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Site Version January 2011



James J. Strang’s second wife, a school teacher named Elvira Field, was a national advocate for the rights of women, and founder of the earliest female sororities.  She even implemented a style of pants that preceded the liberating Amelia Bloomer pants, consistent with Mormon beliefs to have “plainness in dress” and avoid the “fashion of the world” (Evening and Morning Star, June 1832; and Elders Journal, August 1838). Latter Day Saint scriptures say not to have “fine clothing” or “costly apparel”, but to “let all thy garments be plain.”  (2 Nephi 28:13, Alma 5:53, and D&C 42:40).


Women were welcome to wear those comfortable pants in his settlements by 1849, when hooped tight dresses were required apparel for women in American cities.  In 1851, Strang invited women into lesser priesthood roles; in 1853, a substantial number of women were ordained to be teachers; and by 1856, women were lecturing in the School of the Prophets.


Under James J. Strang, the church became the first American religion to regularly allow women into lesser priesthood roles such as a teacher, or priest.  Under Joseph Smith, most ordained teachers were adult men.  However, earlier Emma Smith (the wife of Joseph) was ordained to be a teacher (D&C 25:7 and 20:59). Other Mormons changed their church by ordaining young boys instead of men to be teachers, and then they often are taught by females who are un-ordained non-teachers.


We believe in marriage for life, the resurrection, and life everlasting, and think it is natural to be with our children in heaven.  Eternal marriage was implied in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and in the 1835 Sacred Hymns. There is information on “Marriage” as Chapter 15 in the Book of the Law of the Lord, and marriage can be administered anywhere as in the days of Joseph Smith. Our endowment is simply like the one administered in the Kirtland temple in the 1830s. Marriage was unrelated to this endowment, and Joseph Smith was never married in a temple.


This church historically permitted polygamy (polygyny) in limited cases, but this is not considered a distinctive or modern doctrine of the church.


Of 12,000 members during James J. Strang’s lifetime, less than one percent of families (twenty-two families) ever tried the arrangement, and none had more than four or five wives in their family, generally just two.


Strang led the last of the major Mormon groups to begin polygamy, and yet he became the first to acknowledge the ceremony publicly.


Though he had theological, historical, scientific, and social arguments for the system, those that were socially-based demonstrate his surprisingly balanced advocacy. He theorized that it liberated women (in contrast to repressing them) by giving them greater choice, advantage, and opportunity in the selection of a preferred companion and fit reproductive mate. This benefited society by encouraging competition among men to prove themselves successful husbands and fathers. His lengthy treatise on the justification for “Polygamy” is one of his annotations to the translated Book of the Law of the Lord (not part of the online version on this site).


Traditional love was prerequisite to any marriage, so marriages were not prearranged by parents or elders, and polygamy was seen as a freedom for women to marry whomever they loved most.  Polygamous wives were usually older unwed women, or widows with children that needed care on the frontier. The youngest known polygamous wife was 19-years old.  Polygamous wives in the church were intelligent, free-thinking women, including a doctor and a meteorologist. Women were not allowed to leave their husbands to be married to another man polygamously, and men were not allowed to divorce their wife to take another.


There was never a church ban on polygamy, like other Mormons eventually had. There are even precedents for polygamy after the martyrdom of James J. Strang in 1856. For example, leading church elder Wingfield Watson was actively seeking multiple wives from 1873 to 1880. The church requires obedience to local and federal laws, but polygamous marriages during the early church were apparently only common law marriages (with religious ceremonies but not civil proceedings). Regardless of all of this, there are no known cases of polygamy currently in the church. Church members realize that the D&C section (numbered by other Mormons as Section 132) requiring polygamy was not produced until 1852, eight years after the death of Joseph Smith, and is not an authentic Joseph Smith revelation in the form printed by other Mormons.


This Bloomer
costume was
probably less
plain than the
pantaloon dress.

Typical fashion dress of 1850 Bloomer costume allowed  pants


Continuing Faith

For baptism for the remission
of sins, it is necessary only to have
faith toward God, and to repent of all sin.

To receive baptism by immersion, contact:


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Mormon Road and Hwy. 11
Burlington, Wisconsin

(800) 862-5667



One example of our
concise priesthood lineage

Prophet Joseph Smith, 1829

Ebenezer Page, 1830
(Early Mormon in N.Y., Missouri, brother of John E. Page,
Later an Apostle at Voree, Wis., and Beaver Island)

Elder Wingfield Watson, 1858
(Lived on Beaver Island)

Elder Joseph H. Hickey, 1907
(Son of L.D. Hickey who lived at Palmyra, N.Y., Nauvoo, Ill.,
Voree, Wis., and was an apostle on Beaver Island)

Elder Steve Barany, 1953
(Son-in-law of Joseph H. Hickey, died in 2010 at 95)



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© 1996-2011 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  All Rights Reserved.
The First Presidents of this Church were Joseph Smith Jr. 1830-1844, and James J. Strang 1844-1856.
The First Presidency was at Voree, Wisconsin 1844-1850, and St. James (Beaver Island), Michigan 1850-1856.

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