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Polygamists could be starting Oklahoma land rush

Published July 7, 2014 7:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On the Oklahoma Panhandle, the land that made the covered wagon famous, some new settlers have arrived.

They are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. More important, they are the FLDS subset belonging to the United Order — people still in good standing with Warren Jeffs and loyal to him.

The FLDS have been buying homes and property near Boise City, Okla., according to the Guymon Daily Herald and CBS affiliate News Channel 10. At a community meeting July 1 in Boise City (pronounced like "toy," and not like the capital of Idaho) residents voiced concerns. According to the news reports of the meeting, the sheriff said there have been no complaints.

You can read the article or watch the newscast to learn what happened at the meeting.

Apparently, none of the FLDS attended, which indicates they are in the United Order.

"Indications are that they're authorized to be there by the church, and they're still loyal to Warren," said Sam Brower, the Utah private investigator who wrote a book about Jeffs and monitors the FLDS.

Brower was one of the guest speakers at the Boise City meeting. In a telephone interview with me Saturday, Brower said Boise City residents started noticing the plainly dressed men and prairie dress-clad women a few months ago. About that time, Brower said, he started noticing trailers with Oklahoma plates arriving in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

Brower also pointed out the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board website now lists six men named Barlow as being licensed electricians, though their cities of business are listed as Hildale or Colorado City.

Former Colorado City Mayor George Barlow wrote to The Boise City News saying the FLDS have moved there to work construction. This has long been the FLDS' bread-and-butter industry. While Boise City is not booming (the Census Bureau website estimates it has a population of 1,189) it is located in the vicinity of the oil and gas fields for five states.

Land records show the FLDS have bought some houses and property, though it's not clear whether they are assembling a massive ranch like they used to have in Eldorado, Texas.

And, no, we're not sure how many FLDS are in Boise City. Brower said there are estimates of 12 to 15 families.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribunepolygamy