StoryCorps
2:45 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Growing up in Polygamy and Colorado City

Arthur and Alma Hammond grew up in a polygamous family in the mid 1900s, and Arthur talks about a raid on his family, moving to Colorado City, and the Colorado City Academy.
Credit STORYCORPS / UTAH PUBLIC RADIO

Alma Hammond interviewed his brother Arthur about growing up in a polygamous family in the mid 1900s. Arthur was born in 1948 at his uncle's house while his mother was in hiding.

"My mother was in hiding because she was a plural wife, and plural marriage is against the law. That was part of our childhood. Our parents lived under the threat of arrest, which made it imperative to protect our parents. If you went to school, you couldn't say who your father was," Arthur said. "I went to school at a place where others of my siblings went, but because they were siblings from a different mother, you couldn't acknowledge them as such."

In the spring of 1953, the Hammonds moved to Highland Drive, where Arthur said the neighbors were closer and keeping the polygamy a secret was imperative, and more difficult.

"Things came to a boiling point, and I came home one day, and the car was packed. I don't know if anybody knew we were going anywhere that morning, but dad got word that there was a warrant out, and they were going to arrest mother and him. He got busy and got mother and the kids bundled up, and spent a week in motels, then went to Albuquerque, New Mexico and spent the Christmas holiday with Aunt Frances and their families," he said.

The family then moved to Colorado City, Ariz. where Arthur said the climate toward polygamy was much more open and accepting.

"It was quite something that when we got down to Colorado City, you could begin to drop that fascade, and actually be yourself, recognize your brothers and sisters, recognize your parent," Arthur said.

Arthur's father and others organized the Colorado City Academy, a private school. Arthur said the aim of the school was to keep the youth active in the area, and served as the focal social aspect for high school youth.

"We had socials, or dances, they were at least once a month, and sometimes two times a month. We had theatrical programs, musical programs, celebrations on the holidays, at the beginning of the school year we'd have hay rides and go up the canyon. In the spring before school let out we had another one," Arthur said. "It really created community of closeness. Those things were great. It's all evaporated now, but that doesn't make it any less memorable to us, in regards to those things."

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