Out of the Blue

Mormons care about family.

It's not just the cuddly kids and parents stuff either (though that is very important). It's tying families together across time and space, in hopes that someday all mankind will have the choice to be linked together.

That's what temples are for.

But for my grandmother and her siblings, that was an impossible dream. Their father, Mormon apostle John Whitaker Taylor, was famously excommunicated back in 1911 (for marrying too many women). Thus he was barred from claiming his wives and children (36 of them) in the eternities.

It has caused untolled sorrow in this group of believing, faithful folks. The later wives, the ones who "caused" the schism between John W. Taylor and the church, wore shame like a brand. They never dared attend the temple together, lest the name Taylor alert suspicion. And yet they deeply loved their husband and refused to permit anything to stand between them and the possibility of eternal reunion with their husband.

Five of the wives were barred by US law from inheriting any of their husband's estate when he died in 1916. Despite the resultant poverty and their large families, each of John's widows received offers of marriage.

If they had remarried, John's children might have come to love a living stepfather. The children might have decided they preferred to be linked eternally to some man other than John.

John's wives never gave their children that possibility. Every one of these six beautiful (and they were beautiful) women went to their graves mourning their decades dead husband, poverty and loneliness notwithstanding.

As recently as 2009 descendants of John Whitaker Taylor and his brides were requesting permission to "seal" the family together, to no avail.

Then, suddenly, almost magically, a change took place. The church-owned database (available via new.familysearch.org to church members) was quietly updated just 100 years after John Whitaker Taylor disobediently married his last wife.

The record now shows John and his wives eternally and uniquely bound together (assuming, as always, that they so choose and God agrees). Not only that, but the sealing dates for two of the wives has been updated to reflect the day on which they were married in 1901, and their children are now shown as "born in the covenant."

All thirty-six are gone now, the last one gone to her grave in 2004. But those who comforted John's children and heard their cries know how much this means.

We who remain are left to contemplate this scripture, given to Joseph Smith in March of 1830, before the Church itself was even founded:

Woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth...

Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment... that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.

Behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name.

For the descendants of John Whitaker Taylor the torment of separation is now over. All is knit back together. The family can be at peace.


Edmund R. Schubert said...

Peace, finally. And a fascinating story, on top of that. Thanks for sharing it.

Meg Stout said...

By the way, you can follow this link to a picture of four of John's wives in 1901.


I told you they were beautiful.

Nellie (in the glasses) looks a bit off, but she had a baby just that month and nearly died in the process, so I imagine she was gloriously beautiful under normal circumstances.

Okishdu said...

Thanks for sharing the information. Since I believe God is just, I knew this would be resolved somehow. It is interesting that it was resolved quietly with no particular notification or fanfair.

vtricia said...

A minor correction for general readership, he was not disciplined for marrying too many women, but for marrying them after the church ended polygamy. It's not like there was an arbitrary number of wives that was permissable which he exceeded.