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.

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

Transcript

State of Utah

Office of

Secretary of State

To _____THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST-BORN______

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]

SECRETARY OF STATE

BY [signature Mendell L. Cottrell?]

DEPUTY

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 FindaGrave.com

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.

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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 historicalshortcreek.wordpress.com

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.

Ross LeBaron, Fred Collier: Revelation on Salvation and Exaltation, 1974

On 7 August 1974, Ross W. LeBaron received a revelation stating the purposes of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Church of the Firstborn, and their relation to the principles of salvation and exaltation of humankind. [1] The revelation was recorded in handwriting by Fred Collier, then an adopted son of Ross LeBaron. In a later recollection, Collier suggested that he was the original recipient of the revelation, which had been given him a few years before, and that he only wrote it down after LeBaron had a spiritual confirmation of the spiritual message. [2]

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

The revelation was recorded as follows:Continue reading “Ross LeBaron, Fred Collier: Revelation on Salvation and Exaltation, 1974”

Mormon Fundamentalism and the Sealing Keys of Hyrum Smith

Ross W. LeBaron claimed to have “the patriarchal keys of the lineage of the Prophet Joseph”. He considered his heirship to the Mormon Prophet “the highest title of birth, and the second order of priesthood,” as he stated to Joseph White Musser in 1951. Lebaron believed the Mormon Fundamentalist movement, on the other hand, operated under “the keys of the lineage of Hyrum”. In 1985, LeBaron explained his views of the Fundamentalist priesthood authority in the following manner:

The only possible claim to the sealing power, by the Polygamists after 1890, was through the sealing keys of Hyrum Smith. Those keys were conferred upon John Smith by Brigham Young.

Ross LeBaron interview
Ross Wesley LeBaron in June, 1977. | Image: Dale Van Atta. Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.

DeWayne Hafen: Interview to Dale Von Atta, 1978

As a teenager, DeWayne Hafen helped Ross LeBaron in his machine shop while LeBaron taught him about the Church of the Firstborn. When Hafen met him again as an adult, LeBaron was hesitant to ordain Hafen. The reason was Hafen’s previous affiliation with The Church of the Firstborn of the Fullness of the Times. Even though Ross LeBaron considered his brothers’ organization a “counterfeit” of the true Church of the Firstborn, he wouldn’t “steal” someone who “belonged” to them.

DeWayne Navy
DeWayne Hafen in the 1960’s. 

In this interview given to journalist Dale Van Atta in June 1978, Hafen speaks of his disillusion with the two main leaders of the larger LeBaronite church, Joel and Ervil LeBaron. “There were deals for wives, women, money, land… A lot of people told me I was a damn fool. Everyone else was dealing for something. I wasn’t dealing for anything”.Continue reading “DeWayne Hafen: Interview to Dale Von Atta, 1978”

Year of Polygamy Podcast

In the latest episode of the Year of Polygamy podcast, I was interviewed by Lindsay Hansen Park about Ross LeBaron and his Church of the Firstborn.

Year of Polygamy Ross LeBaron Lindsay Hansen Park
Lindsay Hansen Park, Director of the Sunstone Foundation and host of the Year of Polygamy podcast.

We talked about LeBaron’s views on priesthood, his relationship with the Mormon Fundamentalist movement, his brothers’s church in Mexico and his son Ross LeBaron Jr. Click here to download or listen to the episode online.