Dudley Leavitt en zijn vijf vrouwen

Je ziet de grote grafsteen direct liggen wanneer je deze begraafplaats op komt: aan een zijkant onder een boom met overhangende takken.
Het is de steen van Dudley Leavitt en zijn vijf vrouwen.
Dudley is een zoon van Jeremiah Leavitt II en Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt.
The restored gospel of Jesus Christ came into the Leavitt family in 1836” (=ze raakten bekeerd tot het mormonendom).
Zodat de familie in 1837 uit Hatley in Canada op pad ging naar eerst Illinois en toen Utah.

Dudley was well known for his phsyical abilities and agility. In wrestling, few men were better than he. He also excelled in dancing. He was known as a handsome, cheerful, and fun-loving man.”

Faith and initiative
He was a man of faith and initative. If something needed to be done, he did it. In 1853, he and 32 other men were called to the Southern Indian Mission (Native Americans.) In the years that followed he had many missionary experiences in the territory from the Paiute tribes in Las Vegas to the Navajo and Hopi tribes in Arizona. Although he suffered from hunger, exposure and danger, the gracious hand of the Lord preserved him. He was a respected peacemaker and a very good friend among the indians.
(tekst komt van een buste bij een museum in Santa Clara, Utah)

Dudley heeft altijd ontkend dat hij was betrokken bij het Mountain Meadows Massacre. Niet iedereen is overtuigd van zijn onschuld.
Zijn kleindochter Juanita Brooks, een zeer gerespecteerde hoogleraar geschiedenis, heeft getracht dit uit te zoeken maar ook zij komt niet verder dan “het is onduidelijk”.

Dudley trouwt met Mary Huntsman in 1853, met haar zusje Mariah Huntsman in 1855, met Thirza Riding in 1859, met Jeanette Smith in 1860 en met Martha Ann Hughes Pulsipher in 1872.
They were blessed with righteous prosperity of 47 children who were taught faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to keep His commandments.”

In 1877 wordt Dudley Leavitt mede-stichter van Bunkerville waar hij in 1908 overlijdt.

Tot zover deze man die of een groot bemiddelaar en vredestichter óf een oorlogsmisdadiger is.

Wat weten we van zijn vrouwen?
Van de zusjes Huntsman kom ik al googlend niet verder dan wie hun ouders waren.
Mogelijk is er meer informatie, maar die staat dan op websites waarvoor je moet betalen.
Juanita Brooks vertelt er wel iets over in haar boek over Dudley Leavitt maar stelt ze nooit centraal.

Op de voorkant van het grafmonument staan de namen van hun kinderen.
Mary kreeg er negen, Mariah twaalf.

Op de achterkant staan korte biografietjes.
Van Dudley zelf natuurlijk en ook van zijn vrouwen.
Is het wáár wat daar staat? Of is dit hoe de familie graag ziet dat deze mensen herinnerd worden? Mogelijk een mengeling van beide.
En het zou heel goed kunnen dat bij de één de waarheid dichter wordt benaderd en bij de ander de wenselijkheid.

Eerst Mary.
Mary Huntsman
Hij is 22 en zij 16 wanneer ze trouwen.
Hun liefde wordt op de proef gesteld maar houdt stand. Zij is een goede mormoon.
Rijkdom heeft ze niet maar ze is altijd gastvrij.
She (..) served with dignity as matriarch to Dudley’s family.”
Juanita Brooks vermeldt dit over hoe ze elkaar vonden: “One girl had seemed to have a special interest in him, and at dances and socials he found her excellent company.
After an acquaintance of three years and a brief courtship, they were married, Dudley Leavitt and Mary Huntsman. She was just seventeen, pretty and sweet, and like himself, mature for her years. For she, too, was a member of a large family and had always assumed her share of the responsibility

Mariah dan.
Geboren in februari 1841 en met Dudley getrouwd in 1855.
Op 14-jarige leeftijd dus.

As his youthful second wife, Mariah’s pleasant disposition added buoyancy to the family.” Verder kan ze mooi verhalen vertellen.
Ze wordt vroedvrouw. “She traveled near and far and unreservedly prayed aloud while delivering the infants. Her faith pacified new mothers and gave them strength.”

Juanita Brooks: “Mary’s sister, Maria, would be Dudley’s second wife. They were married August 12, 1855.
She was not yet sixteen, but was well matured and was much in love with the stalwart young man who was already her sister’s husband.
Mary agreed to the arrangement she encouraged it, in fact, for she dreaded to move so far away from all her family.
It was the principle taught, a principle which all three accepted; it was approved and encouraged by the authorities and by the people generally.
So it was the logical thing to do

Vrouw nummer drie: Thirza.
Thirza is 16 wanneer Dudley Leavitt (zelf dan 29) met haar trouwt.

Volgens de steen was Thirza “a charming young lady with long black hair”.
Gelukkig heeft haar familie haar levensverhaal vastgelegd.

I was one that loved to dance. I had long black hair that tied back with a ribbon and let it hang down my back when I went to dances. I met Dudley Leavitt. He was twenty-nine years old and had a perfect physique. He had a shock of brown hair, clear blue eyes, and was full of fun. I knew that he had two wives and three children, but I knew, too, that he was the man for me. He was attracted to me also, as I was to him. We fell in love and were married 11 August 1859, in the Temple in Manti, Utah.”

Op de steen: Thirza’s bijnaam was ‘Toggy’ omdat ze ‘all togged up’ “or well dressed” is.
She was meticulous, especially in the cleaning of the St. George Temple.
She appreciated decorum and propriety
Over voedsel had ze ook een opvatting:
Her philosophy relating to edibles was, if we eat our best first, what we will have left will still be the best.”

Tenslotte: “Thirza, spry and small, always walked tall.”

Van vrouw nummer vier krijgen we een redelijk beeld.
Of in elk geval van haar geschiedenis.
In 1860 huwt Dudley de 15-jarige Jeanette Smith.

Jeanette is als baby gered door Calvin en Sarah Lazell Smith. Ze stuitten op ruziënde Indianen. Een jongen was door een stam gedood waarna als wraak een baby van die stam door de ándere stam was geroofd met de bedoeling haar te verdrinken in Panguitch Lake.

De mormonen onderhandelden met de Indianen, stonden veel bezittingen af, konden de ouders van het meisje niet vinden, besloten haar op te voeden als eigen kind en noemden haar Jeanette.
Op de steen: “Jeanette adapted to her new life. She was tidy, sang soprano in the choir, and became a first rate cook and seamstress.”

Ook weer volgens de steen zou Jeanette die verder heel verlegen was hebben gezegd dat er maar één man was met wie ze wou trouwen en dat was Dudley Leavitt.
As his fourth wife she is known for her kindness and humility. In addition to rearing her own children she was a surrogate mother to others. Jeanette was gentle, steadfast, and aware of a promised blessing that her posterity would bring honor to the Leavitt name and to the church.”

Juanita Brooks beschrijft hoe Dudley aan Jeanette, die zij Janet noemt, is gekomen.
Apostel Smith vroeg hem haar te huwen (en ja, ze schijnt echt te hebben gezegd toen een ándere man haar hand vroeg dat ze alleen met Dudley zou willen trouwen).
Brooks: “He went on to enumerate the girl’s good qualities and to show that with her training she should make an excellent wife.
Then, too, there was the promise that the Lamanites should yet become a white and delightsome people; they were of the blood of Ephraim and would eventually come into their own

Dudley aarzelt: “He thought of the three wives at home, Thirza, a bride of less than six months, both the others with young babies. The season had been so hard that it was almost more than he could do to provide for the family he had. He dreaded the complications that were sure to arise by bringing another wife into the group, especially an Indian wife.

“If you will take that girl, marry her, give a home and a family, and do your duty by her, I promise you in the name of the Lord that you will be blessed,” George A. Smith said solemnly.

“I’ll do it,” Dudley said, without further hesitation.”

Received coldly
Thirza vertelt over de aankomst van Jeanette in huize Leavitt: “Early in 1860 Dudley made a trip north with molasses and dried fruit with which to buy the things his families needed. On his return home he stayed in Parowan and married his fourth wife, Janet Smith, an Indian maiden. When they arrived, we three wives hurried out the wagon to meet him, for we had been anxiously waiting and watching for his return. To say that we were surprised to see number four (wife) would be putting it mildly.
One cannot help but feel sorry for the girl on the wagon who was received so coldly.

Mary said little, for she was the first wife and knew it was her first duty to keep peace and order her husband’s family. She could wait for the explanation she knew would be coming. Mariah spluttered a while, but I bundled up my things and went home to my parents.

At home I received no sympathy. Both my father and my mother told me that I was wrong to be jealous and stubborn. They told me to take my things and go right back; and that I should be ashamed to make such a fuss. (..)

In about a week I went back. Dudley had made no effort to come for me, or to coax me back, or to offer any explanation. He said that I had gone out of his home of my own free will, and that I could return when I got ready.
But he was happy and relieved when I did come back, for now he could divide the things he had brought from the city. He had made a rule never to give to one that he could not give the others.
The cloth was always measured into equal lengths. They all got shoes when one got them.

Martha Ann
Het meeste weten we over Dudley’s vijfde vrouw, Martha Ann Hughes.
Family Historian Nora Lund schreef een levensverhaal waarbij zij ook veel citeert uit het boek van Juanita Brooks.

Martha Ann is geboren in 1843 in Wales.
Haar ouders werden mormoon en besloten naar Amerika te gaan en natuurlijk naar Salt Lake City.

Lund: “Martha Ann received what little schooling she had there. She worked hard, doing her part in the home and faithfully attending to her church duties.
Then at 14 she advanced one step farther in the progress of life by marrying Zerah Pulsipher

De echtgenoot is dan 68.
Lund schrijft dat dergelijke leeftijdsverschillen toen wel vaker voorkwamen. Omdat oude(re) mannen werden gezien als betrouwbaar.
Met Pulsipher krijgt Martha Ann een jaar later een dochter en drie jaar later nog een dochter.
De komende jaren volgen nog drie kinderen.
De familie is dan in opdacht van de kerkleiding verhuisd naar de omgeving van St. George waar Zerah in 1972 op 83-jarige leeftijd overlijdt.

When Dudley Leavitt, who was just 13 years her senior, asked her to marry him, she was happy to do so. She knew him to be a good, kind man, fair and loving to his wives and children. This second marriage meant security for herself and children.”

Juanita Brooks: “In some ways this was a greater trial to Mary (the first wife) than his earlier marriages had been. The other four had all been girls together; they had sacrificed for each other; they had worked together; they had stood by each other in sickness; they had grown old before their time, together.
Now to have their husband pay attention to this lively, twenty-seven year old widow while they cared for their families, was really a trial. The courtship was short. The young woman, left with four children, had few resources, and had been working out in the various homes to support herself.

The marriage took place November 30, 1872, in Salt Lake City, with Daniel H. Wells officiating. Once it was over, she took her place with the other wives, receiving no favors, and fitting in the family very well.”

Nora Lund vermeldt nog hoe van 1875 tot 1888 Dudley en zijn vrouwen in angst leefden omdat in die tijd door de overheid hard werd opgetreden tegen polygamisten.
Dudley kregen ze niet te pakken.
Hij overleed in 1908, een jaar later stierf ook Martha Ann: “Having lived a good, full life.”

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