Meeting Anna LeBaron

May 3, 2017

Anna LeBaron is the author of The Polygamist’s Daughter, a memoir about growing up as the daughter of the infamous Ervil LeBaron. In her memoir, Anna writes about growing up in a polygamist family, her father’s criminal activity, and constantly being on the run from authorities. Anna’s story really hits home for me because, not only did I grow up in polygamy myself, but I actually knew Anna’s mother, Anna Mae, and Annas father Ervil. My family had also been one of those on the run from her father. Ervil started having people killed who were leaving the church or followers of his brother Joel.

Anna LeBaron’s mother, Anna Mae, was first married to Nephi Marston and they lived across the street from the first house my Daddy and I built in Colonia LeBaron. Anna Mae and my mother became friends and at times I was sent to babysit Anna Mae’s children before Anna was born.

Anna Mae Marston LeBarons House

Ervil, Anna’s dad, eventually was successful in getting Anna Mae to leave her first husband for him.  Something I never understood as Nephi was such a great man.

At one point, Ervil had told my mother he had had a dream that she was to leave Daddy to marry him, too. I was so glad that mother didn’t fall for that. Since he couldn’t marry my mother, Ervil told me he wanted to marry me. I was thirteen at the time, and he said he was going to ask my mother to save me for him until I was fourteen and could be married. I remember crying about this to my mother, who told me he was only teasing. Even if she really believed it, I was terrified!

I was spared but my poor sister Claudeen wasn’t as lucky!  Mother allowed Ervils brother, Joel to marry her at fourteen instead!

Because I left polygamy and Colonia LeBaron years and years ago, I worried about meeting people from there again. When we left we had fled for our lives and had been trying to lay low and not bring any attention to where we were. We had been put on the LeBaron’s hit list and had received threats in the mail which were quickly turned over to the FBI. For years we weren’t sure who we could trust. Good people were turning on each other and it was hard to say whose side people were on.

But after reading Anna’s book, I could tell she is a genuinely loving person, so unlike her father, and I really wanted to meet her.

I had the great privilege of meeting Anna for dinner while she was on her book tour. I was nervous, but honestly, talking to her felt like I had met another one of my many sisters for the first time. I knew she was Ervil’s child and was a victim like I had been. Although my memories of Ervil and his family were tainted with fear, I reminded myself that her father’s actions were just that: her father’s. It would be horrible to judge anyone from the sins of their fathers.

Meeting Anna was wonderful. It was a great honor to have dinner with her. Anna is just the opposite of her father; while he was cunning and evil, she radiated love and knowledge. After speaking to her for a few minutes, it became clear to me that she embodies the love and hope of a Heavenly Father much more than the sentiments of her own father, Ervil LeBaron. I believe wholeheartedly that Anna can, and will, make a difference for good in this world.

I hope that others who grew up in a similar situation will find hope in her words. I have been encouraging family members to read her story as they can relate to and maybe even learn to let go of some things of this past painful life.

In The Polygamist’s Daughter, Anna takes the reader on a journey through pain and healing, and reminds us all that, after all, is said and done, “Forgiveness is freedom.”

Check out Anna’s Book

To learn more about Anna visit Annas Author site here.

Lunch With Irene Spencer

Right before our trip to LeBaron, we had contacted Irene Spencer to stop by and visit her. We were so looking forward to the visit but she passed before we got there. Thank goodness a few years before Irene contacted me and told me she and her daughters were coming from a wedding in Colonial Lebaron and passing through Arizona.  Irene, Donna, and Barbara would like to meet up with us and wanted to know the closest hotel to us so we could meet for breakfast the next morning. So very grateful they did!

We met at Kneaders and chatted for hours we took over Kneaders with our stories and laughing. People may have heard polygamy word dropped here and there and who knows what they thought. I don’t care it was so much fun!

I loved Aunt Irene just like a 2nd mom and always loved her humor and positive attitude.

Irene was one of the few that could tolerate my mother because Irene could take anybody on. Plus Irene had been so excited for  another American woman in Colonia Lebaron to chat with so she just adored mom.

When Irene would come to visit her kids would all come follow her over. One day mom told her she was welcome to come visit but she had to leave her kids at home. Mom was just that way. Kids were not to be underfoot or heard. So Irene started coming over alone but eventually one by one her kids would come over and Donna would run over to gather them and try to shuffle them back together. So fun!

I loved my time growing up with Irene and her family. I will always have fond memories of going out in the orchards to pick chilies and tomatoes for Irene and once we picked what she need she said we could eat what we wanted. So we would bring our salt shaker and eat as we picked.

I don’t know that we could have made it in the colonies without Irene. I will truly miss my good friend, Aunt Irene. I hope to find more reasons to meet up with the girls though. It’s important to do that now so we never regret not taking the time while we are all alive.

To read Irene Spencers book check out her website here.  

Return to LeBaron: Day 3

Monday May 1, 2017

We woke up early to head home today. On our first day in LeBaron we had done a quick drive-by of the house that daddy and I had built within the first year that we lived in LeBaron, but we hadn’t taken pictures, so we decided to make a quick stop and get out for pictures this time.

Street to home Daddy and I built

My daughter in law insisted that we go knock on the door to ask about wandering the place.

Here it is!

As a child of 12 years old, I helped build this place. It was one of the first concrete homes in LeBaron.

View from our front window. Across the street lived Ervil LeBarons wife Anna Maes house.

This is the well that I helped Daddy dig and dropped a bucket of cement on him in which I thought I had killed him.

The people that live there now was so friendly they let us go in and gave us a tour of the place.

Kitchen/ main living area

 

Daddy and Mothers Bedroom

 

Room all the kids shared

Nannettes portion of the house

Nanette, Daddys 3rd wifes area

The people living in the house now were so friendly and willing to talk to us and told us what they had done to make changes. It helped refresh my mind. The grandpa here was on site when Joel LeBaron the prophet of the church was killed. He told us stories and we stayed for hours. The little ones were fascinated with all the picture taking so we took a picture of all of us. Myself, the first family to live here and the last/ current family that lives there.

Needless to say our early rising to get home early didn’t pan out because we spent most the day visiting these delightful people. It was all worth it! To top our trip off Terry Lainey showed up right as we were leaving. Terry and Dale Lainey were brothers that family was close to ours wherever we moved. They were a constant in my life and always there for me. Little brothers that I treasure their friendship and hadn’t seen them since I had left.

Check out the other days in LeBaron

Fifty Years Gone By 

Day 1

Day 2