Mike's Reviews > Faith and Betrayal: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West

Faith and Betrayal by Sally Denton
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Jun 13, 2010

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bookshelves: mormonism
Read from June 09 to 13, 2010

This book is an account of a well-to-do 19th century British woman, Jane Rio, who uprooted her life to pursue belief in Mormonism at its nascent only to be disillusioned on her arrival in Salt Lake City with the discovery of polygamy and unbridled authoritarianism. Her experience is summed up by the following (p.139).

"My 20-acre farm turned out to be a mere saleratus (sodium bicarbonate) patch, killing the seed which was sown instead of producing a crop," Jean Rio recalled years later in an addendum to her diary. Admitting defeat, she deserted her land, moving into a "small log house" in Ogden to learn dressmaking. "I have tried to do my best in the various circumstances in which I have been placed," she wrote. "I came here in obedience to what I believed to be a revelation of the most high God, trusting in the assurance of the missionaries whom I believed to have the spirit of truth. I left my home, sacrificed my property, broke up every dear association, and what was and is yet dearer than all, left my beloved native land. And for what? A bubble that has burst in my grasp. It has been a severe lesson, but I can say that it has led me to lean more on my Heavenly Father and less on the words of men."

Two of her sons left Utah territory as soon as they were able. "They could not stand poverty any longer so ran away from it." Later Jean married a Gentile in Utah who lived only six months. Her oldest son, William, who was devout and a polygamist was reinstated after being disfellowshipped for purchasing a pair of boots from a Gentile. She eventually left Utah with the remainder of her family, excepting William, to join her sons in California who had prospered. She became a member of the First Congregational Church and contributed to her community there. Jean made one 21 month long visit to spend time with her son William and his family in Richfield, Utah before returning to California to live out the rest of her life.

(p.180)"Wilford Woodruff issued the first edict against polygamy that forced William into hiding and ultimately result in his incarceration as a polygamist. Ordered to divide his property and cash among his two families, and required to provide for them financially, he found the task impossible. Despite his ample income, there was simply not enough to support two wives and eighteen children." [His second wife:] Nicolena suddenly found herself a forty-five year old mother of seven with little if any outside support. She, like hundreds of other polygamist women in her position, received no financial aid from the church." Nor was the husband she was depending upon to pull her "through the veil" able to provide much assistance." "When William died in 1901 he received a substantial obituary reflective of his longstanding stature in the community of Richfield. Neither Nicolena nor any of his children by her were named as next of kin. Like the thousands of other children of polygamists, they were treated as if they were illegitimate and in effect punished by disinheritance and social stigma by the very society that had sanctioned and encouraged the practice of polygamy."

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Reading Progress

06/09/2010 page 50
20.83% "I came across this book while scanning the geography section of the library."
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