Wayward Saints: The Godbeites and Brigham Young

The Godbeites were a group of Mormon dissenters, mostly of British birth, who in the 1870s took strong exception to the communal economic policies of Brigham Young and other leaders of the Church. So outspoken was their criticism that most were eventually excommunicated, several after becoming attached to spiritualism. This belief apparently served as a surrogate for the excitement and zeal that they had experienced as new converts to Mormonism in Britain but that they lost in the workaday world of life in Utah’s Zion.

Ronald Walker’s study is principally a collective biography of the most prominent Godbeites: William S Godbe, after whom the movement was named; E. L. T. Harrison; Edward W. Tullidge, Fanny and Thomas Stenhouse; Amasa M. Lyman; Henry W. Lawrence; and Eli B. Kelsey. This was not a clique of inconsequential cranks. In 1864, Tullidge and Harrison founded the first literary journal in the region Peep O’Day. Starting in 1868, Godbe and Harrison published the Utah Magazine and the next year founded the Mormon Tribune, which evolved into the Salt Lake Tribune. T. B. H. Stenhouse published Rocky Mountain Saints in 1873 and in 1874 Tell It All, the exposé of Mormonism by his wife, Fanny. As a group, the Godbeites were extraordinarily accomplished in merchandising, writing, and publishing—certainly well placed among the intellectual and entrepreneurial elites of Utah in their day.

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