Lorin C. Woolley

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Lorin C. Woolley
Woolley in 1882
Woolley in 1882
Senior Member of the Priesthood Council
December 13, 1928 (1928-12-13) – September 19, 1934 (1934-09-19)
Predecessor John W. Woolley
Successor J. Leslie Broadbent (AUB)[1]
John Y. Barlow (FLDS Church)[2][3]
Personal details
Born Lorin Calvin Woolley
(1856-10-23)October 23, 1856
Great Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, U.S.
Died September 19, 1934(1934-09-19) (aged 77)
Centerville, Utah, U.S.
Resting place Centerville City Cemetery
40°54′47″N 111°52′05″W / 40.913°N 111.868°W / 40.913; -111.868 (Centerville City Cemetery)
Spouse Sarah Ann Roberts,
Goulda Kmetzsch,
possibly others
Children 9
Parents John W. Woolley
Julia Searles Ensign
Signature  
Lorin C. Woolley sig.png

Lorin Calvin Woolley (October 23, 1856 – September 19, 1934) was an American proponent of plural marriage and one of the founders of the Mormon fundamentalist movement. As a young man in Utah Territory, Woolley served as a courier and bodyguard for polygamous leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in hiding during the federal crusade against polygamy. His career as a religious leader in his own right commenced in the early twentieth century, when he began claiming to have been set apart to keep plural marriage alive by church president John Taylor in connection with the 1886 Revelation.[4][5] Woolley's distinctive teachings on authority, morality, and doctrine are thought to provide the theological foundation for nearly ninety percent of Mormon fundamentalist groups.[6]

Early life[edit]

Woolley was the third child of Mormon pioneer John W. Woolley and his first wife, Julia Searles Ensign. His paternal grandfather was Bishop Edwin D. Woolley, a close friend of Brigham Young.[7] According to LDS Church records, Woolley was baptized a member of the church by his father on October 18, 1868, aged eleven, and ordained an elder by John Lyon on March 10, 1873.[8] Nicknamed "Noisy," the boisterous young Woolley frequently dominated ward Elders Quorum discussions.[9] Late in life, he would claim to have received his endowments and been ordained an apostle by Brigham Young on March 20, 1870, aged thirteen.[10]

On January 5, 1883, Woolley married Sarah Ann Roberts in the Endowment House on Temple Square. They had nine children together between 1883 and 1905: seven sons and two daughters.[11]

Woolley served as a Mormon missionary in the Southern United States from October 31, 1887, to October 6, 1889.[12] Shortly thereafter, he was called to the Seventieth Quorum of the Seventy in Centerville, Utah, and served a second four month mission to Indian Territory from December 6, 1896, to April 6, 1897.[13] In 1922, Woolley related a spiritual experience that had allegedly taken place during his first mission, wherein he fell deathly ill and only recovered after the resurrected Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor intervened on his behalf.[14][15]

Plural marriage[edit]

Between October 1886 and February 1887, Woolley served as a mail carrier for LDS Church leaders hiding from state authorities during the crackdown on Mormon polygamy.[16] During this time, church authorities frequently stayed at the Woolley home in Centerville, Utah.[17]

On October 6, 1912, Woolley wrote the first known account of the reception of the 1886 Revelation, an enigmatic document in the handwriting of Church President John Taylor. The revelation (first brought to public attention during the excommunication trial of John W. Taylor, the President's son, an apostle who had refused to accept the cessation of polygamy) declared firmly that the Lord had not revoked "the New and Everlasting Covenant" (plural marriage) — "nor will I, for it is everlasting." According to Woolley, Taylor had written the document after being visited by the resurrected Joseph Smith, founder of the church, at his father's home in September 1886. Woolley frequently reiterated this account for the remainder of his life, adding additional details over time. The version which has assumed canonical status among Mormon fundamentalists was compiled by Joseph W. Musser in 1929, and includes the claim that Smith's appearance was followed by an "eight hour meeting" on September 27, 1886, at which President Taylor put five men (Woolley and his father, George Q. Cannon, Samuel Bateman, and Charles Henry Wilcken) under covenant to ensure that "no year passed by without children being born in the principle of plural marriage." According to Woolley, these five men, together with Taylor himself and later Lorenzo Snow or Joseph F. Smith, comprised a seven man "Council of Friends" holding apostolic authority above that of the LDS Church. This doctrinal claim gave hierarchical structure to the nascent fundamentalist movement, until that time an informal association of LDS dissidents. Woolley's father, the aged John W. Woolley, a Salt Lake Temple sealer, was considered spiritual head of the organization. The elder Woolley was excommunicated from the LDS Church for performing plural marriages in April 1914.[18]

Woolley was excommunicated from the LDS Church in January 1924 for alleging that Church President Heber J. Grant and apostle James E. Talmage had taken plural wives "in the recent past." Woolley variously claimed that he had learned of such behavior because he was employed by the United States Secret Service to spy on LDS Church leaders or because he had been commissioned by Brigham Young "to learn of and keep track of activities pertaining to the battle for and against the fullness of the gospel, including Plural Marriage."[19] The official reason for his excommunication was that he was "found guilty of pernicious falsehood."[16][20] Grant publicly denied Woolley's claims in a General Conference of the church in April 1931.[21]

Mormon fundamentalist leader[edit]

Four members of Woolley's 1929 Council. Clockwise: Charles Zitting, Joseph Musser, John Y. Barlow, and Louis Kelsch.

Most Mormon fundamentalists believe that, upon his father's death on December 13, 1928, Woolley succeeded him as senior member of the Council of Friends, and thus "President of the Priesthood" or Prophet. Between March 6, 1929, and January 26, 1933, Woolley ordained six new members to the Council, designating them "apostles and patriarchs to all the world": J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow, Joseph W. Musser, Charles F. Zitting, Dr. LeGrand Woolley, and Louis A. Kelsch, Jr. From at least December 1933, when Lorin Woolley was critically ill, Leslie Broadbent was designated his "Second Elder" and successor.[22] Woolley observed, "Brother Leslie, you are to me as Oliver Cowdery was to the Prophet Joseph Smith, before Oliver Cowdery apostatized."[23] Despite Woolley's appointment, some contemporary fundamentalist groups, such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), believe that he was succeeded as Prophet by John Y. Barlow.[3]

Although Anderson finds evidence for only two marriages of Lorin Woolley, one to Sarah Ann Roberts in 1883 and another to Goulda Kmetzch in 1932, Woolley himself claimed to have "five wives living" in April 1933.[24] Some of his followers, notably Lynn L. Bishop, have attempted to resolve this discrepancy by speculating that Woolley was married to at least three of his own first cousins, who otherwise appear to have remained single either until Woolley's death or throughout their lives. Potential candidates in this regard include Alice May, Sarah Viola, Lucy, and Elnora Woolley, whom Bishop argues had married Lorin by at least 1915.[25] Bishop also notes the possibility of Woolley having wed an anonymous wife in the Yucatán Peninsula, where he claimed to have been divinely "translated" or teleported on at least one occasion.[26]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hales, Brian C. "J. Leslie Broadbent". mormonfundamentalism.com. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Offical website of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: President Lorin C. Woolley at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2008)
  3. ^ a b Jeffs (1997, p. 243).
  4. ^ Altman & Ginat (1996, pp. 43-44).
  5. ^ Driggs (1990, p. 40).
  6. ^ Hales (2006, p. 433).
  7. ^ Parkinson (1967, p. 313).
  8. ^ LDS Church Membership Records, South Davis Stake, cited in Anderson (1979, p. 145).
  9. ^ Centerville Fifth Ward Elders Quorum minutes, cited in Anderson (1979).
  10. ^ Musser (n.d., p. 10)
  11. ^ Parkinson (1967, pp. 313-14).
  12. ^ Missionary Book B, p. 97, no. 236, LDS Church History Department, cited in Anderson (1979, p. 145).
  13. ^ Missionary Book C, p. 38, no. 741, LDS Church History Department, cited in Anderson (1979, p. 145).
  14. ^ Journal of Joseph W. Musser, April 9, 1922.
  15. ^ Musser (n.d., pp. 10-11)
  16. ^ a b Brian C. Hales, "'I Love to Hear Him Talk and Rehearse': The Life and Teachings of Lorin C. Woolley", Mormon History Association, 2003.
  17. ^ Driggs (1990, p. 40) ("The Woolley home was a favorite stop for [John] Taylor. He often met there with other Church leaders to conduct Church business.")
  18. ^ Driggs (2005, p. 67-68).
  19. ^ Bishop (1998, p. 170).
  20. ^ James E. Talmage Correspondence File, January 18, 1924, LDS Church History Department, cited in Anderson (1979, p. 146).
  21. ^ One-Hundred and First Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: 1931), 10.
  22. ^ Journal of Joseph W. Musser, September 30, 1934.
  23. ^ Laura Tree Zitting, The Life of Charles Frederick Zitting: One of God's Noble Men (Privately published: 1988), 65.
  24. ^ Musser (n.d., pp. 33-35).
  25. ^ Bishop (1998, pp. 194-195).
  26. ^ Bishop (1998, p. 202).

References[edit]

  • Altman, Irwin; Ginat, Joseph (1996), Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society, Cambridge University Press .
  • Anderson, J. Max (1979), The Polygamy Story: Fiction and Fact, Publishers Press .
  • Bishop, Lynn L. (1998), The 1886 Visitations of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith to John Taylor: The Centerville Meetings, Utah: Latter Day Publications .
  • Driggs, Ken (1990). "Fundamentalist Attitudes toward the Church: The Sermons of Leroy S. Johnson". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23: 39-60. .
  • Driggs, Ken (2005). "Imprisonment, Defiance, and Division: A History of Mormon Fundamentalism in the 1940s and 1950s". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38 (1): 65-95. .
  • Hales, Brian C. (2006), Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto, Sandy, Utah: Greg Kofford Books .
  • Jeffs, Rulon T. (1997), History of Priesthood Succession in the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times and Some Challenges to the One Man Rule, Hildale, Utah: Twin City Courier Press .
  • Musser, Joseph W. (n.d.), Items from a Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, privately published .
  • Parkinson, Preston W. (1967), The Utah Woolley Family, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press .

External links[edit]

Mormon fundamentalist titles
Preceded by
John Wickersham Woolley
Senior Member of the Priesthood Council
December 13, 1928 - September 19, 1934
Succeeded by
Joseph Leslie Broadbent