Growing up Latter-day Saint, I knew that polygamy was part of our past, but I was so defensive about it not being part of our present that I often failed to understand just how important it was to my ancestors (both literal and figurative). About a month ago, I stumbled on a passage in RLDS missionary Charles Derry’s autobiography (which I recently finished) that reminded me that polygamy was a huge prority for 19th century Latter-day Saints:
This is a fascinating bit of history. Derry was an early convert to Mormonism who emigrated from England to Utah, became disgusted with polygamy and what he saw as an abusive system of tithing and church governance, and returned to the American Midwest, where he joined the RLDS church and became a leader and missionary in that denomination. Like The Giant Joshua, it’s odd to read something that is so clearly “a pioneer story” but isn’t uniformly positive.