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Radio Free Mormon: 005: Make Way For Milk Strippings


Today “Radio Free Mormon” continues with its newest episode “Make Way For Milk Strippings”.  This episode delves into the apostasy and separation of Thomas Marsh from the Church.  The story we have been told is that Marsh stuck up for and defended his wife over her feeling that a verbal agreement with a neighbor over milk and strippings was broken and she desired to be found justified in her disagreement.  This episode delves into the deeper history and the more complicated but also historically accurate reasons for Marsh’s seperation from the Church.

While Marsh was dealing with multiple reasons for a loss of faith we also discover new connections behind this story.  Namely what Marsh and his wife Elizabeth did not know was that this neighbor, Lucinda Harris, in dispute with Elizabeth over the milk and strippings is the a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith and enters a relationship with Joseph earlier that same year, 1838, unknown to almost anyone.  So when she and Thomas appeal to the first presidency they realize just how little Brother Joseph wants to side against Lucinda or put her name into the public conversation.


The Church’s account of Marsh’s apostasy

Mormon Stories sharing background

By Common Consent’s recounting

Juvenile Instructor’s recounting

Lucinda Harris – 3rd polygamous wife of Joseph Smith

Brian Hales Evidence of Lucinda’s relationship to Joseph

Year Of Polygamy – Lucinda Harris



As with all guest hosts, this Episode does not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Reel or Mormon Discussion Podcast.


Like this episode and others we have had from guest hosts,  Such contributions are highly desired.  My mission with Mormon Discussion Podcast is to bring great perspectives of Mormon History & Culture that helps struggling Latter-day Saints reconcile difficulties while being encouraged to stay in the Church.  If you wish to contribute either a Blog Post or a Audio Podcast Episode please do and send to me at ReelMormon AT gmail DOT com for consideration.


12 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 005: Make Way For Milk Strippings”

  1. Bravo!!!

    Excellent research summary and conclusions.
    May I add, I feel the spirit of God in your words.
    This will be the truth that will be taught in church, in a generation or two.

    Mormonism is bound to become a lot more interesting in the next three generations. Too bad we won’t be around to see that, but we can exemplify the type of Mormonism we need to be for others to see.

    Cheers, thank you for this… and thank you for contributing to Mormon Discussion Podcast.

    1. Wow, David!

      Thank you for the kind words!

      The thing that really excited me about this podcast is how it appears polygamy may be at the heart of this episode.

      That is something that never occurred to me until I rolled up my sleeves and started researching for this podcast.

      Now I have to get busy editing the next podcast. It deals with the subject of how the Church denies that it hides its history.

      Which is pretty remarkable when you know that the Church does, in fact, hide its history.

      Circles within circles.

      Happy New Year!


      1. Yes RFM,

        I was impressed with the Lucinda Harris and how that complicate things as she is numbered as one of JS polygamous wives, which totally makes sense.

        Hopefully Mormonism will force LDS members to open their eyes. A breaking point will be reached where Unorthodox members will exceed the number of orthodox members. So I’m interested in seeing how the future of Mormonism plays out.

        I think overall we are a group of very good people that want to do what is right. Hopefully we will make room to be more inclusive and loving. I still hope Mormonism remains strong and relevant, but in different ways.

  2. Nicely done….I appreciate the hours of research on your part, and simplified for my enjoyment. I have shared with friends and family.

    1. Thank you so much, Maryann!

      You are right about the hours of research. And then the hours of editing!

      Thanks for sharing with your friends and family.

      Sharing is caring!


  3. We go from concern of the treatment of the non Saints in Missouri by Mormons to now the polandry of Joseph Smith? I can buy that the milk stripping story has been over or misused by the Church to make a point. However, there appears to be just as much insinuation and speculation on the Paul Harvey wannabe (“the rest of the story”) as perhaps is alluded by the fallen and fallible LDS leaders. I just don’t believe this is edifying nor objective with respect to the Gospel. The tounge and cheek mocking is just off putting. I just don’t have confidence that any honest seeker of faith and truth will find anything reedeming or assuring with these Radio Free Mormon podcasts. Nevertheless, if you feel this is going to help those on their faith journeys resolve their tensions…..well…..that’s your call Bill.


    2. Hi, Dale.

      Thanks for your comments.

      I think it is fair to say from the historical record that Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde were both concerned about “the treatment of the non Saints in Missouri by Mormons.”

      Should this not be mentioned?

      As to the polyandry of Joseph Smith, that is something I believe the Church itself has admitted to in its recent essay. The podcast does not invent this idea out of whole cloth. It is similarly agreed to by most LDS scholars that Joseph Smith’s polyandry included Lucinda Harris.

      Should this not be mentioned?

      What the podcast does is explore the somewhat novel idea as to whether Joseph’s plural marriage to Lucinda Harris which MAY have occurred in 1838 (per Todd Compton’s opinion) COULD have contributed to why it was this inconsequential issue about milk strippings got appealed all the way up to the First Presidency during the height of the Missouri War, and why it was Joseph Smith may have had a vested interest in ruling for Lucinda Harris as against the wife of Thomas B. Marsh.

      Should this not be mentioned?

      In an effort to be objective, as well as informative, I try to be sure to couch any speculative matters firmly in terms of “possibly” and “could be” and “may be.” I think you will find that the case with this podcast, as well.

      I am glad that at least we agree that “the milk stripping story has been over or misused by the Church to make a point.”

      Thank you for listening and for taking the time to comment.


  4. Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

    Just re-listened to your excellent podcast, and although this is a bit late, did you notice this comment in one of your linked sources (

    “β€œThe Harris family was baptized in 1834 and by March 1838 was living in Far West, Missouri, where George served on the high council of the stake.”

    So, Lucinda is (maybe at this time) the polyandrous wife of Joseph – to which an appeal is made and her husband is on the high council – to which an appeal is made. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Also, when Thomas and George have their reconciliation, it’s just as probable that George apologized for his/his wife’s behavior and asked for forgiveness as it is that Thomas made the same appeal.

    You did a great job of identifying how the presentation of information is biased to portray that bias. By saying there was a reconciliation, readers are led by the bias, spoken and unspoken, to conclude Thomas was seeking George’s forgiveness and therefore was (obviously) at fault, making the story true.

  5. I just found Radio Free Mormon and I needed its fresh sound. This topic brings to light the fact that almost EVERY old wives tale told in Mormonism is most likely a fabrication.

    Yeah, it just never made sense that Marsh would turn his back on God over cheese ingredients. Duh.

  6. Sooo late to the party, my bad. The milk strippings story was part of GD class today, and I just about had my head explode at hearing how awful those offended early saints were. The teacher was a last-minute substitute, poor guy! and I told the class that I was offended at how mean-hearted it was that only one side of the story was told. My husband calls me the ‘pot stirrer”.

  7. The real question that I have is how many times Thomas Monson told this story of milk strippings. I think Monson had only a handful of talks in his coffer and this was one of them. I can hear his voice in my head right now telling this story.

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