Monday, February 1, 2010

Reed Smoot Hearings: Day 6 - Charles E. Merrill

March 8, 1904

Mr. Merrill is the son of current LDS Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, by his third wife (plural wife).  He is 38 years old and currently married.  His first wife (married in 1887) died in 1889.  They had one child together.  While married to his first wife, he married a plural wife, Annie V. Stoddard, in 1888.  This marriage ceremony was performed in a private residence of a Logan Temple worker, Mr. N.C. Edlefson; who also performed the ceremony.  There is no official record of this ceremony ever having taken place.  He has 4 children by Annie; the oldest being about 9 and the youngest being about 2-1/2 years old.  He married for a third time to what he terms his "legal" wife, Chloe Hendricks, in March of 1891.  This marriage ceremony was performed by his father.  He has 5 children by Chloe.  This makes 10 children in total.

Mr. Merrill does not hold any official position of authority or responsibility within the Mormon Church.

Testimony Summary:
Mr. Merrill was married by his father while already being married to another woman.  However, it is not known whether the father knew his son was currently married (plurally) or not.  This marriage took place after the issuance of the manifesto.

The senators try to understand what Mr. Merrill's father knew or didn't know at the time he performed the ceremony.  They are also interested in why he calls Chloe his legal wife.
Senator Foraker.  And although you were living with a wife at that time, whom you had taken in 1888, you call the wife of 1891 your legal wife?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir; I do not know that he knew that I was living with a wife.
Senator Pettus.  Will you please explain why the last wife whom you married is your legal wife?
Mr. Merrill.  Because she was married under the laws of the State of Utah.  The laws of the State of Utah, as I understand them, did not make my wife a legal wife - my plural wife that I had in 1888 - and I married this one under the laws of the State of Utah.  I went to court and got a license to marry her.
The Chairman.  That is the marriage of 1891?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Senator Dubois.  Have you that marriage certificate with you?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir; I have not.
Senator Dubois.  Can you get it?
Mr. Merrill.  I think I could.
Senator Dubois.  Will you get it?
Mr. Merrill.  I will if you want it.
Senator Dubois.  I should like to see it very much.
Mr. Van Cott.  I will see that that is obtained, if there is one.
Senator Dubois.  It was in March, 1891?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Senator Dubois.  When was the manifesto issued?
Mr. Merrill.  It was in 1890, I think.
Commentary:  Here is another "documented" marriage that took place after the issuance of the manifesto on September 20, 1890; and the kicker to this one is that an Apostle performed the marriage as admitted by the Apostle's son.  The only drawback to this is that the father may not have known his son was already living with a plural wife; however, that seems a very weak argument right now.

The senators on the committee spend a couple of minutes questioning Mr. Merrill about the plural marriage ceremony itself.  They want to know what happens there (music? witnesses? praying?  reading from a book?  etc.).  Mr. Merrill can recall none of the actual ceremony for them.

He is then allowed a chance to explain why his father wouldn't know of his relationship to his current plural wife when he married him to his "legal" wife:
Mr. Worthington.  Where was your father living?
Mr. Merrill.  On the underground most of the time.
Mr. Worthington.  What do you mean by the underground?
Mr. Merrill.  In hiding.
Mr. Worthington.  Then you do not know whether he knew that you were cohabiting with the wife of 1888 -
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  At the time he married you to the wife of 1891?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  He was in hiding; what for, if you know?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir; because they were prosecuting in Utah at that time for polygamy, very severely.
Senator Foraker.  Had not those prosecutions stopped at that time?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir.
Senator Dubois.  You do not understand Senator Foraker's question, I think.  You were living with the wife of 1888 up to 1891 in the town of Richmond?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Senator Dubois.  And your father was not in hiding after the manifesto was issued?
Mr. Merrill.  I think not.
Senator Dubois.  And you were all living together in the town of Richmond?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir; you do not understand the situation, I think, Senator.  My father has spent a great deal of his time at Logan, and ofttimes I would not see him more than once a month, even when I was living with my mother.
Commentary:  That's an interesting look into this family, even though the details are sketchy at best.

The senators then question him about his father's health.  Apparently Mr. Merrill (the father) has been subpoenaed, but cannot come because of a condition with diabetes for seven or eight months; he "has been very feeble."

Mr. Tayler then digs into the family relations of father Merrill:
Mr. Tayler.  You said he is at Richmond now?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir; I think so.
Mr. Tayler.  Do all of his wives live there?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  How many has he?
Mr. Merrill.  He has six.
Mr. Tayler.  How many brothers and sisters have you?
Mr. Merrill.  I have 20 brothers and 17 sisters, I think.
Senator Overman.  How many?
Mr. Merrill.  Twenty brothers and 17 sisters.
Mr. Tayler.  Do you know how many nieces and nephews you have?
Mr. Merrill.  I do not.
Mr. Tayler.  Over a hundred?
Mr. Merrill.  I think so.
Senator Foraker.  Was your mother, if I may ask you without giving any offense, a plural wife of your father?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Senator Foraker.  Did he make his home regularly with your mother or with his first wife or some other wife?
Mr. Merrill.  I may say with his first wife; that is where people all went to do business with him.
Senator Foraker.  And he simply came occasionally, are we to understand, to visit your mother?
Mr. Merrill.  Yes, sir.
Senator Foraker.  He did not live there continuously?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir; not continuously.
Senator Overman.  Did he have any regular time for coming to your house, and did he stay any length of time?
Mr. Merrill.  When he was home he did.
Senator Overman.  How often did he come?
Mr. Merrill.  About every fourth or fifth night, when he was in Richmond.
Senator Overman.  How long did he stay?
Mr. Merrill.  Overnight.
Senator Overman.  Did he stay any length of time?
Mr. Merrill.  No, sir; he was a very busy man.
Commentary:  Apostle Marriner W. Merrill certainly has a large family.  I guess it's interesting to know how a plural couple spends time together.  It doesn't help me with any understanding, really, except to know that they do spend time together even if it is on an irregular basis.

The cross-examination of this witness did not call into the question the marriage ceremony, or that the witness was married a total of three times; rather, only dates and knowledge of the current marital status of the witness were discussed.  It seems apparent that the defense counsel is willing to concede the fact that so far two marriages, have been performed after the manifesto where the groom will have more than one wife at the same time.

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