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.

Collecting the Sorrowful

[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.]

William Weeks drawing of Nauvoo TempleBefore Joseph’s death in the summer of 1844, over a hundred men and women had entered into plural marriages. However except for six of these couples, 1there is no indication that any of these plural marriages had been consummated.

For months after Joseph’s death, the matter of plural marriage took a back seat to succession concerns. But by September 1844, Brigham Young and the apostles had established with the majority of Joseph’s followers that they were Joseph’s rightful successors. They continued work toward completing the Nauvoo temple and began to marry the plural widows Joseph had left behind. To the chagrin of Emma Smith, the apostles gave the go ahead for men with plural wives to engage in sexual relations with these wives. Continue reading


  1. As already discussed multiple times, no child borne to a wife of Joseph Smith can be proven to have been engendered by Smith, based on DNA analysis. The six couples where a plural wife appears to have conceived before Joseph’s death are: William Clayton & Margaret Moon (Daniel born Feb 18, 1844); William Fleshaw & Charlotte Walters (Katherine born November 28, 1845); Heber C. Kimball & Sarah Peak Noon (Henry born ca. 1844, his younger sister Sarah born July 1, 1845); Joseph B. Noble & Sarah B. Alley (George born February 2, 1844); Theodore Turley & Mary Clift (Ephraim born February 11, 1845); and Lorenzo Dow Young & Harriet P. Wheeler Decker (John born September 5, 1844), from Bergera, Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841-44, available online at http://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V38N03_13.pdf, retrieved 7 Jul 2014.

Aphorisms, Schema, and teaching our Children

A sister of mine who has many minor children wants to create a copy book for her children.

She is looking for aphorisms that will shape her children into wise men and women. She is looking to shape her children’s schema, the way they perceive and remember the reality of their lives. If you’re not sure what an aphorism is, here’s an awesome quote I found on the internet:

An aphorism is a short pithy statement that states a truth and smacks you with a reality punch… A good aphorism is only the tip of the iceberg and underneath its logic is a ton of philosophical meaning. It is the big truth in capsulated form and its power is in its ability to be retained in our consciousness and the affect it has on our thinking. 1

This jogged my memory. Months before Bruce Nielson recruited me to blog here at M*, I had come across the “Great BCC Aphorism Contest.” Not being familiar with BCC, I decided to toss off a few aphorisms, original to me that day, for example: Continue reading


  1. The Jesus Style of Communication – Aphorisms and Parables at Radical Grace, available online at http://donmilam.com/2013/02/the-jesus-style-of-communication-aphorisms-and-parables-2/, retrieved 3 July 2014.

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