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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Short Creek Raid, 1953

Arizona officials had been plotting their move on the isolated community of Short Creek for nearly two years, gathering intel on the fundamentalists who'd broken away from the Mormon Church in order to live, steadfastly but illegally, in polygamy. Finally, before dawn on July 26, 1953, the law came down: According to a LIFE reporter invited to the raid, "50 state troopers, five police matrons, 12 liquor inspectors, assorted photographers and the attorney general" descended on Short Creek, and the town (today known as Colorado City) became site of the largest mass arrest of polygamists in American history. The raid sent shock waves through other polygamist communities — and, many argue, led to the sort of secretive, insidious polygamist sects (such as the one led by Warren Jeffs) that have made headlines in recent years. As the fascination and sticky questions surrounding polygamy continue, due to headline-making, watercooler TV shows like Sister Wives, LIFE.com presents rare and never-published photos taken by LIFE's Loomis Dean from a badly botched government attempt to stomp out a community. Pictured: A never-before-published photo of two girls standing with their mother as she is questioned by an officer and Arizona Attorney General Ross Jones.

Christina's Great grandparents were in the raid. The Rulon Clark Allred Family.

(Courtesy of Photo: Loomis Dean/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images; http://www.life.com/gallery/50191/raid-on-a-polygamist-town-1953?xid=largeembedgallery50191#index/0)


  1. I hate to say it, but i love these old pictures- makes me think of my mom and dad in high school. I look at the cars, the buildings, etc.

    1. I completely agree. I wish I could see like an overhead view of the town and stuff though.

  2. Love em. they looked like they were treated well.

  3. Nice Pictures. Cops just did what they should have. Too bad they let it blow up and get out of hand.

  4. I still don't understand why they are so shocked when they get arrested. Heck, my plates were expired one day, and I got a ticket, why shouldn't they?

  5. Obviously, they didn't do much, because nothing changed. Was it a publicity stunt for the cops?