Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A few people recently emailed me to see if it was really true that Walter Martin was a descendant of Brigham Young. I thought I'd take a moment and tell you what I know--and let you decide.

The Mormons usually write to inform me that, of course, this isn't true (it's just one of many Walter Martin lies). They mention the genealogical records they've checked that "prove" this beyond a doubt. I honestly don't know why they spend valuable time looking into my father's lineage, especially the Mormon apologists who keep telling me (and telling me, and telling me . . . ad infinitum, ad nauseam) how unimportant Walter Martin was and is. I just tell them, "If he's so unimportant, why do you keep writing to me?"

At any rate, here's the scoop: My Grandmother told my father and his five siblings (from the time they were small) that they were direct descendants of Brigham Young. This was when she was a Christian Scientist and my father was not a Christian. (She had nothing to gain by telling them this, and only considered it important as a matter of family record.) This type of information falls under the category of oral history, and it is a valid form of historical recordkeeping. It is common knowledge that oral tradition has been responsible for safeguarding a great deal of important information over hundreds of years. As an historian, I read about this fairly often.

So what is the truth of the matter? I found a fascinating answer to the Mormon argument from one of their own--a woman researching the genealogy of her family because of the multiple birth defects present in so many of her relatives. She writes:

The Mormons, well known for genealogical record keeping, maintain birth, marriage and death information at church libraries and now on the Internet. Since polygamy remained a hidden and illegal practice, disguised family records occurred. The records of the marriages sealed at the Nauvoo Temple before the general exodus to Utah in the 1840’s, may be the most important ones of all; yet, these are stored in a vault, unavailable to researchers. During this early period, polygamy was practiced secretly by the Mormon leadership, men who covertly preached and expanded polygamy while publicly deceiving the general Mormon population about the practice. These wives sometimes became known, sometimes not. For instance, Quinn writes, “over twenty General Authorities were married to such lesser known wives." ‘Lesser known children’ hidden in families sympathetic to polygamists might remain ignorant of their genetic kinship. And the Genealogy Department advises genealogists to follow only their direct line; in this instance meaning only the wife who is their mother, not other wives of their father. This is inadequate information for purposes of establishing the true incidence of consanguinity within a family or community.*

So, there you have it--the Mormons basically have no idea who is truly related to whom because the Church will not release the earliest records. Why? Probably because those records would be a terrible embarrassment for them; a long litany of immorality and--well--confusion. The rich historical record of this period shows beyond any doubt that the early Mormons were prolifically promiscuous. Good luck trying to find out the true origins of any Mormon bloodline.

In view of this scenario, it seems to me that oral history is a great deal more reliable.

* Linda Walker, http://human-nature.com/science-as-culture/walker.html (accessed February 20, 2007).


Post a Comment

<< Home