Becoming The Head of the Eighth Dispensation

In 1958, Robert Eaby wrote a two-page document with the scriptural reference that expanded the traditional Mormon view of seven dispensations of the gospel and, more importantly, portraited Ross LeBaron’s patriarchal work in cosmic proportions.

Ross LeBaron Mormon Fundamentalist Church of the Firstborn Radio Show
Ross LeBaron talking to a caller during his show on the radio station KZZI, in Utah, 1988. | Image courtesy of George Frey, Houston Chronicle Library

The “ten weeks” described in the apocryphal Book of Enoch were identified by Eaby as ten dispensations of the gospel. Quoting from the Ethiopic Version of the Book of Enoch, he related each week in the apocryphal prophecy to a dispensation, starting with Adam.

Continue reading “Becoming The Head of the Eighth Dispensation”

The LeBaron Family and The Patriarchal Keys

“It is true that the LeBaron Brothers have committed a lot of crimes, but so did the sons of Jacob”, wrote Ross LeBaron a few years after the death of his brother Ervil [1]. In Ross LeBaron’s perspective, even in the worst actions taken by his brother, the LeBarons would fit the ancient Israelite narrative of a troubled but chosen family.

Ross Wesley LeBaron, on trial in the Salt Lake City district court on charges of conspiring to promote plural marriage, Sept. 29, 1944. | Image: AP Photo.

From his father Alma Dayer LeBaron, Ross learned the belief that his family was the recipient of a secret priesthood line coming from Joseph Smith through Benjamin F. Johnson (1818-1905) and kept secret from the world and even from Mormondom.

Continue reading “The LeBaron Family and The Patriarchal Keys”

Thelma Cox LeBaron in the News, 1949

After divorcing Ross Wesley LeBaron in 1948, Thelma Elena Cox LeBaron made some headlines looking for a new husband. “Mrs. LeBaron would like to get a new husband to help support the home and her children so she can find some time to paint”, stated a front page report in the Salt Lake Telegram, in April, 1949. Her main concern was the scarcity of money and food. “Attractive Divorcee Seeks S[alt] L[ake] Husband” was the title.

Salt Lake Telegram, 12 Apr 1949, Tue, p. 21.

According to a news article from the United Press, published a few days later in an Austin newspaper, plural marriage, money and conflict of personalities were pointed by Thelma Cox and her ex-husband as causes for the separation.

Thelma Elena Cox, as a young woman. Date unknown. | Photo courtesy of Mary Taylor.

Before their separation, the LeBarons had had a baby boy the previous December.

Elena LeBaron, as she is referred to by the article, is again praised by her looks — “pretty” is the very first word of the article, and four paragraphs later she is described as a “shapely brunette”. The photograph of the divorced mother and her eight children occupies a larger part of the page than the text itself.

This time, the name of Ross LeBaron is mentioned. He is portraited as a “prophet for polygamy” and “self-styled ‘prophet”’ convicted during the 1944 trials of polygamist Mormons and a former inmate during the year of 1941, convicted of marrying a 14-year-old as his plural wife.

Continue reading “Thelma Cox LeBaron in the News, 1949”

Ross LeBaron as a Ministering Spirit

Ross Wesley LeBaron died in December of 1996 without seeing the Second Coming of Adam he clearly expected to happen during his lifetime. Nevertheless, LeBaron believed that his patriarchal work would not only continue but fully develop during the Millennium. The earthly Church of the Firstborn LeBaron had incorporated in 1955 would only meet its heavenly counterpart and function in full power until the ultimate end-time events took place:

The True Church of the First-Born will come about through the organizing of the worthy patriarchal Families in connection with the House of Israel. This will not take place until the return of the Ancient of Days, and the Ten lost Tribes of Israel.[1]

Some of his present-day followers or those who had an association with LeBaron have declared that they were, in some circumstances, able to communicate with, or be influenced by his spirit.

Steve Bkorkman with his son, Sven, Max Gerald “Jerry” Barlow, his wife, Linda, Ross Wesley LeBaron, his wife, Joann Hutchings Knight, Pamela Kunz (out front), Lee Hickenlooper ( in back), Thomas Green, his wife, Linda Kunz Green, Knut J. Knuteson, circa 1985. | Image courtesy of Tom Green.

During a fire that destroyed her house and killed her child in the Utah desert, June Johnson said she saw Ross LeBaron carrying her child away from this mortal realm.

In a time of stress and spiritual quest in the early decade of 2000, Aleen Bennet (Hafen), who had been recently excommunicated from the LDS Church for becoming a plural wife, had a revelatory dream in which LeBaron ministered to her, answering some of her doubts about the LeBaron`s priesthood. She had never met LeBaron in this mortality.

Tom Green reported a detailed, and somewhat humorous, account in which the spirit of his adopted father was present in a more mundane occasion, but having the spiritual significance as to his communication with LeBaron:

Continue reading “Ross LeBaron as a Ministering Spirit”

Ross LeBaron: the Three Periods of Mormonism

For Ross Wesley LeBaron, the history of Mormonism could be divided into three periods of 60 years each. He believed to be living during the last period, presided by “the LeBaron keys’, holding the same priesthood that existed during the days of Adam. In this excerpt of his radio show on KSXX, from the late 1980’s, Ross LeBaron also explains his understanding of the three orders of the priesthood and the restoration of the Adamic priesthood in the Nauvoo temple.

Ross LA Times
Ross LeBaron in front of Ogie’s Café, West Valley, UT, in 1988. Photo courtesy of Marsha Traeger, Los Angeles Times.

Listen to the audio file or read the transcript below.Continue reading “Ross LeBaron: the Three Periods of Mormonism”

Certificate of Incorporation, 1955

Certificate of Incorporation issued by the State of Utah for The Church of the First-Born on 01 December, 1955. This copy of the Certificate is found at the James Wardle Papers at the University of Utah Special Collections.

Ross Wesley LeBaron incorporated his Church of the First-Born in December, 1955.


State of Utah

Office of

Secretary of State


I, Lamont F. Toronto, Secretary of State of the State of Utah, do hereby certify that on the __FIRST___ Day of __DECEMBER ___ 1955 was filled in my office the articles of Association of the said Association that said articles contain the statement of facts required by law, and that said Corporation is hereby constituted a body corporate, with right of succession as specified in its said articles of agreement, and is hereby authorize [sic] to exercise all the functions, enjoy all the privileges of a Corporation and to transact all business of said Corporation as specified in its said articles of said Association.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of said State to be affixed, at Salt Lake City, this __FIRST__ day of ___DECEMBER__ A.D. 1955————

[signature Lamond F. Toronto]


BY [signature Mendell L. Cottrell?]


Was Ross LeBaron a Mormon Fundamentalist?

“I have been associated with the Fundamentalists since 1936” – Ross Wesley LeBaron wrote to Fundamentalist leader Margarito Bautista in December 1958 – “but have stood a hundred percent on my own feet.”[1]

Ross and Thelma Cox LeBaron, with first child. | Image Courtesy of Mary Taylor, available at

Almost 27 years later, LeBaron would give a more detailed – and probably more honest – account of his early association with Mormon Fundamentalism:

In 1936, I began working and studying with the Barlow Group in Short Creek, Arizona. I believed what they taught without thinking…  I had heard it all my life. [2] [Emphasis added]

As the subterranean sanction of plural marriage in the LDS Church died out, the late 1920’s and early 1930’s were a period of identity definition and membership growth to Mormon Fundamentalism.Continue reading “Was Ross LeBaron a Mormon Fundamentalist?”

Ross LeBaron: Priesthood Expounded, 1985

Priesthood Expounded is the last tract published by Ross LeBaron during his lifetime. It contains, among other themes, his views on the different orders of the priesthood, his belief in the Adam-God doctrine and reincarnation, as well as an explanation of the coming of Elijah to the Nauvoo temple, an event LeBaron believed was essential to the understanding of the Patriarchal keys received by Benjamin F. Johnson.

Ross LeBaron Revelation Firstborn
Ross Wesley LeBaron in January, 1984. | Photo courtesy of Tom Green

This copy of the Priesthood Expounded was edited by Ross LeBaron, showing at some parts his handwriting on the typewritten document.

Ross LeBaron: Letter to J. Marion Hammon, 1958

On 17 December 1958, Ross Wesley LeBaron wrote a letter to J. Marion Hammon condemning the path taken by the Mormon Fundamentalist Priesthood Council:

Whenever an organization casts out the thinkers of its membership, and only keeps the “yes men” and “blind followers”, it soon comes to an end.

Mormon Fundamentalism, Ross LeBaron, Short Creek
Bill Cook, J. Marion Hammon, LeRoy S. Johnson and John Y. Barlow in Short Creek, AZ. Date unknown. | Photo courtesy of the blog

LeBaron is referring above to an earlier event (“a number of years ago”, he wrote) in which J. Marion Hammon had asked him to not come to the Fundamentalist meetings anymore. The authoritarian way chosen by Hammon, as seem by LeBaron, was of no small consequence, and prompted him the following comparison:Continue reading “Ross LeBaron: Letter to J. Marion Hammon, 1958”

Baptismal and Ordination Certificates

These are two certificates of The Church of the First-Born. We haven’t been able to determine the date of these documents or for how long they were used by Ross Wesley LeBaron and his followers.

Baptismal and Confirmation certificate of the Church of the First-Born, date unknown.

Certificate of Ordination to the Patriarchal Priesthood, of the Church of the First-Born, date unknown.