Louis Jessop Barlow was the oldest son of John Y. Barlow (former leader of the polygamist group). Louis was both loved and despised by many, but made a huge impact on the community of Short Creek. He was among those who Warren Jeffs kicked out of the church at the public meeting on January, 10, 2004. Some people believed that Louis Barlow should have been the next FLDS prophet instead of Warren. Who was Louis Barlow? Why was it so shocking for him to be kicked out?
Louis Barlow was born, reared, and educated in Salt Lake City. After graduation, he worked at Woolsey's Ranch near Cedar City, and later moved to Short Creek. Shortly after his move, he joined the U.S. Navy, from which he received an honorable discharge.
In 1948, Louis (age 24) was involved in a controversy surrounding a plural marriage. A 15-year-old daughter of Joseph Lyman Jessop visited Short Creek from out of town for a dance. Before she returned home, she was secretly married to Louis as his third wife. (Louis had previously married two girls who we would consider underage today.) The girl returned home and admitted to her father that she had been married. When Louis came to get her, Lyman Jessop refused to let her go since he did not consent to the marriage and he believed her daughter was pressured into it. This turned into a controversy among the priesthood council. Louis’ father, John Y. Barlow, had authorized the marriage and maintained that it was valid. Time passed, John Y. Barlow died, and Joseph W. Musser became the senior member of the council. In 1950 the issue was brought before the council. The girl still did not want to be married to Louis and had not yet lived with him. Louis stated that he didn’t regret his actions and would do it all over again the same way. Musser replied, “You’d better not.” The council decided to annul the marriage. Within a couple years there was a split among the followers, and soon the group that Louis followed started to adopt more openly the concept of assigned marriages without consent of parents. (Marianne T. Watson, Dialogue 40:1)
In 1949, Louis received a teaching certificate from the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. That year, Louis was hired by the Short Creek School Board as principal. He also taught 7th and 8th grade. The school property was in poor condition and Louis went to work to improving the building and utilities.
One person recalls working on the school, “I like to remember the old school days, when Louis Barlow was principal, he got an old war surplus generator and some of the guys hooked it to an old car engine. We actually had electricity at the school! Lou had us dig a well by hand. Someone would be in the hole digging, while others would pull the buckets of dirt up on a rope. We put in the well, put in a pump that was powered by the generator, and planted grass in the square that was between the three school buildings. I believe that was the first lawn ever planted in Short Creek! We put up a tall flag pole in the center of the lawn. It was a power line pole that Lou got from somewhere. He had some of the kids WHITTLE ... a ball, out of wood. It was about six to eight inches in diameter. The ball went on top of the pole.”
Because of the school, a tax levy was increased on neighboring cattlemen. They criticized Louis for buying a 1946 truck for the school. Louis’ brother Truman ended up driving the truck all over town for any reason using school money or gasoline. The ranchers complained to the school board but it did no good.
Louis was in Short Creek during the 1953 Raid and went on a radio show later which helped sway public option. He said, “The following Sunday, July 26th was a terrible day of this invasion, this Raid, this abuse that came upon our fair community! After the invasion and the fear that was put into the lives of every mother and child in that community, followed mock trials, Juvenile hearings, and imprisonment! They desecrated the day! The places where we held Sunday School and meetings were made prisons the men were put in there and held by sheriffs all the way around- not allowed to talk to their families, treated just as if it was a movement of Adolph Hitler or some movement like that out of the last war! Since that day, we have been put in prison in Kingman and held three days beyond the time the money had been raised for our bonds, specifically, we know, to give time for the evacuation of our women folks and our children. So that by the time we were finally released on bonds, we came home to empty homes! Where those children slept that night of July 19, I found empty beds! I don't want to be emotional about this thing, except that it does touch my heart. But I want to say that this is an experience of a lifetime!”
During the radio interview, Louis then made this statement: “There have been no forced marriages. Everyone is free to leave or stay as he [or she] chooses.” That was a curious statement from a man that participated in a forced marriage just a few years earlier.
In the early 1960s, Louis worked under Uncle Roy’s direction to get control of the land in Canada owned by Harold Blackmore. Harold was asked to move to Short Creek and then Louis used some trickery to eventually confiscate Harold’s Canadian land for the UEP in 1965. This land, now settled by the FLDS, is called Bountiful, Canada.
Louis did the ground work and negotiations to bring telephone service to Short Creek in the 1960s. A telephone line was built from Hurricane to Short Creek and the first telephone, a single toll station was put in front of Louis’ house. It was put in operation in April 1964. Soon an automated telephone exchange building was constructed and work began on running underground lines to all the home in the community.
About 1985 after the Priesthood Split, an anonymous letter revealed that Louis had purchased a cache of guns that were stored in a cave above Fred Jessop’s home. Louis was said to have bought 100 semi-automatic .22 caliber rifles and tons of ammunition. The sheriff looked into the matter and the anonymous letter was confirmed. Louis claimed to have purchased the guns for survival kits to sell to those who believed the end of the world was coming. Louis eventually sold most of the guns back to the dealer he bought them from. 50 other guns were unaccounted for. The ATF got involved but eventually dropped the whole matter.
On August 8, 2002, three of Louis’ grown sons were killed in an airplane crash. John, Ronald, and Michael left behind at least six wives and 50 children. Their plane crashed near the summit of Delano Peak. At the funeral in the LSJ meetinghouse there was a large display of photos in the hallway of Louis’ huge family. One observer said the photos “showed ample evidence of a proud, happy, and close-knit family.”
A few months later, A non-FLDS relative met with Louis in the lobby of a Salt Lake City hotel. She commented, “we briefly discussed Utah’s intention to pass a law making it a felony for men to marry underage girls in plural marriage. When I voiced the idea that it wasn’t necessary to marry underage girls to live plural marriage, Louis expressed adamant disagreement. It was apparent that he emphatically supported placement marriage, which he thought included the right of the 'one man' to arrange marriages for underage young women. For him, the issues were inseparable.”
On January 10, 2004, at the age of 80, Louis tearfully was forced to move away and never see again his huge family, including at least seven wives. He felt he had no choice but to turn away from the community that he spent nearly his entire life building up.
After the purge, an anonymous letter mailed throughout the community created a big stir. The author of the letter included a dream that proclaimed that Louis would received the mantal of prophet, that it was time for him to step forward claim his birthright. Louis’s brothers were told to defend that birthright and support Louis. Well, Louis did never step forward, but Warren sure worried that one of the Barlows would try.
Warren received a letter informing him that “since Louis Barlow was handled . . . he has deteriorated in spirit.” He also was told that Louis was angry that Sidney Barlow had been placed over his family to “teach and train” them. Warren commented, “His spirit has deteriorated. Louis Barlow’s expressions to me in his letters are that he has upheavals of feelings, up and down, and in the last letter that I received, that I read yesterday, Louis Barlow expressed that all he wants in Priesthood and he can tell by his feelings being so uncontrolled that perhaps his family and wives were his darling idols.” Warren had preached for years for people to give up their “darling idols” that distract them from obeying him.
Warren went to work to marry Louis’s wives to other men. He gave them to trusted leaders. He performed two marriages at a secret ceremony at the Holiday Inn at Flagstaff, Arizona. Loana Silvester Broadbent Barlow was married to Stephen Parley Harker. Abbey Kay Wightman Barlow was married to Donald Ward Richter.
Sam Barlow, Louis’s brother, who had not yet been kicked out, asked Warren how to deal with his grieving brothers. Warren replied, “I strongly explained to him that these men had not repented and that I have not sent Sam Barlow to go comfort those men and to not run ahead of me. Those men still haven’t repented and I don’t have sympathy for sin. The word of the Lord is the word of the Lord to me and it is not debatable.”
On May 17, 2004, Warren wrote, “I was shown specifically that Louis Barlow was turning against me and Priesthood and also many of his sons. I saw in my dream how these sons would rise up in the strength, they felt they had, to oppose me, put me down, one after another. . . . Several of these sons of Louis Barlow were either indifferent or they were threatening. Louis Barlow in this dream showed a great religious zeal of righteousness, and yet I saw him turning people against me and Priesthood in the midst of his religious zeal.” Warren now had some new targets, Louis’ sons. Thomas Barlow would be the next to go.
Louis’ tithing donation had recently been sent back to him through “Big Willie Jessop.” The FLDS no longer wanted his donations. Willie reported that Louis had been angry about is. Willie's statments have proved to be very unreliable. Perhaps Louis instead was devistated. This was a further signal that he was being totally cut off from the faith, people, and community he loved.
Just one week later, Louis Barlow, the patriarch of the Barlow clan, died on May 24, 2004 at the St. George home. Louis had experienced heart problems in recent years. It was said that he had stopped taking his heart medication. He was in his early 80s when he died. He left behind seven former wives, 60 children, and at least 400 grandchildren.
Doug Cooke, who had also been kicked out told the media the Louis died a broken-hearted-man and accused Warren of killing him. Doug had met Louis a week earlier at a restaurant. Louis still professed his faith in the FLDS and refused to shake Cooke’s hand, who he considered an apostate. “We have nothing in common.” Ross Chatwin, also considered an apostate by the FLDS had recently visited Louis. Louis told him “I have nothing to talk about,” and refused to shake his hand. Chatwin believed Louis lost his will to live.
FLDS attorney, Rod Parker, had met with Louis three weeks earlier and said “he sounded normal and upbeat.” (However, Parker has a long track record of deception in his statement to the media).
Surprisingly, Warren allowed Louis’ funeral service to be held at the LSJ Meetinghouse in Colorado City. He also allowed him to be buried in the FLDS cemetery in Colorado City. However, Warren did not allow Louis’ grave to be dedicated, an ordinance usually performed.
His obituary included, “He had the ability to make everyone feel special. He was a dynamic, gracious, prayerful, and dedicated man ... a real gentleman's gentleman. Louis was loved by all who knew him.”
A few weeks after Louis’ death, Warren believed he now had proof and justification for his harsh treatment of Louis. "Two of Louis Barlow’s former sons testified to me in their letters that yes, Louis Barlow had been in disagreement with father (Rulon Jeffs) and I on certain doctrines, and that happened clear up until the week before he passed on. So it was the Lord’s mercy taking him before he turned bitter. A man cannot oppose the Prophet and the teachings he gives and still hold Priesthood.” (Priesthood Record, June 13, 2004) Warren still believed that Louis would have turned apostate. He felt that it was a blessing for Louis to die before this happened.
In late June, 2008, Warren performed some secret marriages at a motel in Mesquite, Nevada. He married one of Louis’ widows, Kayleene to Nathan Jessop. Other wives married at other times: Isabell to Donald Richter, Lucy to Richard Allred, Loeona to Steven Harker, Ireta to Kevin Barlow, Kayleene to Nathan Jessop.
Those who loved Louis are still bitter about his cruel treatment by Warren. When Louis' wife Lucy died in 2005, her obituary stated that she was an Allred and made no mention of living her full live with Louis. One former member posted an alternated obituary to the Internet that included:
“She was the loving wife of Louis Barlow, who with him had a large and beautiful family. She was predeceased by two infant sons, and her lifelong companion Louis, who was murdered in cold blood by his church. Louis was a son of President John Y. Barlow, but spent most of his adult lifetime under the direction of President Leroy S. Johnson."
“Funeral services will be held Sunday at 2:00 at the L.S. Johnson meeting house, where everyone that speaks will praise the villain that ruined this woman and her family, and destroyed her husband, and where not one person will recognize her lifelong husband, friend, and companion, Louis Barlow. There will be a great pretension that she and her family belongs to Mayor Richard Allred, an accomplice in the destruction and murder of the husband of the family that he has stolen."
“Friends wishing to make a comment should send a prayer to the God of Heaven and wonder to Him how long this wickedness and destruction will be allowed to continue among the people. Donations can be made at the pharmacy for the purchase of some Prozac that can be administered orally so that you will be able to stand attending the funeral service. Remember, smile and keep sweet.”
Louis’ son Tom tried to attend the funeral at the FLDS meetings house. This report was given: “Tom Barlow tried to get in the building with his Father's Military US Flag to place beside his Mother. The Colorado City cops jumped him and there was a tussle and in the process Tom punched one of the officers, but he was quickly subdued and spirited away. It happened in the North doorway I think.”
What a twisted sense of values. Where else in the USA would city police be standing at the door of an old lady’s funeral, turning relatives away? Tom was released from jail the next day.
A former FLDS member commented: "I remember when Louis Barlow was faced with the decision of letting his family stand by him and go with him or not and how he sent them back to do what Warren told them to do. He could not admit that for all those years he had been used and deceived. His whole life would have looked like a lie and he probably could not bare the pain he felt for having been so manipulated. He died a lonely man and so will the rest of those kinds of men, and women."
Louis Barlow is gone, but still remembered. Sadly as years go by he will not be remembered by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren because his family tree was destroyed by a man who lived in fear that someday Louis would organize opposition against him.