her at church or elsewhere.

 Our Family was not a hugging-touching family. But pioneer-woman Grandmother was also simply overwhelmed and overworked, given her primitive lifestyle and her monumental duties, including being one of the church pianists.

To put it succinctly, there was simply no way my ever-aging grandmother could muster all the time and energy needed to keep up with her exponentially growing progeny. She was already 68 years old when my family moved to the LeBaron colony; I was 14 years old then.

I had always lived within walking distance of her, while in the LeBaron colony, so she did come by three or four times, after I was married, to give me some piano lessons. She was around seventy-three years old then! Thanks, Grandma! 

But other than that, in the four years I lived there on my own after I was married at age sixteen, Grandmother only dropped by one other time — but not to see her new grandchild I had almost died giving birth to at age seventeen. (My baby and I were simply taken for granted, as was generally the custom there!)

 She came by to take back a piece of sheet music she had given me that she now wanted to turn around and give to an investigator of our cult who was a pianist! I told Grandma, “No! You gave the music to me!! So it’s mine now! And I want it. So you can’t take it back to give to somebody else!”

Grandmom was furious with me for not giving it back to her so she could gift it to the investigator of our “Church”! Getting converts — new people into God’s work — was part of her and her sons’ bread and butter. So was more important than I, her granddaughter. On top of that, she treated me as if the music still belonged to her though she had given it to me the year before. Such Indian trading! 

Now I know where Mother learned this taking-back of what she had given me as if she still had tabs on it so could turn around, whenever she wanted to, and give it to somebody else — even though I still very much wanted it! I never knew what to depend on. Then you wonder what causes schizophrenic kids? I’m at least sure this behavior did not help any. 

Bottom line: When there are lots of kids and relatives, they are not highly valued. They get taken for granted. They are pawns in the hands of the powers that be and regularly sacrificed for “the cause”!

  


Rachel LeBaron Anderson:
 The BIG question: “Will what you are going to say improve the world by being said?”
Steph Spencer
Steph Spencer Good question, Rachel! I ask myself that important question all the time as I write my Memoirs!
Rachel LeBaron Anderson
Rachel LeBaron Anderson You are bringing healing to the younger generations trying to make sense of everything, building strong roots, many generations will be glad someone wrote things down.
 
Steph Spencer

Steph Spencer Thanks so much for this insightful response and feedback! As always, Rachel, you show wisdom and intellect. Your remarks are much appreciated and will help me as I take time to “make sense of everything” on my end. That is certainly one of my goals!



 

Dena McLean I enjoyed reading this book, not only to learn about family but specifically learn more about my Great Grandmother Maud. I know the story is all in perspective but I like to hear all perspectives.

Even if I don’t agree with the religious views, I find it fascinating how they chose Joel LeBaron, Alma’s priesthood keys and all the people connected to each story and then trying to find them in genealogy. Right now, I’m trying to discover if the man who baptized Maud was John Smith, as in Joseph Smith’s brother’s son or another John Smith. I hope to find some truth.

 
 
Steph Spencer

Steph Spencer Thank you for this valuable feedback. As always, I’m impressed with your scholarliness. To be sure, Charlotte’s “Maud’s Story” is skewed: It attempts to convert people to the belief that Joel was a true Prophet, etc.

Aunt Charlotte Kunz LeBaron was there pretty much from the beginning of Joel and Ervil’s “Church” but chose to change how Joel got the “priesthood keys,” et cetera. Newcomers to the story believe her fabrications. That’s how myths are built.




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