About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church for over four 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, and is working on a midrashic treatment of the events in Nauvoo associated with early polygamy.

Carthage, 1844

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

imageJoseph was killed at Carthage, Illinois on June 27, 1844, 170 years ago.

Last week I thought I knew what I was going to write in this post. Despite William Law’s Nauvoo conspiracy, I presumed the dissidents hadn’t been involved in Joseph’s actual death beyond publishing the Expositor. I supposed the mob had been composed of non-Mormons from Missouri and Illinois, whipped into a frenzy by the editor of the Warsaw Signal, Thomas Sharp. The Carthage Greys had been complicit, I supposed. And the escape of John Taylor, Willard Richards, and the handful of men who had been at Carthage Jail prior to the actual martyrdom had been a sort of miracle. I liked to say that it had been a miracle that Joseph and Hyrum hadn’t been killed by the Saints, though there had been hundreds allegedly willing to kill Joseph based on what had been written in the Expositor.

I thought today’s post would be a relatively boring recitation of the facts we all know. Then I read the original accounts from John Taylor 1 and William R. Hamilton. 2

We haven’t had enough data before to realize what happened at Carthage, because we have not known the identities of the vast number of individuals involved in “illicit intercourse” under the influence of John C. Bennett. I submit it was these ostensibly “believing” members of the Church who were primarily responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. Inasmuch as we have presumed the killers of the Smith brothers were primarily ‘regular’ citizens of Missouri and Illinois, I believe we have an apology to make. Continue reading


  1. John Taylor, affidavit of 22 September 1844, available online at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/tayloraccount.html, retrieved 27 June 2014.
  2. William R. Hamilton, 24 December 1902, available online at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/hamiltonaccount.html, retrieved 27 June 2014.

Endless Punishment

Four wivesIn light of the pain many are feeling regarding Kate Kelly’s recent excommunication, I wanted to share an experience my family has endured regarding excommunication.

John W. Taylor was initially disfellowshipped in 1905/6 for marrying two daughters of Job Welling in 1901 (college-educated women, seen standing in the picture, who had been helping John’s two Farmington wives (sitting in the picture)). In 1909 John married again, wedding his secretary, Ellen Sandburg. In 1911 John was called before a disciplinary council.

It did not go well. He apparently yelled at his brethren of the first presidency and quorum of the twelve apostles, telling them it was none of their business, and so forth.

After John’s excommunication, he did not attack the Church. Yet the seriousness of his error, committed as a beloved apostle and son of a former prophet, meant that his reconciliation with the Church could not be a matter of a single year, or even of a decade or so. Not even after his death in 1916 were John’s blessings restored.

Kate is being offered the possibility to come back in as little as a year. I don’t in any way deny the pain she and others are feeling. Yet to wallow in that pain, to justify and complain and condemn, will not ease that pain, any more than scratching an itch promotes healing. Though I am sorrowful that Kate has been excommunicated, I have full faith that she will eventually be able to return to God. And I have that faith because of what I’ve seen happen with John W. Taylor. Continue reading

Conferring the Mantle

[This post is part of a series on Joseph Smith's Polygamy. To read from the beginning or link to previously published posts, go to A Faithful Joseph.]

Brigham Young, 1853 by Frederick Piercy

Brigham Young, 1853
by Frederick Piercy

In July 1843, Joseph Smith received a revelation regarding plural marriage. Critics would focus on the ten virgins, criticism of Emma, and impunity for wrongs short of murder. But the revelation forecasts Joseph’s impending death:

Behold, I [Jesus Christ] have seen your sacrifices, [Joseph,] and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you. Go, therefore, and I make a way for your escape, as I accepted the offering of Abraham of his son Isaac.


Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God. 1

What was this escape Joseph was offered? And what was the sacrifice God required at Joseph’s hands?

Continue reading


  1. D&C 132:50, 60, available online at http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/132?lang=eng, retrieved 17 June 2014.

Letters to Kate Kelly

Back on June 12th, in my critique of the fourth discussion posted by those seeking female ordination, I wrote:

I understand someone is being given the opportunity to admit they were wrong. Yet for some reason, this individual claims they cannot get to the venue where such a discussion would be appropriate. In the event that the challenge is financial and the barrier is distance, I have frequent flyer miles I would be happy to donate if it facilitates a quick and emphatic admission of wrong. I think I am even local to the venue in question, so there wouldn’t even be a need for hiring a rental car.

Several days came and went, and I decided to make my offer more obvious. I drafted the following while sitting in Relief Society. I even submitted it for publication, but there was another post in the queue, so mine was waiting.


Continue reading