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 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 →
Steve McKinley recollects a conversation with Ross W. LeBaron about the endowment in 1995. The “ambiguous answer” given by Ross, according to Steve, made him “feel better about the changes [made by the LDS Church] in the endowment”. He says he realized that “the reason the endowment was taken away by the Lord was because people didn’t understand it. It didn’t work for them. … It made them responsible for things they didn’t understand.” In this interview, Steve also talks about the way Ross LeBaron gave him instructions and tells an anecdote on Ross’s excitement while watching a music concert on TV.
Ross Wesley LeBaron in June, 1977. | Photo: Dale Van Atta. Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU.
In 1977, as the murderous acts of Ross LeBaron’s brother Ervil gained international attention, journalist Dale Van Atta did some research on the priesthood claims of the LeBaron family. Van Atta later co-authored a book on Ervil LeBaron and his crimes.
The following file can be found among Van Atta’s research papers at the Special Collections of the Brigham Young University. Despite the title on the library catalog – “Interview with Ross LeBaron” -, the document might actually be a transcript of a radio show by Ross LeBaron, in June that year.
According to Ross, the violence was over ownership of land in Mexico, as was well as a Cain-and-Abel war over spiritual rights to preside in Joseph Smith’s patriarchal family. In the following notes, Van Atta reports Ross LeBaron’s ideas on his brothers‘ churches, the Mormon Fundamentalist movement, and his own spiritual position as the heir of Joseph Smith:
Now this is going on in the LeBaron family particularly because we are, definitely, the patriarchal family of the line of the prophet Joseph Smith.
“He never, at any time I’m aware of, ever depended upon those who followed him to support him”, states DeWayne Hafen. An adopted son of Ross LeBaron, Hafen talks about why his priesthood leader lived in a storage shed and didn’t collect money from his followers, and reflects on the relationship with his own adopted sons.
Hafen, DeWayne. Interview given to Antonio Trevisan on April 20, 2014.
Joann Knight met Ross W. LeBaron in 1960. “He was a real good dancer and I really enjoyed dancing”, she recollects. She also thought he was “weird” and “had strange ideas” which later she got used to¹. A decade later, Joann was sealed to Ross. She defined her husband as “a gentleman” and “a wonderful person”. These are two excerpts from her personal journal.
Ross Wesley LeBaron in January, 1984. | Photo courtesy of Tom Green
Ervil LeBaron died at the prison today, August 16, 1981. I was out at Ross’s when we received word via telephone from Rhea Kunz that Verlan LeBaron was killed in a car wreck in Mexico City. Ross told me […] that he didn’t want me to stay at the warehouse² at night any longer. He’s quite worried about there being some trouble over Ervil Lebaron’s and Verlan’s deaths. Nothing’s happened so far, so Ross has relaxed a little. I stay out there occasionally.
Ross predicted an earthquake on July 14, 1982 between 11 am and 12, noon. It didn’t happen, thank goodness. He has made several predictions. Something always does happen pertaining to what he has predicted but it isn’t what I think it will happen. On his radio talk show on KTalk, on July 8 1992 it was really interesting. California has a lot of earthquakes but not us. There have been some here in Utah but nothing really major. I guess if you lived near the epic center it would be major to you.
1. Interview given to Antonio Trevisan on April 24, 2014. Joann Knight was 79 years old at the date.
2. Storage containers in which Ross LeBaron was living at the time. Joann Knight lived in a separate house.