Short Creek Community

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Short Creek Community
Colorado City schoolhouse.JPG
Schoolhouse of the Community and site of the 1953 Short Creek Raid
Classification Restorationist
Orientation Latter Day Saint movement
Theology Mormon fundamentalism
Polity Hierarchical
Headquarters Short Creek, Arizona, U.S.
Founder Lorin C. Woolley
Origin March 6, 1929
Separated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Separations Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints;
Apostolic United Brethren

The Short Creek Community (known as the Woolley Group before 1935)[1][2] was one of the original expressions of Mormon fundamentalism, having its origins in the teachings of Lorin C. Woolley, a dairy farmer excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in 1924. Woolley taught that, shortly after having received the 1886 Revelation on plural marriage, LDS Church President John Taylor had set apart five men, including himself and his father John W. Woolley, to ensure that the practice of polygamy would continue into perpetuity even if abandoned by the Church. To that end, Woolley extended the same apostolic authority to a seven-man "Council of Friends" between 1929 and 1933.[3]

Following the death of Woolley in September 1934 and of his Second Elder J. Leslie Broadbent six months later, the leadership of the Group fell to John Y. Barlow. In May 1935, Barlow and his fellow Friends sent a handful of followers to the small ranching town of Short Creek in the Arizona Strip (now Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah), with the express purpose of building "a branch of the Kingdom of God."[4] Barlow believed that the isolated Creek could provide a place of refuge for those engaging in the covert practice of polygamy, a felony; within a month, the town's population more than doubled.

After the failure of an attempted communal "United Trust" in 1935, the Group, particularly Apostle Rulon Jeffs, an accountant, worked to develop the "United Effort Plan" (UEP), intended to prepare the way for the collectivist United Order described by Mormon founder Joseph Smith. The UEP was incorporated on November 9, 1942.[5]

By 1944, the illicit activities of the Group, now boasting about 2,500 members,[6] had come to the attention of LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, who agreed to cooperate with state and federal authorities in a multi-state raid intended to wipe out polygamy. In the 1944 raid, forty-six Community adults were accused of "unlawful cohabitation" and similar crimes, of whom fifteen ultimately received state prison sentences and nine federal prison sentences, with two, Charles Zitting and David Darger, receiving both.[7][8][9][10]

The group was notorious for the practice of polygamy due to media coverage during the "Short Creek raids" of 1945 and 1953. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) later developed in the same geographical region and changed the name to Colorado City and Hildale to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.[11]

After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups. Those were the FLDS Church, which stayed in Short Creek, and the Apostolic United Brethren which relocated to Bluffdale, Utah.

Short Creek leaders[edit]

The following are the leaders of the Short Creek Community.[12][13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Religious Sects, and Cults That Sprang from Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers Central Company, 1942).
  2. ^ Joseph W. Musser, "Factions," Truth 9, no. 24 (September 1943): 94-96.
  3. ^ Brian C. Hales, "'I Love to Hear Him Talk and Rehearse': The Life and Teachings of Lorin C. Woolley", Mormon History Association, 2003.
  4. ^ Diary of Joseph Lyman Jessop, vols. 1-3 (privately published, 2000).
  5. ^ Bistline (2004, p. 114)
  6. ^ "Fundamentalist Polygamists," Newsweek, March 20, 1944, 86.
  7. ^ "50 Taken in Raids to End Polygamy," New York Times, March 8, 1944, 21.
  8. ^ "Forty-Six Seized in Three-State Polygamy Drive," Salt Lake Tribune, March 8, 1944, 1.
  9. ^ Ivan Neilsen, ed., Autobiography of Saint Joseph White Musser: A Brief Sketch of the Life, Labors and Faith of Saint Joseph White Musser (N.p.: n.d.), January 20 and March 10, 1947, 305-6.
  10. ^ "Nine Cultists Given Terms," Arizona Republic, June 8, 1944, 4.
  11. ^ Zoellner, Tom (June 28, 1998), "Polygamy: Throughout its history, Colorado City has been home for those who believe in virtues of plural marriage", The Salt Lake Tribune: J1, Archive Article ID: 100F28A4D3D36BEC (NewsBank), archived from the original on 2000-05-05 
  12. ^ Hales, Brian C (2009). "Questions regarding the described 1886 ordinations". Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "Official website of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Hales, Brian C (2009). "Fundamentalist leadership succession chart". Retrieved 1 April 2010. 


  • Bistline, Benjamin J. (February 2004), The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona, Agreka Books, ISBN 1-8881-0674-3 .
  • Bradley, Martha Sontag (1996) [1993], Kidnapped from That Land: The Government Raids on the Short Creek Polygamists, Publications in Mormon studies, v. 9, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0585272123, OCLC 45728295