Utah Census Polygamy LDS Mormon





Utah Census Numbers and Mormon Polygamy

In Utah (1850s to 1890s), the average age of a 2nd wife was 17 (husband average age early 30s) and the average age of a third wife was 19 (husband average age mid to late 30s). The average age in the USA for a first marriage in the late 19th century was about 22.

Mormon men in their 30s (or 40s or 50s) married teenagers because of the shortage of Mormon girls for extra wives.

All census numbers in Utah from about 1850 up to 1960 show more males than females in the state.

Notice that if the average age of a 2nd wife is 17, then there had to be a lot of girls only 14 or 15 or 16 in order to make the average 17 since there would have been some women in their 20s who became plural wives.

When Mormon men in their 30s or 40s in the 19th century convinced a father to give up his 15 year old shapely and attractive daughter as a plural wife to some high ranking LDS man (possibly an apostle or high councilman), the old dude couldn't even be sure if the poor girl had even had her first period since the average age for that was 16 a long time ago.

And don't forget that in his 60s, Brigham Young added 3 girls in their 20s to his harem.

And the Prophet John Taylor married his 26 year old nurse (who was very attractive and shapely) when he was 78 (3 times as old). Josephine's father performed the marriage to Taylor.

In the early days of Utah, if a father decided to give his daughter to another man as a plural wife, she would better not refuse, or there was often hell to pay. Mormon fathers in the 19th century were known to beat their daughters and threaten them if they refused to be a plural wife for the selected older man. This same behaviour commonly occurs even today within Mormon polygamist groups.

One of the most popular explanations in the LDS church about polygamy is the notion that polygamy became necessary because there was a surplus of women and a shortage of men. This common belief by uninformed Mormons is complete nonsense, and is not true.

The Utah Historical Society includes population statistics in their library. The source for these statistics is the United States Bureau of Census.

Utah population:
                       1850 total 11,380      male 6,046          female 5,334
                       1860 total 40,273      male 20,255        female 20,018
                       1870 total 86,786      male 44,121        female 42,665
                       1880 total 143,963    male 74,509        female 68,454
                       1890 total 210,779    male 111,975      female 98,804
                       1900 total 276,749    male 141,687      female 135,062

The census figures after the periods listed above are irrelevant, but it's interesting to note that there were more males than females in Utah from theearly settlement until the 1960 census.

One origin of the "more female than male" belief may have come from the following statement:

"In the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an unusual condition prevailed. More women than men joined the church...There were not enough men to go around...The alternative was plural marriage."(The Restored Church, by William E. Berrett, 1956, p.250)

The statement from "The Restored Church" is completely false and was refuted by LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe:

"The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seems always to have been more males than females in the Church...The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah...This theory is not defensible since there was no surplus of women."
- LDS Apostle John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, pages 390-392

It seems evident that some leaders of the Church (and others such as seminary and institute teachers, Sunday School teachers, etc) are aware of the fallacy stated by Berrett, but perpetuate the rumor because it keeps members from asking the "dangerous" questions, and offers some sort of a weak explanation for the practice of polygamy for over 50 years in early Utah.

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