My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer 

ma's face
My pretty Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
Harriet Ward Beecher

We left off last week where I was questioning Mama about her childhood. Let’s continue with her telling me the following unbelievable coincidence:  

“Because I had so much fun with my seven brothers when I was growin’ up,” she exclaimed, “I wanted to have seven boys in a row when I got married. Instead, I got seven girls in a row! [Doris, Beulah/Stephany, Sharon, Judith, Mary, Pauline, ‘n’ Nola]. That just shows ‘to-go-you’: Be careful what you wish for!”

Then she continued, “Aunt Onie [Mama’s father’s plural wife] ‘n’ her daughters ‘n’ my two older sisters, Irene ‘n’ Lucinda, did most of the upkeep of the home ‘n’ the care of the kids, while your Grandma was busy spoilin’ me … ‘n’ teachin’ piano lessons to help your Grandpa feed ‘n’ support his two wives ‘n’ all his kids.

“Besides teachin’ piano lessons there in Colonia Juarez where I was raised,” Mama continued, “Mama/ your grandma was oft’ times gone one or two days at a time, twice a week (up to five days a week sometimes!) teachin’ piano lessons in the nearby Mormon colonies. 

“Even so, she let me out of all the housework ‘n’ other chores ‘n’ responsibilities about the home ‘n’ yard — long as I studied hard to get top grades, went to my piano lessons, ‘n’ practiced the piano long hours  — so I could perform outstanding piano solos in public, to impress our Mormon oppressors, ‘n’ make our family look better in the eyes of the town’s people who always gossiped about us ‘n’ put us down.

“Consequently, “Mama laughed, “much to your Pa’s aggravation ‘n’ disappointment, once he married me, he discovered I didn’t know how to be a homemaker!

 All I knew how to do was be a pianist ‘n’ scholar … and artist, ‘n’ poet, ‘n ‘writer. At twenty-two, when I married your Pa, I could barely make a bed, let alone bake bread!

“When your Pa complained to your grandma that I didn’t know how to boil water, let alone bake beans, she merely retorted, ‘Ah, well … She’s got plenty of years ahead to learn them things!’ “

But the upside is Mama was the top student in her small, mostly Mormon 8th-grade graduating class. Thus she got to give the Valedictory Address! 

“And, as part of our graduating program, I also played a difficult piano solo, “The Fawns,” Mama proudly informed me. “Plus I harmonized in a duet I sang with another student  — while my mama accompanied us on the piano … I was only thirteen years old!

But my gettin’ so many important parts in our graduation program, ‘n’ outdoin’ all the other Mormon kids that were supposed to be so much better than me and my polygamist family, created envy ‘n’ aggravation amongst the Mormon colonists who’d been so busy runnin’ us LeBarons down all them years.

“But at least they saw Dayer’s family had excelled in spite of bein’ made the scapegoats of the town … ‘n’ treated so low down … like untouchables … though my older siblings (Irene, Ben, Lucinda, Wesley, ‘n’ Alma) got it lots worse than I did,” she ruefully reiterated.

“By the time I reached my teens (as I told you before, I was the seventh child) the Mormons had decided to start treatin’ ‘apostate’ Dayer LeBaron’s family better.

“They finally begun lettin’ us participate in their Mormon Social’s, for example —  especially after they saw what the persecution had done to my older siblings: 

“For example, Ben ‘n’ Lucinda had nervous breakdowns in their late teens. Then eventually went completely crazy … never to recover! Spent most of their life in a mental institution,” she said, tearfully wiping her eyes.

Then Mama continued, “Since it was a Mormon colony, all the school ‘n’ church socials were always combined. That meant we were always left out of everything — especially my first six older siblings!! It was devastatin’ … so hard on my talented ‘n’ gifted older brothers ‘n’ sisters … So very painful for them ‘n’ my whole family!!”

Continued in: “My Memoir: My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer, Pt 8″ 


6 thoughts on “~ Pt 7: My Mama, Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and the Perils of Polygamy

  1. I feel your family history has never been properly told, though many have tried. You are in a unique position to add to that history, and shed some additional insight on different things.

    You had a bizarre unique upbringing. But it is what made you who you are.

    I wondered often about what caused the downward spiral of poor Lucinda, and you offered some illumintating insights.

    There is a saying you once quoted, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    I think you are very strong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your compliments are well accepted. On all that you have mentioned, there is plenty more to come as I continue posting presently written blogs, and write my memoirs for a book.

      It would help me if you would be specific, should you have the time, and define what you mean by “my family history has never been properly told.” And how might I “properly” tell it?


      1. I guess I shouldn’t have said “properly told.”

        I should have said “completely told.”

        We do not have the complete story.

        To me it is like the four gospels…..”The Gospel according to Matthew, The Gospel according to Luke…et cetera.

        Of course if it were up to ME, thee would be the Gospel according to Mary, the Gospel according to Joseph, and even the Gospel according to Judas.

        We have already heard the LeBaron story according to Verlan, according to Irene Spencer, according to Susan Schmidt, according to Kim Taylor.

        So now we get to hear the Gospel according to Stephany, or more simple “Stephany’s Story.”

        Of course, there is far more to your story than your LeBaron childhood. But quite frankly your LeBaron childhood is what most of your readers will be interested in.

        The more you tell, the more you will remember. So give us those anecdotes with LOTS of details. Make us feel the heat, make us see your surroundings, what you had to eat, the games you played with your siblings, the dreams and ambitions you had growing up. Let us know what made you happy, what made you sad, what you were afraid of, what you wished for.

        One thing you made me see was the role playing the piano had in your childhood, and why Maude was so insistent that her progeny learn to play the piano. It made the family respectable. The LeBaron family had to rise above the degrading position the rest of the community placed them in. The ability to play the piano, and the ability to give piano lessons would raise the family’s esteem.

        It also helped that the LeBaron’s were more intelligent than other members of the community, and also produced some fine looking family members. So I think some of the residents of Colonia Juarez may have been jealous of the LeBarons.

        But I think I have told you too much on “how” to tell your story.

        This is your story. You will know how to tell lt.

        Just know that you have many followers who will want to hear your tales. It may take them some time to find your blog, but they will find it just like I did.


        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is wonderful input and feedback. Thank you so very much! I am presently only writing my backstory. That is why it is rather sparse. I had not intended to get into a lot of detail, let alone tell, fully, my parents’ story. But I’m finding that is what a lot of people really want to hear.

          Therefore, once I finish this backstory stuff, I will interweave within my own story more of my parents’ history, also, if it fits in. I may easily have two or three books in the making, before I’m through!


    1. Thanks to this useful feedback, and for letting me know how you feel and what you are interested in, you’re bound to hear more anecdotes about my mother — good and bad. I shoot from the hip — just the way I like other writers to do LOL!


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