#257 – It’s Official: Mormon Founder Had Up to 40 Wives 964 words
During 1993, I was repainting one of the surviving Mormon buildings in Nauvoo, Illinois. The word Nauvoo means beautiful in Hebrew, and the old settlement is a beautiful place with well-constructed brick buildings and picturesque surroundings.
My third day on the job I worked on the second floor of a brick residence. Over the years, decorators hung new wallpaper over the old. There were so many layers; the paper was as thick as the door and window frames. I used an electric steamer to soften the paper before scraping the wallpaper with a razor knife. The room filled with steam and sweat ran into my eyes. I almost missed the papers rolled up like a scroll and stuck into a hole in the wall.
Whoever put them there must have wallpapered over the hole to hide the location. There were about 20 pages of handwritten text. I threw them in my lunch bucket so they wouldn’t get thrown out.
After dinner that night I began to read, and the contents surprised me.
“I don’t know who I can tell, but someday I want everyone to know what transpired. It all started back in New York when I met Joseph at a revival meeting. We became friends and attended plenty of meetings. One day he told me he saw God the Father, Jesus Christ and others in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization.”
Holy shit! I had a document here that may be worth a fortune to the Mormons. But I’d never heard of any ancient American civilization. Probably bullshit like him seeing God and an angel. I got back to reading.
“I helped him organize the Church of Christ, which later became Latter day Saints. It grew fast, and we moved to Ohio, Missouri, and finally settled here in Illinois. We had to move because Joseph okayed polygamy. It didn’t sit well with me, or Emma, his wife or most people in the surrounding communities.
Especially when he claimed to have dreams of God, who told him to marry other men’s wives. He’d send me to tell them they had to follow God’s will and give up their wives. To a man they refused until after swearing them to secrecy; I convinced them to concede.
But our neighboring Missourian’s actions against us caused us to leave the state. We ended up in Nauvoo Illinois where Joseph ordered the destruction of the Expositor, a newspaper critical of his doctrines. That action turned Illinoisans against us.
I got concerned for his safety when Joseph revealed a plan to establish a millennial Kingdom of God. Then he announced his third-party candidacy for President of the United States. He sealed his doom when he proclaimed that three million people were held as slaves because the spirit in them was covered with a darker skin than ours. He claimed slavery to be unconstitutional. Then he talked about prisons. Hundreds of our kindred are incarcerated in penitentiaries for an infraction while the duelist, the debauchee, and the defaulter of millions, and other criminals, take the upper-most rooms at feasts. Joseph wanted to reduce congressional pay from eight dollars to two dollars per day. He wanted two members of the House of Representatives for every million people
The politicians were afraid. If Joseph didn’t win the presidency this election, he was sure to win the next one. They arranged to put him in jail. While imprisoned, a mob gathered outside the jail and heard that Joseph used religion as a pretext to draw women to Nauvoo, seduce and marry them. I knew that wasn’t true.
On June 27, 1844, an armed mob with blackened faces stormed Carthage Jail and shot Joseph. Many with their faces disguised were assassins hired by politicians to get rid of their competition. Joseph fell from the upper floor of the jail and lay dead in the street where those with blackened faces shot him several more times to be sure he was dead.
I cried myself to sleep that night. Many of us knew the accusations of Joseph wanting to lure woman to his religion was a pretext to recruit men as members. It seemed many men wanted more than one wife, but not Joseph. Though he married others, he never had relations with them.
He sired children with Emma because he believed it his duty. When Joseph and I would awake after a night of lovemaking, he often said, “You’re the only man I’ll ever love.”
The signature on the last page said, “Harold Blackburn.”
I believe in my heart that Mr. Blackburn was sincere when he wrote this. Why else would he have hidden it and covered it with wallpaper?
I didn’t know if I should send it to the Mormon Church and let them authenticate it, send it to the newspapers to cause a scandal, or maybe try to sell it on the internet. I went to sleep figuring I’d decide what to do in the morning, but I woke up laying on a hospital gurney.
A cop in plain clothes was questioning me. He took a break and spoke with his partner for a minute, then turned to me and said, “Why’d you set your motel room on fire?”
“I had a dream.”
“Yeah, what, you dreamed you were cold, so you lit a fire to get warm?”
“No, believe it or not, Joseph Smith appeared in my room. He took me by the hand and led me to the desk where the manuscript lay, handed me a book of matches. His eyes shone with hatred. I became scared and felt compelled to light the pages on fire. Next thing I knew, I woke up here.”