Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indictment for unlawful cohabitation

According to the Utah Territorial Case Files available at, Archibald Gardner was indicted on seven counts of unlawful cohabitation in the Third District Court on 7 August 1886 (case number 112). A warrant for his arrest was issued that same day. The indictment was based on testimony given before the grand jury by Reuben Gardner, Carrie Andrews (Andrus), Jane Gardner, Delilah Gardner, and Louisa Savage. The seven counts were based on seven time periods when Archibald was said to have lived with Margaret Gardner, Jane Gardner, Althea Gardner, and May (Mary) Gardner.

Delila Gardner Hughes wrote of the time that Archibald was hiding from the law in her book, Life of Archibald Gardner. She mentioned Mary Larsen Gardner's indignation when a deputy searched her bedding box, and I have always remembered that story. Mary stated, "Mr. Franks, you will never find Bishop Gardner hiding in a bedding box; you will find him on a canal or digging a mill race or at some public gathering." To this the deputy is said to have replied, "I know that, Mrs. Gardner, but you know we must do our duty. We have known where Mr. Gardner was many times but we have gone on and left him doing good, unmolested." (p. 182)

Having remembered that story through the years, I never realized that Archibald had actually been indicted and that his children and one of his wives had been required to testify in front of a grand jury. I can't imagine the feelings of his adult children and his wife as they were required to tell the truth in a court of law, knowing that their father and husband could be jailed upon conviction. It does seem interesting that (to my knowledge) Archibald was never arrested. That circumstance seems to support the idea that the deputies and marshals might have known where he was in all of his public activities and avoided "finding" him.

According to a case file against Brigham Young, he and an entire list of others had their cases dismissed on 19 December 1892 "for the reason that at this late day it will be impossible to procure the evidence necessary to sustain the charges in each of said indictments." Archibald Gardner was included on that list. After eight years of avoiding the law, including moving some of his families to Afton, Wyoming, Archibald was able to continue his life without fear of arrest.

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