Pt 34: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer, The Mexico LeBarons, and Hearing Voices
The young and the old of my dear Grandpa Dayer LeBaron
“There is only one way to bring a child up in the way he should go and that is to travel that way yourself.” Abraham Lincoln
IF it’s true Grandpa Dayer’s grandfather B.F. Johnson held a special priesthood he called “the mantle” or “Scepter of Power,” then there were delusions of grandeur, schizophrenia, and personality disorders in my great-great-grandfather, himself. But I understand that Benjamin F. Johnson’s immediate family say they never heard B.F.J. claim he held ANY such special priesthood power!
Grandpa Dayer LeBaron is said to have claimed his grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson passed on to him a special priesthood blessing and power” called “The Mantle” “that the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith passed on to him, B.F.J., before he died.
That’s another story for another time. If you’re interested in the lore, read Mother’s/Aunt Charlotte’s/ Uncle Verlan’s revisionist histories titled “The LeBaron Story,” and “Maud’s Story.” These two manuscripts preach a 1980’s whitewashed, enhanced, and rewritten version of the Mexico-LeBaron claims—a tale that has morphed way beyond the early Church of the Firstborn/CFB story I first heard in 1957—the year I was baptized into my uncle Joel LeBaron’s “Church.” I was eleven years old.
The point I’m getting at in this blog is BOTHGrandpa AND Grandma LeBaron had immediate relatives with personality disorders and mental illness (See previous blog, Pt 33, updated since it was published on February 22, 2019).
Says Historian Kris Wray: Benjamin F. Johnson had two brothers – Joel and Seth – whom he said in his “My Life’s Review” experienced “mania” and were “weakened in mind” at one time or another, though he stated they had “sound” minds later. If there was genetic disposition of some form of mental illness in the LeBaron and Johnson lines, which at the point of Dayer had been merged together, Dayer’s dad marrying his Johnson cousin may have magnified it.
Add to this that BOTH my maternal grandparents heard voices, from time to time, that were “as plain as day,” to quote Grandma. And my maternal grandfather A.D. was said to be a crack pot: He led an extreme, unreasonable, unstable life due to the visions he had and the voices in his head that spoke to him, among other things.
But Grandfather Dayer ALSO showed SOME signs of borderlineautistic-personality-disorder. For instance:
1- Things had to be just SO for him. He didn’t deal well with change.
2- He “lacked tact” in dealing with people; i.e., He exhibited low empathy: Couldn’t relate well to how others felt.
3- He was hardheaded—would not compromise nor budge, when it came to his “principles,” and what was “true and right” … no matter the outcome or consequences of his sticking to what he believed was “the truth”! He Was definitely a “Fundi”!
4- He couldn’t tolerate change in beliefs and concepts: e.g, “God and the truth were the same yesterday, today, and forever!” There were no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it! Would this explain why he became a Morman fundamentalist/Fundi: He couldn’t deal with revisionist Mormonism, no matter the reasons for the doctrinal changes?
5- When he was convinced of a certain thing to do or accomplish, he worked harder at it than anybody else around. Could concentrate for long hours at a time, till the job was completed to the best of his ability—a perfectionist. Mother said he/ her father A.D. worked harder than anybody she knew!
His maladies caused him, his wives, and his children to lead an outcast, rather nomadic, Gypsy-like life due to the schizophrenic voices he heard and dreams he had telling him to first do this — then that; then something different altogether. He had a dream, for example, that he was to raise his family in Old Mexico, come hell or high water! So he did!
And no sooner would he have picked up, lock, stock, and barrel, to move to a new homestead, but what the voices might tell him he had to move and set up a new homestead somewhere else! Just one example of how his mental instability affected him and his family. I don’t know if Grandpa Dayer ever came to see how irrational, unstabilizing, and crazy-making all this was! Grandma Maud had to follow his/her husband’s lead because she believed he held the priesthood. In Mormon fundamentalism the man ruled the roost.
Grandpa A.D. LeBaron apparently raised most of his children to believe he had received a special “scepter of power” from his grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson — a mantle wherein he was set apart to do a special work to put the house of God back in order so as to prepare the world for Christ’s second coming.* [My sister who works as a nurse in a mental institution says she hears this kind of stuff daily from her patients!]
This mantle/priesthood power somehow became confused with his raising his sons to believe (so the story goes) that before he died, he would pass on to one of them—whoever showed himself most righteous—this sceptor of power—a power only given to that one mighty and strong the Prophet Joseph Smith said would come in the last days to prepare the Saints for the second coming of Christ.
As to how Mother says my grandfather says [She-says-He-says] he acquired this special “Sceptor of Power,” she told me: When my Pa was fast asleep one night, suddenly he was awakened. There was a bright light in the room. Then Papa said he felt a grip on his shoulder, looked up, and saw his dead grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson standing there surrounded in glory. (Continued in the next blog.)
*[NOTE: Mormon fundamentalists believed the LDS Mormon church had lost the keys to the kingdom and gotten out of order when it signed the Manifesto of 1890, thus doing away with polygamy, “God’s highest and most venerable law.”]
“The heart of the mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” Honore De BalzacP
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: When close relatives marry, they compound bad/ recessive genes in their family tree. Says historian Kris Wray: Benjamin F. Johnson had two brothers — Joel and Seth — whom he said in his “My Life’s Review” experienced “mania” and were “weakened in mind” at one time or another, though he stated they had “sound” minds later.
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.
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 bloodlines of BOTH our Grandma Maud’s parents William Wesley McDonald and Lucinda Mariah Emmerson.
“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 Schizophreniais 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 green potatoes, 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.** 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 latter years!***
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, baring 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. 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 Mexico-LeBaron 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 my comments. Thank you for visiting my blog! Your feedback would be most beneficial. Now, till next time, be of good cheer; Spring is almost here! ~ Stephany
(Continued March 3, 2019, “Pt 34-A: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer and Mental Illness.”)
*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
Pt 32: 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
We left off last week with this assertion: People should take responsibility for their actions; not project blame onto the devil nor 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]
(Continued February 22, 2019: “Pt 33: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer and Family incest”)
*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.”
Pt 27: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron and Dad Floyd Spencer
“One I love with all my heart, Mother, dear, it’s you; And I want to make you glad; Yes, indeed, I do! I will help you every day, Smiling as I go, And I’ll never make you sad Because I love you so.” (Author unknown)
We left off in “Part 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer” with me questioning Mom about her early years. As I continued to query her about her early life and how she met and married Pop, she moaned: “I NEVER wanted to leave my family and Old Mexico. But yer pa wasn’t allowed to make a livin’ in Mexico, being a US citizen. By marryin’ him, I was forced to live in “The States” … far from my family for thirteen years!!
“I was always homesick for my family in Mexico. Yer pa knew this so his favorite song was, ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.’ (See: https://youtu.be/TEHnzFC7M9A ) He would tear up when I played it for him on the piano … or sang it to him while accompanyin’ myself on the guitar.”
Dad kept his word to Mum. Soon as he turned sixty-five and could retire with full Social Security and Veterans Pension benefits, he moved Mum back to Mexico. We eleven kids went along for the ride!
One more stowaway sneaked along too … hidden in Mum’s belly! Well, everyone knows it’s cheaper by the dozen. At least that’s what Mumma always told everyone. (US dollars went further especially back then– if you lived in Old Mexico as opposed to the United States.)
So in August of 1960, my family returned to Old Mexico to settle in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua on their homestead my grandfather and grandmother had continued to build and enlarge upon — on land Dad bought in 1944. (Dad and Mum turned their “parcela“ over to my grandparents Dayer and Maud LeBaron in 1947 when they decided to take their budding family and move back to the US.)
Grandpa Dayer and Grandma Maud could never afford to move out of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. But once Dad married Mum (secretly) on Feb. 17, 1944 — as a plural wife* — he’d had to “Get the hell out of Dodge:” ** Moving to old Mexico to live near my mother’s family was the perfect “get away” hideout for my parents to dodge the law for about three years — just long enough for me and my older sister to be born in Chihuahua, Mexico — thereby becoming American-Mexicans.
My parents’ days living in Old Mexico ended in early 1947 when Daddy was involved in a devastating near-death incident: While working to repair a flour mill in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, his leg accidentally slipped, fell into the mill’s grain grinder, and was badly chewed up before he could regain his balance. Being a World-War-I Veteran, Daddy was taken to the Veterans’ hospital in El Paso, Texas where he remained for nearly three months while doctors and nurses struggled day and night to save and repair his leg so he could walk again.
What he did! Their dedicated efforts and peoples’ prayers paid off. Daddy’s leg was not only saved but he was able to even run on it. However, the immense amount of scar tissue in the damaged leg was to hurt him for the rest of his life — or the next 18 years. Poor Daddy!
This excruciating pain didn’t slow down the industrious hard worker he was. However, it added to his temper already compromised by aging, physical pain from his bad back, arthritic pains, and post-traumatic-stress issues brought on by his World War I Army Service. Add to that his emotional pain that included loss of his first wife Eva and his eleven children he had with her — and my mumma’s poor housekeeping and cooking — and you’ve got a walking volcano ready to errupt at any moment!
Nonetheless, this stalwart, dedicated, religious man, my papa, never gave up for a moment! He hung in there like a true soldier, holding fast to his beliefs and values till the end when, on April 18, 1965, a heart attack took him precipitated by an incident in late 1964 some like to call a “work accident.” (More on that in my upcoming book.)
Continued November 9, 2018: “Pt 28: My Ma ‘n Pa, Esther LeBaron and Floyd Spencer”
*They were married by the Mormon fundamentalist leader Joseph W. Musser. This was kept a great secret: Polygamy was illegal and so was Musser’s performing such marriages/ sealings. (See: Joseph White Musser: Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_White_Musser)
** Daddy told me he had to flee with Mama to live in old Mexico because his first wife Eva, a mainstream Mormon, had created a huge public stink and gotten him in trouble with the law and LDS church for taking a plural wife and becoming a Mormon fundamentalist. Can you blame her? (See my previous writings on this in blogs about my father and Mother.)
So, in 1944 Daddy sold in a hurry — at a loss — his belongings in Arizona and bought cheap land — a parcela — in Chihuahua, Mexico, not far from Colonia Juarez where Mama grew up. But he had to work in the United States to earn a living. It was illegal for Americans to earn a wage in Mexico — part of Mexico’s efforts not to lose more of their land to the USA — as they had in the war of 1846. Mexican–American War – Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican–American_War)
Life’s Highway To everyone their openeth A way, ways, and a way; And the high soul takes the high way, The low soul takes the low; While in between on the misty flats The rest drift to and fro. But to everyone their openeth A high way and low. And everyone decideth The way his soul shall go. (I memorized this poem when I was 13) Author unknown
Taking up where we left off in: “Pt 23: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade:”
Today, let’s expand on a disturbing theme I mentioned earlier: My sister Mary told me Mother made advances toward her ex-husband polygamist Sigfried Widmar. (He already had a number of plural wives at the time.) Ugh!
Not sure if Mumma married Siegfried. But it’s disgusting to court, let alone marry your own daughter’s ex-husband — especially given that he verybadly mistreated her daughter, my sister Mary, while she was married to Sig. Not only that, Sig had greatly neglected and maltreated his three sons Mary bore him (Mom’s grandchildren), including never visiting them nor sending child-support after the divorce!
Mother was taking care of herself and lacked a sense of boundaries. But messy Mormon fundamentalism and religious polygamy leave ample space for disgrace — ample justification for fornication. Incest is common. Mothers and daughters married to the same man, in some polygamist cults, is but one example.
While Daddy was still living, Mother had designs on MY husband William Preston Tucker! She was in love with him, idolized him, and fantasized that she would be married to him in the celestial kingdom (if not sooner!) — one avenue Mormon polygamy allows! (Orthodox Mormons believe righteous Mormon men will have any number of wives in heaven — so it doesn’t matter that here on earth they are your own mother, mother-in-law, daughter, et Al!
Ma would turn on like a Christmas tree fawning over MY husband polygamist Billy Tucker whenever he came around! She literally preened about like a peacock in heat waving her fan along with her tailfeathers to wow my “cock” — showing him she was his fan … wanted him to be herfan.
As a part of her courting fanfare, peacock-hen Ma performed for my lover Bill her fanciest piano pieces — difficult classics like Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto in C Sharp Minor,” “The Swan” by Saint-Saens, (https://youtu.be/zNbXuFBjncw), and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” Oh, Mum knew how to impress — knew how my beloved Billy took toclassical music!
Bill fancied himself classy when he listened to and appreciated such music. Thank God Mum’s mom, my Pianist/piano-teaching Grandma Maud LeBaron saw to it Mummy got ample years of private piano lessons and plenty of time to practice and perfect her pretty fancy piano pieces; otherwise, Mumma wouldn’t have had much to impress others with — fat ‘n’ 40 with her fourteen beautiful kidlings straggling along behind her fantastic fan feathers!
Though Bill had a Bachelor of Science degree with honors and an Honorary Masters degree from UCLA and had also taught for a while at Texas Western University, he was always conscious of the fact he grew up poor (He was born during the Depression era). He was ashamed of his father, who, though an artist and talented musician, was never well-to-do and made his living as a machinist and Foreman in a factory.
But that’s only the half of it when it comes to Mumma flying in, in her fantasy world (for let it be known that Mumma lived in quite a dreamworld) and coming on to my hubby like a peacock spreading its fantastic fan feathers! She was strutting her stuff while fantasizing about being Bill’s favorite wife in the hereafter — if not in the here-and-now — while I was still married to and greatly neglected by my Billy … and she was still married to my daddy!!
She was having her problems with her hot-tempered, tyrannical spouse — my mean, aged papa twenty-six years her senior. But I was having my troubles with Bill too! He was no saint! Just an Alpha Male many women and men were in love. They, like me, idolized and adored gifted “Charming Billy.”
(Remember the song: “Oh, where have you been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh, where have you been, charming Billy?) People in the cult couldn’t get enough of Billy Tucker. Many wanted to mate with him to get even closer — wanted to be a part of this amazing creaton … wanted to connect sexually. (Not sure how many ever did but they wanted to.)
Fuck! As luck would have it, much to my grief, Bill, my spouse the louse, left me after four-and-a-half trying years. That is, he “put me aside” — separated from me because, after too much suffering and disappointment, I had dissociated — had withdrawn bodily feelings for him. I had told him I no longer felt anything — was numb during conjugal relationships — no longer even felt when he fondled my once highly sensitive breasts! I’d managed to shut off physical feelings for him so as to distance myself from the eternal emotional pain caused by him and polygamy.
His “putting me aside” — that is, separating from me — though it devastated me, didn’t bother Mama at all! She saw it as a windfall for her! So it goes without saying, she didn’t sympathize with me and my sorrow, let alone did she try to help her twenty-year-old me patch things up with my precious hubby. Instead, Ma gleefully licked her chops for her chance to top me and take up with Billy in my place; i.e., displace me! (How would you like to have your mom as your competition — as if Bill’s other wives, boyfriends, and suitors weren’t competition enough!)
But a few months later, as Lady Fuck fanned her cards, Mother’s aces in the hole fell like dumped dominoes: After Bill separated from me, he secretly skipped out of Colonia LeBaron and Mom’s life! Then, safely hidden from Mom’s brother my uncle Ervil LeBaron — and his Danites — Bill announced he had left the LeBaron cult and Mormon fundamentalism for good and forever.
Then, three months after that, Bill died! “God took Bill!” said the true-believing cult members. “It’s payback for his leaving the one and only true church!“
Actually, Bill died of a ruptured appendix — payback for years in a cult where he couldn’t afford physicals even if he would visit a doctor. Sadly, Bill was allergic to the wonder drug Penicillin, the modern miracle medicine that has wiped out most deaths these days due to a burst appendix. (Penicillin cures the once-fatal infection, peritonitis, that quickly sets in following a ruptured appendix.)
You should have seen Mother at Bill’s funeral! It was held in Southern California. But she made sure to catch a ride leaving Mexico to go to the United States though she couldn’t afford it. Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer simply had to attend her son-in-law (fantasy lover) Bill’s burial!
At the graveside, Ma was so caught up in her “poor me” misfortune of losing her fantasy lover Bill that her daughter, myself, was insignificant in her eyes. She wanted everybody to feel sorry for HER because SHE lost her “son-in-law.” So caught up in her attention-getting drama and trying to get in touch with her own feelings was Mama that she never once acknowledged me and mine. Never walked over to say hello to me, her grieving girl, let alone did she show me any other sympathy or empathy — never inquired as to how I might feel about my adored husband’s suddenly and unexpectedly dying! Of course, I had left her church by then so perhaps she was simply shunning me. (?) But so had her “Billy” apostatized from her church! Go figure.
At the Memorial Service, immature Mama hadn’t comforted me, either. She was probably unnerved that I was there! And it seemed I was supposed to be fawning over her! Go figure again. I already have … long since: The poor lady had a narcissistic personality disorder. 20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists Use to Silence You I was only an appendage swinging off her like a pendulum: If she was okay, I was okay. She didn’t totally see me as a viable and dynamic entity separate from herself. (We’ll discuss this topic more in a future chapter.)
(Continued September 18, 2018: in “Pt 25: Mom, Dad, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
My Memoir: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade — Part 23
“People see what they want to see
till they want to see.” Dena McLean
I left off in blog, “Pt 22: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade,” saying: Mama preached polygamy and told people they would go to hell if they did not live it, but other than her first six months of marriage to Daddy, she never shared/ had to share her own husband/my father in the whole twenty-two years she was married to him.
But not long after Daddy died, she once again “helped save” a man by becoming his plural wife — as she had with Daddy. I mentioned this man in a previous blog: This new husband was an attractive LDS Mormon man around fifty years of age: Mel Orchard. He was as big a windbag as Ma! But a bigger kicker is his legal wife, a mainline Mormon, didn’t know the marriage took place! Mother was around forty-six or so, then.
She was not married to windbag Mel for long. In an effort to become his favorite wife, Ma manipulated a sixteen-year-old virgin into becoming old-man Mel’s third wife. To make a long story shorter, word has it she told this young girl and her family she’d had a revelation their daughter was to marry “her” husband Mel. But Ma’s ploy backfired on her.
After helping old-man-Mel secure his child bride, much to her ire, he neglected Mama. As you might imagine, her efforts and sacrifice to please her new husband did not bring in the appreciation and favoritism from him she believed and preached was supposed to happen when a woman got her husband another wife “to build up his kingdom.” (Mormon fundamentalism has all kinds of pie-in-the-sky, not-down-to-earth beliefs about plural marriage and how it’s supposed to work!)
My dreamer but let-down Ma was too jealous, hurt, and aggravated to remain married to her heart-throb Melvin after procuring for him a nubile maid only to find her manipulations ended up losing more of his love and time, rather than gaining her more of it. The old gentleman spent most of his time and energy trying to please his new teenage wife — trying to get it up and on with this adolescent “fawn”!
Not long after that, Ma took up with an old High School flame, a handsome Hispanic hunk — Catholic, charming, and very married — who lived in Chihuahua City, a-few-hours-drive from her residence in Colonia LeBaron. When she was in her teens, Mother’s parents would not allow her to marry him: He was of the wrong religion and race. But she and this stunningly gorgeous Mexican man had never fallen out of love.
Now, many years later and a lot of water under the bridge and despite his being married, his wife not knowing about it, and hisnot being Mormon, Mama carried on a back-room bedroom affair with him — perhaps hoping she could convert him to Mormon fundamentalism in time (?). I witnessed a part of that affair when, while visiting her in 1973, he chanced to drop by.
Mama told her kids and me she was taking her “friend” into her den “to discuss the gospel.” But I was an astute twenty-seven-year-old who had been around the block a few times by then. The sounds coming from her lioness’s den — squeaking springs combined with climactic screams — were not the sounds of discussing the gospel, no matter how exciting the discussion was!
(Continued in: “Pt 24: Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on Parade”)
Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz” from Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke. Copyright 1942 by Heast Magazines, Inc. Used by permission of Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
All rights reserved.
Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke (1961)
My Memoir Backstory “My Daddy” takes up where I left off writing “My Memoir Introduction: I Was Born a “Saint.” After I wrote this blog, I realized I’d put the cart before the horse — started my Memoir bass-ackwards: I got myself born before I told you anything about how I got here.
Since we all come from the past, my readers ought to know what it is that went into my making. So I’ve decided to present a bunch of backstory, beginning with my father, Floyd Otto Spencer. Ending with my mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer and her LeBaron backstory.
After this backstory, I’ll continue with my Memoirs. But it will include more tales about Mother and Father as they intertwine throughout my life.
Now for a bit of how I got here from the past. And some of what went into my making.
My Daddy: Part 1
My handsome five-foot-10.5-inch, black-haired, black-eyed, dark-skinned (when tanned) father was a hot-tempered, strict, shy, witty, sharp-tongued, short-fused, highly gifted man. “Daddy,” as we called him, was also a sensitive Artist and Creative.
Born July 27, 1895, in Marion, Michigan, he died on my birthday, April 18, 1965, in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico. I had just turned 19 years old that day. His death was the outcome of a freak “accident.” I believe my Mother Esther LeBaron Spencer and her brother, my Uncle Ervil LeBaron, had a hand in it. (I will relate this whole incident in my upcoming Memoir.)
Born in a backwoods frontier town, Daddy was very much of pioneer stock. His parents were mostly of English descent, he believed. He was unable to track his full genealogy. But knew his mother was one-half Indigenous American — Mohawk Indian to be exact.
One Sunday afternoon, in our small living room, lit only by light from the windows and fireplace, Mother was giving Daddy his monthly expert-looking haircut when we children, catching Daddy captive, saw a good chance to gather around his knees and pepper him with questions about his parents, grandparents, and past.
He was a shy man, of few words, and usually busy working. One of his favorite sayings was: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and look like a fool than to open your mouth and prove you’re a fool.” Even now he was hesitant to answer all our forward questions. But when asked about his bloodline (for bloodlines are very important to Mormons), he sheepishly responded:
“My grandmother on my mother’s side was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian squaw. I used to visit her in her Hogan from time to time.” He was embarrassed to admit this. But then he added:
“She was a typical Indian … Sweet, poor, and no furniture to speak of. I can still see her squatting on the floor as she did her routine work in her dark little Hogan that had only one window and a fire burning in the middle of the room — smoke rising up and out through a hole in the ceiling.”
This helps to explain why Daddy used to chide Mother when he saw her squatting on the floor sorting beans or such. He’d cry: “You look like an old Indian squaw! Get up and sit on a chair at the table to sort your beans — like a civilized person!!”
However, after joining the LeBaron cult and learning from my uncles the Mormon beliefs Joseph Smith taught about the American Indians — that they “were part of the lost ten tribes of Israel, and were going to play a very important role in the last days,” Daddy made an effort to get in touch with the indigenous American Indian side of himself.
He even began to exhibit pride in being at least one-quarter American Indian. I say “at least” because he was not sure of his full heritage — only that his mother was half American Indian.
But one day he took a trip to visit the Hopi and Navajo Indian villages in Arizona and New Mexico, returning home feeling very exhilarated, uplifted, and more proud than ever of his Indian heritage. It rubbed off on me: I’m at least one-eighth American Indian, and proud of it.
My Daddy(around ages 19 & 53 consecutively)
“Show me someone who
believes you can’t change history, and I’ll show you someone who
hasn’t tried to write their memoirs.” Mark Twain
My Daddy, Part 2
Daddy was his parents’ only child. They divorced when he was three years old. When he was 14 years old, his mother bore a daughter, Doris, by her second marriage. Sadly, when he was 27, she died of rheumatic fever, leaving Daddy his mother’s only child again — though he had half-sisters from his father’s second marriage that he eventually got to meet and spend some time with.
He was raised Methodist and held White Anglo-Saxon Protestant values, including their strong work ethic. Daddy was always a hard worker. You might even say he was a workaholic. That figures: His father was a “raging alcoholic.” Going to extremes in any area is indicative of addiction. God is a drug for religious addicts –– religious fanatics. Daddy gave up alcohol and tobacco when he joined the Mormon church at around age 28. Religion then became his drug of choice.)
“Twelve-Steppers,” especially ACA’S/ Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families — a 12-step program — know what I’m talking about. If these terms are new to you, it may be worth looking up 12-step organizations in your area. They were very valuable in my development, given the dysfunctional family I was brought-up in — I mean brought-down in!
Now back to more bio about Dad: “At around age four,” Daddy told me, “my mother gave me away to her sisters to raise. Years later, Mother wanted me back. But I refused to go back because I was so hurt and angry at her for what she’d done!! I was happier living with my aunts and cousins,” remarked my father.
Then he continued, “I often had to dig tunnels in the snow during winter time to get to school because the snow piled up so high. Sometimes it was up higher than the schoolhouse door. My school consisted of one room and one teacher teaching all the grades from 1st through 12th.
“I didn’t do very well in her classroom— Didn’t get along with that didactic, strict, bossy teacher. She regularly humiliated me in front of the class … often made me sit in the corner with a dunce cap on … partly because I was the clown of the class — always making the students laugh due to my witty wisecracks and cutting up.
“In fifth grade, I couldn’t take any more of this mean, punishing teacher I’d had since first grade. So I dropped out — refused to go to her one-room school anymore — though it was the only school around. I just couldn’t learn under her tutelage.
“However, from then on I felt I was a failure in many ways — not to mention that my parents divorced, then Mother gave me away when I was so little. That affected my self-worth. But due to my one and only elementary school teacher, I further questioned my self-worth, because I kind of believed it was due to my lack of brains that I wasn’t getting better grades in this teacher’s class.”
That bad impression of himself as a student and person went with him throughout his life. It affected his self-confidence and self-esteem, further adding to his shyness and his oftentimes not feeling very good about himself … in some ways.
But lack of a good supporting education, in and of itself, is enough to affect anyone’s self-confidence and achievement in life. They see many people able to accomplish things they cannot accomplish, often not realizing their only drawback was they had no competitive foundation — as in Daddy’s case where he had only a poor, one-room classroom education typical of the early 1900’s in backwoods pioneer towns. Education was not mandatory in those days. It was a privilege to go to any school. Families worse off than my fathers’ didn’t go to school at all.
It wasn’t till after 1918 and World War I had ended that our country realized public education must be made free, mandatory — and paid for by our tax dollars. It would not only prepare better future soldiers for our country’s defense system, but The Industrial Revolution, then in full swing, also required that people be able to read, write, do math, follow the Employer’s directions, show up for work on time, and be dependable. Mandatory education developed these skills and habits in an otherwise unruly, unschooled person.
But, despite a poor preparatory education, Daddy accomplished much more in life than many people with far better education and advantages. He was a proud and confident man in various ways, therefore. His being gifted, talented, and successful at things he attempted helped build his self-esteem, despite the negative aspects of his early education and childhood. This confidence exudes in his photos.
His teacher and that old-fashioned, backward school system had branded him as “Not Smart, a bad person, and a poor student — a DUNCE!” How sad, because he was a bright, gifted boy. I, having taught school for thirty years, should know what I am talking about!
It grieves me that there are teachers who can be so judgmental they brand children for life, thinking they know what they’re doing. They don’t! I’ve experienced this branding firsthand. It only shows the ignorance of the teachers who would do such a thing to any student.
Their ignorance, arrogance, ego, and the need to control gets the best of them. If they looked at and treated every student as if that child were the son or daughter of the school Superintendent, Principal, or President of the United States, I guarantee you that would take any judgmental Educator down a notch or two — and their students up a notch or two!
“Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic,
and power in it.
Begin it now.”
The year was 1958. The setting: Our home in Hurricane, Utah. The place: Around our average-sized family-room fireplace:
While the flames flickered and leapt, warmed and lit our cozy little living room, we Spencer kids (there were eleven of us then) sat huddled around our parents on the colorful rag rug Mother crocheted.
I was twelve, second to the oldest, and seventeen months younger than my oldest sibling, Doris — one of my rivals! While sixty-three-year-old Daddy sat situated on a high stool with a towel wrapped around his neck and shoulders, my talented, artistic thirty-seven-year-old Mother was at her routine task of trimming his white hair with the hair clippers he’d bought for this purpose.
As was often the case during such times, we kids were once again peppering Papa with personal questions about his intriguing boyhood, family, life … and white hair!
” I discovered my first gray hair when I was only fourteen years old!” Daddy explained. “Gray hairs really stand out when your hair is pitch black like mine used to be!”
My siblings and I were further enlightened when Mother got out Daddy’s scrapbook and a photo album so he could explain the pictures and keepsakes in them. There was a picture of my paternal grandmother dressed to the “T” in the high fashions of the early 1900s:
“My mother was a socialite,” he opined disapprovingly. “She was more concerned about her appearance and joining social circles than she was about staying home and being a good homemaker and mother. She always decked herself out in the latest grand styles of the day — as you can see in this picture,” continued Daddy, pointing to a photo of his attractive mother in a hat.
I never got to meet my paternal grandparents nor Daddy’s aunts who raised him. Daddy was about fifty-two when I was born. I was around five years old when, in her nineties, his last aunt died. At that time, she lived in Michigan and we lived in St. George, Utah. Lack of time and money precluded Daddy’s going to her funeral, though he had wanted to attend.
Before she died, I recall how elated he would be whenever a letter arrived from this aunt. Sometimes she would include a photo of herself, so I at least got to see what she looked like as a ninety-year-old woman … And I recall, too, the tears in Daddy’s eyes (a man who seldom showed any sign of tears) when he read the letter that said she’d died.
One of the many disadvantages of having a father old enough to be your grandfather is his parents die before you’re old enough to meet them — that is, if he even kept in contact with his parents at all — which he did little of.
Continuing with Daddy’s pictures: In another photo, his handsome “half-breed” entrepreneur mother stood on the porch in front of a wooden building. Daddy recounted: “My mother owned a hotel or boarding house. I helped her with the work there, oftentimes … sweeping the big porches, fixing things, and helping at the front desk.
“In my free time, I loved to create things that really worked … like miniature model windmills I carved and devised myself, where the blades of the windmill could actually turn if you blew on them … or when there was wind.”
He was very proud of his ingenuity and creativity — the things he was amazingly able to build or sculpt though only a young boy — a child … things nobody else around him devised or created, not even adults. He loved to draw, too — funny caricatures and so forth.
“I also loved to design and create things like little wagons and cars with wheels that could roll — and even little houses and buildings. And I loved to carve whistles, wooden ducks, dogs, and other toys that had wheels on them so they could be pulled around with us wherever we went — which was how we made our toys move back in those days.
“My dream was to be an Engineer — How I longed to be in the driver’s seat of a train and to work on trains. Trains were the big thing then — an invention just coming into existence when I was a young boy. It was back when most people did not own a car and Model T Fords were barely becoming the big rage among the rich.
“One of the first cars accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. I was thirteen years old when that car came out. Henry Ford was my idol! I loved that he was an Inventor. I wanted to be an Inventor myself — to design and create things like Ford and other Creators of my day.
“If I could’ve had my way and I’d had the advantage of money ‘n’ a good education, I would’ve been an Engineer. But instead of goin’ back to school ‘n’ workin’ for years to get the education I needed so as to go to college ‘n’ get an Engineering Degree, I married ‘n’ had a bunch of kids — to help build up God’s kingdom. Then spent my time workin’ to raise ‘n’ support my families — My first family with Eva. And now this one with yer ma.” Then Daddy changed the subject:
“As a youth, I never liked to sit around wastin’ time, nor to play silly games like the rest of the kids … liked to put my time to good use … to create things. Silly, noisy kids got on my nerves.* But being an only child was a very lonely life. That’s one reason I chose to have lots of kids when I got married.”
*Explanation: Daddy was an Introvert — a creative like me. If you do not know the characteristics of the different and unique special Introvert brain and personality, there are a number of good books on the market that explain this valuable and wondrous trait.
If you are related to Floyd Otto Spencer, chances are you and some of your children and posterity are also Introverts. Most Creatives, such as artists and writers, are Introverts or at least Ambiverts, as opposed to Extroverts. The world needs all these personality types.
The following are titles of three excellent books on this subject that you may be interested in reading or at least skimming. If you can’t find some of these in your library or online, there are other books on the subject.
1- “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World,” by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
2- “Party of One:The Loner’s Manifesto,” by Anneli Rufus
3- “The Highly Sensitive Person:How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,” by Elaine N. Aaron, Ph.D.
“You own everything that happened to you.
Tell your stories. If people wanted you
to write warmly about them,
they should have behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott
Going back to where we left off with Daddy saying he wanted to have a large family of children, let me tell you that this is one dream he fulfilled. He had eleven beautiful children with his first wife Eva Bowman Spencer. And fourteen more beautiful children with his second wife, my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer. Thus, he was not only guaranteed to never be lonely again but to never have a moment’s peace or quietude, either.
More often than not, there was even a new baby crying, keeping him up at night. But he finally learned how to pretty much fix that: He would waterboard them (not that uncommon, at least among the Mormon fundamentalists). At times, he would even beat the tiny new babies incessantly for crying. (Tears!!)
But mainly, he mostly held his big strong hand over their mouth and nose till they were suffocating, all the while yelling at them:
“Shut up the goddamned crying!! Do you hear?! Shut up, I said, or you’ll getmore to cry about!!”
After he did that consistently a number of times, it generally taught most of his babies not to be caught dead crying — if they could possibly help it. (Then you wonder why Morman fundamentalist children are so well-behaved?!)
He, like many fundamentalists, believed the Bible’s “Spare the rod and spoil the child” meant to literally beat the devil out of the kids so as to make them submissive to adults and thus to God. They believed the sooner they were made submissive, the better.
But I have since learned that some spiritual leaders believe “the rod” is only a metaphor for “the gospel.” In other words, if you don’t teach your children the gospel, they will grow up spoiled, wayward, and rebellious.
I believe force and brutality toward children — or anyone … or any animal — does just the opposite of beating the devil out of them: It beats the devilinto them; i.e., can make them angry, hateful, emotionally disturbed, mean, and devilish. It also can cause them to split from themselves, and to lose their will, give up, and become zombies or such. It breaks their spirit.
In fact, one of the best ways to hypnotize a hyperactive, incorrigible, misbehaving child is to plant yourself right in his/her space and yell vociferously in the child’s face: “Behave!!!! Stop that!!!” Or whatever else it is you wish of the child. The child will do what you tell him/her after that … at least for a while.
I wonder what kind of abuse my father suffered at the hands of adults when he was growing up since violent and abusive ways of parenting are generally passed down from one generation to the next.
Unless one is able to recognize, then intercept and stop this abusive cycle and pattern learned from one’s upbringing and teachings, it will be passed on to one’s own offspring ad infinitum!
But thank God/Goodness, there are now laws in our country that carry stiff penalties for abusing children — as well as women, animals — or anyone … thanks to coalitions of good people who have worked diligently together throughout our society and other civilized parts of the earth to make this world a better and safer place for everyone.
However, reclusive families, such as in cults, often remain backward when it comes to improvements in behavior norms. Believing they are the only ones with “the truth,” and lead by poorly educated, narrow-minded leaders, they learn nothing much from “the world” that, nonetheless, continues to change and improve as it strives to learn how to make a better world for all through education, college, books, publications, educational T.V., films, computers, and social media.
That said, one reason Daddy and Mother were so anxious to move to the LeBaron colony in Old Mexico in 1960 was that shortly before their decision to move, a Federal law was passed against Child Abuse. It stipulated dire legal penalties for parents who hit, beat, or otherwise physically abused their children. Daddy proclaimed vehemently, in regards to that law:
“What the hell right has the government to step in and tell me how to raise my children?! I am the Priesthood head of my family! The Bible says, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ In other words, parents are to ‘bend the twig’ correctly. We do that by beating the devil out of our children while they are still young enough to be taught how to behave and grow up as straight vines, not twisted, warped ones.
“Once a seedling is warped, you can’t change it. You can observe an example of that in plants and trees that weren’t supported and staked properly so they would grow straight rather than deformed. I can’t wait to get out of this wicked country and gather with the Saints in Zion, there in Colonia LeBaron where I’m free to exercise old, time-honored Biblical laws when it comes to raising my family!”
“A good memoir is born from that uniquely important place in your personal history.” “Writing Your Hot-Topic Memoir” Dr. Scott
Daddy was an autodidact.In other words, he was self-taught in many areas. He would get books on auto mechanics, carpentry, building construction, watch and clock repair, farming, health — you name it — and learn how to do these things … How to eat healthfully, for example. Sometimes he took Night School classes too.
By the late 1940s or early 1950s, he was a Singer Sewing Machine salesman and repairman. He went from home to home selling and setting up this newfangled, popular electric sewing machine that had quickly outdated the old treadle sewing machines.
He taught the proud owners how to use their new modern electric Singer sewing machine and its many attachments — such as the attachment for making buttonholes. And he maintained the machines, should they need servicing.
Later on, he morphed into a self-employed entrepreneur — a General Contractor, capable of building homes and commercial buildings from the ground up, including creating the blueprints.
People hired him because he could save them money, time, and trouble by doing everything himself: He could do the blueprint, foundation, building’s frame, cement work, flooring, roofing, electrical, plumbing, brick and rock work, landscape, carpentry, painting, and whatever else the new building required.
Provided they had time to wait for a one-man job to be finished, he was your man. Hiring a bunch of contractors and construction workers to do the job all at once was much more expensive and time-consuming, but would get the job done a lot faster if that was what one needed to do.
Because he was an introvert (or ambivert?) he preferred to work by himself. It’s a good thing because he didn’t get along well with most people. He had an artistic, fastidious, and perfectionistic personality, topped off with religious fanaticism, a high-strung, short-fused temper, and a sharp tongue. What’s worse, he regularly called to repentance people in his presence he saw doing things that were against his religion!
For example, he would tell mainstream Mormons they were headed for hell because they had given up plural marriage, practiced birth control, and had “mutilated” the holy temple garments Joseph Smith “ordained of God” and said should never be cut nor otherwise changed. This foot washing fundamentalist father of mine took his religion very seriously!
That said, he would regularly worry, harass, and chastise women in the Mormon fundamentalist groups, too, for doing things like cutting their hair, sporting “worldly hairdos and makeup” — and for wearing their hemlines too high and their necklines too low! (Hemlines were supposed to be about down to the ankle, and necklines about up to the collarbone.)
“That tight sweater and skirt you’ve got on is exactly what leads men to rape women! You look like a goddamned Delilah!!” he swore at me one day when I was thirteen years old and dressed to go to school. That sure “learnt” me a lesson!
Though I took off the sweater and skirt, so popular in the 1950s, and never wore such clothing again (during my life in the fundamentalist cult) I now know there is no excuse for men to rape women under any condition!
If how women look or dress determines whether they get raped or not, then what about Aborigines and other Indigenous societies who go/went around, as a way of life, stark naked, half-naked — and “half-baked“? (Pun intended.)
It’s all a matter of culture, style, and one’s values, really. Women are not to blame if some all-brawn-no-brains men choose to dominate and use women to their own advantage.
A man’s being more muscular than women doesn’t make him superior to women. It certainly doesn’t give him the right to brutalize them or run them. Only backward people adhere to that old-world way of thinking.
In general, men aren’t superior to women, other than muscularly. (When I was young and in shape, I was able to win more than one out-of-shape man in an arm wrestle, LOL!) Women are not objects, either, as some men seem to think. Men don’t own them — nor do they have the right to strong-arm nor otherwise control women — despite what some fundamentalist Mormons, et Al, believe.
But getting back to Daddy, his regularly chastising others and setting them straight led me to believe he, himself, was pretty perfect. He must be, it seemed, if he could call others on the carpet for not adhering to our extremist sect’s strict dress code or other such. If he could call others to repentance, he must be doing everything right himself, yes?
However, in hindsight (always the best sight) I see he needed to lighten up, simmer down, mind his own business — and quit projecting his own fears and faults onto others. In other words, like so many of us, he needed more patience and persistence, and less pestering of others; i.e., He needed to exhibit more charity. He just didn’t know it yet.
My Memoir: My Daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer PART 6
“Like all the arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study,
nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain
the highest possible perfection in it.” Arthur Conan Doyle
Shortly before Daddy died, I saw a change in him. His visage fairly glowed, and he had become much more loving, relaxed, patient, kind, and happy — such that I no longer feared so much being in his presence. He had become more pleasurable to be around.
It was as though he’d undergone an epiphany — a life-changing experience, though I was not around him enough nor on comfortable enough terms with him to inquire as to any such experiences he might have had. Furthermore, I was married then, and very busy taking care of my six-month-old baby at the time he was nearing death … then died.
During his lifetime he had always done a lot to help others. Being an all-around handyman and Jack-of-all-trades and Master of a few, people often came to him for advice or called on him to help them fix something.
He never turned them down, that I know of, much to Mother’s frustration and dismay. More than once I heard her complain, “Daddy, why don’t you turn some of these people down?! There are things piling up around here to be done while others impinge on you to work for them for free!” (Mother generally called him “Daddy” just as we kids did.)
Yes, he had plenty of his own work around the house waiting to be done. But people appreciated and respected Daddy for his knowledge and know-how when it came to being “Mister-Fix-it-Man,” and he enjoyed his revered reputation, too. He was no Scriptorian, though … unlike my mother’s brother, Ervil LeBaron, who often called on Daddy to fix things for him.
Uncle Ervil, who many of my readers may know of or will soon hear about, was just the opposite of Daddy. He spent most of his time studying Scriptures and Mormon religious works, writing some — and preaching a lot. I don’t recall him ever doing any manual labor. He managed to get my father and others to serve him, instead.
I don’t know how much money religiously-stalwart Daddy also put toward supporting Uncle Ervil and all Ervil’s many wives and children, as well as my other uncles and their families, at times, when they were hard up for money and food.
I only know he certainly paid much more than his 10% in tithing, despite the large family he, himself, maintained. And he did this right up until the day he died at about seventy years of age! There was never any retirement for him — my hard-working papa!
Like everyone else, dedicated and diligent, conscientious Daddy liked feeling special and needed. And he enjoyed serving God, all the while being able to put to use his skills and ingenuity as he helped repair others’ broken equipment, or advised them on how to build something — or taught them how to do some of these things for themselves. Thus, he employed many of the things he had learned how to do … right up until the day he died.
So where he lost favor with people due to his judgmental temperament and sharp tongue, he gained respect and popularity by being otherwise naturally unassuming and willing to lend a humble, helping hand. And he benefitted from that respect, acceptance, and connection. It was a wonderful interchange of mutual love and appreciation.
*Other facts about Daddy that I didn’t bring up earlier:
*He was very sensitive, astute, and strong-willed. Therefore, as a young man, he abandoned his parents in Michigan, due to fallings-out with them — never again to contact them nor to return home for a visit.
His aunt had raised him since he was around four or five, I believe, as I related in an earlier blog. I’m not sure how young he was when he left his aunt’s home and took off to make it on his own. I’m only sure he was a true survivor. And what didn’t kill him made him stronger!
*Once he proudly told me: “At age twenty-eight, I gave up smoking and drinking when I joined the Mormon church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). I was able to quit “cold turkey!” I simply decided to quit. And I never smoked again!”
And Daddy said, of his past smoking habit: “People who will smoke will drink, and people who will drink will chase women.”
He also informed me: “I gave up square dancing, too, because I found that it led to fornication when men and women danced with other than their own spouse or partner.”
*Once, when I was twelve years old, he caught me looking up the word “sex” in the dictionary. He reproachfully admonished me, proclaiming: “The words “sex” and “fun” should be cut out of the dictionary!! Sex is only for procreation! And people shouldn’t be wasting their time playing/ having fun. The Lord’s Kingdom won’t get built up that way!”
I disagree with him in some of his misconceived conceptions. But we all are in a process of learning and growing during our lifetimes. I bring up these above points to simply show what a stoic life he, I, and other true-believing fundamentalists lived.
But other points in his favor are that while Daddy was living in Arizona, and raising a large family with his first wife Eva, he was a Boy Scout Master, which position he enjoyed and was very proud of.
And he was even Mayor of a small city for some time, I was told. But I’m not sure what city that was, let alone the dates. My daughter checked and couldn’t find his name listed as having been Mayor of the city where I thought my parents said he’d been Mayor. So who knows! More family lore?
The Writer’s Prayer:
“Make this tale live for us
in all its many bearings, oh Muse.” Steven Pressfield The War of Art
While married to his first wife Eva,* for some time Daddy owned a small Mercantile shop. Then World War II removed his main source of income, rubber tires:
“The war efforts needed all the rubber to build war equipment. Selling tires for the Model T Ford, and other such, was how I covered my overhead. So I was run out of business when I couldn’t sell rubber tires anymore,” he explained.
“While I still owned my store, a woman would come in daily and hit on me. I finally told her, ‘I haven’t got caught up to home yet!’ That sure put a damper on things!”
Daddy loved to tell that joke. One great thing about him is he was good at ad-libbing jokes and getting a laugh — a natural comedian, he had a wonderful sense of humor. Sadly, he tried to curb this special talent once the LeBaron cult started cracking down on light-mindedness — considered a sin. (They didn’t know “Laughter is the best medicine.”)
I never spent much time around Daddy. Highly sensitive me avoided being in the same space with him whenever possible.When I had to be around him, I hid in the shadows. When I could do so without being noticed, I would escape to my attic room, especially after I became a teenager because his anger and abuse doubled toward me by then.
I already mentioned a little about this in previous blogs: He had a terrible temper that I got the brunt of more than all the rest of his children put together. I was the scapegoat of the family, so was glad he was usually away from the house working all day. That lessened the stress I endured because of him — and because of Mother. She would get me in trouble with him every chance she got — like every day, once I became a teenager!
But on Sundays, he did not work — which meant he was always home keeping the Sabbath. After our daily morning prayers were said in the big family circle, breakfast, and our family Sunday School service was over, Daddy would sit in his overstuffed armchair in the living room and read the newspaper and comic strips in front of the fireplace he had built and decorated with petrifiedwood rock work.
Hidden out of his view and reach, I loved watching how he would sometimes laugh till he teared up reading the Little Orphan Annie comic series. As a child, I especially loved it when he would throw me the “Funny Papers” after he got through reading them.
Then I would lie on my stomach on the carpet, a distance from him, and try to read and understand The Funnies. But try as I may, as a kid, I never could figure out what Daddy found so funny about his favorite comic strip, Little Orphan Annie.
I lacked the maturity and experience to comprehend such things. Daddy was twenty-six years older than Mother, and about fifty-two years older than I — old enough to be my grandfather.
But other than being around him on Sunday mornings so I could get the funnies once he was through with them, mostly I avoided being in the same room with him. I was afraid of him.
By the time I was 14, almost every day he would lash out at me, both physically and verbally. And, often, he would make fun of me and put me down in front of my family or friends … or whoever else happened to be around when he found a reason to ridicule me and “put me in my place.”
Because of this, I developed a confused love-hate feeling for him, though I never realized it till much later. Mother always told us what a saint Daddy was and that he was the very best man in the whole wide world! Needless to say, I never got to learn a whole lot about my father, due to it being so miserable for me … so threatening to be around him.
But I remember, when I was four years old, he took an oil painting class. I recall him sitting out under the backyard trees with his easel and paints, copying some nature scenes that included our house he had bought around two years before when it was not much more than a shack.
He was remodeling it to make it a livable home. He would buy a run-down ramshackle of a place, fix it up into a fairly decent abode, then, before we had much time to enjoy the better living conditions, we’d end up moving, for one reason or another, to a new ramshackle abode. And the whole damn scene would start all over again — we Spencers living in a mud adobe abode or whatever, till he fixed it up into a half-decent place to live — and then we would move. “Why couldn’t we ever stay in the home once it got fixed up and had running water, a shower, electricity, and a flushingtoilet?” I used to wish and wonder.
We moved around twelve times from the time I was born in a mud adobe abode in Mexico till I turned fourteen! Then we moved back again, “fool” circle, to another mud adobe abode in the Mormon fundamentalist cult where I first started out: Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico!
Then, wouldn’t you know, no sooner did Daddy do a complete makeover of our new mud adobe abode in Colonia LeBaron, but what I was married off at age sixteen in an arranged polygamous marriage! And that entailed moving again, this time to my own home … and another mud adobe abode!)
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato … quoting Socrates
In the Previous blog, I mentioned that when I was around four years old, Artist Daddy, with easel and oils, used to sit beneath the big green shade tree in our front yard and paint the nature scenes around about him. Often he used our home as a backdrop for his paintings. Mother kept these “Masterpieces” hanging on the wall in our home, proudly showing them off to visitors.
But, sadly, Daddy didn’t continue for long with his oil painting hobby and venture. Though oil painting had been a lifelong dream and yearning of his, he was in his late fifties when he’d finally had the where-with-all to try his hand at it. But, sadly, he soon discovered oil painting or water coloring pictures — or even sketching — took a lot more time and money than he could devote to his beloved hobby, Artist though he was … better still, “frustrated Artist”!
What it boiled down to was he had to give up his artistic drive and dream because it conflicted with what he believed was his higher calling: To bring little spirits up in heaven down into good Mormon fundamentalists homes; i.e., to have all the kids he could have! He was devout, to be sure. Whatever his faults, there was a lot of good and good intentions in this man.
After he sacrificed his painting hobby, due to conflicts of interests — God, his family, and religious beliefs came first — Mother gave him piano lessons because around about that time he had finally bought trained–concert-pianist Mama a piano!
But when he saw four-year-old me couldsit down and play by ear whatever I heard him practicing as he struggled to learn to play by note, he was humiliated and felt cheated that it should come so easily to me, a little kid, what he had to work so hard for as an old man.
So, just like my older sister … and for the same reasons, I suspect … they both soon gave up for good and forever any attempt to learn to play the piano. But Daddy qualified it with some truths when he said:
“Bein’ an artist and playin’ musical instruments is for rich people. It takes an awful lot of time. And I have to spend my time and energy makin’ a living to support my family.” Then he added, as an afterthought,“Rich people get rich off the backs of the poor.”
However, I would qualify it with: “The Haves” and “The Have-nots”
can usually be traced back to
“The Did’s” and “The Did-nots.”
For example, the “Haves” did not have a lot of kids and wives! They chose “Quality over Quantity.”
Even so, Daddy had learned to play the harmonica as a young man. When I was 10, he taught me how to play “Home, Sweet Home” on it. From there, I was off and running, easily picking out by ear other tunes on the harmonica.
But something I could never do was whistle, though Daddy could whistle like a Pro — the only one in our family that could ever do that, far as I know. Though we all really tried hard to learn how to whistle.
In fact, when I was nine years old, it was quite a funny sounding scene around our home and yard, there for a while: All of us kids and even Mother went about trying to “whistle a happy tune,” when, at best, we weren’t blowing much more than our lips, hot air, and a lot of strange sounds!
But whenever Dad was at home and working around the place, he was his own radio — and ours too! His whistling could be heard throughout the home and yard. And I loved it — loved his beautiful whistling of tunes that were always right on pitch.
In fact, one breezy spring morning in Hurricane, Utah, when I was around eleven, I was blown away when I heard Daddy out in the barn milking Bossy, our auburn Jersey cow, exquisitely whistling the hit tune from the 1950s Musical Oklahoma!: “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!”
Mother was a trained concert pianist. But Daddy’s musicianship was that of a gifted, born Whistler! I never realized, back then, what an asset and talent it truly is to be able to whistle — whistle any melody beautifully! Oh, how I would love to be able to do that myself.
“In the course of my life,
I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have
always found it a wholesome diet.”
Winston Spencer Churchhill
In the previous blog, we were talking about some more of my father’s accomplishments and sacrifices. Among other such memorabilia is the following: He was a proud Veteran of World War I. He fought with the 308th Engineersfrom Ohio to the Rhine. There are videos of his Platoon on YouTube, showing them constructing a bridge, among other things.
While with his Platoon in France, during his WWI Service, Daddy got to meet Winston Spencer Churchhill! So he had double the reason, on January 24, 1965, for taking three days off work to keep his ear tuned to the radio all day and into the night when Churchhill died.
Yes, for three days he listened to the constant end-to-end radio broadcasts about world-famous leader Winston Spencer Churchhill as Radio Broadcasters expounded upon the many great accomplishments and services this icon had performed for society. Daddy could especially relate to Churchill’s accomplishments when it came to World War I and World War II. Sadly, I didn’t even know who Winston Spencer Churchill was!
It figures, as, at the time Churchill died, I was eighteen years old, had been married off in an arranged marriage at age sixteen, and held captive in the LeBaron doomsday cult in Mexico since August 1960.
August 1960 was the unfortunate date my parents uprooted our family, locks, stocks, shocks, and barrels, to move to Zion “to gather and mingle with the Saints and avoid the calamities that were coming very soon to wipe out the wicked. (Colonia LeBaron was “Zion.”) In hindsight, I see it was really quite the other way around: Gathering to Zion was nothing but a calamity!
I had barely graduated from eighth grade, in Hurricane, Utah, before we left for this “Zion.” My parents walked us right into a ready-made viper’s den and cult calamity, thinking they were doing just the opposite — preparing for the end of the world that was due any week … if not sooner.
Well, it WAS the end of my world! Their man-made CALAMITY wiped out and ruined my hopes for “The good life.” I have been trying to do catch-up ever since.
As cult-fate would have it, there was plenty of wickedness going on in so-called Zion “to mingle with.” It turned out to be quite a little colony of “Saints” — or a “Little House of Horrors”!
I’m just glad it wasn’t another Jonestown! At least my self-proclaimed Prophet Uncle Joel never asked us to drink the Kool-Aid. However, self-proclaimed Prophet Uncle Ervil was quite another story.
As my Memoir unfolds, you shall hear what I mean. Because I intend to unmask the Colonia LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist cult life I endured while stuck living eight years in Mexico down past the Rio Grande — a life I barely survived to blog about. It was about fifty-eight years ago, as of March 2018, that my family “gathered to Zion.” I have been trying to get over it ever since.
Their prophet, my Uncle Joel LeBaron, had prophesied: “The destructions foreseen in the Book of Revelations are coming any day now to rain down upon the United States! Mexico is the land of refuge for the Saints.” Mother claimed she, too, had seen this “end of days” in a dream!
Go figure: The sky was falling … another Chicken-Little story … or LeBaron story? If you want to get power, claim you’ve had a revelation, a dream that shows the world is coming to an end. You’ll most likely get some followers.
The truth is, yours and my world IS coming to an end: We never know the hour of our death … the end of our OWN world. (Maybe that’s what scares people to death so much!) But the world, itself, and new life will continue on, as it has for thousands of millenniums.
If you claim “the sky is falling/ the world is coming to an end, some Millennial’s (i.e., Messianic apocalyptic dooms-dayers who believe the end of the world and “the Millennium” is imminent) will likely believe and follow you. Chicken Little sure got his following … if you recall that children’s fairytale.
But now back to reality: After being pulled out of school and moved to that secluded and barren, Chihuahuan Desert wilderness, I had no chance for further education.
That was a calamity in itself! Quite the end of my world — at least as I had known it. I, a Bookworm, wasn’t even allowed to read, let alone have any contact with the outside world, in any way, shape, or form. So, no: I wouldn’t know who Churchhill was.
Before I was married, while living in LeBaron’s “Zion,” all my family-of-origin had, as far as connections with the outside world were concerned, was Daddy’s little battery-run radio — which only he was allowed to use!
Even worse, all we ever heard about from Mother was mostly cult dogma and propaganda. And how great she and her family heritage was: Her father, mother, brothers — especially her brothers, Joel and Ervil, the “prophets” of the cult! Mother had to be number one. So, sadly, I never got to know how special my father’s Spencer heritage was. For some reason, Daddy never mentioned it either. Or maybe he did but I wasn’t around to hear.
NOTE: Though there is more to relate, as to my father’s history, I will relate it in the context of my own continuing Memoirs.
For now, I conclude my nine-part series,”My Daddy,” (Renamed with the lyrics of the following comical song I wrote. There is a verse in it about my amazing father. But first this Intro:
Dearest friends and fans: Please note:
This “sorta” silly song I wrote
Is half-finished so I won’t gloat, And pray my poemwon’t get your goat.
But it’s late — blog’s due “mañana.”
If you check this song later on … uh …
You may find it’s been partly “re-wrote;”
“I know it needs work” is my last quote.
Even so, hope you enjoy what I wrote. And, now, I humorously emote:
Hi! I’m a hack who’s written a hit Called “Pretty City Chick.” It’s a Hee-ha comedy song —
A bit o’bio in verse, Fer better er worse —
With truth ‘n’ exaggeration
Pretty City Chick (By Stephany Spencer)
Hey, they say I’m a pretty city chick. And Hillbilly music
makes some sick,
But, my Hillbilly ways Are here to stick;
So we may as well Get over it — And join in
And sing a bit,
‘Cause I’m a city chick, But shit-kickin’ music
is my shtick. Born in Mexican sticks
I’ve dual citizenship, And I’m a city chick.
I’m an all-American-mongrel,
Apple-pie girl —
A Hines-57 mixed-up mutt, With apple pie stickin’
To my butt ’n’ gut. But red-necked
Ain’t my thing.
I came 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 shtickin’ to it!
My father was
A proud Veteran
Of World War I.
Those Vets were
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; Poet, performer,
Trained concert pianist —
She loved to discuss
Religious principles, too,
And read religious Lit,
Old and new —
Long as it agreed
With what she
She graduated with a BA
In Journalism too.
Quite an accomplishment
‘Cause Ma was sixty-two!
She was running me
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 than you!” (And she meant it too!)
Refrain: Hey, they say I’m a Pretty city chick;
Though Hillbilly music
Makes some sick,
My Hillbilly ways Are here to stick.
So you may as well
“Git” over it
And join in And sing a bit!
‘Cause I’m a city chick, And shit-kickin’ music
Is my shtick.
Born in Mexican sticks
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!”
The following is an iPhone video of me at the California Writers Club, March 2017, performing the above song I wrote, “Pretty City Chick (before I recently re-edited it):“
NOTE: This concludes my nine–part Series, “My Daddy,” renamed “Pt 1-9: My Father Floyd Spencer, Fundamentalist Mormon LeBaron Cult Member.”
Thanks for visiting and sharing my blog site with me.
I love to write. But it’s icing on the blog when I have readers who devour it on top of my cooking it up!
In future blogs, I’ll tell you a little about my maternal grandparents and Mother — How she and Daddy met, some of their adventures together, etc. —
That is, I may tell you about the beginning of my father’s Mormon fundamentalist cult saga that culminated with his bringing me into the world — along with many other kids and events — which culminated in my creating this Blog. Chain reactions? That’s life!
My Memoir: Part 19-P — Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — More Perils of Polygamy
“As I sifted through my memories,
my life came to me in bits and pieces,
often disconnected, just like my dreams. Even normal memory has gaps,
but traumatic memory is even more discontinuous.
This is my story, which put me back together.” Lost Boy Brent W. Jeffs
Continuing where I left off in “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer– And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-O”:
As I said previously, my sixteen-year-old first cousin Jenny Lou LeBaron’s parents weren’t around to snoop into her private diaries. So my uncle Ervil LeBaron won the second time around in his efforts to get Homer Babbitt a child bride in exchange for a parcel of his land.
After getting Jenny married to Homer, he set to work to convince his bosom-buddy Billy Tucker to follow through with marrying me — the way my parents wanted him to.
But let’s back up a bit. At first, Ervil (one of Mother’s younger brothers) didn’t know what hit when he found I was suddenly being given away to Billy! Like how was he, Ervil, going to explain to Homer that, despite the revelations he got that I was supposed to marry him, Homer, his sister Esther (my mother) had her own “revelation” I was supposed to marry Billy/William Preston Tucker?
But, Ervil, as usual, wormed out of his having promised me to Homer by coming up with a new revelation for Homer as to whom he was to marry when the first “revelation” fell through.
Nonetheless, “Evil Ervil” was blindsided in his own shenanigans and misuse of power because he had no idea my parents knew about his secret attempt to marry me off to Homer Babbitt! I had no idea my parents knew about it either. I found that out far down the line — after I was already Bill’s concubine.
So, despite Ervil’s efforts to keep “the adversary” (the devil) from finding out about his plans, lo and behold, “the adversary” — in the name of my parents — did find out about the self-proclaimed-profit Ervil’s latest priestcraft! And in a most unexpected way. But Mother, with Daddy’s help, had me convinced it was “through a dream — a revelation” she “came to know” I was supposed to marry Bill Tucker!
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had not told my parents what Uncle Ervil LeBaron (The Second Grand Head in the Priesthood of the LeBaron cult) was directing me to do, because Uncle Ervil, who practically stood as God to the people, had told me, “God doesn’t want your parents to know till you’re already married to Homer.”
“Let’s keep this a secret between me, you, and Homer,” Uncle Ervil had adamantly whispered to me. “We don’t want “the adversary” to get wind of what’s going on here and try to stop God’s work — God’s desire you marry Homer to help build up His kingdom on earth.” (Replace “God” with “Ervil.”)
(Continued in: “My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-Q”)
*Anna LeBaron, in the following video, is one of my many first cousins, and one of my Uncle Ervil LeBaron’s almost 60 children:
NOTE: Weeks ago I published a compilation of Parts 1-10 of “My Memoir: My Mother, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked.” The following is the rest of that 18-part series on my mama.
My Mama, Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer: Ma Meets Pa … Or Was It the Other Way Around?
My daddy, Floyd Otto Spencer, around 1917
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Winston Spencer Churchill
“It was love at first sight!” exclaimed Mama. ” On October 13, 1943, while I was visiting my brother Alma’s friend, in walked a tall, dark, and handsome stranger [Floyd Otto Spencer]. I knew, the moment I laid eyes on him, he was the man for me!
I was about twenty-three, then, in my second year at Tempe State University — And quite sure I didn’t want to live polygamy! But all that changed after I saw yer pa because I knew, the minute our eyes met, he was the man I was supposed to marry!” [NOTE: See “Spencer Family Album and Scrapbook,” compiled by my sister Nola.]
“So the following day, while your Pa was up on the roof in sunny Mesa, Arizona, helpin’ my brother Alma re-roof my brother Ben’s house, I took advantage of the chance to be up there on the roof, too, so I could get to know ‘the tall, dark, and handsome stranger.’ ”
It didn’t matter that my future Daddy was twenty-six years her senior, already married to a beautiful woman, Eva Bowman, and together those two had ten gorgeous children — and another on the way. None of that mattered because Mama was a Mormon fundamentalist.
What did matter in Mormon fundamentalist eyes is Ma was “an old maid” at the time she met future Pa. Now, how had she, an attractive, gifted, and accomplished young woman, existed so long under the radar without being “married up”? For “Plygs” are generally married off as children — because, to them, marriage and having all the kids one can have is what Life is all about.
All that matters to Mormon fundamentalists, in general, is having all the kids and wives they can have — so as to bring all the little spirits they possibly can into “good Mormon fundamentalist homes.”
These homes are the best homes in the world, they believe. They simply sacrifice their ALL to serve God by bringing as many as they can of these little “foreordained spirits” down into “good Mormon homes;” i.e., homes that live the “fullness of the gospel,” as Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught it — Homes where not one jot nor tittle of these early prophets’ words and teachings have been changed! (Is that obsessive-compulsive or what?! Well, they don’t think so.)
But getting back to where I got sidetracked, I’ll tell you what Mother was doing still single at twenty-two: This “catch” was “a Mexico LeBaron.” Now if you’re a Mormon fundamentalist, you know what that means: There was mental illness in Mama’s Family — “The Mexico-LeBaron Family.”
Let me give you some backstory — if I have the story right. (LeBaron stories are/ were wont to change from time to time): Ma’s big brother, my Uncle Ben, was not only bipolar/schizophrenic, but had recently let the various Mormon fundamentalist groups know they were to follow him as their “Priesthood Head,” because he was the “One Mighty ‘n’ Strong.” Uncle Ben further quipped: “I get revelations from God regularly … Thus sayeth the Lord! “
He claimed his father had given him a special priesthood mantle — the “Scepter of Power,” or “The Right of the Firstborn.” (My maternal grandfather, Dayer LeBaron, taught his family this mantle of priesthood power was given to him, Dayer, by his own grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson — who got it from the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Crazy? And how!)
In today’s blog, it’s not my intent to go into Mormon fundamentalist and LeBaron doctrine, other than to say all this above crazy business meant Uncle Ben claimed to hold the priesthood keys to the kingdom of God on earth. So he was, therefore, “The one Mighty ‘n’ strong, come in the last days to set the house of God in order” — as prophesied in Mormon scriptures.
Mormon fundamentalists believe “The house of God” (the mainstream Mormon church) had gotten out of order and lost the keys to the priesthood and, thus, favor with God when they signed away plural marriage in the Manifesto of 1890. For polygamy was the highest commandment their Prophet Joseph Smith had given them.
Trust me, that’s all we have time to tell about these fundamentalist doctrines and beliefs, at the moment. We’ve already gotten far off the subject of “Ma Meets Pa.” But at least now you know why Mama did not feel she was a home-breaker … Instead, believed she was a “home-maker.”
My parents, Esther LeBaron-McDonald and Floyd Otto Spencer
Home Sweet Home
Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like home —
There’s no place like home
‘Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.
A charm from the sky
Seems to hallow us there,
Which seek thro’ the world,
Is ne’er met with elsewhere
To thee, I’ll return,
Overburdened with care;
The heart’s dearest solace
Will smile on me there
No more from that cottage
Again I will roam;
Be it ever so humble,
There’s no place like home.
NOTE: “Home Sweet Home” was one of Daddy’s favorite songs. (When I was ten years old, he taught me to play it on the harmonica).
This classic folksong and hymnwas written by American lyricist John Howard Payne and English composer Sir Henry Bishop for an opera that was first produced in London in 1823. The song became hugely popular throughout the United States, and was a favorite of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.)
Let’s continue where we left off in Part 11 of “My Mama,” where she was saying: “I didn’t feel I was a home-breaker … The thought never entered my mind. I believed I was a ‘home-maker’ because I brought your Pa into ‘the glorious Principle of Plural Marriage.’
“I knew his living this holy principle, as laid down by Joseph Smith, would ensure he would not only have a chance to obtain a home in heaven with God — but he’d also be able to become a God, himself, in the hereafter … and create worlds of his own … and, thus, many homes throughout eternity. Therefore, I was not a ‘homebreaker’ … I was a ‘home-maker.’ ”
So here we have fervent Mormon fundamentalist homewrecker, lovestruck Ma, instead of perched upon a chair doing her college homework, perched upon the housetop doing “home-maker” homework … flirting in a “pretty-please” position irresistible to future Pa — the guy Mama’s ma said, “had one-foot-in-the-grave.” (He was forty-eight years old — twenty-six years older than Mama.)
Now, while beautiful future Mother was ardently gazing into gorgeous future Father’s eyes, Mother’s brothers were arduously and assiduously helping lay new shingles as fastidiously as they were waxing unwise in converting future brother-in-law to polygamy, Mormon orthodoxy … and all its lies!
The re-roofing while preaching gave gorgeous Ma multiple moments to be with handsome Pa … Moments in which they got to know each other — up on the rooftop in sunny Mesa, Arizona.
All during this time, Uncle Ben wasted no time showing my future father, mainstream Mormon Floyd Spencer, Scriptures that would convince him the Mormon church was out of order.
However, he was unable to convince future Father that he, Benjamin Teasdale LeBaron, was the one mighty ’n’ strong — come to set the the Mormon church/ the house of God back in order — despite Uncle Ben’s constantly hearing voices from within while relating to future Father his “Thus sayeth the Lord!” revelations. “The word of God” came to my schizophrenic uncle on a regular basis … And on a stepped-up basis while working with and trying to convert future Father to his, Uncle Ben’s, new church.
Floyd Otto Spencer and Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Robert Frost
We left off where Uncle Ben wasn’t able to convince my future Pa, Floyd Spencer, that he, Benjamin Teasdale LeBaron, was The One Mighty ‘n’ Strong come to set the house of God in order. However, Uncle Ben had convinced Floyd Spencer the only way he could be saved was to enter into Plural Marriage; i.e., polygamy/ polygyny/ bigamy.
In fact, betwixt Ma and her brother Ben, my handsome mainstream Mormon pa, Floyd Spencer, was quickly converted to “Plural Marriage” and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalist gospel.
It wasn’t hard: My young sexy “future Ma” was regularly looking, with eyes aglow, into the eyes of my middle-aged “future Pa” — and the countenance of the man she “knew” she was to marry — And “Pa” had a reputation for being a womanizer — said a half-brother of mine I met years ago — one of Daddy’s sons by his first wife.
But what finally cinched Floyd’s conversion to polygamy was Uncle Ben’s reading him the 132nd sec. of The Doctrine and Covenants — the Mormon scriptural revelation wherein J. Smith commands his followers to live Plural Marriage or be damned to hell.
After future Pa’s conversion to Mormon fundamentalism, it wasn’t long thereafter before he and future Ma were lovers. Having first met on October 13, 1943, in cold January—three months later—the two were snuggled up in the bed of future Pa’s pick-up truck with Uncle Ben — or Uncle Alma? — in the cab at the wheel hitting the unpaved 1944 rocky rutted road at top speed while the vehicle bounced ‘n bumped up-‘n-down (‘n humped ‘n’ pumped?) as they sped along towards the Mormon town, Colonia Juarez, Mexico — so Pa could get permission from Ma’s pa to marry Ma — while they were still hopefully chaste?! Hmmm! (I would’ve loved to have gone along for the ride!)*
But Daddy didn’t get much permission from his legal wife Eva to take a ride — let alone a second wife. She could “take a hike,” as far as he was concernedbecause Joseph Smith’s commandment to “live polygamy or be damned”came ahead of everything else — and he’d be damned if he’d be damned!
So Eva, his wife of 23 years and mother of their 10 children — and one on the way — agreed to go along with Joseph Smith’s teachings that required a man live polygamy. I’m getting ahead of the story a little, now, when I tell you that after six-suffering months with her handsome, hardworking husband, she couldn’t take plural marriage anymore.
Feeling betrayed, and unable to bear any longer the heartbreak, jealousy, and loneliness brought on by her husband bedding and abetting his nubile twenty-two-year-old polygamist bride, on October 31, 1944, Eva divorced him on the basis of Adultery, Assault and Battery, Abandonment, Emotional Abuse, and Incompatibility.
While at it, she obtained a Restraining Order … barring him from their younger kids still at home with her. (Tears!) So Daddy never saw his youngest children again till they were in their mid to late teens. I was fourteen at the time and present when he met his two youngest, Jimmy and Vonda, for the first time since they were babies.
Daddy had to pull a lot of strings behind Eva’s back to get to see them. But he felt lucky they got to meet at all! These two children who did not know him had been so turned against him, it wasn’t a warm welcome, only a short reunion … but better than none.
*[NOTE: On January 15, 1944, in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, my mother was married to my father as a plural wife. A month later, on February 19, 1944 they went to Salt Lake City to be sealed by Joseph White Musser. Neither of these marriages were legal: Daddy was still married to his first wife Eva. But on June 22, 1945, they were legally married in Mexico because by then Daddy’s first wife had divorced him. (See “Spencer Family Album and Scrapbook” compiled by my sister Nola.)
A collage of Daddy’s two families, et Al
“That which does not kill you will make you stronger.” Nietche
Let’s go back to Part 13 where my “future ma and pa” lay or sat on a makeshift bed of blankets in the back of “future Papa’s” pickup. The blankets padded their backs and butts as they bounced and bumped along in a rough and rickety ride over 1944s rutted roads in their 1930s vehicle that soon left Mesa, Arizona far behind as they bounded for the Mexican border making lickety-split time!
Like bandits, they had to get out of Dodge to dodge the law that would like to put Pain jail for practicing polygamy. My young uncles Ben and Alma participated in the excitement and the anticipation as they sat in the truck’s cab taking turns at the wheel while conversing excitedly about their soon-to-be brother-in-law’s recent conversion to Plural Marriage and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalism.
They were proud of themselves and their ability to preach the gospel — their ability to be good missionaries. Felt they had done “a good day’s work” by bringing another soul into “The Work” — That is, “The work of God, in God’s only true Church upon the face of the earth.”
This “accomplishment” heightened their sense of self-esteem and self-worth — puffed them up a bit as they continued making a beeline for their hometown, the Mexican Mormon colony, Colonia Juarez … so their sister, Esther, could get their papa’s permission to wed — ASAP!
To make a longer story shorter, my parents Esther and Floyd easily obtained permission from Mother’s father to marry — though her parents weren’t particularly happy she was marrying a man over twice her age who already had “one foot in the grave,” as my maternal grandma liked to say.
Nevertheless, “future Mama’s” Mormon fundamentalist parents were relieved their middle child and youngest living daughter Esther LeBaron-McDonald had finally “come to her senses” … had, in the end, chosen to marry into polygamy.
I confess, they had been very worried about her salvation and her entering the highest degree of glory, once in heaven, because, for some years there, Esther had professed (to their dismay) not to believe in nor want to live plural marriage:
“Part of what changed my mind ‘n’ convinced me to accept ‘the holy and righteous Principle of Plural Marriage,’ Mama said, “is I had a marvelously inspired revelation — a dream that showed me plural marriage was right. It even outlined exactly how it should be lived … And how glorious it could be … if participated in correctly.”
Daddy, likewise, believed he had done the right thing to take a plural wife. But sometimes I wonder if he wondered if he’d chosen wrongly. For, not long after he’d married Mom to his dismay, his hair suddenly turned from Salt-and-Pepper gray to pure white … And thinned … as he turned “blue” and thinner under the unexpected stresses, losses, devastation, and sorrows that followed his new Mormon fundamentalist faith and lifestyle.
Especially devastating to him was losing his eleven children — not to mention his beloved wife Eva. Then, for all his sacrifices and attempts to live “The Holy Principle of Matrimony/Plural Marriage,” he was soon, again, a monogamist, anyway!! And remained that way till the day he died — was never able to take on another plural wife, so as to live “The fullness of the gospel.”
My ma was too jealous to let him take another wife — never mind that she, herself, took Pa from Eva! That’s what polygamists do, you know. It doesn’t enter their mind that they are taking somebody else’s husband or spouse. They are too busy believing they’re only serving God and abiding by Joseph Smith’s Commandments to live polygamy or go to hell.)
Ah, what travesties and travails life doth present us … And how much of our pain and sorrow do we bringeth upon ourselves because, though we may think we are doing what is right, we are, in reality, holding our fingers on a hot stove; i.e., We’re doing what is wrong. Pain is our warning that we’re doing something not good for us.
However, not realizing this, Daddy concluded: “I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God.
“She was too weak to follow me, her husband and priesthood head — too rebellious to live the fullness of the gospel. So, instead of doing what was right, by following God’s command to live plural marriage, she chose to do wrong — to get revenge … causing me no end of trouble with the law and the Mormon church. Even kept me from ever seeing my kids!!!*
“Nonetheless, I had to put God’s Commandments first … That is, to give my life for God and the truth. I knew I could not let her stop me from doing what I believed was right; I had to continue to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Holy Principle of Plural Marriage’ … or die trying … or I’d be damned.” (And he’d be damned if he’d be damned!)
* Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, it didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva and her kids. I suspect this was sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife and children into submission; that is, control them by “whipping them into shape.” Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives do … “so she wouldn’t deserve his wrath.”)
And, of course, when it comes to his first wife Eva, Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of her, nor the hurt he caused her and her/his family when he took on another wife and family.
Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt (when it comes to some things) – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law. Being stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.
My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron Spencer de McDonald– Ma Meets Pa … Part 15
“Home isn’t home anymore.” from Olivia Newton John’s song
We left off in last week’s blog where Daddy said:
“I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy-whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God and Joseph Smith. Instead, sEva was evil: She was rebellious … not spiritual enough to follow her priesthood head, do what was right, and live the fullness of the gospel.
“She turned my kids against me! Even took out a Restraining Order to keep me from seeing them ever again.* So I had to divest myself of her in order to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Principle of Plural Marriage’ or be damned.
“Before I married yer ma, Eva had agreed to go along with my takin’ a plural wife. But she soon changed her mind, betrayed me … and went to the law to get me in trouble.
“Because of her treachery, I had to sell out and flee the country. And set up a totally new homestead in Old Mexico — though I knew no Spanish! As an American, I wasn’t allowed to get a job and make a living there, either!
“Eva even had the Mormon church cut me off as an apostate! That was vengeful … traitorous! She couldn’t wait to get me into all kinds of legal fixes.
She ruined my estate. Due to her actions, I lost a lot of money. Had to sell, in too big a hurry, my home and almost everything I owned, to go into hiding in Old Mexico.
“Putting it succinctly, she was a revengeful ingrate. Her treachery and rebellion knew no bounds. It was unforgivable! She was, for so many years, my wonderful wife and helpmate — only to turn against me and do me in!”
Under these conditions, Daddy chose to stay with his new, twenty-years-younger-than-Eva wife, my Mama Esther LeBaron-McDonald.
Mom said, “After he married me, he had far fewer migraines than he’d had livin’ with Eva. She was a perfectionist, an immaculate housekeeper. And always pressured him too much.
“Yer pa could never please her enough. Her continuous and unending demands on him to make more money so they could live a better lifestyle stressed him out.”
Well, Papa got quite the opposite with Mama! She was a lay-back, easy-going creative and dreamer — never much concerned about what others thought of her housekeeping.
She lived in a dream world — believed she was high class and the greatest woman in the world … among other things. Believed she was above cleaning house and other such menial chores.
He must have missed Eva’s, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” for, in that way, Daddy was like Eva: He kept his shop organized and immaculate.
Born with the gene that enables people to organize things, each one of Daddy’s tools hung proudly and neatly on the wall in its own place when he wasn’t using it.
Not only that, his artistic placement of them formed a beautiful design, relaxing to the eye and pleasing to behold.
It was such a change from Mama’s disorganized, dirty home — which got increasingly worse over the years as she became more and more inundated and overwhelmed with the responsibility of too many children and all else that goes into managing a well-run household.
But to add to her distress and tiring, unending chores was, true to stoic Mormon fundamentalist ways, she was in a constant cycle of being either pregnant, nursing, or becoming pregnant again. And to be sure, women’s work never ends! And Daddy never helped out in the house. “That’s women’s work,” he said!
What’s worse, no matter how Mother’s state of health and energies declined, she and Daddy believed it their fervent, foot-washing duty to God to put childbearing first. Their family’s and their own needs and comforts were secondary when it came to bringing another little “fore-ordained special spirit” into their “righteous Mormon home.”
Mother and Daddy would give their life for any one of their yet unborn babies. That was Mormon fundamentalist doctrine. (It was more like putting the cart before the horse!)
I just wish they would’ve “given their life,” that is, their attention, love, care, and money more to the kids they already had. But Mama loved to tell people her dream was to have twenty-six kids or die trying! Instead, Daddy died “trying” at about age 70 — his last son was born not long before that.
But Mother remained ever the artist, as long as she lived … never much of a homemaker — though she designed beautiful clothes for us kids, curtains for the house, rugs for the floor — that sort of thing. She should’ve had servants, but we could not afford them.
But, after moving to Mexico, where labor was cheap, she would hire a cleaning lady, when the place got too dirty, the dishes, ironing, and laundry piled too high — and she couldn’t get one of her kids to do the menial maintenance work because they had grown up and flown the coop, or other such.
As for Daddy’s migraines, they generally let up, anyway, as people age. However, I’ve always wondered why Mother’s generally messy home didn’t give him a Full-blown migraine every time he walked in the door. Actually, Mummsy would hustle us all into the house to quickly clean up messes, as much as possible, just before Dad got home from work.
The house was still far from immaculate, but that helped keep him from flying into a rage because the place was a mess again and his meal was once more not on the table when he got home after a hard day’s labor in the fields — or doing construction work, handyman work, clock and watch repair. He was a Jeweler. He could have been doing myriads of other chores and jobs too. He was an industrious, hard-working man, gifted at so many things.
But what helped keep peace in the home most was Daddy knew Mummsy was in love with him. And so proud of him and all his accomplishments, talents, and abilities. He could not have been more appreciated and valued.
And, since Mummy believed she was the greatest woman on earth, it went without saying she believed he was the greatest man on earth — next to the Prophet! Papa liked that feeling of importance … of being cared for and honored — priesthood-Pappy … King of the roost.
On top of that, Mumsy felt rich due to how well Daddy/ Floyd O. Spencer supported her and her family. But “Rich” is relative. I suppose she was rich, in comparison to the dire poverty with which she and her indigent, scrabble-farming family grew up in Old Mexico — Not to mention, the pitiful want and starvation she saw all around her among many of the poor Mexican peoples! So I’d like to say Ma and Pa lived happily ever after … but did they?
* Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, that point of view didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva and their kids.
Violent, tyrannical Dad believed it his right to dominate and administer physical abuse when his wife or kids were in rebellion, made a mistake — or irked him. But sadly, Daddy was probably following the example he was raised with, didn’t know any better, and was only venting his anger, frustration, and pain.
But domestic abuse was certainly more than sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the-old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife and children into submission; i.e., control them by “whipping them into shape.”
Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives are taught to do … so she wouldn’t “deserve” his wrath.)
Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of Eva, nor the hurt he caused her and her family when he took on another wife and family. Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law.
Being Stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others involved … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.
Esther LeBaron-McDonald & Floyd Otto Spencer family in 1958
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Blaise Pascal
Picking up where we left off last week, I find it reprehensible Mormon fundamentalist dogma encourages women to intrude upon established marriages, break them up (as Mother did when she went after Father, who was already married and had nine or ten children at the time — and another soon on the way) — all in the name of polygamy; i.e., “living a higher law.”
In other words, it encourages adultery: It “legalizes” a woman’s going after a man she’s attracted to, though he is another woman’s “Contracted property.”
It’s altogether barbaric, ludicrous, deplorable, and inexcusable that a religion could teach doctrines and laws that break up marriages and families — doctrines and laws that leave the wife broken-hearted, betrayed, her home downtrodden, and her life and that of her kids smashed to smithereens.
Often, thanks to problems with trying to live polygamy, children are left to grow up fatherless. And the now-single wife is forced to be mother and father to her large family of small children – A sure way to invite misery, poverty, deprivation and under-class living.
That’s exactly what happened in my father’s case. His Junior-High-School-age kids even had to quit school and work to help support the large, abandoned family! My father’s betrayed wife Eva, now a sad, grieving, and lonely mother of eleven fatherless children, had to leave the home and go to work too.
So who was left to tend home and babies? Obviously, the older children had to play mama. And become premature homemakers.
That’s what happened! Unfortunately, all the above is a typical scenario that broken families endure, thanks to evils like Mormon polygamous doctrines that put “celestial marriage” ahead of everything else.
I’m not proud of the part Mum played in the dire suffering and hell Daddy’s first wife and children endured, even if it was part of Mummy’s fundamentalist Mormon religion to break up marriages.
I only know she could never stand to have done to her what she did to others. She never practiced what she preached. When it came to polygamy, she was too jealous to allow Daddy a plural wife.
And Daddy wasn’t about to take a plural wife unless Mom was in agreement. He’d already suffered, almost beyond endurance, after losing his first wife and eleven children.
Having learned his lesson the hard way, Dad wasn’t about to stumble, bumble, and ramble into another briar patch — wasn’t about to gamble again on whether taking a plural wife would or wouldn’t work — womanizer or no womanizer.
In other words, he wasn’t wandering down any more poison-ivy-bedecked garden paths — without his legal wife’s agreement and encouragement. Even then, he might hesitate.
For Eva had been in agreement, to begin with, when it came to her husband taking a second wife — to fulfill Joseph Smith’s commandment to live plural marriage or be damned. But within six months of Daddy’s having wedded Mummy — bedded Mummy, Eva could bear no more. She packed up kids and all and divorced him.
Though Mother probably didn’t know what she was doing, at age twenty-two or twenty-three, when she went after somebody else’s attractive father and husband “in order to live plural marriage” (that is, have the man she wanted) in the end, she herself was unable to share her handsome husband once Eva had left him.
She never encouraged Father to take another wife — never lived polygamy … never did anything but talk about it. Just as she talked about herself being the most perfect, holy, and righteous woman on earth — the most-Godly example of how to live “the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalism. Again, it was all talk.
Ma even wrote and disseminated articles on the subject of how to live plural marriage — and the importance of this “holy law of matrimony”!
Followers follow, so the Mormon fundamentalists she put pressure on and talked into going into plural marriage never took into account Mama had never lived it, herself, to speak of.
Anyway, Mother had, as the power behind her “punch,” the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live “the holy law of matrimony” or be damned to hell. So her followers drank the “punch” — and were damned to hell … till death do us part?? I damn well think so!
Even so, Mum had a following … admirers … true-believing people who idolized and lauded her — because she told them she knew she had her “calling and election made sure!”
If asked how she was sure she was going to the highest degree of glory when she died, she invariably vouched: “My Patriarchal Blessing told me so!” … as though she were so much more special than the rest of us.
The following link is a YouTube presentation done by my Aunt Susan Ray Schmidt (formerly Susan Ray LeBaron, one of Uncle Verlan’s former wives who left him), wherein she tells the audience how much she had longed to know that she was saved; i.e., had her “calling and election made sure” … “like Esther LeBaron Spencer:”
1964 LeBaron–Spencer family photo (one Sis not in Pic)
“A wise man learns from other man’s experience. A fool cannot learn even from his own. Will Durant
Taking up from last week’s blog: Since Mother did not/would not live polygamy when it came to sharing Daddy with another woman, I resent that she maneuvered and manipulated me into a harem — a life she could not live herself.
But what’s new?! Ma operated on a double standard: What was not good enough for her was good enough for her daughter. Or she and Daddy were hoping I would be able to live the “highest law of God,” even though “Perfect” Mother was not able to.
I’m sure she wasn’t duplicitous on purpose, but her actions showed a lack of integrity and forethought, not to mention, empathy. But what can you expect from a true-believing “Saint” trapped mentally, spiritually, and physically in a world of evil, lies, perversion, fraud, and fantasy — and unable to find a way out?
Perhaps, her lack of feelings and integrity was at least partially brought on by her splitting from herself due to not only subconscious guilt because she was not living all the gospel precepts she taught and believed in, but also because her artistic and other deep human needs were not being met.
All these needs conflicted terribly with her crazy Mormon fundamentalist beliefs she’d been so indoctrinated and brainwashed with since birth — such as having to have all the kids she could have, one after another, no matter what the condition of her health was! And having to live “The law of chastity” (I’ll explain this in a future blog) — just two examples of the strict fundamentalist beliefs her “profits/Prophets” had instilled in her.
She dared not do what was best for her or her family. She was taught that she had to do only what was best for “God” and “His gospel.” But when you remove the glittering generalities, you realize “God and the gospel” really referred to the “Profit” of the cult — he was “God and the gospel.” He was the one who benefitted from all the cult indoctrination, guilt, and fears he instilled in his followers.
Since Mummy dared not think for herself nor question “the truth,” she wasn’t aware of her two-facedness — if only because she couldn’t admit to herself she was “not good enough” to be able to live up to what she considered “the highest laws of God” … she who lived in a dream world, and told everybody she was the greatest, most righteous woman upon the face of the earth.*
So, though Mum raised me to believe I would go to hell if I didn’t live polygamy, she never lived it during her twenty-two-year marriage with Father — that is, after his first wife divorced him within six months of his marrying Mama as his polygamist wife. But, hey, fourteen children and one wife were more than enough for one old man — or young man!
It was a blessing in disguise, I realize, now that I have escaped the polygamist cult, that Daddy didn’t have more wives and kids for our family to contend with and have to share our parents’ attention, energies, and already meager income with. As for attention, what was that? About the only attention I ever got was when I was in trouble or they were piling on me more slave labor.
But, actually, as a Mormon fundamentalist, I didn’t think in terms of attention, being a slave, etc. That would’ve been “selfish and evil.” We were happy masochists in our misery as we denied ourselves in order to make any necessary sacrifices to bring more little spirits into “good Mormon fundamentalist homes “– such as ours. (LOL!)
We believed we were serving God by doing this. (We told ourselves a lot of stories!) But now that I look back on it, in reality, we were serving the self-proclaimed prophet/ profit, not God/Goodness:
The more kids we produced, and the more sacrifices we made, the more power and profit for the Prophet — and the more little girls available for him and his favorite priesthood members. As I’ve said before, it was all about quantity, not quality.
The cult leaders taught if we even dared question what they told us and whether polygamy and “the gospel” was correct, we would be turned over to the buffetings of Satan. That meant we would lose our mind and our soul — a very real concern for my Mother and for me.
*Please keep in mind: Throughout my blogs and Memoirs, I am talking only about the years I knew Mother. Everybody changes as they age. I had no contact with her the last few years of her life before she became riddled with dementia, then died at ninety-two.
So I’ll cut her some slack and say that she must’ve been doing something right or she wouldn’t have had so many people who loved her till the end and still have fond memories of her.
Bigamy Is “BIG LOVE” Literally
“One’s a plenty, two’s a crowd, Three on the sidewalk Is not allowed.” (Anonymous)
(But have you noticed in “Big Love” They may be doing it behind your back … As in behind closed doors? Step on a crack And try to keep track! Stephany Spencer
As mentioned in previous blogs, Ma raised me to believe I would go to hell if I didn’t live polygamy. Yet, she didn’t practice what she preached: She never lived Plural Marriage during her twenty-two years with Father.*
I resent this duplicity: How she incessantly preached “The Principle” and maneuvered others into it/polygamy as if she were a saint, Priestess, and the greatest example and authority on the subject — Though living “The Sacred Principle” was something she could not do herself — At least not while she was married to her own man.*
Maybe she felt she could vindicate herself for not having lived it – not having shared Daddy – by getting everybody else, instead, to share their husbands and live polygamy, “The Celestial Principle/Law of Marriage.”
But how I remember her ranting on about this “Principle” all the while I was growing up! And talking about how great “The Law of Celestial Marriage” was. Then she’d go on about the dream she had wherein God showed her how “wonderful and glorious” plural marriage is “when lived correctly.” I believe she got off on the power of pushing “The Principle.”
Pushing Plural Marriage as though she were the prime epitome of how to live it, is only one example of how she wasn’t honest with herself as to who she was and what she was doing by meddling in others’ marriages; i.e., directing others to live P.M., under the threat of going to hell if they did not — as if she, herself, were living polygamy!
That, perhaps, was her greatest downfall – not being strong enough to be honest with herself and others about who she really was. Instead, she sank into a “wannabe” fantasy and con world where she believed her own lies — that she was something she was not and so perfect she had her “Calling and Election” made sure.
In other words, Mother was basically telling people she was going to the highest degree of glory without having, among other things, lived “The Law of Plural Marriage” during her twenty-two years with Father before he died. Truth be told, she never could share him with another woman.
The high road would have been to have accepted herself as she was and for who and what she was, warts, worms, and all, instead of trying to fool others by putting on that she was perfect and was the supreme example of how to live. And was blessed above all others. I guess she did not feel secure enough to live without pretense.*
Apparently, not understanding she needed to accept and portray herself as she was, lack of integrity became “the best policy — that is, pathological lying — she believed her own stories.
Perhaps, believing she wouldn’t have nearly the influence and glory she had when carrying on as if she was God’s greatest daughter, she claimed to be above all others: “The Best,” Number One,” and “The most perfect woman in the world — God’s favorite female.”
In other words, she chose to live in a dream world of delusional thinking rather than be herself, a Mexico LeBaron whom many despised. But maybe one of the reasons the Maud and Dayer LeBaron family was largely despised, among other reasons, was because they lacked integrity — not to mention they didn’t fit in.
All the while I was growing up, being a “mundane commoner” was an anathema in Mother’s eyes. The last thing she wanted was to fit in and be average. She felt she was above others. And thrived on the attention and respect she got by going about like she was royalty and “the main one.”
But, at the same time, she would remind me, “Where much is given, much is expected.” And she meant it. She was good at doing community service and charity. She would leave her older children to take care of the home and family while she went out to advise and help other families.
She once told me, “I never turn down a beggar — a wayfarin’ stranger. It could be God in disguise testing to see whether I am following His admonitions to feed the poor and needy.” So delusions of grandeur reigned hand-in-hand with dualism, duplicity, and fear of God’s retributions.
*Note: Again, please keep in mind: Throughout my blogs and memoirs, I am talking only about the years I knew Mother. Everybody changes as they age. I had no contact with her the last years of her life.
*I know of at least six different times wherein Mother courted married men she was interested in. One of those men was Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ father — before she met, courted, then chose to marry Daddy.
(Continued in: “My Memoir: My Mother, Esther LeBaron Spencer de McDonald — And Mormon Polygamist Cults Unmasked — Part 19”)
*The following sermon is a perfect example of some of the stuff Mother preached in order to get people to live polygamy. And this is a perfect example of where she got her Mormon fundamentalist doctrine and authority:
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.4., pp.55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol.6, pp.235-236):
“I wish my women, and brother Kimball’s and brother Grant’s to leave, and every woman in this Territory, or else say in their hearts that they will embrace the Gospel — the whole of it….say to your wives, ‘Take all that I have and be set at liberty; but if you stay with me you shall comply with the law of God, and that toowithout any murmuring and whining.
You must fulfil the law of God in every respect, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting.Now recollect that two weeks from tomorrow I am going to set you at liberty.
But the first wife will say, ‘It is hard, for I have lived with my husband twenty years, or thirty, and have raised a family of children for him, and it is a great trial to me for him to have more women;’ then I say it is time that you gave him up to other women who will bear children.
If * wife had borne me all the children that she ever would bare,the celestial law would teach me to take young women that would have children….
Sisters, I am not joking, I do not throw out my proposition to banter your feelings, to see whether you will leave your husbands, all or any of you.ButI know that there is no cessation to the everlasting whining of many of the women in this territory;I am satisfied that this is the case.
And if the women will turn from the commandments of God and continue to despise the order of heaven, I will pray that the curse of the Almighty may be close to their heals and that it may be following them all the day long….
Prepare yourselves for two weeks from tomorrow; and I will tell you now, thatif you will tarry with your husbands after I have set you free, you must bow down to it, and submit yourselves to the celestial law.
You may go where you please, after two weeks from to-morrow; but, remember, that I will not hear any more of this whining.”
(Sermon by Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol.4., pp.55-57; also printed in Deseret News, Vol.6, pp.235-236)
Comments fromMormon Think: Obviously Brigham was motivated to give this speech because the women were not happy with polygamy.From searching records and reading various published stories from faithful polygamous wives, we have found many women that were very upset practicing LDS polygamy and not one account of a truly happily married polygamous woman from the 1800s but obviously, there must be some.
A few quotes from polygamous wives:
“Here was my husband,” she said, “gray-headed, taking to his bed young girls in mockery of marriage.Of course, there could be no joy for him in such an intercourse except the indulgence of his fanaticism and of something else, perhaps, which I hesitate to mention.”
-Sarah Pratt speaking of her husband, the apostle Orson Pratt who dated a 16-year-old girl (and then married her) when he was 57.(Van Wagoner 1986, pp.92)
“God will be very cruel if he does not give us poor women adequate compensation for the trials we have endured in polygamy.”
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.
My Memoir, Part 19-K: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — and More Perils of Polygamy
“True leadership must be
for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” Warren G. Bennis
Taking up where we left off in “My Memoir Backstory: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy, Part 19-J”:
In a very short time after being married into Bill Tucker’s family/”love nest,” I found I had simply been catapulted out-of-the-frying-pan-into-the-flames. I’d thought I was escaping my hellish home life with my family of origin for a heavenly love life with the man I was deeply in love with, idolized, and adored. It turned out just the opposite:
In fact, over time I came to realize I was nothing but a Mormon fundamentalist sex slave — a concubine in a harem where I wasn’t wanted. And in a cult with no Dr. Phil to fill me in on the whys and wherefores of monogamy, let alone polygamy — though I needed advice, understanding, and help in the biggest way and to the endth degree.
My parents had told me they’d had a revelation Bill was the man I was supposed to be married to for all eternity. And that I would be Bill’s best, most righteous, and favorite wife — and that was only the beginning of the bunk they filled me full of before I married Bill.
And Uncle Ervil, a “prophet,” had also really pushed this marriage — Plus I’d been so indoctrinated with a bunch of other garbage about plural marriage — that, as a teenage bride, I was up to my forehead in shit, but so full of crap, I couldn’t see past it!
But I found a whole different scenario and “crap” once I became Bill’s third “wife.” For the purposes of this short blog, I will simply say: What went on in my new family was done in secrecy. I did not realize, till years later, many significant things, including why my new family forbade me to go home and visit my mother and father, let alone talk about the troubles and travails, problems, loneliness, and grief my marriage brought me, their bereft teenage daughter.
I was not allowed to talk to anyone else such as sisters or friends, either. And forget counselors. Uncle Ervil was my only source for counseling. And some counselor he was!
All he, my narcissistic and calculating, power-pushing uncle told me, when I went to him in torment and travail at age nineteen, was: “Any problems a woman has in her marriage are her fault. If you buckle down, submit to, and serve your husband unquestioningly and fervently — doing everything he tells you to do — this will cure all your marriage problems!!! (As if I wasn’t already a slave to my husband, serving him with all my heart in hopes of winning his heart!)
Now I realize there was good reason for why the second wife told me (paraphrasing): “Bill hates when we go home to visit our parents. And will put any wife aside if he should find she told her parents or ANYONE about ANYTHING going on in our marriage OR Bill’s household!! And remember: Bill is NOT one to forgive transgressions! Once he puts you aside, he will never forgive you nor take you back. He’ll be THROUGH with you!!!”
I sure did not know it then but know now reasons why my new family was adamant I didn’t visit my family-of-origin — especially my parents: They were hiding bisexuality, among other things — even from me! (In the LeBaron cult in the 1960s, homosexuality was a sin punishable by the death penalty — and that’s but the beginning of it.)
(Continued November 16, 2017: “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — And More Perils of Polygamy — Part 19-L”)
The following is one of the many excellent informative interviews you can find on YouTube that reveals many truths about the Mormon fundamentalist cult lifestyle I was raised in.
Here Aunt Rebecca Kunz Kimbel is interviewing her sister, my Aunt Irene Kunz LeBaron/Spencer, formerly a wife of my Uncle Verlan LeBaron, one of my mother’s eight brothers:
“There’ll be two dates on your tombstone And all your friends will read ‘em; But all that’s going to matter- Is that little dash between ‘em.” Kevin Welch
LIFE’S DASH by Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron
1- Between the date of birth and death, There’s always a little dash — To me, it depicts life’s run-time, So I call the line “life’s dash.”
This dash mark on a gravestone, As in football’s forty-yard dash*, Represents our life’s game, That’s over in a flash.
2- So ‘Midst the trauma ‘n’ melodrama, Strum, ‘n’ strife, ‘n’ stress, Let’s take time, now and then, To review our life in progress.
During the period of our dash, Let’s consider our one-act scene; Are we a human-doing,
Or are we a human being?
3- While busy making our mark in life, Let’s enjoy our jaunty trip — Our journey through this cosmic world. But here’s a timely tip:
There’ll be two dates on our grave plaque Separated by a dash, But it’s how we live life’s dash that speaks, Not silent sod nor ash. CHORUS: Those we’ve known may forget, After we’ve done life’s “splash,” Our date of birth and death,
But not how we lived life’s dash.” TAG: Don’t forget, they won’t forget How we lived “life’s dash.”
* Since the following video recording was done, I’ve rewritten part of my “Dash” song I performed at the California Writers Club 11/4/2017 — the day before “All Saints Day.”
Coach Lou Holtz read the following composition
to his players in 1996 at a team meeting:
From “A Teen’s Game Plan for Life”
by Lou Holtz:
“A few years ago Notre Dame went over to Dublin, Ireland to play the Naval Academy in football.
“When we were over there, we went to a twelfth-century cemetery. All we saw was a group of dilapidated walls and huge tombstones. One of our players, Alton Maiden, sat down at this cemetery and wrote the following poem:”
It’s one thing to run a fast 40-yard dash in shorts on a fast track, but does that speed translate to the football field?
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul Brown started this whole mess. But I bet the man who invented the use of a 40-yard dash never thought it would become this big.
How big? So big that when I worked with the Oakland Raiders, the 40 dictated everything we did — and I mean everything.
Brown, the former Cleveland Browns head coach and Bengals founder, wanted to determine how fast his players were covering a punt, so he chose 40 yards — the distance most punts traveled — as a measuring stick. Little did he know that a 40 time would become such a huge phenomenon.
Michael Conroy / Associated Press
Chris Johnson has the fastest 40 time since 2006. His speed has translated to the NFL, but that’s not the case for everyone. Check out the entire list here.
Think about it: What’s the one question every single prospect leaving the NFL Scouting Combine this year will be asked? “What was your forty time?”
Maybe Brown should have patented his idea.
The 40 time has become the measuring tool for most teams and, yes, I have to admit, I relied on knowing the times of each player. And if I was building a team I would want specific requirements of height, weight, and speed for each position. My goal would be to have a big, fast football team — not a track team that forced me to rely solely on the 40-yard dash in shorts.
Back in his day, Brown’s 40-yard test looked vastly different than the one being utilized at the combine today, even though the distance traveled is the same. In today’s 40, players work on their start from an elongated three-point stance — unlike the one used in football — trying to gain yardage with their first step. The runners stay low for the first 10 yards, not raising their head, and finish 10 yards past the end line.
Little did Coach Brown know that agents would one day send their clients to speed camps hoping to improve their 40-yard times and their draft status.
With time comes improvement, so naturally the 40 times have improved as players have gotten stronger, highly trained and in peak condition. But the essential value of this quick dash as a measuring stick has not changed. The most fundamental question that must be asked after knowing a player’s time and what makes the 40 a valued tool: Does he play the game of football with that speed?
For example, Deion Sanders was lightning fast at the combine in New Orleans in 1989. By more than one account, he ran the 40 in 4.19 seconds, thought to be the second-fastest ever run at the combine (Bo Jackson has the fastest verifiable combine 40 time of 4.12 seconds in 1986). And Sanders just kept on running, Forrest Gump-style, right into the locker room. However, the key validation came when Sanders showed he was fast on the football field, as well. His speed translated to his game, which then validated the 40-yard dash.
There have been players that time fast in the 40, but when watching them play football they don’t look nearly as fast. Jets defensive end Vernon Gholston ran extremely well at the combine, but when he was evaluated on tape from Ohio State, his speed never translated to the field. Little wonder he has played three years in the league and has yet to record a sack. He isn’t the only one. There have been countless workout warriors who have shown well at the combine and failed in the NFL.
Some players are fast, but do not play fast, while others time slow, but play fast in pads. And that is the key for finding the right balance when using the 40 times as a measuring stick. Like all things, when evaluating college players, everything falls back to the evaluation of playing the game. Does this player play fast? Can his 40 time be seen when he puts on his pads?
Surfaces can be deceiving, too. When Coach Brown started running his 40s, grass was the only surface he had his players run on. Today, with many different surfaces available, it becomes a challenge to adjust the time correctly. It is widely understood that a player is much faster on a track and turf than grass, but the question remains how much faster. When I worked with the Raiders, and even now, they adjust every time from the combine slower. If a player runs 4.47 at Indy, the Raiders will adjust it to around 4.51. For the Raiders, the 40 is everything, so they make it difficult for prospects to run a great time.
Adjusting the times can create a problem. What happens to a player who runs bad at the combine but improves his time at his campus workout? Does he move up the board? If he does, then why should players even run in Indy? And is the adjustment the right number or a number arbitrarily picked out of a hat?
When I headed the Browns‘ personnel department, we would always use the natural Indy time as our official 40 times. Jim Schwartz, a scout of ours at the time and current head coach of the Detroit Lions, kept a database of times run at Indy and those run at the school’s pro days. Believe it or not, some of the 40 times were actually slower on the home surface than at Indy. We wanted to have some consistency of adjustments.
But even with the consistency of adjustments, all these variables made the 40 time extremely difficult to use as the sole measuring stick. In Cleveland, we knew it was an important tool, but it can’t be the only tool because the playing speed must match the time speed.
When sitting at home this weekend watching the combine, remind yourself of two critical points when making an evaluation. The first, never begin with the end in mind, and secondly, never believe the 40 time unless you can see the speed during a game.
If you follow those two rules to the end, then even from your couch you can pick the right players.
Investigative Journalist Scott Anderson, Author ofThe 4 O’clock Murders
Scott Anderson’s “The 4 O’clock Murders,” published in 1993, is a must-read for those interested in a documentary of America’s most bizarre but now apparently defunct crime family. The Doc chronicles the history of this extremist cult initiated in the late 1960s by the sociopathic serial killer, Ervil LeBaron. (He was my uncle, no less.)
The cult was largely made up of Uncle Ervil’s fourteen wives and about sixty children, plus a few other staunch followers and their wives and children. He called his cult organization the “Church of the Lamb of God.” But it was, in reality, anything but lamb-like. Ervil LeBaron’s cult was a fundamentalist Mormon-mafioso syndicated crime family cloaked under the guise of religion.
Anderson’s text is the most up-to-date book on this cult. Thanks to his dedicated and daring work, we have an amazing wealth of information and insight to further our research, awareness, and understanding of “Evil Ervil,” and his avenging angels.
I’ve been told the “Ervilites” no longer exist. But that’s not to say another extreme cult of “avenging angel’s” couldn’t or hasn’t risen from its ashes to take up where the “Ervilites” left off. You are with me in hoping that isn’t the case and never happens.
Recently, I read Scott Anderson’s “The 4 O’clock Murders,” only to have my hair stand on end when I realized how little I had ever really known about this horrifyingly horrific, dangerous, and devious band of outlaws.
I’m not proud to say most of them were my relatives. And that it was all spawned by my charismatic and brilliant, but lunatic Uncle Ervil and his treacherous teachings — that included hearing God regularly tell him to “Killthose sons of bitches!”
But maniacal “Mormon Manson” Ervil couldn’t have succeeded in his reign of terror without the dastardly group of mislead miscreant, autistic-like, demented people who followed his violent, crazy, megalomaniac, and malevolent religious philosophy.
The majority of Uncle Joel LeBaron’s Church of the Firstborn followers couldn’t stomach his brother Ervil LeBaron’s violent, threatening, and far-fetched Philosophy of life. Nor did they want anything to do with his domineering, devious, and deceptive ways.
Ervil’s overbearing, self-centered, presumptuous, pseudo-authoritative sense-of-entitlement was hard for most to take — not to mention his nonstop talk, wayward religious doctrines — and his bad breath.
Uncle Ervil’s priestcraft and manipulations drove some of my peaceful Uncle Joel’s followers into frenzied frustration, rebellion, and disillusionment — such that they left Joel’s cult Uncle Ervil had a large role in helping Joel build.
In other words, most of Uncle Joel LeBaron’s followers (myself included) wouldn’t leave Joel’s sect to join the violent renegade, retrograde cult Ervil LeBaron started. (Ervil initiated it after Joel excommunicated him from the “Church of the First Born,” a Mormon-offshoot cult.)
Therefore, you have to wonder about the adults who did choose to follow Uncle Ervil, hook, line, and sinker/stinker (Pun intended) — and even to murder for him!
In 1967, at age twenty-one, I escaped Uncle Joel LeBaron’s cult — just as Uncle Ervil, his right-hand man, and brother, was beginning to preach his own violent, subversive civil-law and blood-atonement doctrine, along with all its mafioso underpinnings.
A few years after I fled “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times,” Uncle Joel, as I mentioned above, finally disfellowshipped his brother Ervil from his “church,” due to, among other things, Ervil’s insurrection, insubordination, aggrandizement, and blood-atonement philosophy.
You must read the following books, “The 4 O’Clock Murders,” “Prophet of Blood,”and my recently-deceased Aunt Irene Koonz LeBaron/Spencer’s book, “Cult Insanity,” to know what I’m talking about — if you aren’t already familiar with the LeBaron-Madmen story.
I wish there were an update of this bloody LeBaron Documentary, “The Four O’clock Murders.”Written over twenty-five years ago, much has taken place among the Ervilites, LeBarons, and Joel’s cult since Scott Anderson went out on a limb, putting his life on the line,to chronicle and publish this incredulous history of a vengeful crime family that makes Manson and his “family” seem tame in comparison.
I’m grateful Anderson scribed this well-written Doc. Without his honesty and dedication, I and the world would never have known the extent to which this bloody, Satanic, and ill-begotten cult was willing to go — although we do have the earlier and equally well-written and researched documentary, “The Prophet of Blood,“ chronicled and published in 1981 by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta.
These Documentaries may not always be right-on-the-button. But they’re close enough to “Who’s got the button?” The Authors did well, given the difficulty involved in obtaining information. Even ex-cult members usually don’t talk — especially to outsiders. If bits of Info were circumspect, blame the cult members they interviewed!
That said, “The Prophet of Blood,” is a recommended read. It contains historical data not in “The 4 O’clock Murders.”
Scott Anderson’s Documentary published twelve years later, chronicles updated history of the bloody and loony legacy spawned by the maniacal “prophet,” Ervil LeBaron. It’s a pathetic legacy of a “Prophet out for Profit” … out of his mind.
This Memoir, written around thirty years ago, struck me as the work of an immature apologist and revisionist. Its bias toward Uncle Ervil’s cold-hearted cult hangs like a cobweb over the entire tale authored by none other than my Ex-Aunt, the infamous Rena Chynoweth.
That said, the book is still in the public libraries, et Al, but is sadly in need of a rewrite and update. How do I know? Because yesterday I had the fortunate opportunity to meet one of my Uncle Ervil’s more than fifty children, the brilliant, gifted, and beautiful Gabriella LeBaron, soon to graduate from the ivy league Cornell University. (Update: She has graduated now, I assume!)
She told me how Rena had indeed taken in Uncle Ervil’s kids and raised them, chancing her own life and well-being while she helped them get out of Ervil’s cult and become good law-abiding citizens! Hats off to Rena!
This is a long story I hope Gabriela will eventually write, herself. For it is the story of great love, sacrifice, dedication, and redemption — especially on the part of Rena, her husband, and others who helped her, including the invaluable “nonprofit” group, “Discovery.” **
*(Insert: October 10, 2017: See below for what I just “discovered” online about this “Discovery” Organization/ Business! Then you be the judge. All I know is some of my cousins really vouch for what it did for them. But it’s common to leave one cult only to be taken in by another.)
In her old memoir of over thirty years ago, it seemed Rena bragged about and exploited, at times, the soldier part she played in the sad and sordid tale of her serial-killer husband Ervil’s bloody, violent, and psychotic cult. At the same time, though, she ended her book with these words:
“I was given a ‘second chance.’ Maybe God wants to use me to reach those kids [Uncle Ervil’s children]. Because I’ve been through years of intensive self-deprogramming myself, I feel I can help them through my own experiences because I understand their very complicated background.
“They should also receive extensive professional help, guidance, and a chance to be around people who really care what happens to them. Simply putting the younger children in foster homes and hoping for the best is not the way to handle the situation.
They will only run away and return to the lifestyle they always knew, breaking the law and posing a danger to people’s lives. They should not be allowed to grow to adulthood without being given a chance to learn proper values.
“These last remnants of Ervil LeBaron’s flock are still a risk to the rest of society. They are the last ones who may still feel bound by his blood covenant that has claimed so many innocent lives.
They have grown up around violence and violent teachings, and there is grave danger they will pass these values on to their own children. I want the killing to stop. Only by finding those still out there and getting them the help they need can we stop the bloodshed.
“What John, my mother, and I envision is a ranch –- a place where these young people can live with family who loves them, where they can finally have the chance to go to school and church and be able to receive the counseling and guidance that will help them become assets to society.
There are a few of us who are willing to do anything we can to give them a chance. If God is willing, and with His help, we shall succeed.
“If anyone has information that would help us reach out to the LeBaron children please contact … ” Note: Here Rena gave an address and a phone number where she could be contacted. But the resource was around thirty years old, so was likely not worth my posting here, I felt.
But I also had reservations as to how helpful she would be to Ervil’s remnants, given the tone of her memoir. But as of yesterday, April 5, 2016, I learned that she did indeed do a great service to the remnants of Ervil’s children still left in his cult. In fact, Rena and her cohorts are largely responsible for having brought to an end the devious and divisive cult Ervil LeBaron started!! WOW!!
So I am very impressed, now, with Rena — How she not only remade herself but used her personal awakening to help remake and save other unfortunate cult inductees born and raised in my uncle Ervil’s bizarre and dangerous mafioso group.
When her memoir was published, it sounded to me like she had lots of deprogramming and repentance still left in her wake before she could convince me she was no longer caught up in some of the abusive beliefs of “The Lambs of God” and it’s avenging angels.
So I didn’t see how it would be helpful at all to stick Uncle Ervil’s warped children off on some ranch with her and others like her. Besides, that sounded like just another reclusive cult to me. I felt the best way to civilize warped children was to fully immerse them in a much better environment than the one they came from.
I didn’t think it would be beneficial for a messed up and confused band of cult and ex-cult members to all be living together on some ranch with simply more of their own kind who also grew up in their backward, brainwashed, degenerate, and vengeful cult past.
It seemed to me, to best heal and overcome “damaged human goods,” They would need to mix and mingle with a normal and better example of beings — strong people they could emulate and learn from — not some adults who still likely had a lifetime of healing left ahead of them before they fully emerged from their bloody cult mindset and the harm it left within them in its wake.
And, as an aside, I had also recently seen some of the Lambs of God and The Book OfRevelations “Avenging Angels” literature being passed out in my area! It is scary stuff and told me the cult of Ervilites still had its leaders.
Or perhaps it was a take-off from Uncle Ervil’s cult and possibly indoctrinating at least some of Ervil’s progeny. Or it was a new group, altogether, but using Ervil’s teachings and trying to bring converts into its bloody cult under a new “prophet,” now.
But still, I had said, “I would be very happy if Rena, et Al, did have a hand in ending this malevolent cult. Let’s pray that’s the case.” Well, it is and was the case, according to my uncle Ervil LeBaron’s astute and beautiful daughter Gabriela!
As I said, Gabriela told me it was thanks to Ervil’s ex-wife Rena’s loving and devoted care of her ex-husband Ervil’s kids that she, herself, was brought out of her father’s cult mess she had grown up in.
And Gabriela has since become a new person, on her way to doing wonderful service to help make the world a better place! She’s an author, blogger, poet, artist, academic, leader, and more. I’m expecting great things from her in the future — in keeping with the things she is doing now by getting her college degree, etc.
That said, as per Rena’s old memoir “Blood Covenant,” penned over 30 years ago, it’s still a worthwhile read but desperately needs to be fact-checked! Not all is factual. Also, she makes assumptions about a number of serious things that took place in Ervil’s life, as though she were an authority on the subjects. But her assumptions are based only on uneducated and wishful thinking.
For example, she claims “Ervil had nothing to do with the JFK murder.” What does she really know about this? She wasn’t around Ervil or the cult in 1963. I was. Furthermore, she was only a small kid at that time.
Continuing with my criticisms, important parts of “The Blood Covenant” history were conveniently omitted. She wrote more about her girlish romantic escapades and her “middle class” self than anything — though she and her family hardly did fit the sociological definition of “middle class.” “Lower-lower middle class” or “working-class” was more like it.
The chronicle of her life as Ervil’s wife appeared to be largely an attempt to be in the limelight and cash in on the notoriety of her Ex-husband, Ervil LeBaron, so as to make money and be a star — albeit a notorious one. Maybe we can’t blame her?
So, sadly, we were lucky to get three paragraphs about her cold-blooded murder of Dr. Rulon Allred. And the best apology she could come up with, as to the “Lambs of God” atrocities and murders was, “This did not need to happen.”
Here’s what Scott Anderson had to say: “In 1990, Rena published her autobiography, “The Blood Covenant.” The ghostwritten book is rather bizarre, a rewrite of “Perils of Penelope,” in which Penelope has a gun and knows how to use it.
Interspersed with gratuitous digs at her murdered sister, Lorna, and insistent claims to having been a “victim,” Rena offers long and clinically detailed accounts of her many brushes with oversexed male suitors.
The small matter of Rulon Allred’s murder is dealt with in a few paragraphs. In 1979, the baby-faced, eight-months-pregnant Rena had taken the witness stand to tearfully deny any role in the elderly man’s slaying. In her book, and with all the passion of a financial reporter, she admitted to being the killer.” (Author of “The 4 O’clock Murders”)
Suffice it to say, you may find her book worth a perusal just to see how a member of Ervil LeBaron’s self-appointed murder-for-God cult used to think.
But if you want to get a better handle on the real scary scoop, read from start to finish “The 4 O’clock Murders” by Scott Anderson. And “Prophet of Blood” by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta.
Note: These books may be he found at public libraries, bookstores like Amazon.com, and possibly on Kindle.
Note: Some entries in the above documentaries are not always exactly right, but hats off to these Author’s for doing as well as they did with a subject that was often hard to get “the truth” about.
And as an added note, this many years later since those books were published, there has been great change and progress in Uncle Ervil’s children and families: True tales of redemption and of what’s amazingly possible in the human spirit, against all odds.
To get an idea of what I mean, read Uncle Ervil’s daughter’s memoir published in March of 2017, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” available in bookstores everywhere. You may also go to the “University” of YouTube to see interferes of her, and check her website: AnnaLeBaron.com
You may use your search engine to look up people and topics if you wish more information on anyone or anything I mentioned in this blog. Also check YouTube, Wikipedia, and other sites.
The following is an excellent video Documentary on my Uncle Ervil LeBaron and the LeBaron saga.
** 10/17/ 2017 — Look what I just found online regarding the Discovery training group I mentioned above. It’s well worth reading!:
Howdy, all you straight shooters out there. There is another thread on this site detailing the creepy and controlling tactics of the Discovery Cult operating in the Dallas area, but a new year deserves a new thread.
I just got an email from a contact asking me if I still have Info on Discovery. I do! For those of you who have not read my previous posts, myself and some other straight shooters with family members swindled by D had quite a heated exchange with certain misguided cult-goers. They went on to easier targets no doubt. But my contact assures me that they have simply tried to slip back under the radar.
This group (cult) has an upsidedown view on family values. Put quite simply if your spouse attends Discovery “training” and you chose not to go, the Facilitators or TAs will tell them that you can’t be trusted with details of the training and that if they can’t convince you to attend then you don’t care about them, you will never understand them, and in the end they will have to break ties with you – But not to worry cause their NEW family cares about them and will fill the void where their family and friends once dwelled.
I’ll tell you the basic jist so you don’t have to be subjected to the verbal abuse and physical conditioning; ie, withholding of water, food, bathroom breaks, and personal space.
They will pressure your husband, wife, son, daughter, ect., to give members of the opposite sex “PEE-PEE to PEE-PEE” hugs (their term, not mine) and to not share with their “old” family the way that the facilitators verbally abuse and degrade each member of the group as their turn comes, breaking their spirit and reducing them to tears in a public setting for all to witness. They basically make them feel worthless for the first two days and then make nice and become their best friend on the last day.
The owner of this cult has no formal training in this dispicable form of therapy, nor any training — ANY therapy. This Cult is operated by a lawyer and a gas station owner. It’s all on the web, if you care to investigate.
If you are considering going to Discovery training of if someone you care about is thinking about going – INVESTIGATE! They will break them down and put their own twisted values back into the shell that once was your loved one.
NM4Games- WELL SAID! You hit the nail on the head. You have been fed the same cult crap as the rest of us. I wish I had come here before I went to Discovery. You could have saved me much money and much more trouble.
Looks like you have their number. CREEPS!!! I’m still reeling from my experiance. I have lots of questions and a little insight. I’ll send you a message. Keep up the good work
What made you realize Discovery was a scam? You are lucky to get out with your mind still intact. They are still registered as Discovery Training Ministries LLC with the IRS, although they don’t include that info on their website.
EC, I have read your comments and the other comments by the creeps from Discovery. They are all so completely fooled by the mind games and BS being fed to them by Lowder and his ilk! I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry for me 🙂
I wasted a lot of money on that crap and I have more problems now than I did before. Actually, my old problems are probably small compared with the new issues I picked up at Discovery. I am practically broke after completing two “classes.” I was approached about helping to pay for another classmate’s tuition shortly after my first class. I had never seen the mean-spirited money-hungry side of the facilitators until I told them that I could barely afford to go to D2 myself.
They were completely different after they saw that I wasn’t going to sign my life away. I was willing to give everything (spiritually) that I had, but I think the money thing really pissed them off. At D2, they kept making references to selfishness and self-centeredness when I would come around. Now I can see them for what they are. A business! I wish I had seen this thread before I wasted my money. Has anyone ever sued a group like that and recouped their money?
At D2, they kept making references to selfishness and self-centeredness when I would come around. Now, I can see them for what they are. A business! I wish I had seen this thread before I wasted my money. Has anyone ever sued a group like that and recouped their money?
Notmuch4games, good to see you are still in the fight! I too will remain to educate people just how evil Discovery is.
Straightup, it is crazy how the people become total believers. I refused to contribute to D2 (financially), and it looked like my Ex would stop going but low and behold one of her new “family” came forward and paid for the entire weekend, including gas money! They sent her a lot of emails and cards trying to shame her into signing up for the next training. It was all about sending money to Discovery. But she couldn’t see that.
They sent her a lot of emails and cards trying to shame her into signing up for the next training. It was all about sending money to Discovery. But she couldn’t see that.
I am glad you didn’t become one of those zombies!
There is an entity called the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists (http://www.tsbep.state.tx.us.html). Here is their mission statement:
“The mission of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists is to protect the public by ensuring that psychological services are provided to the people of Texas by qualified and competent practitioners who adhere to established professional standards.”
They exist to regulate the practice of psychology in the state of Texas. That also encompasses investigating people or companies practicing psychology without a license. I feel Discovery Training uses methods which could be considered practicing psychology.
A person can file a formal complaint against anyone who they feel is practicing psychology without a license. Maybe if enough people come forward the gas station owner and lawyer might get investigated?
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/03/2008 07:40AM by Enviro_Cop.
I filed some paperwork, but I was advised that the lawyer that helps run this scam had all the language just true enough to not be fraudulent. Discovery works very hard at giving a legitimate, even benevolent appearance to the mental, emotional, and even physical abuse administered at the hands of it’s facilitators. Anyone who has had dealings know that this group is anything but legit. They brainwash their members, alienate them, and then squeeze all of the money they can out of them.
Anyone who has had dealings know that this group is anything but legit. They brainwash their members, alienate them, and then squeeze all of the money they can out of them.
I actually called the “Ewing Ranch” of Dallas fame where D holds it’s abuse siminars and spoke to the site manager. He was quite shocked at my claims about the D cult. He seemed unsure of the validity of my Info, so he gave me his email address and I sent him a condensed version of my file on Lowder and his cult.
I noticed that Discovery’s website now has them meeting at the Dallas Doubletree. Hope I did that! 😉 When I have time, I’ll speak to the GM at Doubletree too. I actually stay at that particular hotel when I’m on that side of town.
Straightup, hang in there. Your mind has had bogus and hairbrained ideas inserted into it by invasive methods. You will slowly start to regain the person who went to the brainwashing siminar. All of the old issues will still be there, but they are YOUR issues and YOU are the only with the solution. There is no GAS STATION OWNER, NO LAWYER, and no magic pill that will solve yours mine or anyone else’s problems. Discovery in Dallas is selling magic beans, and people are still buying the crap. STOP DISCOVERY CULT NOW! Keep your loved ones away from cults (LGAT, Discovery, etc.)
All of the old issues will still be there, but they are YOUR issues and YOU are the only with the solution. There is no GAS STATION OWNER, NO LAWYER, and no magic pill that will solve yours mine or anyone else’s problems. Discovery in Dallas is selling magic beans, and people are still buying the crap. STOP DISCOVERY CULT NOW! Keep your loved ones away from cults (LGAT, Discovery, etc.)
Hope everybody is staying away from Discovery and other cults out there. Just send me a message if anyone has questions about D. I am happy to tell what I know to anyone with an interest. Keep up the fight, guys. Maybe someday the authorities will “discover” what many of us already know: DISCOVERY IS A CULT AND IT DESTROYS FAMILIES FOR MONITARY GAIN. God bless!
I really wish I had seen this forum before last weekend: My friend made me go.
I am definitely a “changed” woman! I’ve never been more depressed in my life. The sickest thing is, I am NOT one to be swayed by this kind of thing. Or at least I never thought I was….but on Sunday, I was all about this damn thing. Telling my friends to go and everything. It took a long, long discussion with one of my more rational friends to realize what had happened. This whole damn thing is sick, and I’m so angry about it. Is there anything we can do to stop it? I feel so used.
I do not know anything of this cult but I do feel like giving some advice: Do not blame yourself. Always stay positive and hang out with that rational friend of yours. I believe that we can learn from ALL things good and bad……I bet this will make you a much stronger person in the long run. Be good to yourself and smile always.
By Stephany Spencer: My Book Review of my cousin Anna LeBaron’s Memoir: “The Polygamist’s Daughter”
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., I was honored with a complimentary ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of cousin Anna LeBaron’s bravely written book, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” published March 21, 2017.
Regarding Anna’s Memoir, I was disappointed she didn’t tell us more about her miscreant father, “Evil Ervil,” (the murderous “Mormon Manson”). Also wish she had gone more into the details of her “running away from home.” (I would not have cared if the book were longer!)
As it was, her book said very little about her colorful father. And her “running away” was simply to call her married sister to take her in — a sister within walking distance, no less. Still, I have to give her credit for having had the sense and courage to run away at the tender age of thirteen, no less! For having run away, she might even very well have been killed by the cult she fled!
Even so, in essence, her book was milquetoast for me, in comparison to what was really going on in her family and father’s violent cult that drove her to flee the abusive and corrupt lifestyle. However, I realize she was between a rock and a hard spot when it came to relating this treacherous past.
Furthermore, she was so very young when much of the treachery happened within her family’s cult that she apparently didn’t know much about it — and maybe still doesn’t know that much — and doesn’t want to know that much. But there are a number of good books on the subject. They are just hard for my Uncle Ervil’s children to take in and accept. I do understand that!
I, an old veteran of much of that history, also realize that if she were totally up front, it would possibly compromise her present and future — and her amazing success and redemption in surviving her malevolent past. To give Anna credit, she is such an example of the human spirit and its ability to survive and rise above every adversity handed it.
Her father is my mother’s brother. And was my husband’s buddy/ boyfriend for ten years — so I knew him well … as well as you could know a devious and manipulative man like my Uncle Ervil LeBaron for whom I had felt much love, respect, and reverence till he went off the deep end in his jealous and murderous power-pushing psychopathy.
Presently, I feel mostly pity, shame, and disgust for my dangerous but now-deceased charismatic zealot evil uncle who, though mentally ill, sociopathic and revengeful, nonetheless, had a lot of people convinced he was a prophet.
To better understand that whole scenario, read “Cult Insanity” by Irene Spencer;” “Prophet of Blood,” by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta. And “The 4 O’clock Murders,” by Scott Anderson — among other books on this history.
Also, here, on my Website, you might want to read my book reviews of these above books. Plus, listen to YouTube documentaries and interviews on Ervil, the LeBarons, and Mormon fundamentalist polygamists. They give great background and insight into what Anna LeBaron was brought up in. But you won’t find it in her book.
To further understand this whole bizarre LeBaron crime family mafia scene, check Wikipedia and other online Info about Ervil LeBaron, including my Website Menu bar under “Media About my Family, Friends, and Mormon Fundamentalist Cults.” And “Famous ‘n’ Infamous Relatives of Mine.”You could, as well, watch the excellent film, “Prophet of Evil,” starring Brian Dennehy.
Getting back to Anna LeBaron’s Memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” everyone in the LeBaron Colony in the 1960’s saw how Uncle Ervil went about preaching and “doing missionary work,” totally indifferent toward his nine neglected children he had already born at that time by his first wife, my beautiful but bipolar Mexican peasant Aunt Delfina.
These indigent kids were left to roam the streets, starving, and unkempt — not to mention his fifty or more other deprived, depraved, and abandoned children he bore by his additional thirteen way-out wives he added to his harem as time went on and the LeBaron cult grew and developed — and he and his wives taught their children to be murderers!
So it hurt to the quick to hear, firsthand, in Anna’s Memoir how it felt for her to be so badly neglected and used by her non-empathetic, uncaring, sense-of-entitlement, narcissistic father!
But when I then readhow Ervil’s unloved and abused daughter Lillian died, I grieved for days. She was one of Aunt Delfina’s darling children whom, when Aunt Delfina was depressed and mentally ill, I had helped look out for while I lived near them in the LeBaron Colony in Mexico before I escaped the cult in 1967 at age twenty-one.
Sweet Lillian was only around five or so, then. And I don’t believe Anna had been born yet. But I had lived across the street from her jolly mother with the beautiful singing voice, Aunt Anna Mae Marston/ AKA LeBaron.
Therefore, though I wish Anna had gone more into depth about her very colorful past life, I’m proud of her efforts and the work she put into writing and publishing all that she did of her Life Story. The world benefits by knowing “The unspeakable.”
I’m sure her tragic memories were anything but easy to have to relive in order to put into print. But I get a sense she is protecting her 50+ siblings and other relatives by not revealing more of her early upbringing and beliefs. (There is much meat only she and her siblings could tell an amateur social-psychologist like me. But she kept it from us.)
As for her story, I felt it finally picked up in the latter part where she began to shoot a little from the hip. I especially found it enlightening and helpful when she went into detail about how she overcame a bout of deep depression.
I benefited, also, when she told of her epiphany that gave her a new lease on life — a greater purpose for living. She is presently a Life Coach. And works to help improve the world — just the opposite of what her father did!
Though her father preached that he was “Here to set the house of God in order, to prepare it for the second coming of Christ,” in reality, he did just the opposite of everything he preached and claimed: He was really here “to set the Devil’s house in order” … and prepare the world for a living Hell!
Like her father Ervil, Anna LeBaron is bright, a writer, and a leader.Unlike her father, she exhibits integrity, sanity, empathy, and a loving, giving spirit. So my hat goes off to Anna! She has come a long way, met redemption, made a lot of good choices, and overcome a lot.
I look forward to her next book — but only if she is deep enough and feels safe enough to shoot from the hip — all the way — and “tell all.”
For me, a person that grew up in the LeBaron cult her father helped build, that would be a much more helpful, healing, and insightful sociological study and book — not mishmash but well worth my precious time and money to buy and read.
An afterthought: Possibly, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” given its book cover and all, was mostly meant for the children’s and “Young Adults” section of the library.
In that case, it didn’t need great depth of insight and information — the likes of which an older informed and astute adult like me (who’s read over one-hundred books about/ written by Mormon fundamentalist cult escapees and authorities) would likely be looking for.
Bio Ballad of a Cult Survivor: My Bio in Verse, for Better or Worse (by Stephany Spencer)
1-I was born some time ago, way out in the sticks,
In a Mormon cult in Mexico, in nineteen forty-six;
By the time I was eleven, we were a family of twelve;
For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve. Refrain: Dig and delve? Yes, dig and delve. For everything I ever got, I had to dig and delve.
2-We lived among the hicks; created toys out of sticks,
But we thought we were the best — God’s chosen people!
This was the only life I knew, all the while I grew;
To pass God’s tests is what we were here to do.
Chorus Oh, a hick! Yes, a dad-gummed polygamist hick,
Born into a cult, “Plyg!” was the ultimate insult;
But how was I to know someday I would grow
And leave it all behind, that stoic life of woe? Refrain: Life of woe? Oh, misery and woe –
So I left it all behind, a better world to know
3-A masochistic life of hell we all did sow —
It was the only world I’d ever know,
Till one day I did find these people were all blind —
And sniffing after some false prophet’s behind!
5-So I escaped this fanatic cult — left it all behind;
Into the world I went, a whole new life to find;
I settled in LA, and found a better way;
And now I am a Graduate of UCLA.
6–When I fled the polygamist cult, wasn’t sure what to expect; Times were hard and the wages were too low.
But I kept on keeping on, though progress was slow;
‘Twas better than I got in Old Mexico.
7-Now here I am today, living in a whole new way
From the backward one I started out with; I’m grateful for each day, and the good ole USA,
“You’ve come a long way, Babe,” I tell myself each day. TAG: I am a cult survivor, you sure could say — And a thriver in every way!
The sands of time are running
Through my hourglass,
Telling me I don’t have much time –
Taking away my time as sure
As any hands on a clock;
And I can’t get the speed to stop;
Neither my heart that goes
Pitter-pat like raindrops
On the window pane of my life;
And like the pain in my soul
That’s running down my cheeks
Like teardrops on a window glass —
Or the glasses I look out from.
And I wonder what is wrong
And why my time
Won’t stop running away with me
And from me —
Hard as I try to catch up with it —
Get with it — not behind it.
It’s synonymous with
Which I also want to stop
But cannot control
Any more than the sands running
Through the hourglass
Of my life … or my door-stop.
1- I feel bad, I feel blue,
Sad because this day is through;
Still so much left to do;
But in the morning I’ll start anew.
For God gives, and God takes;
Every day is a gift God makes.
Soon my life will be through,
But Blues, be off with you! (Chorus)
2-Same ole story, same ole song: Can’t believe this day is gone!
But a new day’s coming along, Beginning at the break of dawn, Bringing with it a brand-new song: We’re all right where we belong; By doing right, we can’t go wrong,
So blues get along! Begone!
Chorus: “Every day’s a blessing, every day’s a song;
Grateful for each golden dawn.
Though this day will soon move on,
When one day closes, another comes along.
When one day closes, a new day comes along.
“We all come from the past, and children ought to know what it was
that went into their making.” Russell Baker
The following book by Diana Spencer’s brother, Charles Spencer, the ninth Earl of England, chronicles the story of his Royal family. It may be of interest to Spencer families and anyone related to the Spencers. I had been told by my mother and my sister Mary Spencer that this book showed how we were related to this royal line. Recently I have done some fact checking, and the fact is, if we are related at all, it’s so far back as to be debatable.
An insider’s history of the Spencer family, this book tells the family’s story from the sheep farmers of the 16th century through the Civil War and then the relationship with the Marlboroughs, on through the 19th century when the third Earl was one of the architects of the 1832 Reform Bill, to recent years and the death of Princess Diana. In the last chapter, Charles Spencer writes about his own views of the family’s history and what hopes he has for the future.</div> <em></em>
Enjoyed reading about the many characters in this ancient noble family; so many of them, both male and female, involved themselves in the politics of their time; many held high public office, almost all acquitting themselves well; only a few rakes and wastrels, and one or two solidly eccentric characters as well as a fair share of meddling elders.
Charles Spencer’s style is inviting and accessible. The book is a painless way to get an intimate view of moments in history that are family-centric. My only criticism is that he backed away from examining his father and his family (Diana), deferring to discretion when it came to looking at the contentious divorce of his parents.
Sounds like a great fiction romance novel, but no. This book is well written and researched history of the English Spencer Family from their earliest beginnings up to Princess Diana.
In reading this book, there are heartbreaking romances, political power plays with a few executions, inheritance of vast estates and wealth and the loss thereof to amaze you like no fiction could. This history of a pivotal aristocratic family reveals how it was enmeshed with the Churchill (Duke of Marlborough) and Cavendish (Duke of Devonshire) families and gives personal information about many historic figures. I highly recommend it for scholarship, history, immersion in the periods, and as good a read as a historical fiction. Except of course it’s not fiction but life.
Surprisingly well written and very interesting however a big black mark to Amazon for (yet again ) excluding the photographs present in the paper version and not even so much as a single family tree to help remind one which John ,Robert or Sarah fits in where.
The current Lord Spencer is the late Princess Diana’s brother, the one who mouthed off to the Queen at Diana’s funeral. His eloquent, albeit blistering, eulogy made me want to read this. Alas, it is rather dull: This earl did that and the next earl did this … nothing really noteworthy.
The Spencers were an enormously influential family of blue bloods that included the Churchills. There was a lot of history that he just glossed over.
Remembering back to Di & Charles wedding, I recall several saying that the Spencer family was more English than the Windsors. This book explains the contributions of the family over the centuries. While I may have mixed feeling about the current Earl (Di’s brother who is so famous due to his speech at her funeral), the book is well written and quite interesting.
It’s ok. I guess I was expecting something more exciting. It was rather dull and slow reading. I am sure if you are truly interested in the heritage of the Spencer family you will enjoy it. I just needed more to keep me engaged to continue reading it. I couldn’t finish the book.
A famous sports figure, Eddie LeBaron, I’m proud to say, is part of my extended family. You can find him by using your search engine, Wikipedia, etc. He was a war hero, and also a Star in the NFL at 5-foot- seven!
Years ago, in the public library, I found and enjoyed reading a well-written, interesting biography about him — though I’m not even a sports fan. I came away feeling so very proud of my cousin, Eddie LeBaron! He is a success story — a true hero who overcame many difficulties to become the sports star he had dreamed of being — and much more!
He left the school after re-writing many of the football records: career touchdowns (59), touchdowns in a season (23), longest punt (74 yards), most yardage off interception returns in a game (119), most times leading the team in total offense (3).
LeBaron was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps reserves while in college and served as a lieutenant in the Korean War after graduation. He was wounded twice and was decorated with the Purple Heart. For his heroic actions on the front lines, he was awarded the Bronze Star. Due to his diminutive size, 5 feet, 7 inches, and leadership skills from his military service, he was sometimes known as the “Littlest General”.
In 2008, he was inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame.
LeBaron was selected in the tenth round (123rd overall) of the 1950 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins, but had to leave training camp to perform military service during the Korean War. At 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m), he was one of the shortest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.
He returned to the NFL in 1952 after a two-year commitment to the United States Marine Corpsas a lieutenant, when he was discharged after being wounded in combat. He replaced future hall of famerSammy Baugh in the starting lineup after the fourth game and received All-Rookie honors at the end of the season. The next year he was limited with a knee injury and also shared the starting position with Jack Scarbath.
On December 9, 1954, he re-signed with the Washington Redskins. In his seven seasons with the Redskins he started 55 of a possible 72 games at quarterback (he played in 70 of those 72 games). He was also the primary punter for his first three seasons with Washington (punting 171 times for a total of 6,995 yards in five seasons). He was the league’s top-rated quarterback in 1958. He announced his retirement to focus on his law practice at the end of the 1959 season.
LeBaron started 10 of 14 games in 1961, with Meredith starting the other four. He only started five games in 1962, splitting time with Meredith. He started the first game of the 1963 season, but was replaced permanently by Meredith for the rest of the season.
He retired at the end of 1963, after playing 12 seasons, throwing for 13,399 yards and 104 touchdowns and being selected for the Pro Bowl four times in 1955, 1957, 1958, and 1962.He is the shortest quarterback to ever be selected to the Pro Bowl. He was also known as an elusive scrambler and great ball-handler.
LeBaron became a football announcer for CBS Sports after his NFL career, and worked as an announcer from 1966 to 1971. He had obtained a law degree during his off-seasons from football, and practiced law after his football career. He was also the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons from 1977 to 1982 and executive vice president from 1983 through 1985.LeBaron was an avid golfer and continued to play golf in his retirement. He died of natural causes on April 1, 2015.
Documentary about Ervil LeBaron and his cult
(*Some books about Uncle Ervil LeBaron — in public libraries and bookstores)
THE TRUE PROPHET is an independent film written and directed by Scott Hillier and executive produced by…
NOTE: This movie was planning on its release in 2014. It was never released due to lack of funding. But there is some information here that may very well be of interest to you. For example, on this Website there are some of Ervil’s writings and more. Must see.
A number of books have been published and more than one movie has been done on Mother’s brother, my infamous Uncle Ervil LeBaron. He is now known as “Evil Ervil,” and “The Mormon Manson.” I knew, respected, and loved him till I came to realize, many years later, what a manipulator he was — and before he went off the deep end with his sociopathy and psychosis.
The “Prophet of Evil” is an especially well-done film produced years ago. It portrays a poignant part of this serial killer’s life. I love how brilliantly Brian Dennehy played the part of my Uncle Ervil.
But no film can possibly portray the depth of suffering, damage, and lunacy this personality-disordered megalomaniac caused in the lives of all he touched — especially his family and his brainwashed, true-believing followers, not to mention his around sixty children.
You may get the film from wherever you get movies and see the portrayal for yourself. I, myself, will be telling my experiences with my Uncle Ervil down the line in my memoir blogs. You may also read books written about him.
See “Media” and also “Media on Extended Family, Friends and Fundamentalist Cults” in my Menu bar for other books, Book Reviews, and films I may not have listed in this blog. Wikipedia and other Who’s Who sites relate a short history of him also — as well as a short history of many of my other infamous, as well as famous LeBaron and other extended family members and relatives.
For example, you can find in Wikipedia a short biography of my great-great Uncle, Joel Johnson (brother of my great-great grandfather Benjamin F. Johnson) who helped found some of Utah’s first Townsites. And wrote 800 hymns for the Mormon hymnal, during the time of Joseph Smith. Two of these hymns are still in the modern Mormon hymnals. The beautiful “High on the Mountain Top” is one of them — and to this day is still one of mine and Mormonism’s favorite hymns.
Another outstanding relative is my a-number-of-places-removed-maternal great-grandfather, Dr. Francis LeBaron. He was the first of the LeBarons in the United States — brought to America around 1668 by his nurse to save his life, it is said, “because he was part of the French royalty,” or/and his parents were members of the Huguenots — so went into hiding and may eventually have been killed.
~PLEASE NOTE: I took the following material off the Internet. It needs editing. I edited a part of this bio. Do not have time to polish it:
~ NOTE:This portrait is of Dr. Francis LeBaron Apothecary General (1781-1829). He is the namesake and great-grandson of Dr. Francis LeBaron born 1668:
This Dr. Francis LeBaron served in the service of the United States as:
Surgeon’s Mate (Navy), Jan. 31, 1800 to Mar. 1, 1802
Garrison Surgeon’s Mate (Army), 1802 to 1808
Garrison Surgeon 1808 to1813
Apothecary General. 1813 to 1821. Check out the following link: http://www.anamelessnobleman.com/HTMLs/ApthcryGnrl.html
Aug. 8, 1704
Francis LeBaron was a doctor from France. There are unconfirmed family stories that he was son of the persecuted Huguenots. One Story has him being handed over to a childless doctor, Louis Pecton of Bordeaux, and being instructed that if his father did not return in one year he was to raise the child as his own and teach him the family trade, for his mother had been killed and his father’s life was in danger. He was just an infant.This would explain how he became a doctor. Louis Pecton raised him and on his death bed in 1693 he told Francis of his true identity. It is said that he also gave him a golden cross that was his mother’s. And it is said that he adored it and never took it off but wore it concealed under his clothing and was buried
with it. As far as is known, Francis never revealed his true identity to anyone.
Another story goes that after Louis’s death, Francis became involved with a French privateer. And it is known that he left France aboard a privateer ship.
The ship ran aground in Buzzards Bay in the fall of 1694. This was during the later stages
of King William’s war with Louis XIV of France. The French crew was captured by the colonists. Francis became separated from his shipmates.
Some stories have him being hidden by his future wife Mary Wilder, while others have him
being left behind because he was sick — or both.
At this time Plymouth had no surgeon and Francis, being a surgeon, performed a successful operation. Since he
was willing to settle in Plymouth, the settlers petitioned the govenor to keep him. And it was done.
There is a book written by Mrs. Jane Goodwin Austin whose great-grandfather Nathaniel Goodwin married Lazarus’ widow Lydia. The book is called “The Nameless Nobleman.” It is fictional but is said to be the story of Dr. Francis LeBaron (dated 1876).
LOUIS PECTON had been a surgeon in the French armies. As popular prejudice would not allow of dissections in civil life, and as Harvey’s discoveries were written in English, few French practitioners then knew as much of their profession as did the old women who acted as nurses, or the barbers who monopolized the use of the lancet. In his army practice, young Pecton had abundant opportunity for dissections and for making the acquaintance of English surgeons.
When, therefore, he went to take possession of his patrimony in a suburb of Bordeaux, he was a surgeon of far greater skill and knowledge than was common in that day. He had married some years before. The parents of the parties had arranged the match, the bride and bridegroom knowing or caring little about each other, as was customary.
On settling down at Bordeaux, it was with a sort of agreeable surprise that the young couple found themselves exceedingly well mated, and proceeded to fall in love with each other.
Pecton practiced medicine, mainly from a sense of duty. His property was enough to support him, so that the fees, which he rigidly exacted from the rich, were systematically distributed among the poor.
One dark night, in 1668, the worthy doctor’s surgery was visited by a stranger of commanding appearance, but in humble apparel. In reply to the puzzled look of the former, the stranger pushed aside his hair, pointed to a little star-shaped scar above is temple, and said:
“Yes, my dear Pecton, your unspoken guess is right. But keep your seat. If you want to show me respect, do it by serving me. My life is sought, and so is that of my infant son. You know by whom! Mine he will yet have, but you must save that of my now motherless boy. He will reach your house to-night with his wet-nurse.
“Let him pass as your son till he grows up, Then tell him what you think will be for his good. Educate him well and see that he is trained to martial exercises. Then teach him your own noble calling. Two hundred Louis-d’ors will come with him to meet the expenses. He has been baptized as “Francis.” Honor him by giving him your own honest surname. And if he never knows any other, he will be far happier than if he bore his father’s historic title.
“Finally, rear him as a good Catholic. And teach him to wear this cross constantly, and to have it buried with him. It may lead, in happier times, to his identification.”
So saying, he handed the doctor a small but richly chased gold cross attached to an embroidered ribbon. A long, whispered consultation followed. The result was that the doctor, after conferring with his wife, accepted the trust imposed, but declared that the little stranger should take the place of his own deceased darling. And should be made his heir, unless reclaimed by his father.
The stranger sadly replied: “No! My double benefactor, that will never be. If I am alive, you shall hear from me in just one year. If you do not, you may know that I no longer live.”
The stranger departed. The doctor never heard of him again. The child arrived mysteriously and the family adapted itself to its new circumstances without attracting outside attention. Soon after, they moved to the opposite side of the city, among strangers, who neither knew nor cared whether little Francis Pecton was the son of his nominal parents or not.
At twenty-one, Francis had a fine education as the times went, and his training had been such as his father had requested. He was the embodiment of health and good spirits, the only grief of his life having been the recent death of his supposed mother. His guardian had given him rare instruction in surgery, and had abandoned his medical practice to him, which the young man was following up with enthusiasm.
In 1693, when Francis was twenty-five years old, Dr. Pecton lay on his death-bed. In a long, last interview he revealed to his ward such portion of his history as he knew. Soon after, he departed, leaving Francis heir to his little estate. The latter, now doubly an orphan, never recovered his former light-heartedness — largely because of something he had learned from the doctor which cast a shadow over his spirit for life. His hereditary cross seemed now doubly precious to him, and was seldom long out of his hand.
At length, his old home becoming insupportable, he invested a part of his funds in the city. A part he distributed among the poor of his neighborhood. With the rest, he bought a share in the privateer L’Aigle. Then, assuming the name of LeBaron, as surgeon of his ship, he started out to fight the battles of Louis XIV against William and Mary.
Like most privateers, L’Aigle won many ignoble victories and made some very gallant failures. At length, in 1696, while running along the New England coast, she took a look into Buzzard’s Bay, and being caught there by a south-west wind, she never looked further.
To bear up was impossible and to bear away was destruction. She came to anchor but soon the storm tore her loose and drove her upon the west coast of Falmouth. Her crew all landed safely, but the inhabitants gathered about them with extremely hostile indications. They had mistaken L’Aigle for a pirate, and were disposed to exterminate her crew at once.
After some hours of threatening, Major Bourne, a magistrate, arrived and took command. By his order, the Frenchmen were received as prisoners of war and were finally started on the route for Boston. When they came to march, it was found that the surgeon of the ship was not among the prisoners. He had landed with the crew, and had evidently escaped inland. Some of the people, first agreeing that the fugitive must be a spy, and therefore not entitled to quarter, started in pursuit.
A few miles northward stood a large, rambling house, in which Edward and Elizabeth Wilder had lived and died, and where their children now lived. The morning after the shipwreck, Mary Wilder was at home alone. Her brother and his wife were away for the day, and she was spinning flax and singing psalm tunes in the big, old kitchen. Suddenly a ragged, drabbled, excited young man rushed into the house and in broken language asked her to protect him. Her good sense and her woman’s heart roused her to efficient action. She took the fugitive to the garret and, taking up the loose boards of the floor, exposed a deep space, bounded by the stout wooden ceiling of the room below.
A few mats and sacks were thrown in, some food was provided, and Mary went to watch for the searchers. At length they appeared, examining every bush and hiding-place, far and near. Mary sent her captive into his place of refuge, and then, replacing the floor, she spread some bedding over the spot and lay down.
Soon the hunters arrived and examined the house. In the garret they found Mary tucked up on the floor, with her head bound in a towel, and a bowl of sassafras tea by her side. They tried to explain their errand, but she was “so sick” she would not listen. Ransacking the rest of the premises, they went on their way. That night Mary won her sister-in-law over to her side and they two soon coaxed young Edward Wilder to help protect the fugitive.
In the course of two weeks, the latter was well nigh forgotten by the outside world. Major Bourne, who had been consulted by the Wilder’s, volunteered to go with LeBaron to Boston, and ask that he might live in Falmouth, on parole, until exchanged. Early one morning Major Bourne, with Wilder and LeBaron, crossed on horseback to Scusset Harbor, in Sandwich, where a boat at once started for Plymouth. At the latter place the prisoner was turned over to the selectmen who at once put him in care of Major Bourne until a convenient craft should be sailing to Boston.
There was then no surgeon in Plymouth, and there was a very serious case of disease requiring treatment. LeBaron volunteered to perform the operation. His knowledge and skill so impressed the people that the selectmen procured his discharge as a prisoner from Lieut.-Gov. Stoughton, and persuaded him to settle in Plymouth.
Dr. LeBaron’s first use of his freedom was to revisit Falmouth, and bring back Mary Wilder as his wife. How much of his history he told his wife was never revealed by her, beyond what is here recorded. To other people he said nothing. It was only known that he considered himself the victim of an official conspiracy, defrauding him hopelessly of his hereditary rights.
But while this feeling made him ready to abjure his native land and all connected with it, he held steadfastly to his religion, wearing his golden cross night and day, and providing that it should not be removed at his death. Many of his new neighbors were greatly troubled that their should be a devote’ of Rome and this fact much injured his influence.
Indeed, he was often charged with a lack of cordiality and sociability. But the poor found him a true follower of the noble-hearted Pecton. For them, his gentlest manners and most earnest efforts were ready. The remnants of his French property were reclaimed and formed into his private charity fund. When his survivors opened his will, they found that he had bequeathed the town of Plymouth ninety acres of land for the same purpose.
The prosperous complained of his brusqueness, but the weak and friendless blessed the sound of his approaching footsteps. With them, he was never impatient or indifferent, though they were sometimes ungrateful to him. With the aged, he was tender, as they reminded him of his adopted father and mother.
Especially was he affected when, in 1699, he soothed the last moments of Mary Allerton Cushman, who as a girl of ten years had landed from the Mayflower, and now at the age of 90 was the sole survivor of that immortal company. That the orphan of Bordeaux should have been, by such mysterious ways, brought to perform this duty, filled LeBaron’s soul with awe.
Eight years of this new life passed quietly away. Then, at the early age of 36, the exile made his last journey. The visitor to Burial Hill in Plymouth may still see the gravestone which Mary Wilder had to import from England. On it he may read: HERE LYES Ye BODY OF Mr FRANCIS LEBARRAN, PHYTICIAN WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE AUGUST Ye 8, 1704, IN Ye 36 YEAR OF HIS AGE.
A third of a century afterward, loving hands laid Mary Wilder by the side of her long-lost husband. Her son had then, for many years, been his father’s successor as “the beloved physician” of Plymouth. Her grandson was fitting himself for the same high position when his turn should come.
All in this country who bear the name “LeBaron” are of this stock. So are many more, who, through intermarriages with the descendants of Bradford, Standish, Alden, Howland, and Southworth, bear widely different names.
Few of them know of the romance which surrounds their French ancestor. None of them can unravel its mysteries. One of the number has herein told all that he can learn of the matter and it amounts to little more concerning its hero than this family link:
Spouse: Mary Wilder Waite (1668 – 1737)Children: James LeBaron (1696 – 1744) Lazarus LeBaron (1698 – 1773)* Francis LeBaron (1701 – 1731)Calculated Relationship Inscription:
HERE LYES Ye BODYOF Mr FRANCIS LEBARRAN PHYTICIAN WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE AUGUST Ye 8. 1704. IN Ye 36 YEAR OF HIS AGE
My flesh shall slumber in the ground.
His a-number-of-places-removed-granddaughter, Author Jane Goodwin Austin, wrote a history about him, “The Nameless Nobleman.” I bought the book on Amazon.com a few years ago, as well as other books written by her.
Another book I found years ago in the Public Library was written, I believe, by my Uncle Ben LeBaron’s son, George LeBaron — if I remember his name, and other facts correctly. (If you’rereading this and I am wrong in my data, would you please advise me in my “Comments” section?)
He told of his experiences earning his Physician’s license and Medical degree at the prestigious Harvard Med School, no less. I say “no less” because if you knew what he grew up under, your sentiments would be the same! He had to be strong and brilliant to do this!
One of Uncle Ervil’s amazing daughters, Author-Speaker-Blogger-and Life Coach, Anna LeBaron, has also written a book. It is about her life growing up in her father’s dangerous and crazy cult — which she ran away from when she was 13!
Her memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” was released March 21, 2017. It’s in the public library, in audiobook, eBook, and print versions. You can order it, now, on Amazon.com and other sites. Check out her Website at AnnaLeBaron.com.
These two above photos are of my cousin Anna LeBaron.
By Stephany Spencer: My Book Review of my cousin Anna LeBaron’s Memoir: “The Polygamist’s Daughter”
Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., I was honored with a complimentary ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of cousin Anna LeBaron’s bravely written book, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” published March 21, 2017.
Regarding Anna’s Memoir, I was disappointed she didn’t tell us more about her miscreant father, “Evil Ervil,” (the murderous “Mormon Manson”). Also wish she had gone more into the details of her “running away from home.” (I would not have cared if the book were longer!)
As it was, her book said very little about her colorful father. And her “running away” was simply to call her married sister to take her in — a sister within walking distance, no less. Still, I have to give her credit for having had the sense and courage to run away at the tender age of thirteen, no less! For having run away, she might even very well have been killed by the cult she is fled!
Even so, in essence, her book was milquetoast for me, in comparison to what was really going on in her family and father’s violent cult that drove her to flee the abusive and corrupt lifestyle. However, I realize she was between a rock and a hard spot when it came to relating this treacherous past.
I, an old veteran of much of that history, also realize that if she were totally up front, it would possibly compromise her present and future — and her amazing success in surviving her malevolent past.
Her father is my mother’s brother. And was my husband’s buddy for ten years — so I knew him well … as well as you could know a devious man like my Uncle Ervil LeBaron for whom I had felt love and respect, till he went off the deep end in his psychopathy.
Now I feel mostly pity and shame for my insane, sociopathic, revengeful, zealot uncle who, nonetheless, had a lot of people convinced he was a prophet.
To better understand that whole scenario, read “Cult Insanity” by Irene Spencer;” “Prophet of Blood,” by Ben Bradlee, Jr. and Dale Van Atta. And “The 4 O’clock Murders,” by Scott Anderson.
To further understand this whole bizarre crime family scene, also check Wikipedia and other online Info about Ervil LeBaron, including my Website Menu bar under “Media About my Family, Friends, and Mormon Fundamentalist Cults.” And “Famous ‘n’ Infamous Relatives of Mine.”You could, as well, watch the excellent film, “Prophet of Evil,” starring Brian Dennehy.
Getting back to Anna LeBaron’s Memoir, “The Polygamist’s Daughter,” everyone in the LeBaron Colony in the 1960’s saw how Uncle Ervil went about preaching and “doing missionary work, ” indifferent toward his nine neglected children he bore by his first wife, bipolar Aunt Delfina.
These indigent kids were left to roam the streets, starving, and unkempt — not to mention his fifty or more other deprived and abandoned children he bore by his thirteen other wives!
So it hurt to the quick to hear, firsthand, in Anna’s Memoir how it felt for her to be so badly neglected and used by her non-empathetic, uncaring, sense-of-entitlement, narcissistic father!
But when I then readhow his unloved and abused daughter Lillian died, I grieved for days. She was one of Aunt Delfina’s children whom I had helped look out for while I lived near them in the LeBaron Colony in Mexico before I escaped the cult in 1967 at age twenty-one.
Lillian was only around five or so, then. And I don’t believe Anna had been born yet. But I had lived across the street from her jolly mother with the beautiful singing voice, Aunt Anna Mae. And had taught her older siblings in my Colonia LeBaron preschool I started in my home at age fifteen.
Therefore, though I wish Anna had gone more into depth, I’m proud of her efforts and the work she put into writing and publishing what she did of her Life Story. I’m sure her tragic memories were anything but easy to put into print.
For me, her story really picked up in the latter part where she began to shoot from the hip. I especially found it enlightening and helpful when she went into detail about how she overcame a bout of deep depression.
I benefited, also, when she told of her epiphany that gave her a new lease on life — a greater purpose for living. She is presently a Life Coach. And works to help improve the world — just the opposite of what her father did!
Though her father preached that he was “Here to set the house of God in order, to prepare it for the second coming of Christ,” in reality, he did just the opposite of everything he preached and claimed!!
Like her father, she is bright, a writer, and a leader.Unlike her father, she exhibits integrity, sanity, empathy, and a loving, giving spirit. So my hat goes off to Anna! She has come a long way, made a lot of good choices, and overcome a lot. I look forward to her next book — when she feels safe to actually “tell all.”
My Uncle Joel LeBaron’s daughter, Ruth Wariner, wrote a bestselling Memoir, “The Sound of Gravel,” published February 2016. It’s available on Amazon.com or wherever you get books. It’s also in audiobook and print in public libraries.
The following essay is my Book Review of “The Sound of Gravel,” a Memoir by Ruth Wariner, a first cousin of mine.
(“Wariner” is Ruth’s mother’s maiden name. My mother’s brother, my Uncle Joel LeBaron, was Ruth’s father.)
By Stephany Spencer: In the past year, I’ve read once and listened three times to my cousin Ruth Wariner’s best-selling book/audiobook, “The Sound of Gravel.” It has gotten higher ratings from me with each new read or listening to it. So I’ve found it pays to read or listen to a book more than once!
With my first read, I deemed the book “Not what I expected.” I grew up much the same way she had, so I had preconceived notions of what it was and should be about. It took listening to it a second time, as an audiobook, to be able to say:
“You go, cousin Ruth! It’s a well-written Memoir that should be read, as well as listened to, at least two times by everyone who thinks Mormon cults are “Just people exercising their freedom of religion.”
This well-scripted book gives you some idea of what “people just exercising their freedom of religion” do to the kids born into these Mormon fundamentalist cults! I should know: I grew up in and then escaped, 50 years ago, this same LeBaron cult Ruth grew up in!
People who grow up in abusive and traumatizing childhoods often split and revert into themselves when anything goes wrong in their life. I’ve learned from the late Dr. David Viscot that feeling sorry for one’s self is a form of splitting. Traumatized people do this so as to try to protect themselves, and to better handle a bad situation. However, it only leads to depression.
Thanks to Ruth’s Memoir, she’s taught me to replace bad situations with the song and mantra: “Count Your Blessings.” I grew up singing this song. But I didn’t realize, till I read Ruth’s book the third time, that this is what I needed to do, more than anything, to keep a good spirit with me and thus avoid depression, negativity — and splitting from myself by feeling sorry for myself in the face of bad situations (like aging, for example!) that I was experiencing or going through.
Now, whenever dark clouds threaten to rain on my sunshine, I quickly remember to say and sing “Count your blessings!” For there are no end of blessings that have been bestowed upon me in my life, despite all the bad things I’ve also survived.
I grew up singing this song, just as my cousin Ruth had. But I had not been taught the lesson Ruth’s mother, Kathy, taught her when she constantly and quickly alwaysreminded her daughter Ruth to “count her blessings” — no matter how bad things were!!
At first, this seemed like a silly thing to consistently say, in the face of all the mire and dire adversity Ruth and her family constantly lived with. But now I realize Ruth’s mother, Kathy, had learned from her upbringing a good lesson that she then passed down to her own children:
Counting one’s blessings chases out negativity and depression, or feeling sorry for oneself. And supplants it with positivity, action, and being in control: the best prescriptions for surviving any bad situation.
Thank you, Ruth, for passing this lesson on to me — along with many other lessons you have taught through your outstanding memoir — your valuable gift to the world.
*I’ve posted below the words to this Thanksgiving song, in case you want to sing it too. (The music can be found online, by looking up the title of this song, if you don’t already know it).
Count Your Many Blessings
1- When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Refrain: Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
[*And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.]
2- Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by
3- When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
4- So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.
By Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897
“Shattered Dreams” and “Cult Insanity” by Best-Selling Author Irene Spencer/ AKA: Irene Kunz LeBaron, at IreneSpencerBooks.com. Her books are also in audiobook form. (Irene is my Aunt, through marriage, as is Rebecca Kimbel, Irene’s half-sister.)
*Note: I took the picture featured on Irene’s book cover,”Cult Insanity.
“Uncle Ervil LeBaron is holding my eight-year-old daughter, Asenath Marie Tucker, the little girl in the yellow dress. I took this photograph before I had any idea of the psychopathic, maniacal activities my mother’s brother, my Uncle Ervil, was up to.)
“His Favorite Wife,” by Susan Ray Schmidt/ AKA: Susan Ray LeBaron (Another Aunt of mine, her Memoir reads like a novel. My family is mentioned in it.)
One of my favorite books on the subject of my relatives and my past is the following book, written by a very talented writer,
Aunt Susan Ray Schmidt.
(I took care of her for five days when she was around nine years old (Long before she married my Uncle Verlan LeBaron, of course, and thus became my aunt) while her parents were out of town, and we were still living in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico).
Doris Hansen and Rebecca Kimbel also each interviewed Authors Irene LeBaron Spencer(See: IreneSpencerbooks.com) and Susan Ray Schmidt (see her website). Both are my Aunts.
Aunt Rebecca Kimbel and Doris Hanson also interviewed, on their TV and YouTube sites, other relatives and friends of mine from my days in the cult — people such as my cousin, Carolyn Jessop, a memoirist who wrote the bestselling,”Escape,” and other books.
Also, check out Aunt Rebecca Kimbel’s excellent and adamant speech on YouTube’s TED-X Talks. (In around only 18 minutes, she did a genius presentation on all the main issues to do with Mormon cults, including White slavery.
See also (on Good Reads) her novel, “A Savage Wild,” published in 2013. I have yet to get and read it
See the film: “The Childbride of Short Creek.” It was on YouTube, among other places, the last time I checked. (My sisters were interviewed by the writers of this film, to get Info for their Script.)
“Banking on Heaven“ is a Documentary my cousin Laurie Allen (Mother’s brother, Uncle Wesley’s granddaughter) and her cohort, Dot Reidelbach, created. (It gives a good overview of life as a Mormon fundamentalist female in Short Creek, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah.
I went online a few years ago and ordered a copy of their DVD. I don’t know if you can find it on YouTube or the Internet now. But give it a try.)
My Spencer family line may or may not be related to England’s famous poet Edmund Spenser. The jury is still out on this.
Edmund Spenser (/ˈspɛnsər/; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of nascent Modern English verse, and is often considered one of the greatest poets in the English language. He was deeply affected by Irish faerie mythology, which he knew from his home at Kilcolman and possibly from his Irish wife Elizabeth Boyle. His genocidal tracts against Gaelic culture were war propaganda. His house (ruins remain) was burned to the ground during the war, causing him to flee Ireland.
Edmund Spenser was born in East Smithfield, London, around the year 1552, though there is some ambiguity as to the exact date of his birth. As a young boy, he was educated in London at the Merchant Taylors’ School and matriculated as a sizar at Pembroke College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge he became a friend of Gabriel Harvey and later consulted him, despite their differing views on poetry. In 1578, he became for a short time secretary to John Young, Bishop of Rochester. In 1579, he published The Shepheardes Calender and around the same time married his first wife, Machabyas Childe. They had two children, Sylvanus (d.1638) and Katherine.
In July 1580, Spenser went to Ireland in service of the newly appointed Lord Deputy, Arthur Grey, 14th Baron Grey de Wilton. Spenser served under Lord Gray with Walter Raleigh at the Siege of Smerwick massacre. When Lord Grey was recalled to England, Spenser stayed on in Ireland, having acquired other official posts and lands in the Munster Plantation. Raleigh acquired other nearby Munster estates confiscated in the Second Desmond Rebellion. Some time between 1587 and 1589, Spenser acquired his main estate at Kilcolman, near Doneraile in North Cork. He later bought a second holding to the south, at Rennie, on a rock overlooking the river Blackwater in North Cork. Its ruins are still visible today. A short distance away grew a tree, locally known as “Spenser’s Oak” until it was destroyed in a lightning strike in the 1960s. Local legend has it that he penned some of The Faerie Queene under this tree.
In 1590, Spenser brought out the first three books of his most famous work, The Faerie Queene, having travelled to London to publish and promote the work, with the likely assistance of Raleigh. He was successful enough to obtain a life pension of £50 a year from the Queen. He probably hoped to secure a place at court through his poetry, but his next significant publication boldly antagonised the queen’s principal secretary, Lord Burghley (William Cecil), through its inclusion of the satirical Mother Hubberd’s Tale. He returned to Ireland.
By 1594, Spenser’s first wife had died, and in that year he married Elizabeth Boyle, to whom he addressed the sonnet sequence Amoretti. The marriage itself was celebrated in Epithalamion. They had a son named Peregrine.
In 1596, Spenser wrote a prose pamphlet titled A View of the Present State of Ireland. This piece, in the form of a dialogue, circulated in manuscript, remaining unpublished until the mid-seventeenth century. It is probable that it was kept out of print during the author’s lifetime because of its inflammatory content. The pamphlet argued that Ireland would never be totally “pacified” by the English until its indigenous language and customs had been destroyed, if necessary by violence.
In 1598, during the Nine Years War, Spenser was driven from his home by the native Irish forces of Aodh Ó Néill. His castle at Kilcolman was burned, and Ben Jonson, who may have had private information, asserted that one of his infant children died in the blaze.
In the year after being driven from his home, 1599, Spenser travelled to London, where he died at the age of forty-six – “for want of bread”, according to Ben Jonson – one of Jonson’s more doubtful statements, since Spenser had a payment to him authorised by the government and was due his pension. His coffin was carried to his grave in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey by other poets, who threw many pens and pieces of poetry into his grave with many tears. His second wife survived him and remarried twice. His sister Sarah, who had accompanied him to Ireland, married into the Travers family, and her descendants were prominent landowners in Cork for centuries.
Thomas Fuller, in Worthies of England, included a story where the Queen told her treasurer, William Cecil, to pay Spenser one hundred pounds for his poetry. The treasurer, however, objected that the sum was too much. She said, “Then give him what is reason”. Without receiving his payment in due time, Spenser gave the Queen this quatrain on one of her progresses:
I was promis’d on a time,
To have a reason for my rhyme:
From that time unto this season,
I receiv’d nor rhyme nor reason.
She immediately ordered the treasurer pay Spenser the original £100.
This story seems to have attached itself to Spenser from Thomas Churchyard, who apparently had difficulty in getting payment of his pension, the only other pension Elizabeth awarded to a poet. Spenser seems to have had no difficulty in receiving payment when it was due as the pension was being collected for him by his publisher, Ponsonby.
Title Page of a 1617 Edition of The Shepherd’s Calendar printed by Matthew Lownes, often bound with the complete works printed in 1611 or 1617.
The Shepherd’s Calendar is Edmund Spenser’s first major work, which appeared in 1579. It emulates Virgil‘s Eclogues of the first century BCE and the Eclogues of Mantuan by Baptista Mantuanus, a late medieval, early renaissance poet. An eclogue is a short pastoral poem that is in the form of a dialogue or soliloquy. Although all the months together form an entire year, each month stands alone as a separate poem. Editions of the late 16th and early 17th centuries include woodcuts for each month/poem, and thereby have a slight similarity to an emblem book which combines a number of self-contained pictures and texts, usually a short vignette, saying, or allegory with an accompanying illustration.
The epic poem The Faerie Queenefrontispiece, printed by William Ponsonby in 1590.
Spenser’s masterpiece is the epic poemThe Faerie Queene. The first three books of The Faerie Queenewere published in 1590, and a second set of three books were published in 1596. Spenser originally indicated that he intended the poem to consist of twelve books, so the version of the poem we have today is incomplete. Despite this, it remains one of the longest poems in the English language. It is an allegorical work, and can be read (as Spenser presumably intended) on several levels of allegory, including as praise of Queen Elizabeth I. In a completely allegorical context, the poem follows several knights in an examination of several virtues. In Spenser’s “A Letter of the Authors,” he states that the entire epic poem is “cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devises,” and that the aim behind The Faerie Queene was to “fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.”
Spenser published numerous relatively short poems in the last decade of the sixteenth century, almost all of which consider love or sorrow. In 1591, he published Complaints, a collection of poems that express complaints in mournful or mocking tones. Four years later, in 1595, Spenser published Amoretti and Epithalamion. This volume contains eighty-nine sonnets commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle. In “Amoretti,” Spenser uses subtle humour and parody while praising his beloved, reworking Petrarchism in his treatment of longing for a woman. “Epithalamion,” similar to “Amoretti,” deals in part with the unease in the development of a romantic and sexual relationship. It was written for his wedding to his young bride, Elizabeth Boyle. The poem consists of 365 long lines, corresponding to the days of the year; 68 short lines, claimed to represent the sum of the 52 weeks, 12 months, and 4 seasons of the annual cycle; and 24 stanzas, corresponding to the diurnal and sidereal hours. Some have speculated that the attention to disquiet in general reflects Spenser’s personal anxieties at the time, as he was unable to complete his most significant work, The Faerie Queene. In the following year Spenser released Prothalamion, a wedding song written for the daughters of a duke, allegedly in hopes to gain favour in the court.
Spenser used a distinctive verse form, called the Spenserian stanza, in several works, including The Faerie Queene. The stanza’s main meter is iambic pentameter with a final line in iambic hexameter (having six feet or stresses, known as an Alexandrine), and the rhyme scheme is ababbcbcc. He also used his own rhyme scheme for the sonnet. In a Spenserian sonnet, the last line of every quatrain is linked with the first line of the next one, yielding the rhyme scheme ababbcbccdcdee.
Though Spenser was well read in classical literature, scholars have noted that his poetry does not rehash tradition, but rather is distinctly his. This individuality may have resulted, to some extent, from a lack of comprehension of the classics. Spenser strove to emulate such ancient Roman poets as Virgil and Ovid, whom he studied during his schooling, but many of his best-known works are notably divergent from those of his predecessors. The language of his poetry is purposely archaic, reminiscent of earlier works such as The Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer and Il Canzoniere of Francesco Petrarca, whom Spenser greatly admired.
The goal of this piece was to show that Ireland was in great need of reform. Spenser believed that “Ireland is a diseased portion of the State, it must first be cured and reformed, before it could be in a position to appreciate the good sound laws and blessings of the nation”. In A View of the Present State of Ireland, Spenser categorises the “evils” of the Irish people into three prominent categories: laws, customs, and religion. These three elements work together in creating the disruptive and degraded people. One example given in the work is the native law system called “Brehon Law” which trumps the established law given by the English monarchy. This system has its own court and way of dealing with infractions. It has been passed down through the generations and Spenser views this system as a native backward custom which must be destroyed. (Brehon Law methods of dealing with murder by imposing an éraic, or fine, on the murderer’s whole family particularly horrified the English, in whose Protestant view a murderer should die for his act.)
Spenser wished devoutly that the Irish language should be eradicated, writing that if children learn Irish before English, “Soe that the speach being Irish, the hart must needes be Irishe; for out of the aboundance of the hart, the tonge speaketh”.
He pressed for a scorched earth policy in Ireland, noting that the destruction of crops and animals had been successful in crushing the Second Desmond Rebellion (1579–83), when, despite the rich and bountiful land:
“‘Out of everye corner of the woode and glenns they came creepinge forth upon theire handes, for theire legges could not beare them; they looked Anatomies [of] death, they spake like ghostes, crying out of theire graves; they did eate of the carrions, happye wheare they could find them, yea, and one another soone after, in soe much as the verye carcasses they spared not to scrape out of theire graves; and if they found a plott of water-cresses or shamrockes, theyr they flocked as to a feast… in a shorte space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentyfull countrye suddenly lefte voyde of man or beast: yett sure in all that warr, there perished not manye by the sworde, but all by the extreamytie of famine … they themselves had wrought'”
Axiochus, a translation of a pseudo-Platonic dialogue from the original Ancient Greek; published by Cuthbert Burbie; attributed to “Edw: Spenser” but the attribution is uncertain
Daphnaïda. An Elegy upon the Death of the Noble and Vertuous Douglas Howard, Daughter and Heire of Henry Lord Howard, Viscount Byndon, and Wife of Arthure Gorges Esquier (published in London in January, according to one source; another source gives 1591 as the year)
1611: First folio edition of Spenser’s collected works
1633: A Vewe of the Present State of Irelande, a prose treatise on the reformation of Ireland, first published in James Ware’s Ancient Irish Chronicles (Spenser’s work was entered into the Stationer’s Register in 1598 and circulated in manuscript but not published until it was included in this work of Ware’s)
Edmund Spenser, Selected Letters and Other Papers. Edited by Christopher Burlinson and Andrew Zurcher (Oxford, OUP, 2009).
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie-Queene (Longman-Annotated-English Poets, 2001, 2007) Edited by A. C. Hamilton, Text Edited by Hiroshi Yamashita and Toshiyuki Suzuki.ge Faculty of English website, retrieved 24 September 2009
Croft, Ryan J. “Sanctified Tyrannicide: Tyranny And Theology In John Ponet’s Shorte Treatise Of Politike Power And Edmund “Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.” Studies in Philosophy, 108.4 (2011): 538–571. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 8 October 2012.
Johnson, William. “The struggle between good and evil in the first book of ‘The Faerie Queene’.” English Studies, Vol. 74,
Maley, Willy. “Spenser’s Life.” The Oxford Dictionary of Edmund Spenser. Ed. Richard A. McCabe. 1st Ed. 2010. Print.
Rust, Jennifer. “Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.” Saint Louis University, St. Louis. 10 October 2007. No. 6. (December 1993) p. 507–519.
Joel Johnson is my great-great-uncle, brother of my great-great-grandfather Benjamin F Johnson.
My Uncle Joel LeBaron is my mother’s brother and my Great–great Uncle Joel Johnson’s namesake. I was amazed to see how much Uncle Joel LeBaron looks like his Great Uncle Joel Johnson – especially in the cheeks, nose, mouth, and jaw! (He resembles his namesake more than any of my mother’s other six brothers!)
Great-great uncle Joel Johnson is, among other things, famous for such well-known and beloved Mormonhymns as “High on the Mountaintop.”It can still be found in modern Mormon hymn books. And is still one of my favorite hymns.
Great-great Uncle Joel Johnson wrote around 800 hymns for the Mormon church. He also helped found some of Utah’s Townsites.
The following I borrowed from Wikipedia for your convenience. But there is also more on him and his history that you can find if you do various online searches:
The lyrics to the hymn were written by Johnson in 1853, five years after Brigham Youngpreached on Ensign Peak as the Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.Even though Johnson’s journal contains more than 700 hymns, “High on the Mountain Top” is his most notable contribution to LDS music.
In 1854, Beesley composed music to accompany Johnson’s poem. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir adopted Beesley’s rendition and it has since become one of the choir’s standard numbers.
The hymn has five verses and centers on the theme that God has restored the gospel to the earth.
7/2016 Hi! I’m Stephany Spencer/AKA Beulah Spencer-LeBaron de Tucker.
Welcome to my own little corner of the World-Wide Web — My “Virtual” piece of valuable Internet Real Estate!Yes, I being “Creative Aboard,” say welcome aboard! And please feel free to click around and see what’s useful to you. How may I help you?
I am a Creative: Author, Artist, Poet, Performer, Lyricist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Speaker — Just a professional Jackalynn-of-many-trades — And a retired teacher on her endless summer.
At the moment, I’m excited about this recent launch of my first Website/Photoblog site! My URL is: https://StephanySpencer.com. It serves as my Scrapbook, Blog site, and a connection to you and the rest of the world. My email address is StephSpencer10@gmail.com, should you wish to contact me.
Over time I’ll be sharing with you a variety of topics and poetry, but mostly my miserable Memoirs (I love alliteration!), along with some happy and redemptive stories of how I escaped a dangerous, fanatic, Mormon fundamentalist foot-washing cult I was born and raised in and lived to write about; i.e., to tell why and how I made it out of there and up to here.
I’ll also be sharing with you poetry and songs I’ve written, as well as videos of my performances, artwork, and more. I’m looking forward to your input, honesty, and ideas. I promise I’ll read all your comments, and will respond as time allows. For I mean for each blog to be a dialog, not a monolog.
Through my Website, I’ll test the waters and heed your input. It will be of import for if and when I decide to finish writing my shoot-from-the-hip Memoirs: the surreal saga of how I survived stunting child abuse as a White slave while growing up poor and deprived.
Seven years of my life (the years between 1960 and 1967) were spent in my Uncle Joel and Ervil LeBaron’s secluded, backward, extremist Mormon Fundamentalist cult, headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.
I escaped this self-righteous and controlling cult in 1967, at the age of twenty-one, with only my three-year-old daughter, one suitcase, and $5.00 to our name — plus an 8th Grade Diploma received in 1960, after only around six years of rather poor public education, mostly from Utah’s small-town 1950s schools.
Part of that education took place in infamous Short Creek, Utah’s one-room schoolhouse that housed grades one through five under the tutelage of brave Mrs. Verda Lartzen.
The rest is “her-story” or “my-story” — But with much credit going to our good ole USA’s government, people, and God — though at the time, I no longer believed in God — my understanding of God.
Now I see “God“(meaning anything that is “Good”) has been with me all along. Though the going has been far from easy, I see the tracks where God carried me when I could no longer make it on my own! The help showed up in ominous ways, such that I cannot question that a Higher Power exists — a Loving Energy overlooking my life.
So, to be sure, all glory goes to God/Goodness that I’ve made it through so well, these many years, since escaping the devastation and setbacks of my cult upbringing.
Within five months of escaping the LeBaron cult at age twenty-one, for example, I miraculously started college — though all I had was about six years of public education, an eighth-grade diploma, and had not been inside a classroom for about eight years … And was limping along on culture shock and post-traumatic stress syndrome, besides.
However, College was a dream come true! Thanks to California’s Junior Colleges (mostly funded by taxpayers’ dollars back then), Scholarships, Work-study, Grants and Loans — and the Welfare system, — I was able to take the GED test, then start studying at East Los Angeles College, in California.
Amazing too is, though I had been out of school since age fourteen, barely had six years of public education, and only an eighth-grade Jr. High School diploma, I was on the “Dean’s List” for top grades by my second semester!
I, sadly, had not had the chance for an education in High School’s 9th, 10th, 11th, nor 12th Grades, yet within two years, I earned an Associate of Arts degree in Music, then graduated from UCLA in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. And attained a Teacher’s Credential and Post-graduate work from California State University, Northridge, in 1976, specializing in Liberal Arts and Bilingual Ed.
Presently I am a member of the California Writers Club (https://cwc-sfv.org) where I was Programs Chair and also helped with Hospitality. (*See the above CWC Website for some of my pieces published over the years in “The Valley Scribe,“newsletter of the California Writers Club.)
Ever a Creative, the world is my oyster and I a pearl forming within her. Life is my canvas on which I purposely paint with gusto, all the while it takes me along to new destinations and dimensions — and hopefully, right on through to the “pearly” gates!
I have learned: “If you rest, you rust;” You either live or you die. Bob Dylan so aptly reminds us of this in his lyrical line borrowed from the late great singer-songwriter, Woodie Guthrie: “If you aren’t busy livin’,
You’re busy dyin’.”
So here’s to life! I’m tryin,’ yes, I am. Though I ain’t thru cryin’, “L’ Chaim,” and cheers!
(by Stephany Spencer-LeBaron)
In July 1967, three months after my/our husband, William Preston Tucker/AKA: Bill Tucker (I say “our” husband because I was one of Bill’s three wives), announced to the “church” he was leaving, he died from a burst appendix. Up until then, he had been one of the two top leading priesthood members of my Uncle Joel LeBaron’s Messianic Mormon fundamentalist cult.
My Uncle Ervil LeBaron, Joel’s eighteen-months-younger brother, was the other top-ranking priesthood member of Joel’s “church,” “The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times” — a Mormon Fundamentalist doomsday cult headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico.
When Bill died, most of the true-believing members of this apocalyptic extremist group believed God had taken him because he left “The Church.” In their minds, he had apostatized from the only true religion upon the face of the earth. Therefore, half the people who had followed my/our husband out of Joel’s cult of polygamists, just three months before, returned to his cult — now more fervent followers than ever!
Bill’s dying was all the sign they needed to convince them Joel’s “church” was true, after all. And Bill had simply been led astray by Satan and his minions. It didn’t carry much weight with them that Bill died because he was allergic to Penicillin — the wonder drug that cures peritonitis — the fatal infection that sets in when the appendix burst.
The following poem was written shortly after my husband’s death. I was barely twenty-one, had just escaped the LeBaron cult two months before, had a three-year-old daughter, no money, no home, no support system — “No nothing” but the legacy of having spent my past seven years held captive in a secluded, backwards, and abusive polygamist cult, where I was married at sixteen, in a prearranged marriage, to a man (William Preston Tucker) ten years my senior who already had two other wives — the oldest one, Marilyn Tucker, fifteen years my senior and immensely jealous of me — not to mention his other wife who was six years my senior.
During my seven years — from age fourteen to twenty-one — living in the LeBaron cult in Mexico, I was deprived of an education and every modern convenience — plus any type of contact with the outside world. That meant, among other things, no telephone, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, or books. And the motto was: “Keep them barefoot ‘n’ pregnant.”
Most of us were living a religiously-fanatic, backward, poverty-stricken lifestyle worse than many people lived in the feudal systems of the Middle Ages — the Medieval Period; i.e., the period from 500 AD to 1500 AD — or the 6th- 16th centuries.
I used a bucket tied to a rope to draw water from a well about half a block from my kitchen, scrubbed laundry on a washboard or my knuckles, bathed in a small galvanized metal tub, and had no indoor plumbing.
For most of us in LeBaron, “toilet” meant a rickety old unpainted wooden outhouse — and a “stink” pot or can kept under our bed … that needed frequent emptying and cleaning. It was like camping out, except I lived in a cinderblock or adobe abode instead of a tent — depending on which period of my seven years I spent in LeBaron.
We had no electricity, either. I lit a coal oil lamp for light when evening fell and didn’t have the luxury of a cook stove, let alone a fireplace. This is but a glimpse of the background I left behind upon entering “Babylon” — as the cult called it.
Yes, within a month or so after my husband’s death, I had left the LeBaron Colony behind, and moved to “the foreign country of California, USA.” Grief-stricken and shorn of my previous religious foundation and security system, needless to say, in every way, California was culture shock and post-traumatic-stress syndrome/PTSD in three-quarter time — except I was only waltzing to keep from crying.
To make matters worse, though I was twenty-one, I barely had six years of a mostly Utahan country-school education — which I was lucky to have gotten before my parents moved me and the rest of their family to Mexico in 1960 to “gather with the Saints” in the LeBaron Colony — a backward, secluded “get-away” in the Rocky Mountain Range that extended from Western Canada, the Southwestern United State, and on into Mexico. Once there, my education ended and dire deprivation began.
My teaching career also began: I hadn’t been there in that corner of The Rockies’ — that desolate little LeBaron Chihuahuan-desert dump more than three months but what my parents volunteered my 16-year-old sister and me, an extremely shy, fourteen-year-old, to teach the colony’s kids. I was suddenly, and with no preparation, handed the adult responsibility of a group of twelve kids, ranging from ten years to my own age! And I hadn’t the slightest understanding of pedagogy and its centuries-year-old precepts!!
I’d never had a reason to think about teaching theories before, let alone think about why and what youngsters should learn — other than when I played house and pretended I was a schoolteacher teaching my dolls – or my little siblings! And fantasized about growing up and being a teacher someday.
But now, I had to figure out everything on my own — and without the benefit of books or paper — and all within a day or two! Had to figure out such things as “Why Schools? And why teach, anyway? And if education is important, how, why, and what should I be teaching?” I had never had any reason to think about such lofty adult ideas and ideals. And why should I? Children simply take these things for granted, having grown up with education being “a given,” and going to schools given by grown-ups.
But now I was thrown this — another unbelievable whopper — while still suffering culture shock, due to the isolated, bleak little boring, backward, wind-swept desert colony — an utterly sweltering, desolate, dry, sandy oasis, as compared to what I had barely left behind in the small agrarian town Hurricane, Utah, USA!
Now, on top of this, suddenly I was deluged with the role of “responsible adult” to add to my PTSD and the other emotional distress and loneliness I was dealing with, but could hardly endure. The distress included my raging adolescent hormones, the loss of my home, bedroom, most of my toys, friends, teachers, lifestyle, and the school I so loved back in Utah. But there were also many other strange things and changes I found and had to adjust to in this Third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager to adjust to. And to add to all of it, my siblings and I were crammed into a temporary one-room windowless adobe hut with a dirt floor, where we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.
But there were also many other strange things and changes I had to contend with and adjust to in this third-World, foreign country. The Mexican peoples, different customs, and Spanish, itself, were monsters for a shy, introverted teenager like me to adjust to. To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, cramped, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor and the only one window that was covered by, not glass, but see-through plastic! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.
To add to it all, my siblings and I were crammed into a dark, stank, one-room adobe hut with a dirt floor. Its only window was covered by oiled butcher paper! There we lived for a year or more while Daddy built our family a residence of our own.
To put it succinctly, the LeBaron colony was utterly not what my mother had built it up to be –– Not at all what I was expecting or looking forward to! My parents got us kids all excited about leaving our home and many of our belongings, etc., in exchange for this rugged pioneer life — this primitive existence in Old Mexico — “to live with the Saints and help build up the kingdom of God”!
But we were fleeing there, also, to avoid the famine and destruction one of Ma’s dreams showed her was soon to rain down upon “the wicked and worldly United States” — the country that was going to finally be punished by God for having persecuted and killed the early Mormon Saints — especially Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum!
But be that what it may, to add to my disappointment, despair, and distress, I was now expected to carry an adult job … to be a teacher, no less! Well, I almost lost my mind trying to deal with this sudden responsibility thrust upon me. It was just one more security blanket pulled off me.
Trying to figure out the answers to all my queries about why and what to teach … and a lot more … was mind-boggling beyond words! What were my parents thinking?! They had to be dreaming … certainly, they weren’t rational!
Fortunately, before I went crazy with the stress of this stupendous responsibility I hadn’t been given even the least preparation for, Daddy caught me, the evening after my first strenuous day of teaching, lying face down on the couch in the living room, and thrashing around in a fetal position., trying to smother my sobs so nobody would hear.
I continued wreathing in agony, as Daddy, deeply concerned, tenderly inquired of me, “What’s wrong?” And I wailed, in response: “I don’t know how nor what to teach … And I’m too nervous to talk in front of those kids!”
I never before saw him so worried. He couldn’t locate Mumma quickly enough. Finding her in the kitchen, he had some anxious words with her; whereupon, she dropped what she was doing and came to my rescue. It’s amazing what a few words of consolation from your mumma can do:
For starters, she told me she’d had some teacher-training classes during her couple of years of college. Then quieted my worries by telling me she would take over my classroom the following morning, to demonstrate how to educate and to control the unruly kids.
Well, all I can say is it was about time! With her Teacher Training, she should’ve been teaching the class! But after her Teacher Demonstration, that following morning, she even gave me a book for beginning Educators that taught some teaching theory and explained how to prepare and organize lesson plans (Apparently, it was a book left over from her College days). Again, all I can say is, “It was about time!” But better late than never.
Need I say, my parents sure could put the cart before the horse! For I was somehow expected to already know how to teach, of course … in this little cult where everything was perfect and God would simply drop the knowledge you needed into your mind during one hour of sleep — “like Joseph sold into Egypt, where God gave him a dream filling him in on everything he needed to know.”
Mama actually and truly believed if God thought you needed the knowledge, he’d give it to you in a dream. So education and study weren’t even needed, really. I’m not kidding! That’s what Mother believed … and told me!
But it’s her double standards, and living in a fantasy world, once more — for here she also had thrown me, at age fourteen, into my own classroom of students I was expected to teach — without the least preparation — And certainly no dream came that night from God to fill me in on “Everything I needed to know to do this job!”
But, fortunately, after the one-time teaching Demo, and the other bit of help Ma provided me, a light bulb switched on in my beleaguered and overwhelmed brain. I was off and running from then on! This fourteen-year-old child-teacher/”idiot savant” was back to playing school with a bang and a bounce! But now it was the real deal — hardly make believe anymore.
And not only did my students love me, and I them — and teaching, too — but I got called “Miss Beulah” … or “Miss Booyah” … all over town, from then on, as I ran into my students after school or during the weekends. This show of affection and respect was an unexpected dividend — a wonderful bonus; an uplifting experience for me. It made the whole thing worth it. But “Beulah” is a very difficult name for tiny tots and even first and second graders to pronounce.
I recall secretly struggling to learn to pronounce “Beulah,” myself when I was three or four. I wanted to be able to correctly tell people what my name was when they asked. But no child should have to go through the embarrassment of not being able to say their own name correctly. So I recommend simple nicknames for “Simple Savants”… or “Simple Simons.” Save the difficult names for when small children are old enough to confidently pronounce each syllable of their “Handle/ Moniker/ John Henry.”
But names aside, I soon became pretty good at creating lesson plans in my mind, on the fly, or by the seat of my pants … creative that I am. I mean, “When there’s a will, there’s a way”!
But my lesson plans didn’t come close to what I was able to do after some maturity, a college education, and the numerous teachers’ training courses, and other studies I pursued, after escaping that backwards, bizarre, conceited cult — Escaped it at twenty-one to “get a life,” a college degree, and a teaching credential.
But getting back to “the little adobe schoolhouse,” in LeBaron: The following year, they had me teaching a group of twenty kids, ranging from ages five to fifteen, many of whom needed to learn how to read — or were there to simply learn English.
And I, fifteen years old by then, was expected to work miracles — though I didn’t even know Spanish, let alone the pedagogy behind Bilingual Ed. Furthermore, I was expected to do all this without even a decent chalkboard or chalk, let alone the benefit of other teaching supplies … not even books and paper, to speak of.
And, of course (other than Mother’s one-hour amateur teaching demonstration) there was not the least teacher preparation nor training. And if there had been such a highfalutin thing offered, you can be sure it would’ve been me, fresh off the streets, they’d have dragged or roped in to teach others how to teach what I had not been taught myself — and Mother and other adults were too busy to teach, LOL! Except it wasn’t a laughing matter:
They were very busy reinventing the wheel and “The Little Red Schoolhouse” … in “Zion, the gathering place of the Saints,” where people took themselves most seriously as they diligently strove to build up the kingdom of God and prepare a place of refuge “for when the calamities started in the US, and people had to flee over the border to Old Mexico — no less! – to save their lives.”
Crazy? Yes, and how! Because they could barely save their own lives, let alone help anyone else’s, once the sky started falling. About all they could do was continue to follow Chicken Little; i.e., “The Prophets Joel and Ervil.”
When I escaped that cult in 1967, I didn’t know how to drive, use a telephone, nor count change — let alone exchange American money. I could barely use Mexican money, having had so little script allowed me during my childhood or married life.
Our cult, like most Mormon fundamentalist cults, believed women shouldn’t be allowed to have or manage money. Therefore, you can be sure I didn’t know how to write a check, let alone open a bank account, get on a bus or train … or take a taxi.
So at my/our husband’s funeral, my oldest sister told me I could come stay with her in San Diego, California, and she’d help me get situated in my new life and find a job … given that I had no money, Basic Education, nor work experience, to speak of, and couldn’t drive — plus had a toddler to look after, besides.
And who should know, better than she, all the disadvantages and back sets I’d just left behind, such that I wasn’t prepared for this “foreign country” and frightening life of single motherhood.
On top of that, I had recently announced to the cult that I no longer believed in their religious dogma and had left their secluded colony for good. So my “big” sister (seventeen months older than I) knew she was all I had to turn to for help in getting started in my new world.
Looking back on it now, I guess it sounded pretty impressive and good to my “big” sister that she should invite me to come live with her and “she’d help me get set up.” After all, she’d heard and seen other people around her say and do such a benevolent thing.
So I guess it seemed to this twenty-three-year-old, average-minded ingénue like the thing any normal and sensitive sister in her right shoes would say to any normal and helpless sister in my wrong shoes, I being her younger and destitute widowed “apostate,” social-scientific-thinking sister.
But, much to my disappointment, let down, and dismay, in the two to three weeks my toddler and I were there, she never did one thing to help me find a job!
Even worse, food began to gradually dwindle then disappear from her abode, ultimately leaving the cupboard bare but for some canned orange juice. That’s all she left for my baby and me the last five days we lived with her and her husband Stephen Silver … who was usually away visiting his other wives.
I suppose she was trying to give me the “hint to git”? That she really hadn’t meant for me to take her up on it when she invited me to come live with her “till I got started on my own”?
Like, was her husband/ my brother-in-law Stephen Silver put out with her when I actually showed up on their doorstep … or what? Obviously, there wasn’t … and still isn’t … much communication going on between me and her. I’m supposed to pretend things didn’t happen the way they did, I guess.
But, for sure, she has apparently never taken a look at what she did. All I’m certain of is she sure didn’t/ doesn’t think she owed/owes me any apology. At least I’ve never gotten one — and fifty years have passed since then. That was just how people, at least in my family, did things.
They weren’t dependable. Didn’t keep their word — Didn’t follow through on what they promised. We simply took each other for granted, didn’t expect too much — and usually got less. People weren’t/aren’t valued so much when there are an awful lot of them — as in huge families. I was simply grateful for the few times, over the years, my older sister had come through for me!
But, though there has been no communication between me and her about that time, by now, I’ve figured out she and Stephen weren’t starving like my baby and me. And it was NOT a common thing for my sister to have no food in her house: The louse was eating out to avoid feeding me and my baby!
But she never told me what she was up to. I simply thought they were low on money. And was just as naïvely still trusting my sister would eventually help me find that all-important job!
But, to add insult to injury, Stephen learned from her I had $18.00 pocket change. Even in 1967 that didn’t go very far — especially when I had a child to support! So I was taken aback when he asked me to give him all the money I had — even asked me if I was sure I didn’t have any dimes or pennies left in my apron pocket!
Now, wouldn’t you think the right thing for such a “saint” (and future “profit”!) to do (since I couldn’t drive and and there was no transportation within walking distance of their apartment) would’ve been to take me shopping so I could use that money to buy some food for my malnourished baby and me! (Or maybe even get me set up with Welfare?)
But, apparently, he thought I owed him some money for having stayed at his wife’s place a bit. So he was simply exacting all he could get from me. And maybe he thought it was too dangerous to have me go to the Public Welfare Dept. to get assistance: They might find out about him, a Plyg, and he’d be thrown in jail.
But, fortunately for him, I didn’t know how to use a phone, let alone that a Department of Social Services existed; i.e., a Public Welfare System that offered aid to starving families with dependent children. I didn’t know anything because he and my sister never explained anything … nor did anyone else.
They apparently had too many of their own problems to worry about to consider me. Plygs are extremely busy people. Just trying to make ends meet and stay out of jail is more hell than most can handle.
So, instead of helping me in any way, get what followed next — a story so shocking and inhumane I can still barely relate it to this day: Without ANY warning, in the dead of night the two took off, abandoning me and my toddler.
Yes, unbelievably, and without any word to me that they were going to leave, these “Saints” fled, leaving my baby and me to further starve to death. We literally went five full days with only water, till we were rescued. But that’s another gory story for a later line.
Over time, I realized these Mormon fundamentalist Plyg “Saints” had fled their apartment, while I was sleeping, to not only dump me and my kid but to also avoid paying the many months’ back rent they owed! But what can I expect from my older sister? I had always been a thorn in her side.
She had never gotten over my being born! I guess my parents hadn’t properly prepared her, at the tender age of seventeen months, for my sudden arrival on the scene and “her” territory.
To make matters worse, I immediately began to take her place and nurse at my/HER mama’s breast! And, later on, to use HER potty … without anyone’s permission: I potty trained myself at age one. I saw how much attention my older sister got for using her potty and leaving a turd. So I copied her … And left my own turd. Then properly got Mother by the hand and took her to show her what I left in the pot, expecting she would really praise me, too.
But I will never forget how upset my twenty-nine-month-old Sis was. Oh, the dismay she showed when I’d usurped her very special potty chambers. I recall Mama tenderly trying to convince her of how important it was to share her special new potty chair with me. “Do-do,” as I called her at that age, never did agree. She simply put up with me, an intruder on her territory, because she had no alternative.
And when it comes to “interlopers,” she didn’t have much more use for the US government and the rule of law, either … Other than it afforded her and her husband and his other wives a living, a welfare check, and more. Thank God for the good ole Americans that do respect the rule of law so as to create wonderful things interlopers (such as bleed-the-beast “Saints”) can benefit from.
Ah yes, these self-proclaimed Mormon saints were simply bleeding the beast … including me and my baby. To add insult to injury, these same self-righteous “saintly beasts” actually proclaimed themselves to be better than my/ Bill’s “apostate” kid and me!
What’s more unbelievable, given their behavior, is Stephen had been my/ our husband’s “best boyfriend.” Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Over many years, I pieced the puzzle together. It started back when they’d met in France’s mainstream-Mormon mission field where they spent about two years in close quarters as missionary companions — even sharing the same bunk the whole time!
So Bill was no doubt turning over in his grave as he saw how his secret lover Steve (i.e., wife?) had ultimately vented his uncontainable jealousy towards me — And also vented his feelings of betrayal and grief he’d long since harbored towards Bill because he could never marry Bill and have him all to himself.
So how did he get even with Bill and me? He simply abandoned us … me and the baby I’d had with Bill; i.e., He left us to expire once his lover Bill had expired.
But what a wickedly proverbial betrayal it was that Steve would actually leave me and my/ Bill’s baby unprotected and “without a pot to piss in,” given that Bill had helped Steve often — So many times he’d come to Steve and his family’s rescue, over the course of the twelve years he and Steve had remained “Best Buddies”!
What’s worse, as it stood for me, after Bill died, his first/ legal wife got all the monthly Social Security money the US government paid to Bill’s family upon his death. She even took all the money from our chicken business in Mexico — though she shared some with Bill’s second wife — her “best girlfriend” and sidekick.
But those two left me and my child to the wolves — because I wasn’t “really” part of “the family;” i.e.,”the love nest.” And they made that choice, not Bill. But Bill went along with whatever choices his two oldest wive’s made, more often than not. Life with a harem was more peaceful for him when those squeaky hinges/”hens” got the grease; i.e., He let these first two jealous wives wear the pants and have the power… usually.
Actually, they thought (as I had) that my sister was going to help me get a job and get situated in the United States after my/our husband’s demise! But that was still no excuse for them to take for themselves and their kids all the money and gifts that came into our family, after Bill’s death, leaving me and Bill’s baby he impregnated me with, helpless and hopeless once he died.
But what was new, when it came to me and them? This was how it had always been — my having to sink, think, then swim — or die trying. No help from them, to speak of. They did the bare minimum … to save face, and not a farthing’s fart more! Bill wasn’t much help either.
But, getting back to Stephen Silver: To top off ALL else he did and didn’t do, later on, that narcissistic nut case started a Mormon fundamentalist cult of his own — after he spent some years in the country of Israel, no less, trying to convert the Jews to the idea that he, Stephen (half Jewish), was the Messiah prophesied of old!!
When that didn’t work, that’s when Steve returned to the United States, got a perm, sported a redheaded Afro, and set himself up as a self-proclaimed prophet — “The one mighty ‘n’ strong,” if you will, as spoken of in Mormon Scriptures. And that’s only the half of it when it comes to Steve and his crazy, nitwit shit!
I got side-tracked with this backstory. Let’s continue with my story about why and when I wrote the following poem, “Bright Childhood a Blessing.” At the time my muse brought this poem to me, I was without even a religious base, having left my religion — The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times. I had left it, in my mind, a year before I knew my husband had left it.
He had secretly left it, in his mind, too, a year or so before he dared tell me he’d quit believing in my Uncles, Joel and Ervil LeBaron and their priesthood claims and doctrine! Anyway, needless to say, when he passed away, my baby and I were left without any support system whatsoever.
Add to this that, because I had left “The Church of the First Born,” I was being maligned and ostracized by many people in the cult … including my mother, older sister, and most of my other siblings.
My toddler and I were considered basically “bad” because I was no longer a “true believer.” So we were left to rot and be forgot … Conveniently abandoned by God’s self-proclaimed chosen handful … who always claimed to be so full of love, charity, and goodness!
But, wouldn’t you know, these self-righteous self-proclaimed Saints left me and Bill’s baby to die: They considered us “Daughters of Perdition” … simply because I had chosen to use the God-given brain I was endowed with to make my own choices in life. (God forbid I should do such a thing!) And it is with this backdrop the following poem came to me … came to be:
Bright Childhood a Gift (By Stephany Spencer, age 21)
Bright childhood was a gift on loan. Today I wander back, wondering Why that gift has flown. Now I’m abandoned, on my own.
Steeped in drudgery to the bone, Helplessly, hopelessly I groan. What am I now? Who took away
That life I once had known? Who caused me to be so flung When hope had almost grown?
Who finds it wise to lend me loss — This misery once unknown? Filled with heartaches made of stone – Who took me here to moan?
Who left me here, greatly lost — With people but alone?
Come end this anguish fierce!
Put justice in its place!
Don’t tarry long, I pray —
I cannot bear this pace.
You gave me once a mother dear,
A father who did care,
Plus friends and sisters near;
They helped to pave each stair.
But quick You took that life; Left me dangling in the dearth Of helpless stress and strife — Still a mother, no longer wife.
Once I asked to be made strong
A soldier in Your crew.
I hadn’t dreamt this was what
My energies were due.
Now I pray to bring me up From out a crushing pain; Bring back hope, bring back joy, Bring heaven once again.
(By Stephany Spencer, age 21)
In the following video, my cousin Donna LeBaron Goldberg is interviewed by her aunt (my aunt-in-law) Producer Rebecca Kunz Kimbel. Donna was born and raised in Colonia LeBaron and the LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist cult where I was raised and spent eight years of my childhood and young adulthood.