"His Word Was as Good as His Note": The Impact of Justus Morse's Mormonism(s) on His Families
By Michael S. Riggs
Who was Justus Morse, that the impact of his Mormonism(s) on his family, or otherwise, would matter?
That he was not, and still is not, a household name among Latter Day Saints is not disputed. Only very recently Morse has begun to gain the attention of some Mormon historians. Ironically, his obscurity served him well throughout his life. For example, it saved him from being indicted or even arrested for his Danite activities following the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. Lack of prominence also meant that, even though he was an active polygamist from 1842 to 1857, he was able to join and remain a member of the RLDS Church (now known as the Community of Christ). 1.
1.See for example: B. Cannon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 366 and 373. Also D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 98.
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The following article, detailing the life of Justus Morse, was written by Michael S. Riggs. Riggs' interest in Morse was directly responsible for the discovery and identification of the Charles C. Rich 1837 Log House in 1995. While doing research on the life of Morse in the 1980s, Riggs took a trip to Missouri and located where Justus' land holdings had been.One of those properties (Morse owned several in the area in the 1830s), where Riggs believes Justus built a house, was very near to where Joseph and Charles C. Rich built their own home in April 1837. Amasa Lyman's family lived with the Morse's late in the Far West period. Riggs knew that Lyman, Morse and Rich had all gone to San Bernardino, California together in 1851. So, Riggs theorized that this "Rich" branch would have been near the spot these old friends lived. That is why in 1995, Riggs shepherded members of the Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation to the place where Morse and Rich owned properties next to each other-- when the 1837 Log House was discovered on what had been Rich's property.
FarWestHistory.com would like to incorporate similar research-- depicting the lives of other members of the Rich Branch and other Far West era residents. If you know of or are working on such a project, please submit your ideas and suggestions for consideration for posting.
MICHAEL S. RIGGS "His Word Was as Good as His Note":
The Impact of Justus Morse's Mormonism(s) on His Families
"His Word Was as Good as His Note":
The Impact of Justus Morse's Mormonism(s) on His Families
Printed for JWHA by Herald Publishing House in Independence, Missouri.
While obscurity was a necessary key to Morse's success, it has made researching his life a challenge. It is interesting, however, that after eleven years of research so much information about him has been uncovered. The picture is still a little fuzzy around the edges, but the overall image has become quite clear. By standing back from the picture and taking a longer look, a different prospective of Mormonism has developed that is not obtainable when
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This study of Justus Morse sheds light on the dynamics of LDS to RLDS conversions and their impact on nuclear and extended families. Morse's saga was perhaps an extreme case given his involvement in pre-1844 plural marriage, but also typical of RLDS "old timers" like Ebenezer Robinson, Isaac Sheen, and Elizabeth (Davis, Goldsmith, Brackenbury, Durfee, Smith) Lott who knew later denials of Joseph Smith's authorship of polygamy were unfounded and were, therefore, living contradictions within their new faith community. From the LDS perspective, Morse, while much more circumspect than other renegade Danites like John D. Lee and Amasa M. Lyman (who likewise did not stay loyal to Brigham Young), also left a firsthand account of early Mormonism that was every bit as critical. How did the families of such apostates (or non-conformists) cope with the shame and disappointment of their loved ones who do not meet the standards of their faith(s)? Was it possible for family members to maintain relationships with dissidents and still retain institutional loyalty? And finally, beyond Justus Morse, how did families on both sides of the LDS/RLDS fence interact with one another? Stated another way, was blood thicker than church?
In May 1844, during his campaign for the Presidency of the United States, Joseph Smith sent Justus Morse (along with many other stalwarts of the faith) on "lec-tioneer" missions. Many years later, Morse remembered being "blessed by the Prophet ... and especially instructed to maintain his [Joseph Smith's] character against all calumnies, which thing I was bound to do ... because of my oath as a Danite." This episode later troubled Morse,
2.Elizabeth Davis became a polyandrous wife of Joseph Smith Jr. before June 1842. She and two of her sons, like Justus Morse, joined the RLDS Church while living in San Bemardino, California. See Todd Compton, "Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith's Plural Wives and Polygamy: A Critical View," Reconsidering No Man Knows My History:Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect, Newell G. Bringhurst, editor, (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1996), 178.
3.Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, period I. (Reprint Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978). vol. 6, 337. Justus Morse was called to go to Delaware on this mission, but opted to go to his parents home in Mantua, Ohio instead.
4.Justus Morse Affidavit, given at Pleasanton, Iowa, March 23, 1887. For a full account of the providence of this document, see John E. Thompson, "The Justus Morse Affidavit: An Examination of Its Historicity and Significance," a paper presented to the 1991 Annual Meeting of the Mormon History Association. Also see Michael S. Riggs, '"Because of My Oath as a Danite': A Biographical and Sociological Sketch of Justus Morse," a paper presented to the 1991 Annual Meeting of the Mormon History Association. The first published version of the complete Morse Affidavit was in Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1914), 168-171.
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During the winter of 1844-45, Morse used his mission to visit his parents' home in Mantua, Ohio, after a more than ten-year absence.
After repeated (and heated) arguments, he finally convinced his younger half sister Salley (Bissell Church and her husband Horace of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. With conversion coming at the same time as the deaths of Joseph ant Hyrum Smith, however, Horace and
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Salley delayed baptism. It would be more than twenty years before Justus Morse and the Churches would be reunited. During that time, independent of each others' knowledge, they all joined the RLDS movement. Without Justus's earlier mission, Salley and Horace Church would not have ever considered a Mormon-based faith option.
Justus and his half sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, were later able to convert their older sister. Marietta, and their brother, Jonathan Bissell Jr., as well. While their youngest sister Lois (Bissell) Sloat stayed behind in their native Ohio and never joined, a daughter of hers named Almira Marietta (known as Mida) did. On a trip to Lamoni, to visit Morse/Bissell relations, she met and fell in love with Edwin H. (Eddie) Gurley. Mida and Eddie were married in 1879, at the home of her aunt, Salley (Bissell) Church. Eddie was a brother of an RLDS Apostle and later dissident Zenas H. Gurley Jr. This meant that all of Justus Morse's siblings were influenced by his Mormonism(s), or at least his last one. The impact on the RLDS Church as the result of these conversions was significant. For example, Horace Church became the president of the Hopkins, Michigan, Branch. Salley and Horace Church's daughter, Caroline (Carrie) Thomas, was a noted hymn writer, and through her missionary efforts the Providence, Rhode Island, Branch was formed. Another daughter, Mabel, was married to Asa Cochran. The two of them came into the movement in 1867 at the same time as her parents. Asa went on to become one of the founders of Lamoni, Iowa, and a close associate of Joseph III. Asa and Mabel's daughter, Clara, was married to Elbert A. Smith, who was the son of David Hyrum Smith and grandson of Joseph Smith Jr. Elbert served in the RLDS First Presidency under both Joseph Smith III
5.Horace Church definitely, and probably Sally, did join the Strangite church in 1848 or 1849. See Horace's letter written to "President James J. Strang" dated November 12, 1848, in the Gospel Herald (December 28, 1848), vol. 3, no. 41, 221-222. Also see Orlin B. Thomas letter to Clara (Cochran) Smith, 78-4, f8. Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri.
6.According to their son Charles, Horace was a devoted Seventh Day Baptist and his mother Salley was a Presbyterian before becoming interested in Mormonism. Chas F. Church, "The Descendants of Richard Church and the Ancestors of his Wife, Elizabeth Warren both of Plymouth, Mass.," 24. Lynn Smith papers, 78-3, fl27 Community of Christ Library-Archives. On December 28, 1837, however, Horace and Salley were married in the Congregationalist Church at Aurora, Ohio, by John Seward (who also performed Justus Morse's first wedding ceremony in 1828). Marriage Records Book #1, microfilm #1160, Probate Clerks Office, Portage County, Ohio courthouse.
7.Charles F. Church, Descendants Of John Bissell Of Plymouth Mass. (Lamoni, Iowa: privately distributed by Charles. F. Church, 1937), 79.
8.Charles N. Brown related: "The basis of the Lord's work in Providence [Rhode Island] was not a company of old time latter day saints. The good seed was sown by the letters of Sister Carrie Thomas of Michigan." Brown went on to say that the branch then numbered seventeen members. True Latter Day Saints' Herald, (December 15, 1869): 371. Carrie (Church) Thomas' life was remembered in the Saints Herald (July 22, 1908), vol. 55. no. 30: 707-711.
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and Frederick M. Smith, and in 1938 became Church Patriarch. Of great significance to the early RLDS Church was the ready-made branch created in 1867 at Hopkins, Michigan, as the result of extended Morse family members accepting the leadership of Joseph Smith III. In fact, of the twenty-one members listed on the 1871 membership listing, Morse was related to all but two, and in 1873 he married one of them (the other was her son). Strong footholds of small, yet determined believers in areas like Hop-kins were crucial to the new and fragile movement. As most of the faithful family members later relocated to the Lamoni, Iowa, area (including Justus Morse), their earlier travails in the small Michigan Branch made them valued assets in the new "Order of Enoch" model colony. Clearly, a debt was owed for Morse's contribution to both his siblings and the RLDS Church. The obvious question, however, might have been less about the goodness of the message than the worthiness of the messenger. Was there a way for both to be accepted? Even though, as a former polygamist, Uncle Justus Morse brought a massive amount of baggage with him into the Reorganized Church, his family did accept him. To help understand how, we must first explore the impact of Morse's Mormonism(s) first on his nine probable wives, and then his nineteen sons and daughters (including nine stepchildren).
In his 1869 RLDS Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, marked in the margin next to verse three of section 49 where it says, "marriage is ordained of God unto man; wherefore it is lawful that he should have one wife," Morse emphatically scribed, "One Wife One Wife." This verse did not have the same effect on him during the Nauvoo period of his church involvement as it would as a relatively new convert to the Reorganization. In fact, during his younger years in Illinois, "One Wife One Wife" meant one plus one equaled at least two. According to an 1887 affidavit written about his early experiences in Mormonism, Justus Morse stated:
."..in the year 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois, Elder Amasa Lyman, taught me the doctrine of sealing, or marrying for eternity, called spiritual wifery, and that within one year from that date my own wife [Elizabeth (Towne, Clark) Morse] and another woman were sealed to me
9.Elbert A. Smith, Brother Elbert The Life of Elbert A. Smith, 1871-1959 (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publlishing House, 1959), 367.
10.Early Reorganization Minutes, 1852-1871, Book "A." 546, Community of Christ Library-Archives.
11.Book of Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God. and Given in the Order of Their Dates (Cincinnati, Ohio: The Publishing Committee of The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1864), 161. The end page of the book is signed in pencil "Justus Morse San Bemardino, Cal." The margin notes throughout the book are also in pencil and match the style of writing on the end page. The book is now housed in the Community of Christ Library-Archives vault. Current editions; LDS D&C section 49 verse 16 and RLDS D&C section 49 verse 3b.
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for eternity in Macedonia, by father John Smith, uncle to the Prophet. This woman was the wife of another man, but was to be mine in eternity and the said father John Smith, also taught me that if an unmarried woman was sealed to me that she was mine for time as well as eternity and that I was not limited as to number.
In the years 1843 and 4, Elder Amasa Lyman and father John Smith again taught me the doctrine of spiritual wifery or polygamy, and in the years 1845 & 6, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimbal taught me the doctrine also."
Saying he was "taught" the doctrine was a code phrase meaning he practiced what was preached. A compilation of all known Morse material yields the nine "probable" wife count indicated above. Because of encrypted (often deliberately vague) entries, however, the names can be ascribed to only six of the nine women. Since the purpose of this study is to determine impacts, only the wives that have been positively identified will be discussed in detail.
In August 1828 Justus married for the first time, to Sally Goodwin, in the Congregationalist Church of Aurora, Ohio, by Rev. John Seward. On the same day. Morse's sister, Marietta, married a Daniel Good-win in the same church. Most likely, Daniel and Sally Goodwin were a brother and sister who married a brother and sister. Both marriages did not last, however, as Marietta, who had a son named Nelson A. Goodwin in 1830, had a second son named Justus Benson in 1833 with another husband. Justus Morse also remarried by about 1832 to a widow named Elizabeth (Towne) Clark, who had three living children with her first husband. There is very little information about why the Morses and the Goodwins had such short marriages. Possibly, either or both Daniel and Sally died young, but neither name appears in the cemetery records for all townships in Portage County, Ohio.
There was an intriguing piece of family folklore about Marietta which might shed light on the breakup of at least her marriage, if not her brother's as well.
"She was riding in a wagon with her husband along the road, when they met another man with his team, and he accosted the man wanting to know what he had to trade. When the other man said he hardly knew, her husband said he wanted to trade off his wife and after a little dickering she, his wife was traded to the other man for a pair of boots, where upon she was changed to the other man's wagon and he drove to
12.1887 Affidavit, 2-3. In his later recollection. Morse revised his history by saying Amasa Lyman taught him "spiritual wifery" in 1842, it was actually John C. Bennett who was the source of his earliest experiences in extra marital relationships (see John E. Thompson, "The Justus Morse Affidavit: An Examination of Its Historicity and Significance," a paper presented to the 1991 Annual Meeting of the Mormon History Association at Claremont, California, 21-27).
13.The two primary source documents for determining Morse's wives are his 1887 Affidavit and a December 28, 1869, letter sent from San Bemardino, California, to "Dear Brother and Sister Church." Inez Smith Davis Papers, P23, f66. Community of Christ Library- Archives.
14.Marriage Records, Book 1. numbers 511 and 512 (microfilm). Probate Clerks Office, Portage County Courthouse, Revena, Ohio.
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her mother's home, and he told her mother of the transaction, and that he had brought her home to her." While Marietta Morse was married a total of five times during her life, this story tends to point toward Daniel Goodwin as the culprit because she was taken back to her mother's home after the incident and other factors. If indeed, Daniel Goodwin abandoned Morse's sister, it could well have driven a wedge between himself and his wife, Sally, and been the means of a divorce.
The more probable theory for the termination of Morse's first marriage is also more to the point of this paper. Could Morse's interest in Mormonism been a hurdle Sally could not get over? While living in Portage County, Ohio, Justus Morse along with the Oliver Snow, Simmonds Ryder, John Johnson, Ezra Booth, Seymour Brunson, and many other families were exposed to Mormonism especially in 1831, while Joseph Smith resided in the nearby town of Hiram. Family legend records the following about Morse's first encounter with Mormonism:
"Uncle Justus in his early manhood with a number of his young men comrades had an opportunity to go to a Latter Day Saint meeting, and he did so. But they went with the idea of having some fun. They took with them a small music box, and wound it up, intending that when the right time arrived, they would set it off and make some merriment. However, when the meeting got under way, they became interested in the sermon and forgot their intended fun, and after that he
15.Church, Bissell, 37.
16.Church, Bissell, 37, says that she lived at Mantua "where she married her 1st. husband. Her travels then ran through Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa." If she was taken home after the incident, it probably took place near Mantua. Marietta's second husband was a Benson and they had a son named after Justus Morse in 1833, also in Mantua. By 1836, however, she was married to a fourth man who was the brother of her second husband which would tend to argue against either of them being involved. This leaves only the third and fifth husbands as possibilities if Goodwin was not the guilty party. Number five was John Orrin Moon Sr. and when he and Marietta were married and lived for a time in Summit County, Ohio, which borders Portage County so he also could have abandoned her, yet the story does not mention any children being with them and by that time she would have had four to five small boys. The third husband the least is known about except his last name (Keep) and that they also had a son. Four out of five of Marietta's sons joined the RLDS Church along with their mother, except Seymour W. Keep. He was born in 1835 and "left home in early manhood and nothing has ever been heard from him since." Not enough information is known about Mr. Keep to rule him out as the husband that abandoned Marietta Morse except that as in the case with number five, no children are mentioned in the story. It is interesting to note that Marietta (Morse, Goodwin, Benson, Keep, Benson) Moon, went back to using the Goodwin name while living in Michigan in the early 1870s (see Early Reorganization Minutes, 1852-1871, Book "A," 546, Community of Christ Library-Archives).
17.While some of the listed families and others like those of Thomas King, Rufus Edwards, and James Owens joined the LDS Church in 1830-31, others waited several years before being baptized. Some of these families or individuals included; Noah Rogers (1837), Lucius Scovil (1836), and Justus Morse (1833) (see LDS Collectors Library: Early LDS Membership Data, 1995 Infobases, Inc.)
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atteded the meetings and became convinced that the Gospel as taught by that people was realy the Gospel of Jesus Christ and soon became one of their number, joining the church in 1833.
The above meeting would have probably taken place while Morse was still living in Mantua, and if so, he still would have been married to Sally Goodwin.
Just as local Disciples of Christ clergy were distraught over Mormon incursions into Portage County, so, too, were other denominations. For example, John Seward, the minister who performed Justus and Sally's wedding, went so far as to invite Robert Powell, a Baptist preacher from Palmyra, New York, in June of 1832, "to occupy his Congregational pulpit." It would seem reasonable to assume if members of his flock (like Justus) were being drawn away by the Mormons, he might have felt compelled to take such a step. The friction caused at that time may well have been the means of terminating Morse's marriage to Sally and left a very bitter feeling. Except for their wedding certificate, no other mention was made of Sally Goodwin as Morse's wife, even by Justus himself. In 1870, Morse wrote to his sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, who would have personally known Sally Goodwin, 'you wanted me to tell you what had become of the oldest children that I had by the woman that I married first." He then proceeds to tell her about his three oldest stepchildren brought into his second marriage by Elizabeth (Towne, dark) Morse. Significantly, Justus did not even acknowledge Sally Goodwin as ever having been his wife to someone who would have known better. In the case of a premature death, it seems unlikely Morse would have so callously dismissed her. The strong implication here was that Morse and Sally did not part on good terms.
18.Church, Bissell, 38-39.
19.William J. Dawson, The Aurora Story (Ohio: by the author, 1949). 62. According to James R. Lynch of the American Baptist Historical Society, "Powell moved to what was then known as the First Baptist Church of Palmyra. New York, on April 30, 1830. and served as pastor until May 11, 1833, when he was dismissed prior to his move to Clinton, Michigan." Letter to author dated July 21.1995. Also see "The Colgate Scene" (November 1978), vol. 7, no. 4, 5. for additional biographical information on Robert Powell.
20.Ironically, if the purpose of Powell's visit was to save Seward's flock from the Mormons, he ended up, nevertheless, losing two members to the Baptists as a result of the meeting in question. See The Aurora Story, 62
21.Letter dated April and June 1870, copy obtained from Fred Wahlquist of Salt Lake City, Utah. This letter is an incomplete portion of a longer one, but contains Morse's signature. Based on the contents in what remains, it is clear the letter was sent from Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1870 and was sent to Salley (Bissell) Church while Morse was serving an RLDS Church mission. At some point this letter came into the possession of the staunchly LDS Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes family in Arizona who was a daughter of Justus Morse. Since contents of the letter were used in the 1937 Bissell Family History written by the RLDS son of Salley Church. This indicates that this letter must have been transferred (given) to the Hakes family by their RLDS cousins sometime in the 1930s.
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1. Sally Goodwin, non-Mormon, married from 1828-1832 or 1832, no known children.
2. Elizabeth (Betsy) Towne, Clark, LDS, 1832-1845, Children: Caroline Eliza Clark, Durfee, LDS, dissafected; Daniel Porter Clark, LDS; Helen Mar Clark, Calister, LDS; Harvey C. Morse, disaffected LDS and RLDS; Joseph Riley Morse, LDS, disaffected
Mabel Ann Morse, Hakes, LDS; Charles E. Morse, (possible), dissaffected
3. Unnamed (John C. Bennett "Spiritual Wifery"), LDS, 1842-1842
4. Unnamed (Polyandrous Marriage), LDS, 1843-1844/45
5. Unnamed (Additional Plural Marriages), LDS, 1843/44-1845, Charles E. Morse, (possible), dissaffected
6. Widow Canfield, LDS, disaffected, 1845-1845, three unnamed step-children
7. Nancy Pratt, LDS, disaffected, RLDS, disaffected
8. Eleanor Earl, LDS, RLDS, 1845/46-1873, Justus (Jesse) Morse, Jr., LDS, disaffected; Henry Morse, LDS, disaffected, RLDS, disaffected
9. Almira Bebecca Barnes Cochran, RLDS, 1873-1887, Assa Cochran, RLDS; Melissa Cochran, Paul, Disciples of Christ; Amy Cochran, Bullis, Tanner, RLDS.
2. Elizabeth (Betsy) Towne, Clark, LDS, 1832-1845, Children: Caroline Eliza Clark, Durfee, LDS, dissafected; Daniel Porter Clark, LDS; Helen Mar Clark, Calister, LDS; Harvey C. Morse, disaffected LDS and RLDS; Joseph Riley Morse, LDS, disaffected Mabel Ann Morse, Hakes, LDS; Charles E. Morse, (possible), dissaffected
3. Unnamed (John C. Bennett "Spiritual Wifery"), LDS, 1842-1842
4. Unnamed (Polyandrous Marriage), LDS, 1843-1844/45
5. Unnamed (Additional Plural Marriages), LDS, 1843/44-1845, Charles E. Morse, (possible), dissaffected
6. Widow Canfield, LDS, disaffected, 1845-1845, three unnamed step-children
7. Nancy Pratt, LDS, disaffected, RLDS, disaffected
8. Eleanor Earl, LDS, RLDS, 1845/46-1873, Justus (Jesse) Morse, Jr., LDS, disaffected; Henry Morse, LDS, disaffected, RLDS, disaffected
9. Almira Bebecca Barnes Cochran, RLDS, 1873-1887, Assa Cochran, RLDS; Melissa Cochran, Paul, Disciples of Christ; Amy Cochran, Bullis, Tanner, RLDS.
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Morse's next wife, Elizabeth (Towne, Clark) Morse (known as Betsy), joined the Mormon Church along with him in February of 1833, at Elk Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania. Two weeks afterwards, Betsy gave birth to her fifth child (Harvey C. Morse), the first for Justus. Justus and Betsy lived through the Missouri persecutions during the mid and late 1830s, eventually selling their farm located in the "C.C. Rich branch" four miles south of Far West, for only "an eight day clock." Amasa M. Lyman and his family lived with the Morse family during their stay in Caldwell County, Missouri, and again in McDonough County, Illinois, after the Mormon expulsion from Missouri. It was at the Morse's log home in Walnut Grove Township that future LDS apostle and husband of one of Betsy's granddaughters, Francis M. Lyman, was born in 1840.
Betsy and Justus did not stay long in McDonough County, preferring to move to Ramus where a larger number of Saints were organizing a new community. As pointed out above, this was where Justus first became an active polygamist under the tutelage of John C. Ben-nett, Amasa Lyman, and John Smith. How Betsy felt about this is unknown, although a deduction can be made based on Morse's marital experiences in total, and his determination to "obey council" from those above him, that it really would not have made much difference. The most affectionate statement he made about any of his wives he saved for Betsy. When referring to her death in March 1845, he candidly recalled how, "This left me in a rotten row of stumps, but I got along the best I could till August after when I married a woman by the name of Can-field." Justus was away in Ohio on the mission which converted his half sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, and her husband, Horace, when Betsy died. Before the exodus, all three
22.Susan Raston Black, compiler. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1830-1848 (Provo.Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1988).
23.Church, Bissell, 39
24.Albert R. Lyman, Biography Francis Marion Lyman 1840-1916; Apostle 1880-1916 (Delta, Utah: Melvin A. Lyman M.D., 1958), 2. Betsy's daughter Helen Mar (Clark) Callister's daughter Susan Delilah Callister married Francis M. Lyman in 1884 at Salt Lake City (see Maurice Tanner, Descendants of John Tanner, The Tanner Family Association, 1942), 112. Helen Mar Callister's husband Thomas took Carlie E. Lyman (a daughter of Amasa M. and Caroline E. (Partridge) Lyman as a plural wife in 1878. See Stella H. Day, compiler, Builders of Early Millard: Biographies of Pioneers of Millard County 1850 to 1875 (Art City Publishing Co. 1979), 116.
25.For background on Ramus see, Richard N. Holzapfel and T. Jeffery Cottle, Old Mormon Nauvoo, 1839-1846: Historic Photographs and Guide (Provo, Utah: Grandin Book Company. 1990), 193-194. Also Susan Sessions Rugh, "Conflict in the Countryside: The Mormon Settlement at Macedonia, Illinois," BYU Studies, vol. 32. no. 1, 2 (1992).
26.1887 Affidavit and 1869 letter.
28.Nauvoo Neighbor, vol. 2 no. 45 Nauvoo, Illniois, (Wednesday March 12, 1845). —Died-In Macedonia, March 9, Mrs. Elizabeth Morse, consort of Justus Morse absent on a mission.
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of Betsy's children by her first marriage got married and were, therefore, no longer the responsibility of their stepfather, Justus.
Probable wives three through five are unnamed potyandrous and polygamous relationships that took place between 1842 and 1844. Identified wife number (at least) six was a widow with three children named Canfield. There are some clues about her identity that Morse left, but as of now, no additional information has been obtained. Justus wrote of her,
"She was from the town of Warren, Ohio. She came around to Nauvoo with me. She was a very good woman but when the word came to go to the mountains, she backt [sic] down[.] She was a widow with three children. She could not bear the thought of going into the wilderness. I think she had more sense than I had, but I thought I must obey council, so I went, to the mountains in the year fifty. I was told to hunt two more women who would go. I obeyed counsel and got two more, but previous to this my Canfield widow married again. That let me out."
Other than possibly consoling him through his extremely short period of grief over the loss of Betsy, the brief duration of Morse's marriage to the widow, Canfield, would indicate no measurable impact was made in this relationship, including any on the children. The phrase "That let me out," in reference to the termination of the marriage, would tend to infer he wanted to be let out. It was not felt she was not a "good woman"; Justus readily credited her as such. No, the problem was she impeded what he perceived to be a necessary step at that particular juncture of his life. A pattern emerged in Justus Morse's marital relationships that showed that no wife (or children) was ever going to hold him back from accomplishing whatever he felt strongly about doing.
Of the "two more women" he was told to "hunt up," Nancy L. Pratt was first and, therefore, probable wife number seven. She stayed married to Justus twenty-eight years and had five of his children. This meant she stayed longer and had more children with Justus than any other of his wives. In comparison to the widow, Canfield, who decided to not go West, using Morse's retrospective logic the question is begged: did Nancy lack good "sense" by deciding to go with him? Yes or no, she nevertheless did make the trek with Morse to Utah and, after staying for one winter, then followed him down to southern California as one of the founding colonizers of the Mormon community of San Bernardino.
Their life in California was a hard one, especially for Nancy as the wife of an often-absent lumber
31.Members RLDS General Membership Records for San Bernardino Branch, Book B-3. record no. 232. Commuity of Christ Library-Archives. Also 1869 letter.
32.Marcus Lafayette Shepherd, "Colonizing of San Bernardino." Salt Lake City, 1884, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, California.
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man and shingle maker. Also difficult were the deaths of their two daughters, Mary Jane (in 1853, at the age of five) and Frances E. Morse (in 1869, at the age of 12).
A severe strain in Justus and Nancy's marriage came in 1857, with the recall of the colony back to Utah following the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the rumored invasion of Johnston's Army. According to local historian Pauliena B. LaFuze, "Justus Morse returned to Salt Lake, although several sons and their mother [Nancy (Pratt) Morse] remained in San Bernardino." Justus became disillusioned with Utah Mormonism and returned to southern California and Nancy in 1858. The exact nature of their separation was unclear. Did he go to Utah with the intention of sending for her later? Was it her choice to stay behind or his? Justus later wrote his sister that he had been "flat broke four times since I saw you [in 1845]." And at least one of the times was when "the Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred," which led to his return to Utah in 1857. Morse may not have had enough money to afford to take his dependant family members with him but felt compelled by duty to return himself.
Nancy was the first of the Morses' to unite with the RLDS Church in San Bernardino, in fact almost four whole years before Justus. Since he had not been an active polygamist for twelve years, the way was clear for entrance into the Reorganized Church. The weight he carried with him as a result of his prior activities in the principle, however, by necessity inhibited his later involvement in the Reorganization. While limiting to Morse, he was, nevertheless, able to remain faithful to the end. Nancy, on the other hand, was not. Sometime before 1882 it was noted in the local branch records that she was expelled from the RLDS Church. No explanation was given as to why. In 1873, Justus Morse left Nancy and San Bernardino for the last time and moved to Hopkins, Michigan, to reunite with his siblings and their families. No legal divorce was
33.George William Beattie and Helen Pruitt Beattie, Heritage of the Valley; San Bemardino's First Century (Pasadena, California: San Pasqual Press, 1939). 211
35.Pauliena B. LaFuze, Saga of the San Bemardinos (Bloomington, California: Ber-nardino County Museum Association, 1971), vol. 1, 48
37.1869 letter and RLDS San Bernardino Membership Records, no. 232
38.In 1878, Justus was put into the high priest group (at the same time as William Smith) based on his original ordination at Nauvoo (see the Saints Herald (May 1,1879): 139), but other than that he never served in positions of leadership either in San Bernardino or later in Pleasanton, Iowa (a hotbed for "old timers" who knew too much). See Riggs, "'Because of My Oath as a Danite': A Biographical and Sociological Sketch of Justus Morse."
39.RLDS San Bernardino Membership Records, no. 232.
40.Church, Bissell, 39-41.
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executed as no legal marriage was ever performed. Before Justus left California in 1873, some of their property was liquidated, but not all. In 1882, for example, five years before Morse's death. Nancy designated herself a "widow" in order to convey a tract of land to her son's wife, Emma (Taft) Morse, for "the sum of one dollar." A fairly creative way to handle a precarious situation, indeed, knowing that she had no legal status as wife and yet, being a co-owner of the property, she simply made herself a widow. After 1883, Nancy apparently moved from San Bernardino as that was the last land transaction date, and no death or burial records exist for her in the county archives. Twenty-seven years after Justus left southern California, one former neighbor who remembered him said when "he [Justus] & his wife [Nancy] parted ... he went back east & married an old acquaintance [sic]." Such a story must have been hurtful to Nancy who had given so many hard years to Morse. In the end, she lost both her husband and her Mormonism(s).
The second woman Morse brought with him through Utah and also down to San Bernardino was Eleanor (Earl) Morse. Of the two wives, Eleanor was perhaps favored by Justus. In 1847 or 48, Eleanor gave birth to the couple's only child, a girl named Charlotte Elizabeth in Missouri. In an inflammatory account for which there is no other collaborating evidence (except that she did leave him), Louisa Barnes Pratt's journal entry for February 1857 states,
"E. [Eleanor] Morse's husband was a drunkard, and when in liquor, he would abuse his best friend. She had no hope of his reform, and she wished to leave him with his first family and go to the valley of the mountains. I sympathized with her, and fully approved of her plan." Edward Leo Lyman adds,
41.Based on a through check of the San Bernardino County Archives holdings in March 1996.
42.Deeds, Book L, 360-361. San Bernardino County Archives, San Bernardino, California
43.Deeds, Book 27,551. San Bernardino County Archives. A week before the cited transaction. Nancy (again as a widow) sold an acre of land in downtown San Bernardino to C. W and J. B. Tyier for "two hundred dollars, gold coin of the United States." Book 27, 491. San Bernardino County Archives, San Bernardino, California. The witness to this transaction was John Brown Jr., a long-time resident in the valley who knew Justus Morse personally and most likely knew Nancy's designation as a widow was a ruse.
44.San Bernardino County Archives. That Nancy would move is somewhat surprising considering all three of her living children, i.e. Justus Jr., Henry and Hiram, all lived the rest of their lives in San Bernardino.
45.Elbert A. And Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f46 dated 30 September 1900. 2. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
46.Edward Leo Lyman, San Bernardino: The Rise and Fall of a California Community, (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996), 287.
48.Kate B. Carter, editor, Mormondom's First Woman Missionary, Louisa Barnes Pratt Life Story and Travels Told in Her Own Words (limited edition: 1950), 316-317.
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"Eleanor approached Morse on the subject, he consented to give her a yoke of oxen to make the journey. Although she had many friends in the California community, she embarked for Salt Lake City with the very next company. It is doubtful that any divorce papers were ever signed or if there was any further financial settlement."
Eleanor probably never remarried. As late as 1870, at the age of fifty-three, she was still using the Morse name while living in Salt Lake City and working as a housekeeper. In August of 1869, Eleanor was baptized into the Reorganized Church and became a member the Salt Lake City Branch. Was it a surprise when Justus walked into the Salt Lake City Branch meeting hall as an RLDS missionary in February of the next year to find his ex-wife (from a plural marriage) sitting in a pew? Could this have been a factor in his mission only lasting a few months before he returned to San Bernardino? While Morse was in Salt Lake City, he stayed with his and Eleanor's married daughter, Charlotte (Morse) Pack. In December of 1869, Morse had written to his sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, that Charlotte had married the summer before, "but not in plurality," and added that he had not "seen either of them in twelve years" (i.e. since 1857). He knew details about his daughter's marriage—for example, that she had not become a plural wife (which would have been important to an RLDS parent). Also, given that this information was obtained about the same time as Eleanor's RLDS conversion, Justus may have had prior knowledge about his ex-wife's situation, and that may have dictated his missionary destination.
By the spring of 1870, Morse's mission was completed and he was heading West again. Whatever his intentions were, no rekindled September romance resulted between Eleanor and the sixty-year-old Justus. Charlotte, whose children were being blessed in the RLDS Church beginning as early as November of 1869, was herself bap-
50.J. R. Kearl, et.al., compilers. Index to the 1850, 1860 & 1870 Censuses of Utah: Heads of Households (Balitmore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1981), 250.
51.Salt Lake City, Utah Branch Records and Minutes: 1868-1888, RLDS Library-Archives, 12.
52.April 1870, letter.
54.If Justus did indeed prefer Eleanor over Nancy as Edward Leo Lyman suggests, then it may not be too big a stretch to believe Morse may have more than saving souls in mind on his mission.
55.Salt Lake City RLDS Branch Records said that Justus Morse arrived February 20, 1870, and "gone west" May 29, 1870. A letter marked "June 1870" was probably sent from Charlotte (Morse) Pack's home in Salt Lake City.
56.Ada Pack was blessed on November 23, 1869, and George Frederick Pack was blessed on August 14,1871. Both were listed as the children of Geo. C. & Charlotte Pack. Local Jurisdictional Record Book D, number 444, item 1. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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tized a member in 1880. Every indication would be that Charlotte and her mother remained in the RLDS Church all their lives. While Morse was able to share his RLDS Mormonism experience with his former wife and daughter, he probably had a minimal impact on their decision either to join, or to endure in the movement.
A granddaughter once wrote of Justus, "Perhaps it is like grandpa Morses last dog & last school mam[sic] though. The last was always the best with him." Most likely the "last school mam[sic]" she was referring to, was Morse's last wife, Almira (Barnes, Cochran) Morse. But even if she was not the subject of the jest, the description was apt. Almira's first husband, George Cannon Cochran, died in 1863, leaving her with three children. They had been living in Ohio, but soon after his death, Almira moved with her children to Hopkins, Michigan. It was there that she converted to the RLDS cause, "after a vigorous fight against the church and she remained faithful adherent to the end of her life.'1 Five years after her baptism, she and Justus married in Michigan. Shortly thereafter, they made their way down to Pleasanton, Iowa, (near what was soon to become Lamoni) where they lived out their final years.
Born in Massachusetts, raised in Ohio, and having lived in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Illinois, Utah, California, Michigan, and finally settled in Iowa, Justus Morse literally went across the United States and half way back again during his lifetime—a feat of which not many nineteenth-century Americans could boast. With his much-traveled body slowing down, however, Almira would be the best of all his wives to see him through to the end. As opposed to the others, she was unspoiled by plural marriage, and yet was a staunch believer in the Restoration Gospel. She was already a close friend to most of Morse's siblings, even becoming an in-law when her son, Asa Cochran, even married Salley (Bissell) Church's daughter, Mabel (Church) Cochran. Almira brought a respectability to Morse in his new surroundings of which neither Nancy Pratt nor Eleanor Earl were capable.
As noted earlier, the rumor back in San Bernardino was that Justus had left Nancy Pratt "& married an old accquaintance[sic]," and worse yet, "an old sweetheart" that "had
57.Local Jurisdictional Record Book D, number 444, item 3. Community of Christ Library-Archives. Between her early LDS Church background and the time she joined the RLDS Church, Charlotte had been a Christian Scientist according to this record.
58.Clara (Cochran) Smith to Cora Cochran, Colorado Springs, Colorado. 19 November 1907, Elbert A. and Clara Smith papers, P78-2, f59 Community of Christ Library-Archives.
59.Charles F. Church, The Descendants of Richard Church and the Ancestors of his Wife, Elizabeth Warren both of Plymouth, Mass. Lynn Smith papers, P78-3, f127 Community of Christ Library-Archives, 39.
69.Church, Bissell, 10.
61.Mabel (Church) Cochran Obituary, Lamoni Chronicle, May 3,1923, copy in the Lynn Smith papers, P78-4, fl Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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property." This could only have meant Almira, as she was indeed Morse's last wife. That Morse might have known her at an earlier time is very believable. As a widow of a Cochran, Almira would have been familiar with the Bissell family in the tiny communities of Aurora and Mantua, Ohio. Her son, Asa Cochran, made a trip back to Mantua as late as 1891, and while there, met with cousins and visited graves. Almira was born in 1821, so she was only eleven years old at the time Justus moved away in 1832 from Mantua to Elk Creek, Pennsylvania. Almira and her first husband, George Cochran, were married in 1842, two years before Morse's 1844/45 mission which brought him home to Ohio. Although the timing was not right for Almira and Justus to have been long-lost "sweethearts," it was quite probable he was well acquainted with her and/or her first husband's family.
Almira and Justus quietly lived out their remaining time, enjoying family and friends, staying very low key, until the disaffection of their neighbor, Zenas H. Gurley Jr., from the RLDS Church." During the last year of his life, Justus was persuaded by Gurley to make an affidavit which confirmed some of Zenas' accusations about pre-1844 Mor-monism. Justus was not the first "old timer" Zenas had sought out during his campaign to challenge Joseph Smith Ill's neo-orthodox notions about his father's spotless character. Ebenezer Robinson, George Morey, David Whitmer, and William Law are among those who also gave statements or affidavits to Gurley. According to one source, Ebenezer Robinson, who was Zenas' father-in-law, did not intend for his affidavit to become public until after he died. Zenas published it anyway and embarrassed Robinson out of the RLDS Church, whereupon he took
62.Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers. P78-2, f46 dated September 30,1900. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
63.Almira's first husband's name was George Cannon Cochran. The Cannon and Cochran families arrived in Aurora, Portage County, Ohio, as early as 1804-05. The Aurora Story, 13.
64.Correspondence Asa Cochran 1890-1896, P78-2, 09. Lynn Smith papers, Community of ChristLibrary-Archives.
65.Almira Cochran Morse" obituary January 1, 1917. Lynn Smith papers, Community of Christ Library-Archives.
66.The best treatment of the Zenas H. Gurley/Jason Briggs disaffection is Clare D. Vlahos, "The Challenge to Centralized Power: Zenas H. Gurley Jr., and the Prophetic Office," Courage (March 1971), vol. 1. For Morse's involvement in the affair, see Michael S. Riggs, 1991, 14-18.
67.For a background on the Pleasanton, Iowa Branch, see Roger D. Launius, "Pleasanton, Iowa, Group has Colorful History," Restoration Trail Forum (November 1977), vol. 3. On Robinson see Davis H. Bays, The Doctrines and Dogmas of Mormonism Explained and Refuted (St. Louis: Christian Publishing Co. 1897), 368-371. For Morey see two statements sworn before E. Robinson "Notary Public" both dated December 29, 1873, copy of typescript done by Barbara Bemauer on February 17, 1994, Community of Chirst Library-Archives. For David Whitmer, see Lyndon W. Cook, editor, David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness, (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1991), 152-158. And William Law's affidavit published in Charles Shook, 124-129.
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up the cause in support of the leadership of David Whitmer.
Morse, Almira, and their families were more fortunate than Robinson, as Justus was saved from similar controversy by dying within a year of giving his statement. Also, Gurley had just resigned his membership the year before and was losing interest in the fight anyway. Morse's statement was eventually published first in 1909 (Salt Lake Tribune) and then in Charles Shock's Anti-RLDS book The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy in 1910 and 1914. Interestingly, Elbert A. Smith (Morse's granddaughter's husband) wrote a review of Shock's book as editor of the Saint's Herald, and failed to mention the use of the Morse document. In 1903, Morse's nephew, Charles F. Church, published a running correspondence with R. B. Neal in the Saints' Herald.Ironically, Neal was the person who obtained the 1887 affidavit from Zenas H. Gurley Jr. in 1909, and gave it to Shook for publication. This same Charles F. Church also acted as the chief family historian and was responsible for most of the sanitation of Morse's colorful past. For example, all references to his involvement in plural marriage were eradicated.
Almira must have been pleased that her second husband's indiscretion of writing his version of early Mormonism did not preclude him from the distinction of dying in full faith. He was laid to rest with all due church honors and buried in Lamoni's resting place for the Saints, Rose Hill Cemetery. As we will see, by the time his true thoughts were finally printed, a counter mythology had already been put into place, that persevered his memory as the blessed missionary who planted the seed in 1844/45 which brought forth such abundant RLDS fruit.
In two letters written to his sister in 1869 and 1870, Morse accounts for the whereabouts, and demonstrates an awareness of the current situations, for all but two children (including stepchildren). Even as a newly converted RLDS
68.Duncan C'ampbell. Journal of History vol. 10 (July 1917): 366-367.
69.Duncan Campbell, "Lamoni Stake 1887," Journal of History, vol. 9, no. 4 (October 1916). 490.
70.Journal History, (January 22, 1910).
72.Elbert A. Smith, "Editorial: Shook on the Origin of Polygamy," Saints' Herald, 61, no. 17 (April 29, 1914): 393-394. Smith sidesteps the issue of Joseph Smith Jr.'s guilt or innocence in the matter of plural marriage as "extraneous," "His prophetic calling must be proved or disproved by the testing of quite different issues."
73.Charles F. Church, Saints' Herald, 50, no. 13 (April 1, 1903): 302-303.
74.Richard D. and Kathryn L. Thompson, Pioneer of the Mojave:The Life and Times of Aaron G.Lane (Apple Valley, California: Desert Knolls Press, 1995), 2-5.
75.Church, Bissell, 41.
76.Saints' Herald, 34, no. 47 (November 19, 1887); 759. "Funeral services were conducted in the Saints' Chapel, Lamoni, by Bro. Duncan Campbell, assisted by Bro. H. A. Stebbins."
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member, he spoke, nevertheless, approvingly of all of his children, even those in the Utah church. Justus Morse fathered ten children and had an additional nine stepchildren. Of these stepchildren, six were not raised by Morse and two of his own children died before the age of thirteen and, therefore, were not influenced religiously by him. This would leave a control group numbering eleven who lived to reach adulthood and were all born before 1856 or while Justus was still a member of the LDS Church. Of this group of eleven, three remained loyal to the Utah faction all their lives and one remained at least sympathetic although probably not an active member. All four of these children shared the same mother, Elizabeth (Towne Clark) Morse, and two of them were with Justus. Three other children left the LDS Church and became RLDS (all three by different mothers, but Morse was the father). One each from Elizabeth Towne, Nancy Pratt and Eleanor Earl, but only the latter's child, Charlotte, probably remained to the end of her life. The remaining four, while born into an LDS environment, did not remain in the Utah Church and never affiliated with the RLDS movement. Looking first at the three active and one inactive yet LDS friendly child, we find similarly significant impacts on their church as was produced by Morse's siblings in the RLDS movement. These impacts are different from their RLDS relatives, however, because of the respective size of the two churches. Nevertheless, the LDS Church in its local communities was greatly influenced by the lives of those who stayed.
Daniel Porter Clark was the first son of Elizabeth Towne and a stepson to Justus Morse. Daniel was almost twenty years old at the time of the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Before leaving for the West, Daniel married Sarah Melissa Hakes, the daughter of Weeden Vander Hakes and Eliza Amanda (Beebe) Hakes. During the exodus, Daniel and his new wife traveled to Winter Quarters in the same wagon with Justus Morse's old friend, LDS Apostle Amasa M. Lyman. Professor Edward Leo Lyman includes Daniel P. dark as a member of a "core" group of men who were "bound" to Amasa M. Lyman in the 1846 time frame. It seems likely that Daniel Clark became a theological member of Apostle Lyman's new tribal family under the "Law of Adoption." This practice, begun in the late Nauvoo period, became widespread during the Mormons' stay at Winter Quarters. The Law
77.Lyman 1996, 14.
78.Richard E. Bennett, Mormons at the Missouri, 1846-1852. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987). 190-194. Also Juanita Brooks, John Doyle Lee: Zealot, Pioneer Builder, Scapegoat (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1992). Brooks says on page 110, the practice of the Law of Adoption ceremony "was of short in duration and never widely practiced, was significant and important while it lasted." While widely is a subjective term, I would disagree with her analysis and arg.ie that if, as she herself points out on page 122, "The fact that a subordinate like John D. Lee should have a large adopted family..." would demonstrate that the practice was dissemated fairly low in the organization even if "some of the apostles had none." I believe Brooks was confused by later rhetoric (i.e., during the period of Justification by rationalization).when the practice was being discontinued because it was creating more problems than it was worth. Otherwise, her discussion of the topic was very useful (see for example, pp.73-74).
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of Adoption, along with the Mormon Temple Endowment ceremony, was a major factor in the socialization of those who opted to immigrate to Utah. After arriving at Winter Quarters, Daniel and his wife, Sarah, helped to reconstruct a previously torn-down log cabin for the benefit of themselves and Amasa Lyman's wives, Eliza and Caroline (Partridge) Lyman. Daniel and Sarah were frequently mentioned in Eliza's journal during this period.
Not long after their trek to the Great Basin, Daniel and Sarah were on the move again with their spiritual father, Amasa Lyman; this time to establish the colony of San Bernardino, California. While in southern California, dark learned the lumber and shingle making trade from his stepfather, Justus Morse, which he continued to apply later in Parawan, Utah.
Another attachment to Utah Mormonism for Daniel dark was his practice of plural marriage. In the year 1858, he took Sarah's sister, Harriet Jennette Hakes, as a second wife. Not just polygamy, but unions that included other adopted family members, various kinship relationships (e.g., sisters married to the same man) or persons with prior original geographical backgrounds, all played a factor in later settlement patterns and LDS Church membership retention. Daniel dark was involved in all three, which makes his life-long devotion to the Utah Church understandable.
Justus told his half sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, in a letter dated June 1870 that Daniel lived in Para-wan, Utah, and that he had been "high Sherif [sic] for a long time." When he wrote this letter, Justus was serving as an RLDS missionary in Salt Lake City but must have maintained enough contact with either Daniel or his Mormon sisters to know what was going on in their lives. Justus may have even taken the time to visit with them in the lower settlements of Parawan and Fillmore on his way up to Salt Lake City, given the specific information he imparted about them. The impact Justus Morse had on the stepson he raised from about the age of eight is hard to determine. A brief sketch of Daniel Porter dark's life by a great-grandson, never mentions Morse. In fact, it only said that "We know very little about him [dark] from birth until the time he was living in the vicinity of Nauvoo, Illinois ..." Despite naming their eleven children after many of their
79.Diary of Eliza M. Lyman May 1847 as quoted in Bennett, 80.
80.Kenneth W. Godfrey et. al.. Women's Voices: An Untold History of thie Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1982), 247-259.
81.Shepherd, Marcus Lafayette, "Colonizing of San Bemardino." Salt Lake City, 1884, Bancroft Library, Berkeley California.
82.Lloyd dark Ward, "Highlights of the Life of Daniel Porter Clark," typescript, LDS Church Archives. Ward, "Daniel Porter Clark."
83.Ward, "Daniel Porter Clark."
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other relatives, not one of the young Clarks became a Justus. Given all of the male dark children were born during periods of estrangement from the LDS Church for Morse, the snubbing was predictable.
Helen Mar (dark) Callister (like her brother Daniel Porter dark) was also a stepchild from Elizabeth Towne's first marriage. She was the second wife of Thomas Callister, having been married in Nauvoo in 1845. Both Helen and Thomas worked in Uncle John Smith's tailoring shop in Macedonia, Illinois, and fell in love. When Thomas asked John Smith for permission to marry Helen, he was asked to take his daughter Caroline Clara Smith first. Three-and-a-half months later, he was finally able to wed Helen. Significantly, Thomas Callister and his two wives were all adopted by John Smith in the Nauvoo Temple before the exodus. It is worthy to note that Helen, while raised from the age of three by Justus Morse, had John Smith as a spiritual father. This may not have been a slight on Morse as he himself viewed Smith also as a religious mentor into plural marriage and Nauvoo era Temple rites. An early plural marriage and adoption into the John Smith family were critical to Helen's continuance in the LDS Church throughout her life.
She and Thomas also immigrated in association with her older brother, Daniel Porter dark, and long-time family friend, LDS Apostle Amasa M. Lyman. Thomas later took one of Lyman's daughters as a plural wife, and one of Helen and Thomas' daughters married Francis M. Lyman. Thomas was the first stake president set apart for Millard County, Utah, and served in the state legislature while Helen served as president of the Fillmore, Utah, Relief Society for twenty-five years.
Like her half sister Helen, Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes likewise served a long stint as a Relief Society president, presiding over the Maricopa Stake in Arizona. Ann (as she was known) was baptized in 1852, not by her father, but by William J. Cox in San Bemardino. While still in California, she married Collins Rowe Hakes (twice a brother-in-law to Ann's half brother Daniel Porter dark). Along with her new husband, father, and others in the Mormon colony, they returned to Utah obeying the council of Brig-ham Young following the Mountain Meadows Massacre in December of
85.Ward, "Daniel Porter Clark." Of the four male children bom between dark's two wives, two were bom in the 1846-1847 period when Morse was not at Winter Quarters, but probably briefly following Lyman Wight to Texas. The other two boys were bom after 1858, when Morse had returned to San Bemardino and in the process left the LDS Church for good.
86.Builders of Early Millard, 114-116
87.Nauvoo Temple Record, 517. Among Thomas Callister's other plural wives was also a daughter of Amasa M. Lyman. (See Builders of Early Millard, 116).
88.1887 Affidavit, and Riggs, 9-10-1991.
89.Ward, "Daniel Porter Clark."
90.Builders of Early Millard, 114-116 and Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church. . . 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Association, 1901-1936), vol. 1, 559-560 and 811-812.
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1857. A year later, however, Justus returned to San Bernardino and left the Utah Church. Ann remained loyal to the end.
Joseph Riley Morse, Ann's older brother by four years, was a close friend of her husband, Collins Rowe Hakes, and usually lived near them. Riley (as he was known), while sympathetic to his LDS roots, found it difficult to live as a faithful Mormon. "Once in Los Angeles, Riley overheard some men plotting to massacre the 'Mormons' in San Bernardino. He rode a mule all night to warn the intended victims. On this occasion he said, 'Collins, I can't live the Gospel, but I can die for it!"' A few years earlier, Riley spent time with a young Joseph F. Smith working together in the San Bernardino mountains making wood shingles for Justus. Smith was trying to earn money to further his mission to the Hawaiian Islands in 1854. A Hakes family tradition records that,
"The two boys were evenly matched for size, both being over six feet tall. Whichever got through work first at night would go and stand in the center of the log that served as a bridge over the creek and wait for the other. Then they would scuffle until one or the other was forced into the creek. In the evenings they would sit on the floor and "pull sticks" to see who could outpull the other. When pay time came, Riley took his money in silver dollars. Then he dumped them all into Joseph F. Smith's lap to help him go on his mission."
Riley Morse carried with him many of his father's traits. Both moved many times during their lives. Like Justus, Riley became involved in militarism and Danitism. Both Riley and Collins Hakes were listed on the original muster roll for "an Indian expedition to San Gor-gonia Pass" in 1855 and were "continued in service" after the regular company was disbanded. A more controversial parallel between Justus and his son, Riley, was their Danitism. Riley would have been too young to have remembered firsthand his father's exploits roaming the Missouri countryside as Amasa Lyman's sidekick in the Danite Spy Company. In addition to his father, as a young man growing up in San Bernardino, however, Riley was surrounded by many former Missouri Danites including: Benjamin L. Clapp, Hiram dark, Jefferson Hunt, Jesse D. Hunter, and James H. Rollins, not to men-
91.Jenson, 559-560 and 811-812..
92.Harriet J. Stradling, compiler, Collins Rowe Hakes Family (Mesa, Arizona: published by author: 1952), 11.
93.Stradling, 11. While Paul Reveresk in mythic tones, the story—even if not one hundred percent accurate—does provide insight about Riley Morse's feelings toward the I-DS community.
94.Stradling, 11. Also sec Andrew Jenson, "The Twelve Apostles: Joseph Fielding Smith," The Historical Record (May 1887) vol. 6, nos. 3-5, 185.
95.The San Bernardino paper The Daily Courier (January 15, 1893). Under title, "Pioneers' Meeting." Justus Morse had served in Zion's Camp, as a Danite Spy Company Member in Missouri, and in the Nauvoo Legion in Illinois. See Riggs, 1991.
96.Thompson 1991, 10-16. Also see Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1987), 131, 135-136.
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tion the colony's presiding apostles, Lyman and Rich.
In 1861, Riley Morse came under strong suspicion of being part of a horse thieving ring operating between San Bernardino and Salt Lake City. Also, he was a close associate of dubious ex-Mormons who lived in San Bernardino but who still had ties to people in Utah, such as James Madison (Mat) Welch, dark Fabun (with later RLDS family ties). Lot Hunington, and William Alma (Al) Williams. In fact, the latter Williams was probably living with Justus Morse when at least one of the robberies occurred. The Los Angeles Star newspaper (known for being unfriendly to the Mormons) reported that a man named Button was the leader of the gang of "Salt Lake ruffians" in 1861 and that they headquartered themselves in downtown San Bernardino at a saloon known as "Whisky Point." As late as 1873, just before leaving the valley forever, Justus, along with his soon to be ex-wife, Nancy (Pratt) Morse, sold two one-acre lots to an "M.E. Button" for six hundred dol-
97.Quinn, 480-484. This is a quick comparison of Quinn's Appendix 3 "Danites of 1838: A Partial List" and known San Bernardino residents 1851-1857. For the argument that informal Danitism continued to persist into the Nauvoo period and beyond, see Michael S. Riggs, "From the Daughters of Zion to 'The Banditti of the Prairies': Danite Influence on the Nauvoo Period," a paper presented to the 1994 Annual Meeting of the Mormon History Association at Park City, Utah. Accepted for publication in Restoration Studies VII, Ruth Ann Wood and Joni Wilson, editors, (Independence, Missouri: Herald Publishing House).
88.Thompson, 71. On page 72, the Thompson's discount the LA Star article because of the paper's less-than-friendly attitude toward the Mormon following the Mountain Meadows Massacre and its pro-Southern tendencies during the Civil War. The refuting testimony of San Bernardino attorney Henry Willis is also given who "was in a position to know" because he was local. Notwithstanding these factors, it should be remembered that Henry Willis had pro-Union bias and in a pro-Union stronghold like San Bernardino where he was campaigning for Senate at the time, he was not exactly a neutral observer in this case. (See: LaFuze, vol. 1, 63.) The Thompson's also conclude Major Carleton's charge that it was impossible to for Justus to be served in San Bernardino because of "Undue Mormon influence" was "unjustified," 67. As Major Carleton correctly pointed out, however, "the county judge is a Mormon, the sheriff is a Mormon, the justice of the peace is a Mormon. In all ordinary trials the most of the jurymen would be Mormons. You can foresee that the administration of civil law by these officers would continue to be, as it doubtless is now, a farce," 67. To be accurate, these were lapsed Mormons some of which, like Sheriff Anson Van Leuven, would later become members of the RLDS Church. The problem of administering fair trials in a community stacked with Mormon officers was as old as Far West, Missouri, or Nauvoo, Illinois; why would it be any different in 1861? All of Thompson's evidence points to there being a problem with some Mormons being involved in horse thievery, and yet they conclude the contrary. Even if some of the lawlessness of 1861 was attributable to a pro-Southern group, it does not prove that it was an either/or situation. It is not unreasonable to conclude in the face of compiling evidence on both sides, it was likely both sides that were guilty.
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lars. Local historians Richard and Kathryn Thompson wrote:
"On October 5th  the Star reported It had received "reliable information" that there had been a rendezvous on the Mojave, and that large bands of horses were being driven towards Salt Lake. The thieves had just spent several days pasturing their stock at I .as Vegas. One band had 150 head of horses alone, and the Palomares brand had been recognized along with those of other local rancheros. Seen in the vicinity were the "notorious" Lot Huntington, Riley Morse and Al Williams, and all were reported as being well mounted. Huntington was believed to have been riding a large claybank horse carrying the Palomares brand." Riley Morse, like his father, led an interesting life. Quintessential followers, who usually functioned behind the scenes on one hand, were bold pioneers on the other. The area in which Riley certainly fell behind his father's lead was in the acquisition of wives. Riley only had two wives, and only one at a time. Among Justus Morse's three children who later converted to the RLDS Church, his daughter with Eleanor Earl, Charlotte (Morse) Pack has already been discussed above. Another son. Henry Morse, was born in 1851, just before the acclaimed Lyman and Rich company left from Iron County, Utah, for San Bernardino, California. Henry spent the remainder of his life in southern California and died at the relatively young age of fifty-five. He was remembered for knowing the local mountain ranges and deserts as well as anyone. "He had the faculty of intuitively fixing locations, and more than once he has been appealed to locate survey corners in different parts of the range, and it is said that he would do it with an accuracy that was almost unerring." In addition to the lumbering work he did with his father. Henry was a miner, "a deputy sheriff, constable, deputy marshal and poundmaster, having the distinguished honor of holding three of these offices at the same time." According to Pauliena B. La-Fuze, who interviewed his daughter, Effie (Morse) Logan, "Henry was an absent father to the point of neglect, but the children seemed to turn out OK anyway." Being away from his family for long periods of time, up in the mountains or elsewhere, could easily be recognized as a behavioral pattern learned from his father. Just before his father's
101.'Deeds, Book L, 360-361. San Bemardino County Archives.
104.Henry Morse. "Pioneer Is Gone," San Bernardino Daily Sun (April 26, 1906), California Room, Norman F. Feldheym Central Library, San Bernardino, California.
105.Luther A. Ingersoll,Ingersoll's Century Annals of San Bernardino County, 1769-1904 (Los Angeles: privately printed by the author, 1904), 689.
106.Telephone interview with Pauliena B. LaFuze by Michael S. Riggs, March 28. 1996. Mrs LaFuze said that her interview with Effie (Morse) Logan occurred sometime in the 1960s and despite her age, Effie "still had some red hair when she saw her" and she danced a "jig" for her as they did at the old-time mountain parties when Effie was young.
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RLDS mission to Salt Lake City in 1870, Henry and his one and only wife, Emma (Taft) Morse, became members of the Reorganized Church. By 1889, however, his membership record says he was expelled; his wife's simply said "Cut off" with no date. Henry and Emma will be revisited as important figures later in this study.
In 1901, Salley (Bissell) Church sent a letter to San Bernardino and requested information about her half brother Justus Morse's oldest son, Harvey. Of Morse's three children who joined the RLDS Church, Harvey was the first (1867). Harvey, who was born in 1833, just two weeks after his parents first joined the Mormon Church in Pennsylvania, would not have had an easy childhood. His parents moved frequently, to Missouri, Illinois, and Utah, because of their devotion to their faith—all by the time he was seventeen years old. Harvey Morse apparently had a more serious problem as well. On April 13, 1852, in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hosea Stout's journal recorded, "John Kay and others gave Harvey Morse 39 hard lashes (to day [crossed out]) last night for frequently attempting to rape two little girls not six years old. He had materially injured the girls." After his arrival in San Bernardino, however, no extant court records show any further legal actions against Harvey Morse for any similar offenses.
In the 1860 census, Harvey's occupation was listed as "laborer" and in 1870 as an "Adobe Maker." In 1875, Harvey's oldest son and namesake died at the age of sixteen. Two years later, Harvey filed for divorce from his wife Louisa C. Morse (known as Eliza) of twenty years, charging her with abandonment and denying him sexual intercourse. She denied the charges and no judgment in the case was ever
107.Members RLDS General Membership Records for San Bernardino Branch, Book B-3. record nos. 283 and 289. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
108.Enclosed in a letter to "Elbert & Clara [Cochran] Smith" dated March 10, 1901, an undated note from "Grandma Church" (Salley E. Church). Lynn Smith Papers P78-2, f49. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
109.Members RLDS General Membership Records for San Bernardino Branch, Book B-3. record no. 139. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
110.Juanita Brooks, editor.On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout 1844-1861, vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, r.p.1982), 435. While the rest of Justus Morse's family appear to have come to San Bernardino with him in 1851, Harvey must not have. He also fails to be listed on the "California Census of 1852, Including Los Angeles County," vol. Ill "Copied under the direction of the Genealogical Records Committee of the Daughters of the American Revolution of California, 1934."
111.Mary L. Lewis, copier. "1860 Federal Census, San Bernardino County, California," 25. California Room, Norman F. Feldheym Central Library, San Bernardino, California.
112.Print out of 1870 Federal Census for San Bernardino Township, 16.
113.Mary Lewis (sextons records), "Old Pioneer Cemetery, San Bernardino, California," 62.
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made. Eliza and Harvey remained married another twenty-two years until her death in 1899. Eliza was considered a faithful member of the RLDS Church at the time of her passing, while Harvey had been expelled (for no specified reason) sometime before and was not."
Finally, the remaining four children—who, while born into an LDS home, choose to not remain in the Utah Church and never joined the RLDS movement—were: Caroline Eliza (dark) Durfee, Charles E. Morse, Justus (Jesse) Morse Jr., and Hiram Morse. Caroline was the oldest daughter of Betsy (Towne, dark) Morse and a stepdaughter to Justus. She was already about eleven years old when Betsy and Justus married around 1832. She married Edmund Durfee Jr., and they named their first son after Caroline's natural father, Russell Kilborn dark. Indications are that after the expulsion from Missouri, Caroline and Edmund also settled near her mother and stepfather in McDonough County, Illinois. Caroline and Edmund were taken through the Endowment ceremony in the Nauvoo Temple and then, a week later, were celestially sealed as husband and wife in late January 1846. Despite all this, however, they never immigrated any further West than Nebraska. In 1870, Justus wrote to his half sister Salley that Caroline lived in Nebraska "not far from Omaha" and that she had "lost her husband and is not married again." Caroline lived on until January 20, 1901, dying at Salem, Nebraska.
Of all of Justus Morse's children, Charles E. is the biggest mystery. Justus failed to mention him either in his 1869 or 1870 letters to his sister, Salley (Bissell) Church. Charles appeared on both the special 1852 Census for Los Angeles County (as an eight-year-old who was born in Missouri) and the 1860
114.18th District Court Case #569, Morse vs. Morse, (1875). San Bemardino County Archives.
115.Burials and Removals, Bk. 6. 1-500. 1895-1902, 368. #1992-2/4. San Bemardino County Archives.
116.Obituary for Eliza C. Morse, Saints Herald 46, no. 33 (August 16, 1899). 536.
117.''Members RLDS General Membership Records for San Bemardino Branch, Book B-3. record no. 139. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
118.Infobases Inc.. LDS Collectors Library: Early LDS Membership Data, search on Clark, Caroline Eliza and Durfee, Edmund Jr.
119.Edmund Durfee Jr.'s Missouri redress petition was sworn before J.M. Campbell, C.C.C.C., of McDonough County, Dlinois on January 4, 1840, see dark V. Johnson (editor). Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833-1838 Missouri Conflict (Provo, Utah: Religious Study Center, Brigham Young University, 1992), 441-442. This was where Justus and Betsy first settled after leaving Missouri and stayed there through the winter of that same year.
120.Infobases Inc., LDS Collectors Library: Early LDS Membership Data, search on Clark, Caroline Eliza and Durfee, Edmund Jr.
121.1870 letter. According to membership data cited above, Edmund Durfee Jr., died in 1861 at Winnebago, Nebraska.
122.Infobases Inc., LDS Collectors Library: Early LDS Membership Data, search on Clark, Caroline Eliza.
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San Bernardino County Census (as fifteen years old, having been born in Ohio). Both entries would put his birth year in the 1844 or 1845 time frame. The problem is fitting the birth date and place (either Missouri or Ohio) with a known wife of Justus Morse. The only possible named wife that might fit would be Betsy (Towne, Clark) Morse. She died, however, in March of 1845 in Illinois, while Justus was serving his above-mentioned mission in Ohio. While it was possible for her to have traveled with him at the beginning of his mission (as a pregnant woman), had Charles, returned home alone, and then died before Justus returned, it does not seem probable. It was possible Charles might well have been the consequence of one of Morse's additional plural marriages in which he was participating during 1843-1844. In 1900, Morse's step-granddaughter wrote from San Bernardino, Bro. Jasper Wixom was up a while yesterday afternoon ... I asked him about the Morses. I found out more* from him than any one else I have enquired of. He says he knew grandpa Morse as well as he knew his own father. Then he told the names of all the sons. He said Charles was dead but the rest were living.We know. therefore, that Charles E. Morse did exist, but that he existed raises intriguing questions about Justus Morse's polygamist marriages during the Nauvoo period. Jesse and Hiram Morse were both sons of Nancy (Pratt) and Justus Morse. Both lived all their lives in San Bernardino, were quite poor, and suffered greatly as a result of their upbringing. As with Henry, the impact of their father's Mor-monism(s) on their lives will be farther explored in the next section.
One can imagine with a devilish grin a hypothetical Morse family reunion picnic where LDS Apostle Francis M. Lyman might have come bringing his wives (including Justus' step-granddaughter) and across from them passing the johnny-cake would have been seated RLDS First Presidency member Elbert A. Smith, with his one and only wife, Clara (Cochran) Smith (grand niece by blood, but who called Morse "grandpa" because of his last marriage to her father's mother). Also, at this mythical gathering, would have been two sons-in-laws and LDS stake presidents playing horseshoes with a former RLDS branch president brother-in-law and a stepson who was cashier of the Herald Publishing House. "What a disaster," you might remark. Not really: the research indicates that "blood was truly thicker than church affiliation." For example, in 1895, his LDS sympathetic son, Joseph Riley Morse, wrote his staunchly RLDS "Aunt Salley" telling her what "a great deal" his father thought of her and then added, "I would like very much to have the pleasure of seeing you and talking concerning our family."
124.Clara (Cochran) Smith to Mabel (Church) Cochran. Elbert A. And Clara Smith papers, P78-2, f46. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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Clara (Cochran) Smith provided a first hand account of this type of experience while accompanying her new husband, Elbert A. Smith, between 1900 and 1902 on his RLDS mission to San Bernardino, California. Clara wrote some remarkable letters home to Lamoni, Iowa, which included insightful information about both Morse's siblings (and their families) and some of his children that remained after his departure from California. Justus had left San Bernardino thirty years before, but a few old timers were willing to enlighten Clara about him:
"I asked one man, a Bro. In the Church [RLDS], if he knew anything about the Morses, and before he knew that I was any relation & how related, He spoke of Justus i e Grandpa, & said that he was a polygamist."
Apparently the revelation that "grandpa was a polygamist" was genuinely a surprise to Clara. This reveals something about how Morse was portrayed by his RLDS family. In his 1869 letter to his RLDS sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, he in no uncertain terms discloses many of his experiences living plural marriage, yet this information became suppressed as general knowledge by the third generation. Despite Clara's newfound discovery and even later disclosures to the contrary, RLDS mythology debunking Morse's polygamist background prevailed until very recently.
During her two-year stay in California, Clara became acquainted with three of Morse's sons who lived near her and Elbert. Henry, born in 1851, and his wife Emma (Taft) Morse, were lapsed RLDS members, but still managed to become close to Clara and Elbert. Henry's daughter. Ivy, even traveled back to Lamoni, Iowa, with Clara's younger sister, Cora, for a vacation. As this trip was being planned, Cora wrote her mother from San Bernardino:
"...Morses said she could come east so maybe she will come when I do. She [Emma (Taft) Morse] wanted me to write to you & see if you cared for her coming. I told her the very idea. I told her she would be as much to home at our place as Clara & I do up there. Clara told her the same, & she is wild to come. When she was eating supper she got so excited she kept dropping melon she couldn't hit the hole in her face, ..."
Cora, who had been visiting Clara to keep her older sister from getting too homesick, provided this interesting insight about both Justus and his son when she wrote, "He [Henry Morse] is a funny man & laughs like Grandpa Morse." In another letter, Clara responds to her mother's request that she get to know Emma (Taft) Morse better:
"I do not know how I could. I went up & stayed all night once while Elbert was away. And I iron a half day each week for her. would not be surprised if I have to iron two half days this week. I like her very much.
126.Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f46. dated 30 September 1900. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
127.Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers. P78-2, f52. n.d. [circa 13 Aug. 1901] Community of ChristLibrary-Archives.
128.Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, £52. n.d. [circa 13 August 1901] Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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But she says she never speaks to Jess [Justus Morse, Jr.] or Hyrum on the Streets, [sic] Jess lives with an indian or mexican or something. Hyrum has a room of Mrs. Morses mother [Sarah Tafl], & batches. He helps Mrs Morse (Emma) wash. I get to see him when I go there to iron. I can not help feeling sorry for him. His wife proved untrue to him & run away with another man. He thinks his father should have sent him to school when he was a boy, but no, his father thought it was not necessary. Clara's opinion of the two sons who never joined the RLDS Church, i.e. Justus Jr. and Hiram, was apathy bordering on contempt, and pity, respectively. A full reading of her letters from this period shows that Clara exhibited a distinct behavioral pattern. When told something negative about a person she had not yet met, Clara would form an unfavorable opinion about the individual until direct contact was made, whereupon she usually reversed herposition. Mirroring the sentiments of his younger half brother, Hiram, Joseph Riley Morse likewise regretted his lack of education and complained his father moved around so much he was unable to attend school.
Writing at the time of her initial meeting with Henry's wife Emma, Clara informed her parents in November of 1900,
"Their sister Ann [Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes] was visiting here in the spring. I believe her home is in Ariz. Mrs. M[orse]. said she Ann, enquired about the folks back east.
She belongs to the Utah Church, her husband is a missionary. She used to urge her husband to get another wife, she thought he was not doing his duty by not complying. but now she says she is glad he never got another wife.
Mrs. M[orse]. Said to give her kind regards to you all. She was quite familure [sic] with the name Sallie E. Church."This passage clearly demonstrated the contention that blood
129.Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f48. dated March 4, 1901. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
130.Clara Smith's disapproving comment about Jesse Morse's significant other being either an "indian or mexican" had a racist tone. In a July 21,1900, letter, she used the term "darkey" to refer to a group of blacks holding a picnic. Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f45. Later in October of that same year, she wrote, "I went to a colored barber & had a shampoo after we got home from the Mts. He is a fine man though, his wife belongs to our church. He shaves E.[lbert] & cuts his hair for nothing." Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f46. Community of Christ Library-Archives. Clara was clearly a product of her racist times, but does not seem to have been malicious in her intent.
131.For example, on August 24, 1900, Clara Smith wrote her Mother (Mabel Cochran), "Bro. Wixom does not speak very highly of any of the boys [Morse's sons] that live around here. He says that Riley lives in Ariz." Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers, P78-2, f46. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
133.'Elbert A. and Clara Smith Papers. P78-2, f46. November 13, 1900. Community of Christ Library-Archives. Clara provides another clue for Collins Rowe Hakes not having been a polygamist when she told her parents that Iva Morse, who had been living in Arizona, and had visited Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes, reported that they "were awful poor, Ann is grandpa's daughter you know." Lynn Smith Papers. P78-2, f50, 7, dated June 10, 1901. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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was thicker than church affiliation and also the myth-making that made it possible. Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes was the daughter of Justus and Elizabeth (Towne) Morse. She was an extremely active Mormon living in Arizona where she served as stake Relief Society president for many years while her husband, Col-lins Rowe Hakes, was Maricopa Stake president. That she "enquired about the folks back east" meant she was interested in keeping in touch with her father's RLDS family members.
Note also the "all's well that ends well" post-Manifesto retrospective approach to Collins Hakes' not becoming a polygamist. This does not explain, however, why Hakes' sixth daughter, Harriet Jane, became the plural wife of Benjamin Julius Johnson only a year before the famous 1890 "Manifesto." This would suggest that while he himself was not a polygamist, Collins Hakes was clearly not as opposed to the principle as Clara Smith's RLDS-filtered bias would have allowed herself to believe.
One last example from the Clara Smith letters from California further illustrates the ability relatives have in overcoming religious differences. Mida (Sloat) Gurley, the daughter of Lois (Bissell) Sloat (youngest half-sister of Justus Morse), was mentioned above as being the wife of Eddie Gurley. When Zenas H. Gurley Jr. made his final break with the RLDS Church in 1886, his mother Margaret, wife Gracie, brother Eddie, and sister-in-law Mida also withdrew their memberships. Following his withdrawal from the RLDS Church, Eddie preached locally for a time attempting to justify the "Gurley" position to the Saints and was not received well by the majority. Eddie and Mida later moved to Calpella, California, where in December of 1900 Eddie joined the Christian Church and was expected to "go preaching again." Earlier that same year, Clara and Elbert Smith had made a point of visiting them while en route to San Bernardino.
What Clara wrote to her mother, Mabel (Church) Cochran, of her visit with her cousin failed to reveal the enormous religious differences that existed between them. Clara's words only reflect the touching reunion of long-absent family members yearning to be close again. She wrote:
"I was sorry indeed to find Eddie quite deaf. Mida is some fleshier than when she left Lamoni. And of course both are grayer. After I got here Mida sat down to visit with me a few minutes, and she said she was so in hopes you [Mabel (Church) Cochran] would come with me, she said it did really seem as though you might have come, she would like to see you so much. I noticed her eyes were getting damp and she
135.History of the RLDS Church, vol. 4, 524-525. Margaret Gurley (widow of Zenos H. Gurley Sr.), according to Pearl Wilcox, Regathering of the Scattered Saints in Wisconsin and Illinois (Independence, Missouri: Pearl Wilcox, 1984), 158, later rejoined the RLDS Church and died in the faith.
136.See for example.Saints Herald, vol. 34, no. 7 (Feb. 12, 1887): 106-109.
137.Goldie Gurley to Clara Smith, December 7, 1900. Lynn Smith Papers P78-2. f49. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
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made some excuse to leave the room."
In a letter from home shortly thereafter, Clara and Elbert were told: I was especially glad to hear your opinion of E.H. Gurley's folks. I was afraid Eddie would be so "Mormon"-soured that he would say or do something which would make your stay unpleasant. I am heartily glad he did not. He always was a generous soul—that will be to his credit when he gets before the judgement seat.'
Amazing as it was that Brighamites could be tolerated and even be cared for, even more astounding was the affection shown to RLDS apostates, all in the name of family. Indeed, blood was thicker than church.
After more than twenty years, Justus was reacquainted by letter with his RLDS siblings while he was living in San Bernardino, California, in 1869. In this letter, Morse recounts major events in his life which he had experienced since he had last seen them in 1845 (including polygamy). Later it was remembered how happy they were to learn how Justus had "became convinced that he had been in error, so he set about to correct his error so far as he could." What they were referring to was the fact that Justus Morse had not just known about plural marriage but had actually lived it. This left him "tainted" in their eyes. Worse yet, in view of the emerging second generational RLDS theologies, having practiced polygamy in pre-1844 Nauvoo made Morse completely taboo. In unpublished research notes, RLDS historian Inez Smith Davis referred to Morse's relationship in his polygamous marriages as "slightly nauseating marital adventures."
In 1937, Justus Morse's nephew wrote a genealogy for the Bissell family wherein he completely distorts his uncles' plural marriages in order to sanitize the family history. He was indeed gracious in acknowledging Morse's 1844-45 mission that converted his parents, but cleverly rearranged vital wife/children groupings to make them appear monogamous. On the other side of the scale, however, the Utah Mormon relations through Justus' daughter Mabel Ann (Morse) Hakes were equally remiss in recounting his story. In 1952, a family history was printed which borrows heavily from the (RLDS written) 1937 Bissell data discussed above for its information on Morse. There is no doubt from a textual criticism standpoint that the source for the latter comes from the former (same stories and even wording), except for being altered to give it a distinct Utah flare. There is no mention, for example, of Justus converting to the Reorganization; only that "he later
138.Clara to Mother. 26 June 1900, P78-2, f45. Also see Clara to Cochran Family, 5 July 1900. P78-2, f45, 2. Community of Christ Library-Archives.
139.Lynn Smith Papers, P78-2. f49, Lamoni, Iowa, 19 July 1900, "Dear Brother Elbert from your brother Frank."
140.Church, Bissell, 38-41.
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Asa and Mabel Cochran, Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary
Gathering in 1916 for Asa Cochran and Mabel (Church) Cochran-daughter of Horace and Sally (Bissell) Church-in Lamoni, Iowa. Of the "over sixty relatives" in attendance that day, all could point to "Uncle" Justus Morse as the common denominator in coming to their RLDS faith. Seated in the wicker chair on left is Almira (Barnes, Cochran) Morse, aged 95, the last of Justus' nine probable wives. Asa and Mabel Cochran are seated next to each other on the right side.
went on back to Iowa and spent the remainder of his life."
Dealing unaffectedly with the life of Justus Morse was problematic from either the faithful RLDS or LDS perspective. Although his allegiance in the end was with the Reorganized Church, they viewed him like a man who tried to wash his hands but never could get them clean. In Utah Mormon circles, Morse was an apostate and traitor to his church for breaking his "oath as a Danite." Rather than openly opposing their brother or father, however, both Josephite and Brighamite branches of the family tended to covertly avoid his warts and remembered Morse in the best terms possible. Here again, basic textual criticism methodologies have been a useful tool in understanding what family members later wrote about Justus Morse. This approach is similar to how recent scholars sift through the Bible to go beyond
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traditional understandings about the historical Jesus. At first glance, the things written about Morse by his family and friends seem to be favorable, even kind. After a closer examination of the texts, however, a restrained praise is often detected. For example, in his 1895 letter to his Aunt Salley (Bissell) Church, Joseph Riley Morse wrote of his father, "He was a good man. His word was as good as his note any place we ever lived, and he was a hard-working man. I know God will save all such men. I have no fear for him." This is clearly an apologetic appraisal of his father's life when compared to his mother (who died a year before the exodus from Nauvoo) whom he extolled as "an exceptionally good woman. Everyone who knew her says so."
In response to Richard P. Howard's 1983 John Whitmer Historical Association address entitled "The Changing RLDS Response to Mormon Polygamy: A Preliminary Analysis," Lynn Smith, son of Elbert A. and Clara (Cochran) Smith (which made him a great-grandson of both Joseph Smith Jr. and Justus Morse), wrote a letter to the local newspaper stating his opinion that Joseph Smith was not involved in plural marriage. His strongest evidence for defending Joseph Smith's "innocence" was based on the myth making of his grandmother Clara Hartshorn Smith. Lynn Smith wrote, "My grandmother was a part of my father's family, living with us both in Lamoni and later in Independence. In her quiet way, she bore her testimony that her husband's father neither taught nor practiced polygamy."
In spite of all the documentary evidence Lynn Smith preserved, either in his own papers (recently donated to the RLDS Library-Archives) or through other readily available sources, showing his other great grandfather's involvement in Nauvoo polygamy, it confirms the power and importance of myth to sustain belief systems. Faith promoting "truths" about the dearly departed came through stories of omission and commission that resulted in myth making. Over time, the mythology representing Morse as the seed planter in the RLDS tradition--or the Morse who did "good things" and then simply faded away to Iowa, from the LDS prospective—has allowed descendants to feel good about their ancestor, about their Mormonism(s), and about each other.
142.Three works by Burton L. Mack are excellent examples: A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988), The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), and Who Wrote The New Testament?: The Making of The Christian Myth (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).
144.The Examiner (Tuesday, November 8, 1983): 4. Clipping located in the Lynn Smith Papers. P78-3, f74. Community of Christ Library-Archives.