Just as people in Washington County were becoming increasingly Americanized, ever more like the rest of the nation, one group in a remote corner of the county was heading in the opposite direction. Theirs was a quest for renewed isolation. The fundamentalists of Hildale, Utah, are a private people; until recently they lived almost undercover. They weave into the history of Utah and Washington County in inextricable ways. To some their lifestyle seems un-American; to others they appear to be a group of hard working, industrious, and, for the most part, law-abiding citizens. Their ideology dates back to before the beginnings of the county, and their story crosses back and forth along the Utah and Arizona border. Their original stronghold at Short Creek has disappeared from maps but thrives now as the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
The doctrine of plural marriage in the LDS church dates back at least to 12 July 1843 when Joseph Smith, Jr. received and recorded what became the 132nd section of the Church's Doctrine and Covenants and provided the scriptural foundation for Mormon plural marriage...The acceptance of polygamy among the Mormons began to end when President Wilford Woodruff presented the "Manifesto" to the October conference of the church in 1890 for a sustaining vote. He had issued it a month earlier, stating in part: "Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the Court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise. I now publicly declare that my advice is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land."