50 Years gone by

Fifty Plus Years since…


As a child, we traveled days to reach the LeBaron Ranch.  It was in the middle of Chihuahua Mexico. The vast desert was filled with dirt and cactus, hardly cars or any sign of life.

The ranch was nothing but a mere field of the uncleared desert, with a few areas that had freshly planted pecan trees and a few other fruit-bearing trees.

The house we drove up to if you could call it that, consisted of one room made of adobe. Other homes of similar fashion were randomly placed throughout the baron desert field. All homes lacked water and electricity.

When I first laid eyes on the place it was a shock to see and I could hardly believe that my parents made us leave our beautiful home in Utah that had all the modern conveniences and uproot the family for this! I had no clue it was all in order to live plural marriage and to join the LeBarons church, The Church of the Firstborn, the Fullness of Times.

Fifty plus years later after I was able to get away from it all me and my daughter in law, Karie was working on my book. I was trying to describe some things and she kept asking questions about details. It dawned on me that it was only a nine-hour drive and we should have her see the details instead of me describing them.  My oldest son, Phil, was born there as well and he might like to see where he was born. As we talked about it more we thought it might be very healing for me to visit the past where it all began, by making a visit to the LeBaron ranch on my own accord. My choice, not my parents!

So, two of my sons, my daughter in law and I made the nine-hour trip.  I was suspenseful and anxious as I still did not really know what I might be going into.  However, this time when I first laid eyes on Colonia LeBaron I could hardly believe my eyes. The ranch now was full of large stature full grown pecan groves and orchards. That desert that I had helped pioneer had grown from the desolate desert to a lush valley of green beauty.

The last few years I lived in LeBaron we had the luxury of electricity from a generator power the town from dark until 10 p.m. Now there is modern plumbing and electricity at all times. There were beautiful homes, even small little mansions on the hills and gracing the surrounding small mountains.

Memories flooded and I was nervous not from fear I knew the people that were Joel’s followers that were there were a peace-loving people and that Ervils people had been long gone. My niece, Dana, who was Joel LeBarons daughter (the original prophet of the LeBarons group) had gone down several times for the yearly carnival and to visit her other siblings, so I knew we should be safe.

We stayed at the El Viejo Rey Inn.  We arrived at the hotel at night and the lights went out so it brought back a flood of memories. Luckily we came prepared with our flashlights and went down to the desk and asked if the lights still went out at 10 p.m. every night. Luckily it was just a coincidence and they came back on fairly quickly.

There was a small restaurant in the Inn where the food was amazing and everything was freshly made on the spot.

I couldn’t wait until morning to see what else LeBaron had in store for me and to find my childhood friends and my sister. So far I had felt like it had been a good decision to come back and do some healing here.

Read more about our visit

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Setting MarJeans voice free… and so it begins, life after Polygamy!

                                                                                                         Author: Karie Babbitt; Daughter-in-law

With a New Year comes new beginnings, and nothing is better than starting it off by facing one’s fears head-on. Important factors in overcoming fears are,

  • learning who you are,
  • embracing those experiences that made you who you are,
  • forgiving others and
  • setting your voice free by sharing personal challenges.

For twenty-five years MarJean had been forced to suppress her thoughts and feelings or suffer the damning consequences.  Now it’s time for her to face her fears and share her story.

This horrific journey began when she was eleven years old when her parents dragged her to Mexico to join a polygamous group and to live in mud huts without the modern conveniences of plumbing and electricity. Her parents and other cult members quickly shut down any of her questions. It was made clear to her that she didn’t have a voice. She was to be seen and not heard. She was to blindly obey and not question. Her opinions and feelings were not validated. She was to be nothing more than an instrument in their furthering the kingdom of the cult.

Her story is filled with danger! For over twenty-five years, she lived with a polygamist group, often changing her name in order to receive the necessities of life. After years, she was miraculously able to escape both the evil and deadly polygamist cult which promised to murder anyone who left. Once she escaped, she was put on a hit list of those who would be murdered for choosing to withdraw from the cult.

After escaping the cult and attempting to start a new life, she still must keep quiet regarding her previous whereabouts and feelings. Remaining tight-lipped was not easy as she was a single mother and her six young children were both white and primarily Spanish-speaking. This could arouse many questions. She musn’t draw attention to attract those still out searching for those that left.

Sharing her story would also force her to be vulnerable in a painful and dangerous way to not only to herself but her family members who wanted to abandon their past. Embarrassment and shame would surely follow any divulgence of her previous life.

Fifty years later, the danger has faded and with much encouragement, she has decided, to find her voice and share her story.

Four years ago, MarJean started sorting through the horrific details of how her life had taken a drastic turn. With the equivalent of her fifth-grade education she had received prior to the cult, she jotted down her thoughts to the best of her ability. Often writing late into the night, only to set the few lines of text aside, as she cried her heart out trying to muster the courage to visit that pain again and write more. At last, she handed it over to her family to start the steps of putting her words into a book.

Some of her children and grandchildren took her words and designed a binder with her jotted down elementary stories in an effort to create the first rough draft of her book.

At the 2015 family annual Christmas Eve party, Santa Claus came and presented the binder to MarJean as well as the idea of a monthly date night with Nana so she could further elaborate on her rudimentary stories. This gift of the binder and designated time to share thoughts made the dream of publishing her story become more of a reality.

With support from her family, she is now set to enter into this courageous journey of sifting through her life story.

Come follow us through this process of hope and healing as we help MarJean find her voice!