About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg contends Joseph was under commandment to restore plural marriage and taught the acceptability of plural marriage. But Meg suggests Joseph may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

Who was John McIlwrick?

Bottom Line Up Front: Weather and possibility of an American-born John “McIlwrick” suggest Martha Brotherton’s interview with Brigham Young occurred well before January 1842.

cpv2The other day I explained what I think happened between Brigham Young and Martha Brotherton. My thesis was that Martha’s encounter with Brigham occurred prior to January 1842, before we have a positive indication that Joseph Smith had included Brigham in ceremonies related to the New and Everlasting Covenant. The July 1842 letter describing Martha’s alleged ordeal appears to pin the incident as occurring in February-March 1842, when William Clayton was working in the tithing office and prior to the April 7th denunciation of the tale during General Conference. 1

I tried in vain to locate a direct reference to the arrival of the Brothertons in the vicinity of Nauvoo, Illinois. But we know that Mary Brotherton (born 1819) had married a John McIlwrick. John and Mary would join Martha’s other sister, Elizabeth, in denouncing Martha as “a deliberate liar;” as “a wilful inventor of lies;” and a circulator of “lies of a base kind, concerning those whom she knew to be innocent.” These family members also accuse Martha as acting outside of “common decency,” by “lying on the top of a young man when he was in bed,” etc. 2

Perhaps, I thought, I could find when John McIlwrick arrived in the United States and thus pinpoint when the Martha Brotherton episode could have occurred. Continue reading


  1. Apr. 15, 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons, p. 763, reporting on the Thursday, Apr. 7, 1842, spring conference in Nauvoo. Hyrum Smith “spoke concerning the elders who went forth to preach from Kirtland… [and] then spoke in contradiction of a report in circulation about Elder Kimball, B. Young, himself, and others of the Twelve, alleging that a sister had been shut in a room for several days, and that they had endeavored to induce her to believe in having two wives.” Available online at http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/utils/getdownloaditem/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/9835/filename/4927.pdf/. Note that the conference refutation only indicates apostles have been implicated. Joseph Smith himself was not defended, indicating the original rumor had not included Joseph himself.
  2. Nauvoo Wasp broadside “extra” of Aug. 31, 1842.

Give Brigham Young a Break

Bottom Line Up Front: Brigham Young accomplished a great work, defeating spiritual wifery. But he did his work so thoroughly that it has been difficult for later generations to comprehend what was going on.

Brigham YoungIn my recent post about giving Joseph Smith a break, there were those who asked for a similar discussion of Brigham Young.

In my “Faithful Joseph” construct, I argue Joseph Smith and his righteous followers predominantly refrained from consummating plural marriages prior to Joseph’s death. If true, then what happened under Brigham’s leadership? There is no question that plural marriages were widely consummated after Brigham Young assumed leadership of the Mormon Church. Continue reading

Give Joseph Smith a Break

JOSEPH SMITH JRI was ill earlier this week, so took the opportunity to listen to the Priesthood Session of General Conference. I was particularly heartened by Elder Anderson’s confident advice to “give Brother Joseph a break.”

The theme of the Conference was a call to believe, with many suggestions on how belief could be strengthened. For some, however, it helps to quiet the mocking voices in their heads to provide a plausible alternative to the popular bogeyman of the non-believers, the Joseph as narcissistic imposter who allegedly made up scripture from whole cloth and took dozens of his followers’ daughters and wives to his bed.

First, A Picture

imageIn 1969 a family donated a daguerreotype to the RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ). They claimed it was a picture of Joseph Smith. If it is Joseph, the youth and gaunt look of the man in the image indicate the photo was taken in late 1839. In November-December 1839 Joseph took a trip to Washington D.C. to seek redress for the atrocities perpetuated against the Mormons in Missouri. Due to Joseph’s notoriety, it is reasonable an early daguerreotypist in DC would have sought to capture his likeness.

Rick Brunson has a brief article on his blog describing the evidences Shannon Michael Tracy documents in his book, Millions Shall Know Brother Joseph Again. In summary, this daguerreotype allegedly matches the death mask using both lineal matching and facial recognition techniques. The image also corresponds with photos taken of Joseph’s skull prior to the remains being reinterred during the early 1900s.

[Updated 10/11/15: There was apparently a storm of controversy about this image and the Tracy book in 2008. One disappointed summary can be found at Juvenile Instructor. When I scanned that article, it appears the author went from hoping this was an image of Joseph Smith to being completely angered by the unprofessionalism of Mr. Tracy. In my reading of this summary, I missed whether the picture had been proven to be not of Joseph. For the record, I was intrigued by seeing this image illustrating a post from a reputable blogger, with the text indicating that they hoped this was an actual image of Joseph Smith. Searching things more, I happened upon the Brunson blog.]

Continue reading

#LDSconf 185th General Conference, Sat PM Session Live coverage

imageBelow is coverage of the October 3, 2014, Morning session of the LDS General Conference. Jump to hyperlinked list of participants

The Church is putting summaries and video links up very quickly – to see the short summaries and re-watch your favorite talks, go to the Conference at a Glance Summaries.

Presiding – President Thomas S. Monson
Conducting – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Riverton, Utah Primary Choir – Beautiful Savior

Opening Prayer – Elder Terence M. Vinson Continue reading