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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.  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. 
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 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 Wesley LeBaron in June, 1977. | Image: Dale Van Atta. Courtesy of L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
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
“Lehi was evidently the first-born of Manasseh; for he followed the patriarchal pattern[,]” wrote Ross LeBaron about the Book of Mormon patriarch. “His youngest son held the right of the first-born (evidently of the tribe of Manasseh). Lehi was patriarch to a new world, Jacob priest, and Nephi King.”
Margarito Bautista (1878-1961) | Image: from his book La Evolución de México, 1935
A Mormon Fundamentalist, Margarito Bautista had an early association with the LeBaron family in Mexico. After his excommunication from the LDS Church, Bautista established a community called Colonia Industrial Nueva Jerusalém, in Ozumba, where he headquartered his church La Plenitude del Reino de Dios (“The Fullness of the Kingdom of God”), affiliated today with the Apostolic United Brethren.
After the death of Dayer LeBaron, in 1951, Margarito Bautista organized part of the LeBaron family living in Mexico into a branch, under the authority of Joseph Musser. Different from his mother Maud and most of his siblings, Ross LeBaron never joined the organization in Colonia LeBaron.
Later, after the LeBaron brothers had established their own church, in 1955, Bautista would pen some anti-LeBaron tracts.
From Bautista’s correspondence with researcher Lyle O. Wright, comes probably the earliest and clearest witness that Alma Dayer LeBaron in fact claimed to hold a special order of the priesthood, unknown to Mormondom and the world, a fact commonly disputed by some historians and apologists. According to Wright, Margarito Bautista stated in a letter in 1959, Continue reading
Francis M. Darter, date unknown. | Image: Family Search
Francis M. Darter (1881-1968) was a prolific Mormon Fundamentalist writer. Among the beliefs he espoused was Pyramidology, which proposed that the Great Pyramid of Giza was a “Bible in stone“, setting dates, through its measures, for the most important events in human history. Such beliefs seem to have been influential on Ross W. LeBaron, as the following letter shows.
LeBaron and Darter had a long association, although they disagreed on many theological topics, such as LeBaron’s claims and understanding of the priesthood keys, the main topic of this open letter. While Ross LeBaron claimed to have “the patriarchal keys of the lineage of the prophet Joseph”, he believed the Mormon Fundamentalist movement operated under “the keys of the lineage of Hyrum”. Continue reading
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.
To view the file, click here: Ross LeBaron – MSS 2258 Box 2 Interview Van Atta
Van Atta, Dale. Interview with Ross LeBaron for KSXX (1977). Dale Van Atta Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
Be It Known To The Saints Of The Most High:
As of February 27, in the year of our Lord 1968, the Seventh Dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the children of men, along with the keys, power, authority and ordinances pertaining thereto is terminated; and the Eighth Dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the children of men; along with the keys, power, authority and ordinances pertaining thereto is commenced, according to the pattern of the “Eighth Week” set forth by Enoch of old. Continue reading