Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/508

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484
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

B is a man of uncommonly fine business abilities, and would anywhere in the States have long since been a millionaire. He has had five wives, and reared twenty children, besides having lost some by death. Five times in his life (so he tells me) he has had a good start; now he is practically without means, the rent of his real estate being consumed in the payment of debts incurred in caring for his family. For years at a time he was never without one or more children sick, and has been literally compelled to repudiate one of his wives, who is supported by her son. Two others have died, and by the most heroic exertions he is barely able to provide for the other two and their seven children, who are still too young to assist.

C holds a very high position in the Mormon Church, and two civil offices, all with good salaries and fine opportunities. In the early days, when the Church ruled everything, the Mormon Legislature made large grants to him of pasture-lands, timber-lands, and water-privileges, to all of which he enjoyed the exclusive right for twenty years. He has had six or seven wives, and children in proportion. Of several fine pieces of property he owns most are mortgaged to their full value, and he is often cruelly embarrassed for money. With such opportunities he should now have been ready to retire with a fortune.

D is an apostle with five wives and a good family to each. Having always been more a missionary than trader, he is now actually an object of charity. It is openly charged, and not very strenuously denied, that one of his wives died of want; all the others either support themselves or are supported by their children, the old gentleman not being able to support even one family. So runs the list. Even Brigham Young, with all his opportunities, cannot be considered very wealthy. He has repeatedly sworn in his entire property at less than half a million, and in his "answer" to the suit of Ann Eliza he put it at $600,000. I should not call that great wealth, for a man with a hundred and twenty children, grandchildren, and sons-in-law, hanging on his financial skirts. The assessed wealth of Utah does not exceed $28,000,000, of which it is known that the Gentile minority owns about one-half. This would leave the 90,000 Mormons no more than $140 each, a lower average, I believe, than in any other part of the United States. The question might well be raised in Congress, whether polygamy did not bring its own punishment to the men; and, if their case alone was to be considered, we might appropriately let it alone. An old lawyer who attends to much of their business gives me his opinion that in ten years nearly all the leading Mormons will be bankrupt.

Another peculiar effect of polygamy I advance, with the suggestion that it may be due somewhat to other causes. As families increase so rapidly in size, amounting in some instances within my knowledge to fifty children of one man, there must be a vast increase