Early Mormon Research: Were My Ancestors Polygamists?

No one in my family is Mormon.

My dad grew up in Catholic schools.  I grew up not really going to church at all.  We attend a Methodist Church now.

It was a bit of a surprise to find that I have ancestors who were among the first Mormon pioneers who lived in Nauvoo and then moved west.  My family didn’t make it to Utah.  They ended up settling in Iowa.

What does this all mean?  I am not very familiar with the history of the religion and what their practices were in that time period.  Am I just being silly and making sweeping generalizations in thinking that they could have been polygamists?

Was this something that was practiced in this early period of the church, before the move to Utah? And if it was, then was it recorded or hidden?

Here is a little background on my Mormon ancestors:

Frederick Mowery was married to Sarah Davis on 24 Dec 1827 in Union county, Illinois.  They had 6 children, one of them my ancestor – Martha Jane Mowery (who was a twin).  Frederick died in Illinois.

Sarah remarried to a man named Alvin Horr on 10 June 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois.  I have found Alvin mentioned in some different online journals etc. which mention him being part of the church.

Sarah then married again to a Levi Lewis Skinner in Pottawattamie county, Iowa in 1849.  She has her children, Levi’s children, and Alvin’s children living with her.  A full house!  I’ve also seen references to Levi Skinner being a “Seventy in Nauvoo”.

I haven’t really started into any of this yet.  I know that I need to take some history lessons first.  I think that I’m going to start with the research guide on the Family Search site.  Sounds like a good place to begin.:)

Do any of you have ancestors who were Mormon pioneers?  Any suggestions on good places to look for more information?

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  • Marilyn - January 29, 2011 - 11:02 am

    Hello Jen,

    Although you will want to research the specifics on your own, the Nauvoo Historical Society has been preserving the long 200 plus years of Nauvoo history. Nauvoo was first named Quashquema by the Sauk and Fox tribes, then Venus by the first white settlers, then Commerce by the merchants and then Nauvoo by the Mormons.

    Visit the website and write to us.


    • Jen - January 30, 2011 - 11:34 am

      Thank you Marilyn for the link!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Cayemberg - February 2, 2011 - 4:32 pm

    I don’t know much abt the Mormon faith but if you could find an obit it may mention the other spouses if there were any.ReplyCancel

  • Loretta - January 26, 2012 - 2:06 pm

    Alvin Horr was my Great,Great Grandfather. I have information on him but none on his 2nd wife. He married her after my GGGrandma died.
    I am glad to find out a little about Sarah.
    I would be happy to share any info about the Hoor family line if you are interested.ReplyCancel

    • Jen - January 26, 2012 - 10:07 pm

      Thank you for commenting! I am interested in finding out more information on Alvin and his family. I will contact you directly.ReplyCancel

  • Shelley McMurphy - April 1, 2015 - 9:57 pm

    My gg grandfather was James A Mowery, Frederick & Sarah were his parents. He married Hannah Skinner, his step sister. Their son Henry Franklin Mowery was my great grandfather, he moved his family to Canada. I cannot not find Sarah Davis Horr Skinner’s death date or parents. Do you have any info?ReplyCancel

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