My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .
Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?
Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron, shares her haunting story of murder, fear, and betrayal in The Polygamist’s Daughter. She shares more about her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home in this special Q & A. Learn more about the book on Tyndale.com.
Q: Looking back, what was your scariest moment of living in a polygamist cult?
A: You want me to pick just one? All of them combined is the reason I don’t watch movies that fall into the horror, thriller, or suspense categories—I lived that! Narrowing it down, one of the scariest moments was being forced to go door to door in Mexico selling slices of cake. I was well aware that American children were being kidnapped. Every time I ventured out onto the streets, I knew I was vulnerable. I felt the anxiety in the pit of my stomach.
Q: Was there a specific moment when you began to have a personal relationship with God? How did you separate the true God from the one you had been raised to worship?
A: I became aware of God and Jesus the few times I attended Sunday school at a local Christian church. Later, when I was thirteen and enrolled in a Christian school, I became aware of others who had a personal relationship with God. When one of my classmates, Marsha Mosher, prayed out loud and began with the word “Father,” I recognized the difference instantly. She knew God intimately. I longed for that kind of loving expression to be authentic and real within my life.
I had been raised to revere Joseph Smith and worship my dad, Ervil LeBaron, as the “one mighty and strong,” the one on earth designated to speak for God. When I understood how I had been misled, I began questioning myself. Is God’s love really genuine and available to me? Can I really be a part of His family? Answering those questions are what helped me know God, the Father, in an authentic way and gave my spiritual expression a genuineness I hadn’t experienced before.
Q: You now have a beautiful family. What do your children know about your childhood?
A: I love my children! When they were little, I wanted to protect their young minds from having to carry the weight of knowing about my family of origin. They grew up not knowing anything about my father, except what they may have overheard in bits and pieces. It wasn’t until my oldest was a teenager that I began to openly discuss the events of my childhood, leaving out many details. Most of what I tell in the book will be a surprise to even those family and friends I feel closest to. I’m hoping that my children will understand me better when they decide to read this book.
Q: What was the book-writing experience like? I can’t imagine the courage and vulnerability it must have taken.
A: I have known for decades that I wanted to write a book and tell my story. The book-writing experience was more difficult than I ever expected. The amount of detail, storytelling, and editing needed was more than I had bargained for.
Writing a book is in so many ways like having a baby. I’m convinced that no one is ever “prepared” to have a baby, no matter how well-read or experienced you are with other people’s babies. I’m eager to “deliver” this book-baby to the world and am hoping for the best possible outcome and reception.
Q: Can you see ways that God has used the bad things in your upbringing for good today?
A: Definitely. First, I speak Spanish fluently, which has been invaluable in my business and professional life. It also comes in handy when I need to talk to my siblings and don’t want my kids to understand what I’m saying. I have learned to be a peacemaker because I can see two sides of a situation clearly. My experiences have made me relatable, empathetic, and compassionate toward others. My upbringing gives me credibility when speaking to others, and I feel very comfortable in front of a crowd. I’m told that I inherited my father’s intelligence and charisma.
Q: What is one thing you hope your readers take from your story?
A: Hope and courage. I especially desire this for them if they have experienced trauma or abuse of any kind in their life. There is a lot of living left for all of us to do. Pursuing true freedom and healing in a holistic way that involved my body, soul, and spirit was what worked for me.