John Ortell Kingston

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J. Ortell Kingston
Photo of Kingston in the Military
Kingston in the Military
Prophet and Presiding Priesthood Leader
Brother #8[1][2]
July 8, 1948 (1948-07-08)[1] – August 25, 1987 (1987-08-25)
Predecessor Elden Kingston
Successor Paul Elden Kingston
Personal details
Born John Ortell Kingston
(1919-05-19)May 19, 1919
Idaho, United States
Died August 25, 1987(1987-08-25) (aged 68)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Bountiful Memorial Park
40°52′02″N 111°53′15″W / 40.8672°N 111.8874°W / 40.8672; -111.8874 (Bountiful Memorial Park)
Spouse At least thirteen, including:
  LaDonna Peterson
  Marion H. Tucker
  Isabell Johnson
Parents Charles W. Kingston
Vesta Minerva

John Ortell Kingston (May 19, 1919 – August 25, 1987) was the leader of the Latter Day Church of Christ of Mormon fundamentalists in Davis County, Utah, from 1948 until his death in 1987.

Latter Day Church of Christ membership[edit]

J. Ortell Kingston was the son of Charles W. Kingston, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) who was previously excommunicated from the LDS Church on March 4, 1929. Ortell joined his brother's (Elden Kingston) Church shortly after its establishment. When Elden Kingston died unexpectedly in 1948, leadership of the Kingston Clan formally passed from Elden to his brother, Ortell.

In 1977, Ortell formally organized the Latter Day Church of Christ, the church of the Kingston Clan.[3]


Unlike his brother Elden, Ortell aggressively pursued a financially expansive agenda for the Davis County Cooperative Society Inc and the wealth of the Kingston clan grew.[1]

Despite the wealth of the Kingston Clan leaders, the plural wives of leaders have been sometimes found living in almost inhumane conditions, due to the recovery of the Depression.[4] Often wives homes consisted of only small rundown clapboard houses, with peeling paint and broken windows.[5] Connie Rugg (a former member) stated: "The men in the Kingston group do little or nothing to support their many wives and children".[5] Sometimes wives will "go gardening" (scrounging through garbage cans to find food) for themselves and their children.[5]

Ortell evaded taxes and fraudulently obtained welfare by having his wives clam to be ‘single’ mothers.” and that he was not the father of their children. Ortell's holdings were estimated at $70 million. In 1983 the State of Utah sued Ortell Kingston for welfare subsidies his alleged wives had received. While admitting no wrongdoing, Ortell paid the state $250,000 and the case was dropped.[6]

Controversial practices[edit]

Example of Intra-family Marriages within the Kingston Clan
John O. Kingston Jeremy O. Kingston[a]
LaDonna Peterson Lunna Kingston[b]
Mary Gustafson
Charles W. Kingston
Joseph O. Kingston
Clyde Gustafson Lunna Gustafson
Mary Gustafson
Marriage of Jeremy Ortell Kingstona and Aunt/Cousin LuAnn Kingstonb

Ortell was living plural marriage until his death; he had married at least 13 wives and had dozens of children.[7]

Like Elden Kingston, Ortell believed he came from genetically superior ancestry and that he was a direct literal descendant of Jesus Christ. Ortell had worked on a dairy farm owned by the co-op at Woodscross, Davis County, Utah where he reportedly developed theories on genetics that he later decided could be used to purify his own family pedigree.[7][8] Using these theories he implemented practices which encouraged intra-family marriages of close relatives, in order perfect his own bloodline.[7] Those marriages, if discovered, would be considered incestuous under Utah consanguinity laws.[9] Connie Rugg, one of Ortell’s daughters, stated "Ortell Kingston experimented (with) inbreeding with his cattle and then he turned to his children."[8][10]

Ortell also taught child marriage to girls just attaining puberty. Ortell and other members of the Kingston clan, having a "Pure Bloodline", had an advantage over almost any outsider in convincing teenage women, sometimes as young as fourteen, to join their bloodline as part of the polygamous family.[8][11]


Ortell died in 1987 and was living plural marriage until his death. Ortell accumulated at least thirteen wives and dozens of children.[8] Ortell's seven sons from his first wife comprised most of the members of the highest echelon of leadership within the financial conglomerate as well as the primary focus of plural marriage activity within the group.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Hales, Brian C. "John Ortell Kingston"., accessed 2009-06-06
  2. ^ Hales, Brian C. "John Ortell Kingston". Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  3. ^ In 1941, Elden Kingston formally registered the "Davis County Cooperative Society Inc" with the state of Utah. In 1977 J. Ortell Kingston registered "Latter Day Church of Christ" with the state of Utah
  4. ^ Ana Breton, "Polygamist's home found in squalor" Salt Lake Tribune, 11 August 2007
  5. ^ a b c D. Michael Quinn, "Plural Marriage and Mormon Fundamentalism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31(2) (Summer 1998): 1–68, accessed 06 June 2009.
  6. ^ Ray Rivera “Utah Attorneys Key Figures in Polygamist Kingston Clan” Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1998
  7. ^ a b c Greg Burton, "When Incest Becomes a Religious Tenet", Salt Lake Tribune, 25 April 1999
  8. ^ a b c d Moore-Emmett , Andrea. God's Brothel. San Francisco, CA: Pince-Nez Press, 2004, pages 28, 67, 88, 146 & 146
  9. ^ Utah Code: Title 30 Husband and Wife: Chapter 1 Marriage: Section 1 Incestuous marriages void.
  10. ^ Also quoted as, "My father experimented inbreeding with his cattle and then he turned to his children."
  11. ^ Tracy, Kathleen. The Secret Story of Polygamy. Chicago, IL: Sourcebooks, 2001, page 95.
Latter Day Church of Christ
Preceded by
Elden Kingston
Prophet and Presiding Priesthood Leader
Brother #8

July 8, 1948 (1948-07-08) - August 25, 1987 (1987-08-25)
Succeeded by
Paul Elden Kingston