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.”
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 BOTH Grandpa 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 borderline autistic-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.”]
**For further understanding of this topic, check out articles online such as: Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults/ASD Symptoms: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjKwNfv1t3gAhWStZ4KHVBvBWYQFjAAegQIChAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.additudemag.com%2Fautism-spectrum-disorder-in-adults%2F&usg=AOvVaw0tKWaAHVoNpAf1KDdbHIV6
(Continued March 15, 2019, “Pt 34-B: My Mama Esther LeBaron Spencer and Hearing Voices”)