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Colorado City Polygamists: An Inside Look for the Outsider 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1888106855
ISBN-10: 1888106859
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Benjamin G. Bistline, the sixth of ten children, was born in Logan, Utah, on April 21, 1935, the son of John Anthony Bistline and Jennie Johnson Bistline. His parents were active members of the Mormon Church but became involved with polygamist families in Millville, Utah, and were excommunicated by LDS Church in 1937. The family moved to Short Creek, Arizona, in 1945 to join a united order movement, also known as The United Effort Plan. His father soon became discouraged by John Barlow's ineptness in governing his Order, and by 1948 he had repented of his decision to join with Barlows' group at Short Creek. He then decided to rejoin the Mormon Church, but his wife refused to leave, taking a firm stand. Ben’s father died in April of 1949, before rejoining the LDS Church because of their policy of a one year repentance probation period after being excommunicated. Ben’s mother had always wanted to live polygamy and this gave her the opportunity to do so. She married Richard Jessop as his fifth wife and they moved into his large household of four wives and about thirty children. Ben lived in this polygamous household for the next three years until the raid on Short Creek in 1953. While living with his stepfather, he became romantically involved with one of the daughters, but the Raid interrupted the courtship. Ben was eighteen and Annie was fifteen. All minor children in the community were declared wards of the state of Arizona, and were transported with their mothers to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1953. They were released and allowed to return to Short Creek in 1955 Annie and Ben were married June 24, 1955, and remained in the society where they parented and raised sixteen children. He was never allowed to marry any other wives, after being deemed unworthy of the privilege by polygamist leaders because of his “rebelliousness.” His refused to take what he was told at face value, he refused to join one of the leadership cliques, and he refused to live in blind obedience Thus he was never a polygamist. He and his wife would have accepted plural marriage. In the early 1980s Ben became discouraged with the polygamists due to their changes in religious doctrine. He now lives on his own property in an area called Cane Beds, about two miles south of Colorado City. He and his wife are still very much involved with the polygamists due to extended family relationships. Ben and his wife Annie joined the LDS Church in 1992. They believe the same doctrine as the LDS Church in regards to polygamy. They are members of the Kaibab Moccasin Ward where they have served in several church callings. Ben has served on the high council of the Kanab, Utah Kaibab stake.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR BEN BISTLINE ABOUT TEXAS. Answers in the book. . . Q. Some, including Ross Chatwin, have compared Warren Jeffs to Adoph Hitler. What do you think? A. Well, I think Ross is referring first to the reputation Warren developed when he was in charge of the Academy in Salt Lake and the tactics he used to get children to come and tell him of anyone, friend or family member, mother or father, who said anything contrary to his strict interpretation of the doctrine. Then he would call the person in and “talk” to them. Then, of course, when he became First Counselor in Colorado City, he sent his thirteen-, fourteen-, and fifteen-year-old young men, he named them “Uncle Warren’s Sons of Helaman” but they were more like the Hitler-youth program, and sent them into people’s homes, forcing them to make a statement that they would acknowledge him as their leader and would accept whatever doctrine he preached to them. And then when he had his brother ordain him as prophet, he began excommunicating his brethern and reassigning their wives and children to men more willing to completely commit to him and whatever he told them to do, or to believe. And the newspaper reported that apparently Warren had been secretly taping sessions where people came in to confess their sins and then he used it later to blackmail them. Q. It appears that Warren Jeffs is settling up other areas for his group. Q. Why Texas? Q. They said it was a hunting lodge. Q. Which members are living there? Q. The Eldorado Success newspaper quotes the FLDS as saying they won’t go into competition with local people for contracting jobs. But if they decide to do so, what would stop them? Q. The FLDS in Texas say their intent is not to apply for government assistance. Q. Will a United Order work in Texas? Q. FLDS leaders in Eldorado claim there won’t be any child brides, but how will authorities know? It is a closed and gated community. Q. Why does Washington County Sheriff Smith speak well of the people in Colorado City/Hildale when he talks to the authorities in Texas? And does he know any polygamist women? Q. Knowing that they believe in blood atonement and knowing his people would do whatever is necessary to protect their prophet, do you think authorities will keep their distance? Q. Knowing Warren Jeffs and watching what he has done so far, what do you think may happen in the future as he plans for the end of the world? Q. What is the future of the FLDS? Q. What will be Warren Jeffs future actions in the Colorado City/Hildale area? Q. If Warren Jeffs leaves Colorado City, who would take over? Q. Why in the world did the Barlows just meekly lay down and allow their wives and children to be taken from them?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Agreka Books; 1 edition (July 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888106859
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888106855
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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Ben Bistline's history of the First Ward of Colorado City is unique excursion into a secretive group dedicated to a non-mainstream set of beliefs and practice. The Colorado City Polygamists is the shorter version of this history and is more suited to the general (and in particular) non-LDS reader. While a background in restorationist religious history is useful it is not essential to enjoying this insider view of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (or FLDS). The book is full of names and events of the 20th century development of a utopian group dedicated to a practice now shunned by the mainstream LDS church. For a student of American utopian experiments this story has the typical and sad end of most American experiments in group living with the rise of charismatic and erratic leader leading the people into the wilderness in the nominal pursuit of purity and truth. Do not look for sensational from this book but a respectful yet tough telling of the inside religious story of a eccentric group of American utopians.
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This is a very interesting book which helps explain why the polygamists believe what the do. It would have been helpful if there was a guide that stated the various peoples names and who they are.
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If you are researching an academic paper on polygamy, this would be a good resource. However, if you are interested in the stories of polygamists as in "Escape," "Stolen Innocence," or "Daughter of the Saints," you should bypass this book. It is just a compilation of dry statistics.
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Colorado City Polygamists is a rare view into the real reasons behind so called FLDS in Colorado City. I worked in the Fredonia/Colorado City area during the 1980s and witnessed first hand what is so accurately portrayed in this book. It is pitiful that greed and avarice of misguided "leaders" allowed the true tenets of FLDS to be kidnapped by charlatans and neer-do-wells.

This is the first time that the reader gets a REAL look at polygamy and the distortions of old testament plural marriage beliefs. Believe me, I felt myself taken back to the times that I had to go to Colorado City on business and the constant observation by locals. Ben Bristline provides both, an excellent insight AND accurate portrayal, of life in Colorado City.
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