Musician, Writer, and Mormon Fundi,
Esther LeBaron-McDonald Spencer
Whether your memoir ever gets published isn’t finally the point. There are many good reasons for writing that have nothing to do with getting published. Whatever we call the form–autobiography, memoir, personal history, Family history–writing about one’s life is a powerful human need.
Writers are the custodians of memory, and memories have a way of dying with their owner. If it’s a family history, it will have the further value of telling your children and grandchildren who they are and what heritage they come from. Trust the process, and the product.
Writing About Your Life:
A Journey Into the Past
In “Pt 34-J, I said it’s questionable whether my Grandpa Dayer LeBaron passed his “Johnson Mantle” on to his middle, non-scholarly son Joel. For example: Some wittnesses said Joel wasn’t even around during his father’s demise.
And my Aunt Irene Kunz LeBaron/Spencer said she heard my Grandma Maud exclaim — when Maud first heard her son Joel was claiming to be “The One Mighty and Strong” — “Joel must be crazy, like his brother Ben, if he’s also claiming to be the One Mighty and Strong!”
The above two paragraphs are samples of the early-history underpinnings of “the Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Time’s.” But, as I said before, my comments on the Mexico-LeBaron power debates is mostly rehashing stuff I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs: Namely, the present-day Mexico-LeBaron history and dogma has been enhanced, revised, and rewritten.
In other words, important parts of today’s LeBaron story and religious teachings are not what I saw and heard during 1956–1967 — the time period I was in the LeBaron cult.
During those early years, I wittnessed the LeBaron teachings and story change sometimes daily. Now, almost 65 years since Joel and his cohorts started his “church” in 1955, the present-day LeBaron story and beliefs have been white-washed and cleaned up a lot; so they sound more sophisticated, believable, and palatable.
But, I repeat: It’s not my purpose to prove anything to true believers and the present-day LeBaron progeny and followers. Nor am I writing to try to verify “Who got the Johnson mantle/Who’s got the button?” I’m simply recording MY testimony that the LeBaron stories changed over the years.
My mother played the biggest hand in changing the “LeBaron story:” She not only created some of it herself: She put it in writing for posterity and future LeBaronism investigators to read. Most think it’s veracity. Consequently, “The LeBaron Story” and “Maud’s Story” (both books containing much material written by my ma) are the only recorded early history of the Mexico-LeBarons. So the only story the new generations know and have access to.
People tend to believe what they see in writing. So that adds a greater punch to the modern-day LeBaron cults’ beliefs. (There are now a number of LeBaron-cult splinter groups.)
Not only is much of Mother’s revisionist history in the books “The LeBaron Story ” and “Maud’s Story:” She also wrote much of the “CotFotfot” Lit that’s being used to this day — though her name is often not on that material.
Mother credited many of her writings to such fictitious authors as her ex-son-in-law and beau Sigfried Widmar and her brother, the “Prophet” Joel LeBaron, to gain points and power with them and others; and to “help the work of the Lord grow.”
To beef-up her revisionisms, Mother (Esther LeBaron Spencer) typed up letters she says she transcribed from hand-written letters her mother/Grandma Maud wrote — letters wherein her ma Maud supposedly testified as to whom her husband Dayer gave the Johnson mantle. Wow! That’s a new one on me!
Let it be known, for the record: I’d insist on seeing Grandma’s original, hand-written letters! Not Mother’s typewritten version—even if she had her mother Maud sign them! I knew Mother to change and revise things to fit her own stories; and to impress others by making things sound better—and Grandma Maud backed her up. In their humble Machiavellian opinion, “The ends justified the means.”
Thanks for visiting. Thanks for feedback.
See you in the next blog/block …
my itty-bitty corner of the World-Wide Web!
~ Stephany Spencer-LeBaron
Continued May 31, 2019: “Pt 34-L: The LeBaron Madmen: Button, Button: Who’s Got the Button?