Delegate Cannon’s Case
Following is Sarah M. Pratt’s testimony before the house committee on elections, in regard to the alleged polygamic relations of the Delegate Cannon. We extract it from the committee’s report, as published in the National Republican, of the 22d instant:
Sarah M. Pratt sworn:
Q. State your name and place of residence.
A. My name is Sarah M. Pratt; Salt Lake City my residence.
Q. How long have you resided in Utah territory?
A. Twenty-one years; all but three of the time in Salt Lake city.
Q. Are you the wife of Orson Pratt?
A. I am.
Q. Are you acquainted with George Q. Cannon and his family?
A. I am.
Q. How many reputed wives has he?
A. He has three reputed wives and one wife.
Q. What is his wife’s name?
A. Elizabeth Hoagland, before he married her.
Q. Were you acquainted with her before he married her?
A. I knew her; not particularly acquainted with her. I knew her family.
Q. Is she now living?
A. I never heard of her death. I presume she is living.
Q. What are the names of his reputed wives?
A. The first one that he took after his wife was Sarah Jane Jenny; the next was Eliza, I think; the other name I do not remember; the third one was Martha Terry, I think.
Q. Has George Q. Cannon ever introduced any of his pretended wives to you as his wives?
Q. Who were they?
A. Martha and the one called Eliza.
Q. Has Martha any children?
A. She has a pair of twins, or did have the last I knew of her, and presume, she still has them. I don’t know.
Q. Has Eliza any children?
A. She has one. George Q. Cannon told me himself that Eliza had one. I met him a few days after it was born, and he told me that she had.
Q. At the time George Q. Cannon told you that Eliza had a child did he acknowledge that he was the father?
A. I don’t know that he did.
Q. Have you ever seen George Q. Cannon in the presence of his children?
A. O! yes; frequently.
Q. Did he treat them as a father, and did he call them his children?
A. He did.
Q. Were those children so treated the children of his pretended wives?
A. After showing me these boys, he, as man who felt proud of his children, told me one belonged to Sarah Jane and the others to his first wife.
Q. Was there any distinction made in the treatment of those children?
A. I couldn’t see that there was.
Q. Does the family of Geo. Q. Cannon all reside in one house?
A. I believe they do, since the large house was built. Mrs. Cannon told me when it was building that it was intended for them all.
Q. Did you ever hear Mrs. Cannon speak of the other wives or their standing in the family?
A. I have.
Q. Was Mrs. Cannon somewhat offended at the assumption of these pretended wives?
A. Yes, she was, as all first wives are.
Q. Is Eliza reported to be dissatisfied with her marital relations?
A. I have heard so, but I don’t know anything about that. I want to tell you a little more about Mrs. Cannon. Mrs. Cannon told me that George Q. took Martha contrary to her wishes, (this was soon after he took her), and she said the most of his time had been spent with her, to the great distress or annoyance of her and the rest of the family—and the other women, I mean. Sarah Jane told me the same thing at another time.
Q. It is a general, accepted, common report throughout the community and neighborhood that George Q. Cannon is living in polygamy?
A. It is generally so understood. I have never heard it disputed in fifteen years. I have often heard him speak of his wives, and never heard him deny it.
Q. Did you say you were the wife of Orson Pratt?
A. I am the wife of Orson Pratt, sir. I am not living with him now. I was formerly a member of the Mormon church, and don’t know that I have been cut off. I have not been a believer in the Mormon doctrines for thirty years, and am now considered an apostate, I believe.
Q. Did you ever see Geo. Q. cannon married to any one?
Q. Do you know that he has more wives than one, except by general reputation?
A. No, I do not; except by the information I have given, and what I have heard him say, as I have related.
Q. Do you know, except by general repute, that these children spoken of by you as belonging to Martha, Eliza and Sarah Jane are the children of George Q. Cannon?
A. I only know so far as the information I have given will convey the idea.
Mrs. Smith’s affidavit says: Deponent further says that she has been acquainted with George Q. Cannon and his family for at least eight years; that his first wife is named Elizabeth Hoagland Cannon; his second wife, Sarah Jane Jenny Cannon; his third wife, Eliza Cannon; his fourth wife, Martha Telle Cannon; also, that she has been a frequent visitor at George Q. Cannon’s house, and that she has heard the said George Cannon, in his house, as well as at the tabernacle, in Salt Lake city, also at the funeral of Mrs. Ordine Kimball, in the 19th ward school house, in said Salt Lake city, Utah, acknowledge that the said Elizabeth Hoagland, Sarah Jane Jenny, Eliza and Martha Telle Cannon were his wives; also, that Mrs. Whatmore, a school teacher, is sealed in marriage to the said George Q. Cannon, and has heard the said plural wives of said Cannon as their husband, and especially the second wife.
The committee, after presenting this evidence, recites the act of 1862 prohibiting polygamy, and the following act which passed the house at its late session, June 16, 1874.
Be it enacted by the senate and house of representatives of the United States of America in congress assembled: No person hereafter shall be a delegate in the house of representatives from any of the territories of the United States who shall not have attained the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of the territory in which he shall be chosen; and no such person who is guilty either of bigamy or polygamy shall be eligible to a seat as such delegate.
It then proceeds: Notwithstanding this fact the said delegate was a candidate at the recent election, and was actually elected for the same territory in the forty-fourth congress.
Your committee thinks the evidence, unchallenged as it is by the delegate, that, at the date of his election, to wit: on the 5th day of August, 1872, and prior thereto, the said delegate was, and still is, openly living and cohabiting with four women as his wives, under the pretended sanctions of a system of polygamy, which system he notoriously indorses and upholds in violation of the statue of the United States approved July 1, 1862, above quoted.
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jan. 22, 1875, 3]
[Deseret Evening News, 23:824]
[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Apr. 2006]