Submitted by KIRKHAM SMITH, grandson of Lott and Sarah Kirkham, son of Karl and Adah Kirkham Smith.
REFLECTIONS ON AN INCIDENT IN THE LIFE
AS RRELATED BY HIS SON
DONALD R. KIRKHAM
FEBRUARY 4, 1989
I have heard papa tell this story many times about the peach stone and how it came to be. Just before I went on my mission, we were sitting around the dinner table and I asked papa why he got the peach stone? Did Grandpa Kirkham make one for everyone? He said “no”. I ask why? He said “I really don’t want to talk about it”. So mom said I’ll tell you about it, so she started to tell it and he said “No, that isn’t quite right”. So he said let me tell you what really happened. He told me how old he was and I really don’t know for sure, but probably 7 or 8 years old was all. He said “My dad was being tried for polygamy. The church had a test case. They let it be known . . . leaked it to the government officials that my dad was living polygamy. His family had been hiding out for two years.”
He told me they had lived in chicken coops, straw stacks (tunneled out straw stacks) and the people in the community had hid them out in Lehi and north towards Salt Lake and the Saratoga area for two years. Grandpa could go and see them, but could never meet with them in public. If you read Essentials in Church History, you’ll find that the church decided to have a couple of test cases to see if the government would try people for something they had done before the law was passed. So they decided to leak a few of them out. . . . Now the church tells about this, but it doesn’t say that my grandpa was one of them. This was done with the permission of the families. They wanted to get it out in the open so that they could either get their families back or something. It was too hard on the families and they didn’t complain. But grandpa Kirkham didn’t like it and shed a lot of tears over his wife and her family being hid out.
And so they arrested him. And they took him to court to try him on the charge of polygamy. I don’t know anything about the trial. Dad was just a little boy. He said that they went through the whole thing, and were coming to the end of the trial when papa got involved.
He said, “They came over home and got me and my mother and brought us over to court. My mother knew that I couldn’t testify against him if he was my father”. Papa said, “Dad knew that so he didn’t think they would bring me in. They didn’t think that the law enforcement officers would bring his own family in to testify against him because it was against the law”.
They broke three major laws when they took Grandpa Kirkham to court to try him for polygamy. Our dad was just a little boy and they took him in the court room and number 1. A child could not testify against his father. That was the first law they broke . . . so the lawyer went out and got him and brought him into the courtroom, He said he was standing in the back of the courtroom kind of. And the lawyer bent down, put his arm around his shoulder and said to him “Lotty, who’s that man up there on the stand?” He said “I was so proud, that I said ‘That’s my dad’”. Then the prosecuting attorney went over by his mother and she started to cry. That convicted him right there, because that was not his family supposedly, but it was the family that was in hiding.
So they took Grandpa Kirkham right out. . . Now my dad told me this dozens of times. . . Took him right out. Put him in a wagon to take him from Lehi to prison. My dad ram to follow the wagon until he couldn’t follow it any further and he fell to the ground exhausted crying. He was crying all the way for his dad. And his dad was crying too. . .
The second law they broke was that they convicted him of a crime that was not against the law when he started it. In other words, he was married when there was not law against polygamy. The third law they broke was if you go to prison you can no longer vote, you lose your citizenship. He had his right to vote when he came out. They still allowed him to vote when he came out of prison.
The reason he carved the peach stone was because of that experience in the courtroom. He felt so bad for our dad when found out what he had done . . . convicted his dad, sent him to prison and took him away . . . that it broke his heart. So in order to make Lott feel better, he carved a peach stone watch fob and gave it to him. It has a little hole in it for a chain, but it is small for a peach stone. On one side is carved an anchor and on the other are the initials “L.K.” It’s really unique, but nothing to anybody else.
I’ve heard this so many times, and it is absolutely accurate. I ask papa a number of times before he died to repeat it to me because I have the peach stone. I have no other details than that.