Amy Ruth Tolley was born March 16, 1894, in Milo, Idaho, to William Fisher and Sarah Gadd Tolley. Ruth’s parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the “Mormon Church,” while living in England. They met during the trans-Atlantic crossing emigrating to Utah. William, born in 1823, was 27 years older than Sarah. Sarah Gadd became William Tolley’s plural wife in 1869, a union sanctioned by church leaders and William’s first wife Sarah Warren.  William and Sarah Warren Tolley had 10 children.  William and Sarah Gadd Tolley had 14 children.  Ruth, William’s youngest child, was born when William was 70 years old.

A black and white photograph portrait of Amy Ruth Tolley wife of Alma Sorensen.We must remember the law of polygamy was given to our Prophet in the early days of our church. The records say only about 20% of the male members had more than one wife and they had to have the sanction of the church authorities before taking a plural wife. Of course there were some who abused this privilege.

Being a daughter of a polygamist, I’ve been asked many questions about it. This is the way I have answered some of them: We in these latter days were given all of the other keys of an ancient church, why not polygamy? It was practiced all through the old Bible days. Our church teachings are not new, but a restoration of that which once was. And here is another idea–Our Heavenly Father may have wanted a people he could call His own. All of the first Mormons were converts, not one had been born a Latter-day Saint. Polygamy was one way of getting a lot of children who would be Latter-day Saints without any other religious training. Also, many more women than men joined the church and that too must be considered in polygamy, because we are taught we cannot gain the highest degree of glory without being sealed in the Temple…

January 11, 1869, when William Fisher Tolley was 46 years old he married Sarah Gadd, a little blue-eyed, fair haired girl who had just passed her 18th birthday. They were married in the Old Endowment House in Salt Lake City. So now he had two Sarahs.

After I was grown, I visited my mother’s brother, Uncle Isaac Gadd, who was then living in Provo. I asked him, “How come my mother married a man twice her age, didn’t she have any other beaus?” He said, “OH, yes, plenty of young men liked her, in fact she could have married the son if she had wanted to.”

The girls were taught that being a plural wife was a part of their religion and their reward in the hereafter would be much greater. I certainly hope so. I have often wondered which needed the most sympathy, the older woman who had to put up with her husband’s young wife or the young wife going into the home of another woman and starting a family of her own. Father Tolley’s oldest son was a year older and his oldest daughter a year younger than his new wife, and they had gone to school together. I have been told the two families got along very well together. Much better than some did. It seems the two families lived together about ten years or more.

Father was 70 years old when I was born so he would be 75 or 76 before I could remember him, but I remember he was a well built and well preserved old gentleman. His hair was still quite black and thick with just a bit of gray and his beard and mustache were white. His eyes were dark brown and still had a twinkle in them. I think he must of had quite an influence on his daughters because all ten of his daughters had dark brown eyes and most of them had black hair although both of his wives had blue eyes and light brown hair.

About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.

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