Elder Hugh Sidney Gowans Was Convicted of Trigamy in Utah
Hugh Sidney Gowans, a native of Scotland, was the subject of a biographical sketch which was published in “Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia,” written by Andrew Jenson and published in 1901. The account read:
“Hugh Sydney Gowans, third president of the Tooele Stake of Zion, is the son of Robert Gowans and Grace McKay Gowans and was born February 23, 1832 in Perth, Perthshire, Scotland. While quite young his parents removed to the city of Aberdeen in the northeast part of Scotland, where he lived until he was about ten years of age.
Then he removed with them to the town of Arboath in Fosfor-shire, Scotland, in which place he first heard and received the gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was baptized in his eighteenth year, August 1, 1840 by Elder Joseph Booth, in consequence of which he had to contend with much opposition from his parents and other relatives.
In the following July, in response to a call made by Elder James Marsden, president of the Edinburgh conference, for volunteers to go out and preach the gospel, Brother Gowans offered his service. He was accordingly ordained a priest and started from Dundee, in company with Robert Bain to labor in Fifeshire, under the direction of Elder John Duncan. After some six months he was called to go to the north part of Scot-land, where he travelled and preached in Stonehaven, Ab-erdeen, Banff, and other places.
In the meantime he was ordained an Elder. Having labored in the ministry for some eighteen months, he returned home and was appointed to preside over the Arbroath branch of the Dundee conference, which position he occupied until he emigrated to Utah with his wife and her father and mother in 1855. He sailed from Liverpool April 22, 1855 with a company of 581 saints, on board the ship “Samuel Curling.” He arrived safely in New York, the journey was continued via Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Atchison and Mormon Grove. He crossed the plains in Capt. Milo Andrus’ emigrant train, arrived in Salt Lake City October 24 in the same year.
He spent the following winter on the government Reservation in Rush Valley, Tooele County. In consequence of Indian hostilities, in the spring of 1856, he located in Tooele City, where he has resided ever since. He was ordained a Seventy in Salt Lake City under the hands of Joseph Young April 20, 1857 and set apart as one of the presidents of the 43rd quorum of Seventy at its organization in Tooele City, May 9, 1857.
He was appointed assessor and collector for Tooele County in 1865, and held the office for six years. In August of the same year he was elected mayor of Tooele City, in which office he was three times successively re-elected. May 16, 1868 he was elected adjutant of Company A, First Cavalry Battalion, Nau-voo Legion, and commissioned as such with the rank of first lieutenant by Gov. Durkee.
In 1872 he was called to go on a mission to Europe. He left Salt lake City October 25th, and sailed from New York November 6 on board the steamer “Minnesota” of the Guion Line, which arrived in Liverpool November 19. During this mission Elder Gowans presided successively in the Bedford, Durham and Newcastle and Manchester conferences, and was released to return home. As the leader of a company of emigrating saints he sailed from Liverpool on the steamship “Wyoming” May 12, 1875 and arrived in New York May 24th, and in Salt Lake City June 3.
On August 7, 1876 he was elected prosecuting attorney for Tooele County and on the 27th of September following he was elected chairman of the central and executive committees of the People’s Party in Tooele County, and took a prominent part in recovering the county from the Liberal rule.
At the organization of the Tooele Stake in June 1877 he was ordained a High Priest and set apart as a member of the High Council.
In August 1878 he was elected probate judge of Tooele County and re-elected to the same office in August 1880. At the quarterly conference of the Tooele Stake held in Grantsville in January, 1881, he was sustained as first coun-selor to Heber J. Grant, president of Tooele Stake.
In October 1882, he was sustained and set apart by Pres. John Taylor to preside over the Tooele Stake, succeeding Heber J. Grant, who was called to be one of the Twelve Apostles.
On July 16, 1885, he was arrested at his home in Tooele City on the charge of unlawful cohabitation with his wives. He was taken before Commissioner McKay in Salt Lake City and by him bound over in the sum of $1,500 to answer to the findings of the grand jury. On the 23rd of September he was arraigned to plead to three indictments for the same offense, being the first man in the Territory on whom Prosecuting Attorney W. H. Dickson and the grand jury commenced their illegal business of segregation, to all of which he pleaded not guilty and was placed under $3,000 bonds–$1,000 on each indictment.
On February 11, 1886 he was brought into court, but was only tried on one of the indictments under the plea of not guilty [the other two indictments were held over for future use], on the express condition that he would go on the witness stand and give evidence for the prosecution, which he did. No other witnesses were called. Judge Zane charged the jury, who found a verdict of guilty without leaving their seats.
At his request, sentence was deferred until the 26th, when, in answering the question in the negative, if he had any promises to make in regard to the future, he was sentenced to six months in the penitentiary and to pay a fine of $300 and costs–in all $520. The same day he was taken to the penitentiary, where he served out his sentence, less the deduction allowed by the Cooper Act. He also served 30 days in lieu of the fine, being discharged August 30, 1886.”