Over the past few months, and quite honestly years, I have been writing several books on growing up in polygamy. Unlike most other books on the subject of polygamy that are from the viewpoint of an adult, my books are based on the story of my childhood; what I personally saw, felt and experienced as a child in a closed community and my experience with the real world as I became more exposed to outside expectations.
As part of my research I wanted not only to share my perspective but also provide facts regarding how and why my community was created. My desire for more detail including specific dates led me to Dorothy Allred Solomon’s book “Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk”. Although Dorothy changed most of the names in her book I did recognize many of the family members she mentioned. This book was a great read, not just for research about my community, but for getting to know the history of polygamy in the Mormon Church and how it evolved into the fundamentalist movement it has become today.
I also stumbled across a small booklet in a 3 clasp pocket binder while cleaning out my parents’ home after they both passed away. “A Town is Born” is a summary of the history of Pinesdale, Montana that was compiled in 1985 by the Pines Academy 7th grade Montana History Class. The Pinesdale time line was provided by Ruth P. Scott, the town secretary and one of the original founding families of what was then known as The Ranch. This booklet was very enlightening as I discovered that my parents moved onto The Ranch before I was born and not afterward. I had always believed that my parents moved up the hill after they were excommunicated from the Mormon Church. But they were excommunicated from the church because they moved up the hill and were consorting with polygamists.
There have been other books as well, including several regarding the FLDS. I found it fascinating to see the differences between our two communities. As a child I heard about the community “Short Creek” which eventually become Colorado City. Several members of my community had migrated from there. In reading “Escape” by Carolyn Jessop, I discovered that as my childhood community progressed and began allowing outside exposure, education and influence, her community regressed. In Jon Krakauer’s book “Under the Banner of Heaven”, I saw the dark side of the religion I was raised with. None of this is ever openly taught to the young, as we were indoctrinated into only what our parents and leaders wanted us to know. Our violent history and the greater expectations were kept secret and only divulged to those who had proven themselves worthy of learning “higher” principles.
The research to discover the truth behind my roots has been a fascinating and enlightening one as I come closer to understanding why others choose the polygamist lifestyle and why so many choose to remain in it, even when deep within themselves they know what they are being told is not right for them. The key word that runs through all of my research is “fear”.