Amasa Mason Lyman
March 30, 1813 – February 4, 1877
Legacy: “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor”.
Amasa’s legacy still proudly resounds in the lives of the many descendants that sprang from his family tree. Two of his wives were mothers to three LDS apostles, but two overriding facts overshadow the list of the renowned in Mormon historical circles. His descendants seem to wear his pioneer name on their shoulders as a badge of honor while ignoring the obvious issues.
The Church used their ecumenical powers to ex-communicate Mr. Lyman and stripped him of his apostleship seven years before his death because of a sermon he delivered in Scotland years earlier denying the atonement of Christ. For the Church this seems to be a temporary issue in the overall scheme of things seeing as how they retro engineer salvation to people posthumously. And such was the case for Lyman and one of his grandsons who was also an apostle in the 1940’s when it was found out he was having an affair.
Sadly, whenever this type of thing occurs in the Church the wife loses her salvation as well and for whatever reasons, the Church doesn’t see any problem with that.
What really caught my attention about this particular grandson’s “transgression” isn’t what happened in the 1940’s, but what his actions “inspired” another prophet to do years later. Spencer W. Kimball was the secretary for the apostle Richard Lyman when he was axed from Church roles and it prompted him to write one of the most disturbing books in all of Mormonism (in my very honest opinion) – The Miracle of Forgiveness.
The other issue with Amasa’s life was all those wives and whom he married. He married three sisters and four of his nine wives were of course teenage brides. His loyalty to the Church knew no bounds, but unfortunately the same can’t be said of his loyalty to his wives and kids.
At one juncture he left for a mission and two of his wives were without money or food for their children let alone a way to get to town to even ask for food. If it weren’t for the intervention of Jane Manning who gave Caroline (wife #3) half of her flour to share with the youngest wife Lydia and her children, the families could very well have starved.
At one genealogy site I found a short bio of Caroline who shared part of a eulogy given at her funeral by LDS Prophet Joseph F Smith. I feel his words pretty much sum up the horrors of the Mormon polygamous lifestyle.
“President Smith said during his talk that he was sure that Amasa Lyman had paid the penalty for his wrong doing would have all his wives and children who were worthy in eternity. He also said that the celestial order of marriage, or polygamy could never have been carried out successfully had it not been for the Partridge sisters.”
Amasa was married to nine wives and the father of at least 37 kids.
You can read a short bio on him & all those wives in our series Polygamy and Mormon Church Leaders here.