My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, Me, and Mental Illness
“A mother’s love for her child
is like nothing else in the world.
It knows no law, no pity; it dares all things,
and crushes down remorselessly
all that stands in its path.”
Mother once confided in me: “I told yer Pa, before I married him, if he ever raised his voice at me — ever argued, hit, or put me down in front of my children — or where they could hear – I’d leave him!”
She continued, “I believe the terrible, bitter battles and arguments between my parents is part of the reason why my older siblings Ben and Lucinda broke [I.e: Had their first mental-illness episodes] by the time they hit their late teens … eventually ended up the rest of their lives in mental institutions! I remember, all too well, the fear ‘n’ misery my parents’ constant screaming and fighting caused in me and my siblings throughout our childhood.
That’s why I always do my best to keep a good spirit ’round me and you kids. I don’t believe in psychologists! They say Ben and Lucinda are schizophrenic. But I thoroughly believe evil spirits took them over because, for one thing, they fought with their parents, and didn’t do what their parents told them to do. And they didn’t keep a good spirit with them.
“My oldest brother Ben first went crazy in his late teens, shortly after he had a violent fist fight with Pa … beat him up badly. After that, he prayed out loud! The devil was able to hear what he was thinkin’, so could take him over,” moaned Mama.
“But it probably would’ve never of happened,” she continued, “if it weren’t for all the terrible persecution perpetrated against Ben and our family by the Mormons in Colonia Juarez all the while we was growin’ up and goin’ to school. Being treated as wicked outcasts is the main thing that lead to his mental breakdown — and Lucinda’s too.”
Regardless of what Mother and her immediate LeBaron family wanted to believe, I know and they knew mental illness ran in their family. Still, they believed the devil was “Just tryin’ to thwart God’s work on earth — if he possibly could” — by taking over Maud and Dayer’s children. In other words, they generally projected onto others and Satan the blame for their problems.
But let me insert some personal commentary: First of all, schizophrenia generally sets in, in one’s late teens to early twenties. And is often preceded by extreme stress. As for my uncle Ben’s behavior, I believe he was already becoming mentally unstrung when he lit into his “worst fist fight” with his father.
Second of all, and on a different note, I only recall four cases wherein Mama and Grandma LeBaron ever took any responsibility for what may have helped cause the mental illness in their family.The first case I recall was when Mother, as I related above, believed the terrible fighting between her parents had affected her and her siblings.
Another partial acceptance of the blame came when Grandmother told me, with tears in her eyes: “I feel so very bad because I believe part of the reason my children had mental problems was I neglected them so much all them years I was away for days at a time teachin’ piano lessons in the Mormon colonies to help support our family … to help keep the wolves away.”
The third incident I recall, wherein Mother admitted any iota of responsibility for the family’s mental illness, was in the following:
When I was in my pre-adolescence, in an effort to teach me to obey her and to also never take medicine without her permission, she told me her sister Lucinda’s first mental breakdown happened after she went into the medicine cabinet and secretly took a bunch of pills in an effort to start her period … because she feared she was pregnant and was trying to hide it from her parents.
[Commentary: In those days, and with the strict teachings she was raised with concerning virginity, fearing she had become pregnant (and all that entailed!) was enough, in itself, to cause an already-compromised mentality to go over the brink … in my humble opinion!]
The fourth case, wherein the Mexico-LeBarons accepted a little blame, was, as I related above, Mother’s belief that her siblings who went crazy “didn’t keep a good spirit with them.” She said Ben, especially, often argued with his father, and treated him disrespectfully — including, in his late teens, having fist fights with him — once even beating him up badly. “Right after that,” Mama told me, “he prayed out loud so the devil could hear what he was thinkin’ and so was able to take him over.”
Commentary: This is old-fashioned, old-world, backward thinking. But the last I knew, Mother still (even after having graduated in 1981 with a BA in journalism from the University of Utah) did not believe in Psychology nor Psychologists. She still believed evil spirits took over her beloved and brilliant siblings Ben, Lucinda, and Ervil.
Her raising me with such beliefs scared me into trying to keep a good spirit with me, come hell or high water, all the years I was growing up. Not a bad thing … as long as you don’t go around with a fake smile on your face, like I did. People must accept and work with their emotions and problems, not stuff and deny them.
My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer,
the Mexico LeBarons, and Mental Illness
“No influence is so powerful as that of the mother.”
Sarah Josepha Hale
As I said in the previous blog, the Mexico LeBarons, including my mother and maternal grandmother Maud LeBaron, believed the cause of mental illness in their immediate family was mainly due to the townspeople who ostracized and persecuted them incessantly for many years.
But I believe people need to take a good look at what part they, themselves, played/ play in what happens to them and the lives of their children. My opinion as to what caused the mental illnesses includes the following list:
1- The genes for susceptibility to a number of mental illnesses runs in both of my maternal grandparents’ family lines! That’s a biggie!
2- There were some huge problems in my grandparents’ household and in the upbringing of their children — problems that affected their mental well-being from the womb to the tomb.
3- Enduring their whole life the small-town Mormon venom, denigration, and ostracism definitely played a large part in my grandparents’ children’s succumbing to multiple mental and emotional illnesses. Especially damaging to the LeBaron children was being shunned by the most influential people of their own religion and community.
4- In hindsight, and judging by my own personal sight, my grandparents’ choices also greatly affected their children. I’ve listed some of those choices here:
A- Staying in the Mormon colonies to raise their children, despite the devastating effects ostracism and persecution have on sensitive children .
B- Taking a plural wife, thereby ignoring their Mormon church’s Manifesto of 1890 that outlawed polygamy. This not only compounded the familial problems that already existed: It forced my grandparents to move to Old Mexico to raise their family — a place where Grandfather Dayer was not allowed to earn a living. So he had to leave his family for months at a time to earn a wage in the United States.
C- Living polygamy multiplied the poverty, stress, deprivation, and emotional upheaval, not to mention it brought on ostracization and persecution BIG-time. All these things lead to stress—and stress helps lead to mental illness; especially when it already exists in the genes.
D- Sticking to Mormon fundamentalist beliefs and values, come hell or high water, meant having all the children they could possibly have — whether it was healthy or not — which also meant much greater poverty and far less time, money, attention, food, and love for each child.
E- Having lots of kids meant the older children, especially, had to work far too hard to help raise all those babies.
Since the oldest child born to my grandparents was a girl (Irene), she suffered the biggest brunt of having to play mommy to the huge family born to Grandpa Dayer and Grandma Maud:
Orthodox Mormon beliefs put quantity ahead of quality … and their beliefs ahead of common sense and the needs of their babies, children, and themselves.
Pt 31-B: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer,
The Mexico LeBarons, and Mental Illness
“As you work on your memoir, write with fidelity to your own experience while knowing that memory is fallible. Write with respect for your subjects, even if they come across as louts. And tell your story true, artfully, and with courage.”
My Ruby Slippers
(We left off on letter “E” in blog “Pt 31-A”)
Repeating what was said in blog Pt 31-A, the Mexico-LeBarons believed the cause of mental illness in their immediate family was largely due to the mainstream Mormon townspeople of Colonia Juarez severely ostracizing and persecuting them during the twenty years they lived there.
But, again, I believe people must look at what part they, themselves, played/ play in what happens to them and their offspring. Many things went into the Mexico-LeBaron mental-illness factor.
Let’s continue where we left off with what I believe caused the mental illness in my dear Mexico-LeBaron family:
F- Mormon fundamentalists/Fundies believed in beating the devil out of their children—as in Spare the rod, spoil the child:
Force, physical and emotional abuse, brutality — these were only some of the control tactics my well-meaning, old-country, perfectionistic grandparents employed to keep their children in line in an effort to make SURE they were perfect little Saints bound for the the highest degree of glory in the hereafter-—as if one can force somebody back to heaven!
(Wasn’t that Satan’s plan: To remove our agency so as to ensure that everyone returned to live with God in heaven? Jesus wanted to let us all choose for ourselves what we wanted to do.)
G- They stuck to many strict, stoic, fallacious beliefs—backward values and fears they lived by, taught, and ingrained in their children. These shaming, guilt-provoking, fanatic religious strictures were, alone, enough to cause mental illness—especially in highly sensitive kids.
H– Add to that their unstable, nomadic lifestyle of moving back and forth from one homestead, town, and country to another — during especially the older Mexico-LeBaron childrens’ lives.
I- Then, take into account that not only was their mother Maud absent much of the time teaching piano lessons to help support the huge family, but their father was also often gone months at a time. The oldest children, who lacked parenting themselves, were, nonetheless, left to raise the younger ones—if any of them got raised at all!
J- On top of this, in 1940 Grandmother Maud left Grandfather Dayer and went to live in the United States for five years, taking her two youngest children with her—ten-year-old Verlan and thirteen-year-old Floren. She returned to Dayer in 1945. The separating of one’s parents is, in and of itself, a great emotional stress on children.
K- Now, add to this whole scenario the problems involved in dealing with polygamy, including two plural wives and all their kids living in the same household for seven long years — and Maud being many years older than Onie.
L- Now, just a remider: These were the olden days. Hindsight is always the best sight. We have come a long way in understanding and knowledge since the 19th through early 20th century — my grandparents’ time period. Child-protective laws and much more have changed since then.
I only know my grandparents had their sight set on heaven and the hereafter so were definitely trying to do what they believed was right. They thought if they did what God commanded them to do, He would take care of the rest!
My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, the Mexico-LeBarons, and Mental Illness
“He did the wrong thing for the right reason.”
Continuing where we left off in blog “Pt 31-B.”
M- All the previous situations discussed in blogs “Pt 31-A & B,” and more, contributed to mental illness in the Mexico-LeBaron family—especially given that there was a history of mental illness in both my grandmother and grandfather LeBaron’s family lines.
N- Let’s not leave out that Grandpa Dayer LeBaron, himself, was not well-balanced mentally. Besides being guided by dreams, voices he heard in his head, and other such, he had personality disorders. On top of that, he, himself, was born and raised in a Mormon polygamous pioneer family—So no doubt he suffered and experienced many of the same things his own children later endured.
What’s more, despite how handsome he was, Grandpa Dayer was already an outcast when Grandma Maud married him. But she, too, had a few personality disorders, albeit to a lesser degree. And HER own father became mentally deranged in her later years. More on this in future blogs.
O- Now let us factor in the Mexico-LeBarons’ many fanatical and shaming fundamentalist Mormon/Fundy beliefs. And the ignorance we all share as human beings. ALL of this and more colluded, collided, and escalated to incubate the insanity and other personality disorders running in the Mexico-LeBarons’ genes—a collusion that eventually kicked in big-time with especially my grandparents’ sensitive and highly-gifted Ben, Wesley, Lucinda, and Ervil.
P- We’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned: They didn’t believe in Psychology nor Psychological Counseling. And there was no Dr. Phil anywhere to be seen!
Q- What’s worse, besides being laws unto themselves, and largely ostracized by others, this beautiful, bright, talented family was nonetheless not well-educated nor well read—though they thought they were.
R- And, on top of all else, they were pretty much isolated. They lived far away from family and relatives and hadn’t many friends.
Plus, they lived during the Great Depression; in a foreign, strange land — and in a small-town—a Mexican-Mormon colony that faught tooth-and-toenail these gorgeous, highly gifted, Mexico-LeBaron renegades and creatives living on the fringe of society and reality.
S- The Maud and Dayer LeBaron family simply had almost nowhere to turn for help in the face of all their extenuating problems and situations!
And, to exacerbate everything else, Grandpa Dayer lacked tact. The last thing he would do, for example, was to compromise ANY of his values in order to come to an agreement so as to get along with others who differed with him.
He didn’t believe in compromising when it came to telling the truth and doing what was right. It was not beneath him to tell people they were stupid and going to hell if they didn’t agree with him and follow his beliefs.
T- I almost left out this crucial factor: Not only were the Mexico-LeBarons ostracized by most of their own town’s people, AND the mainstream Mormon church, BUT by all the Mormon fundamentalist groups too—the “Fundies”!!
U- Now, add to this that in the time the of the Mexico-LeBarons—the olden days—Mental Illness carried terrible stigmas! People held extreme and fearful beliefs such as “The devil or evil spirits are in the mentally ill!” Many even believed Satan resided in the insane so avoided families with mentally ill members.
A person could be ostracized from the community because he or she was mentally deranged. Often the mentally challenged person’s whole family would be ostracized right along with the crazy member. They would be jeered at, sticks and stones thrown to break their bones—the list goes on.
Sadly, the Mexico-LeBarons endured ALL this and more.
V- When you consider the many things my overly-challenged Mexico-LeBaron family had to bear up under, it’s a wonder they survived at all; or remained strong and determined in so many ways. (Nietzsche said: “Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” Really?!)
One way they survived was to try to prove themselves by out-doing others whenever they were able to. (Often that was not such a challenge for the Mexico-LeBarons!)
Another tactic they employed was to try to rise above the gossip and persecution. Still another was to escape into a dreamworld. Mother said she purposely created stories in her mind about the way she wanted her life to be because this helped her survive the terrible ostracism and shame brought upon her and her family.
W- I’m not saying the Mexico-LeBarons didn’t have their faults and foibles that helped cause them to be cast out by most people. I’m saying this was a most unusual and strong family, considering all they endured and survived. And, despite everything, they were leaders, no less: They acquired followers and they lead them—by hook or crook!
- ( Book Manic depression and creativity (1998)By Hershman, D. Jablow
- Book A first-rate madness : uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness (2011)By Ghaemi, S. Nassir
Suffice it to say, to generate healing and better mental health, people must take responsibility for their own actions—not blame the devil or other people for what happens to them and their children.
Raising children is a very serious business. It makes a huge difference what the parents do and don’t do—and what the atmosphere and temperature is of the home and community they grow up in. “It takes a village.” When it comes to social ills, there is enough blame to go around. Enough said, though I could write a book on the subject of child-rearing—as many writers have already done!
Despite the unfortunate mental illness in my Mexico-LeBaron family born to Maud and Dayer, presently and in the past there have been many notable LeBarons. The Mexico-LeBarons are but one faction of the LeBarons the world over. But the Mexico-LeBarons have a huge posterity—I do mean HUGE! My own parents’ progeny, alone, extends into the thousands. And the number is growing exponentially as I write.
Many of these gifted Mexico-LeBarons, the offshoots from Dayer and Maud LeBaron, are doing courageous, creative, and outstanding things. Very few of them, despite the many travails they have survived, have succumbed to mental illness.
All of them, as far as I know, are making a go of it. And most of them are doing better than the Mexico-LeBaron family my mother was born into. It says a lot for my Mexico-LeBaron family “forrest.” They are all glowing examples of what the human spirit is capable of.
NOTE: The following is a lovely message left me on my Facebook page by Julie LeBaron Elkins, one of my many nieces. It’s the perfect example of feedback I look for and am motivated by. I appreciate lovely Julie’s taking the time to write this beautifully-worded paragraph:
“My Auntie is so amazing! Ty for your blog, I know it has helped me. Still reading, I have to take breaks as it does affect me and I have to still peal the layers off. Ty for the example you are and the courage it took to get where you are and the heart to help your family even though they turned their backs on you. I am so happy that I have you in my life and finally got to meet you. 💗Will remember to take notes as I am reading to give you feedback as promised.”
My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer,
the Mexico-LeBarons, and Mental Illness
“The conscience of children is formed
by the influences that surrounded them;
their notions of good and evil are the result of
the moral atmosphere they breathe.”
Jean Paul Richter
As I said in the previous blog, people should take responsibility for their actions; not project blame onto the devil and others for what happens to them and their children.
As we saw in the previous blogs, Grandfather Dayer and Grandmother Maud’s life and child-rearing included plenty of things that could cause mental breakdowns — though they tended to put most of the blame on the persecution and ostracism their kids suffered growing up in the Mormon colonies in Mexico. No question, that took its toll!
But Grandma told us her son Ervil was the “spittin’ image” of her own father: “Even looks exactly like ‘im!” she efused. [*1] But she only divulged this long-held secret after her son Ervil began showing severe psychotic breaks — as in intent to murder his brother Joel, et Al.
In an afterthought, Grandma Maud added, disconcertingly, “Despite his bein’ highly gifted in art, music, teaching, and other areas, Pa broke in his older years — same as his grandson Ervil.
“But before he became mentally ill, my handsome father taught Art and Music in High School, often delivered sermons in church. And was a much sought-after Singer, as well as a teacher of church doctrinal classes.
“Him and my ma regularly sang duets in church and elsewhere. Both had perfect pitch … could sight-sing sheet music, so they could do fine when they had no instrumental backup or a pitchpipe. They really knew their Music Theory, too. Music was very important in my home as we grew up.”
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all Grandma would tell about her father. In fact, as I pointed out, she never, ever let anybody know about her father going off the deep end until she saw her son Ervil, “had the spirit of murder,” as she referred to it in her letters to Ervil. [*1]
Makes me wonder what else my Grandmother Maud never told us about her family of origin. What else was she hiding? For example, why would she marry my Grandfather Dayer when he was an outcast (though she says when she married him she didn’t know he was an outcast).
In the same breath, she claimed her “McDonalds of Arizona” family “were highly respected and well to do—owned a real estate office.” I only know (from personal experience) Grandma, though I love her, was a “storyteller.” [*2]
But I understand her brother Max McDonald (who was a pal of Pres. Spencer W. Kimball in his young years—they played and performed music together, among other things) was a Real Estate broker and owned his own Real Estate office.
Because being “crazy” carried such stigma and shame back in Grandmother’s day, as noted earlier, she only let us know about her own father’s mental breakdown when it became absolutely necessary to do everything in her power to get her dear son Ervil to see the error of his ways … in hopes he would not end up a “Cain.”
In the next blog, I will continue with this mental-illness thread, tying it in with incest in my Mexico-LeBaron family: Grandpa Dayer’s father Benjamin Franklin LeBaron married his first cousin Sarah Jane Johnson—daughter of his/ Benjamin Franklin LeBaron’s maternal uncle Benjamin F. Johnson’s seventh wife).[*1]
*1– See: “The LeBaron Story,” Pages 201 through 210. Also see: “Maud’s Story.” Both books are/ were available on Amazon.com and/or Kindle. Though these books were written mostly to preach The Church of the First Born dogma, they’re all we have of the Mexico-LeBaron family’s published history.
NOTE: For those questioning what I quoted Grandma saying, please check out the following Facebook statement (used without my niece Vicky LeBaron’s permission, as of yet, because I trust she won’t mind):
2-7-2019: “I heard my grandmother — G.Grandma Maud’s, daughter Esther LeBaron Spencer — say on multiple occasions almost exactly what Steph Spencer is saying.
I also heard one of G.G. Maud’s daughter-in-laws say the same type of comments about what Maud had told her about Ervil, in various conversations over the years:
“Basically, that mental illness ran in the McDonald family. And that she had been concerned about Ervil because of her father’s mental health struggles, and the fact that Ervil reminded her of her father more than any of her other sons. [She said] ‘He was handsome like her father.’ Or ‘He had a charismatic personality and a way with words.’ If I’m not mistaken, her father was rather tall, too [like her son Ervil].
“I don’t particularly think uncle Ervil looked like great-great-grandfather Wesley, either, but she may have recognized mannerisms and perhaps his walk, or the way he talked, etc., as being like her father. Often, I think the way my children act reminds me more of their grandparents and great grandparents, than the way they look.
And I definitely feel like several of my children are very much like their grandparents and others don’t seem to see it.”
*2– See “Cult Insanity” by Irene Spencer
My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer
and Family Incest Issues
“The heart of the mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
Honore De Balzac
Incest on my maternal grandfather Alma Dayer LeBaron’s side definitely contributed to the mental illness prevalent in most of my maternal grandparents’ ten children who lived to adulthood!
Grandfather Alma Dayer LeBaron, Sr.’s parents were first cousins: His grandfather Benjamin Franklin Johnson’s seventh wife’s daughter Sarah Jane Johnson married her paternal Aunt Esther Melita Johnson’s son Benjamin Franklin LeBaron—Benjamin Franklin Johnson’s nephew. Incest plain and simple!
The dilemma — and the reason incest is illegal is that when close relatives marry, they compound bad/recessive genes in their family tree.
Says historian Kris Wray:
Benjamin F. Johnson had a brilliant brother, Seth Johnson, who, he said in his “My Life’s Review,” experienced “mania” and was “weakened in mind” at one time … though he stated he had a “sound” mind later.
“As far as Owen LeBaron, I’d gamble his mental illness came from the Johnson/LeBaron line. His dad’s (William Farland LeBaron) parents were David Tully LeBaron and Harriett Naomi Johnson. Grandpa David Tully’s parents were David Tully LeBaron (Sr) and Esther Malita Johnson [Benjamin F. Johnson’s sister].”
In other words, there WAS genetic disposition for mental illness in the LeBaron AND Johnson lines (NOT just in my grandmother Maud McDonald’s line). Dayer’s dad marrying his Johnson first-cousin magnified it.
Mania is a facet of type I bipolar disorder in which the mood state is abnormally heightened and accompanied by hyperactivity and a reduced need for sleep.
By contrast, hypomania (often described as “mania-light”) is a type II bipolar disorder which neither has the range nor severity of symptoms that classic mania has. (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjKv53WyubgAhUUs54KHXqaBBkQFjACegQIBxAL&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.verywellmind.com%2Fsymptoms-of-mania-380311&usg=AOvVaw1rN1sW2GH8_ntXBJYx8aKY)
In my quest to further understand what might have caused the unusual amount of mental illness in my Mexico-LeBaron family, years ago I was told the following by my sister Judith Spencer: “Mental illness ran in the bloodline sof BOTHof our Grandma Maud’s parents
“People TOLD our grandmother’s parents, William Wesley McDonald and Lucinda Mariah Emerson, ‘DO NOT marry!! There’s ‘bad blood’ in your families!’ — In other words,” she said, “There was mental illness in both their family trees! For them to marry could only compound the problem. They married anyway.” * Love and libido won out!
It is now known Schizophrenia is heritable — AND SKIPS a generation to show up in the SECOND generation of children born into bloodlines where at least one of the parents has the schizophrenia/ manic-depressive/ bipolar gene.
As it turns out, in the Mexico-LeBarons’ case schizophrenia/ bipolar disease/ personality disorders not only ran in BOTH our Grandmother Maud’s parents’ family trees, but ALSO in Grandfather Dayer’s family tree. That would more than double the schizophrenic /bipolar genetics and heritability.
I do not personally know about any mental disorders that ran in my great-grandmother Lucinda Mariah Emmerson’s family line. Only that, though schizophrenia is found in all nationalities and races, Sweden and Ireland rate the highest for this disorder. Norway follows close behind. (The Scots Irish? When history’s followed back far enough, they are Irish.)
In past decades, schizophrenia was often called “Manic Depression.” Today it is usually referred to as Bipolar Disease. “McDonald” is an Irish/ Scots Irish surname. “Emmerson” is a Swedish surname. I mention this as only one piece of the puzzle contributing to mental challenges in my beloved Mexico-LeBaron family line.
Though my grandmother Maud’s parents Wesley McDonald and Lucinda Mariah Emerson had mental illness running in their family trees (as many family trees do, I might add), out of Grandma Maud’s own immediate family of origin, none of her siblings suffered notable mental illness—as far as I know. And none of Wesley and Mariah McDonald’s children exhibited any of the mental illness that existed in their father Wesley McDonald’s later years.
Grandma Maud told me about a number of occasions in her life when she’d heard a voice speak to her “plain as day.” This and other such things may have been mild signs of Schizophrenia in Gramma Maud. But I read in a book on Schizophrenia that eating even part of a green potato, among other things, could affect a temporary Schizophrenic disorder in at least some people. So you never know.
Case in point, however: The mental-illness gene my great-grandfather William Wesley McDonald carried DID skip a generation! That is, it didn’t show up, as far as I know, in the siblings of my grandmother Maud McDonald’s family of origin. BUT it showed up BIG-TIME in the next generation — Grandpa Dayer and Grandma Maud LeBarons’ children. Most, if not all of their living children had mental problems to one degree or another.
For example, every one of Grandpa and Grandma LeBaron’s seven living sons claimed to be, at one time or another and to one degree or another, “The one mighty and strong”/OM&S (God’s spoke person on earth).  Some of this may have been brought on by upbringing, desires for power and profit, and other such, rather than by defective genes.
But it’s also likely they heard voices, and had revelations, dreams, and inspiration that told them they were “the one mighty and strong prophet” spoken of in Mormon Scriptures.
Grandpa and Grandma LeBaron’s creative and talented daughter Lucinda spent most of her life in a mental institution — as did their brilliant oldest son Ben. And their disturbed son Ervil went clear over the cliff—“was the spittin’ image,” said Grandmamma Maud, of her own father William Wesley McDonald who began to hear voices, get revelations, etc., in his later yrsars. t
Their gifted and beautiful daughter Esther (my mother) lived in a mild dream world along with other personality disorders. Example: from time to time she/ Mama had manic-depressive episodes/ bipolar symptoms — including a few “nervous breakdowns.” And she had a narcissistic personality disorder, including delusions of grandeur. Paranoia also visited Mama as well as pathological lying; i.e., she believed her own lies.
Nevertheless, many people loved, respected, and befriended my mother throughout her life. In other words, Mother’s mental issues didn’t get in the way of her relationships with most people—though they got in my way!
As a young woman, Mother once told people she was a Hollywood starlet and a Concert Pianist. In actuality, my grandma Maud saw to it her daughter Esther/my mother got piano lessons and the time to practice enough to memorize a number of beautiful Piano Concertos.
But that did not make her a Concert Pianist; i.e., she never held the prestigious position of accompanyig Philharmonic Orchestra’s as their Concert Pianst! Instead, she quit college early on to become the plural wife of an old man, bearing him fourteen kids along with six miscarriages within the space of 21 years; i.e., She was a stay-at-home mom.
Mother also told people she and all her kids and husband had their “callings and elections made sure.” (That is to say, HER kids were ALL going to heaven. No question about it!!)
She told people she “knew” HER husband and HER kids were going to “the highest degree of glory” “because they, like her, were so pure and saintly — so holy they were incapable of experiencing even “evil emotions such as envy or jealousy”! (That made them perfectly cut out to live polygamy, right? However, in her 21 years of marriage, Mom was too jealous to share Pop with even ONE other concurrent wife!)
Nevertheless, I don’t believe anybody in the cult ever noticed the inconsistentcies in what she preached and what she practiced. She said her Patriarchal Blessing “said so” and they believed her. This was mostly wishful thinking, exaggeration, and delusions of grandeur, on Ma’s part. Up until I escaped the LeBaron sect she belonged to, she also told people I/moi was her most perfect and holy child!
It helped cause Ma a nervous breakdown, therefore, when at age 21 I FLED the religion she raised me in — the religion she was SO sure was the ONLY true religion — the one you HAD to believe in to go to the highest degree of glory!
Needless to say, after I fled Mother’s religion/cult, she condemned me to hell, saying I wasn’t as spiritual as she and the rest of her kids were. (She somehow always took it upon herself to be my judge! … I thought that was God’s job!)
Now, back to the subject of mental illness in the Mexico-LeBarons’ immediate family: What further caused the Mexico-LeBaron children’s mental disorders is: There was not ONLY mental illness and personality disorders in BOTH my maternal grandparent’s family trees, but BOTH Grandmother Maud AND Grandfather Dayer, THEMSELVES, talked, not infrequently, about having unusually vivid dreams, revelations, and “hearing voices” — voices that spoke to them and gave them guidance. In other words, this meant double the schizophrenic characteristics in just the Mexico-LeBaron children’s parents, alone!
I know some people are gifted with a high level of intuition, extra-sensory perception/ ESP, and so forth. The gift of inspiration/ “a still, small voice,” etc., runs in creative families like the Mexico-LeBarons. And Poets are said to be prophets. Furthermore, schizophrenia runs high in creative families. Still, Grandfather Dayer’s extra-sensory perceptions went beyond that of healthy and normal.
To sum it all up, my maternal grandparents carried outward signs of mental-illness; e.g., voices talking to them, on TOP of their inner genetic markers for mental disorders. This tally sheet quadrupled chances that at least some of their children would inherit mental problems—especially given there were other stressors and traumas in their life that helped kick in the recessive genes for mental illness.
This concludes todays remarks. Thanks in advance for feedback, and for visiting my blog. Now, till next time, be of good cheer; Spring is here! ~ Stephany Spencer-LeBaron.
*My sister Judith Spencer’s oldest daughter was schizophrenic/bipolar. Because of this, Judy did much research, trying to understand the disease, how it came about, and how to deal with it. I don’t recall, now, the relatives she spoke with on my grandma Maud’s and grandpa Dayer’s family sides. But the information I related above was told to her by them.
 See “The LeBaron Story,“ and “Maud’s Story,” on Amazon.com and Kindle. Though these books were written to preach “The Church of the First Born” doctrine, they are all we have of the Mexico-LeBaron Family’s published history — about our only source, though highly biased.
 See “Cult Insanity” and “Shattered Dreams“ by Irene Spencer