(Big Water, Utah) - November 1983, town residents of Big Water, Utah, made history when they elected a polygamist with ten wives as their mayor. Alex Joseph became mayor of the town of 250 residents while his seventh wife, Elizabeth Joseph became the town attorney of the newest incorporated city in Kane County. Asked if that constituted a conflict of interest, Joseph told a newspaper reporter, “it represented a hell of an asset”. Joseph said town residents were more concerned about their water bills than his marital status. Joseph, who had 16 children in 1983, said he didn’t see any conflict between his oath of office upholding Utah’s Constitution, which prohibits polygamy, and his lifestyle. “What I do doesn’t break the law. I’ve been doing it openly and out in front for years”, he is quoted in an Associated Press report. He doesn’t get state marriage licenses but instead enters into contracts with his wives. Joseph was born and raise in Merced, CA, and was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. He later converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but took his first plural wife in March of 1970 and was excommunicated. He then founded the Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly. Over the years, local, state and federal governments had numerous run-ins with the charismatic Joseph who moves his brood to Southern Utah after leaving a polygamist group he was associated with in Montana. Trouble in Kane County began when he bought a piece of property in Cottonwood Canyon Northeast of Kanab. The Kane County Sheriff told him he was on public land. In November 1975, after eviction notices were served by federal and local district court, Joseph and several other homesteaders moved from Cottonwood Canyon to establish “Bac Bone”, 16 miles away.
This time, Joseph invoked the county planning commission and building inspectors’ ire since the sub development wasn’t approved nor had building permits been granted. Shortly afterwards, seven U.S. Marshals removed Joseph from the Bac Bon settlement to Glen Canyon City which became Big water. Joseph, a chain smoker, died September 27, 1998, after having served three terms as Mayor of Big water, from 1983 to 1994. At the time of his death, he left behind seven serving wives-during his lifetime, he married as many as 20 different women, but many of those were brief and one ended in divorce. He is survived by 21 children and 21 grandchildren.