Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » The Joke’s on Us (3)

The Joke’s on Us (3)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 04, 2011

With the exception of the first clip, which comes from a news account and apparently relates a real occurrence of 1871, this post consists of “Mormon jokes” from newspapers around the world — quips and stories meant to be humorous rather than historical, built on the usual Mormon stereotypes of our first century —


[A serious newspaper account of New Zealand politics ends:]

In the course of the discussion in the House of Representatives on the Permissive Bill, Mr. Bunny said that he considered that the system of “shouting” was one of the greatest objections to the drinking propensities of the colonial population. he thought that it should be put down by every possible means. … He objected to females voting on the prohibitory clauses. “I should like to catch any wife of mine signing such a paper,” said he. The idea was so suggestive that Mr. Bunny had to put in a disclaimer by the announcement that he was not a Mormon.


Domestic Troubles of a Mormon

“My name is Gallagher,” said the stranger, as he entered Colonel Brown’s office. “I called to see you about a suit for divorce.”

“Take a seat,” said the colonel.

“In the first place,” said Mr. Gallagher, “I want to ask, can a divorce be obtained on the ground of incompatibility?”

“I dunno,” said the colonel. “I must ascertain the facts.”

“Because, if you can, I want you to begin 68 divorce suits for me to-morrow – ”


“Let me explain. You see, about four years ago I went to Salt Lake City, and I was converted to the Mormon religion. When I joined, Bishop Grubb said I ought to marry, so I proposed to his six daughters, and we were consolidated at once. On the following Thursday the Bishop died. He left 11 widows. His executors pointed out that I might probably assuage their grief and get a firmer grip on the property by taking them out of their lonely condition. so I married them, and also pulled in two sisters of one of them, living in Idaho, and a cousin of another – a cousin who was single and had a cast in her eye. That made 20, did it?”


“Well, then, the impression, your honor, naturally got round that I was a marrying man, and so the twelve apostles at their next meeting sealed to me four widows and an old maid that were drifting about the settlement with no one in particular to look after them, and as I took the act good naturedly, why, on the following week Bishop Knox got the apostles to pass over to me a job lot of his relations, including two aunts, one grandmother and a second cousin, and Bishop O’Toole threw in a step-sister, mother-in-law, and three miscellaneous orphans, who were related to nobody. So, you see, I was gradually getting quite a little family about me.”

“I see,” said the colonel.

“And then, your honor, if any unattached women would come along in emigration trains, they were always ordered to be married to me. I thought the heads of the church were a little too hard on me, but I had to submit.”

“Did you have a happy household?”

“I’m coming to that. I can’t say that we were all perfectly congenial, our tastes differed so. The Bishop Grubb delegation, for instance, would want caramels for breakfast in the morning when the folks from Peru were determined to have clam. Bishop Knox’s detachment would insist on cleaning house at the very time when Bishop O’Toole’s relations wanted to give a party. If the Sandwich Islander and the squaw wanted to boil a leg or two in the soup-kettle, there was always a fuss with the other women, and Mrs. Gallagher, who came from Japan, used to make the ladies furious by turning somersaults in the parlor when there was company, and by standing on her head on the piano stool. As for wash-day! Well, one wanted Monday, another would have it on Tuesday, and so on. And then Emeline, one of my first batch, had studied medicine, and she was always practising upon the others. She introduced whooping cough to the family in order to try a favorite remedy of hers. Imagine sixty-eight women in one house with the whooping cough. And then she put ipecac in their tea a few weeks afterwards to see if it would give them asthma; and it did. The whole crowd went round gasping for breath.

“I remonstrated with Emeline, but the very next day she tried to vaccinate the old lady from the Sandwich Islands by boring a hole in her elbow with a gimlet.

“One day, about three weeks ago, I brought home a poodle for Julia, one of the youngest ones. This looked a little like partiality, and of course the sixty-seven others wanted a poodle a piece at once. Now, I’m not able to pay a dog-tax sixty-eight times a year, so I declined.

“I saw there was trouble brewing, and the next day when I came home every woman of them had a dog of her own; been out and bought them. They ran from blood-hounds to black-and-tan terriers. I remonstrated, and then – well, the women began to cry, and that set the dogs to barking, and then Lucinda went for Julia’s back hair, and the other ladies joined in, and the dogs pretty soon began to engage in the controversy, and in a few minutes what might have been a happy family circle was a good deal more like a copy of the battle of Waterloo. So I fled and took the first train for the East, and abandoned the Mormon religion permanently, and what I want to know is, if I can have those sixty-eight marriage bonds untied. Money is no object so that I can get loose.”


A Numerical Misunderstanding

Mormon Elder (to shoe dealer): – “I want to get a pair of shoes for my wife.”

Shoe dealer: – “Yes, sir. What number please?”

Mormon Elder: – “Seventeen.”

Shoe dealer: “Seventeen? Great Brigham, sir, we haven’t shoes that large!”

Mormon Elder: – (sternly) – “I’m, not speaking of the number of the shoe, but the number of the wife.”


Mormon Rectitude.

“I should think, sir,” said a Mormon wife severely to her husband at Castle Garden, the other morning, “that you would be ashamed to be seen flirting with that girl so openly.”

“Flirting, my dear,” he returned in astonished tones, “I wasn’t flirting. We were engaged before the vessel left Queenstown.”

“O,” said his wife, calmly, “I beg your pardon. If you have proposed to her, I presume it’s all right. When does the interesting event take place?”


Not a Polygamist

Voice over the ‘phone: Shay, Exchange, wanter-hic-talk ter m’ wife.”

Central: “What’s her number?”

Voice: “Quitcher kiddin’, will yer? I ain’t no Mormon.”


They Are Sixty-Seven

I met a little Mormon girl;
She was just eighteen she said.
Her hair was dressed with one big curl
That dangled from her head.

She had a simple way, and bland;
Her speech was soft and cool,
And in her honest, widespread hand
She bore a milking stool.

“How many children, little maid,
Are in your family?”
“How many? Sixty-seven,” she said,
And shyly looked at me.

Her hazel eyes to mine she raised,
And then she cast them down.
“I did not ask,” I said, amazed,
“The census of your town.

“How many children ’round your door
Disport in childish glee?”
“Just sixty-seven,” she said, once more,
And smiled again at me.

“Forty of us at Provo dwell;
At Ogden there are nine;
The good ship Jane, they sail her well –
Twelve brothers, dear, of mine.”

“I see at last. Your meaning’s clear,”
Said I, with laughter merry;
“Is it an orphanage, my dear,
Or a female seminary?”

“With father dear we dwell at peace;
Our mothers are eleven;
’Round every door there’s room for more,
And we are sixty-seven.”

And then I left in dumb dismay
The maid with eyes like heaven;
But as I left I heard her say,
“And I’m the oldest, by the way,
Of all the sixty-seven.”


Tired Business Man

Customer: “Give me a dozen hats, two dozen parasols, and a half dozen –“

Milliner: “If you’re buying goods for the trade you can get a reduction from the wholesale department.”

Customer: “Bother the trade! I’m a Mormon.”


Appalling Polygamy

Now the Mormon maids and matrons are “dressing up to kill,”
In the hosiery and lingerie of Lucy, Jane, and Jill,
The rising cost to dozens in the City of Salt Lake,
Will increase the craze for cousins –
Or else the husbands break.



  1. Somehow I didn’t find these too particularly humorous. For example, although it’s precisely the same subject matter, the story “Domestic Troubles of a Mormon” doesn’t have the light touch of the funny Artemus Ward story you recently posted. But it sure is interesting to see the comparison.

    Comment by Researcher — April 4, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  2. Yeah, they’re typically tedious stereotypes, aren’t they? All the more extraordinary that Artemus Ward could be so charming with the same basic material.

    Y’all’ll be glad to know this exhausts my current store of Mormon jokes.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 4, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  3. The New Zealand clipping was the only one that I thought even mildly amusing, especially as it had to do with prohibition, if I am understanding it correctly. The note that he “objected to females voting on the prohibitive clauses” gave me a little chuckle.

    The rest were, as you noted, tedious.

    Comment by kevinf — April 4, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

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