The New York Times is reporting that “Mormon genes are hot.”
To a scientist, the single greatest attraction of Utah – and its biggest distinction in a nation of rootless wanderers – is stability. For more than 150 years, largely because of the Mormon church, the state has been a magnet to people who mostly stayed put. A relatively small founding population was fruitful and multiplied – aided in the 19th century by polygamy, adding a unique wrinkle to the genetic trail. With its emphasis on family records and genealogy, the Mormon church, officially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then created a treasure trove of details about those people.
Great! There must be something good about Utah, after all.
It’s a great article — and it even suggests that my tendency to think of my Utah Mormon background as an ethnicity has some genetic support. I have a new proposal, though: What if we were to refer to Mountain West, pioneer-stock Mormons not as “Utah Mormons” but as “Deseret Mormons”? It could include Arizona Mormons, Utah Mormons, Idaho Mormons, and even Alberta Mormons — at least those of us whose genetic stock and inbreeding fascinate the biologists.
Philocrites, I think that is an excellent suggestion. For one thing, it is more accurate. After all, Deseret was actually what the pioneers who settled here established, and it reached far beyond what is now Utah. You mentioned Alberta, but we could also include the Mexican colony as well.
When I was a student at the U of U, I worked in a genetics department that focused on familial cancers. We had access to a lot of the churches genealogical data and matched it up with the Utah Cancer Registry. With such good records, a relatively small and homogenous population, and more inbreeding than one might expect, it was a gold mine of information. It was almost sad looking at pedigrees of some huge families that were peppered with cancer patients (including my own wife’s). We’d then find living members of these families and draw their blood for analysis.
Three cheers for Utah Mormons!
I am trying to find more information about Mormons who emmigrated to Mexico after 1890 in protest of Wilford Woodruff’s mandate that Mormon’s follow US laws regarding polygamy. Can anyone suggest promising sources?