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Former polygamist speaks: ‘It was a rough life’
by Tom Busselberg
Mar 02, 2011 | 6346 views | 1 1 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FORMER POLYGAMIST Doris Hanson grew up on a big farm in Kaysville that was part of the Kingston polygamy group. Courtesy photo
FORMER POLYGAMIST Doris Hanson grew up on a big farm in Kaysville that was part of the Kingston polygamy group. Courtesy photo
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KAYSVILLE — For most kids, their childhoods are filled with such pastimes as playing with friends.

For Doris Hanson, who spent most of her growing-up years on a big farm in Kaysville, the scenario was different.

As a member of the Davis Co-Operative Society, more commonly referred to as the Kingston polygamy group, she was not allowed to play with school friends or invite them over for anything, such as running in the fields or seeing the animals.

She escaped, ran away only days after her 18th birthday – recounting her experiences in an interview with the Clipper.

“We worked more than little kids should,” Hanson said from her Salt Lake County home. “My mom was a hard taskmaster. We worked from morning to night, especially in the summer. It was very harsh. We didn’t get to do activities like other kids.

“It was a rough life, tough, abusive (physical, not sexual), monastic (isolated),” she recalled. “We couldn’t go to movies or any of the activities that the community had.

“A lot of things screwed up our minds, some that would have a huge impact,” Hanson said.

She attended Kaysville Elementary, Central Davis Junior High and Davis High School, there.

Hanson was one of eight children living with her mother, who was the second wife of a man who they weren’t allowed to address as dad or father. Instead, they called him by a made-up first name and normally saw him only every-other-weekend.

The story given was that he was a truck driver, so seldom ever at home. The man actually spent most of his time with his first wife, who also bore eight children, in Salt Lake City.

“I think I stuffed a lot of the turmoil away,” she said, recalling how “I was told I would have to marry a polygamous husband – over and over again.”

That was tied with being taught how to lie – about who her dad was, including what to say if the sheriff ever asked, Hanson said.

“The kernels began developing when I was 13, was coming into my teenage years,” she said. “My mother was even harsher. I had to be groomed, to be obedient.

“My dad physically abused me. I lived in fear. I didn’t know if I would turn a corner and someone would slam me against a wall,” Hanson said.

On top of that, there was “the fear of them finding out, ‘the outsiders,’ about what was going on in our family,” was ever-present, she continued.

Growing into adolescence, there was the natural issue of attraction to boys. “If a boy looked at me and he wasn’t in the polygamy group, it was almost a sin. I felt shame. And if I looked at a boy, I felt shame,” Hanson said.

“There were a lot of mixed up emotions going on in my brain. I knew I had to wait until 18 (to leave). If I left before, they would put out an APB (all points bulletin) and get me. If I ran away and was caught, I would be in worse shape. The punishment would be unbelievable,” she said.

“After I grew up, got away, became an adult, I would talk to some people from Kaysville. They all knew – every one of them knew” about her being part of a polygamous family. “Who the heck did we think we were fooling?”

It was by the age of 15 or 16 that Hanson decided she wanted to leave as soon as she reached the age of 18.

“I had no idea how to do it, but I couldn’t stand it anymore,” she said.

After high school, Hanson was attending what is now Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City, and met a friend who offered to help her leave the polygamy group.

“Three days after my 18th birthday, they (friend, etc.) picked me up in the middle of the night. I was so scared, driving away, I watched and watched,” but no one saw or followed them.

“The sense of freedom that was thrust onto my whole being was indescribable. I didn’t have to fear” any longer, Hanson remembered.

In the end, only three of her siblings are still a part of the polygamy group.

tbusselberg@davisclipper.com
Comments
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Mally
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March 03, 2011
So wrong! No kid should have to grow up like that. No kid should have to be taught to lie to cover for their parents immorality. The sad part it is still happening to so many kids. Where's the humanity?
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