Fred C. Collier
The substance of Brother Hales paper aims to undermine the faith and religious foundation of a whole people. It is therefore no small matter we discuss here this day. Indeed, the aspirations and eternal hopes of tens of thousands hang upon the the verocity of the Lorin Woolley story! Still, I feel to commend brother Hales for the time and effort which he has spent in order to make his presentation. This is not to say that I would agree with all that he has said. But notwithstanding our disagreements, it is my feeling that in presenting this paper, he has done the Fundamentalist community a service if only they will be perceptive enough to receive it as such! In saying this I would not be so nieve as to suppose that he has not felt some degree of satisfaction in asulting those of us who would believe in the present day practice of Plural Marriage but then, I am sure that I will experience the same satisfaction in my response.
It ought to be pointed out that with but few exceptions, Brian’s paper is essentially a condensation and rewrite of an earlier unpublished manuscript which was written by J. Max Anderson during the 1970’s. It is certainly good that someone has finally taken the time and interest to put it out. For the most part, the research was done years ago by Anderson and other supportive friends who were themselves archival bigshots, and who had liberal access to the records. We are therefore, in every sense of the word, facing the cannon’s mouth at somewhat of a disadvantage, for Fundamentalists are not allowed access to the same records in making their defence. Not only so, but by their past actions, both Anderson and his friends have proven that they are willing to suppress information which might in any way support the Fundamentalist position.
This is not to say anything of the personal diaries of President John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, L. John Nuttal and the First Presidency’s Office Journal, which thus far have been locked away from the eyes of all, including those with access to the archives. The secretary of the First Presidency told me personally that these diaries were in the First Presidency’s Office Vault. During the conversation he even went and double checked to make sure. But if there is a suppression of records for the John Taylor period, it is quite to the contrary or otherwise where it concerns the Prophet Joseph Smith. For the most part, with the exception of the minutes of the Council of Fifty, and the Cowdery History, the records pertaining to the Prophet’s life and teachings have been made public, and whether published or otherwise, they are available for research. These documents have a tremendous bearing on the Fundamentalist doctrine of the Council of Seven Friends or High Priest Apostles.
Before I launch into the topic before us, I want to confess my own qualifications and lack of them. I have never made any big effort to study the lives and history of the five men whom Lorin Woolley stated were appointed and ordained to perpetuate Plural marriage. In 1979 I did spend 3 months of research on the Lorin Woolley Story, in preparation to writing a book review to Max Anderson’s book. Among the materials I went through at that time were the diaries of Samuel Bateman whom Lorin Woolley claims to be one of the five who were ordained.
As far as the topic under discussion is concerned, the major focus of my study has been in matters of the Priesthood, with particular interest in the Joseph Smith period. This would have a strong bearing on the Council of Friends and the original context of “the one anointed and appointed” as it was understood by the Prophet at the time he received the revelation on Eternal Marriage.
There is in what I have to say, both good news and bad news, and I must say, I hardly know which to tell first, for what is good to one party is bad to another. In any case, I am persuaded that it is a true saying, that he who only knows his own side of an argument is not generally well informed even of that consequently, he is not in a good position to pass judgment upon the issues. To rectify this problem for the Fundamentalists, in the true Lawyer style of a prosecuting attorney, Brian has presented the strongest possible case for the other side. In the process he has clearly pointed out some falacies in Fundamentalist thinking which are long over due for a change. On this count there is certainly a day of reckoning. But this situation is not unique to Fundamentalism, for in every sence of the word, the same is true for the Church. Indeed, the Priesthood platform upon which the Church has stood for more than a century, is hardly in keeping with the Nauvoo teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and within two years, this will be a well established fact.
Sometimes the Truth is a bitter pill! Nevertheless, we are all better off for it. If there is one prayer I would offer up daily, it is “Oh Lord God, do not let me believe a lie, but lead me into all Truth”. Truth is what we should all be after! I have never run from a good fight, especially in matters of my religion I have always been glad to give a reason for my faith, and so I feel now May the Truth prevail! There are many things which Brian has said in his paper that are deserving of a point by point response things which are hardly in keeping with the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith but there is not enough time. Consequently, I will only be able to respond to a few of his remarks. In order to save time, I will commence by making an honest confession, where we agree, and then spend the remainder of time in ironing out our differences.

In his paper Brian suggests that the doctrine on the “Council of Friends” was a lie which was put out by Lorin Woolley and Joseph Musser in retaliation to an even bigger lie which was palmed upon the members of the Church only shortly before by the office of the First Presidency. In saying this, I make reference to the 1933 Message of the First Presidency which was authored by Heber J. Grant’s lawyer Councilor, J. Reuben Clark. On this count I am persuaded that Brian has hit the nail directly on the head. I guess that Woolley and Musser figured that one big whooping lie deserved another.
Of late, some Fundamentalists have attempted to substantiate the existence of the “Council of Friends” by identifying it with the “Holy Order” and the “Fulness of the Priesthood” but you might just as well try to dress a hippo in a small bikini as to make the Holy Order into the Council of Friends. The suit just doesn’t fit. Those who attempt to confute these organizations only make for themselves more problems and contradictions, as the description and historical background which Lorin Woolley and Joseph Musser gave to the Council of Friends, together with its seven High Priest Apostles, has absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with the Holy Order, Kings and Priests and the Fulness of the Priesthood.
Fundamentalists who found their faith on a belief that the Prophet Joseph Smith ever established a so called “Council of Friends” composed of seven “High Priest Apostles” or any other number, are following a fable there is not a word of truth in it! And those who persist in this belief are just as mislead as the leaders of the Church, who argue that the Manifesto was a revelation from God. There is not one shread of evidence to support the existence of the Council of Friends, but on the contrary, all the evidence utterly refutes it.

Why don’t we all come clean and admit the Truth! The time for such fables is past! The war is over! The teachings on the Council of Friends is a lie! And even if it is not as big a lie as the one told by President Grant and his Lawyer Councilor, J. Reuben Clark, it is nonetheless still a lie!
I would rather believe that Lorin Woolley and Joseph Musser knew that the Council of Friends was a lie, which for lack of anything better, they deliberately invented, in order “to beat the Devil at his own game”, to quote Charles Penrose I would rather believe this, than to believe that Woolley and Musser were so benighted and ignorant of the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants as to believe something so far from the Truth. The Council of Seven High Priest Apostles or Friends never existed on Earth at least that is, not until Lorin Woolley created it among his Fundamentalist friends.
Personally I don’t like lies, but in any case we do not here have time to deliberate on the morality of such tactics. Nevertheless, it is a historical fact that President Wilford Woodruff and his successors adopted a policy of lies and lieing as a tool to ward off the blows of a Satanic Government. Consequently, if we are to believe that President Woodruff and his successors were good men, and I don’t doubt but that they were, then we must also believe that Joseph Musser and Lorin Woolley are in good company.
Having resolved the question of the Council of Friends with an honest confession, let us now get on with something worth talking about, namely the continued practice of Plural Marriage under the ligitimate authority of the Priesthood.

It is my belief that there were two basic lines of Priesthood which came out of the Church, and for two very different reasons. Brian speaks of these in his paper, but spends most of his time in undermining the line which came through Lorin Woolley. The Priesthood which I hold came through Benjamin F. Johnson. Nevertheless, I also believe that authority for the performing of plural marriages was passed down from Joseph F. Smith to John W. Woolley, who conferred the same upon his son Lorin, and who in turn passed this authority down to others. However my belief in this matter is not founded upon Lorin Woolley’s testimony.

I first became acquainted with the Lorin Woolley story in 1970. At that time I did all in my power to determine if it was true. I met with Bruce R. McConkie, Ezra Taft Benson and Spencer W. Kimball, and even tried to get an audience with David O. McKay, hoping among other things to see the Diaries of President John Taylor. When I asked Spencer Kimball about the four hidden revelations, I was surprised when he tactifully admitted that they were true by responding that the Woolley’s had no right to publish them. As I later found out, Spencer’s mother was a Woolley, and he himself was related to John W. Woolley. This being the case, no doubt he had personally heard the story from Lorin in his youth.
There is also another interesting connection. When a young man, Spencer Kimball fell in love with a certain young lady named Maude Lucinda McDonald, whom He wanted to marry. But rather than marry Spencer, Maude chose to marry Alma Dayer LeBaron, who had received the birthright and Patriarchy over the Kingdom or Council of Fifty from his grandfather, who was Benjamin F. Johnson. It was this same Maude who later gave birth to a large family of sons, who through their deeds of good and evil have since become most notorious.
Even after Maude’s marriage to Dayer LeBaron, there were times when Spencer and Maude would see each other. Years later, Spencer met and shook hands with one of her sons at the close of the April 1952 General Conference Priesthood meeting. This is all mentioned in his biography, but what it does not tell us is that shortly afterwards, Spencer met with this son of Maude in his office, when he confessed that ‘when a young man he had fallen in love with his mother and that he had never completely gotten over it.’ Spencer Kimball’s connection to Mormon Fundamentalism is therefore twofold. Not only was he related to the Woolley’s, but when young he fell in love with the woman who would become the wife of Alma Dayer LeBaron.
But to return to our story finally in my search to determine if the Lorin Woolley story was true, I went to the institute at the University of Utah and there talked to a prominent professor of Church History. After asking about the 1886 revelation and the Lorin Woolley story, this teacher frankly confessed that the revelation was authentic, but that the Lorin Woolley story was false. At the same time he gave me a copy of Dean Jessee’s master’s thesis, which was basicly an attack on Mormon Fundamentalism. I at that time realized that even if the Lorin Woolley story was false, if the revelation was true, then the Church went left when it should have gone straight, and so I stopped attending Church. But what then of the Lorin Woolley story? I had already met with Max Anderson, and had been persuaded that there were problems, and as far as the story goes, on most counts I had accepted what Anderson had told me. It was not until I was asked to do the review of Anderson’s book for Dialogue magazine that I ever learned anything to the contrary. I remember thinking when I accepted the task, that my friends and family in the Church already despised me for leaving the Church, and now so also would the Fundamentalists for confessing what I would have to say about the Lorin Woolley Story.
According to Anderson’s book, with the exception of the 1886 revelation, just about every last detail in the whole of Lorin Woolley’s story is a lie. I felt that this Book Review was important, and that I owed the project some time, and so I spent three months doing research. Much to my surprise, in my search I found materials documenting all the details of the first third of the Lorin Wooley story, and all coming from documents which were written down in the time period that the story was supposed to have taken place. I even found materials substantiating the meeting Lorin claims to have taken place on September 26th, 1886, and other indications concerning the meeting which was supposed to have taken place the next day. The problem was that with the exception of the 1886 revelation, nothing happened on the day that Lorin Woolley said it did. Obviously, the reason that he had the correct date for the revelation was because it had been circulated it was dated, and he had a copy of it.

Anderson has made out that the whole of the Woolley story is a total lie, and Brian follows in his tracks as closely as he dares, but the facts do not vindicate their position. My research would indicate that the Lorin Woolley story was composed by Joseph W. Musser from journal notes which he had recorded over a period of many years. The testimony did not come from Lorin alone, but it also came from John W. Woolley and Daniel R. Bateman. There are parts of the story which took place in 1885, that Lorin could never have witnessed, but which according to the diary of Samuel Bateman, his son Daniel R. Bateman did. In other words, John W. Woolley, Lorin Woolley and Daniel R. Bateman all recounted events which they remembered from the underground days, which encompassed a two year period, and years later, Joseph Musser scrambled his notes of these recollections, and compressed the whole of the spectacular events into a story which supposedly took place in two days. Finally Musser presented this hodgepodge to Lorin Woolley who signed it and certified it as correct. Of course all of this makes for easy game in polemics, especially when the critics have access to primary documents for the two days in question. Anderson and Brian would have us believe that if the Woolley Story didn’t happen on these two days, then the whole of it, along with all of Fundamentalism is a total lie and all its advocates a bunch of “wildflowers”! But while their muck raking tactics might make for good polemics, they don’t make for good history. Indeed, a fair analysis of those same primary documents would witness to something else altogether.
It would be far more appropriate to discredit the whole Church for the Lie of the Manifesto, than it would be to discredit the whole of the Woolley story simply because it did not give the proper dates for the events which it describes. Nevertheless, of a truth, the lies have all come home to roost and they have become a part of our cultural heritage. This is true for the Church and the Fundamentalists, as the Authorities of both have lied.
If we are ever going to learn the Truth in this matter we must approach the subject with an open mind. We must go back to the primary sources and unravel the story from the beginning, and then follow it through to its present development. Indeed, it is impossible to fully comprehend the Fundamentalist movement and their Priesthood claims independant of their history. This becomes apparent when it is realized that the Fundamentalist Priesthood and their line of authority did not begin with the invention of the “Council of Friends” and consequently, neither need it end when it is proven to be false. The fact that their doctrine is false does not in itself deny the validity of their Priesthood, any more than the false doctrine of the Church denies their’s. But even if it doesn’t deny their Priesthood, without a doubt it certainly indicates a lack of inspiration on the part of those who concocted the doctrine.

For convenience I divide the Woolley story into three basic parts the beginning, the middle and the end. As I have already stated, the beginning can be substantiated, and so also can most of the middle, but it is the end that has difficulties. I have already published elsewhere my findings regarding the first third of the story, so we will now focus on the miraculous events of the middle. It is this part of the story which tells of the appearance of the Prophet Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ to President John Taylor. Until recently the earliest known account of the Lorin Woolley story was the 1912 version. In this account Lorin tells of the appearance of the Prophet Joseph Smith to President John Taylor while he was living in his father’s home at Centerville, Utah. This account reads as follows:

In the latter part of September, 1886, the exact day being not now known to me, President John Taylor was staying at the home of my Father, John W. Woolley, in Centerville, Davis County, Utah.
At the particular time herein referred to, President Taylor was in hiding (on the underground). Cha[rles] H. Barrell and I were the “guardsmen” on watch for the protection of the president. Two were usually selected each night, and they took turns standing guard to protect the President from trespass or approaching danger. Exceptional activity was exercised by the U. S. Federal officers in their prosecutions of the Mormon people, on account of their family relations in supposed violation of the federal laws.
Soon after our watch began, Charles H. Barrell reclined on a pallet and went to sleep. President Taylor entered the south room to retire for the night. There was no door way entrance to the room occupied by President Taylor, except the entrance from the room occupied by the guardsmen. Soon after 9 o’clock, I heard the voice of another man engaged in conversation with President Taylor, and I observed that a very brilliant light was illuminating the room occupied by the president. I wakened Barrell and told him what I had heard and seen, and we both remained awake and on watch the balance of the night. The conversation was carried on all night between President Taylor and the visitor, and never discontinued until the day began to dawn when it ceased and the light disappeared. We heard the voices in conversation while the conference continued and we saw the light.
My father came into the room where we were on watch, and was there when President Taylor came into the room that morning. As the President entered the room, he remarked, “I had a very pleasant conversation all night with the Prophet Joseph.” At the time President Taylor entered the room his countenance was very bright and could be seen for several hours after. After observing that some one was in conversation with the President, I went out and examined all the windows and found them to be fastened as usual.
The brethren were considerably agitated about this time over the agitation about plural marriage, and some were insisting that the church issue some kind of edict to be used in congress, concerning the surrendering of plural marriage, and if some policy was not adopted to relieve the strain, the government would force the Church to surrender. Much was said in their deliberations for and against some edict or manifesto that had been prepared, and at a meeting that afternoon, at which a number there were present and myself, I heard President Taylor say: “Brethren, I will suffer my right hand to be cut off before I will sign such a document.” (Lorin C. Woolley Statement, of October 6, 1912, Church Historian’s Office)

In this account Woolley does not remember the exact day of the appearance, but only that it was in the latter part of September. It will also be noticed that there is no reference to the ordination of five men, and many other things which can be found in the 1929 account. To date, no historical evidence has been produced that would contradict the substance of this statement. In this connection it is significant that everything in the 1912 account concerns matters that came under Lorin’s personal observation. In other words, none of the material in this account was borrowed from Daniel R. Bateman or John Woolley. Recently another account of the Lorin Woolley story has come to my attention. This one is much earlier and comes from an unexpected source — namely from the personal diary of President Spencer W. Kimball’s father, Andrew Kimball. On January 25th, 1897, which is fifteen years earlier than the afore mentioned account, Andrew Kimball recorded the following brief entry in his diary regarding Lorin Woolley:

Elder Woolley testified that he knew that the Prophets Joseph, Brigham and Heber lived for he had seen them as they appeared to Prest. John Taylor in Bro. John Woolley’s house (Andrew Kimball Diary, Church Historian’s Office; See also Unpublished Revelations Vol 3, under date of September 26th and 27th, 1886)

Another reference to an even earlier telling of the story comes from the wife of Apostle John W. Taylor, who told her son, Samuel W. Taylor, that in 1893 her cousin Lorin told her the “strange tale of a secret revelation about the Principle”:
Lorin said that right next door on the adjoining farm of John W. Woolley, President John Taylor was in hiding the night of September 26, 1886, when he received a revelation concerning the Principle and set men apart to continue it regardless of what the Church might do officially on the matter. Lorin said that he was one of the men set apart. (Family Kingdom <1951> by Samuel W. Taylor, p. 72)

Another interesting account comes from Olive Woolley Coombs, who was the daughter of Lorin Woolley. Olive remained in the Church throughout her life, but in 1979, she told me that on one occasion when a young girl, she went over to visit John W. Woolley who was her Grandfather, and while sitting at a table, he told her that “the Lord Jesus Christ has sat at this table”. Another account which originated with Olive and her brother Calvin Woolley (who was also a faithful member of the Church) is found in a book dedicated to the early history of Centerville. Olive and Calvin were interviewed by Mary Ellen Wood Smoot and Marilyn Fullmer Sheriff, who later published the following account of John Taylor’svision in their history of Centerville:

One of the most delightful experiences that came as a direct result of writing this book was the many interesting visits we had with children and grandchildren of original pioneers. We would make an appointment to visit with them and ask them to talk about their memories of early life in Centerville. We taped the conversations, and this chapter is a direct result.

* * * * * *

President Taylor at Woolley Home

One memory that stood out in the lives of all the Woolley children and grandchildren was that of having President John Taylor and many other General Authorities stay for a period of time in the John Woolley home. There was a hollow in back of the John Woolley home where they played horseshoes and baseball. Lorin C. Woolley had a photogenic mind and he used to ride back and forth from Salt Lake and bring them information from the church offices.
One night Lorin Woolley was on guard outside. He saw a bright light shining out of President Taylor’s window and he heard voices. He was afraid someone had slipped passed him unnoticed so he stepped to the window. He could hear three voices conversing in a very peaceful manner and a calm feeling came over him that assured him all was right! The next morning he asked President Taylor about it, and was told he had heard the voices of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Saviour. They had come to reassure President Taylor that polygamy was sanctioned of the Lord.
At one time Brother Richards was listening as Lorin Woolley was recounting to President Taylor exactly what he heard the men saying who were at that time sorely persecuting the leaders. And he said, “You mustn’t let that boy talk like that!” President Taylor assured him that he needed to know the very inflections of their voice in order to know exactly how to handle the situation. They never suspected this teenage boy and he was never stopped. Shortly thereafter, President Taylor left the Woolley home, went to Kaysville and passed away there. (The City In Between, History of Centerville, Utah including Biographies and Autobiographies of some of its original settlers <1975, Centerville, Utah> 47, 49)

You would suppose that President Spencer W. Kimball was speaking of this same visitation of Christ, when at the close of his April 1978 conference address he quoted President Taylor as making the following statement:

“I know that God lives. I know that Jesus Christ lives,” said John Taylor, my predecessor, “for I have seen him.” (The Ensign 48)

After making this statement, some supposed that President Kimball was alluding to the 1886 visitation as attested to by Lorin Woolley, and enquires were made to President Kimball. His response was that he had made a mistake, and that he actually meant to say that George Q. Cannon had made the above remark and not President Taylor. The evidence would show that he told the truth, but this notwithstanding, considering that President Kimball had John Taylor’s diaries in his office safe, the above remark is certainly an interesting Freudian slip. In any case, President Kimball’s statement as given above is a verbatim quote from a discourse which was given by George Q. Cannon and subsequently published in the Deseret Weekly on October 6th, 1896. I have not been able to determine exactly when it was that Cannon saw Christ, but evidently he alluded to this same experience during the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple:

I have been greatly favored of the Lord. My mind has been rapt in vision and [I] have saw the beauties and Glory of God. I have saw and conversed with the Savior face to face. (Francis Asbury Hammond Journal, 20 April 1893, as cited in Collected Discourses Vol 3:285)

Be it remembered, that according to Lorin Woolley, George Q. Cannon was one of those present at the eight hour meeting when Christ appeared, and it is not at all unlikely that this is the appearance to which he referred. In this regard, it is significant that all the George Q. Cannon diaries have recently been turned over to the family all, that is, except for the entries from September 29th, 1886 to October 13th 1886. These pages were cut out of the diary of all the many volumes, these are the only missing pages. It is my feeling that the eight hour meeting actually happened in the early part of October, possibly on the 3rd, rather than late September, so the missing pages in Cannon’s diary are most significant.

Some time after January 5th, 1933, which was in the twilight of Lorin Woolley’s life, he told of another even earlier occurance when the Prophet Joseph Smith appeared to President John Taylor. According to this statement, this visitation took place before President Taylor and party came to stay at the Woolley residence. The following is Lorin’s account of this appearance:

John Taylor and company, including Geo. Q. Cannon, [and his] clerk John L. Nuttall and others, stopped at the residence of Wm. H. Hill in Mill Creek for about three weeks, going there from the residence of Bro. White or Carlisle, and before he went to Centerville, [to stay at] John W. Woolley’s house. While at the Hill house he dedicated the place as one of safety for Bro. and Sister Hill and family, and their posterity; and while there he was visited at least once by Joseph Smith the Prophet. (Items from the Book of Remembrance of Joseph W. Musser, p. 24)
At first appearance, it would seem that the more Lorin Woolley talked, the more fantastic his claims became. Not only did the Prophet appear to President Taylor while living at his fathers, but now Fundamentalists must also account for at least one other appearance which took place before. According to Brian and Anderson, this would all be just so much more evidence to destroy Lorin’s credability. And so it would appear, until just recently when two other accounts of the Prophet Joseph Smith appearing to President Taylor came to light one by Philo Dibble and the other by Apostle Merriner W. Merrill. On July 31st, 1886, nearly two months before the Lorin Woolley story is supposed to have taken place, John Moon Clements recorded the following entry in his diary:

Went to the High Priests meeting held in the Font house. Philo Dibble spoke of this being the resurrection day. And that Joseph Smith had been to Prest John Taylor and conversed with him in his body about this crusade against us, and that he felt grieved at the course his son Joseph [III] was taking.

It was probably this same appearance to which Apostle Merriner W. Merrill referred when in a meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on July 7th, 1891, he made the following statement:

The last time I met Pres. Taylor he said to me: ‘I may never see you again and I want to tell you that I have seen the Prophet Joseph who said the Lord did not want His people to be concerned about the raid or inquire when it would cease. “It will stop in mine own due time,” said the Lord. Joseph, however, said it made him [“]sad to see his own son (Joseph Smith Jr [the third], who was then traveling through the territory preaching against this Church) trying to tear down what he had given his life to establish. (Abraham H. Cannon Journal, July 7th, 1891, Special Collections, University of Utah Library)

Both of the above accounts would indicate that the Prophet’s son, Joseph Smith III was in the territory preaching against Utah Mormonism at the time the Prophet appeared to President Taylor. This would place the Prophet’s appearance some time between June 17th, and December 21st, 1885.
All of these accounts are most interesting and serve to vindicate Lorin Woolley’s testimony, but it would be far more interesting to read the more complete accounts as they are undoubtedly recorded in the personal diaries of President John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, and L. John Nuttall, all of which are locked away in the First Presidency’s office Vault.
What do the brethren really have to hide?


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