List of Joseph Smith's wives

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Many historians claim that Joseph Smith (1805–1844), the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, taught and practiced polygamy during his ministry, and married multiple women during his lifetime. During his lifetime, Smith and the leading quorums of his church publicly denied he taught or practiced it.[1][2][3]

In 1852, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) acknowledged that Smith had practiced plural marriage and produced a written revelation of Smith's that authorizes its practice. Smith's son Joseph Smith III, his lawful widow Emma Smith, and most members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) attempted for years to refute the evidence of plural marriages. They pointed to the historical record that Joseph Smith publicly opposed the practice of polygamy;[3][4][5] the suggestion of the RLDS Church was that the practice of Mormon polygamy began in Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young.

The first publication of a list of women alleged to be Smith's plural wives was in 1887, by Andrew Jenson, an assistant church historian of the LDS Church. It included 27 women besides Emma Smith.[6] Currently, historians disagree as to the number and identity of the plural wives which Smith had. Various scholars and historians, including Fawn M. Brodie, George D. Smith,[7] and Todd Compton, have attempted to identify the women who married Smith.[8] The discrepancy is created by the lack of documents to support some of the alleged marriages. As Compton has stated, for many of these marriages, "absolutely nothing is known of [the] marriage after the ceremony."[9] Apart from his marriage to Emma, Smith's marriages were not solemnized under any civil authority and were therefore solely religious unions.

List of wives[edit]


Plural wife's maiden name (married name) Marriage Date Age[10] Recognized by Marital status at time of sealing Notes
TC[11] GS[12] FB[13]
Emma Hale (Smith)
Emma Hale Smith Bidamon.jpg
January 17, 1827 22 yes yes yes n/a The only woman to be legally wed to Smith and whom he claimed publicly was his only spouse.[14] Continued church activity within the RLDS Church.[15] Throughout life and on her deathbed denied that Smith had plural wives.[16] Claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Smith was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's periodical The Seer in 1853.[17]
Fanny Alger Early 1833 16 yes yes Single According to George D. Smith, Alger's marriage to Smith was attested to by several people, including Emma Smith, Warren Parish, Oliver Cowdery, and Heber C. Kimball.[18] Compton cites Mosiah Hancock's handwritten report of his father Levi's account of the marriage ceremony of Smith and Alger, and records his father's account of negotiations between Levi and Smith in procuring their respective wives. Compton also notes that nineteenth-century Mormons in Utah Territory, including Benjamin F. Johnson, Heber C. Kimball and Andrew Jenson, and former Mormons Chauncey Webb and Ann Eliza Webb Young, regarded the Smith–Alger relationship as a marriage.[19] Historian Lawrence Foster asserts a claim that later Mormons may have falsely assumed there was a marriage where there was only a sexual relationship: he views the marriage of Alger to Smith as a "debatable supposition" rather than "established fact".[20]
Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris c. 1838 37 yes yes yes Married Historians Richard Lloyd Anderson and Scott H. Faulring dismiss this claim as being based on "no solid evidence".[21] Compton notes the following evidence: she is the third woman on Andrew Jenson's 1887 list of Smith's plural wives; Compton writes that "Sarah Pratt reported that while in Nauvoo Lucinda had admitted a long-standing relationship with Smith"; and that there is an "early Nauvoo temple proxy sealing to Smith". This marriage was polyandrous, as Lucinda lived with her husband George Washington Harris until about 1853. Compton believes the marriage occurred around 1838, when Smith was living with Lucinda and her husband.[22]
Louisa Beaman
Louisa Beman.jpg
April 5, 1841 26 yes yes yes Single (February 7, 1815 – May 16, 1850). Though Mormon history and press indicate Beaman was not baptized until May 11, 1843,[23][24] she had migrated with Mormons to Nauvoo in 1839 or 1840.[25] She has been called the "first plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith." [26] After Smith's death, Beaman remarried, becoming the ninth wife of Brigham Young. Young and Beaman had five children together, all of whom predeceased Beaman, who died at age 35.[27][28] Listed as a Smith plural wife by Joseph F. Smith,[29] who noted an 1869 affidavit of Beaman's brother-in-law Joseph B. Noble, stating he officiated at the wedding.[30] This would have been prior to her baptism.
Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs)
Zina D. H. Young.JPG
October 27, 1841 20 yes yes yes Married Husband was Henry Bailey Jacobs, who was aware of her plural marriage to Smith. Jacobs wrote, "[W]hatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man."[31] Sister of Presendia Huntington. After Smith's death, married Brigham Young while husband Jacobs was on mission to England.
Presendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell)
Presendia Lathrop Huntington Kimball.jpg
December 11, 1841 31 yes yes yes Married (September 7, 1810 in Watertown, New York – February 1, 1892 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory). Sister of Zina. After Smith's death, married Heber C. Kimball.
Agnes Moulton Coolbrith (Smith)
Agnes Moulton Coolbrith.jpg
January 6, 1842 31 yes yes yes Widowed Widow of Smith's brother Don Carlos. (1808–1876). After Don Carlos died in 1841, Coolbrith married Smith in 1842.[32] Coolbrith was the mother of Ina Coolbrith, who became the first poet laureate of California.
Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon
Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon Clark.jpg
February 8, 1842 23 yes yes yes Married Daughter of David Sessions and Patty Bartlett Sessions, who married Smith one month after her daughter's marriage to him. On her deathbed, Sylvia informed her daughter Josephine Lyons that she was Smith's daughter.[33]
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner January 17, 1842 23 yes yes yes Married (April 9, 1818 in Lima, New York – December 17, 1913 in Minersville, Utah). Claimed that Smith had a private conversation with her in 1831 when she was twelve years old,[34][35]

"[At age 12 in 1831], [Smith] told me about his great vision concerning me. He said I was the first woman God commanded him to take as a plural wife. … In 1834 he was commanded to take me for a Wife …. [In 1842 I] went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham Young performed the sealing … for time, and all Eternity. I did just as Joseph told me to do".

After Smith's death, she remarried, becoming the 24th plural wife of Brigham Young. They married in 1845 and she bore him no children. Mary Elizabeth and her sister Caroline were instrumental in salvaging printed pages of the Book of Commandments when the printing press was destroyed by a mob on July 20, 1833.[36]
Patty Bartlett (Sessions)
Patty Bartlett Sessions.jpg
March 9, 1842 47 yes yes yes Married (February 4, 1795 in Bethel, Massachusetts (now Maine) – December 14, 1893 in Bountiful, Utah Territory). Her daughter Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon, who had married Smith one month before, was present at Session's wedding to Smith.[37]
Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde)
Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde.jpg
April 1842 27 (16) yes yes yes Married (June 28, 1815 in Pomfret, Vermont – March 24, 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory). Wife of Orson Hyde; daughter of John Johnson.
Elizabeth Davis (Brackenbury Durfee)
Elizabeth Davis Brackenbury Durfee.jpg
Before June 1842 50 yes yes yes Married (March 11, 1791 in Riverhead, New York – December 16, 1876 in White Cloud, Kansas).
According to Anderson and Faulring, this claim is based on Bennett and "an ambiguous statement attributed to Sarah Pratt by the hostile journalist Wyl."[21]
Sally Ann Fuller 1842 26? no yes yes  ?
Sarah Maryetta Kingsley (Howe Cleveland) Before June 29, 1842 53 yes yes yes Married (1788 – April 20, 1856 in Plymouth, Illinois).
Anderson and Faulring state that this is "only a guess" based on a claim "without any supporting data".[21]
Delcena Johnson (Sherman)
Delcena Diadamia Johnson Sherman.jpg
Before July 1842 37 yes yes yes Single (November 19, 1806 in Westfield, Vermont – October 21, 1854 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. Widow of Lyman R. Sherman)
Eliza Roxcy Snow
Eliza Roxcy Snow photograph.PNG
June 29, 1842 38 yes yes yes Single Sister of Lorenzo Snow. Organized a petition in summer 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying Smith a polygamist.[38] As Secretary of the Ladies' Relief Society published a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy.[39] William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Snow was one of his plural wives.[40] She was married to Brigham Young from 1844 until his death in 1877.
Sarah Ann Whitney July 27, 1842 17 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Whitney. Joseph C. Kingsbury said he was "well aware" of this marriage.[41] William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives whom he married in early May 1843.[40] She was married to Heber C. Kimball from March 17, 1845 to June 22, 1868.
Martha McBride (Knight)
Martha McBride.jpg
August 1842 37 yes yes yes Single Widow of Vinson Knight; later sealed to Heber C. Kimball.
Sarah Bapson 1842 yes  ?  ?
Ruth D. Vose (Sayers) February 1843 34 yes yes yes Married
Flora Ann Woodworth Spring 1843 16 yes yes yes Single William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives whom he married in early May 1843.[40]
Emily Dow Partridge
Emily Dow Partridge Smith Young.jpg
March 4, 1843 19 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Edward Partridge and sister of Eliza. After Smith's death, she married Brigham Young. William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives whom he married in early May 1843.[40]
Eliza Maria Partridge
Eliza Maria Partridge.jpg
March 8, 1843 22 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Edward Partridge and sister of Emily. Eliza married after Smith's death, to Amasa M. Lyman, who was already husband to Eliza's older sister, Caroline. William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives whom he married in early May 1843.[40]
Almera Woodward Johnson
Almera Woodard Johnson Smith Barton.jpg
Aprril 1843 30 yes yes yes Single (October 12, 1812 in Westfield, Vermont – March 4, 1896 in Parowan, Utah).
Lucy Walker May 1, 1843[42] 17 yes yes yes Single Wrote about her plural marriage to Smith,[35][43]

"In the year 1842 President Joseph Smith sought an interview with me, and said, ‘I have a message for you, I have been commanded of God to take another wife, and you are the woman.' … He asked me if I believed him to be a Prophet of God. … He fully Explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage … that it would prove an everlasting blessing to my father's house. … [Joseph encouraged her to pray] 'that the grave would kindly receive me that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear [recently deceased] mother … Why Should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father I am only a child in years and experience.' And thus I prayed in the agony of my soul. … [The marriage] was not a love matter—at least on my part it was not, but simply the giving up of myself as a sacrifice to establish that grand and glorious principle that God had revealed to the world."

Sarah Lawrence May 1843 17 yes yes yes Single (May 13, 1826 in Pickering Township, Upper Canada – 1872) Sister of Maria.
Maria Lawrence May 1843 19 yes yes yes Single (December 18, 1823 in Pickering Township, Upper Canada – ? in Nauvoo, Illinois). Sister of Sarah. After Smith's death, Lawrence married Brigham Young, becoming his sixteenth plural wife. They divorced in 1845, but remarried the following year.[28]
Helen Mar Kimball
Helen Mar Kimball.jpg
May 1843 14 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Heber C. Kimball. At aged 14, Helen Mar Kimball wrote,[35]

"[My father] asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph … [Smith] said to me, 'If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father's household & all of your kindred.['] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."

William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives whom he married in early May 1843.[40]
Hannah Ells 1843 29 yes yes  ? Single (March 4, 1813 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England – 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois)
Elvira Annie Cowles (Holmes) June 1, 1843 29 yes yes yes Married (November 23, 1813 in Unadilla, New York – March 10, 1871 in Farmington, Utah Territory).
Rhoda Richards
Rhoda Richards Smith Young.jpg
June 12, 1843 58 yes yes yes Single (August 8, 1784 in Framingham, Massachusetts – January 17, 1879 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory). First cousin of Brigham Young, whom she married after Smith's death.
Desdemona Fullmer
Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer Smith.jpg
July 1843 32 yes yes yes Single (October 6, 1809 in Huntington, Pennsylvania – February 9, 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory). William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Fullmer was one of his plural wives.[40]
Olive Grey Frost Summer 1843 27 yes yes yes Single (July 24, 1816 in Bethel, Massachusetts (now Maine) – October 6, 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois). After Smith's death, Frost became the eighteenth plural wife of Brigham Young. They married "for time only" on November 7, 1844, and she bore him no children.
Mary Ann Frost (Pratt) Summer 1843 34 no yes yes Divorced (January 14, 1809 in Groton, Vermont – August 24, 1891 in Pleasant Grove, Utah Territory). Sister of Olive Grey Frost. First married to Nathan Stearns in 1831 but he died about 18 months later. Baptized into Church of the Latter Day Saints in 1835 by David W. Patten. Married Parley P. Pratt on May 14, 1837, in Kirtland, Ohio. Moved to Missouri and Nauvoo with Pratt. Went on mission trip with Pratt to England in 1840. Returned from England without Pratt and was divorced soon after Pratt's return. According to NAUVOO, ENGLAND AND BACK TO NAUVOO by Jayne Fife and Roselyn Kirk [44] Mary Ann was married to Parley Pratt for time and the Prophet Joseph Smith for eternity on February 6, 1846 by Heber C. Kimball in the Nauvoo Temple. Emigrated with the Harmon Cutler Company to Utah Territory in 1852. She was accompanied by her daughter Olivia Pratt (b. 1841) and son Moroni Llewellyn Pratt (b. 1844). They settled in Pleasant Grove.[45]
Melissa Lott September 20, 1843 19 yes yes yes Single Daughter of early Mormon leader Cornelius P. Lott, who managed Smith's farm in Nauvoo.
Nancy Mariah Winchester 1842 or 1843 14 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Stephen Winchester, Sr. of Vershire, Vermont (who was a member of the Danite militia and the Quorum of the Seventy) and his wife Nancy Case of Argyle, New York. Anderson and Faulring write that this claim is based on "unsupported information".[21]
Fanny Young (Murray) November 2, 1843 56 yes yes yes (November 8, 1787 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts – June 11, 1859). Wife of Roswell Murray
Mary Houston Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Sarah Scott Before 1844 no yes yes  ?
Olive Andrews Before 1844 no yes yes  ?
Jane Tippets Before 1844 no yes yes  ?
Sophia Sanburn Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Phoebe Watrous (Woodworth) Before 1844  ? no yes yes  ?
Vienna Jaques Before 1844  ? no yes yes  ?
Clarissa Reed Hancock  ? yes[46]
(Mrs Blossom)  ? yes[46] Wife of Edward Blossom
Mary Huston  ? yes[46]
Cordelia Calista Morley  ? yes[46]
Nancy Maria Smith  ? yes[46]
Jane Tibbets  ? yes[46]
Sophia Woodman  ? yes[46]

Allegations of children born to alleged polygamous wives[edit]

Research by LDS researcher Ugo A. Perego has shown that a number of children of Smith's alleged polygamous relationships were not his genetic offspring. The following table lists some of the children born to Smith's alleged polygamous wives as well as those ruled out by genetic testing:[47][48][49]

Child Date of birth Mother Father (traditionally assumed) DNA testing status DNA testing result Notes
Oliver Buell 1838 – 39 Presendia Huntington Buell Norman Buell Complete (November 2007) Negative[49] Historian Fawn Brodie speculated that Buell was a polygamous son of Smith.[49]
John Reed Hancock April 19, 1841 Clarissa Reed Hancock Levi Hancock Complete (July 2011) Negative [50] Only anecdotal evidence that Clarissa Reed Hancock was a plural wife of Smith.[47][51]
Mosiah Hancock April 9, 1834 Clarissa Reed Hancock Levi Hancock Complete (November 2007) Negative[49] Only anecdotal evidence that Clarissa Reed Hancock was a plural wife of Smith.[47][51]
Frank Henry Hyde January 23, 1845, 1846? Marinda Johnson Hyde Orson Hyde Incomplete ?
Orson Washington Hyde November 9, 1843 Marinda Johnson Hyde Orson Hyde Not possible (died in infancy) n/a
Zebulon Jacobs January 2, 1842 Zina Huntington Jacobs Henry Jacobs Complete (May 2005) Negative[48]
Algernon Lightner March 22, 1842 Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner Adam Lightner Not possible (died in infancy) n/a
Josephine Rosetta Lyon February 8, 1844 Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon Windsor Lyon Incomplete ? Mother told her on deathbed that Josephine was Smith's daughter.[33]
Moroni Pratt December 7, 1844 Mary Ann Frost Pratt Parley P. Pratt Complete (May 2005) Negative[48]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ bound edition"Notice", Times and Seasons, 5(3) (1 February 1844): 423: "As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan."
  2. ^ Roberts, B. H. (Brigham Henry) (1912), History of the Church 6, Deseret News, pp. p. 411, "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one." .
  3. ^ a b Millennial Star 4 [January 1844]: 144.
  4. ^ Whitmer 1887
  5. ^ Times and Seasons 5:474.
  6. ^ Jenson, A. Historical Record 6 [May 1887]: 233–34.
  7. ^ Smith 1994, p. 14
  8. ^ Brodie 1971, p. 457
  9. ^ Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University.
  10. ^ Compton 1997 and Newell & Avery 1994
  11. ^ Wife recognized by Todd Compton (Compton 1997)
  12. ^ Wife recognized by George D. Smith (Smith 1994, pp. 13–15)
  13. ^ Wife recognized by Fawn Brodie. Unless otherwise noted, wives are listed in No Man Knows My History (Brodie 1971)
  14. ^ History of the Church 6:410–11.
  15. ^ Frequently Asked Questions at official Community of Christ website.
  16. ^ History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 3:55–56, Independence, Missouri, Herald House Publishing, 1967–, c1896–; ISBN 0-8309-0075-6.
  17. ^ Saints' Herald 65:1044–45.
  18. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 128, footnote 15[broken citation]
  19. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 25–32.
  20. ^ Lawrence Foster, Review of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33 (spring 2001): 184–86.
  21. ^ a b c d Anderson 1998
  22. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 43–44
  23. ^ History of the Church 5:385.
  24. ^ Millennial Star 21:75.
  25. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 58–59
  26. ^ Boyack (1962, pp. 21, 29)
  27. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 59–69
  28. ^ a b Brigham Young's Wives and His Divorce From Ann Eliza Webb, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Utah Lighthouse Ministry website.
  29. ^ Historical Record 6:233.
  30. ^ Smith, J.F. (1905) Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 75)
  31. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 81–82
  32. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 153
  33. ^ a b "Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside … to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith." (Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 44, Compton 1997, pp. 183) Testing would require autosomal DNA.
  34. ^ Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 65, link.
  35. ^ a b c Compton 1997
  36. ^ Carter, Kate (1962), Our Pioneer Heritage, Salt Lake City, UT: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, p. 308 
  37. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 175–79
  38. ^ Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869.
  39. ^ Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940.
  40. ^ a b c d e f g Clayton (1874, p. 225).
  41. ^ Kingsbury (1886, p. 226).
  42. ^ Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 65
  43. ^ Newell & Avery 1994
  44. ^ http://jared.pratt-family.org/parley_family_histories/mary_ann_frost_fife-3.html
  45. ^ http://jared.pratt-family.org/parley_family_histories/mary_ann_frost_obituary.html[unreliable source?]
  46. ^ a b c d e f g Brodie 1971, p. 335
  47. ^ a b c Perego, Myers & Woodward 2005
  48. ^ a b c "Research focuses on Smith family". Deseret News. 2005-05-28. 
  49. ^ a b c d "DNA tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants: Scientific advances prove no genetic link". Deseret News. 2007-11-10. 
  50. ^ De Groote, Michael (9 July 2011). "D NA solves a Joseph Smith Mystery". Deseret News. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  51. ^ a b Wife is not recognized by Compton 1997 or Smith 1994, pp. 13–15.

Citations[edit]

External links[edit]