Images: The Situation of the Mormons in Utah, with Bleg

By February 9, 2015

For today?s discussion, the image is ?Situation of the Mormons in Utah? by George Frederick Keller, which appeared in San Francisco?s Wasp on 1879 Feb 01. [1] 

KellerGF SituationOfTheMormonsInUtah Wasp 1879Feb01 v3n131p424t425 1300px

Uncle Sam and a US soldier lift up the ?Polygamy House? and place a keg of ?Congress Powder? underneath. John Taylor and various women and children look out of the house in consternation. A group of males in robes look on; some are shaking their fists and one holds a book labeled, ?Protest by the 12 Apostles.? Behind the apostles a very large Brigham Young looks away. In the background the Salt Lake Tabernacle is visible and there is an obelisk with the words, ?In memory of Brigham Young? and ?Founder of the Mormon Church.? The accompanying text appears under the heading, ?The Situation in Utah,? on page 419. [2]

Oh, and one other thing: all the Mormon males have horns. ?Situation? is one of the few nineteenth-century images that show otherwise human Mormons with horns. There aren?t pointed ears or hooves or visible goat legs or even goatees: it?s just humans who happen to have very prominent horns. (Of course, any realism in the image is undercut by the presence of Uncle Sam, the three-fold difference in height between some of the figures, and context of a political cartoon in a satirical magazine.)

And now to my difficulty: I am finding it very difficult to match faces to names. Uncle Sam, John Taylor (in the house), and Brigham Young (to the right of the house), are clear to me. Nobody else is.

I assume the group near the book-bearer is supposed to represent the Twelve Apostles. In the group there are seven clearly-visible faces, two partially-visible but indistinct faces, and two sets of horns presumably attached to completely obscured faces, for a total of eleven. In 1879 February there were twelve living apostles, including John Taylor. [3] That the number of horn racks matches the number of apostles encourages me to think that the figures are supposed to be apostles. The detail below assigns a number to each face.

KellerGF SituationOfTheMormonsInUtah Wasp 1879Feb01 v3n131p424t425 Fade Men ID no 650px

I think 4 is Orson Pratt; 5 could be Charles C Rich or George Q Cannon. The no-face horns are just to the right of the 3 and directly above the 8.

I count fourteen women in the image. I have no idea whether they are supposed to represent particular people or are just generic polygamist wives/mothers.

KellerGF SituationOfTheMormonsInUtah Wasp 1879Feb01 v3n131p424t425 Fade Women ID no 650px

My first guess is that they are supposed to be John Taylor?s wives, though the number is wrong. Below I have collected putative images of Taylor’s wives, though I do not vouch for them: I googled the names and selected plausible images without any verification, regardless of the woman’s age in 1879 (or whether it was, you know, actually her). [4]

TaylorJ Wives array

So? gentle reader: who are the people in the political cartoon? Anyone who renders assistance will be awarded 1,000 internets.

Some resources: Wikipedia?s list of apostles, the institute manual?s list, a list of each quorum, and some photos for 1873 and 1880.



[1] Volume 3, number 131, pages 424-425.

[2] ?Behold there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, Rachael—no it ain?t either, it?s Ann Eliza—weepeth for her children and refuseth to be comforted. She weepeth also, a little, for herself. You see under the present regime it is comparatively an easy matter to get a sixteenth or a twentieth interest in a man; but, if this new heresy be adopted, or rather if Ann Eliza be compelled to return to the old orthodox principle that every woman is entitled to have a man to herself, the matter will not be so easy. It is all very well to say every dog should have his day, but, when there ain?t enough days to go around amongst them, what are you going to do? It is all very well for the law to say that every woman must have a man to herself, but, when there ain?t men enough to go around, what are you going to do? Why debar us from the privilege of having a half interest in one of the ?noblest works of God,? when we can?t get a whole one? Why deny us the privilege of having a fourth interest in a man when we can?t get a half interest? Thus sayeth Ann Eliza. [¶] The answer to Ann Eliza?s queries is brief but not particularly witty. It is because that mankind has been laboring for a number of years to raise itself above the level of the brute creation; laboring to cultivate and refine human nature up to a standard somewhat higher than that of the kine. [¶] Ann Eliza might aptly reply to this that mankind had not been singularly successful in its efforts, and there would be a good deal more of truth than poetry in her reply. But nevertheless it would be a somewhat lame argument to say that because the result of a number of centuries of labor had not been so satisfactory as it might have been the effort should not be given up. [¶] On the whole the situation in Utah is not at all reassuring for the much married men or the partly married women, and, unless Apostolic gold saves the structure the polygamous house is likely to be blown higher than a kite—an altitude which, kites being somewhat uncertain, we cannot be more definite about.?

[3] In the present-day Church there are usually (but not always) fifteen Apostles: twelve in the Quorum of the Twelve and three in the First Presidency. In 1877 there were two non-Apostle counselors in the First Presidency and one apostle not in the Quorum of the Twelve (Daniel H Wells), so when Brigham Young died in 1877 Aug, there were only thirteen living apostles. Orson Hyde died in 1878 and was not replaced until 1879 April and the First Presidency was not re-organized until 1880. The apostles in 1879 Feb were John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Charles C Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Franklin D Richards, George Q Cannon, Joseph F Smith, Brigham Young Jr, Albert Carrington, and Daniel H Wells.

[4] John Taylor?s wives with links to the images I used: Leonora Cannon (1796-1868; img); Elizabeth Kaighin (1811-1895; img); Jane Ballantyne (1813-1901; img, img); Mary Ann Oakley (1826-1911; img); Sophia Whitaker (1825-1887; img); Harriet Whitaker (1825-1882; img); Margaret Young (1837-1919; img); Josephine Elizabeth Roueche (1860-1943; img).

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Edje, you’ve outdone yourself. Again.

    Comment by Ryan T. — February 9, 2015 @ 6:23 am

  2. I love starting my week with images by Edje.

    I’ll start looking at some stuff later today.

    Comment by J Stuart — February 9, 2015 @ 7:22 am

  3. Oh, and I thought I might get some work done today. Now this is going to haunt me. I love these glimpses into the past.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — February 9, 2015 @ 7:50 am

  4. Thanks, Ryan, J, and Bruce.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 8:30 am

  5. I should have mentioned in the post that the immediate context of the image was the Supreme Court decision in _Reynolds v United States_ (98 US 145 (1878); aka 8 Otto. 145), which was decided 1879 Jan 06.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 8:33 am

  6. And while we’re at it… let’s add George Reynolds to the suspect pool.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 8:35 am

  7. This is great, Edje. The questions I have regard Keller, and I have made no attempt to answer them myself: Who was he? What was the extent of his personal experience with the Mormons? Did he base his drawings on personal observation, or on available photographs of the leaders of the day? And, lastly, did Keller author the text you include in fn 2, or was that by another contributor?

    BY appears to me to be in “angelic” robes (ironic, considering the message of the image overall) and trying to use his strength to counter Uncle Sam’s efforts. It is obvious from the distant obelisk and BY’s attire that he is deceased, though the artist conveys the idea that his spirit of opposition lives on.

    Comment by Nate R. — February 9, 2015 @ 8:41 am

  8. Thanks for sharing this, Edje. A great image to illustrate the context of Reynolds v. U.S. My guesses for the numbered apostles: 1-Lorenzo Snow, 2-Charles C. Rich, 3-Heber J. Grant, 4-Joseph F. Smith, 5-Brigham Young Jr., 6-Maybe Wilford Woodruff ??, 9-George Q. Cannon

    Comment by Barbara — February 9, 2015 @ 8:50 am

  9. Good questions, Nate.

    I also have not looked into Keller’s biography. I do know that he was a German immigrant and that he is most famous for his anti-Chinese illustrations.

    The question of where Keller obtained the likeness is important. I assume there were photographs/sketches of most of the apostles available, but I don’t know. I am less confident that images of John Taylor’s wives were easily available.

    No author was listed for the text. I haven’t chased down a list of editors or contributors.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 8:54 am

  10. Thanks, Barbara. Good call on 6. I see the resemblance. I’m still thinking about the others.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 8:57 am

  11. Another thought–I’ve read that in the nineteenth century, horns were a symbol of lechery, which may explain why, in the context of nineteenth-century Americans’ perceptions of polygamy, the cartoonist depicted the Mormon men with horns. Query whether this concept is where the “All Mormons have horns” myth originates from?

    Comment by Barbara — February 9, 2015 @ 9:10 am

  12. 4 looks like Lorenzo Snow and 5 Wilford Woodruff. My 2 cents.

    Comment by M Miles — February 9, 2015 @ 9:31 am

  13. Thanks M Miles. Those seem plausible.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 9:57 am

  14. Barbara: I think you are right that, in this case, horns = lechery is the intended meaning.* However, horns could represent a great many things and no matter what they mean, it’s too big a leap to say that symbolic lechers have horns, Mormons are actual lechers, and therefore Mormons have actual horns. Lechery is part of the constellation of meanings that help attach horns to Mormon heads, but is not sufficient by itself. My MHA paper this summer will try to explain the details of how Mormon horns came to be and—more importantly, it turns out—came to stick.

    *Besides the general plausibility of horns = lechery, the Wasp depicted Mormons as goats in other cartoons and the horns in “Situation” are quite distinct from typical nineteenth-century demon horns; less clearly, these goat horns are different from the few cuckold horn images I’ve seen.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 10:08 am

  15. Nate: I hadn’t noticed that it looks like Brigham Young might be pushing on the building—that he is directly resisting Uncle Sam’s efforts. Good eye.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 9, 2015 @ 10:13 am

  16. Awesome, as always, Edje. I’ll have to come back and take a closer look later.

    Comment by Christopher — February 9, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  17. Number 9 looks more like William Clayton to me than George Q Cannon. He wasn’t an apostle but a well known member of the Council of Fifty, the political leg of the Church.

    Comment by Manuel Villalobos — February 10, 2015 @ 7:45 am

  18. Thanks, Christopher.

    Good observation, Manuel.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 10, 2015 @ 10:44 am

  19. I love this. 7=JFS?

    Comment by WVS — February 11, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

  20. I think 3 is George Q Cannon. He was the church’s DC liason.

    Comment by J Stuart — February 11, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

  21. Thanks, WVS. That seems plausible.

    J Stuart: good insight on who would be carrying the protest.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 11, 2015 @ 3:05 pm

  22. Summarizing so far:
    1. Snow
    2. C Rich
    3. Grant, GQ Cannon
    4. JF Smith, Snow, O Pratt
    5. Young Jr, Woodruff, C Rich, GQ Cannon
    6. Woodruff
    7. JF Smith
    9. GQ Cannon, William Clayton

    Or, organized by name:
    GQ Cannon: 3, 5, 9
    William Clayton: 9
    Grant: 3
    O Pratt: 4
    C Rich: 2, 5
    JF Smith: 4, 7
    Snow: 1, 4
    Woodruff: 5, 6
    Young Jr: 5

    Comment by Edje Jeter — February 11, 2015 @ 3:18 pm


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