Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wrap up of testimony - videos

Two ex-FLDS members give video testimony:

Howard Mackert
- from transcript of Dec 16, 2010 court session
- filmed in Gig Harbour,WA on June 16, 2010
- Howard is one of 27 children born to Clyde Chapman Mackert
- His mother was Mildred Eades first wife and the legal one
- His parents were not Mormon nor polygamists until his mother was converted to the faith while her husband was in the army and insisted his father also convert upon his return
- they moved to Short Creek (now Colorado City) and helped to build the community there - his father was a teacher in the one room school house and worked at logging in the summer
- they had a communal kitchen and shared everything at that time- late 1940's
- they all lived in houses that were travel trailers with add on buildings as they didn't own the land
- his father also married Donna Kunz and Myra Kunz who were from the Allred clan who were five or six generation Mormon polygamists and had ten children with Donna and six with Myra
- his own mother had 4 boys and 7 girls (two girls were twins)
- he was born shortly after his father had gone to prison for unlawful cohabitation
- two of his brothers were born within eleven days of himself
- the family (all three wives) had moved to Salt Lake City by the time Howard started school
- they lived in three separate houses and kept it "real hush"
- the kids all learned to lie about the polygamy and hide it
- they were taught what to say if it came up because his father's accountant job was at stake if anyone ever found out - it wasn't a popular thing to be a polygamist even though many of the key positions in the community were held by Mormons
- his self-image was very poor and spent his school years feeling very much of an outcast
- he was an athletic kid and was the second fastest runner in the school with some definite talent in wrestling but was not allowed to play for the school team despite his coach really trying to convince his father to allow it - his father went to university on an athletic scholarship for football, played for Syracuse and was a heavy weight boxer - he taught his sons wrestling and other sports and all of the sons were athletic but they couldn't draw attention to themselves with three boys the same age from the same father - his father's job was at stake
- His family never celebrated christmas as they believed that Jesus was born on April 6th and christmas was a pagan holiday so when the kids went back to school after christmas break they had to lie about what gifts they got.
- the wives lived in separate houses until Howard was in the 8th grade and so his dad was in each house every third night but the kids really only saw him on Sunday mornings for their Sunday school class with him or if they were in trouble
- each house also had a Wednesday family evening that was held in each separate home where they learned to sing songs and perform in front of people
- one of the wives rented a farmhouse where she boarded horses and all the boys went there to work on the garden, irrigation and tend the horses - he speaks fondly of that time and working with his siblings as well as learning to ride on horseback.
- he has other very positive memories of his father, usually a very quiet man who didn't like noise, playing football with them as kids and he speaks with some longing of he and his siblings worshipping his father's athletic prowess and not being able to have much of his time with the hours that he worked
- at age of 13 or 14 he was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and office of Deacon which for him was cool because he didn't have to do dishes and other "girl's chores" anymore but it did mean he had to study the articles of faith and work to earn his father's approval and attention.
- marriage for his father involved courting but the Roy Johnson, the Prophet, instituted "the law of placing" which meant that when you thought you were ready to marry you went to see Roy Johnson and he quizzed you a bit and then waited to have a revelation about who you were to marry.  This curtailed any courting, dating or interaction between young people.
- about once a month or so there would be a dance held in Colorado city - square dancing and his father played fiddle and would call for the dancing and the idea of courtship after marriage and keeping your feelings in check was promoted.
- his oldest sister was married to the prophet Roy Johnson in 1961 when he was 72 and she was 17. - she asked to be married to him and Howard speculates that she was wanting the status of being married to the prophet and she wasn't interested in having children herself.  Her twin sister married a younger man and had
15 children
- he comments that one of his siblings has a child that has Downs Syndrome and that there is a lot of Autism and Downs Syndrome in the community.
- when he was in grade 8 is father bought a property that was auctioned and sat on 6.5 acres of land in Sandy, Utah.  He and his sons did renovation work on it and in the end there was 22 bedrooms, a huge livingroom and dining area.  Each of the wives had a bedroom and an attached nursery.  His father had his den and their were boys and girls dorm bedrooms.  When he had paid off the mortagage on the property he gave it to the church and when he retired they built him a small house in Colorado City and took possession of the Sandy, Utah property.
- Howard recounts memories of parental discipline with his own mother and each of her sister wives and doesn't see them as particularly difficult relationships. - He says that he was surprised to find out as an adult that there was friction and rivalry between the wives or that his siblings considered him one of the favoured children.
- most of the girls in his community married before they were out of high school and he viewed this as a way for the girls not to have to worry about employment and for the men to maintain control of the women
- girls were told about a week before the wedding who and when they would be married so they could get a dress and prepare - boys were told the night before - Howard received a call from Roy Johnson the night before his wedding to Lori Jansen - He was 24 years old, a high school graduate and working to save for college and  had ideas that would take him out of the community - his sister was married to Roy Johnson and he clearly heard her in the background coaching the phone call - - he met his bride the night before the wedding - she was 17 and hadn't finished grade 8 as her father had been killed in an accident and she'd had to work full time to support the family
- he was pressured to obey the prophet by his family and so he married her but was very unhappy with her as she was not attractive to him both in physical appearance and personality - she was very naive about her wifely duties - he divorced her with the marriage still not consumated  - this got him into hot water with the prophet and his sister and severed him from the church
- he was introduced to another girl in college by his professor who gave him a crash course in dating and some advice. - for their first date they went for dinner and a movie and talked until 3am in her dorm about theological differences and she lent him her bible - he studied and decided to change his affiliation to a fundamental christian faith but his parents remained in positive contact with him possibly because of their similiar history
- his mother went to Rulon Jeffs who was the prophet at the time after 55 years of marriage and asked if Howard's father was going to make it to the highest level of heaven, being told no she asked to be reassigned to another husband who would.  - she left his father and was sealed to the Mayor of Hilldale who was
significantly younger than she was. - Howard believes that his grief over this was what killed his
father and her mother expressed regret at her decision.
- most of his siblings have left the FLDS and aren't allowed to associate with family who is still in the community according to edict from Warren Jeffs but they manage to keep in touch.
- Howard digresses a bit here with a rant about Warren Jeffs and his tyranical control over his followers and then says that not all polygamist communities are like that as his oldest brother Clyde is at Centennial Park community and they are much freer make choices and own land etc.

Ruth Lane (Blackmore)
from transcripts of Jan 5, 2011 court session
- Ruth was born in Colorado City, Arizona to a man who had two wives at the same time - she remembers her childhood fondly as being one in a close community where she felt safe.
- her own mother had 12 children and the sister wife had 3
- she lived there until she was 17 and then she left the community but returned when she became pregnant as that was where she wanted to raise her baby.
- when her child was almost two she asked to be married to Winston Blackmore and moved to Canada to do that.
- she was taught as a child that God would tell the prophet (Rulon Jeffs at the time) who you were to marry when the time was right - placement marriage
- the average age of first marriage for a girl was 21 to 25 then but it had been 16 to 18 when her mother was young
- she attended a public school but was taught about marriage at home and at Sunday School
- at 17 she left the community and stayed with a sister in another city who had left the FLDS - she met a boy who had also left Colorado City and he fathered her child
- she said that she was fairly well received when she went home pregnant - she said that you didn't openly date in colorado City as a teenager but that they all had their boyfriends but if you got caught you either got married or got kicked out and if you got married it wasn't under the covenant (sealed for time and
eternity) and you had to prove yourself
- she was lucky to be married to anyone in light of her out of wedlock pregnancy she said but she knew one of Winston's younger wives before the girl married and they had stayed in contact - she had a spiritual experience that indicated to her this was where her child need to be raised so she asked Rulon Jeffs to be
married to Winston - she married him a week later not knowing that he'd married two sisters also from Colorado City the week before that and they all drove up to Canada together along with her child. Ruth was wife number 10.
- her parents were mad at her for asking for him - he was younger than most of the church leaders and very charismatic  - and because of her child out of wedlock he had to have the consent of his other wives to marry her.
- when she arrived in Bountiful (1994) she lived in one bedroom with her son and several of the wives also shared their bedrooms with one or two children - there were 17 children in the household and they built a bigger house and then another bigger house for the family.
- the first few years were very happy for her and they had a lot of fun as a family but then there were more  wives and more children and it was very cramped. - the 11th wife arrived a year later she was Ruth's biological younger sister. - over the next few years Winston married 14 more women usually
in pairs but not always biological sisters.  Two of them were 15 years old at time of marriage and that was very disruptive to the family as they were struggling for time with him and space to live.
- Ruth had six children with Winston plus her first son.  At the time of the split with the Warren Jeffs group several of the wives left and returned to colorado City to follow Warren Jeffs and others have left the family and the FLDS movement.
- Winston currently has 136 children and Ruth says that he loves them all but there isn't enough time in the day to spend quality time with each child.
- Ruth describes struggles of life in a big crowded family with conflicts in parenting styles and financial strains caused by the division of assets of Winston's company when the split between factions happened in Bountiful.
- In 2006 Ruth left bountiful as she was pregnant with her 7th child and wanted a more solid relationship with her husband who would not work on relationships with any of them - he sent her to
the Cedar City to school and she felt so neglected  and frustrated that she called it quits and moved to Hurricane.  - all of her children moved with her for the first year but the older two are now back
in Canada living with their dad as well as her first son.
- she would not choose polygamy for her children and none have expressed an interest in it.
- she prefers to be independent and make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.
- she said that she would make decisions and have them questioned and reversed by her husband because he was head of household and that was the structure of the FLDS.
- she said that she had begun to question many of the FLDS rules especially those regarding how to keep control of teenagers who were expressing normal rebelliousness.
- Ruth thinks that most of the issues came from there being so many women and children in the family and indicated that she had seen men with smaller families do very well with their women and take care of them very well emotionally and physically.
- she said that Winston's capacity for love and ability to provide physically for his family was greater than average and that he had done well up to a point and she'd thought he might have been best to stop with ten wives.

"I would really like the answer to be that the law not be upheld.  Not meaning that I don't want under age marriages to be prosecuted or that I totally agree with the whole polygamy situation but saying that I really would like the people that want to do that lifestyle if my daughter does choose that lifestyle I would very much like her to be able to live within the law.  I would like her to have the ability to be proud and be a somebody not just a plural wife but a wife."

-Ruth was concerned that upholding the law would destroy what openness had been achieved in the past few years and that while some high profile prosecutions might result others would go further underground. 

-Ruth said that she left because he broke her heart not because he harmed her or her children but she did feel that some boundaries like the age of marriage for girls being raised to 21 needed to be instituted to make life better.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the updates. I have been linking to here in my own updates.