My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, Pt 1
My Maternal Grandparents: Maud Lucinda McDonald & Alma Dayer LeBaron
“Mother! For love of thee it was begun;
In thy most honored name today ’tis done.
And though all earthly cares must cease
In that fair land of everlasting peace,
Love aye is one, and they who love are one;
Time cannot end what God in time begun;
And thou wilt joy e’en in thine endless rest,
To know thy child obeys thy last behest”
A Nameless Nobleman
Jane G. Austin 1881*
*(I was told Jane Goodwin Austin is a great-grand-daughter-a-number-of-places-removed of Dr. Francis LeBaron and is my distant cousin.)
MY MAMA, Esther LeBaron Spencer: Part One:
The world called her “Plyg.” We called her “Mother,” or “Mama” — Daddy called her “Esther,” “Mother,” or “Ma” — as in “Go ask yer Ma.”
My mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer, was born August 1, 1921, in Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua, a small Mormon colony in Old Mexico. And died in 2013, at age 92, in Cancun, Mexico — I believe.
She was the middle child of thirteen children born to Mormon fundamentalist Americans Maud Lucinda McDonald and Alma Dayer LeBaron — my maternal grandparents.
Colonia Pacheco was colonized around the turn of the 20th century by American Mormon polygynists/ polygamists who crossed over the United States’ border to Mexico seeking refuge from prosecution when in 1862 the US government passed a law against polygamy.
When Brigham Young said, “This is the place,” the land of Utah belonged to Mexico. Polygamy was not prosecuted there unless the first wife filed a complaint.
But the Mormons’ new “safe haven” didn’t last long: The United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, won the battle in 1848, and the Utah Territory was ceded to the US in 1850 as part of the spoils.
This meant Brigham Young’s polygamist Mormon church, much to their dismay, was once again under US law! So once again under fire to discard the practice of polygamy.
In fact, by this date, the US Government was set to confiscate the Mormon church’s lands, property, money, and even their right to be called a church if they didn’t remove from their religious tenets this illegal, barbaric institution!
So Wilford Woodruff, the presiding President/Prophet of the The Church Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS church, was utterly forced to draw up “The Manifesto of 1890,” a mandate and “revelation from God” outlawing polygamy in the Mormon church.
This explains why, then, before Mother was born, her parents/ my grandparents had left the United States to raise their family in Mexico: They intended to live “the law of plural marriage.” So this required, for their safety, they leave the Victorian Americans and join other Mormon fundamentalists in Mexico.
My grandparents would not discontinue the practice of polygamy, despite the “Manifesto of 1890,” because they believed it was wrong for the Mormon church to have outlawed polygamy, no matter what, given their Prophet Joseph Smith had said that it must be lived to attain the highest degree of glory in the hereafter.
With this stance, Mother’s parents became outlaws/laws unto themselves, because, they, along with a few other zealot Mormons, thought the Mormon church had fallen away from Joseph Smith’s true teachings.
Therefore, they didn’t intend to go along with the new “revelation” and mandates regarding plural marriage set in 1890 by the Mormon church Prophet, Wilford Woodruff, and his Quarm of Twelve Apostles.
NOTE: The following lyrics consist of a tongue-in-cheek poem/ song I wrote. It is posted on my Website, but I’ve included it in this blog because it has a couple of stanzas about Mama:
NOTE: The following is a tongue-in-cheek song I wrote:
Hi! I’m a hack who’s
Written a hit
Called “Pretty City-chick,”
A Hee-ha Comedy Song —
A Bit o’ Bio in Verse,
Fer Better or Worse —
With Truth ‘n’ Exaggeration
Hey, they say I’m a pretty City-chick
And Hillbilly music makes some sick;
But my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
So you may as well get over it —
And join in ’n’ sing a bit,
‘Cause I’m a city-chick
And shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks in 1946.
I’ve dual citizenship,
And that’s pretty hip.
I’m an all-American-mongrel,
Apple-pie girl —
A Hines-57 mixed-up mutt,
With apple pie stickin’ to my gut ’n’ butt;
But red-necked reactionary ignoramuses
Ain’t my thing.
I’m here for music and to sing!
Yeah, I’m an All-American-Mexican,
With Welch ’n’ English,
So sure, I’m a Brit;
With French, German,
And Mohawk Indian a bit.
If there’s no Tom Slick hidin’ in the pit,
Far as I know, that’s about it —
That‘s my story
And I’m “shitickin” to it!
My father was a proud Veteran
Of World War I.
Those Vets were well-appreciated
For what they’d done!
Pa was an artist, creative,
Master of a few —
Good at so many things,
There was little he couldn’t do.
Ma was a creative, author,
And artist, thru ’n’ thru;
Trained concert pianist — Whew!
She loved to discuss religious principles
And read religious Lit, old ’n’ new —
Long as it agreed with
What she already “knew.”
She graduated with a BA
In Journalism too;
Quite an accomplishment
‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!
She was runnin’ me competition then,
For I was still in College too,
Strugglin’ to make it up
From the cult she’d put me thru …
If she only knew!
But her motto was:
“Anything you can do,
I can do better;
I can do anything better ‘n you!”
(And she meant it, too!)
Hey, they say I’m a “pretty City-Chick,”
But Hillbilly music is my “shtick,”
And my Hillbilly ways are here to stick;
So you may as well “git” over it
And join in ‘n’ sing a bit
With this hip city-chick,
‘Cause shit-kickin’ music is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks in 1946,
I’ve dual citizenship
And that’s pretty hip.
Well, that’s my story
And I’m “shtickin’ ” to it:
I’m a pretty city-chick.
(By Stephany Spencer 2016)