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Bradley-Evans, ed., "Plural Wife: The Life Story of Mabel Finlayson Allred" (reviewed by Kris Wray) Options · View
Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 1:34:50 PM

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Title: Plural Wife: The Life Story of Mabel Finlayson Allred
(Vol. 13 in Utah State University Press "Life Writings of Frontier Women" series)
Editor: Martha Bradley-Evans
Publisher: Utah State University Press (Logan, Utah)
Genre: Mormon Fundamentalism; Contemporary Mormon Polygamy; LDS Women’s Autobiography
Year Published: 2012
Number of Pages: 193
Binding: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-87421-874-9
Price: $34.95

Reviewed by Kris Wray for The Association for Mormon Letters

"She [Mabel], one of the Twins, the second to marry Rulon, got her testimony of [the] Principle by reading Section 132 of D&C, and Book of Mormon 28 Chapter 2nd Nephi."[1]

"Mabel Allred thanked the Lord for blessings of past year and the opportunity to meet once again with the Saints. Praised her husband Rulon for his faith and love of the work of the Lord in pulling himself out of a sickness nigh unto death. Miracles do exist in our day and age."[2]

With the publication of "Plural Wife," USU has expanded their perspective of what it means to be a "frontier" woman, and with good reason. Mabel Finlayson Allred, one of several wives married to "Fundamentalist" Mormon leader Rulon Allred, experienced a life of challenges reminiscent to pioneer women of an earlier period, while living amongst twentieth-century members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS]. Ostracized by the LDS leadership, and most members of the "Mother Church" based in Salt Lake City, Utah, she and her fellow sister wives struggled to find peace and happiness adhering to what they believed was the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored by Joseph Smith. Living "the Principle" in particular, usually termed "polygamy" by outsiders, was, and still is, of the utmost importance to Fundamentalists striving to comply with what founding men of Mormonism taught were essential laws for achieving exaltation.

Martha Bradley-Evans has done a commendable job of editing the manuscripts, written between 2000 and 2004, by sticking close to the original versions penned by Mabel herself. The first sixty-one pages of the book are written by Bradley-Evans, and contain a historical summary of segments of the Fundamentalist Mormon movement affiliated with Lorin C. Woolley, along with references to Mabel Allred's connections to those events. I found the editor's rendition to be a fairly good introduction for understanding the background of Rulon and Mabel Allred's experiences, particularly for people reading this type of history for the first time.

I do wish she would have employed more sources contemporary with the story, and explored a bit deeper how the Fundamentalists themselves interpret their own history, in order to better capture the mindset of Mabel Allred. An index would have been useful also. There are a few unfortunate errors that should have been avoided. Without parroting what the editor covers in her introduction, I will make several comments on some of the issues she tackles, or does not tackle, for those of us immersed in studying the details of Mormon Fundamentalism and its history. If this is not your cup of tea, you may want to skip down to the section of this review entitled "Mabel's Story," or, if you are looking for a quick summary of the whole book, go to the end of this review.


For the sake of brevity, I will refer to Martha Bradley-Evans as "the editor." I am not a member of any Fundamentalist Mormon group, so anything I write should not be accepted as representative of what they believe or teach. These are simply observations on things written in this book.

Page 4 – The editor states that excommunications of new polygamists began "after the 1920s," while the first excommunications for post-Manifesto plural marriages actually began in the early teens of the Twentieth-century, such as John W. Taylor’s, who lost his membership in the LDS Church on March 28, 1911.[3] More disciplinary actions against others soon followed. The editor writes that "the antecedent" of Fundamentalist Mormon history begins with the Manifesto of 1890. It’s important to point out the actions and attitude of Wilford Woodruff's predecessor, President John Taylor, who, despite acts of Congress against plural marriage, and a reward for his capture, continued to advocate living the laws of God over what he perceived as unconstitutional laws of men. He died in 1887 while hiding from Federal officials. As the editor indicates, the Manifesto was not included into the official canon of the LDS Church until some years later. Evidence suggests Woodruff himself married a plural wife after the Manifesto, in 1897, along with several hundred other post-Manifesto polygamists.[4] Even so, Woodruff would repeat the story several times during his life that God "had inspired me to issue the manifesto and if he had not done so I should never have taken that course… The principle of plural marriage will yet be restored to this Church, but how or when I cannot say."[5] It was actually a series of additional subsequent manifestos and official statements that closed the door for LDS Church-sanctioned plural marriages anywhere in the world.

Page 7 – Leroy Johnson is called the "prophet" by the editor, but that term was rarely used to describe leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) until Rulon Jeffs in the 1980s. And lastly, the folks who accepted Leroy Johnson and later Jeffs as their head were not incorporated as the "Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints," but as the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" on February 6, 1991.[6] This may seem a moot point, but you can bet the LDS Church based in Salt Lake City would encourage authors to use "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," in place of "Church of Latter-day Saints."

Page 9 – The editor asserts that Fundamentalists locate their claims to continued priesthood authority to perform plural marriages to "an alleged visit of Joseph Smith to President John Taylor as he hid from Federal officials in September 1886 at his home in Centerville, Utah[.]" To clarify, Fundamentalist Mormons who claim their authority through Lorin C. Woolley [mainly The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), The Work of Jesus Christ (Centennial Park, or "CP"), The Latter Day Church of Christ/Davis County Cooperative Society (Kingstons), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Kingdom of God (Naylor-Nielsen group {"group" herein is used for lack of a better term}), The Bountiful Group (Winston Blackmore group), The Righteous Branch of Christ's Church (Peterson group), the Thompson groups, and various other independent groups and individuals] do trace it back to a visitation of Joseph Smith—and Jesus Christ—to John Taylor, which is said to have occurred in the home of John W. Woolley, where President Taylor was then in hiding.

Other Fundamentalist Mormons, such as The Church of the Firstborn, The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of Times, and other various LeBaron factions, The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC), and The Restorers/School of the Prophets (Robert Crossfield group), claim authority unrelated to the 1886 meeting and Lorin C. Woolley.[7]

The editor confuses the names of the ten men put under covenant to defend plural marriage, according to Lorin C. Wooley's 1929 reminiscence of the September 27, 1886 meeting, with the five men Woolley claims were set apart after the meeting to perform and perpetuate plural marriages [in order ordained]: John W. Woolley, George Q. Cannon, Lorin C. Woolley, Charles H. Wilcken, and Samuel Bateman.[8]

While the details of what really occurred with President Taylor during that period of his hiding on "the underground" will probably be debated for years to come, the importance for the Fundamentalists of the September 27, 1886 revelation to Taylor is certain. Much could be said regarding this document, but suffice it to say that its content, combined with the LDS Church leaders questioning its authenticity for some time, was fuel in the fire for those involved with the burgeoning movement.[9] For example, in a series of interviews that my wife and I conducted with Owen Allred (Mabel’s brother-in-law) during the year 2000, he told us several times that his father, B. Harvey Allred, had come into possession of a letter in which Joseph F. Smith acknowledged the 1886 revelation as being legitimate because he had been told about it by John Taylor himself upon returning home from his mission to Hawaii. Owen lamented that during the raids of 1944 the letter was taken from them by the authorities and never returned. His belief was that the FBI had turned that document and others over to people within the LDS Church who could make sense of what had been seized. He wondered if it was stolen due to the potent nature anything having to do with the 1886 revelation had for the potential growth of the Fundamentalist movement.

Recorded in John Taylor's handwriting, and located in his papers by his son John W. at the time of his father's death, the revelation was in response to questions President Taylor had concerning the "new & everlasting covenant." Even today there are those who say the answer given by "the Lord" had nothing to do with plural marriage, while others are adamant that it is specifically discussing "the Principle." I was surprised that the editor did not include it, considering the weight it carries in the Fundamentalists' understanding of the 1890 Manifesto and their calling to perpetuate plural marriage:

"Sept 27 1886

My son John: You have asked me concerning the new & eve<r>lasting covenant & how far it is binding upon my peo[ple]. Thus saith the Lord[:] All commandments that I give must <be obeyed by those calling themselves by my name> unless they are revoked by my [sic-me] or by my authority and how can I revoke an everlasting covenant for I the Lord am everlasting & my everlasting covenants cannot be abrogated nor done away with; but they stand for ever. Have I not given my word in great plainness on this subject? Yet have not great numbers of my people been negligent in the observance of my law & the keeping of my commandments and yet have I borne with them these many years & this because of their weakness [and] because of the perilous times & furthermore it is more pleasing to <me> that men should use their free agency in regard to these matters. Nevertheless I the Lord do not change & my word & my covenants & my law do not [change] & as I have heretofore said by my servant Joseph[:] all those who would enter into my glory must & shall obey my law & have I not commanded men that if they were Abrahams seed & would enter into my glory they must do the works of Abraham. I have not revoked this law nor will I for it is everlasting & those who will enter into my glory must obey the conditions thereof, even so amen."[10]

Page 10 – When the editor writes that the expanding story of Lorin Woolley "launched a new church, an offshoot of Mormonism," it's important to point out that this is not how Fundamentalists such as Woolley and Rulon Allred viewed things. The sermon of Leroy Johnson, quoted on page 8, better represents how earlier Fundamentalists who trace their authority back to the 1886 meeting with John Taylor understood their relationship to the Mother Church. Many members of the Allred group, particularly in the past, made it clear that they were not a "church," but believed they were part of the LDS Church, regardless of whether the LDS Church hierarchy accepted that position or not. That is still true among leaders of the Apostolic United Brethren today.

The editor makes the statement that not all of the men who were purported to have been with John Taylor during the 1886 meetings in question would associate with or lead the Fundamentalists. She might have also mentioned that by the time twentieth-century Fundamentalist Mormons felt that it was necessary to call others to help perpetuate their mission, all of the other men who were said to have been ordained by President Taylor were dead, with the exception of John and Lorin Woolley, so they could not have been associated with, let alone have led, the Fundamentalists. Skeptics of the Woolleys declare that's exactly why Lorin waited until the 1920s to form the Council of Seven Friends.[11]

Page 13 – The editor states that at the death of Leslie Broadbent, successor to Lorin C. Woolley, John Y. Barlow claimed that Broadbent had ordained him as "the senior member and rightful president of the council," and cites interviews of Joe Thompson and Rulon Allred by Lyle O. Wright as the source. But Wright's thesis does not make such a claim for Barlow, Thompson, or Allred. In fact, Barlow succeeded Broadbent based solely on his position as senior member of the Council of Seven Friends. I have yet to find any statement by John Y. Barlow that he was specifically ordained or set apart by Leslie Broadbent as the "rightful president" of the Council before Broadbent's sudden death, which surprised everyone. Elden Kingston, on the other hand, did claim he had been selected as the rightful heir to Broadbent, but very few people, other than his immediate family and a few others, accepted his stand.

Page 15 – While it is true that several names were used to describe the office held by members of the Council of Seven, the primary term used became "High Priest Apostles," a term partially taken from an interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 84:63. The editor states that Lorin C. Woolley ordained Joseph W. Musser "the senior member of the council" and the "President of the Priesthood." Neither Joseph W. Musser, nor anyone else, ever claimed such a thing for himself, before or after the death of Woolley. Musser became the senior member of the Council and President of the Priesthood upon the death of John Y. Barlow, who had succeeded Leslie Broadbent, although Musser did later tell several men he had been chosen as Leslie Broadbent's "Second Elder" prior to Broadbent's death.[12]

Pages 15-16 – When discussing Byron Harvey Allred's book, "A Leaf in Review," the editor brands it the "single most influential piece of literature of early fundamentalism," and then concludes that it "became wildly important to those who continued to practice plurality throughout the Wasatch Front." B. Harvey Allred and Lorin Woolley had been friends for years, serving a proselytizing mission together for the LDS Church in the late 1890s.[13] Without splitting hairs, I think the most influential literature for early Mormon Fundamentalism was "Truth" magazine, edited by Joseph W. Musser, along with his other works. It is correct that among the Allred family, Lorin Woolley, Musser, and many others, "A Leaf in Review" was highly esteemed, but overall, I would not say it was "wildly important" to the movement at large.[14] It, along with works by Heber Bennion, John T. Clark, Leslie Broadbent, Joseph Musser, Paul Feil, Charles Kingston, Nathaniel Baldwin, Samuel Eastman, Francis Darter, and others, did contribute to the growing discontent of those Saints who were formulating a stand against what they perceived as the apostasy of the mainstream LDS Church concerning plural marriage, and its friendship with Babylon (the world).

Once the Allred family became prominent in Fundamentalist leadership, "A Leaf in Review" took on a new-found importance. B. Harvey Allred felt he was led by the Spirit of the Lord and experienced instructive dreams while writing the manuscript.[15] Maybe the most significant consequence of his investigations and writings was the rattling of his son Rulon. They corresponded back and forth, debating the propriety of plural marriage at that time. Eventually Allred was successful in helping lead Rulon and others in his family to a conclusion that the Church was mistaken in teaching that it could no longer be practiced. Within six months of the letter quoted below, written by Rulon to his father, Rulon would be converted to "the Principle":

"The subject of plurality of wives is very painful to my wife and she fears to deal with it. She has been thus taught from childhood. Reasoning upon this subject is of no avail as far as she is conserned. I have made a very consentrated study upon the subject. I have diligently tried to serve the Lord and labor in his vineyard that I might walk in the light of his spirit and understand truth. He has answered my prayers and opened the eyes of my understanding, and I feel inspired to say that I know it is not the will of the Lord to practice or teach polygamous marriage now… Those who now are propigating this principal are truly avowed apostates and members excommunicated from the Church of God, and also deceived members who have been misled… I do not wish to contend with you, but rather to touch your heart and reveal to you your present course of inevitable destruction, if you continue. Surely you are persecuting the Saints and fighting against God… Oh! My father, I truly preceive that you are on the high road to apostacy. That your ears are deaf to the pleadings of the Servants of the Lord and that truly your gray head is even now being brought down in sorrow to the grave… Oh! Let us not be divided in eternity. I love you and my mother too much, as also my brothers and sisters. You may truly be receiving spiritual guidance in mountain fastnesses, but are you magnifying God by bringing souls unto him and receiving his guidance in active service. Are you not rather undermin[in]g the faith of those already in the Church and kingdom of God. Read again carefully Sec 132:7-10."[16]

Page 17 – For clarification, when the editor writes that Katherine Handy, Rulon's first wife, was "kept in the dark about his polygamous marriages," that is true, but I think Rulon may have argued that his wife Katherine left him over his conversion to the "fullness of the Gospel" and took the children to Pond's Lodge in Idaho in the summer of 1935. She filed for divorce (October 1935) before he took another wife (Myrtle Lloyd on November 9, 1935). Katherine did not sign the divorce decree, hoping she might be able to help prosecute Rulon for bigamy. Rulon's attorney, Joseph H. McKnight, advised him that she had not signed it and what could happen as a result; so Rulon signed it, avoiding the predicament, which resulted in a scathing letter from Katherine soon after.[17] Regardless, as evidenced from her papers and Book of Remembrance, Rulon's new beliefs were devastating to Katherine and her children.[18] Despite their divorce and separation, Rulon kept up hope until the day he died that somehow they would return to him during his lifetime:

"Many inquiring about my loss of wife and family. Thank God it is only for time that I shall lose my little ones. May God grant I may live worthy to regain them and my sweet wife in Celestial glories... If I am wrong[,] the prophets of God are wrong and God's word changes, and it is His will that the wicked be followed and we seek their praise."[19]

"Today I called on Kitty [Katherine] and she was lonely and finally asked me to leave some information about plural marriage with her... Two hours later she returned them all, having thrust them under the office door. I went to her home and asked a reason for her action. She said that as soon as she started to read that an evil spirit started to possess her, and so she ceased. I asked her what Jos[eph] Smith would have accomplished if he had ceased seeking when the powers of darkness overshadowed him. I reasoned with her to no avail; but upon having time to pray I wrote her a letter and returned some of the articles and had prayer with her... Oh! the sadness of such a condition as exists between us."[20]

"Last night I had a wonderful talk with my wife... She said she still loves me more than anything in all the world, but can't believe as I do, because of instructions she has received from the Church leaders. I assured her she would never know until she trusted in a personal testimony from God."[21]

Page 25 – The editor mistakenly records that Rulon's mother was bitter about plural marriage and his involvement in it. His mother, Mary Evelyn Clark Allred, was a post-Manifesto plural wife and always supported Rulon as well as her other children who became involved in plural marriage. It was actually his grandmother, who had been a plural wife herself, who had become bitter, which is explained by Mabel on page 93.

Page 31 – The editor writes that Rulon’s sister Rula posted bail for Mabel and the ladies in jail after the raid. This was not his sister, but Rula Broadbent, the widow of Leslie Broadbent.

Pages 31-32 – The editor incorrectly states that a week after the men and women in the Fundamentalist movement were arrested in 1944, Heber J. Grant died. He actually passed away May 14, 1945; a few days after the men were sentenced and incarcerated. She quotes the prison diary of Arnold Boss, one of the men incarcerated, who recorded that the prisoners "rejoiced over it more than sorrowed." For the sake of understanding the reaction of these men and their families, a few things should probably be mentioned to put into context why there were such strong feelings against President Grant. As difficult as it may have been for members of the mainstream LDS Church to understand in 1944, only sixty years previous dozens of men had served jail time for polygamy; torn from their families, jobs, and homes. They had railed about how unconstitutional the powers-that-be were by persecuting them for their religious convictions. In the eyes of the Fundamentalists in 1944, the once persecuted LDS Church had now become the persecutor, and some men in the Church hierarchy seemed to take pride in crushing these old fashioned Saints who wouldn't get in line. On November 27, 1928, President Grant responded to a letter from Joseph W. Musser, who protested Grant's actions against post-Manifesto polygamists and accused him of hypocrisy:

"I shall rejoice when the government officials put a few of these 'best blood', as you call them, in the county jail or the state penitentiary. Such action might put a stop to the teachings of people who are today destroying the virtue of good women who are silly enough to listen to them. Among other things, you say, 'How long will such hypocricy continue?' Let me answer by saying: How long will men go on pretending to be members of the Church, who have been excommunicated for their immoral practices and talk about living celestial laws?"[22]

These types of heated exchanges would go on for years to come, and with them, raids on the Fundamentalists. Children of the polygamists would be taken from their parents and put in foster homes, while men and women were placed in jail.[23] Mabel Allred reflected, "It was really hard for our people to understand [why] the man who was then President of the Church and Kingdom of God on earth at that time was harsh in his judgment of those who were living a Principle which he, himself, had lived and paid a fine for doing so!"[24] Evidence shows that LDS Church members worked with government officials, a number of whom were also LDS, in an attempt to spy on and demolish the thorn in their side.[25] These events, and others, are what led the men in prison to believe God had relieved them from their greatest opponent: the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Grant and his counselors were adamant about coming down hard on the Fundamentalists because from their perspective, "some carnally-minded old birds are saying the Church is not in earnest about the matter, and were winking at the situation."[26] John Y. Barlow, leader of the Fundamentalist Mormons, felt trapped by the forces conspiring against them:

"The Church is against us. The state is against us. The government is against us. We can't expect anything else."[27]

The editor is dead on when she says on page 34 that the "difficulties of these years during the 1940s created a strong sense of identity and unity among members of the "Group[.]" Journals and letters from that period demonstrate that instead of destroying the momentum of the Fundamentalists, the persecution and prosecution, much like the experience of earlier Latter-day Saints, actually served to intensify their dedication and unity.

Pages 35-42 – The editor does a good job condensing the story of Rulon C. Allred's rise to leadership from the perspective of most folks who are members of the Apostolic United Brethren, as is evident from the sources she uses. In an introduction such as this, I didn't expect her to go into great depth of how things played out from all sides, but suffice it to say, the materials available from that time period, in addition to the dozens of interviews I have conducted of people who were alive when "the split" occurred, make it obvious that there were various opinions on the matter. I think it is more important to lay out the view of Mabel Allred in this case, and I believe the editor succeeded in doing just that.

Page 40 – Eslie, not Elsie, Jenson was chosen to be a member of Joseph W. Musser's new Council. The editor writes that upon the death of Joseph Musser, LeGrand Woolley, Charles Zitting, and Louis Kelsch became the "leaders of the other group." This is incorrect. When Musser passed away on March 29, 1954, and the original Council rejected any callings of Rulon Allred and the new Council, Charles Zitting became the senior member of the original Council, which position he held for several months until he also died, though not everyone sustained him in that position. Next in line would have been LeGrand Woolley, but he declined leading the group, opting instead to stay busy with his medical practice, and periodically attend the mainstream LDS Church. He felt the "Priesthood Work" was getting out of order and didn't want to further risk his membership in the LDS Church over it. Once he had refused to lead, people began to look to Louis Kelsch, the last man called to the Council led by Lorin C. Woolley. Like LeGrand Woolley, he too held to the belief that the members of the Priesthood Council, along with many others in the "Group," had begun to take authority unto themselves, doing things he either considered wrong, or beyond their original callings and duties.[28] The split in the Group only made things worse in his mind. Kelsch had no interest in taking over; instead he administered to his family and friends in those things he deemed appropriate for his ordination by Lorin C. Woolley. It was at this point that the man next in line in the original Council, Leroy Johnson, after going to LeGrand Woolley and Louis Kelsch and finding them unwilling to preside, returned to Short Creek and took the reins. By the time "Uncle" Leroy came to preside, Rulon and the new Council—who had been "required to pledge the[ir] allegience to brother Joseph [Musser]… to carry out his designs"—were on a separate path, and the fracture between the two groups was complete.[29] It should be noted that Margarito Bautista was set apart as an Apostle and Patriarch by Rulon Allred and Joseph W. Musser on June 22, 1951.[30] William Lorin Goldman was also ordained an Apostle and Patriarch under the direction of Joseph W. Musser prior to his death.[31]

Page 42 – Although the two main groups of Fundamentalists were at odds with one another by the time the 1953 raid of Short Creek came to pass, relations between the two were not so totally pulverized that members of the "Allred Group" were unwilling to caution the Fundamentalists following Leroy Johnson that the law was going to try to surprise and prosecute them. Even though rumors had leaked that a raid was coming for some time before it happened, the first solid warning the Short Creekers received came from the new Priesthood Council, who sped the distance from Salt Lake City in cars to let Uncle Leroy know this time it was for real.[32]

Pages 50-53 – The editor makes several pertinent observations about Rulon Allred and his claims of authority. Based on a sermon given by Rulon Allred on March 28, 1976, she and others have assumed that "Uncle" Rulon claimed to be the one "anointed" and "appointed" by the Lord, of whom "there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred[.]"[33] According to historical precedent in the person of Joseph Smith, who received the revelation above, these keys could be delegated to other men, but they would still be exercised under the direction of the one "anointed" and "appointed." Questions surrounding the relationship of the presiding High Priest Apostle of the Council of Friends to the one man office spoken of in D&C 132:7 go back quite a few years in the Fundamentalist Mormon movement. Allow me to make a few quick points.

When Lorin C. Woolley called Joseph W. Musser to be a member of the Council of Friends, he ordained him "an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and a Patriarch in the Church," and told him in his blessing that he would be "Great in [the] Kingdom and Church."[34] The ordinations of the other five men placed in the Council by Woolley were very similar to Musser's. They claimed the Keys of Elijah had been bestowed upon them, which was the authority by which they were performing plural marriages.[35] They all looked to Lorin Woolley as "the President of Priesthood... who held the Keys to the Patriarchal Order."[36] And most important, they believed he had been administered to by Jesus Christ Himself.

"Today one of the greatest prophets of this last dispensation passed away at the age of 77 years. Brother Loran C. Woolley. The man who stood at the head of the priesthood on the Earth. The President of the High priesthood. The only witness of the Lord Jesus Christ that I know of. It can truly be said of him a prophet is not with out honor save in his own country."[37]

I cannot overstate how important it was to these men to also have their callings confirmed by the Lord himself.[38] Until that came to pass, they considered it incomplete. Lyman Jessop wrote in his diary:

"At work, after which I learned of Uncle Lorin's death yesterday. We feel keenly his loss, for (according to my understanding) he was the only mortal man on earth that has seen and heard and felt the Savior Jesus Christ. The six others have been called, chosen, and ordained unto this calling but have not as yet rec’d the confirmation of the Lord himself."[39]

Following Woolley's death, "The Keys and powers fall upon Bro. [Leslie] Broadbent who had been designated the Second Elder by Lorin ten months previously."[40] In 1934 while Lorin Woolley was still alive, though ill, Joseph Musser and Leslie Broadbent had expressed their view that the "one man" who presided over the "Keys of Priesthood," including the sealing ordinances, (thinking of Lorin C. Woolley no doubt) was "the worthy senior member, by ordination, of that order." His successor would be the "Second Elder" designated by the Lord, or, in the event of the Second Elder’s death, then "the keys automatically fall upon the next in worthy seniority":

"Who is the "one man" spoken of as holding the keys to Priesthood on the earth? (D&C 132:7) It will be recalled that the Church "Official Statement" claims that man to be the President of the Church[41]… there is but one man on the earth at a time who holds the "keys of this Priesthood."… That man is God’s medium and anointed one… This one man is primarily God’s power on earth… That being true, "this Priesthood" is the highest order of Priesthood—the fullness thereof… Other men called to this order of the Priesthood, which is to hold the fulness thereof, MUST be designated by "revelation and commandment" from God, through this "medium"… That men so designated receive their authority "for time and for all eternity", and for that reason the responsibility of bearing off the Kingdom rests primarily with men of this order of the Priesthood… That men so designated to hold the fulness must of necessity stand shoulder to shoulder in responsibility and authority with the "one" the only distinction being seniority of ordination, and further that, speaking broadly, they jointly hold the keys to Priesthood… That God holds a tight rein on Priesthood power, reserving to himself the choosing of those who constitute His power on earth… That marriage contracts, whether one wife or plural, to be enduring, must be sealed of this authority… That the appendage office of President of the Church has nothing whatsoever to do with this Priesthood calling. Certainly the President of the Church—an appendage office and calling—could not, as such, be thus endowed, nor does the appointment belong to the Kingdom—another appendage organization—each being an appendage to the Priesthood proper. It is strictly a Priesthood appointment, coming direct from God to the order of Priesthood mentioned herein…. And this man is the "one man" appointed of the Lord to hold the keys of his Priesthood on earth. And this "one man" is the mouth-piece of God to his children as well as to the Church and Kingdom. Joseph Smith was this "one man", followed by Brigham Young, then John Taylor, etc."[42]

With Leslie Broadbent's unexpected death six months after Woolley’s passing, John Y. Barlow became the senior member of the Council of Friends. The question of whether he was "the one man" or not soon arose among folks involved in the movement. By 1936 Joseph Musser was telling Fundamentalists that "if they wanted to know who the one that held the keys to priesthood was, to put themselves in tune with the Spirit of the Lord, and ask the Lord for the information." If God wanted them to know who it was, "they would find out; but not to worry. The Priesthood is on the earth and [will] remain here."[43] Several days later, he confessed to his brethren that "the Lord had not revealed to him who held the Keys to Priesthood, but that Bro. Barlow, by reason of his sen[i]ority in ordination presided over the group[.]" He believed that "when the Lord wanted any man to know who holds the keys of to [sic-the] Priesthood, and that man was prepared to receive the fact, He would reveal [it] in a clear way."[44]

In other words, Musser and others thought that while the senior member of the Council was the man who presided over the keys of the Priesthood they held, this was not understood to be automatically equated with the one man "anointed" and "appointed" spoken of in D&C 132:7. This brings us back to the conviction they held that if the Lord himself did not confirm their calling by the laying on of hands, as they believed had been the case with Lorin Woolley, then it was not complete.[45] That applied to the senior member of the Council as well as everyone else. In early 1937, John Y. Barlow's brother, Ianthus, testified that he had "positive testimony that John has been ordained an apostle and a patriarch, but that he (John) is not the 'one man on earth' who holds the keys to Priesthood—while John claims he holds the highest authority on the earth because of being senior member of the quorum called and ordained thru the instrumentality of Pres. Lorin C. Woolley." Lyman Jessop recorded his feelings after listening to Ianthus and John Barlow's conversation:

"I desire to know more fully of these powers and keys, so far as it is right and proper for me to know. It seems to me that only the One Mighty and Strong can straighten out the misunderstandings of my brethren and myself."[46]

Evidence that the questions continued to brew can be found in minutes of meetings held by the Council after Lorin C. Woolley's death. Joseph Musser called these meetings the "School of the Prophets." Consider the following excerpt:

"Joseph [Musser] spoke on our Apostolic calling, but tho[ugh] we have a senior, no one has been designated by the Lord as the "one man". Our united voice on a question in line with our responsibility and duty is the word of the Lord on the subject."[47]

Joseph Musser, who had received his Second Anointing on November 30, 1899[48], held to the belief that men who had received that ordinance held higher priesthood power than men who had not, regardless of whether a man who had not was the senior member of the Priesthood Council of Friends… short of a confirmation by the Lord Himself of course. Others agreed with him:

"I here explained to him [Richard Jessop] that I understand that according to a law of the Priesthood, a man not having received his higher annointings cannot preside over one who has rec’d such annointings, and to my understanding the one man holding the key position in the priesthood must have access to the Urim and Thummin or the Seer Stone at least—and Bro. John Y. told me that he does not posess these things[.]"[49]

"[Uncle Moroni Jessop] and I and some others are convinced that Jos. W. Musser holds positions in the Priesthood above John Y. Barlow. John (we are fully satisfied) has been called by Revelation from God, and John claims he holds all the keys and rights and powers of the Holy Priesthood and stands above any other man on earth at the present time. These claims of John's do not seem to fully satisfy our reasoning on these matters, and We (Uncle Rone and I) desire the word of the Lord on the matter. Several others are of the same mind as we, while others of our brethren are of the same mind as is John. May heaven straighten us out on these matters and all others, for we desire only truth and righteousness, I ask in Jesus name, Amen."[50]

This is a complicated topic that I will cover in much more detail outside of this review at a future date, but it is significant to mention here because of the impact such beliefs would have on the question of the one "anointed" and "appointed" in the opinion of Rulon Allred, in addition to the split that would later take place among the Fundamentalist movement. Part of the quandary early Fundamentalist Mormons found themselves in was over the issue of temple work. Sources demonstrate they were taught by their leaders that the time would soon come when the One Mighty and Strong or the Lord would "set His house in order," thus opening LDS Temples to them. Until then, some Fundamentalists did not reveal their religious beliefs and practices to their local mainstream Church leaders in order to be able to receive temple endowments and be sealed to their spouse. Others had passed through those ceremonies prior to leaving the Church or being excommunicated, and did not consider their dismissal from the Church for living the "fullness of the Gospel" as grounds for those blessings to have been revoked by God.

Contrary to what some folks have written, with the exception of prayer circles, the washing of feet, special baptisms, anointing for motherhood, and a few instances of "placing the garment," no convincing contemporary evidence exists that complete temple endowments per se, especially the Second Anointing, were performed by members of the Priesthood Council or “Group” during the time period in question. Such a thing was viewed as outside the original mission they had been given, which was "to keep plural marriage alive."[51] Some men joining the Fundamentalist movement asked the Council to have their "priesthood calling/ordination made sure," which when done was sometimes referred to as "ordinance work" in the histories and journals. This has been mistakenly interpreted by some to mean they were requesting and receiving their Second Anointing, when in reality they were simply asking to be reordained to the priesthood and an office due to their doubts over the manner in which they had been ordained while members of the LDS Church. The closest thing I have found to Second Anointing ordinances being performed around this period was by Joseph Musser, who, having received his Second Anointing in the Salt Lake Temple years earlier, felt justified in having at least one of his loyal wives perform certain ordinances upon him in their home.[52]

These points have been hard to swallow for some because it implies Joseph Musser and a few others were essentially advancing the notion that the Keys of Elijah used to seal marriages passed down through Lorin C. Woolley, in the ordination he gave them as Apostles and Patriarchs, did not carry the same weight as, or were only a portion of, the Keys of Elijah, etc., bestowed on a King and Priest—and his Queen and Priestess—in the Second Anointing ritual. That train of thought is more consistent with what was taught and practiced by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Musser was simply trying to stick close to what he believed was the proper order of things, in my opinion.

So John Y. Barlow was in a bind in the view of those men who believed the Second Anointing placed a man in a higher order of priesthood than a man who was an Apostle and Patriarch through the ordination of Lorin C. Woolley. How would Barlow receive his Second Anointing when the Church would not let him in the Temple, let alone bestow such a lofty blessing upon his head? And this, too, when the Fundamentalist Mormons were not performing such ordinances either? And as of that time, most believed he had not received a confirmation of his calling through the Lord Himself. Interestingly, while John Y. Barlow disagreed with such logic, he later promoted an idea that the senior member of the Council was the one man on earth who presided over all the priesthood keys. He did not necessarily equate this with the man "anointed" and "appointed," but it was close. Not to mention that when it came to Musser's Second Anointing, President Barlow "questioned their rightfulness."[53]

Once the split in the Fundamentalist group occurred, many folks who stuck with the old Council, particularly several of the leaders, held that the man spoken of in Doctrine and Covenants 132:7 was to be equated with the senior member of the Priesthood Council: the "Key holder" chosen by God to be head of the priesthood.[54] They also felt that the Second Anointing was a personal blessing bestowed on a man and his wife that pertained solely to themselves and their own family, not an ordinance that gave a man presiding authority over the priesthood on earth, so it was easy to reject Musser and his claims. In their understanding there was no conflict with Barlow not having his Second Anointing, while still being the man over the priesthood work. I won't explore the claims of Leroy Johnson and subsequent leaders here since we're dealing with Rulon Allred, but suffice it to say, the idea of one man rule in the priesthood and his relationship to the Council of Friends would have controversial consequences in the decades to follow among the Fundamentalists based in southern Utah.[55] It may be of interest to readers to know that most of the major groups that trace themselves back to Lorin Woolley are presently engaged in doing temple work to one degree or another, including endowments and even Second Anointings. But it was not so while John Y. Barlow was the senior member of the Council of Friends.

Now back to the topic at hand. As discussed, a debate had ensued among the Fundamentalists, including their hierarchy, over whether or not the senior member of the Priesthood Council was the one man "anointed" and "appointed" spoken of in D&C 132:7. As stated above, as of November 12, 1936, Joseph Musser, Louis Kelsch, and others had become disturbed at the tendency—or at least their perception of it—of John Y. Barlow’s consolidation of power into his hands, by not giving more consideration to the feelings of the other Council members. This was especially so when it came to colonizing Short Creek and managing a United Order there:

"Lewis and I had a personal talk with Bro. John Y. Barlow. We pointed out our fears that under the present set-up the group [in Short Creek] could not prosper; that there seemed a disposition toward a one man rule; that many of the Saints were complaining; that the present arrangement was not in accordance with the spirit of the action of the Priesthood recently taken, whereby it was advised that Bro. Barlow resign from the Management of the affairs of the group and confine his labors more particularly to the spiritual field; that our work was especially along the line of keeping faith in patriarchal marriage alive, and not in the directing of colonizing. Bro. Barlow was asked if he claimed to hold the keys of Priesthood, which he answered in the negative, saying, however, that he had dreamed of a personage coming to him and handing him a bunch of keys, and leaving without explanation. He did not know that that had any special significance."[56]

Barlow was not denying that he held keys of priesthood in the entry above, or that he presided as senior in the Council; he was stating that he was not claiming to be the one man spoken of in section 132:7 of D&C. By the latter part of 1938, Joseph Musser had grown tired of the disputes, writing in his journal that "It is the mission of the Priesthood group at the present time to teach the fulness. Stop quibbling about who holds the 'keys' but each magnify his particular calling and see to it that no day passes that they are not engaged in advancing the cause of the Kingdom."[57]

A decade later, Joseph Musser had connected the ordinance of the Second Anointing to the long awaited confirmation by the Lord of the Council’s calling, sometimes termed "the Second Comforter" by Latter-day Saints. While John Y. Barlow was in Short Creek, Musser told a meeting of less than a dozen men that "The only way to qualify to see the Second Comforter is to receive the Second Anointing." The problem was that the Fundamentalist men were barred from the Temple. Not to worry, Musser assured them, "You will not be condemned for what they are not giving you":

"You are entitled to them through your faithfulness. The second endowment comes direct from the Lord. Part of that is to receive Jesus Christ, who is the Second Comforter. I hope we can all live long enough to receive that blessing, or else you must receive it by proxy. It is necessary! It is glorious! I cannot say much about it. That is the time the Holy Spirit of Promise gives you your wives. That is the time you can say they are yours. We must pray for that and exercise faith that the temple will be opened to us."[58]

The question over the "one man" would not be unanimously agreed upon while John Y. Barlow was alive. In fact, after several incidents occurred which added fuel to the fire[59], Joseph Musser revealed to Lyman Jessop in 1948 that he believed "The Priesthood is definitely out of order."[60] Over the next several years some folks began wondering about rumors they had heard that Lorin C. Woolley had passed the Keys of Priesthood to an "Indian Prophet" living somewhere in Mexico.[61]

When President Barlow passed away on December 29, 1949, Musser became the senior member of the original Priesthood Council. He later told several men who had previously had questions about Barlow’s authority, such as Lyman Jessop, that he (Musser) held "all the Keys to Priesthood."[62] Two years later, on June 22, 1952, Joseph met with the brethren of the Priesthood and informed them that he had "been before the Lord during the week," and asked Him who His "rightful representative on earth now" was. Crying aloud, he told the men present that "The Lord told me that I am that man and that what I have done in calling Brother Rulon Allred is right and that those brethren who claim the priesthood and are against me will all be dismissed in the due time of the Lord."[63] Possibly making reference to that occasion in a meeting with sisters of the Allred Group Relief Society in 1976, Rulon confided to them:

"There were a handful of men who knew that Joseph W. Musser had talked with the Lord Jesus Christ on more than one occasion. The body of the people who lived during his lifetime never knew it, never heard it, and would never have believed it had they been told."[64]

Joseph W. Musser chose Rulon Allred to be his successor before his death, along with organizing a new Priesthood Council, due to the opposition he was receiving from the original Council. A number of current and former members of what came to be called the Apostolic United Brethren whom I have spoken with hold to the belief that Rulon and several other men received certain temple blessings under the hands of Joseph W. Musser prior to his passing; while others think that although Musser desired to do so, he was told by the Lord not to, and he passed before it was ever accomplished.[65] I will avoid a lengthy inquiry into that question here, because regardless of which side you choose, I believe that much like his priesthood file leader, Joseph Musser, Rulon Allred did not automatically assume that the man who was senior member of the Priesthood Council—even if he had received his Second Anointing—was the man spoken of in D&C 132:7. On August 13, 1965, Rulon Allred's son Louis spent most of the day picking his father's brain over history and doctrinal matters. Still in the mainstream LDS Church, and attempting to find out just what position his father held as opposed to President David O. McKay, Louis recorded in his journal:

"His [Rulon's] claim is that the church is out of order and because President Grant refused to exercise the keys of sealing in plural marriage, a necessary portion of eternal marriage before a person can attain all the blessings of the celestial kingdom, the men the Lord had provided through John Taylor had to take over to exercise the keys and keep plural marriage alive under the direction of the worthy senior. The one man holding the keys – sec. 132:7 – no longer exists because the church is out of order as is the priesthood."[66]

This source and others demonstrate that as of that time, Rulon Allred believed that no one on earth was the one man "anointed" and "appointed." If we are to understand from the sermon quoted by the editor that Rulon later changed his position and claimed the office described in D&C 132:7, I would like to see clearer evidence or testimony. If true, such an affirmation probably mirrored Joseph Musser, who did not presume to be that man based on seniority in the Council, or having received his Second Anointing, but instead looked to revelation. Several friends of mine in the AUB point out that Rulon made statements before his death that ring similar to those portrayed by Musser, which for them opens up the possibility he could have changed his tune. For instance, on May 5, 1973, he pronounced:

"I know that God lives! How do I know? How do I know that you live? I have seen your faces. I have gazed into your eyes. I have heard your voices. I have touched you. How do I know God lives? In that same manner. You cannot believe these things if you do not want to believe."[67]

Other folks who were close to Rulon think the idea that he would claim such an exalted office without them knowing about it is highly unlikely. The mystery continues! We must keep in mind that it’s a fine semantic line between the one man who presides over the Keys in the Council, and the one man "anointed" and "appointed." I’d hate to put words into the mouth of Rulon Allred that he had never said or thought. If anyone reading this review has more information on this topic, please contact me at my email address, provided at the end of this paper.

You will notice below that Rulon references verse 6, not 7, which states that someone who "receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God." Probably he meant verse 7, which pertains to the one man "anointed" and "appointed," and was simply mistaken or misquoted. At any rate, Rulon's relationship to Brother Musser, along with knowledge of the history of the debate over who held the one man office, puts the discourse in question in a broader context. Referring to Wilford Woodruff's appointment of Anthony W. Ivins to act in his stead to seal plural marriages in Mexico, Rulon expounded:

"And it was by this authority of this man who held the keys [Woodruff], that Anthony W. Ivins performed those ordinances. This is the key to the whole situation. Somewhere upon the earth, in every dispensation where the fulness of the gospel has been restored, there must be one man who has them or is living the fulness of those principles. He has the keys and bestows the authority upon others to administer. So we come to the conclusion that there is one man at all times upon the earth holding the keys of this authority, though he may not himself be performing those ordinances. And, understanding these principles, we will find that no man has the authority to perform these ordinances except it be given to him from the man who holds that key, or unless it is that man himself. No, this is a divine principle that runs down through the world, plainly elucidated and expressed in verse 6 of Section 132 in the Doctrine and Covenants... No marriage performed by anybody else that is not authorized by the man who holds these keys will be enduring in and after the resurrection, or God is a liar."[68]

Pages 53-61 – The editor does a great job presenting a short overview of Mabel's attitude about life and her experiences in her later years.


Born in 1919 as a twin sister, Mabel Finlayson Allred and her family eventually settled in California at the outset of her teens, attending the Hollywood ward of the LDS Church. Her life was changed forever when headlines splashed across the local newspapers announcing the arrests of men for cohabitation in Arizona. It wasn't long before her family was one of several in the ward finding interest in the claims of these Fundamentalist Mormons. Mabel prayed and received an answer to her prayer that, yes, not only was it a true principle, but she would someday live it!

On Christmas Day, 1935, Mabel and her twin sister Melba learned that although Rulon Allred, a local LDS doctor, was grieving over the separation of his wife Katherine due to his new beliefs concerning "the fullness of the gospel," he had recently married two young women. Although shocked, Mabel knew at once that she too was to be one of his wives! Shortly thereafter she and her family made the daring move to Short Creek, Arizona, due to her father's health... and no doubt due to their sympathy with the die-hards struggling to eke out an existence in the desert. Only a few days before their father passed away, he told Rulon he could only have one twin if he married the other also. Rulon was happy with that two-for-one deal, and so were the girls. He would later testify that besides Mabel and her sister, "two more lovely girls never lived," and that he "was immediately attracted to them."[69]

Anyone who has read about life in early Short Creek knows it was no song and dance. The Saints living there were not a far cry from their ancestors who came west with Brigham Young as far as hardships went. After she moved to St. George, Mabel and Rulon were married in 1937, starting a life that would be more adventurous, and sometimes lonely, than she might have suspected. Rulon moved his wives to Salt Lake City and tried to carry on without raising eyebrows of orthodox Mormons encircled around them, but they only escaped detection until 1940, when they were excommunicated from the LDS Church. Besides ecclesiastical problems, at times Rulon's ladies had each other to contend and compete with. Mabel can probably now chuckle about some of the tit-for-tat disagreements the wives had, which most likely drove her crazy at the time:

"[Rulon and] Mabel's anniversary. I fixed them a lovely dinner. Myrtle was pretty nasty about staying with Mabel's babies so Mabel stayed home although it was Myrtle's turn. There are things to be said on both sides however. Myrtle has spoiled mine and Mabel's anniversaries now; I hope she feels better."[70]

When they had finally settled down in a home far better than what they had experienced previously, the FBI swooped down and shattered their dreams. Even some of the women were hauled off to jail in what became known as the 1944 Raid. Mabel and her twin sister Melba found themselves behind bars wondering what would be their fate:

"Arriving at the jail, we were treated the same as hardened criminals. They took our fingerprints and pictures, (mug shots) of us, both profile and looking straight ahead. Then we [Melba and I] were escorted to a rather large jail cell – one that would hold several prisoners... The iron-barred door clanged shut behind me, and I will never forget that moment! This was unreal—a nightmare! I was locked in this despicable place, not knowing when I would be free again! Or when I would be permitted to be with my two little boys again!"[71]

Mabel's sister Melba recorded that when she and her twin sister found out they were on the front page of both evening papers, they "were pretty upset."[72] While the women were soon released, the men eventually had to bite the bullet and serve time in prison. Eventually some of them, including Rulon, signed an agreement pledging they would refrain from advocating or solemnizing plural marriages in order to be let out on parole. Several others (Charles Zitting, Louis Kelsch, Arnold Boss and Morris Kunz) refused to bow to the state and remained locked up until they were released. At the invitation of Dayer LeBaron, Rulon and others decided to move to Mexico in 1947 in order to get out from under the government pressure. Due to harsh living conditions and head butting over authority claims between Dayer and members of the Priesthood Group, Rulon's family returned to Utah. Mabel and the other wives waited a few weeks for Rulon to serve time for fleeing the country, and then they were back together again.

Mabel gives her side of the story in her reminiscence of her husband's calling by Joseph Musser to be his Second Elder, and eventually a member of Musser's new Priesthood Council.[73] Soon after, the Allred family was again on the run from rumors of authorities bent on taking their children. The women split up and moved to various locations in the United States. Mabel and her offspring ended up in Elko, Nevada for several years, wondering if this cat and mouse game would ever end. Her piano playing and love for music assisted in keeping her sane during this time of persecution for living what she considered a necessary sacrifice to keep the laws of God. Her husband blamed the LDS Church, commenting that they had "plotted against his family, resulting in his scattering it over five states." Nevertheless, in "its scattered condition he advised them to attend the church, claiming to be non-Mormons,"[74] which proved too difficult to pull off: Mabel ended up playing the piano for every venue in town, including the LDS and Baptist Churches! She found out later that the Mormon Bishop in Elko knew she was coming two weeks before she arrived![75]

Finally back in Utah, the Allred family was able to settle down while Rulon practiced naturopathic medicine: delivering babies and fighting ailments of every type. The group under the new Council prospered, growing with every new baby born. On the night of May 9, 1977, Rulon conversed with some of his family "about the life we had in Heaven befor[e] we came here, this life and then life after death."[76] Their happiness came to a crashing halt the next day, May 10, 1977. Ervil LeBaron sent two women into the office where Rulon worked and they shot him to death for not accepting Ervil as head of God's work on earth. A revelation concerning Rulon, given to her the night before, gave Mabel comfort in this time of tragedy, in addition to the premonitions felt by other family members. A journal entry in Rulon’s diary exactly two years before he was killed demonstrates his uncanny sense of impending tragedy:

"May 10, 1975. I have two years to put my affairs in order."[77]

When Mabel's daughter Dorothy saw Rena Chynoweth, a wife of Ervil—and the woman who killed Rulon—on television admitting she had committed the murder, and promoting her new book, Dorothy wasn't about to let her get away with it. Rena had already avoided criminal charges, essentially walking away scott-free, so the most she could be hit with was a wrongful death suit. The jury awarded the Allred family a fifty-two million dollar decision, though they have yet to receive one cent. What really mattered is that, despite his shortcomings and mistakes, Rulon be remembered as a man zealously dedicated to serving his God and his fellow man.

The years passed by and Mabel never remarried, content to have had the man of her dreams, and finally enjoying a little time for herself. Her twin sister Melba died just days before they celebrated their 79th birthday together. They had been so attached at the hip their whole lives that this was a great loss. In the last years of her life Mabel felt the urge to rejoin the LDS Church due to her concern that the Apostolic United Brethren hierarchy was "taking over what I understood to be functions reserved for only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints... I felt that the Group was interfering with the Church by its assuming authority that they did not have." It is obvious to the studious outsider and the involved insider that there has been an evolution of thinking within the Allred group. Most members believe these changes are from revelations to their leaders, while there are still some old-timers who are uncomfortable with practices that were once taught as outside the scope of their calling and mission. Mabel was one of those who felt things had gone too far:

"As time progressed, I became convinced that our people in the Group were duplicating what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints already had, and they were becoming a church unto themselves, another church! I had to ask myself, "Do I want to belong to the Church of the Apostolic United Brethren or to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where I believed, and do still that the Keys of the Priesthood and of the Kingdom are held[?]" I prayed fervently to our Heavenly Father about this, asking Him what He would have me do in this all-important decision, and that I wanted to do His will. I dwelt on what Rulon would want me to do, and recalled his telling us, his family, and our Group, "to draw as close to the Church as you can! After all, it is the Lord's Church!" I felt I had married my husband years before in the high and holy Principle of Celestial Plural Marriage, and that this was the only authority given to the men in the 1886 meeting. I came to realize that my answer from Heavenly Father was to go back into the [LDS] Church."[78]

Mabel was rebaptized into the LDS Church on September 30, 2001. Later she was blessed by Apostle Joseph B. Wirthlin, in which he restored all her former temple blessings, which resulted in her being able to enter the Salt Lake Temple in 2003. She never gave up the belief that she, Rulon, and their children would be together forever with the rest of her husband's family, but left it to God to sort out. Mabel Finlayson Allred passed from this life on May 6, 2005, leaving behind a legacy and life of adventure that makes her worthy of being called a "frontier" woman.


At a time when Warren Jeffs and the T.V. show "Sister Wives" have raised national interest in Mormon Fundamentalism and its adherents, it is refreshing to read an autobiography of a woman who lays out what life was like growing up in the polygynous subculture based in Utah, and who wouldn't have changed it for the world, despite the trials and tribulations she had to pass through. And, I might add, her twin sister was also her sister wife! As the editor puts it: "In a decade when the publication of numerous narratives of apostates who have left the Fundamentalist groups to write exposés about life on the inside [abounds], a story like Mabel Allred's is profoundly important because it suggests there is another point of view."[79]

Mabel’s tale is peppered with information concerning her family, and the struggles that ensued when she chose to become the plural wife of a man loved and hated by many. She comments on several of the important occurrences within Mormon Fundamentalist history, such as her marriage, her arrest, her husband's calling by Joseph Musser to be his representative and successor, his murder by the leader of a competing faction, and her eventual return to the LDS Church. This is an important book for those of us interested in Fundamentalism’s ins and outs from the perspective of a woman who lived it for decades with one of the most famous leaders of a "polygamous" group since the turn of the twentieth century: Rulon Clark Allred. It will also be a fascinating read for anyone involved in women's studies, or for those who have found themselves buying any number of the works coming out from insiders of the various "groups." Much thanks to Martha Bradley-Evans, Utah State University in Logan, and the University Press of Colorado. It was a fantastic idea, and fitting, to include this autobiography in the “Life Writings of Frontier Women” series, so that the public could get to know Mabel.

If you have suggestions, corrections, additional information or sources concerning anything written in this review, please contact me at kristopherwray@yahoo.com or xwrayresearch@yahoo.com

A PDF of the unedited version of this review is available at http://user.xmission.com/~research/mormonpdf/index.htm

[1] Samuel Taylor, Interview Notes, March 30, 1953, Copy of original in my possession.

[2] Testimony Meeting Minutes, January 3, 1954, Copy of original in my possession.

[3] Fred Collier, The Trials of Apostle John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley, Doctrine of the Priesthood Vol. 4, No. 1 (Salt Lake City, UT: Collier’s Publishing Co., 1987). I have copies of the excommunication trials of a number of other men who were "handled" by the Church around the same time.

[4] B. Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 227-232, 389-425.

[5] Edward Leo Lyman (Editor), Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895 (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2010), April 2, 1891, p196.

[6] Articles of Incorporation for the Corporation of the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Approved February 6, 1991, by the Utah Department of Commerce, Copy in my possession.

[7] For more information, see Anne Wilde, Fundamentalist Mormonism: Its History, Diversity and Stereotypes, 1886-Present, Newell G. Bringhurst and John C. Hamer (Editors), Scattering of the Saints: Schism within Mormonism (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2007), 258-289.

[8] Joseph W. Musser, Order of Ordinations According to Lorin C. Woolley (1930), Copy of original in my possession.

[9] LDS First Presidency, Official Statement, June 17, 1933, Church Section of The Deseret News, June 17, 1933:

"As to this pretended revelation it should be said that the archives of the Church contain no such revelation; the archives contain no record… from the absence in the Church archives of any evidence whatsoever justifying any belief that such a revelation was given, we are justified in affirming that no such revelation exists… since this pretended revelation, if ever given, was never presented to and adopted by the Church or by any council of the Church… the said pretended revelation could have no validity and no binding effect and force upon Church members, and action under it would be unauthorized, illegal, and void."

[10] John Taylor, September 27, 1886 Revelation, LDS Archives (Salt Lake City, UT), Copy of original in my possession.

[11] For critical histories of Lorin C. Woolley and the Fundamentalist Mormon movement in general, see J. Max Anderson, Mormon Fundamentalism: A Study in the Foundational Claims of Contemporary Polygamous Sub-Cultures (Publishing House, n.d.), and the more up-to-date Brian C. Hales, Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2006).

[12] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop (Privately published), April 21, 1953, Vol. 3:196-197.

[13] Arnold Allred, Indian Territory Mission: The Missionary Journal of Byron Harvey Allred Jr. (Hamilton, Montana: Bitterroot Publishing Company, 1983), 4, 7, 35.

[14] Rhea Allred Kunz remembered Lorin Woolley making the remark that other than the chapter on vicarious baptism for children, every word of A Leaf in Review was "scripture." Rhea Allred Kunz, Voices of Women Approbating Celestial or Plural Marriage Vol. 2 (Draper, UT: Review and Preview Publishers, 1985), 194-195.

[15] Diary of Byron Harvey Allred Jr., (Privately published, 2010), November 22 and 27, 1930.

[16] Rulon C. Allred to B. Harvey Allred, September 7, 1933, Copy of original in my possession.

[17] Rulon C. Allred, Interview with John Stewart (Rocky Mountain Voice Library), March 7, 1974.

[18] Rulon and Katherine corresponded with LDS General Authorities such as Anthony W. Ivins. Their letters back and forth, along with some additional materials, can be found in the Anthony W. Ivins Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU (Provo, UT).

[19] Diary of Rulon Clark Allred, September 4, 1935, Typescript in my possession.

[20] Diary of Rulon Clark Allred, September 18, 1935.

[21] Diary of Rulon Clark Allred, October 20, 1935.

[22] Heber J. Grant, Letter to Joseph W. Musser, November 27, 1928, Copy of original in my possession. After years of dealing with post-Manifesto plural marriages, in 1942 Heber J. Grant spoke at the East Ensign Ward, giving his opinion that "the Lord did not intend to stop plural marriage if the people had lived it right." He told the audience that he had once answered a man finding fault with polygamy by pointing out that most of the Quorum of the Twelve were products of it, and then finished by informing him he should "blame the U.S. Government for stopping polygamy, the Lord would not have stopped [it] had we not had a commandment to obey the laws of the land." He recorded in his diary that "It was not such a sermon as I would have cared to have printed in the newspaper[.]" Diaries of Heber J. Grant, 1880-1945 Abridged (Salt Lake City, UT: Privately published, 2010), January 25, 1942, p461.

[23] Ken Driggs, Who Shall Raise the Children? Vera Black and the Rights of Polygamous Utah Parents, Utah Historical Quarterly, 60 (Winter 1992), 27-46.

[24] Martha Bradley-Evans, Plural Wife: The Life Story of Mabel Finlayson Allred (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2012), 117.

[25] Marianne T. Watson, The Fred E. Curtis Papers: L.D.S. Church Surveillance of Fundamentalist Mormons 1937 to 1954 (South Jordan, UT: unpublished); Diaries of J. Reuben Clark, 1933-1961 Abridged (Salt Lake City, UT: Privately published, 2010), January 25, 1940, p35.

[26] J. Reuben Clark to William Cullen Dennis, August 1, 1933, J. Reuben Clark Papers, box 349, as quoted in D. Michael Quinn, Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2002), 245. Clark was a cousin of Lorin C. Woolley.

[27] A Selection of the Sermons of John Y. Barlow 1940-1949 (Fullness eBook Collection CD, 2005), July 12, 1947 sermon given at Widtsoe, UT.

[28] Barbara Owen Kelsch, Louis Alma Kelsch 1905-1974 (Privately published, n.d.), 103; Anne Wilde, Interview with Kris Wray, December 3, 2011; Garrett Kelsch, Interview with Kris Wray, December 13, 2011; Dawn Boss, Interview with Kris Wray, December 15, 2011.

[29] Comments of Joe Thompson, Minutes of Cottage Meeting, March 20, 1955, Copy of original in my possession.

[30] Ordenacion del hermano Margarito Bautista, Junio 22, 1951, Copy of original in my possession.

[31] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, November 29, 1952, Vol. 3:186-187.

[32] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, September 13, 1953 entry, Vol. 3:200. For more on the 1953 raid, see Martha Sonntag Bradley (now Bradley-Evans), Kidnapped from That Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1993).

[33] The Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [D&C] (Salt Lake City, UT: Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981), 132:7.

[34] Diary of Joseph White Musser, September 29, 1929 and May 14, 1929, Copy of original in my possession.

[35] Minutes of [The School of the Prophets] meeting, November 25, 1936, Copy of original in my possession.

[36] Diary of Joseph White Musser, September 19, 1934.

[37] Diary of Morris Quincy Kunz, September 19, 1934, as quoted in Donna K. Mackert, The Bridge Builder’s Daughter, An Autobiography Part 1 (South Jordan, UT: Kolob Shadows Publishing, 2007), 16.

[38] On March 8, 1937, Joseph W. Musser recorded in his diary that he had been "chosen, and set apart and anointed—most holy—and commissioned to assist in keeping the Patriarchal order of marriage alive… In the consummation of this high and holy commission I have been ordained an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and a Patriarch. I am now trying to live so that I may be worthy [of] my 'confirmation,' the reception of the 2nd. Comforter[.]" After Rulon Allred had become the senior member of the new Council following Musser’ death, he was asked "if an apostle must see the Savior and have his hands laid upon him to make his calling full." Rulon answered in the affirmative. He said "such a testimony must be borne in care lest it be to those he [sic-that] cannot believe. Brother Joseph Musser was very careful to whom he bore his testimony. Even members of his council did not believe him." [Minutes of Priesthood meeting, December 7, 1958, Copy of original in my possession]

[39] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, September 20, 1934, Vol. 2:34.

[40] Diary of Joseph White Musser, September 19, 1934; Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, September 15, 1934, Vol. 2:34.

[41] Heber J. Grant and his Counselors, in response to the Fundamentalists, issued an official statement on June 17, 1933 in the Church Section of The Deseret News dealing with the question of who presided over the Keys of Priesthood on earth:

"There is but one person on the earth at a time upon whom the keys of this sealing ordinance is conferred. That man is the Presiding High Priest, the President of the Church. He is the bearer of this authority, which he may exercise personally or he may commission others to execute it under his jurisdiction, for such time, long or short, up to the end of his life, as he may desire."

[42] Joseph W. Musser and J. Leslie Broadbent, Supplement to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage: An Interpretation of Celestial Marriage[,] Plural Marriage [and] Priesthood (Salt Lake City, UT: 1934), 118-120.

[43] Diary of Joseph White Musser, November 2, 1936. It’s interesting to note that according to sources such as Lyman Jessop, Lorin C. Woolley thought the One Mighty and Strong would probably come no later than the year 1936. [Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, January 1 and April 6, 1936, Vol. 2:81, 90]

[44] Diary of Joseph White Musser, November 13, 1936.

[45] For a great introduction to the private teachings of Lorin C. Woolley, see Drew Briney (Editor), Joseph W. Musser’s Book of Remembrance (United States: Hindsight Publications, 2010).

[46] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, February 23, 1937, Vol. 2:119.

[47] Minutes of [The School of the Prophets] meeting, February 26, 1937.

[48] Diary of Joseph White Musser, November 30, 1899. In LDS theology, the Second Anointing is a sacred ordinance wherein a man and woman are sealed for time and eternity, receive the "fullness of the priesthood," and are ordained a King and Priest/Queen and Priestess over their posterity, etc., in addition to a number of other blessings which are pronounced upon them.

[49] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, May 10, 1937, Vol. 2:125-126.

[50] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, July 3, 1938, Vol. 2:161.

[51] Diary of Joseph White Musser, November 13, 1936 and March 8, 1937.

[52] Diary of Joseph White Musser, July 28, 1940.

[53] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, January 29, 1950, Vol. 3:125.

[54] Rulon Jeffs, History of Priesthood Succession in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times and Some Challenges to the One Man Rule (Hildale, UT: Twin City Courier Press, 1997), 1-11, 228-234.

[55] Benjamin G. Bistline, The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona (USA: Agreka, 2004), 165-412.

[56] Diary of Joseph White Musser, November 8, 1936 entry.

[57] Diary of Joseph White Musser, August 11, 1938.

[58] Minutes of The Junior School of the Prophets, May 1, 1948, Copy of original in my possession.

[59] Marianne T. Watson, The 1948 Secret Marriage of Louis J. Barlow: Origins of FLDS Placement Marriage, Dialogue 40 (Spring 2007), 83-136.

[60] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, September 27 to October 2, 1948, Vol. 3:99.

[61] Joseph Musser and the newly called Priesthood Council went on a trip to Mexico in April of 1952 to visit Margarito Bautista and the Mexican Saints under his direction there. They also went to investigate claims that had been circulating among Fundamentalist Mormons for some time that Lorin C. Woolley had miraculously visited a white Indian Chief there in order to deliver the Keys of Priesthood to him before Woolley’s death. Musser recorded in January of 1931 that Lorin Woolley had told him a "Lamanite Prophet is laboring among Lamanites in Yucatan. Been laboring about 8 months." [Briney, Joseph W. Musser’s Book of Remembrance, 35] Lyman Jessop, one of the men accompanying Musser, wrote they were "looking for a white race of Indians (Lamanites)."

"I believe that Lorin did come with a heavenly messenger to this land in 1932 and did an important work among these people—but Francis Darter has jumped to conclusions pertaining to just what Lorin done… We hope to learn more about it."

After unsuccessfully searching for the people spoken of and arguing with Bautista over the situation, the men returned to Salt Lake City. Musser told them the trip was not a failure because "this mission was for our experience as witnesses to this Lamanite situation, that the gospel door is being opened to this people, and there is much to be done in the future." [Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, April 22, 1952, Vol. 3 161-162; See also September 28, 1937, Vol. 2:135]

[62] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, June 4, 1950 and January 29, 1950, Vol. 3:130-131, 125. It appears from Jessop’s diary and other sources that Musser was considering bestowing the Second Anointing on several men and their wives in the future.

[63] Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, June 22, 1952, Vol. 3 169.

[64] Recording of Rulon C. Allred speech in Relief Society Meeting, 1976, Copy in my possession.

[65] It appears from Jessop’s diary and other sources that Musser was considering bestowing the Second Anointing on several men and their wives. Those who believe it did occur before his death point to certain passages in particular: Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, February 3, 1952, October 18, 1953, and January 9, 1954, Vol. 3:151, 202 and 205.

[66] Cheryl M. Allred and Bonnie N. Taylor (Editors), The Journal of Louis Rulon Allred Volume 1 1959-1976 (Privately published), August 13, 1965, p122.

[67] Recording of Rulon C. Allred Testimony, May 27, 1973, Copy in my possession.

[68] Allred, Treasures of Knowledge, March 28, 1976, Vol. 2:266-267.

[69] Rulon C. Allred, Interview with John Stewart, March 7, 1974.

[70] Diary of Athlene Allred, March 28, 1943, Typescript in my possession.

[71] Bradley-Evans, Plural Wife, 111.

[72] Diary of Melba Finlayson Allred, March 7, 1944, Typescript in my possession.

[73] See also Melba F. Allred, Items Concerning Priesthood, May 15, 1966, in Gilbert Fulton (Editor), Gems, 3 Vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Gems Publishing, 1967), 2:33-43.

[74] Minutes of Priesthood Meeting, November 2, 1958, Copy of original in my possession.

[75] Bradley-Evans, Plural Wife, 132-134.

[76] Marla Jessop (Editor), Journal and other personal papers of Mary Viola Anderson Thompson (Privately published), May 9, 1977, p85.

[77] Diary of Rulon Clark Allred, May 10, 1975, as quoted in Dorothy Allred Solomon, Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003), 295.

[78] Bradley-Evans, Plural Wife, 182-183.

[79] Bradley-Evans, Plural Wife, 61.
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