Monday, March 15, 2010

Reed Smoot Hearings: Day 7 - Various Witnesses

March 9, 1904

I'm going to include a couple of witnesses under one post.  I don't see the reason they should get a separate post right now because their testimony is so small.

Witnesses included:

  1. Andrew Jenson (above photo)
  2. Lorin Harmer (no photo)
  3. Thomas H. Merrill (no photo)
  4. Alma Merrill (no photo)
In between Mr. Harmer and Mr. Merrill, Hyrum Mack Smith, son of Joseph F. Smith, gave testimony.  I will put his testimony in a separate entry because it is larger.  All testimony recorded here took place on March 9, 1904.

Witness:  Andrew Jenson

Mr. Jenson is one of the Assistant Historians of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The chief historian is currently Anthon H. Lund, who is also a counselor to President Joseph F. Smith.

Mr. Jenson lives in Salt Lake City and has since 1882.  He was born in Denmark; became a member of the LDS Church when he was 8, and moved to the United States when he was 15.
Mr. Tayler.   Are you practically the person in charge of the historical work of the church, or does Mr. Lund give constant attention to that?
Mr. Jenson.  His time does not permit him to do that, so I suppose I am the one that has charge.
Mr. Tayler.  That is what I supposed.
Commentary:  Ok, this is the main church historian, even if his official title does not reflect that.  He is the person that takes care of the day to day work in that office.

Mr. Tayler then talks of a book entitled, The Church Chronology, compiled by Andrew Jenson, dated 1899, and another book entitled, Latter-Day Saints, Biographical Encyclopedia, published in 1901.
Mr. Tayler.  That [Chronology] is an official publication of the Church, is it not?
Mr. Jenson.  No, sir; you cannot call it official.  It is my own work.  I only am responsible for its contents.
Mr. Tayler.  And is so far as you are able to learn, from the data at your command, this [Encyclopedia] correctly represents events in the lives of the various Latter-Day Saints?
Mr. Jenson.  Yes, sir; so far as I have been able to obtain correct information.
Commentary:  Again we have Mr. Tayler attempting to turn a book published by an individual, concerning Church history or biographical information, into an authorized book from the church; in essence making the contents of the book binding up witnesses as if it were completely accurate.  Even though the details are as correct as they can be, it still is not an authorized book.

Mr. Tayler then wants to know about Mr. Jenson's personal life, wife or wives, and things of that nature.  Mr. Jenson states that he's married to two wives that are sisters, and that both of them live in the same house with him, but he only lives with the first wife.  The first he married in 1886, and the second in 1888.  Mr. Tayler seems to believe that Mr. Jenson was sealed to the sister's mother for eternity only, but Mr. Jenson denies this.

Mr. Tayler then asks where Mr. Jenson lives and if his residence is near any of the plural wives of Joseph F. Smith.  He states that "I live pretty near to three of them."  They, in fact, live right across the street from him in 3 separate houses.

Witness:  Lorin Harmer

Mr. Harmer is a former bishop in the LDS Church and he currently resides in Springville, Utah.  Currently he holds no position of authority in the Church.
Mr. Harmer.  I was bishop about five years, or six.
Mr. Tayler.  When did you case to be a bishop?
Mr. Harmer.  It was in 1899, I believe.
Mr. Tayler.  How did you come to cease to be a bishop?
Mr. Harmer.  Well, I committed the crime of unchastity and lost my membership.
Mr. Tayler.  Were you sent to the penitentiary?
Mr. Harmer.  Yes, sir.
Commentary:  That's interesting.  He was a bishop for 5 or 6 years, then committed an act of infidelity, and was punished by having his Church membership removed, and given time in the penitentiary.  I guess crimes of adultery, which is what I'm guessing he's guilty of, were punished by jail time back then.  Wow, times sure have changed.  I did a little digging and found that a "Lorin Harmer" of Springville, Utah, was sentenced to 4 months in the penitentiary on Nov. 19, 1888, and was fined $100.  The date doesn't exactly match what is said in this hearing testimony, but the name and place of residence do match.  I wonder if it's the same?  I found the note of this in the book:  Church Chronology, by Andrew Jenson.  Ironic.

Mr. Harmer is married to two women currently:  Ellen (48) and Ida (49).  The woman that he apparently had problems with is named Ellen Anderson.
Mr. Tayler.  Do you know Ellen Anderson?
Mr. Harmer.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Are you married to her?
Mr. Harmer.  No, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  Did you ever live with her?
Mr. Harmer.  No, sir; not as a wife.
Mr. Tayler.  Not as a wife?  Did you have children by her?
Mr. Harmer.  Yes, sir.
Mr. Tayler.  How many?
Mr. Harmer.  Two.
Mr. Tayler.  How many since you were in the penitentiary?
Mr. Harmer.  One.
Mr. Tayler.  You were sent to the penitentiary for having children by her?
Mr. Harmer.  Yes, sir.
Commentary:  Well, I guess the details of his problems are now spilled out for everyone to know about.  He had a problem with this "other" Ellen, and they had two children together, which led to his incarceration.  The point of Mr. Harmer here is that he claims he is not married to her at all, but still fathered 2 children by her.  I feel like this is invading the privacy of this Mr. Harmer and his family by writing this information on the web.  It is more than 100 years old, but still feels like material for the National Enquirer.

Mr. Harmer goes on to say that he doesn't support the children of this woman, nor the woman herself.  She supports herself, and apparently doesn't want any more children.

The committee members are curious if this woman actually is his wife, even though Mr. Harmer has denied it.
Mr. Worthington.  I was about to ask whether Mr. Tayler really claims that the witness is married to the woman, and whether, when he says he is not he is not testifying truthfully.
Mr. Tayler.  I suspect that there is some inference to be drawn from the fact that he continues this kind of unchaste life.
Senator Beveridge.  Is this one of his wives?
Mr. Tayler.  It is a woman he has had children by.
Senator Beveridge.  Is it one of his wives?
Mr. Tayler.  Yes; I think so.  I think it is one of his wives.  This sort of thing has never existed, that we know of, among the Mormons.
The Chairman.  Do you expect to show that he has held the woman out to the public as his wife?
Mr. Tayler.  Undoubtedly; that he has held her out as his wife.
Commentary:  Well, they're calling the witness a liar, and basically saying that there's no past history of Mormons committing unchaste acts like this (over the course of two children by the same woman); therefore, this has to be another of his wives, even if he denies it.  That's the logic of the argument here.  This actually makes me chuckle a little bit.  Mormons are like other people with the same problems and issues.  Just because there's a polygamist lifestyle for some doesn't mean they don't go off and committ adultery - see King David for proof that the number of wives doesn't have a bearing on living a sinless life.  Well, I guess Mr. Tayler has his work cut out for him now.  He's backed himself into a corner and has to prove this man is married to Ellen Anderson and is lying under oath.  Good luck.

Mr. Tayler continues and talks about where the wives live (close to each other); where the mistress lives (right next to one of his wives); who paid for the land she lives on (don't know), etc.  That was a fairly week set of "proof" questions from Mr. Tayler.  I think he failed for this witness to prove what he wanted to.

Mr. Worthington then takes some time for cross-examination, and goes right to the main point of what Mr. Tayler was trying to prove by this witness.
Mr. Worthington.  Did you marry any wife since the manifesto?
Mr. Harmer.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Were you at any time married, or did you have any marriage ceremony between you and Ellen Anderson?
Mr. Harmer.  No, sir.
Mr. Worthington.  Have you held her out at any time as being your wife?
Mr. Harmer.  No, sir.
Commentary:  What can be said to that?  I do not know.  It comes down to this:  Do the committee members believe Mr. Harmer.? Is he a credible witness, or does he seem to be flakey?  This isn't a pivotal witness in this hearing, but it's interesting how the lawyers are trying to squeeze every example from the Mormon faith of being unfaithful to the manifesto of 1890 as they can.

Then Mr. Worthington digs into Mr. Smoot's involvement with this man.  This is interesting.
Mr. Worthington.  About your being punished and sent to the penitentiary.  Do you know whether Mr. Smoot had anything to do with that?
Mr. Harmer.  I think he did.
Mr. Worthington.  What?
Mr. Harmer.  Well, at that time, when I had the trouble with that woman, he was counselor to the president of the stake, and the president of the stake was quite sick at the time when I went over to Provo.  I had a talk there with Mr. Smoot and he told me what the church was going to do right away, and I asked him to give me a little time that I might kindly prepare my folks for the worst.
Senator Beveridge.  What was the church going to do right away?
Mr. Harmer.  Well, they was going to take my bishopric from me, and the offices I then held in the church.
Senator Beveridge.  What?
Mr. Harmer.  I was bishop, and I was instructor of the priests' quorum, teachers' quorum, and deacons' quorum.
Senator Beveridge.  Why were they going to take those things from you?
Mr. Harmer.  Because I had committed a crime that the church could not allow.
Mr. Worthington.  What crime?  What was the conversation between you and the Senator , about what crime you had committed?
Mr. Harmer.  Well, the crime of adultery, plainly speaking, and I got in my buggy and started home.  Before I got home the county sheriff caught me, and I laid it to Mr. Smoot a-sending after me.  They took me back to Provo, and I stayed there all that night in Provo; and I did not think it was hardly fair.  I thought he ought to give me a little fairer chance, although it was a bad crime.
The Chairman.  Let me ask you right there, if you will, what year was this?
Mr. Harmer.  In 1899.
The Chairman.  You siad you laid it to Mr. Smoot.  Do you know that he sent the officer after you?
Mr. Harmer.  I do not know it, but it looked very much like it, you know.
Commentary:  Well, he confessed to it right there.  Adultery.  The thing the witness appears to be mad about is that he believes Reed Smoot contacted an officer of the law and directed him to arrent Mr. Harmer that night.  This is circumstantial and there is no proof, but in his mind he believes it.  I guess he's got an ax to grind on Mr. Smoot and doesn't care much for him.  I'm sure the committee members dismissed most, if not all of his testimony concerning Mr. Smoot.  Additionally, the Church can remove any member at any time according to its rules.  Church callings can also be removed from members.  There's nothing wrong there with what happened.

Witness:  Thomas H. Merrill

Mr. Merrill is the son of current LDS Apostle Marriner W. Merrill.  He is 45 years old and is a resident of Richmond, Cache County, Utah, where he currently serves as a bishop of the local ward; and has been bishop since 1899.  He has two wives currently and both of them live in Richmond (Emma Olsen - 42 years old, and Maggie Thompson - 43 years old).  He has 6 living children by the first wife, and 4 by the second.  The youngest child of his first wife will be 14 months old this month, and by his second wife will be 3 years old in January.

Mr. Tayler has finished questioning the witness already (the above paragraph was all he seemed to want).  Evidently he only wanted the basics of this man:  number of wives, children, and the age of the youngest child.

Senator Dubois then steps in to pick up the questioning.  He's interested in the actual marriage ceremony of Mr. Merrill to his second wife, and wants Mr. Merrill to explain it in as much detail as possible.  He states that he promised to love, honor, respect, and treat her as his wife.  This ceremony took place on April 21, 1885.  He does not have the marriage certificate with him, and doesn't know if any record of this marriage was kept either at the temple or in any other location.

He also states that the church apparently has no form for the marriage ceremony.  He, being a bishop and having married a few people, tried to find one, but was unable to.

There is no cross-examination of the witness by Mr. Worthington.

Witness:  Alma Merrill

Mr. Merrill is the son of current LDS Apostle Marriner W. Merrill.  He lives in Richmond, Cache County, Utah.  He currently serves as the First Counselor on the Benson Stake Presidency, and has done so since April 1900 (the president of that Stake is William H. Lewis).  Before serving on the Stake Presidency, he was an Elders Quorum president.  He has two wives (married the first in 1885, Esmeralda Hendricks, and the second in 1886, Rebecca Hendricks - they are sisters).  They both live in Richmond, but in separate houses.  He has 7 children by his first wife, and 8 by his second.  The youngest child from the first wife is 3 years old, and from his second wife is 3 months old.

And that is the end of the questioning of Alma Merrill.

Mr. Tayler then wants to know about the appearance of other witnesses.
Mr. Tayler.  Mr. Chairman, I would like to inquire whether any of the witnesses who are reported as not being here the day the investigation opened have since appeared?
The Chairman.  I will call the names of the witnesses subpoenaed.  John Henry Smith.
Mr. Tayler.  He is not here.
The Chairman.  George Teasdale.
Mr. Tayler.  Not here.
The Chairman.  John W. Tayler.
Mr. Tayler.  Not here.
The Chairman.  M. F. Cowley.
Mr. Tayler.  Not here.
The Chairman.  Samuel S. Newton.  Is Mr. Newton here?  He does not respond.  J. M. Tanner present?  Moses Thatcher?  Those are the witnesses subpoenaed, except the two.
Commentary:  Well, I guess they wanted the names in the record again as not being present.

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