Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Letter to a CES Director/Polygamy & Polyandry Concerns & Questions

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Response to "Polygamy & Polyandry Concerns & Questions"


A FairMormon Analysis of: Letter to a CES Director
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells
Claim Evaluation
Letter to a CES Director
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YouTube Video Response: "Letter to a CES Director: CES Letter 31 to 34 Polyandry" by Brian Hales.

Responses to various revisions of the "Letter to a CES Director" and associated documents by the same author

Response to claim: "Joseph Smith was married to at least 34 women"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith was married to at least 34 women.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct.

Improvement Era (1946): "That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practised it himself are amply proved by existing facts"

"Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage," Improvement Era (November 1946):

That Joseph Smith actually was the person who introduced plural marriage into the Church and that he practised it himself are amply proved by existing facts....Many of the women who were thus sealed to Joseph Smith lived long after his death. The declared that they lived with the Prophet as husband and wives. These women were of unblemished character, gentle and lovely in their lives, who spoke with loving respect of their martyr husband. The substantiated in detail the statements of those who performed the ceremonies.[1]



This collection of articles lists a number of known plural wives, with responses to critical claims related to specific plural wives of Joseph Smith, Jr. (Click here for full article)


Response to claim: "Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph was sealed to the wives of some living men. None of these appears to have been "for time," and none appear to have involved sexual relations, with the possible exception of one woman who had separated from her husband. In all other cases, the women continued to live with their earthly husbands after the sealing.

Question: Was Joseph Smith married or sealed to women who were already married to other living men?

Joseph Smith was sealed to 11 women who were married to men who were still living. Some of these men were even active members of the Church

Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands. One of the most well-known of these "polyandrous" marriages was to Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs.[2]

Of all the aspects of Joseph Smith's marital theology, this is the most difficult area to understand, because very little primary evidence exists. As one scholar noted:

Perhaps nothing is less understood than Joseph Smith's sealings to women already married, because the evidence supports conflicting interpretations.[3]

Criticisms related to Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages

These "polyandrous" marriages have given rise to a number of criticisms:

  • Why would Joseph be sealed to other men's wives?
  • What was the nature of these marriages? Were they consummated?
  • Why did these 11 women continue to live with and have children with their husbands even after being sealed to Joseph Smith?
  • One critic of the church notes, "Joseph Smith would frequently approach other men’s wives about being his own plural wives..." [4]

At the time that celestial marriage was introduced, it was possible to be married for time to one person and sealed for eternity to another. These marriages appear to have been performed for the purpose of forming dynastic bonds in the afterlife, as there is no evidence that Joseph ever cohabited or had intimate relations with any of these women. No children from these marriages have ever been identified. These were sealings which would only affect Joseph's association with these women in the afterlife.


Gospel Topics on LDS.org: "Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married. Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone"

"Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (October 2014):[5]

Following his marriage to Louisa Beaman and before he married other single women, Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married.[6] Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone.[7] Other women left no records, making it unknown whether their sealings were for time and eternity or were for eternity alone.

There are several possible explanations for this practice. These sealings may have provided a way to create an eternal bond or link between Joseph’s family and other families within the Church.[8] These ties extended both vertically, from parent to child, and horizontally, from one family to another. Today such eternal bonds are achieved through the temple marriages of individuals who are also sealed to their own birth families, in this way linking families together. Joseph Smith’s sealings to women already married may have been an early version of linking one family to another. In Nauvoo, most if not all of the first husbands seem to have continued living in the same household with their wives during Joseph’s lifetime, and complaints about these sealings with Joseph Smith are virtually absent from the documentary record.[9]

These sealings may also be explained by Joseph’s reluctance to enter plural marriage because of the sorrow it would bring to his wife Emma. He may have believed that sealings to married women would comply with the Lord’s command without requiring him to have normal marriage relationships.[10] This could explain why, according to Lorenzo Snow, the angel reprimanded Joseph for having “demurred” on plural marriage even after he had entered into the practice.34 After this rebuke, according to this interpretation, Joseph returned primarily to sealings with single women.


The Joseph Smith Papers: "Several later documents suggest that several women who were already married to other men were, like Marinda Hyde, married or sealed to Joseph Smith"

"Nauvoo Journals, December 1841–April 1843," The Joseph Smith Papers:

Several later documents suggest that several women who were already married to other men were, like Marinda Hyde, married or sealed to Joseph Smith. Available evidence indicates that some of these apparent polygynous/polyandrous marriages took place during the years covered by this journal. At least three of the women reportedly involved in these marriages—Patty Bartlett Sessions, Ruth Vose Sayers, and Sylvia Porter Lyon—are mentioned in the journal, though in contexts very much removed from plural marriage. Even fewer sources are extant for these complex relationships than are available for Smith’s marriages to unmarried women, and Smith’s revelations are silent on them. Having surveyed the available sources, historian Richard L. Bushman concludes that these polyandrous marriages—and perhaps other plural marriages of Joseph Smith—were primarily a means of binding other families to his for the spiritual benefit and mutual salvation of all involved.[11]


Question: What is "Polyandry?"

Polyandry is one woman married to more than one husband at the same time

The term "polyandry" is derived from the Greek roots "poly" ("many") and "andros" ("men") to describe marriages in which one woman is married to more than one man. The term does not account for the concept of marriage after this life. Therefore, describing some of Joseph Smith's marriages as "polyandrous" implies that he was married to these women in this life, with all that is involved in such a relationship. Evidence does not bear this out, however. In fact, the existing evidence indicates that these women continued to associate with their current husbands. Therefore, by stating that Joseph "married" other men's wives without making the distinction that these sealings applied only to the next life, critics can draw many lascivious conclusions from Joseph's actions. The faithful member may feel uneasy because he has no ready "alibi" for the polyandry material which the gleeful critic insists is a "smoking gun" for Joseph's base motives.


Question: What was the nature of Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages?

Evidence indicates that Joseph was sealed for eternity to eight to eleven women who were married to other men

The fact that these women continue to live with their earthly husbands and even have children by them indicates that the sealings to Joseph Smith were not marriages in the normal sense.

Joseph's sealing to their wives doesn't appear to have changed anything in their daily lives or their relationship to their current husbands

The relationship between these women and their husbands appear to have not changed even after they were sealed to Joseph Smith. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands.


Question: Did Joseph Smith consummate any of these marriages with married women?

There is no evidence to indicate that Joseph consumated any polyandrous marriages, with one possible exception for a woman who considered herself divorced

The available evidence also does not support the claim that Joseph had intimate relations with these married women. Fawn Brodie, who repeatedly stated her belief that Joseph had intimate relations with many of his plural wives, identified several individuals that she thought “might” be children of Joseph Smith, Jr. Yet, even Brodie noted that “it is astonishing that evidence of other children than these has never come to light.” Brodie postulated, in spite of a complete lack of evidence, that Joseph must have been able to successfully practice some sort of primitive birth control, or that abortions must have been routinely employed.To date, DNA analysis has ruled out Joseph Smith as the father of any of the children of the women to whom he was sealed who were married to other men.

In 1915, Sylvia Sessions Lyon's daughter, Josephine, signed a statement that in 1882 Sylvia "told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith"

In 1915, Sylvia Sessions Lyon's daughter, Josephine, signed a statement that in 1882 Sylvia "told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church." It is not known whether Sylvia was referring to her daughter as being a literal descendant of Joseph Smith, or if she was referring to the fact that she had been sealed to the prophet. In an article published in Mormon Historical Studies, Brian C. Hales demonstrates that Sylvia considered herself divorced prior to marrying Joseph polygamously. [12]


Question: Did Joseph Smith have any children through any of his polyandrous marriages?

DNA research has, so far, ruled out most who were suspected of being Joseph's children through polyandrous marriages

Mother Brodie’s claim [13] Modern evidence

Buell

Brodie claims that “the physiognomy revealed in a rare photograph of Oliver Buell seems to weight the balance overwhelmingly on the side of Joseph’s paternity.” Oliver Buell is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Presendia Huntington Buell’s son Oliver, born sometime in 1838-1839, was the son of Norman Buell.[14] "Only 9 of the 23 genetic markers match when comparing the inferred Oliver Buell haplotype to that of Joseph Smith. Such a low degree of correlation between the two haplotypes provides strong evidence that they belong to two unrelated paternal lineages, thus excluding with high likelihood Joseph Smith Jr. as the biological father of Oliver N. Buell. Further weight is given to this observation by the close match of the inferred haplotype of Owen F. Buell to the independent Buell record in the SMGF data base, which genetic relationship dates back prior to Joseph Smith's era. Additionally, the two genetic profiles were run through a haplogroup predictor algorithm that assigned the Smith haplotypes to a cluster known as R1b and the cluster for the Buell's haplotypes to I1b2a, two deeply divergent clades that separated anciently, thus providing further evidence that the Oliver Buell and Joseph Smith lineages are not closely related" [15]

Alger

Brodie states that “[t]here is some evidence that Fannie Alger bore Joseph a child in Kirtland.” DNA research in 2005 confirmed Fanny Alger’s son Orrison Smith is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.[16]

Hancock

”Legend among the descendants of Levi W. Hancock points to another son of the prophet. If the legend is true, the child was probably John Reed Hancock, born April 19, 1841.” Nothing is yet known regarding the patrilineage John Reed Hancock.

John Reed's brother Mosiah is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2007 confirmed Clarissa Hancock's son Mosiah, born 9 April 1834, was the son of Levi Hancock.[17] "A 12-marker haplotype was already available for a paternal descendant of Mosiah Hancock, generated by an independent commercial laboratory. A comparison of the 12 markers to the shortened Joseph Smith haplotype showed only 5 matches, indicating a low likelihood of a biological relationship between Mosiah and Joseph. Additionally, we queried the SMGF database with the 12 Ycs Hancock markers. Six independent records returned matching all 12 markers, all having the surname Hancock with documented connections to Mosiah's grandfather Thomas Hancock III." [18]

Lightner

The son of Mary Rollins Lightner “may as easily have been the prophet’s son as that of Adam Lightner.” George Algernon Lightner, born March 22, 1842, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Hyde

Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Pratt

Mrs. Parley P. Pratt’s son Moroni “might also be added to this list.” Moroni Llewellyn Pratt is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Mary Ann Frost Pratt's son Moroni, born 7 December 1844, was the son of Parley P. Pratt.[19]

Snow

”According to tradition,” Emma beat Eliza Snow and caused her to abort Joseph’s child. Both LDS and non-LDS reviewers have found several flaws in the story about Eliza.[20] Emma's biographers note that "Eliza continued to teach school for a month after her abrupt departure from the Smith household. Her own class attendance record shows that she did not miss a day during the months she taught the Smith children, which would be unlikely had she suffered a miscarriage."[21]

Jacobs

Zina was “about seven months pregnant with Jacobs' child at the time of her marriage to the prophet.” [22] John D. Lee and William Hall stated that Zina had been “pregnant by Smith.” Zebulon Jacobs is not the son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

DNA research in 2005 confirmed Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs's son Zebulon was the son of Henry Bailey Jacobs.[23]


Response to claim: "Among them being Apostle Orson Hyde who was sent on his mission to dedicate Israel when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Among them being Apostle Orson Hyde who was sent on his mission to dedicate Israel when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: It isn't as simple as the critics wish to portray it.

The facts: There are multiple sealing dates - one after Orson had been away for at least one year, and the other after Orson had already returned and asked Joseph to seal him to a plural wife of his own. When Hyde returned, he not only resumed living with his wife Marinda, but they had children together.
Logical Fallacy: False Cause
The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

Joseph did not send Orson away on a mission so that he could secretly marry his wife.

Question: What did Orson Hyde, the husband of Marinda Nancy Johnson, know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph

Marinda Nancy Johnson was married to Orson Hyde. There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph. However, according to Hales, "If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge." Yet he also notes that "John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: 'Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.'" [24]

There are two sealing dates for Joseph to Marinda - one during a period of one to two years after Hyde left on his mission, and one after he had already returned

The popular story among critics is that Joseph sent Orson away on his mission so that he could quickly marry his wife Marinda. However, the first sealing date shows that Joseph was sealed to Marinda for eternity one to two years after Hyde had left on his mission, so there was nothing "quick" about it. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that this was an "eternity only" sealing typical of Joseph's other "polyandrous" marriages involving other men's wives. No children are known to have conceived during this time. However, upon Hyde's return, not only did he father children by Marinda, but he also quickly asked Joseph to seal him in a new polygamous marriage of his own.

Todd Compton: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home”

Fawn Brodie speculated that Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” [25] Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Brian Hales notes the following regarding the timeline,

The timeline shows that Apostle Orson Hyde, Marinda’s legal husband, served a mission to Palestine from the spring of 1840 to December 7, 1842. Weeks after his return, Marinda became pregnant with Orson Washington Hyde (conception approximately February 16, 1843) who was born on November 9, 1843. Several authors alleged Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry with some of his plural wives including Marinda, despite a mountain of contradictory evidences [26] However, no evidence has been found to connect Joseph Smith with this child. Todd Compton observes: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home.” [27] They also allege that a second son, Frank Henry Hyde, was father by Joseph Smith under the assumption that he was born January 23, 1845 (conception approximately May 2, 1844). [28] However, his birth certificate and an obituary in the The Ogden Standard, June 29, 1908, “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” both corroborate a January 23, 1846, birthdate (May 2, 1845, approximate conception). [29][30]

Timeline of the marital status of Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde. From the website Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site

Hales continues,

If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge. While such a sealing would not have affected her civil union with Orson, a late second-hand report from exposé author Ann Eliza Webb Young states:

When Joseph Smith first taught polygamy, and gave the wives as well as the husbands opportunity to make new choice of life-partners, Mrs. Hyde, at that time a young and quite prepossessing woman, became one of the Prophet’s numerous fancies. . . . Hyde was away on a mission at the time, and when he returned, he, in turn, imbibed the teachings of polygamy also, and prepared to extend his kingdom indefinitely. In the mean time it was hinted to him that Smith had had his first wife sealed to himself in his absence, as a wife for eternity. Inconsistent as it may seem, Hyde was in a furious passion.” [31]

However, John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: “Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.” [32] [30]

Hyde requested that Joseph perform his own plural marriage just a few weeks after returning from his mission

Hales concludes,

Whatever the sequence, Orson appealed to Joseph to perform his own plural marriage weeks after returning from his mission stating in 1869: “In the month of February or March, 1843, I was married to Miss Martha R. Browitt, by Joseph Smith, the martyred prophet, and by him she was sealed to me for time and all eternity in Nauvoo, Illinois.” [33]

The details of the relationship between Marinda and the Prophet will probably never be known. If Marinda had chosen Joseph as her eternal husband, she apparently changed her mind because she chose to be sealed to her legal husband Orson Hyde in the Nauvoo temple on January 11, 1846.

However, Marinda Nancy Johnson relocated to Salt Lake City in 1852 and later divorced Orson Hyde. She died in 1886, having kept the faith in the Church established by her eternal husband.[30]

The accounts of the sealing of Marinda to Joseph

Much of what we know about the Hyde sealing is also contaminated by hostile, mutually contradictory accounts that contain some known false information.


Author Date Claim Comments
Sidney Rigdon[34] 1845
  • Orson unaware of marriage
  • Orson refused to live with wife when he found out

Contrary to claim, Orson continued to live with Miranda and father children by her.

William Hall[35] 1852
  • Joseph demanded Miranda and all Orson's money to let him back in the Church
  • "Many jokes were cracked at his [Hyde's] expense."

Very unlikely—no record of others mocking Hyde; Hall is unreliable on other marriages as well. [36] Orson's return to the quorum was in June 1839, [37] putting Hall's account two years too early for marriage. [38]

Ann Eliza Young[39] 1876
  • Orson did not know of marriage
  • Angry when he learned of it
  • Swore would not live with his wife; did so anyway.

Too young to have any first-hand knowledge of Nauvoo, her book's intent was clearly to titillate with stories of polygamous intrigue. Claims that Brigham told Orson that she was only to be his wife for time, and Joseph's for eternity—but this is frankly false, since sealed to Orson in early 1846. [40] She also confuses the temporality, since she describes Hyde "in a furious passion," because "he thought it no harm for him to win the affection of another man's wife… but he did not propose having his rights interfered with even by the holy Prophet whose teachings he so implicitly followed" (326). Yet, Orson did not begin practicing plural marriage until after he knew of Miranda's sealing to Joseph.

John D. Lee[41] 1877
  • "Report said that Hyde's wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state, but I do not assert the fact."
Lee's work was published posthumously and may have been altered by anti-Mormon editor.

A biography of Marinda Nancy Johnson may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: Did Joseph Smith send men on missions so that he could secretly marry their wives while they were gone?

This claim is contradicted by the historical data

It is claimed that Joseph Smith sent men away on a missions so that he could secretly marry their wives while they were away.

Researcher Brian C. Hales noted that this claim is without foundation:

Another detail in [John C.] Bennett's Pittsburgh affidavit is that the Prophet had sent men on missions so he could marry their wives in Nauvoo. This statement is contradicted by historical data. Of the twelve "polyandrous" husbands identified by Todd Compton, ten were not on missions at the time Joseph was sealed to their legal wives. Of the two possible exceptions, only one, Orson Hyde, is documented as on a mission at the time of Marinda Johnson Hyde's sealing to Joseph Smith. The second possible case involves George Harris, who left on his fourteen-month mission in July 1840. His wife, Lucinda may have been...sealed to Joseph Smith at some point, but the date is unavailable.[42]


Question: Was Apostle Orson Hyde sent on a mission to dedicate Israel so that Joseph Smith could secretly marry his wife, Marinda Hyde, while he was away?

Orson was involved briefly with apostasy at Far West in the fall of 1838, but had returned to the Church by March 1839

Nancy married future apostle Orson Hyde on 4 September 1834. He was involved briefly with apostasy at Far West in the fall of 1838, but had returned to the Church by March 1839 following a dramatic vision in which he saw the consequence of continued rebellion. [43]

Marinda was sealed to Joseph in April 1842, while Orson was on a mission. Only antagonistic accounts of this sealing exist. [44] Of the four reports, two claim that Orson was aware of the sealing, and two claim that he was not.

Orson had been on his mission for about a year before the sealing

It is of note that Orson had been on his mission for about a year before the sealing--he departed on 15 April 1840, and would return 7 December 1842. There are two dates available for her sealing to Joseph--either April/Spring 1842, or May 1843.[45] Thus, even with the earliest sealing date, Orson had been gone for nearly two years prior to Joseph's sealing to Nancy.

This long delay does not fit well with the claim that a sexually-aggressive Joseph simply wanted his male rivals out of the way.

The Hydes divorced in 1870, but Marinda was sealed to Orson following Joseph's death

The Hydes were to divorce in 1870: "The precise reasons for the divorce are not known, but it appears that Orson was giving most of his attention to his younger wives at this time." [46]

Unique to the Hyde's marriage is the fact that Marinda was sealed to Orson following Joseph's death. All of the Prophet's other polyandrous wives were posthumously sealed to Joseph by proxy. [47]

Two of Marinda's children have been suggested as potential children by Joseph, but this is very unlikely (see here).


Response to claim: "Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, twenty-three years his junior. Even by 19th century standards, this is pedophilia.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Contrary to critics' claims, all available evidence indicates that Joseph was sealed to Helen for eternity, and that it was at her father's request.

The facts: Helen continued to live with her parents. There is no evidence of sexual relations. Helen went on to become a big supporter of plural marriage in her adult years.

Question: Was Helen Mar Kimball's marriage to Joseph Smith ever consummated?

Critics generally do not reveal that their sources have concluded that Helen's marriage to Joseph Smith was unconsummated

Critics generally do not reveal that their sources have concluded that Helen's marriage to Joseph Smith was unconsummated, preferring instead to point out that mere fact of the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 37-year-old man ought to be evidence enough to imply sexual relations and "pedophilia." For example, George D. Smith quotes Compton without disclosing his view,[48] cites Compton, but ignores that Compton argues that " there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.” [49] and Stanley Kimball without disclosing that he believed the marriage to be "unconsummated." [50]

Helen wrote a poem entitled "Reminiscences," which is often cited by critics

Later in life, Helen wrote a poem entitled "Reminiscences." It is often cited for the critics' claims:

I thought through this life my time will be my own
The step I now am taking's for eternity alone,
No one need be the wiser, through time I shall be free,
And as the past hath been the future still will be.
To my guileless heart all free from worldly care
And full of blissful hopes—and youthful visions rare
The world seamed bright the thret'ning clouds were kept
From sight, and all looked fair but pitying angels wept.
They saw my youthful friends grow shy and cold.
And poisonous darts from sland'rous tongues were hurled,
Untutor'd heart in thy gen'rous sacrafise,
Thou dids't not weigh the cost nor know the bitter price;
Thy happy dreems all o'er thou'rt doom'd alas to be
Bar'd out from social scenes by this thy destiny,
And o'er thy sad'nd mem'ries of sweet departed joys
Thy sicken'd heart will brood and imagine future woes,
And like a fetter'd bird with wild and longing heart,
Thou'lt dayly pine for freedom and murmor at thy lot;
But could'st thou see the future & view that glorious crown,
Awaiting you in Heaven you would not weep nor mourn. [p. 2]
Pure and exalted was thy father's aim, he saw
A glory in obeying this high celestial law,
For to thousands who've died without the light
I will bring eternal joy & make thy crown more bright.
I'd been taught to reveire the Prophet of God
And receive every word as the word of the Lord.
But had this not come through my dear father's mouth,
I should ne'r have received it as God's sacred truth.[51]

The first portion of the poem expresses the youthful Helen's attitude. She is distressed mostly because of the loss of socialization and youthful ideas about romance. But, as Helen was later to explain more clearly in prose, she would soon realize that her youthful pout was uncalled for—she saw that her plural marriage had, in fact, protected her. "I have long since learned to leave all with Him, who knoweth better than ourselves what will make us happy," she noted after the poem.[52]

Helen was disappointed that she was not permitted to attend a party or a dance

Thus, she would later write of her youthful disappointment in not being permitted to attend a party or dance:

I felt quite sore over it, and thought it a very unkind act in father to allow William to go and enjoy the dance unrestrained with other of my companions, and fetter me down, for no girl danced better than I did, and I really felt it was too much to bear. It made the dull school more dull, and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought to myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did not murmur.

I imagined that my happiness was all over and brooded over the sad memories of sweet departed joys and all manner of future woes, which (by the by) were of short duration, my bump of hope being too large to admit of my remaining long under the clouds. Besides my father was very kind and indulgent in other ways, and always took me with him when mother could not go, and it was not a very long time before I became satisfied that I was blessed in being under the control of so good and wise a parent who had taken counsel and thus saved me from evils, which some others in their youth and inexperience were exposed to though they thought no evil. Yet the busy tongue of scandal did not spare them. A moral may be drawn from this truthful story. "Children obey thy parents," etc. And also, "Have regard to thy name, for that shall continue with you above a thousand great treasures of gold." "A good life hath but few days; but a good name endureth forever.[53]

So, despite her youthful reaction, Helen uses this as an illustration of how she was being a bit immature and upset, and how she ought to have trusted her parents, and that she was actually protected from problems that arose from the parties she missed.


Question: Did Helen Mar Kimball "confess" to having marital relations with Joseph?

Helen allegedly said "I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony"

Critics of the Church provide a supposed "confession" from Helen, in which she reportedly said:

I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.[54]

The source of the statement is "suspect"

Author Todd Compton properly characterizes this source, noting that it is an anti-Mormon work, and calls its extreme language "suspect."[55]

Author George D. Smith tells his readers only that this is Helen "confiding," while doing nothing to reveal the statement's provenance from a hostile source.[56] Newell and Avery tell us nothing of the nature of this source and call it only a “statement” in the Stanley Ivins Collection;[57] Van Wagoner mirrors G. D. Smith by disingenuously writing that “Helen confided [this information] to a close Nauvoo friend,” without revealing its anti-Mormon origins.[58]

In order for this story to be true, Helen would be telling a story at variance with all other things that she wrote

To credit this story at face value, one must also admit that Helen told others in Nauvoo about the marriage (something she repeatedly emphasized she was not to do) and that she told a story at variance with all the others from her pen during a lifetime of staunch defense of plural marriage.[59]


Question: What were Helen Mar Kimball's views on plural marriage?

Helen disliked plural marriage because of the difficulties it placed on her mother

Helen made clear what she disliked about plural marriage, and it was not physical relations with an older man:

I had, in hours of temptation, when seeing the trials of my mother, felt to rebel. I hated polygamy in my heart, I had loved my baby more than my God, and mourned for it unreasonably….[60]

Helen is describing a period during the westward migration when (married monogamously) her first child died. Helen was upset by polygamy only because she saw the difficulties it placed on her mother. She is not complaining about her own experience with it.


Helen Mar Kimball: "I have encouraged and sustained my husband in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right"

Helen Mar Kimball:

All my sins and shortcomings were magnified before my eyes till I believed I had sinned beyond redemption. Some may call it the fruits of a diseased brain. There is nothing without a cause, be that as it may, it was a keen reality to me. During that season I lost my speech, forgot the names of everybody and everything, and was living in another sphere, learning lessons that would serve me in future times to keep me in the narrow way. I was left a poor wreck of what I had been, but the Devil with all his cunning, little thought that he was fitting and preparing my heart to fulfill its destiny….

[A]fter spending one of the happiest days of my life I was moved upon to talk to my mother. I knew her heart was weighed down in sorrow and I was full of the holy Ghost. I talked as I never did before, I was too weak to talk with such a voice (of my own strength), beside, I never before spoke with such eloquence, and she knew that it was not myself. She was so affected that she sobbed till I ceased. I assured her that father loved her, but he had a work to do, she must rise above her feelings and seek for the Holy Comforter, and though it rent her heart she must uphold him, for he in taking other wives had done it only in obedience to a holy principle. Much more I said, and when I ceased, she wiped her eyes and told me to rest. I had not felt tired till she said this, but commenced then to feel myself sinking away. I silently prayed to be renewed, when my strength returned that instant…

I have encouraged and sustained my husband in the celestial order of marriage because I knew it was right. At various times I have been healed by the washing and annointing, administered by the mothers in Israel. I am still spared to testify to the truth and Godliness of this work; and though my happiness once consisted in laboring for those I love, the Lord has seen fit to deprive me of bodily strength, and taught me to 'cast my bread upon the waters' and after many days my longing spirit was cheered with the knowledge that He had a work for me to do, and with Him, I know that all things are possible…[61]


Response to claim: "Even by 19th century standards, this is pedophilia"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

[Regarding the sealing of Joseph to 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball]: Even by 19th century standards, this is pedophilia.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood
The author has disseminated false information

The falsehood: No, actually it isn't pedophilia.

The facts: Joseph being sealed to Helen does not meet the definition of "pedophilia." The term "pedophilia" is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as "psychosexual disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or the opposite sex". Pedophilia requires that the adult involved have sexual acts with a prepubescent child.
Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Emotion
The author attempts to manipulate the reader's emotional response instead of presenting a valid argument.

While the term "pedophilia" is a favorite of some critics for its emotional punch, any supposed sexual interaction between Joseph and Helen appears only in the minds of critics, without supporting evidence.

Question: Was Joseph Smith's marriage to 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball indicative of "pedophilia"?

It is claimed by critics of the Church that Helen Mar Kimball expected her marriage to Joseph not to include physical relations but that it actually did

The use of the term "pedophilia" by critics is intended to generate a negative emotional response in the reader. Pedophila describes a sexual attraction to prepubescent children. There is no evidence that Helen ever cohabited with or had sexual relations with Joseph. Pedophiles don't advertise their obsession, and they certainly don't discuss marriages with the parents of their intended victims. It was Heber C. Kimball that requested that this sealing be performed, not Joseph. There is no evidence that Joseph was a pedophile.

It is claimed by critics that Helen Mar Kimball,

"expected her marriage to Joseph Smith" to be a ceremony "for eternity only," not an actual marriage involving physical relations. How surprised she was to discover "that it included [marriage for] time also": a physical union at age fourteen with a thirty-seven year-old man.[62]

Joseph was sealed to Helen Mar Kimball at her father's request

Joseph was indeed sealed to 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, and it was at her father's request. According to Helen:

My father was the first to introduce it to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake. When he found (after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury) that I received it meekly, he took the first opportunity to introduce Sarah Ann [Whitney] to me as Joseph's wife.
—Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 1828-1896, Autobiography (c. 1839-1846), "Life Incidents," Woman's Exponent 9-10 (1880-1882) and "Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent 11 (1882-83)) off-site

Helen continued to live with her parents after the sealing, and then married someone else and had children with them after Joseph's death

Helen continued to live with her parents after the sealing. After Joseph's death, Helen was married and had children.

Unlike today, it was acceptable to be sealed to one person for eternity while being married for time to another person. It is not known if this was the case with Helen, however.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Helen's marriage to Joseph was ever consummated

There is, despite the critics' insinuations, no evidence that Helen Mar Kimball's marriage was consummated. (Consummation would not have been inappropriate, since this was a marriage, but the critics are too anxious to find problems where no evidence for such exists. Helen did have some disappointments—these mostly revolved around being less free to participate in parties and socials, not at being physically joined to an older husband.

But, Helen later saw her youthful displeasure as inappropriate and insisted that she had been protected and blessed by being a plural wife, even though she did not know it at the time.

Helen spoke out on the subject later in her life

Helen ought to allowed to speak for herself:

I did not try to conceal the fact of its having been a trial, but confessed that it had been one of the severest of my life; but that it had also proven one of the greatest of blessings. I could truly say it had done the most towards making me a Saint and a free woman, in every sense of the word; and I knew many others who could say the same, and to whom it had proven one of the greatest boons--a "blessing in disguise." [63]


Response to claim: "The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball in its October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (October 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The Church now admits that Joseph Smith married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball in its October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The idea that this was recently revealed is the critics' "spin," given that this information was provided by the Church back in 1882.

The facts: The Church "admitted" this in 1882, over 130 years ago! Helen Mar Kimball Whitney wrote all about it in “Scenes in Nauvoo,” Woman’s Exponent 11, no. 5 (August 1, 1882)

Response to claim: "Among the women was a mother-daughter set and three sister sets"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Among the women [who were Joseph Smith's polygamous wives] was a mother-daughter set and three sister sets.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: For the shock value, the author has invoked a biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law and applied it to 19th century plural marriage.

The facts: Joseph Smith was not observing the biblical Mosaic Law, which was fulfilled and done away with at the time of Jesus Christ.

Question: Does the Bible prohibit polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter?

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter or two sisters

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter:

Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Leviticus 18:18

The law also prohibited one from marrying two sisters:

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. Leviticus 20:14


Question: Did Joseph Smith being sealed to mothers, daughters and sisters violate a biblical prohibition?

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions. A well-known example is Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel: He was married to the two sisters Rachel and Leah.

For example, the Hebrew law of "levirate marriage" actually required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother

It should also be noted that the biblical practice of levirate marriage, as defined by Hebrew law, required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother. This was also a case of marrying two sisters.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 states,

5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

From the Wikipedia article "Levirate marriage":

Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband's brother.....A levirate marriage (Hebrew: yibbum) is mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5-6 of the Hebrew Bible and obliges a brother to marry the widow of his childless deceased brother, with the firstborn child being treated as that of the deceased brother, (see also Genesis 38:8) which renders the child the heir of the deceased brother and not the genetic father. [64]


Response to claim: "Some of the marriages to these women included promises by Joseph of eternal life to the girls and their families"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Some of the marriages to these women included promises by Joseph of eternal life to the girls and their families.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The principle of plural marriage was portrayed as a means of attaining eternal life.

Question: Were plural wives forced into the marriage?

Plural wives were not forced into marriage

Brian Hales:

Some writers affirm that Joseph Smith put pressure on women to marry him. They portray him almost as a predator gallivanting about Nauvoo seeking new wives, even marrying other men’s spouses. While it makes for an entertaining storyline, it does not square with the historical record. One of Joseph’s plural wives, Lucy Walker, remembered the Prophet's counsel: “A woman would have her choice, this was a privilege that could not be denied her.” The Prophet taught that eternal marriage was necessary for exaltation and encouraged all those he taught to comply, but he always respected their agency and choices in the matter.[65]


Response to claim: "Some of the marriages to these women included....threats of loss of salvation"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Some of the marriages to these women included...threats of loss of salvation.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The references to loss of salvation have been hyped up.

Question: Did Joseph Smith give a woman only one day to decide about entering a plural marriage, and would refusal mean terrible consequences?

One woman was told that the opportunity for plural marriage would expire in twenty-four hours. She was not threatened with damnation or physical consequences

This claim distorts the account of Lucy Walker. Joseph offered to teach Lucy about plural marriage, but she angrily refused:

When the Prophet Joseph Smith first mentioned the principle of plural marriage to me I became very indignant and told him emphatically that I did not wish him to ever mention it to me again....and so expressed myself to him....He counseled me, however, to pray to the Lord for light and understanding in relation thereto, and promised me if I would do so sincerely, I should receive a testimony of the correctness of the principle. Before praying I felt gloomy and downcast; in fact, I was so entirely given up to despair that I felt tired of life...."

Joseph then said nothing more to her for at least four months (and possibly as long as sixteen). Lucy continues:

[I] was so unwilling to consider the matter favorably that I fear I did not ask in faith for light. Gross darkness instead of light took possession of my mind. I was tempted and tortured beyond endurance until life was not desirable....

The Prophet discerned my sorrow. He saw how unhappy I was, and sought an opportunity of again speaking to me on this subject....

[He said] "I have no flattering words to offer. It is a command of God to you. I will give you until tomorrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you."

– Lucy Walker, italics added

Lucy was told that the opportunity for plural marriage would expire in twenty-four hours. She was not threatened with damnation or physical consequences. Yet, she did not meekly obey:

This aroused every drop of scotch in my veins...I felt at this moment that I was called to place myself upon the altar a living Sacrafice, perhaps to brook the world in disgrace and incur the displeasure and contempt of my youthful companions; all my dreams of happiness blown to the four winds, this was too much, the thought was unbearable.... I...at last found utterance and said, "Although you are a prophet of God you could not induce me to take a step of so great importance, unless I knew that God approved my course. I would rather die. I have tried to pray but received no comfort, no light....The same God who has sent this message is the Being I have worshipped from my early childhood and He must manifest His will to me."

Joseph's response:

He walked across the room, returned, and stood before me. With the most beautiful expression of countenance, he said, "God almighty bless you. You shall have a manifestation of the will of God concerning you; a testimony that you can never deny. I will tell you what it shall be. It shall be that peace and joy that you never knew."

That night, Lucy reported:

It was near after another sleepless night when my room was lighted up by a heavenly influence. To me it was, in comparison, like the brilliant sun bursting through the darkest cloud. The words of the Prophet were indeed fulfilled. My soul was filled with a calm, sweet peace that "I never knew." Supreme happiness took possession of me, and I received a powerful and irresistible testimony of the truth of plural marriage, which has been like an anchor to the soul through all the trials of life. I felt that I must go out into the morning air and give vent to the joy and gratitude that filled my soul. As I descended the stairs, President Smith opened the door below, took me by the hand and said, "Thank God, you have the testimony. I too have prayed." He led me to a chair, placed his hands upon my head, and blessed me with every blessing my heart could possibly desire.
– Lucy Walker

Even with Lucy's revelation and consent, Joseph then sought the permission of her oldest male relative in Nauvoo, her brother William Holmes Walker. He said:

The Prophet invited me to hitch up my horse with one of his...and to ride with him....On this occasion the subject of celestial, or plural marriage, was introduced to me. As we returned home he remarked, 'If there was anything I did not understand to hold on a little, and I would understand it."....

In the spring of 1843, my father, being away on a mission, the Prophet asked my consent, for my sister Lucy in Marriage. I replied that if it was her free will and choice, I had no objection....

When father returned from his mission, the matter being fully explained in connection with the doctrine, received his endorsement and all parties concerned received his approbation.

— William Holmes Walker

This is the only case of any kind of deadline being given, and it only came because Joseph saw how unhappy Lucy was as she hesitated with a decision over a period of months.


Question: Did any woman suffer consequences for turning down Joseph's proposal?

Two women afterward attacked Joseph's character and misrepresented his offer, to which Joseph responded. Those who did not were left strictly alone

There are numerous accounts of women to whom Joseph proposed plural marriage, who turned him down.

Two women afterward attacked Joseph's character and misrepresented his offer. He responded. Those who did not were left strictly alone. There were no consequences to these women. Sarah Kimball reported Joseph's mild reaction to the rejection:

Early in the year 1842, Joseph Smith taught me the principle of marriage for eternity, and the doctrine of plural marriage. He said that in teaching this he realized that he jeopardized his life; but God had revealed it to him many years before as a privilege with blessings, now God had revealed it again and instructed him to teach it with commandment, as the Church could travel (progress) no further without the introduction of this principle. I asked him to teach it to some one else. He looked at me reprovingly, and said, 'Will you tell me who to teach it to? God required me to teach it to you, and leave you with the responsibility of believing or disbelieving.‘ He said, 'I will not cease to pray for you, and if you will seek unto God in prayer you will not be led into temptation.'[66]

(Sarah's husband was not a member of the Church until 1843. There was some tension between him and Joseph as a result of this episode, but he seems to have resolved any animosity he held for the prophet.[67] They were later to go Utah with the Saints, where Sarah assumed a prominent role in the Relief Society. Her husband died while en route to a mission in Hawaii.[68]

Other women loudly trumpeted the plural marriage doctrine in Nauvoo and the hostile press. These women's testimony and character were generally attacked to try to discredit them in an effort to preserve the secrecy which surrounded plural marriage. (This factor is complicated by the fact that at least some were guilty of inappropriate behavior (e.g., likely Sarah Pratt). Despite attacks on their character, some remained in Nauvoo and likewise suffered no physical harm (e.g., Nancy Rigdon).

</blockquote>


Question: Were women put under "tremendous pressure" to accept a proposal of plural marriage?

Given that the Saints believed Joseph was a prophet, any command from him would carry significant weight

  • No one was coerced or forced into marriage (see above). However, given that the Saints believed Joseph was a prophet, any command from him would carry significant weight.
  • Despite this, the reported initial reactions are all negative: these women were strong-minded, and did not simply obey because Joseph told them to.
  • Because of their distaste for the idea, many plural wives reported divine revelations that confirmed the truth of plural marriage. Joseph encouraged women to seek for such divine confirmation.


Response to claim: "threats that he (Joseph) was going to be slain by an angel with a flaming sword if the girls didn’t marry him"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director make(s) the following claim:

Some of the marriages to these women included...threats that he (Joseph) was going to be...

slain by an angel with a flaming sword if the girls didn’t marry him. (April 2013)
slain by an angel with a drawn sword if the girls didn't marry him.(October 2014)

[Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs] was married for 7.5 months and was 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was...

in danger from an angel with a flaming sword. (April 2013)

in danger from an angel with a drawn sword. (October 2014)

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: There is no mention of a "flaming" sword. The author corrected this error, but still makes the mistake of stating that Joseph would be slain by the sword "if the girls didn't marry him."

The facts: The "drawn sword" references refer to Joseph's postponement the implementation of the practice of plural marriage, not "if the girls didn't marry him." Some of these women, in fact, refused.

Question: Did Joseph claim that an angel threatened him with a "drawn sword" or "flaming sword" if a woman refused to marry him?

The references to the "angel with a sword" refer to Joseph's postponement of the initiation of polygamy

Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs said that Joseph mentioned an angel with a drawn sword.[69] The account of a "flaming" sword came from Eliza Snow and Orson F. Whitney.

The "angel with a sword" reference refers to Joseph's postponement of the practice of polygamy. Brian Hales notes that,

"Twenty-one accounts by nine polygamy insiders left recollections that the Prophet told of one specific reason: an angel with a sword who threatened him if he did not proceed. All nine witnesses could have heard the statement from the Prophet himself; however, the narratives themselves suggest that Benjamin F. Johnson and Eliza R. Snow may have been repeating information gathered from other people. Joseph Lee Robinson's narrative is difficult to date and his actual source is not clear. Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, and Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner quote the Prophet directly and Mary Elizabeth provides details not available elsewhere. Unfortunately, with the possible exception of the Robinson account, all of the reminiscences date to at least twenty to thirty years after the event." [70]

Here are the quotes attributed to Zina on the matter:

1881: Zina Huntington—Zina D. Young told of Bro. Joseph's remark in relation to the revelation on celestial marriage. How an angel came to him with a drawn sword, and said if he did not obey this law he would lost his priesthood; and in the keeping of it he, Joseph, did not know but it would cost him his life. [71]

1894: Zina Huntington—[Joseph] sent word to me by my brother, saying, 'Tell Zina I put it off and put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth, I would lost my position and my life.'" [72]


Response to claim: "President Hinckley publicly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

A lot of members don’t realize that there is a set of very specific and bizarre rules outlined in Doctrine & Covenants 132 (still in LDS canon despite President Hinckley publicly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal) on how polygamy is to be practiced.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The author wishes to imply that President Hinckley was lying when he said that polygamy was "not doctrinal."

The facts: Polygamy is not doctrinal in the 21st century. We do not practice polygamy in the 21st century - it used to be doctrinal, and is no longer doctrinal.

Question: Did Gordon B. Hinckley claim that polygamy was "not doctrinal" on Larry King Live?

Hinckley said that he condemned polygamy as a practice because he thought that it was not doctrinal

Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998 with regard to the practice of polygamy:

I condemn it [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.


Question: How can President Hinckley claim that polygamy is "not doctrinal" if it was a required practice in the 19th-Century Church?

The Church no longer teaches polygamy as doctrine, despite the fact that it was doctrine in the 19th-Century Church

Despite the fact that rules regarding polygamy are outlined in D&C 132, the Church no longer teaches it as doctrine. It was taught as doctrine in the 1800's, it is not taught as doctrine today. There is no doctrine that allows the present practice of plural marriage in the Church. Its practice is "not doctrinal."

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter. For most of the practice of plural marriage, the Church fought the anti-polygamy laws, and regarded them as violations of the Constitution. Any decision to disobey secular law for conscience sake must be specifically commanded by the Church's leaders. At present, that has not happened.

Many constitutional law scholars--LDS and non-LDS--regard the Supreme Court decisions on the legality of plural marriage as clearly biased and motivated by religious prejudice. The nineteenth century Saints had good grounds for believing that the law was unjust and would eventually be overturned. [73]


Gospel Topics: "Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church"

"Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

After the Manifesto, monogamy was advocated in the Church both over the pulpit and through the press. On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years. In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church.[74]


Response to claim: "D&C 132 is unequivocal on the point that polygamy is permitted only 'to multiply and replenish the earth' and 'bear the souls of men'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

D&C 132 is unequivocal on the point that polygamy is permitted only 'to multiply and replenish the earth' and 'bear the souls of men'. .... D&C 132:63 very clearly states that the only purpose of polygamy is to 'multiply and replenish the earth' and 'bear the souls of men'. Why did Joseph marry women who were already married? These women were obviously not virgins, which violated D&C 132. Zina Huntington had been married seven and a half months and was six months pregnant with her first husband’s baby at the time she married Joseph; clearly she didn’t need any more help to 'bear the souls of men'.

Provenance of this claim:
MormonThink

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Polygamy was not permitted only for the purpose of procreation.

The facts: Joseph established the practice of plural marriage as part of the "restoration of all things." The lack of children from Joseph's polygamous marriages demonstrates that.
Logical Fallacy: Composition/Division
The author assumed that one part of something had to be applied to everything.

The author takes a statement dealing with the purpose of the practice of polygamy and assumes that it is the only reason for the practice.

Question: Was the only purpose of polygamy to "multiply and replenish the earth" and "bear the souls of men"?

Doctrine and Covenants states that polygamy is for the purpose of multiplying and replenishing the earth

Doctrine and Covenants 132:63 states,

But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

The institution of the practice of polygamy was part of the "restoration of all things"

Polygamy was not permitted only for the purpose of procreation. Joseph established the practice of plural marriage as part of the "restoration of all things," and introduced it to a number of others within the Church. This alone may have been the purpose of Joseph's initiation of the practice. The establishment of the practice ultimately did have the effect of "raising up seed"...just not through Joseph Smith.


Question: If the only purpose of polygamy was to "raise up seed," then why did Joseph not have children by his plural wives?

Polygamy was not permitted only for the purpose of procreation

If the only purpose of polygamy, at least in Joseph Smith's case, was to "raise up seed," then why did Joseph not have children by his plural wives? He was certainly capable of having children, as demonstrated by those that he had by Emma, many of whom died. Yet, there is no conclusive evidence to date of Joseph having had children by any of his plural wives, and DNA testing has ruled out most of those who were suspected of being such.

Joseph was commanded to restore the practice of polygamy as part of the "restoration of all things." It was obviously not intended that Joseph use the practice to produce progeny.

Joseph was also sealed for eternity to some women who were already married, but these women continued to have children by their current husbands

Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands. No children from these marriages have ever been identified. These were sealings which would only affect Joseph's association with these women in the afterlife.


Response to claim: "These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their prior husband after marrying Joseph"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph married 11 women who were already married. Multiple husbands = Polyandry. These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their prior husband after marrying Joseph.....Also, [D&C 132] verse 63 states that if the new wives are with another man after the polygamous marriage, they will be destroyed. Eleven of Joseph’s wives lived with their prior husbands after marrying Joseph Smith. Most of them lived on to old age. Why weren’t they “destroyed”?

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: The author conflates being sealed for eternity with being married for time.

The facts: Joseph's "polyandrous" wives continued to live with their current husbands because they were married to them until they died. In the early days of the Church, it was possible to be sealed for eternity to a different person than the one you were married to for time.

Question: Since Joseph Smith "married" the wives of 11 other men, why were those women not "destroyed" as specified in the Doctrine and Covenants since they continued to live with their "previous" husbands?

What does the Doctrine and Covenants say on this subject?

Doctrine and Covenants 132:63 states,

But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

Joseph was sealed to those women, but they continued to live with their current husbands during their earthly existence

Since Joseph Smith "married" the wives of 11 other men, why were those women not "destroyed" as specified in the Doctrine and Covenants since they continued to live with their "previous" husbands? The answer is that they were not previous husbands, but current husbands. Joseph's sealing to them made him a future husband in the next life.

Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands.

Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages were for eternity, in the next life

Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages were for eternity. He was sealed to those women, but they continued to live with their current husbands during their earthly existence. When they were sealed to Joseph, this did not invalidate their current marriage. These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their current (not "prior") husbands. Being sealed to Joseph for eternity did not invalidate their existing marriage for time. They would not have been "destroyed" for doing so since Joseph was never "with" these women in a situation which would have been classified as adultery according to D&C 132:63. In the case of these married women, the marriages (i.e., the sealing) to Joseph would only have effect after death.


Response to claim: "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith said “…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” – History of the Church, Vol. 6, Chapter 19, p. 411

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is correct. Joseph was responding to accusations of adultery.

Question: Why did Joseph Smith say "I had not been married scarcely five minutes...before it was reported that I had seven wives"?

The Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery and perjury

This statement refers to Joseph's well-known declaration on 26 May 1844 in his "Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo". Significantly, this address was given the day after the Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence. (They also sought to indict him on a charge of perjury.)

Many have criticized or been concerned by the secrecy with which Joseph instituted plural marriage without appreciating the realities of the dangers involved. Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open". Since Joseph was sealed to his plural wives for either eternity, or for time and eternity, he did not view these relationships as constituting adultery or fornication. Therefore, under Illinois law, as long as Joseph and his plural wives did not live in an "open," or "public," manner, they were not guilty of breaking any civil law then in force in Illinois. Furthermore, this reality explains some of Joseph's public denials, since he could be truthfully said to not be guilty of the charges leveled against him: he was not committing adultery or fornication.

Joseph was refuting the charge of adultery, not the fact that he had "seven wives"

History of The Church 6:410-411:

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.

This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this.[75]....

A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses.

Dr. Goforth was invited into the Laws' clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document,[76] and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness,[77] they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet.

[Joseph H.] Jackson[78] has committed murder, robbery, and perjury; and I can prove it by half-a-dozen witnesses. Jackson got up and said—"By God, he is innocent," and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.

There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashiered for dishonesty and robbing the government. Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don't forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.—Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall.

Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.[79]

Note the rejection of the term "spiritual wifeism". Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.

Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point

In light of the circumstances under which they were spoken, Joseph's words were carefully chosen. Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point in the charges brought only the day before.

Bradshaw cites a portion of Joseph's above statement, and then concludes:

A review of Joseph's remarks in light of the circumstances under which they were spoken shows that Joseph's words were carefully chosen. In this speech, Joseph was specifically reacting to the indictments for perjury and adultery that were presented by the grand jury the day earlier. Thus, when Joseph affirmed during the same speech: "I am innocent of all these charges," he was in particular refuting a claim that he and Maria [Lawrence] had openly and notoriously cohabitated, thus committing the statutory offense of adultery. He was also refuting the perjury charge. While the overall tone of Joseph's remarks may seem misleading, it is understandable that Joseph would have taken pains to dodge the plural marriage issue. By keeping his plural marriages in Nauvoo secret, Joseph effectively kept them legal, at least under the Illinois adultery statute.[80]:413


Response to claim: "Emma was unaware of most of Joseph’s plural marriages, at least until after the fact"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (October 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

How about the consent of the first wife, which receives so much attention in D&C 132? Emma was unaware of most of Joseph’s plural marriages, at least until after the fact, which violated D&C 132.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Due to a lack of documentation, it is not known whether or not Emma was unaware of "most" of Joseph's plural marriages.

The facts: We know of a few that she was aware of, and a few that she was not aware of.
Logical Fallacy: Argument from Silence
The author has formed a conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than on their actual presence.

There is little recorded information to indicate what Emma knew. The critics simply choose to assume that she didn't know about "most" of these marriages.

Question: Did Joseph hide his plural marriages from Emma, his first wife?

Joseph did not always tell Emma immediately about some of his plural relationships

Joseph and Emma were in a complex and unique situation with regard to plural marriage—Emma had been warned by Joseph's revelation that if she refused to allow Joseph to obey the commandment he had received, he might proceed without her permission.

We also know relatively little about what Emma knew, and when she knew it. We should be cautious in assuming that the critical or anti-Mormon narrative of Joseph constantly sneaking around behind Emma's back is accurate.

Emma had periods where she accepted plural marriage, and then later rejected it

One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife (Emma) about the practice." [81] It is certainly true that Joseph did not disclose all of his plural marriages precisely when they happened. For example, he had been sealed to Emily and Eliza Partridge already, and Emma later had one of her periods of acceptance of plural marriage, on condition that she get to choose the wives. [82] She chose Emily and Eliza, and so they were resealed to Joseph without disclosing that they were already sealed. Emma's change of heart didn't last long, and she soon had Joseph break off contact with the girls, and expected them to renounce the covenants they had made. [83]

Ultimately, Joseph had to choose between obeying Emma and obeying God

There are also other examples. It's difficult to know exactly what Emma knew, and when she knew it, because she would later insist that Joseph never practiced plural marriage. So, we have to kind of piece together the evidence from fairly fragmentary sources.

Was Joseph justified in this? Well, that's a difficult question to answer. If one doesn't believe that Joseph was commanded to practice plural marriage, then the whole enterprise was probably a bad idea. If Joseph was commanded to practice plural marriage (as he repeatedly testified that he had been), then ultimately he had to choose between obeying Emma and obeying God. And, Joseph seems to have been determined to obey God.


Response to claim: "She certainly did not consent to most of them as required by D&C 132"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (October 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

[Emma] certainly did not consent to most of them as required by D&C 132

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Again, we do not know what Emma's knowledge was regarding "most" of Joseph's plural marriages.

The facts: If she did not consent to them, then D&C 132, which the author cites, states that Joseph could proceed without her consent.
Logical Fallacy: Argument from Silence
The author has formed a conclusion that is based on the absence of statements in historical documents, rather than on their actual presence.

There is no record to support the assertion that Emma did not consent to "most" of these marriages. The author simply assumes that because Emma is known to have not consented to some of them, that she did not consent to most of them.

Question: Was Emma aware of the possibility that Joseph could take additional wives even without her consent?

Emma was warned about the possibility that Joseph could take wives even without her consent

Emma was warned about the possibility that Joseph could take wives even without her consent. [84] The D&C 132 revelation was Joseph's written instructions on the matter, put into writing at the request of his brother Hyrum, who felt he could use it to persuade Emma that plural marriage was a true principle. [85] However, there's an important line in there that speaks to the circumstance in which Joseph found himself with regard to Emma:

Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this law, for him to receive all things whatsoever I, the Lord his God, will give unto him, because she did not believe and administer unto him according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and he is exempt from the law of Sarah, who administered unto Abraham according to the law when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to wife (DC 132:65).

The Law of Sarah: Wives were to be first taught the revelation to see if they would accept it

In short, the Lord brings up something called "the Law of Sarah"--this refers to Sarah, wife of Abraham, who in order to fulfill the covenants made to Abraham, was willing to seek out another wife (Hagar) for her husband. So, the principle seems to be that wives were to be first taught the revelation, and see if they would obey. The previous verse reads:

And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law (DC 132:64

If Emma rejected the teaching, then Joseph was exempt from the Law of Sarah

Thus, Joseph (who held the keys--and the only one who did so at the time, see DC 132:7) was to teach Emma--which he did. But, ultimately, if she refused to accept the revelation, then "he is exempt from the law of Sarah"---i.e., he no longer requires her approval or acceptance.

This is a stern doctrine, and we can all probably sympathize with Emma's situation. But, it is not clear that the alternative is any better, if one believes Joseph was acting by revelation--ultimately, either a mortal's will has to trump, or God's does. So, Joseph was to teach Emma, but if she ultimately refused, then Joseph was to obey, even in the face of her disobedience. She could not choose for him.

It may be that this clause did not apply to any other situation--the scripture says that it applies to a "man...who holds the keys of this power," and only the President of the Church did or does. So, this was likely not much of a model for others; it was very much an issue just between Joseph and Emma. One can see that throughout--the whole revelation is really targeted at helping solve their problems. (Joseph F. Smith would later say that if the revelation had not been written in that context, it would have been different, and perhaps more useful in a sense.) [86]

We can and should have considerable sympathy for Emma, since she was in a very difficult situation

She may ultimately have taken a harder road (leaving the Church, marrying outside the Church, lying about Joseph's teaching of plural marriage, raising an illegitimate child of her second husband's as her own child, etc.) to learning the same sorts of things that plural marriage would have taught her. As Brian Hales has pointed out, she had the hardest job (in a way) because she was the only woman who was faced with a revelation from her husband commanding it:

Emma may have also confronted the fear that perhaps she was inadequate to bind Joseph's affections, leading him to desire other companions and thus introducing the possibility that he could have been deceived by those desires. None of the first wives of other polygamists would have experienced this trial, because none of the other first wives were married to the man who received the polygamy revelation. All other pluralists could hold the Prophet and his teachings responsible....unlike Emma, they could more easily dismiss the question of whether their husband's adoption of plurality was related to their own contributions to the marriage or that they were somehow deficient. [87]

Emma believed in Joseph as a prophet but could not bear plural marriage

On the other hand, though, we must remember that Emma had many experiences that others did not have. (When asked by some women in the midst of the plural marriage at Nauvoo if she still believed Joseph was a prophet, she replied, "Yes, but I wish to God I did not know it." [88]) She accompanied Joseph to retrieve the golden plates. She wrote for him during the initial translation of the Book of Mormon. She participated in sacred ordinances, and knew Joseph and his calling in an intimate way that few if any others did, and continued to insist to her death that he had been a prophet. [89] So, perhaps it is not surprising that she was tested in ways that few others were. And, Joseph may well have not handled it perfectly. He likely did did his best, but it was an agonizing situation without ideal options. As Richard Bushman noted:

I see their [Joseph and Emma's] relationship as tragic. She believed in him but could not bear plural marriage. He loved her but could not resist his own revelation. They were both heroic actors on a large stage trapped in terrible moral dilemmas. [90]


Response to claim: "The Church’s new October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay acknowledges that Joseph Smith was a polygamist"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (October 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The Church’s new October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay acknowledges that Joseph Smith was a polygamist

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: This has never been a secret.

The facts: More correctly stated: The Church's November 1946 issue of the Improvement Era acknowledges that Joseph Smith was a polygamist...almost 70 years ago.

Improvement Era (1946): "Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?...It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth"

"Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946):

Several approaches to eternal marriage may be made: Two living persons may be sealed to each other for time and eternity. A living man may be sealed for eternity to a dead woman; or a living woman to a dead man. Two dead persons may be sealed to each other. It is also possible, though the Church does not now permit it, to seal two living people for eternity only, with no association on earth.

Further, under a divine command to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it was possible for one man to be sealed to more than one woman for time and eternity. Thus came plural marriage among the Latter-day Saints. By another divine command, to Wilford Woodruff, a successor to Joseph Smith, this order of marriage was withdrawn in 1890. Since that time the Church has not sanctioned plural marriages. Anyone who enters into them now is married unlawfully, and is excommunicated from the Church.[91]

"Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946)


Response to claim: "The following 1835 edition of Doctrine & Covenants revelations bans polygamy"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The following 1835 edition of Doctrine & Covenants revelations bans polygamy:

1835 Doctrine & Covenants 101:4:

“Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This was added by Oliver Cowdery after he learned that plural marriage had been restored. After the Saints moved to Utah and the practice of plural marriage was made public, this section was removed and replaced by Section 132.

Question: Why did the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants include a statement of marriage that denied the practice of polygamy at a time when some were actually practicing it?

Polygamy was not being taught to the general Church membership at that time

The Article on Marriage was printed in the 1835 D&C as section 101 and in the 1844 D&C as section 109. The portion of the Article on Marriage relevant to polygamy states:

Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. [92]

This was true—the Church membership generally was not being taught plural marriage, and were not living it at that time.

The statement itself was not changed between the 1835 and 1844 editions of the D&C

In fact, the statement remained in the D&C until the 1876 edition, even though plural marriage had been taught to specific individuals since at least 1831, practiced in secret since 1836, and practiced openly since 1852. The matter of not removing it in 1852 was simply due to the fact that a new edition of the D&C was not published until 1876.

The available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith supported its publication

While some have suggested that the article was published against Joseph's wishes or without his knowledge, the available evidence suggests that he supported its publication. It was likely included to counter the perception that the Mormon's practice of communal property (the "law of consecration") included a community of wives.

The statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith - it was written by Oliver Cowdery

This statement was not a revelation given to Joseph Smith—it was written by Oliver Cowdery and introduced to a conference of the priesthood at Kirtland on 17 August 1835. Cowdery also wrote a statement of belief on government that has been retained in our current edition of the D&C as section 134. Both were sustained at the conference and included in the 1835 D&C, which was already at the press and ready to be published. Joseph Smith was preaching in Michigan at the time Oliver and W.W. Phelps introduced these two articles to the conference; it is not known if he approved of their addition to the D&C at the time, although he did retain them in the 1844 Nauvoo edition, which argues that he was not opposed to them. (Phelps read the article on marriage, while Cowdery read the one on government.) [93]

Some have suggested that the manner in which the conference was called suggests that Joseph was not the instigator of it, since it seems to have been done quite quickly, with relatively few high church leaders in attendance:

The General Assembly, which may have been announced on only twenty-four hours' notice, was held Monday, August 17[, 1835]. Its spur-of-the-moment nature is demonstrated by observing that a puzzling majority of Church leaders were absent. Missing from the meeting were all of the Twelve Apostles, eight of the twelve Kirtland High Council members nine of the twelve Missouri High Council members, three of the seven Presidents of the Quorum of Seventy, Presiding Bishop Partridge, and...two of the three members of the First Presidency. [94]

However, there is also some evidence that an article on marriage was already anticipated, and cited four times in the new D&C's index, which was prepared under Joseph's direction and probably available prior to his departure. Thus, "if a disagreement existed, it was resolved before the Prophet left for Pontiac." [95]


Question: Was Oliver Cowdery aware that some in the Church were practicing polygamy in 1835 at the time he authored the "Article on Marriage"?

Oliver Cowdery, the author of the 1835 "Article on Marriage," was aware that some in the Church were practicing polygamy at the time that the statement was published

On July 7, 1878, Joseph F. Smith discussed Oliver's awareness of polygamy at the time of this publication:

To put this matter more correctly before you, I here declare that the principle of plural marriage was not first revealed on the 12th day of July, 1843. It was written for the first time on that date, but it had been revealed to the Prophet many years before that, perhaps as early as 1832. About this time, or subsequently, Joseph, the Prophet, intrusted this fact to Oliver Cowdery; he abused the confidence imposed in him, and brought reproach upon himself, and thereby upon the church by "running before he was sent," and "taking liberties without license," so to speak, hence the publication, by O. Cowdery, about this time, of an article on marriage, which was carefully worded, and afterwards found its way into the Doctrine and Covenants without authority. This article explains itself to those who understand the facts, and is an indisputable evidence of the early existence of the knowledge of the principle of patriarchal marriage by the Prophet Joseph, and also by Oliver Cowdery. [96]

However, there continues to be debate about whether Oliver Cowdery knew about--or prematurely practiced--plural marriage in the 1830s. [97] Oliver would learn about the Fanny Alger marriage, but his reaction at the time seems to have been wholly negative.

The original D&C 101 article outlined the general practice of performing a Latter-day Saint wedding, explained LDS beliefs about the marriage relationship, and denied that the Saints were practicing polygamy.


Question: Was the practice of polygamy general knowledge among Latter-day Saints in 1835 when the "Article on Marriage" was published?

Knowledge of the practice of polygamy among the Saints was limited prior to the 1840s

Some have argued that rumors of "polygamy" may already have been circulating as a result of the Prophet teaching the concept to some of his close associates. However, Brian Hales has argued that there are few if any extant attacks on Joseph or the Saints about polygamy prior to the 1840s:

...if the article was designed to neutralize reports about Joseph Smith and his alleged "crimes," polygamy would not have been included because that allegation was not made then nor at any other time during the Kirtland period according to any documentation currently available. In other words, assuming that the denial of polygamy in the "Marriage" article [of D&C 101] was specifically tied to rumors of Joseph Smith's behavior is problematic, unless other corroborating evidence can be located. [98]

Charges of polygamy or "free love" or having wives in common were often made against new or little-known religious or social groups

On the other hand, charges of polygamy or "free love" or having wives in common were often made against new or little-known religious or social groups. As Hales reports:

Some [nineteenth-century utopian societies] experimented with novel marital and sexual practices, which focused suspicion on all the groups....Accordingly, early Latter-day Saint efforts to live the law of consecration, even though it sustained traditional monogamy, were instantly misunderstood....

John L. Brooke...wrote: "Among the non-Mormons in Ohio there were suspicions that the community of property dictated in the 'Law of Consecration' included wives."...

It seems plausible, even likely, that beginning in 1831, some uninformed individuals assumed that the law of consecration included a community of wives as one of its tenets, even publishing such claims, although there is no indication that this is how the Mormons themselves interpreted the law of consecration. Understandably, Church leaders would actively seek to deny such untrue allegations in a document on marriage to be included in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. [99]

Gilbert Scharffs notes:

The original Section 101 (never claimed as a revelation but approved as a statement of belief) did state that monogamy was the practice of the Church at that time. The section was not written by Joseph Smith and was voted upon by members in his absence. Perhaps the section was intended to prevent members from getting involved with plural marriage until such a time as the practice would be authorized by the Lord Church-wide. When that became the fact, the current Section 132 replaced the old Section 101. [100]


Response to claim: "Unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph’s polygamy also included...Unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Each case was different, and the author simply makes a global assumption that none of the "earthly" husbands were aware of this. This provides greater "shock value."

The facts: The actual data, however, demonstrates that many of the husbands were not only aware of this, but they approved of it, in some cases because they were not members of the Church and didn't believe in marriage after this life anyway.

Question: Was Joseph Smith sealed or married to other men's wives without the knowledge or consent of their husband?

Joseph Smith was sealed to between 11 to 14 women who were married to men who were still living

Joseph Smith was sealed to between 11 to 14 women who were married to men who were still living. Some of these men were even active members of the Church.

  • One critic claims that these were "unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry." [101]

Each case is unique. In some cases, the husband was not a member of the Church and simply didn't care

To conclude that these "unions" were performed without the knowledge or consent of the living husband is a gross oversimplification. Each case is unique. In some cases, the husband was not a member of the Church, and the wife felt the need to be sealed to a priesthood holder in the next life. Since the husbands didn't necessarily believe in a "next life," it seems that they had no problem with the idea of their spouse being sealed to Joseph.

For some whose husbands were Church members, there is circumstantial evidence that the husbands approved

For some whose husbands were Church members, there is circumstantial evidence that the husbands approved, since they continued to live with their wives and associate with the Saints.

Here is a summary of the situation of each of these 14 women and whether or not their husbands knew and approved

  1. Ruth Vose Sayers: Sealed to Joseph for eternity only with the knowledge and consent of her husband Edward (a non-member), and with the consent of Joseph's wife Emma. Ruth continued to live with Edward as earthly husband.
  2. Esther Dutcher: Married her husband Albert at age 15. Sealed to Joseph for eternity only without the knowledge or consent of her Latter-day Saint husband. Esther and Albert continued to live as earthly husband and wife until Esther died. After her death, Albert acted as proxy to have her sealed to Joseph for eternity and to himself for time.
  3. Mary Elizabeth Rollins: Married her non-Mormon husband Adam at age 17. Sealed to Joseph for eternity after trying and failing to convince her husband to join the Church. Mary lived with Adam until his death. She does not specify whether or not Adam knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  4. Presendia L. Huntington: Married her husband Norman at age 16. Sealed to Joseph for eternity only after her husband Norman left the Church. Presendia continued to live with Norman. She does not specify whether or not Norman knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  5. Sarah Kingsley: Sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband John was not a member of the Church, but was friendly to the Latter-day Saints. She does not specify whether or not John knew of or consented to her sealing to Joseph.
  6. Patty Bartlett: Married her husband David at age 17. Sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband David was a member of the Church, and they continued to live together until he died. He and Patty received their endowment together in Nauvoo after Joseph's death. She does not clarify what her Latter-day Saint husband thought of her sealing to Joseph, or whether or not he knew and consented to this.
  7. Elizabeth Davis: Sealed to Joseph for eternity, but continued to live with her LDS husband Jabez Dufee. She does not specify whether or not her husband knew of and consented to the sealing, although there is some circumstantial evidence that he may have objected to this.
  8. Lucinda Pendleton: Married her husband William Morgan at age 18. Sealed to Joseph for eternity after his death. There is no written evidence that she was sealed to him during his lifetime.
  9. Elvira Annie Cowles: Sealed to Joseph for eternity. She was married to her husband Jonathan apparently at Joseph's request. Jonathan was fully aware of Elivra's sealing to Joseph prior to this marriage.
  10. Marinda Nancy Johnson: Married her husband Orson Hyde at age 19. She was sealed to Joseph some time after her marriage to Orson. There are conflicting accounts that indicate that she did this either with, or without, her husband's knowledge and consent.
  11. Zina Diantha Huntington: She was married to her husband Henry and pregnant by him at the time she was sealed to Joseph for eternity. Her husband Henry was aware of this.
  12. Sylvia Sessions: Married her husband Windsor at age 20. She was sealed to Joseph after Windsor was excommunicated and left Nauvoo. Sylvia may have considered herself "divorced" from Windsor at this point. Sylvia's daughter Josephine may be a legitimate child of Joseph Smith, but a clear link has not yet been proven.
  13. Sarah Ann Whitney: Sarah was married to Joseph for time and eternity while she was still a single woman. Later, she was married civilly to Joseph Kingsbury as a "pretend marriage," in which they lived in the same home, but which apparently did not include marital relations. Joseph Kingsbury therefore had the knowledge that he was marrying one of Joseph's plural wives and consented to it.
  14. Mary Heron: Married her husband John Snider at age 18. John was an active member of the Church. There is insufficient information to determine whether or not her husband knew of and consented to her sealing to Joseph.


Question: What did the husband of Ruth Vose Sayers know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Ruth was sealed to Joseph Smith only for eternity, and not for time, with both her husband’s consent and with Emma’s consent

Ruth was sealed to Joseph Smith only for eternity, and not for time, with both her husband’s consent and with Emma’s consent. She “continued to live with Mr. Sayers (remained with her husband) until his death. “[102] Ruth’s husband Edward was not a member of the Church, and was not interested in becoming one. Edward was, however, a good friend of Joseph Smith. Since Edward did not attach “much importance to the theory of a future life,” he “insisted that his wife Ruth should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim …her in this life. She was accordingly [then] sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence…” [102] Brian Hales notes that in 1869, Ruth signed an affidavit that reads:

Be it remembered that on this first day of May, A.D. 1869, personally appeared before me, Elias Smith, Probate Judge for Said County, Ruth Vose Sayers who was by me Sworn in due form of law and upon her oath Saith that on [blank] day of February A.D. 1843 at the City of Nauvoo County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Hyrum Smith, Presiding Patriarch of Said Church, according to the laws of the Same, regulating Marriage; in the presence [blank] [103]

Ruth's husband Edward Sayers did not attach "much importance to the theory of a future life"

Hales also notes the following from the research papers of Andrew Jenson:

\Sister Ruth/ Mrs. Sayers was married in her youth to Mr. Edward Sayers, a thoroughly practical horticulturist and florist, and though he was not a member of the Church, yet he willingly joined his fortune with her and they reached Nauvoo together some time in the year 1841; While there the strongest affection sprang up between the Prophet Joseph and Mr. Sayers. The latter not attaching much importance to \the/ theory of a future life insisted that his wife \Ruth/ should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim [page2—the first 3 lines of which are written over illegible erasures] her in this life. She \was/ accordingly the sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence and thus were became numbered among the Prophets plural wives. She however \though she/ \continued to live with Mr. Sayers / remained with her husband \until his death. [104]

A biography of Ruth Vose may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Esther Dutcher know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

It appears that Esther was sealed to Joseph for eternity before informing her husband of that fact

There is very little evidence of the sealing of Esther Dutcher to Joseph Smith. Ester was married to Albert Smith (no relation to Joseph Smith or George Albert Smith). The little evidence that exists indicates that she was sealed to Joseph for eternity only, and continued to live with her husband until she died. It also appears that she was sealed to Joseph for eternity before informing her husband of that fact. Thirty-two years after Esther's death, Apostle Daniel H. Wells wrote the following letter to Joseph F. Smith. Wells notes that after Esther's death that,

He [Albert Smith was] also much afflicted with the loss of his first wife. It seems that she was sealed to Joseph the Prophet in the days of Nauvoo, though she still remained his wife, and afterwards nearly broke his heart by telling him of it, and expressing her intention of adhering to that relationship. He however got to feeling better over it, and acting for Joseph, had her sealed to him, and to himself for time. [105]

A biography of Esther Dutcher may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Mary Elizabeth Rollins know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Mary did not proceed with the sealing to Joseph until she had given up attempting to persuade her husband Adam to join the Church

Mary Elizabeth Rollins was married to a non-Mormon, Adam Lightner. Mary did not proceed with the sealing to Joseph until she had given up attempting to persuade her husband Adam to join:

My husband did not belong to the Church. I begged him and pled with him to join but he would not. He said he did not believe in it, though he thought a great deal of Joseph. He sacrificed his property rather than testify against Joseph, Hyrum and George A. Smith. After he said this, I went forward and was sealed to Joseph for eternity. [106]

After being sealed to Joseph, Mary continued to live with her husband Adam until his death in 1885

After being sealed to Joseph, Mary continued to live with her husband Adam until his death in 1885. Although this particular statement, and the evidence that she continued to live with her husband until his death, indicates a sealing for eternity only, on other occasions Mary actually referred to being sealed to Joseph for "time and eternity." Joseph also told her that she was to be sealed to him for eternity, and she initially resisted the idea until she received an angelic visitation and confirmation.

A biography of Mary Elizabeth Rollins may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Presendia L. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Presendia's husband Norman left the Church, and since she was unable to be sealed for eternity to her earthly husband, she was sealed to Joseph Smith instead

Presendia Huntington was married to Norman Buell when she was sixteen years old. Both Presendia and Norman originally joined the Church, but Norman later left it while Presendia remained a believing member. Since she was unable to be sealed for eternity to her earthly husband, she was sealed to Joseph Smith instead. Presendia's 1881 biography notes her husband's rejection of the Church as the reason she decided to be sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity,

I was maried to Norman Buell Jan 6th 1827. both joined the Church in in [sic] Kirtland Geauga Co Ohio he left the church in Mo in 1839 the Lord gave me strength to stand alone & keep the faith amid heavy persecution in 1841 I entered into the new & everlasting Covenant was sealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet & Seer & to the best of my ability I have honored Plural Marriage never speking one word against the principal. [107]

An affidavit signed by Presendia on May 1, 1869 states:

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. 1869 personally appeared before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County Presenda Lathrop Huntington \Kimball/ who was by me Sworn in due form of law and upon her oath saith, that on the eleventh day of December A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Dimick B. Huntington, a High-Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the Same regulating Marriage; in the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [108]

A biography of Presendia L. Huntington may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Sarah Kingsley know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Sarah was married to non-Mormon John Cleveland, but was sealed to Joseph Smith

Sarah was married to non-Mormon John Cleveland. John was not interested in joining the Church, but was friendly to the Saints.

In the days of Joseph. Mother [Sarah M. Kingsley (Howe)] Cleveland by advice, was sealed to the prophet in Nauvoo but lived with her [non-LDS] husband John Cleveland. [109]

Sarah wished to go west with the Saints, but Brigham Young advised her to remain with her husband

When the Saints moved west, Sarah wished to go with them, even to the point of leaving her non-LDS husband. Brigham Young advised her to remain with him:

Brigham Young and council...counseled her to stay with her husband as he was a good man, having shown himself kind ever helping those in need, although for some reason his mind was darkened as to the gospel. She obeyed council and stayed with her husband, and was faithful and true to her relation and died a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. [110]

A biography of Sarah Kingsley may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Patty Bartlett know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Patty and her husband David Sessions received their endowment after she had been sealed to Joseph three years earlier

Patty and her husband David Sessions were active members of the Church. They received their endowment in Nauvoo in 1845. Patty had been sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith three years earlier in 1842. After her husband David's death, she was sealed "for time" (re-married to an earthly husband) to John Parry in 1852. Patty's diary states,

Patty Bartlett daughter of Enoch and Anne Bartlett was born February 4 1795 \Bethel Mane/ and was married to David Session June 28th 1812 who was the son of David and Rachel Sessions, he was born April the 4th 1790 Veshire Vermont I was Batpised into the church of Jesus Christ \of later day saints/ July 2 1834 Mr Sessions was Baptised Aug <st> 1735 we received our we received our endowment Dec 16 1845 in Nauvoo. . . .

I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9 1842 in Newel K Whitneys chamber Nauvoo for Eternity and I and if I do not live to attend to it myself when there is a place prepared I want some one to attend to it for me according to order Sylvia \my daughter/ was present when I was sealed to Joseph Smith.I was after Mr. Sessions death sealed to John Parry senior for time on the 27 of March 1852 G[reat] S[alt] L. City. [111]

Nothing is stated in Patty's diary regarding what her husband David thought of her sealing to Joseph

Nothing is stated regarding what her husband David thought of her sealing to Joseph, or whether or not he agreed to it. Brian Hales notes that, "David and Patty Sessions attended the Nauvoo Temple together, receiving their endowments on December 15, 1845, but they were not sealed in marriage." It would seem apparent that David was fully aware of her sealing to Joseph.

A biography of Patty Bartlett may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Elizabeth Davis know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Elizabeth's husband Jabez Dufee was active in the Church, but Elizabeth chose to be sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith

Elizabeth's husband Jabez Dufee was active in the Church. Elizabeth chose to be sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith. Brian Hales notes that, "It appears that the couple experienced some marital turmoil before the sealing or perhaps as a consequence of it. Jabez was endowed on a different day than Elizabeth when the Nauvoo Temple opened in the winter of 1845 and Elizabeth was resealed by proxy to Joseph Smith on January 22, 1846, but Jabez did not participate either as a proxy husband or witness." [112]

A biography of Elizabeth Davis may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are no records in existence that indicate that she was sealed to Joseph during his lifetime, only after his death

Lucinda Pendleton was married to Latter-day Saint George W. Harris. There are no records in existence that indicate that she was sealed to Joseph during his lifetime. It is known that Lucinda’s proxy sealing to Joseph Smith was performed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 22, 1846, after Joseph's death. In addition, she was re-sealed to Joseph in the Salt Lake Temple in 1899. Brian Hales notes that, "current evidence indicates that several of the women who participated in proxy sealing to the Prophet in the Nauvoo Temple were not married to him while he was living." [113]


Question: What did the husband of Elvira Annie Cowles know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Joseph asked Jonathan Holmes to marry Elvira for time, and Joseph was later sealed to her for eternity

A letter by William Wright talks of Joseph asking Jonathan Holmes to marry Elvira. Joseph was later sealed to her for eternity.

I was well acquainted with two of Joseph’s wives, LaVina [Elvira] and Eliza [Snow or Partridge]. I came to Utah in ’69, and rented LaVina Holmes farm. Before Joseph was shot, he asked Jonathan Holmes if he would marry and take care of LaVina, but if LaVina wanted him to take care of her he would take her. He would fill that mission to please his Father in Heaven. [114]

Brian Hales notes that, "It seems to corroborate that Jonathan may have been given a “mission” to marry Elvira and “take care of her” in a legal pretend marriage. After the martyrdom, Jonathan would have been free to take Elivira as his own wife. She did not conceive her first child until seven months after Joseph’s death. The couple went on to have a total of five children together." [115]

A biography of Elvira Annie Cowles may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did Orson Hyde, the husband of Marinda Nancy Johnson, know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph

Marinda Nancy Johnson was married to Orson Hyde. There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph. However, according to Hales, "If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge." Yet he also notes that "John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: 'Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.'" [116]

There are two sealing dates for Joseph to Marinda - one during a period of one to two years after Hyde left on his mission, and one after he had already returned

The popular story among critics is that Joseph sent Orson away on his mission so that he could quickly marry his wife Marinda. However, the first sealing date shows that Joseph was sealed to Marinda for eternity one to two years after Hyde had left on his mission, so there was nothing "quick" about it. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that this was an "eternity only" sealing typical of Joseph's other "polyandrous" marriages involving other men's wives. No children are known to have conceived during this time. However, upon Hyde's return, not only did he father children by Marinda, but he also quickly asked Joseph to seal him in a new polygamous marriage of his own.

Todd Compton: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home”

Fawn Brodie speculated that Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” [117] Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Brian Hales notes the following regarding the timeline,

The timeline shows that Apostle Orson Hyde, Marinda’s legal husband, served a mission to Palestine from the spring of 1840 to December 7, 1842. Weeks after his return, Marinda became pregnant with Orson Washington Hyde (conception approximately February 16, 1843) who was born on November 9, 1843. Several authors alleged Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry with some of his plural wives including Marinda, despite a mountain of contradictory evidences [118] However, no evidence has been found to connect Joseph Smith with this child. Todd Compton observes: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home.” [119] They also allege that a second son, Frank Henry Hyde, was father by Joseph Smith under the assumption that he was born January 23, 1845 (conception approximately May 2, 1844). [120] However, his birth certificate and an obituary in the The Ogden Standard, June 29, 1908, “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” both corroborate a January 23, 1846, birthdate (May 2, 1845, approximate conception). [121][30]

Timeline of the marital status of Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde. From the website Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site

Hales continues,

If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge. While such a sealing would not have affected her civil union with Orson, a late second-hand report from exposé author Ann Eliza Webb Young states:

When Joseph Smith first taught polygamy, and gave the wives as well as the husbands opportunity to make new choice of life-partners, Mrs. Hyde, at that time a young and quite prepossessing woman, became one of the Prophet’s numerous fancies. . . . Hyde was away on a mission at the time, and when he returned, he, in turn, imbibed the teachings of polygamy also, and prepared to extend his kingdom indefinitely. In the mean time it was hinted to him that Smith had had his first wife sealed to himself in his absence, as a wife for eternity. Inconsistent as it may seem, Hyde was in a furious passion.” [122]

However, John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: “Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.” [123] [30]

Hyde requested that Joseph perform his own plural marriage just a few weeks after returning from his mission

Hales concludes,

Whatever the sequence, Orson appealed to Joseph to perform his own plural marriage weeks after returning from his mission stating in 1869: “In the month of February or March, 1843, I was married to Miss Martha R. Browitt, by Joseph Smith, the martyred prophet, and by him she was sealed to me for time and all eternity in Nauvoo, Illinois.” [124]

The details of the relationship between Marinda and the Prophet will probably never be known. If Marinda had chosen Joseph as her eternal husband, she apparently changed her mind because she chose to be sealed to her legal husband Orson Hyde in the Nauvoo temple on January 11, 1846.

However, Marinda Nancy Johnson relocated to Salt Lake City in 1852 and later divorced Orson Hyde. She died in 1886, having kept the faith in the Church established by her eternal husband.[30]

The accounts of the sealing of Marinda to Joseph

Much of what we know about the Hyde sealing is also contaminated by hostile, mutually contradictory accounts that contain some known false information.


Author Date Claim Comments
Sidney Rigdon[125] 1845
  • Orson unaware of marriage
  • Orson refused to live with wife when he found out

Contrary to claim, Orson continued to live with Miranda and father children by her.

William Hall[126] 1852
  • Joseph demanded Miranda and all Orson's money to let him back in the Church
  • "Many jokes were cracked at his [Hyde's] expense."

Very unlikely—no record of others mocking Hyde; Hall is unreliable on other marriages as well. [127] Orson's return to the quorum was in June 1839, [128] putting Hall's account two years too early for marriage. [129]

Ann Eliza Young[130] 1876
  • Orson did not know of marriage
  • Angry when he learned of it
  • Swore would not live with his wife; did so anyway.

Too young to have any first-hand knowledge of Nauvoo, her book's intent was clearly to titillate with stories of polygamous intrigue. Claims that Brigham told Orson that she was only to be his wife for time, and Joseph's for eternity—but this is frankly false, since sealed to Orson in early 1846. [131] She also confuses the temporality, since she describes Hyde "in a furious passion," because "he thought it no harm for him to win the affection of another man's wife… but he did not propose having his rights interfered with even by the holy Prophet whose teachings he so implicitly followed" (326). Yet, Orson did not begin practicing plural marriage until after he knew of Miranda's sealing to Joseph.

John D. Lee[132] 1877
  • "Report said that Hyde's wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state, but I do not assert the fact."
Lee's work was published posthumously and may have been altered by anti-Mormon editor.

A biography of Marinda Nancy Johnson may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs

Question: What did the husband of Zina D. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841,

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. eighteen sixty nine before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County personally appeared, Zina Diantha Huntington ^Young^ who was by me Sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath Saith, that on the twenty-Seventh day of October A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Dimick B. Huntington, a High Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the same; regulating marriage; In the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [133]

There are many stories and accusations related to the marriage of Zina and Henry, and her sealing to Joseph. For details regarding each of these allegations, see Brian and Laura Hales, "Zina Diantha Huntington," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site.

See also: Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR Conference, 2006.


Question: What did the husband of Sylvia Sessions know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Sylvia was married to Windsor Lyon by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, and was sealed to Joseph Smith at some point after she was married

Sylvia was married to Windsor Lyon by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. She was sealed to Joseph Smith at some point after she was married. Brian Hales notes that , "This marriage triangle is unique among all of the Prophet’s plural marriages because there is strong evidence that Sylvia bore children to both men. She became pregnant by Windsor Lyon in October of 1838, September of 1840, and April of 1842. Then a year later became pregnant with a daughter (named Josephine—born February 8, 1844) that was purportedly fathered by the Prophet." Sylvia's daughter, who had the intriguing name "Josephine," made the following statement:

Just prior to my mothers [Sylvia Sessions Lyon] death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret fro me and from others until no but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon had was out of fellowship with the Church.

Daughter Josephine was proven not to be a daughter of Joseph Smith, Jr. through DNA analysis

For many years, Josephine appeared to be the only viable candidate as a child of Joseph Smiths "polyandrous" sealings. However, DNA analysis ultimately disproved the paternity claim: Josephine was not a descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr.[134]

Sylvia may have considered herself divorced from Windsor after he was excommunicated from the Church

It appears, however, that Sylvia may have considered herself divorced from Windsor after he was excommunicated from the Church and left Nauvoo. Hales points out that "Currently, no documentation of a legal divorce between Windsor and Sylvia after his excommunication has been found. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, religious laws often trumped legal proceedings. Stanley B. Kimball observed: 'Some church leaders at that time considered civil marriage by non-Mormon clergymen to be as unbinding as their baptisms. Some previous marriages . . . were annulled simply by ignoring them.'" [135] The sealing to Joseph occurred after Windor's excommunication. Andrew Jenson, in his historical record, referred to Sylvia as a “formerly the wife of Windsor Lyons.” [136] There is no known evidence that Windsor lived with Sylvia after he returned to Nauvoo, but Sylvia did "rejoin" Windsor after he was rebaptised in 1846. Hales states, "No details are available to clarify what authority was used to reconfirm the marriage relationship between Sylvia and Windsor after their previous marital separation. Most likely the couple consulted with Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball, who authorized their rejoining. Whether a private religious marriage ceremony for time was performed or the couple resumed observing their legal marriage is unknown. Importantly, even with the renewed conjugality between Windsor and Sylvia after Joseph Smith’s death, no evidence has been found to support her involvement in sexual polyandry at any time." [137]

A biography of Sylvia Sessions may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Sarah Ann Whitney know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Joseph actually requested that Joseph C. Kingsbury marry Sarah civilly in order to allay any suspicions regarding their plural marriage

Sarah Ann Whitney's marriage to Joseph Smith was unusual in that, at some point after the marriage, Joseph actually requested that Joseph C. Kingsbury marry her civilly in order to allay any suspicions regarding their plural marriage. This marriage, however, was a "pretend" marriage according to Kingsbury,

[I] was imployed in Joseph Smith’s Store under the direction of Bishop Newel K Whitney untill the fall of 1842 and on the 16th day Oct Caroline my Wife Died. . . . how thankfull I feal thinking I shall see & meat her again to enjoy each other society for ever to part no more & also my little sons . . . and on the 29th of April 1843 I according to President Joseph Smith council & others agreed to stand by Sarah \Ann/ Whitney as supposed to be her husband & had a pretended marriage for the purpose of bringing about the purposes of bringing about the purposes of God in the last days as spoken by the mouth of the prophet Isiah Jeremiah Ezekiel and also Joseph Smith, & Sarah Ann should rec-d a great glory Honner & Eternal Lives and I Also Should Rec-d a Great Glory Honner & Eternal Lives to the full desire of my heart in having my companion Caroline in the first resurrection to hail her & no one to have power to take her from me & we Both shall be crowned & enthroned togeather in the Celestial Kingdom of God Enjoying Each others Society in all of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ & our little ones with us as is Recorded in this blessing that President Joseph Smith Sealed upon my head on the Twenty third day of March 1843 as follows. [138]

Sarah Ann and Joseph Kingsbury acted the part of husband and wife publicly, but apparently never consummated the marriage. Sarah married Heber C. Kimabll for time, not eternally, after Joseph's death and had seven children. According to Brian Hales, Joseph Kingsbury later billed the church for his services of acting as "front husband" for one of Joseph's plural wives. [139]

A biography of Sarah Ann Whitney may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Question: What did the husband of Mary Heron know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Mary Heron was married to John Snider, who was an active member of the Church, but little information is available regarding her sealing to Joseph

Mary Heron was married to John Snider, who was an active member of the Church. Very little information is available regarding her sealing to Joseph. Brian Hales notes that, "John was never sealed to Mary during their lifetimes, even though a proxy sealing after her death would have been possible. Curiously, John waited until two weeks after Mary’s passing away to obtain his own temple endowments. Perhaps the timing of John Snider’s first temple visit was coincidental, or possibly a sealing between Mary and Joseph Smith had created an awkward situation while they were both living." [140]

A biography of Mary Heron may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Response to claim: "Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by his cousin, Oliver Cowdery, as a 'dirty, nasty, filthy affair'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director make(s) the following claim:

Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by his cousin, Oliver Cowdery, as a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair." (April 2013)
Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by Oliver Cowdery as a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” (October 2014)


Author's sources: Richard L. Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, p. 323.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Oliver did not approve of the restoration of plural marriage, and accused Joseph of adultery - one of the charges that was brought up when he was eventually excommunicated from the Church.

Question: Did Joseph Smith marry Fanny Alger as his first plural wife in 1833?

Joseph Smith met Fanny Alger in 1833 when she was a house-assistant to Emma

Joseph Smith came to know Fanny Alger in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant to Emma. Neither Joseph nor Fanny ever left any first-hand accounts of their relationship. There are no second-hand accounts from Emma or Fanny's family. All that we do have is third hand accounts from people who did not directly observe the events associated with this first plural marriage, and most of them recorded many years after the events.

Joseph said that the "ancient order of plural marriage" was to again be practiced at the time that Fanny was living with his family

Benjamin F. Johnson stated that in 1835 he had "learned from my sister’s husband, Lyman R. Sherman, who was close to the Prophet, and received it from him, 'that the ancient order of Plural Marriage was again to be practiced by the Church.' This, at the time did not impress my mind deeply, although there lived then with his family (the Prophet’s) a neighbor’s daughter, Fannie Alger, a very nice and comely young woman about my own age, toward whom not only myself, but every one, seemed partial, for the amiability for her character; and it was whispered even then that Joseph loved her."[141]

Joseph asked the brother-in-law of Fanny's father to make the request of Fanny's father, after which a marriage ceremony was performed

Mosiah Hancock discusses the manner in which the proposal was extended to Fanny, and states that a marriage ceremony was performed. Joseph asked Levi Hancock, the brother-in-law of Samuel Alger, Fanny’s father, to request Fanny as his plural wife:

Samuel, the Prophet Joseph loves your daughter Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Uncle Sam says, “Go and talk to the old woman [Fanny’s mother] about it. Twill be as she says.” Father goes to his sister and said, “Clarissy, Brother Joseph the Prophet of the most high God loves Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Said she, “Go and talk to Fanny. It will be all right with me.” Father goes to Fanny and said, “Fanny, Brother Joseph the Prophet loves you and wishes you for a wife. Will you be his wife?” “I will Levi,” said she. Father takes Fanny to Joseph and said, “Brother Joseph I have been successful in my mission.” Father gave her to Joseph, repeating the ceremony as Joseph repeated to him.[142]


Question: Did some of Joseph Smith's associates believe that he had an affair with Fanny Alger?

Oliver Cowdery perceived the relationship between Joseph and Fanny as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair"

Some of Joseph's associates, most notably Oliver Cowdery, perceived Joseph's association with Fanny as an affair rather than a plural marriage. Oliver, in a letter to his brother Warren, asserted that "in every instance I did not fail to affirm that which I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself."[143]

Gary J. Bergera, an advocate of the "affair" theory, wrote:

I do not believe that Fanny Alger, whom [Todd] Compton counts as Smith’s first plural wife, satisfies the criteria to be considered a “wife.” Briefly, the sources for such a “marriage” are all retrospective and presented from a point of view favoring plural marriage, rather than, say, an extramarital liaison…Smith’s doctrine of eternal marriage was not formulated until after 1839–40. [144]

There are several problems with this analysis. While it is true that sources on Fanny are all retrospective, the same is true of many early plural marriages. Fanny's marriage has more evidence than some. Bergera says that all the sources about Fanny's marriage come "from a point of view favoring plural marriage," but this claim is clearly false.

Even hostile accounts of the relationship between Joseph and Fanny report a marriage or sealing

For example, Fanny's marriage was mentioned by Ann Eliza Webb Young, a later wife of Brigham Young's who divorced him, published an anti-Mormon book, and spent much of her time giving anti-Mormon, anti-polygamy lectures. Fanny stayed with Ann Eliza's family after leaving Joseph and Emma's house, and both Ann Eliza and her father Chauncey Webb [145] refer to Joseph's relationship to Fanny as a "sealing." [146] Eliza also noted that the Alger family "considered it the highest honor to have their daughter adopted into the prophet's family, and her mother has always claimed that she [Fanny] was sealed to Joseph at that time." [147] This would be a strange attitude to take if their relationship was a mere affair. And, the hostile Webbs had no reason to invent a "sealing" idea if they could have made Fanny into a mere case of adultery.


Response to claim: "Joseph was practicing polygamy before the sealing authority was given"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph was practicing polygamy before the sealing authority was given

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph and Fanny's marriage was a plural marriage, not an eternal marriage.
Logical Fallacy: False Cause
The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

The author assumes that the sealing power was required prior to the initiation of plural marriage.

Question: How could Joseph and Fanny have been married in 1831 if the sealing power had not yet been restored?

There is historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored

There is historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored. Mosiah Hancock (a Mormon) reported a wedding ceremony in Kirtland, Ohio in 1833.

Apostate Mormons Ann Eliza Webb Young and her father Chauncery both referred to Fanny's relationship as a "sealing." Ann Eliza also reported that Fanny's family was very proud of Fanny's relationship with Joseph, which makes little sense if it was simply a tawdry affair. Those closest to them saw the marriage as exactly that—a marriage.

Joseph and Fanny's marriage was a plural marriage, not an eternal marriage

Some have wondered how the first plural marriages (such as the Alger marriage) could have occurred before the 1836 restoration of the sealing keys in the Kirtland temple (see DC 110:). This confusion occurs because we tend to conflate several ideas. They were not all initially wrapped together in one doctrine:

  1. plural marriage - the idea that one could be married (in mortality) to more than one woman: being taught by 1831.
  2. eternal marriage - the idea that a man and spouse could be sealed and remain together beyond the grave: being taught by 1835.
  3. "celestial" marriage - the combination of the above two ideas, in which all marriages—plural and monogamous—could last beyond the grave via the sealing powers: implemented by 1840-41.

Thus, the marriage to Fanny would have occurred under the understanding #1 above. The concept of sealing beyond the grave came later. Therefore, the marriage of Joseph and Fanny would have been a plural marriage, but it would not have been a marriage for eternity.


Response to claim: "A union with a newlywed and pregnant woman (Zina Huntingon)"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

[Joseph Smith married] a newlywed and pregnant woman (Zina Huntingon)....Zina Huntington had been married seven and a half months and was six months pregnant with her first husband’s baby at the time she married Joseph; clearly she didn’t need any more help to “bear the souls of men”.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: Joseph was sealed to Zina for eternity, and she continued to live with her earthly husband Henry even after she was sealed to Joseph.

The facts: The purpose of this sealing for eternity was not to "bear the souls of men."

Question: Why would Joseph be sealed to the wife of someone who was not only married to someone else, but pregnant with her husband's child?

Joseph asked Zina three times to marry him before she married Henry

Zina huntington jacobs 2.jpg

In 1839, at age 18, Zina arrived with her parents in Nauvoo after being driven out of Missouri. Faithful LDS missionary Henry Jacobs courted her during 1840–41. At the same time, Joseph Smith had taught Zina the doctrine of plural marriage, and thrice asked her to marry him. She declined each time, and she and Henry were wed 7 March 1841. [148] Zina and Henry were married by John C. Bennett, then mayor of Nauvoo. They had invited Joseph to perform the ceremony, but Bennett stepped in when Joseph did not arrive:

…Zina asked the Prophet to perform the marriage. They went to the Clerk’s office and the Prophet did not arrive, so they were married by John C. Bennett. When they saw Joseph they asked him why he didn’t come, and he told them the Lord had made it known to him that she was to be his Celestial wife. [149]

Zina and Henry were aware of Joseph's plural marriage teachings and his proposal to Zina

Family tradition holds, then, that Zina and Henry were aware of Joseph's plural marriage teachings and his proposal to Zina. While this perspective is late and after-the-fact, it is consistent with the Jacobs' behaviour thereafter. Zina's family also wrote that Henry believed that "whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man." [150]

On 27 October 1841, Zina was sealed to Joseph Smith by her brother, Dimick Huntington. She was six months pregnant by Henry, and continued to live with him.


Question: Did Joseph Smith and Brigham Young steal Henry Jacobs' family?

This plaque located in the Church History Museum mentions Zina's sealing to Joseph Smith and marriage to Brigham Young (Photo taken in 2012)

Zina had refused Joseph's suit three times and chosen to marry Henry, but then decided to be sealed to Joseph

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's "mistreatment" of Henry and their "theft" of his family have received a great deal of publicity, thanks to late 19th century anti-Mormon sources, and Fawn Brodie increased their cachet for a 20th century audience. [151] For present purposes, we will focus on Zina. She had refused Joseph's suit three times, and chosen to marry Henry. Why did she decide to be sealed to Joseph?

Zina stated that God had prepared her mind for Joseph's teachings even before she had heard them

When interrogated by a member of the RLDS Church, Zina refused to be drawn into specifics. She made her motivations clear, and explained that God had prepared her mind for Joseph's teachings even before she had heard them:

Q. "Can you give us the date of that marriage with Joseph Smith?"
A. "No, sir, I could not."
Q. "Not even the year?"
A. "No, I do not remember. It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years. I will tell you the facts. I had dreams—I am no dreamer but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order [Celestial marriage] I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it." [152]

Henry Jacobs stood as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her marriage for time to Brigham Young

Henry was to stand as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her marriage for time to Brigham Young. He and Zina separated soon thereafter, and Henry was soon gone on one of his many missions for the Church. [153]

Zina herself clearly explains the basis for her choice:

…when I heard that God had revealed the law of Celestial marriage that we would have the privilege of associating in family relationships in the worlds to come, I searched the scriptures and by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in his Church. [154] Faced with questions from her RLDS interviewer that she felt exceeded propriety, Zina became evasive. She finally terminated the interview by saying, "Mr. Wight, you are speaking on the most sacred experiences of my life…."[155]


Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs

Question: What did the husband of Zina D. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841,

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. eighteen sixty nine before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County personally appeared, Zina Diantha Huntington ^Young^ who was by me Sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath Saith, that on the twenty-Seventh day of October A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Dimick B. Huntington, a High Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the same; regulating marriage; In the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [156]

There are many stories and accusations related to the marriage of Zina and Henry, and her sealing to Joseph. For details regarding each of these allegations, see Brian and Laura Hales, "Zina Diantha Huntington," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site.

See also: Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR Conference, 2006.


Response to claim: Zina "married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a flaming sword"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Zina "married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a flaming sword" (April 2013)
Zina "married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a drawn sword" (October 2014)

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

  • The "angel with a sword" reference refers to Joseph's postponement of the practice of polygamy, not his marriage to a specific individual.
  • Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs said that Joseph mentioned an angel with a drawn sword. The account of a "flaming" sword came from Eliza Snow and Orson F. Whitney.

Question: Did Joseph claim that an angel threatened him with a "drawn sword" or "flaming sword" if a woman refused to marry him?

The references to the "angel with a sword" refer to Joseph's postponement of the initiation of polygamy

Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs said that Joseph mentioned an angel with a drawn sword.[157] The account of a "flaming" sword came from Eliza Snow and Orson F. Whitney.

The "angel with a sword" reference refers to Joseph's postponement of the practice of polygamy. Brian Hales notes that,

"Twenty-one accounts by nine polygamy insiders left recollections that the Prophet told of one specific reason: an angel with a sword who threatened him if he did not proceed. All nine witnesses could have heard the statement from the Prophet himself; however, the narratives themselves suggest that Benjamin F. Johnson and Eliza R. Snow may have been repeating information gathered from other people. Joseph Lee Robinson's narrative is difficult to date and his actual source is not clear. Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, and Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner quote the Prophet directly and Mary Elizabeth provides details not available elsewhere. Unfortunately, with the possible exception of the Robinson account, all of the reminiscences date to at least twenty to thirty years after the event." [158]

Here are the quotes attributed to Zina on the matter:

1881: Zina Huntington—Zina D. Young told of Bro. Joseph's remark in relation to the revelation on celestial marriage. How an angel came to him with a drawn sword, and said if he did not obey this law he would lost his priesthood; and in the keeping of it he, Joseph, did not know but it would cost him his life. [159]

1894: Zina Huntington—[Joseph] sent word to me by my brother, saying, 'Tell Zina I put it off and put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth, I would lost my position and my life.'" [160]


Response to claim: "there is no such thing as an insane polygamist god who demanded such sadistic, immoral, adulterous, despicable, and pedophilic behavior"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

there is no such thing as an insane polygamist god who demanded such sadistic, immoral, adulterous, despicable, and pedophilic behavior

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: The Merriam-Webster definition of "sadism" is "enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain." The definition of "insane" is "mentally disordered." The author suggests that Latter-day Saints believe in a "mentally disordered" god who derives enjoyment from causing people pain and demanding the sexual abuse of prepubescent children. This is pure propaganda on the part of the author.

The facts: Latter-day Saints do not believe in such a god.
Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Emotion
The author attempts to manipulate the reader's emotional response instead of presenting a valid argument.

Response to claim: "The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior. Emma was unaware of most of these marriages. The Saints did not know what was going on behind the scenes as polygamy did not become common knowledge until 1852 when Brigham Young revealed it in Utah. Joseph Smith did everything he could to keep the practice in the dark.

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The secrecy of the practice wasn't because Joseph didn't try to teach the doctrine. It was because of the danger from others.

Question: Did Joseph Smith ever publicly attempt to teach the doctrine of plural marriage?

Joseph initiated the practice of polygamy and hid it from the general Church membership during his lifetime

It is true that Joseph did not always tell others about plural marriage. One critic of the Church claims, "Joseph Smith publicly lied about his practice of polygamy, and lied to his own wife (Emma) about the practice." [161]

Joseph made at least one attempt to teach the doctrine, but it was rejected

Joseph did, however, make an attempt to teach the doctrine to the Saints. When Joseph tried to teach the doctrine, it was rejected by many Saints, including Emma, his wife. Joseph then began to teach the doctrine privately to those who would obey. A contemporary journal describes the reaction to Joseph's attempt to teach this doctrine:

When the prophet “went to his dinner,” [Joseph Lee] Robinson wrote, “as it might be expected several of the first women of the church collected at the Prophet’s house with his wife [and] said thus to the prophet Joseph O mister Smith you have done it now it will never do it is all but Blassphemy you must take back what you have said to day is it is outrageous it would ruin us as a people.” So in the afternoon session Smith again took the stand, according to Robinson, and said “Brethren and Sisters I take back what we said this morning and leave it as though there had been nothing said.”[162]


Question: Why did Joseph keep the doctrine of plural marriage private?

The Saints would have suffered negative consequences

Keeping the doctrine private was also necessary because the enemies of the Church would have used it as another justification for their assault on the Saints. Orson Hyde looked back on the Nauvoo days and indicated what the consequences of disclosure would have been:

In olden times they might have passed through the same circumstances as some of the Latter-day Saints had to in Illinois. What would it have done for us, if they had known that many of us had more than one wife when we lived in Illinois? They would have broken us up, doubtless, worse than they did.[163]

It is thus important to realize that the public preaching of polygamy—or announcing it to the general Church membership, thereby informing the public by proxy—was simply not a feasible plan.


Question: Why did Joseph Smith say "I had not been married scarcely five minutes...before it was reported that I had seven wives"?

The Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery and perjury

This statement refers to Joseph's well-known declaration on 26 May 1844 in his "Address of the Prophet—His Testimony Against the Dissenters at Nauvoo". Significantly, this address was given the day after the Laws sought to have Joseph indicted for adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence. (They also sought to indict him on a charge of perjury.)

Many have criticized or been concerned by the secrecy with which Joseph instituted plural marriage without appreciating the realities of the dangers involved. Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open". Since Joseph was sealed to his plural wives for either eternity, or for time and eternity, he did not view these relationships as constituting adultery or fornication. Therefore, under Illinois law, as long as Joseph and his plural wives did not live in an "open," or "public," manner, they were not guilty of breaking any civil law then in force in Illinois. Furthermore, this reality explains some of Joseph's public denials, since he could be truthfully said to not be guilty of the charges leveled against him: he was not committing adultery or fornication.

Joseph was refuting the charge of adultery, not the fact that he had "seven wives"

History of The Church 6:410-411:

I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made one proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. I mean to live and proclaim the truth as long as I can.

This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this.[164]....

A man asked me whether the commandment was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery. I never had any fuss with these men until that Female Relief Society brought out the paper against adulterers and adulteresses.

Dr. Goforth was invited into the Laws' clique, and Dr. Foster and the clique were dissatisfied with that document,[165] and they rush away and leave the Church, and conspire to take away my life; and because I will not countenance such wickedness,[166] they proclaim that I have been a true prophet, but that I am now a fallen prophet.

[Joseph H.] Jackson[167] has committed murder, robbery, and perjury; and I can prove it by half-a-dozen witnesses. Jackson got up and said—"By God, he is innocent," and now swears that I am guilty. He threatened my life.

There is another Law, not the prophet, who was cashiered for dishonesty and robbing the government. Wilson Law also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery. Brother Jonathan Dunham can swear to the contrary. I have been chained. I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for the truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.

When I love the poor, I ask no favors of the rich. I can go to the cross—I can lay down my life; but don't forsake me. I want the friendship of my brethren.—Let us teach the things of Jesus Christ. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a downfall.

Be meek and lowly, upright and pure; render good for evil. If you bring on yourselves your own destruction, I will complain. It is not right for a man to bare down his neck to the oppressor always. Be humble and patient in all circumstances of life; we shall then triumph more gloriously. What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.

I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers. I labored with these apostates myself until I was out of all manner of patience; and then I sent my brother Hyrum, whom they virtually kicked out of doors.[168]

Note the rejection of the term "spiritual wifeism". Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.

Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point

In light of the circumstances under which they were spoken, Joseph's words were carefully chosen. Joseph was not merely bluffing, nor was he lying—he literally could prove that the Laws were perjuring themselves on this point in the charges brought only the day before.

Bradshaw cites a portion of Joseph's above statement, and then concludes:

A review of Joseph's remarks in light of the circumstances under which they were spoken shows that Joseph's words were carefully chosen. In this speech, Joseph was specifically reacting to the indictments for perjury and adultery that were presented by the grand jury the day earlier. Thus, when Joseph affirmed during the same speech: "I am innocent of all these charges," he was in particular refuting a claim that he and Maria [Lawrence] had openly and notoriously cohabitated, thus committing the statutory offense of adultery. He was also refuting the perjury charge. While the overall tone of Joseph's remarks may seem misleading, it is understandable that Joseph would have taken pains to dodge the plural marriage issue. By keeping his plural marriages in Nauvoo secret, Joseph effectively kept them legal, at least under the Illinois adultery statute.[80]:413


Question: Was Joseph Smith ever charged with adultery under Illinois law?

William and Wilson Law charged Joseph with adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence

Joseph Smith was, in fact, once charged with adultery under Illinois Law. This occurred shortly before his death, when Robert Foster, William Law (Joseph's former counselor in the First Presidency) and Law's brother Wilson charged Joseph with adultery in the case of Maria Lawrence.[80]:403,414 Joseph took an aggressive stance in the defense of himself and Maria, which would be surprising if Illinois law was as detrimental to his case as many have assumed.

For example, as soon as Joseph was charged, two days later he and his supporters "rode to Carthage, intent on having" the charge "'investigated.'"[80]:404

Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open"

It is vital to understand, however, that:

Joseph Smith could not have been properly convicted of adultery under the law of Illinois in 1844. Illinois law only criminalized adultery or fornication if it was "open". Had Joseph lived to face trial on this charge, he would have had good reason to expect acquittal because his relationships with his plural wives were not open, but were kept confidential and known by a relative few. Given a fair trial on this indictment, Joseph could have relied on several legal defenses.[80]:402

Joseph's relationships with his plural wives did not meet this definition

The same author emphasized:

The term "open" in [the Illinois Criminal Code of the day[169]] is a key element of this crime. The meaning of this term was then and still today is generally understood in law to cover conduct that is "notorious," "exposed to public view," or "visible," and which is "not clandestine." Joseph's relationships with his plural wives did not meet this definition.[80]:408


Question: Were there any similar cases under Illinois adultery statute which demonstrate that Joseph was not breaking the law?

Two cases decided after Joseph's death demonstrate that there was nothing which would have permitted conviction

Two cases decided after Joseph's death but under the same legal regime likewise demonstrate that there was nothing about Maria and Joseph's relationship (regardless of whether or not they had sexual relations) which would have permitted conviction under the Illinois adultery statute. Additionally, Stephen R. Douglas (the famed Illinois judge and later candidate for the presidency of the United States) and Thomas Ford (the governor of Illinois at the time of Joseph's murder) prosecuted adultery cases during their legal careers and both were definitive that an "open" and "notorious" aspect to the cohabitation had to be proven under the statute.[80]:408-411

If Joseph been charged by his wife Emma with adultery, this could have served as grounds for divorce under Illinois law

By contrast, had Joseph been charged by his wife Emma with adultery, this could have served as grounds for divorce, and did not require the stringent requirements of being "open" or "notorious."[170]

It was later realized that Illinois law would probably support the practice of Latter-day Saint plural marriage, so they changed the wording of the law

Even Joseph's near-contemporaries would later realize that Illinois law would probably support the practice of Latter-day Saint plural marriage, perhaps even if done so openly.

Recognizing the breadth of [the] state constitutional provision [for religious freedom] as it stood in 1844, Illinois adopted a new constitution in 1869 that introduced a number of changes in the clause governing religious liberty, including wording specifically intended to give the state authority to prohibit Mormon polygamy or other religiously-based practices that might be deemed offensive. Comments by certain delegates to the 1869 Illinois Constitutional Convention show taht there was a concern that the Mormon practice of plural marriage could be protected under the state constitution....

Several delegates expressed support for changes in the wording of the Illinois constitution in order to protect the state from what they viewed as extreme forms of worship, including Mormon polygamy. These delegates feared that the more liberal wording of the earlier constitution (in force in Joseph's day) might actually protected practices such as polygamy. One such delegate was Thomas J. Turner...[who] stated:"...Mormonism is a form of religion 'grant it, a false religion' nevertheless, it claims to be the true Christian religion...[d]o we desire that the Mormons shall return to our State, and bring with them polygamy?"[80]:416, 416n45


Response to claim: "Joseph’s desire to keep this part of his life a secret is what ultimately contributed to his death when he ordered the destruction of the printing press"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Joseph’s desire to keep this part of his life a secret is what ultimately contributed to his death when he ordered the destruction of the printing press (Nauvoo Expositor) that dared expose his behavior in June 1844

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors
The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The mistake: Joseph was not keeping that part of his life secret - there were a number of his associates who were not only aware of the practice of plural marriage, but practiced it themselves.

The facts: In the case of the Expositor, it talked of plural marriage in the most inflammatory terms, and Joseph recognized that it would cause major problems for Nauvoo.

Question: Why did the Nauvoo City Council feel it was necessary to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

One member recorded that Joseph told him that the destruction of the press was necessary for the Saints’ safety

It is claimed that Joseph "could not allow the Expositor to publish the secret international negotiations masterminded by Mormonism’s earthly king." [171]

The reality was that the Joseph and the City Council were concerned that the paper would cause turmoil among the Saints.

One member stated,

Brother Joseph called a meeting at his own house and told us that God showed to him in an open vision in daylight [meaning that this was not something he had just conjured up in dreams of the night] that if he did not destroy that printing press that it would cause the blood of the Saints to flow in the streets and by this was that evil destroyed.[172]

Joseph foresaw his own death as a result of the turmoil that was already occurring

Given Joseph’s numerous presentiments of his own death, it may well be that he knowingly chose this course of action to spare the members’ lives at the cost of his own. Said Joseph to Elizabeth Rollins:

I must seal my testimony with my blood.[173]

And later:

Some has supposed that Br Joseph Could not die but this is a mistake it is true their has been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such & such things, but having accomplish those things I have not at present any lease of my life I am as liable to die as other men.[174]


Question: How was the decision reached to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

Destruction of Expositor

8 June 1844
Nauvoo city council meets regarding the Expositor.
10 June 1844
The city council declares the Expositor a public nuisance and threat to the peace. This was not mere exaggeration; there were sixteen episodes of mob violence against controversial newspapers in Illinois from 1832 to 1867, and so the leaders’ fears of civil unrest were likely well-founded. The city council therefore ordered the press and the paper destroyed.[175]
This was done. The decision to suppress the Expositor, while legal for the day, worsened a tense situation (in the years following the Expositor suppression, similar tactics would be used in 1862, 1893, 1918, and 1927).[176]
Historically, presses which violated community ideas of what was proper were a genuine risk to the public peace. Elijah Lovejoy, an anti-slavery editor of The Saint Louis Observer was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837.[177]
Joseph and the city council might well have had memories of what happened in Missouri when some members of the Church became frustrated with the lack of legal redress for their mistreatment by Missouri citizens.
Missouri probably also set the stage for the legal decision to suppress the press. In 1833, the Evening and Morning Star, the LDS paper in Independence, was subject to being "razed to the ground" at the unanimous decision of the mob committee established to drive out the Mormons.[178] The mob's ultimatum later stipulated that the Mormons were not to publish anything before leaving.[179]
The law of the day probably gave Joseph and the council the right to destroy the offending issue; however, since they had also ordered the press and type destroyed, they violated property laws. Joseph later said he would be happy to pay for the damages.[180] Critics are inconsistent when they complain about the Nauvoo city council's decision to suppress the Expositor (an action that was legal) and yet do not also acknowledge that Mormon presses had been destroyed by mobs acting with no legal authority whatever.
Despite the fact that the Expositor's suppression was legal, the destruction of the press appeared high-handed to Church critics, and other newspapers began to call for the Mormons’ expulsion or destruction. Joseph and others were arrested on charges of “riot.”


Question: Did Joseph Smith or his associates attempt to reconcile with William Law before he published the Nauvoo Expositor?

Prior to the publication of the Expositor, Hyrum Smith, Almon W. Babbitt, and Sidney Rigdon attempted to reconcile William Law to the Church

William Law announced he would reconcile only under the condition that Joseph publicly state that the practice of polygamy was "from Hell":

I told him [Sidney] that if they wanted peace they could have it on the following conditions, That Joseph Smith would acknowledge publicly that he had taught and practised the doctrine of plurality of wives, that he brought a revelation supporting the doctrine, and that he should own the whole system (revelation and all) to be from Hell.[181]

The Nauvoo Expositor declared that Joseph was "“blood thirsty and murderous...demon...in human shape”

Shortly afterward, on 7 June 1844, the first (and only) edition of the Nauvoo Expositor was published. It detailed Joseph’s practice of plural marriage, and charged him with various crimes, labeling him a “blood thirsty and murderous...demon...in human shape” and “a syncophant, whose attempt for power find no parallel in history...one of the blackest and basest scoundrels that has appeared upon the stage of human existence since the days of Nero, and Caligula.”[182]


Response to claim: "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith: 11 Polyandrous Marriages"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

A "mormoninfographic" called "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" is used in the Letter to a CES Director to illustrate Joseph Smith's "11 Polyandrous Marriages"

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information
The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This section responds to a graphic illustrating Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages.

A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are no records in existence that indicate that she was sealed to Joseph during his lifetime, only after his death

Lucinda Pendleton was married to Latter-day Saint George W. Harris. There are no records in existence that indicate that she was sealed to Joseph during his lifetime. It is known that Lucinda’s proxy sealing to Joseph Smith was performed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 22, 1846, after Joseph's death. In addition, she was re-sealed to Joseph in the Salt Lake Temple in 1899. Brian Hales notes that, "current evidence indicates that several of the women who participated in proxy sealing to the Prophet in the Nauvoo Temple were not married to him while he was living." [183]


Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs

Question: What did the husband of Zina D. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841

Zina married Henry Jacobs in 1840, and was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity in 1841,

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. eighteen sixty nine before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County personally appeared, Zina Diantha Huntington ^Young^ who was by me Sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath Saith, that on the twenty-Seventh day of October A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Dimick B. Huntington, a High Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the same; regulating marriage; In the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [184]

There are many stories and accusations related to the marriage of Zina and Henry, and her sealing to Joseph. For details regarding each of these allegations, see Brian and Laura Hales, "Zina Diantha Huntington," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site.

See also: Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR Conference, 2006.


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Presendia L. Huntington know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Presendia's husband Norman left the Church, and since she was unable to be sealed for eternity to her earthly husband, she was sealed to Joseph Smith instead

Presendia Huntington was married to Norman Buell when she was sixteen years old. Both Presendia and Norman originally joined the Church, but Norman later left it while Presendia remained a believing member. Since she was unable to be sealed for eternity to her earthly husband, she was sealed to Joseph Smith instead. Presendia's 1881 biography notes her husband's rejection of the Church as the reason she decided to be sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity,

I was maried to Norman Buell Jan 6th 1827. both joined the Church in in [sic] Kirtland Geauga Co Ohio he left the church in Mo in 1839 the Lord gave me strength to stand alone & keep the faith amid heavy persecution in 1841 I entered into the new & everlasting Covenant was sealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet & Seer & to the best of my ability I have honored Plural Marriage never speking one word against the principal. [185]

An affidavit signed by Presendia on May 1, 1869 states:

Be it remembered that on this first day of May A.D. 1869 personally appeared before me Elias Smith Probate Judge for Said County Presenda Lathrop Huntington \Kimball/ who was by me Sworn in due form of law and upon her oath saith, that on the eleventh day of December A.D. 1841, at the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by Dimick B. Huntington, a High-Priest in Said Church, according to the laws of the Same regulating Marriage; in the presence of Fanny Maria Huntington. [186]

A biography of Presendia L. Huntington may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Patty Bartlett know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Patty and her husband David Sessions received their endowment after she had been sealed to Joseph three years earlier

Patty and her husband David Sessions were active members of the Church. They received their endowment in Nauvoo in 1845. Patty had been sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith three years earlier in 1842. After her husband David's death, she was sealed "for time" (re-married to an earthly husband) to John Parry in 1852. Patty's diary states,

Patty Bartlett daughter of Enoch and Anne Bartlett was born February 4 1795 \Bethel Mane/ and was married to David Session June 28th 1812 who was the son of David and Rachel Sessions, he was born April the 4th 1790 Veshire Vermont I was Batpised into the church of Jesus Christ \of later day saints/ July 2 1834 Mr Sessions was Baptised Aug <st> 1735 we received our we received our endowment Dec 16 1845 in Nauvoo. . . .

I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9 1842 in Newel K Whitneys chamber Nauvoo for Eternity and I and if I do not live to attend to it myself when there is a place prepared I want some one to attend to it for me according to order Sylvia \my daughter/ was present when I was sealed to Joseph Smith.I was after Mr. Sessions death sealed to John Parry senior for time on the 27 of March 1852 G[reat] S[alt] L. City. [187]

Nothing is stated in Patty's diary regarding what her husband David thought of her sealing to Joseph

Nothing is stated regarding what her husband David thought of her sealing to Joseph, or whether or not he agreed to it. Brian Hales notes that, "David and Patty Sessions attended the Nauvoo Temple together, receiving their endowments on December 15, 1845, but they were not sealed in marriage." It would seem apparent that David was fully aware of her sealing to Joseph.

A biography of Patty Bartlett may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Sylvia Sessions know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Sylvia was married to Windsor Lyon by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, and was sealed to Joseph Smith at some point after she was married

Sylvia was married to Windsor Lyon by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. She was sealed to Joseph Smith at some point after she was married. Brian Hales notes that , "This marriage triangle is unique among all of the Prophet’s plural marriages because there is strong evidence that Sylvia bore children to both men. She became pregnant by Windsor Lyon in October of 1838, September of 1840, and April of 1842. Then a year later became pregnant with a daughter (named Josephine—born February 8, 1844) that was purportedly fathered by the Prophet." Sylvia's daughter, who had the intriguing name "Josephine," made the following statement:

Just prior to my mothers [Sylvia Sessions Lyon] death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret fro me and from others until no but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon had was out of fellowship with the Church.

Daughter Josephine was proven not to be a daughter of Joseph Smith, Jr. through DNA analysis

For many years, Josephine appeared to be the only viable candidate as a child of Joseph Smiths "polyandrous" sealings. However, DNA analysis ultimately disproved the paternity claim: Josephine was not a descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr.[188]

Sylvia may have considered herself divorced from Windsor after he was excommunicated from the Church

It appears, however, that Sylvia may have considered herself divorced from Windsor after he was excommunicated from the Church and left Nauvoo. Hales points out that "Currently, no documentation of a legal divorce between Windsor and Sylvia after his excommunication has been found. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, religious laws often trumped legal proceedings. Stanley B. Kimball observed: 'Some church leaders at that time considered civil marriage by non-Mormon clergymen to be as unbinding as their baptisms. Some previous marriages . . . were annulled simply by ignoring them.'" [189] The sealing to Joseph occurred after Windor's excommunication. Andrew Jenson, in his historical record, referred to Sylvia as a “formerly the wife of Windsor Lyons.” [190] There is no known evidence that Windsor lived with Sylvia after he returned to Nauvoo, but Sylvia did "rejoin" Windsor after he was rebaptised in 1846. Hales states, "No details are available to clarify what authority was used to reconfirm the marriage relationship between Sylvia and Windsor after their previous marital separation. Most likely the couple consulted with Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball, who authorized their rejoining. Whether a private religious marriage ceremony for time was performed or the couple resumed observing their legal marriage is unknown. Importantly, even with the renewed conjugality between Windsor and Sylvia after Joseph Smith’s death, no evidence has been found to support her involvement in sexual polyandry at any time." [191]

A biography of Sylvia Sessions may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Mary Elizabeth Rollins know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Mary did not proceed with the sealing to Joseph until she had given up attempting to persuade her husband Adam to join the Church

Mary Elizabeth Rollins was married to a non-Mormon, Adam Lightner. Mary did not proceed with the sealing to Joseph until she had given up attempting to persuade her husband Adam to join:

My husband did not belong to the Church. I begged him and pled with him to join but he would not. He said he did not believe in it, though he thought a great deal of Joseph. He sacrificed his property rather than testify against Joseph, Hyrum and George A. Smith. After he said this, I went forward and was sealed to Joseph for eternity. [192]

After being sealed to Joseph, Mary continued to live with her husband Adam until his death in 1885

After being sealed to Joseph, Mary continued to live with her husband Adam until his death in 1885. Although this particular statement, and the evidence that she continued to live with her husband until his death, indicates a sealing for eternity only, on other occasions Mary actually referred to being sealed to Joseph for "time and eternity." Joseph also told her that she was to be sealed to him for eternity, and she initially resisted the idea until she received an angelic visitation and confirmation.

A biography of Mary Elizabeth Rollins may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Sarah Kingsley know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Sarah was married to non-Mormon John Cleveland, but was sealed to Joseph Smith

Sarah was married to non-Mormon John Cleveland. John was not interested in joining the Church, but was friendly to the Saints.

In the days of Joseph. Mother [Sarah M. Kingsley (Howe)] Cleveland by advice, was sealed to the prophet in Nauvoo but lived with her [non-LDS] husband John Cleveland. [193]

Sarah wished to go west with the Saints, but Brigham Young advised her to remain with her husband

When the Saints moved west, Sarah wished to go with them, even to the point of leaving her non-LDS husband. Brigham Young advised her to remain with him:

Brigham Young and council...counseled her to stay with her husband as he was a good man, having shown himself kind ever helping those in need, although for some reason his mind was darkened as to the gospel. She obeyed council and stayed with her husband, and was faithful and true to her relation and died a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. [194]

A biography of Sarah Kingsley may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Ruth Vose Sayers know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Ruth was sealed to Joseph Smith only for eternity, and not for time, with both her husband’s consent and with Emma’s consent

Ruth was sealed to Joseph Smith only for eternity, and not for time, with both her husband’s consent and with Emma’s consent. She “continued to live with Mr. Sayers (remained with her husband) until his death. “[102] Ruth’s husband Edward was not a member of the Church, and was not interested in becoming one. Edward was, however, a good friend of Joseph Smith. Since Edward did not attach “much importance to the theory of a future life,” he “insisted that his wife Ruth should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim …her in this life. She was accordingly [then] sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence…” [102] Brian Hales notes that in 1869, Ruth signed an affidavit that reads:

Be it remembered that on this first day of May, A.D. 1869, personally appeared before me, Elias Smith, Probate Judge for Said County, Ruth Vose Sayers who was by me Sworn in due form of law and upon her oath Saith that on [blank] day of February A.D. 1843 at the City of Nauvoo County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Hyrum Smith, Presiding Patriarch of Said Church, according to the laws of the Same, regulating Marriage; in the presence [blank] [195]

Ruth's husband Edward Sayers did not attach "much importance to the theory of a future life"

Hales also notes the following from the research papers of Andrew Jenson:

\Sister Ruth/ Mrs. Sayers was married in her youth to Mr. Edward Sayers, a thoroughly practical horticulturist and florist, and though he was not a member of the Church, yet he willingly joined his fortune with her and they reached Nauvoo together some time in the year 1841; While there the strongest affection sprang up between the Prophet Joseph and Mr. Sayers. The latter not attaching much importance to \the/ theory of a future life insisted that his wife \Ruth/ should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim [page2—the first 3 lines of which are written over illegible erasures] her in this life. She \was/ accordingly the sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence and thus were became numbered among the Prophets plural wives. She however \though she/ \continued to live with Mr. Sayers / remained with her husband \until his death. [196]

A biography of Ruth Vose may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Elvira Annie Cowles know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Joseph asked Jonathan Holmes to marry Elvira for time, and Joseph was later sealed to her for eternity

A letter by William Wright talks of Joseph asking Jonathan Holmes to marry Elvira. Joseph was later sealed to her for eternity.

I was well acquainted with two of Joseph’s wives, LaVina [Elvira] and Eliza [Snow or Partridge]. I came to Utah in ’69, and rented LaVina Holmes farm. Before Joseph was shot, he asked Jonathan Holmes if he would marry and take care of LaVina, but if LaVina wanted him to take care of her he would take her. He would fill that mission to please his Father in Heaven. [197]

Brian Hales notes that, "It seems to corroborate that Jonathan may have been given a “mission” to marry Elvira and “take care of her” in a legal pretend marriage. After the martyrdom, Jonathan would have been free to take Elivira as his own wife. She did not conceive her first child until seven months after Joseph’s death. The couple went on to have a total of five children together." [198]

A biography of Elvira Annie Cowles may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did Orson Hyde, the husband of Marinda Nancy Johnson, know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph

Marinda Nancy Johnson was married to Orson Hyde. There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph. However, according to Hales, "If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge." Yet he also notes that "John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: 'Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.'" [199]

There are two sealing dates for Joseph to Marinda - one during a period of one to two years after Hyde left on his mission, and one after he had already returned

The popular story among critics is that Joseph sent Orson away on his mission so that he could quickly marry his wife Marinda. However, the first sealing date shows that Joseph was sealed to Marinda for eternity one to two years after Hyde had left on his mission, so there was nothing "quick" about it. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that this was an "eternity only" sealing typical of Joseph's other "polyandrous" marriages involving other men's wives. No children are known to have conceived during this time. However, upon Hyde's return, not only did he father children by Marinda, but he also quickly asked Joseph to seal him in a new polygamous marriage of his own.

Todd Compton: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home”

Fawn Brodie speculated that Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” [200] Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Brian Hales notes the following regarding the timeline,

The timeline shows that Apostle Orson Hyde, Marinda’s legal husband, served a mission to Palestine from the spring of 1840 to December 7, 1842. Weeks after his return, Marinda became pregnant with Orson Washington Hyde (conception approximately February 16, 1843) who was born on November 9, 1843. Several authors alleged Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry with some of his plural wives including Marinda, despite a mountain of contradictory evidences [201] However, no evidence has been found to connect Joseph Smith with this child. Todd Compton observes: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home.” [202] They also allege that a second son, Frank Henry Hyde, was father by Joseph Smith under the assumption that he was born January 23, 1845 (conception approximately May 2, 1844). [203] However, his birth certificate and an obituary in the The Ogden Standard, June 29, 1908, “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” both corroborate a January 23, 1846, birthdate (May 2, 1845, approximate conception). [204][30]

Timeline of the marital status of Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde. From the website Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site

Hales continues,

If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge. While such a sealing would not have affected her civil union with Orson, a late second-hand report from exposé author Ann Eliza Webb Young states:

When Joseph Smith first taught polygamy, and gave the wives as well as the husbands opportunity to make new choice of life-partners, Mrs. Hyde, at that time a young and quite prepossessing woman, became one of the Prophet’s numerous fancies. . . . Hyde was away on a mission at the time, and when he returned, he, in turn, imbibed the teachings of polygamy also, and prepared to extend his kingdom indefinitely. In the mean time it was hinted to him that Smith had had his first wife sealed to himself in his absence, as a wife for eternity. Inconsistent as it may seem, Hyde was in a furious passion.” [205]

However, John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: “Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.” [206] [30]

Hyde requested that Joseph perform his own plural marriage just a few weeks after returning from his mission

Hales concludes,

Whatever the sequence, Orson appealed to Joseph to perform his own plural marriage weeks after returning from his mission stating in 1869: “In the month of February or March, 1843, I was married to Miss Martha R. Browitt, by Joseph Smith, the martyred prophet, and by him she was sealed to me for time and all eternity in Nauvoo, Illinois.” [207]

The details of the relationship between Marinda and the Prophet will probably never be known. If Marinda had chosen Joseph as her eternal husband, she apparently changed her mind because she chose to be sealed to her legal husband Orson Hyde in the Nauvoo temple on January 11, 1846.

However, Marinda Nancy Johnson relocated to Salt Lake City in 1852 and later divorced Orson Hyde. She died in 1886, having kept the faith in the Church established by her eternal husband.[30]

The accounts of the sealing of Marinda to Joseph

Much of what we know about the Hyde sealing is also contaminated by hostile, mutually contradictory accounts that contain some known false information.


Author Date Claim Comments
Sidney Rigdon[208] 1845
  • Orson unaware of marriage
  • Orson refused to live with wife when he found out

Contrary to claim, Orson continued to live with Miranda and father children by her.

William Hall[209] 1852
  • Joseph demanded Miranda and all Orson's money to let him back in the Church
  • "Many jokes were cracked at his [Hyde's] expense."

Very unlikely—no record of others mocking Hyde; Hall is unreliable on other marriages as well. [210] Orson's return to the quorum was in June 1839, [211] putting Hall's account two years too early for marriage. [212]

Ann Eliza Young[213] 1876
  • Orson did not know of marriage
  • Angry when he learned of it
  • Swore would not live with his wife; did so anyway.

Too young to have any first-hand knowledge of Nauvoo, her book's intent was clearly to titillate with stories of polygamous intrigue. Claims that Brigham told Orson that she was only to be his wife for time, and Joseph's for eternity—but this is frankly false, since sealed to Orson in early 1846. [214] She also confuses the temporality, since she describes Hyde "in a furious passion," because "he thought it no harm for him to win the affection of another man's wife… but he did not propose having his rights interfered with even by the holy Prophet whose teachings he so implicitly followed" (326). Yet, Orson did not begin practicing plural marriage until after he knew of Miranda's sealing to Joseph.

John D. Lee[215] 1877
  • "Report said that Hyde's wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state, but I do not assert the fact."
Lee's work was published posthumously and may have been altered by anti-Mormon editor.

A biography of Marinda Nancy Johnson may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


A portion of a critical graphic "The Many Wives of Joseph Smith" from "mormoninfographics.com" with an explanation by FairMormon.


Question: What did the husband of Elizabeth Davis know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

Elizabeth's husband Jabez Dufee was active in the Church, but Elizabeth chose to be sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith

Elizabeth's husband Jabez Dufee was active in the Church. Elizabeth chose to be sealed for eternity to Joseph Smith. Brian Hales notes that, "It appears that the couple experienced some marital turmoil before the sealing or perhaps as a consequence of it. Jabez was endowed on a different day than Elizabeth when the Nauvoo Temple opened in the winter of 1845 and Elizabeth was resealed by proxy to Joseph Smith on January 22, 1846, but Jabez did not participate either as a proxy husband or witness." [216]

A biography of Elizabeth Davis may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site


Response to claim: "Why is there no mention of God commanding Adam or Noah and/or their immediate male children to have many wives?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

If God commands polygamy in situations where a high birth rate is necessary, why is there no mention of God commanding Adam or Noah and/or their immediate male children to have many wives? (April 2013)

--Claim Deleted-- (October 2014)

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin
The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The spin: This claim is absurd, for obvious reasons. The author was correct to delete it in later revisions of his letter.

Question: If polygamy was commanded of God in order to "raise seed," then why were Adam and Noah not commanded to practice polygamy?

We do not suspect that many marriage choices were available to Adam or Noah

Oddly enough, one critic of the Church actually asks the question: "If God commands polygamy in situations where a high birth rate is necessary, why is there no mention of God commanding Adam or Noah and/or their immediate male children to have many wives?"[217].

We do not suspect that many marriage choices were available to Adam (descendants from two individuals) and Noah (descendants from eight individuals).

With regard to their immediate children, we simply have no information to indicate whether or not they were commanded to practice plural marriage.

In any case, LDS doctrine in no way anticipates that plural marriage will be universal, or even common. It is, in fact, forbidden save when God specifically commands it.


Response to claim: "Latter-day 'prophet, seer, and revelator' Lorenzo Snow strongly disagrees with FairMormon"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day “prophet, seer, and revelator” Lorenzo Snow strongly disagrees with FairMormon. Snow states:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320-322

FairMormon Response



Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood
The author has disseminated false information

The falsehood: Snow's testimony in the summary transcript that was created by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was designed to make it appear that polygamy was adultery. This was the position of the Reorganized Church.

The facts: The original transcript, from which the summary was derived, makes no such claim.

Question: What is Lorenzo Snow claimed to have said about plural marriages being adultery prior to 1843?

One critic of the Church attributes the following quote to Lorenzo Snow during the Temple Lot Case:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320-322 [Bold and italics by the author.]

The critic concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.” [218]


Question: Did Lorenzo Snow state that polygamy was actually adultery prior to 1843?

Lorenzo Snow did not state that polygamy was adultery prior to 1843

Brian Hales responds to this assertion:

One example of the weaknesses that are repeated over and over in his essay is illustrated when Runnells allegedly quotes Lorenzo Snow’s 1892 Temple Lot deposition. According to Runnells, Snow gave this testimony:

A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage. Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. – Temple Lot Case, p.320–322 [Bold and italics by Runnells.]

Then Runnells concludes:

According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843 and he should have been cut off from the Church as it was adultery under the laws of the Church and under the laws of the State. Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.”

It is obvious Runnells never viewed the actual 1892 Temple Lot deposition transcripts. Curiously, the last sentence in the paragraph above, the one that he emphasized with bold and italics, is incorrectly cited. Importantly, the words “and under the laws of the state too” are fabrication.[219] They are not in the original transcript; that is, Lorenzo Snow did not say them so far as any record is concerned. Notwithstanding, Runnells confidently asserts: “According to Lorenzo Snow, Joseph had zero business marrying his plural wives before 1843.” If Runnells had actually consulted the depositions, which are available at the Church History Library, he would have learned that later in that same deposition, RLDS attorney Kelley questioned Snow who directly disagreed with Runnells’ conclusion:

Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too. [220]

This sort of problematic research and writing is common throughout the remainder of Runnells’ treatment of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages raising important questions regarding the accuracy and credibility of his conclusions.

Rather than provide a point-by-point rebuttal to Runnells’ claims, it might be most beneficial to refer him and other readers to JosephSmithsPolygamy.org where he can find the latest research dealing with all controversial topics regarding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy including supposed polyandry, young wives, Fanny Alger, sexuality, polygamy denials, Joseph’s interactions with Emma Smith, and other historical and theological considerations. [221]


Question: Are the original Temple Lot Case transcripts available online?

The original 1650-page transcripts were not available online until recently. Only a 507-page abstract was available online prior to this

The original 1650-page Temple Lot Case transcripts were not available anywhere online until recently. They are now available online at the Church History Library at the following link: MS 1160: United States testimony 1892, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

All that was previously available online, which was commonly cited, were abstract summary transcripts (507 pages) which have been heavily edited by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now the Community of Christ). The edited transcripts that were available online were published by the RLDS Church and contain information that is not present in the original transcript. (see The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri [222])

A quote from the 507 page abstract is used by critics of the Church to prove that Lorenzo Snow claimed adultery

Here is the quote used by one critic of the Church, which is taken from the 507-page Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case:

[Question] A man that violated this law in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, until the acceptance of that revelation by the church, violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage.
[Answer by Lorenzo Snow] Yes sir, he would have been cut off from the church, I think I should have been if I had. Before the giving of that revelation in 1843 if a man married more wives than one who were living at the same time, he would have been cut off from the church. It would have been adultery under the laws of the church and under the laws of the state, too. [223]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 320 of the Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case

The source of the edited quote in the original transcript is quite different from that in the abstract, and does not contain the statement about adultery

Here is the source of the heavily edited quote as it exists in the original 1650-page Temple Lot case transcript:

Page 128

321 Q. Could he [Joseph Smith] receive a revelation and act upon it, that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church to govern the church, without a violation of those laws?

A. Yes sir, I see that distinctly and understand it and I want you to understand it too.

323 Q. Could Joseph Smith receive a revelation and act upon it that was contrary in its teachings and provisions to the laws of the church as accepted by the church at that time, without being at the same time in violation of the laws of the church?

A. Why he might do so. Joseph Smith did, but I don’t consider he was a violator of any of the laws of the church, for he was the law of the church. I never knew of the church rejecting a revelation he gave to them. [224]

A scan of the relevant portion of page 128 of the original Temple Lot case transcript

A more complete explanation, with full page scans, may be viewed on Brian Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy.


Question: I've seen Temple Lot court transcripts online. Are these not accurate?

The 507-page Temple Lot court transcript available online are heavily edited abstracts of the original. The original 1650-page transcript is not available online

There is at least one Temple Lot court summary transcript available online which contain the disputed phrase "and under the laws of the state too". This transcript can be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.. This is a 507 page abstract, but it is not the original transcript. The original transcript is 1650 pages long and was not available online until recently.

Brian Hales clarifies:

The Temple Lot legal case transcript covers more than 1,650 pages and is NOT available online....

The originals are housed at the Eighth District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, with a carbon copy at the Community of Christ Archives. The LDS Church History Library offers both microfilm and digital photographs of the microfilm (unrestricted). A 507-page version has been published and distributed by several booksellers including Herald House and Price Publishing Company; however, heavy editing makes this version of little or no use to polygamy researchers. Apparently parts of the original transcript have been digitally transcribed by Richard D. Ouellette.

The statement quoted by [Jeremy] Runnells is from one of the edited versions and I’m not surprised that the RLDS editor added some commentary that has been mistaken as in the original.

Here’s the transcript:

189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage? A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.

190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?

191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.

192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.

193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . . [225]

A scan of this page of the transcript may be viewed on Hales' website Joseph Smith's Polygamy here: Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony.


Notes

  1. "Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage," Improvement Era (November 1946) 721.
  2. Samuel Katich, "A Tale of Two Marriage Systems: Perspectives on Polyandry and Joseph Smith," Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2003.
  3. Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 29. ISBN 0252026810.
  4. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014)
  5. "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (October 2014).
  6. From "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo": Estimates of the number of these sealings range from 12 to 14. (See Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997], 4, 6; Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:253–76, 303–48.) For an early summary of this practice, see John A. Widtsoe, “Evidences and Reconciliations: Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?” Improvement Era 49, no. 11 (Nov. 1946): 766–67.
  7. Brian Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:421–37. Polyandry, the marriage of one woman to more than one man, typically involves shared financial, residential, and sexual resources, and children are often raised communally. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith’s sealings functioned in this way, and much evidence works against that view.
  8. Rex Eugene Cooper, Promises Made to the Fathers: Mormon Covenant Organization (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 138–45; Jonathan A. Stapley, “Adoptive Sealing Ritual in Mormonism,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 3 (Summer 2011): 53–117.
  9. For a review of the evidence, see Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:390–96.
  10. Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 440.
  11. "Nauvoo Journals, December 1841–April 1843," The Joseph Smith Papers
  12. See: Hales, Brian C. "The Joseph Smith-Sylvia Sessions Plural Sealing: Polyandry or Polygyny?" Mormon Historical Studies 9/1 (Spring 2008): 41–57.] DNA research is ongoing but it is rendered more difficult since the Y chromosome evidence of paternal lineage is not present in females.
  13. No Man Knows My History, p. 301, 345, 465.
  14. DNA Tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants, Deseret News Nov. 10, 2007.
  15. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2008, Vol. 28, p. 133. off-site
  16. Ugo A. Perego, Natalie M. Myers, and Scott R. Woodward, “Reconstructing the Y-Chromosome of Joseph Smith Jr.: Genealogical Applications, Journal of Mormon History Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer 2005) 70-88.
  17. Deseret News, 2007.
  18. Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2008, Vol. 28, p134-135. off-site
  19. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
  20. This bit of folklore is explored in Maureen Ursenbach Beecher et al., "Emma and Eliza and the Stairs," Brigham Young University Studies 22 no. 1 (Fall 1982), 86–96.. RLDS author Richard Price also argues that the physical layout of the Mansion House makes the story as reported by Charles C. Rich unlikely, see "Eliza Snow Was Not Pushed Down the Mansion House Stairs," in Richard Price. "Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy: How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes." (n.p.: Price Publishing Company, 2001), chapter 9. Price's dogmatic insistence that Joseph never taught plural marriage, however, cannot be sustained by the evidence.
  21. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd ed. (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 136. See also discussion in Danel Bachman, "Plural Marriage Before the Death of Joseph Smith (Master's Thesis, Purdue University, 1975), 140n173.
  22. Brodie, p. 465.
  23. Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
  24. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  25. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 301, 345, 465
  26. Brian Hales: "See also discussion regarding John Bowes Quoting William Arrowsmith Regarding Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde in Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 1:314–16."
  27. Todd Compton, “Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives and Polygamy: A Critical View,” in Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996), 165.
  28. See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 345.
  29. Brian Hales: "Birth certificate available at http://wiki.hanksplace.net/index.php/Image:FrankHHyde.jpg (accessed August 27, 2009). Thanks to Gregory L. Smith for identifying this. See also “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” The Ogden Standard (June 29, 1908), 5."
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 30.5 30.6 30.7 30.8 Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site
  31. Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife Number 19, or, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford: Dustin, Gilman, and Co., 1876), 325–26.
  32. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  33. Affidavit of Orson Hyde, September 15, 1869, MS 3423, CHL; affidavit was copied into Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 2:45; published in Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 74.
  34. J. GI SON DIVINE [Sidney Rigdon], "To the Sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," Latter Day Saint's Messenger and Advocate (Pittsburgh) 1/10 (15 March 1845): 154–158.
  35. William Hall, Abominations of Mormonism Exposed; Containing Many Facts and Doctrines Concerning That Singular People, During Seven Year's Membership with Them; from 1840 to 1847 (Cincinnati: I. Hart, 1852), 113.
  36. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 239.
  37. See History of the Church, 3:345. Volume 3 link Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:24–25n12. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 1:340 (journal entry dated 25 June 1839). ISBN 0941214133.
  38. See Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238.
  39. Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 324–326.
  40. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 243.: "Marinda was sealed to Orson Hyde, not Smith, for time and eternity on January 11, 1846."
  41. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee; (Written by Himself) Embracing the History of Mormonism ... With an Exposition of the Secret History, Signs, Symbols and Crimes of the Mormon Church. Also the True History of the Horrible Butchery Known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 147.
  42. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 313–314.
  43. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 234.
  44. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238–239.
  45. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1.
  46. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 230–243.
  47. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 240–242.
  48. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy
  49. Todd M. Compton, “Response to Tanners,” post to LDS Bookshelf mailing list (no date), http://www.lds-mormon.com/compton.shtml (accessed 2 December 2008). Compare with Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy, 198–202, 302, 362 and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 14.)
  50. Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 98. See also Stanley B. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball and Family, the Nauvoo Years," Brigham Young University Studies 15/4 (Summer 1975): 465.
  51. "Helen Mar Kimball Whitney 1881 Autobiography," Appendix I in Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, Utah / Salt Lake City, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, distributed by Bookcraft, 1997), 486.
  52. Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, Utah / Salt Lake City, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, distributed by Bookcraft, 1997), 486–487.
  53. Helen Mar Whitney, Scenes and Incidents, 90. (italics added)
  54. Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons (Lynn, MA: n.p., 1848), 19.
  55. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 195. ( Index of claims )
  56. George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), 202. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review))
  57. Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 147.
  58. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2005), 293. (Reviews)
  59. On Helen’s authentic statements, see Helen Mar Whitney, A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, ed. Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1997), ix–xliii.
  60. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  61. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  62. GDS, p. 201-202; citing Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 500.
  63. Helen Mar Kimball, Why We Practice Plural Marriage, 23-24 cited in Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom.
  64. Wikipedia, "Levirate marriage," off-site (Accessed May 18, 2014)
  65. Brian Hales, "A Response to Concerns Regarding Joseph Smith and the Practice of Plural Marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," October 17, 2013.
  66. Augusta Joyce Crocheron (author and complier), Representative Women of Deseret, a book of biographical sketches to accompany the picture bearing the same title (Salt Lake City: J. C. Graham & Co., 1884).
  67. See Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:12–13. Volume 5 link; Richard S. Van Wagoner, "Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18/3 (Fall 1985): 77; Van Wagoner, "Joseph and Marriage," Sunstone 10/9 (January 1986): 32.
  68. Jill C. Mulvay, "The Liberal Shall be Blessed: Sarah M. Kimball," Utah Historical Quarterly 44/3 (Summer 1976): 209; citing (221n11) "Jenson dates Hiram's baptism July 20, 1843. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City, 1901-36), 2:372. At the end of 1844 Hiram received a patriarchal blessing, an ordinance usually reserved for church members. Patriarchal Blessings, vol. 9, December 25, 1844, manuscript, LDS Archives."
  69. Brian C. Hales, "Encouraging Joseph Smith to Practice Plural Marriage – The Accounts of the Angel with a Drawn Sword," Mormon Historical Studies 11/2 (Fall 2010).
  70. Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History, 2:187.
  71. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History 2:190. Originally quoted in "The Prophet's Birthday," Deseret News, January 12, 1881, 2.
  72. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History 2:190. Originally quoted in "Joseph, the Prophet, His Life and Mission as Viewed by Intimate Acquaintances," Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, January 12, 1895, 212.
  73. Gregory L. Smith, "Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," FAIR, 2005. describes these issues in detail.
  74. "Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  75. Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.
  76. That is, the Relief Society document condemning adultery, which Foster had engaged in under the tutelage of John C. Bennett.
  77. Again, Joseph is denying the spiritual wifeism of Bennett, which he calls "wickedness" and was quick to oppose via Church discipline.
  78. Jackson was another witness against Joseph Smith, and would go on to write an anti-Mormon tract: Joseph H. Jackson, The Adventures and Experiences of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo, (Printed for the Publisher: Warsaw, Illinois, 1846).
  79. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:410-412. Volume 6 link
  80. 80.0 80.1 80.2 80.3 80.4 80.5 80.6 80.7 M. Scott Bradshaw, "Defining Adultery under Illinois and Nauvoo Law," in Sustaining the Law: Joseph Smith's Legal Encounters, edited by Gordon A. Madsen, Jeffrey N. Walker, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, 2014), 401–426.
  81. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  82. "I will give you two wives if you will let me choose them," – Emma to Joseph, as per "Incidents of the early life of Emily Dow Partridge," written beginning December 1876, finished 7 January 1877, BYU Special Collections; cited by Andrew F. Ehat, "Joseph Smith's Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question," (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Master's Thesis, 1981), 60.
  83. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 409. ( Index of claims )
  84. Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University), 164–166.
  85. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:xxxiii. Volume 5 link
  86. Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 20:29-30.
  87. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 2, 136.
  88. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 251.
  89. Mary Audentia Smith Anderson (editor), "Memoirs of Joseph Smith III (1832–1914)," The Saints Herald (2 April 1935): 431–434.
  90. Richard L. Bushman, Interview with Millennial Star Blog, 14 November 2005; conveniently reprinted in Richard Lyman Bushman, On the Road With Joseph Smith: An Author's Diary (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, Ltd., 2007), 72.
  91. "Did Joseph Smith Introduce Plural Marriage?," Improvement Era (November 1946)
  92. Doctrine and Covenants, 1835 edition, Section 101.
  93. History of the Church, 2:246–247. Volume 2 link
  94. Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Volume 1: History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 154.
  95. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 173, see pp. 171–1731 for full details.
  96. Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses 20:29.
  97. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 156–158.
  98. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 161–162.
  99. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 166, 168.
  100. Gilbert Scharffs, "Marriage Is Ordained of God", The Truth About "The God Makers" off-site
  101. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director"
  102. 102.0 102.1 102.2 102.3 Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871–1942], LDS Archives.
  103. Ruth Vose, Affidavit, May 1, 1869, Joseph F. Smith, Affidavit Books, 1:9; see also 4:9.
  104. Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871–1942], LDS Archives. Brian Hales notes: “It appears that the documents in these folders were used to compile Jenson’s 1887 Historical Record article on plural marriage. See Joseph F. Smith affidavit books, LDS Archives, 1:9 for date of this sealing “February A.D. 1843.”However the affidavit states that the sealing was performed by Hyrum Smith, which is unlikely because Hyrum did not accept plural marriage until May of that year.” off-site
  105. Daniel H. Wells, Letter to Joseph F. Smith, June 25, 1888. Brian Hales notes, "I am indebted to Joseph Johnstun and Michael Marquardt for bringing this source to my attention." off-site
  106. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, “Remarks” at B.Y.U April 14, 1905, copy of original signed typescript, Vault Mss 363, fd 6, HBLL, BYU, 7.
  107. Presenda Huntington Kimball, “Biographical Sketch,” 1881, MS 742, CHL, first copy page 2 and variant copy page 2. off-site
  108. Joseph F. Smith affidavit books, CHL 1:7. off-site
  109. Holograph letter of John L. Smith attached to a letter of the First Presidency dated March 8, 1895, the letter of Smith being written on Feb 27, 1895, to David H. Cannon; copy in D. Michael Quinn Papers—Addition—Uncat WA MS 244 (Accession:19990209-c), Box 1—Card file—Topic: Polygamy, Joseph Smith’s. off-site
  110. Anon. Biography, CHL. Possibly by August Cleveland Smith quoted in Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 283. off-site
  111. Donna Toland Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846–1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions (Logan: Utah State University, 1997), 276–77. off-site
  112. Brian and Laura Hales, "Elizabeth Davis," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  113. Brian and Laura Hales, "Lucinda Pendleton," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  114. Undated holograph letter of William Wright, stamped as received in the First Presidency Office on June 2, 1931, in Box 65, CR 1/44, Misc. Corresp. Of 1st Pres., at CHL; copy in D. Michael Quinn Papers, Yale University, Special Collections, Uncat WA MS Uncat. WA MS. 98, 881028, bx3, fd 2. off-site
  115. Brian and Laura Hales, "Elvira Annie Cowles," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  116. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  117. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 301, 345, 465
  118. Brian Hales: "See also discussion regarding John Bowes Quoting William Arrowsmith Regarding Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde in Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 1:314–16."
  119. Todd Compton, “Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives and Polygamy: A Critical View,” in Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996), 165.
  120. See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 345.
  121. Brian Hales: "Birth certificate available at http://wiki.hanksplace.net/index.php/Image:FrankHHyde.jpg (accessed August 27, 2009). Thanks to Gregory L. Smith for identifying this. See also “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” The Ogden Standard (June 29, 1908), 5."
  122. Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife Number 19, or, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford: Dustin, Gilman, and Co., 1876), 325–26.
  123. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  124. Affidavit of Orson Hyde, September 15, 1869, MS 3423, CHL; affidavit was copied into Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 2:45; published in Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 74.
  125. J. GI SON DIVINE [Sidney Rigdon], "To the Sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," Latter Day Saint's Messenger and Advocate (Pittsburgh) 1/10 (15 March 1845): 154–158.
  126. William Hall, Abominations of Mormonism Exposed; Containing Many Facts and Doctrines Concerning That Singular People, During Seven Year's Membership with Them; from 1840 to 1847 (Cincinnati: I. Hart, 1852), 113.
  127. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 239.
  128. See History of the Church, 3:345. Volume 3 link Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:24–25n12. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 1:340 (journal entry dated 25 June 1839). ISBN 0941214133.
  129. See Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238.
  130. Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 324–326.
  131. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 243.: "Marinda was sealed to Orson Hyde, not Smith, for time and eternity on January 11, 1846."
  132. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee; (Written by Himself) Embracing the History of Mormonism ... With an Exposition of the Secret History, Signs, Symbols and Crimes of the Mormon Church. Also the True History of the Horrible Butchery Known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 147.
  133. Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 1:5, CHL.
  134. R. Scott Lloyd, ""Joseph Smith apparently was not Josephine Lyon's father, Mormon History Association speaker says," Deseret News (13 June 2016)
  135. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sylvia Sessions," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  136. Andrew Jenson Papers, MS 17956, CHL, box 49, folder 16.
  137. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sylvia Sessions," Note 28 josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  138. Joseph C. Kingsbury, “History of Joseph C. Kingsbury,” (photocopy of manuscript), in Ronald and Ilene Kingsbury Collection, MS 522 Box 3 Folder 2, page 13, Marriott Library. off-site
  139. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sarah Ann Whitney," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  140. Brian and Laura Hales, "Mary Heron," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  141. Dean Zimmerman, I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1976), 38; punctuation and spelling standardized. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site
  142. Levi Ward Hancock, “Autobiography with Additions in 1896 by Mosiah Hancock,” 63, MS 570, LDS Church History Library, punctuation and spelling standardized; cited portion written by Mosiah. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site
  143. Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 323–25, 347–49.
  144. Gary James Bergera, "Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38 no. 3 (Fall 2005), 30n75.
  145. Wilhelm Wyl, [Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal], Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City, Utah: Tribune Printing and Publishing Company, 1886), 57; Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 66–67; discussed in Danel W. Bachman, "A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy before the Death of Joseph Smith" (Purdue University, 1975), 140 and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34–35.
  146. Ann Eliza would have observed none of the Fanny marriage at first hand, since she was not born until 1840. The Webbs’ accounts are perhaps best seen as two versions of the same perspective.
  147. Young, Wife No. 19, 66–67; discussed by Bachman, "Mormon Practice of Polygamy", 83n102; see also Ann Eliza Webb Young to Mary Bond, 24 April 1876 and 4 May 1876, Myron H. Bond collection, P21, f11, RLDS Archives cited by Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 34 and commentary in Todd Compton, "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty-Three Plural Wives," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29/2 (Summer 1996): 30.
  148. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 263–264.
  149. Allen L. Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," in FAIR Conference (Salt Lake City, Utah: FAIR, 1st draft, 2006).
  150. Oa J. Cannon, "History of Henry Bailey Jacobs," (L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University, n.d.), 1; cited by Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," (emphasis added). See also Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 44; Van Wagoner, "Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo," 78; Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 80.
  151. These charges are examined in detail (here).
  152. Cannon, "History of Henry Bailey Jacobs," 5; cited in Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 44.
  153. See here for a more in-depth analysis of attacks on Brigham and Joseph regarding Zina and Henry.
  154. Interview of John Wight [RLDS] with Zina D.H. Young, October 1, 1898, "Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young," Saints’ Herald, 52 (11 January 1905), 29; cited in Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young".
  155. Autobiography of Zina D. Young, no date, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 17, cited by Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young,"; John Wight with Zina D.H. Young, 1 October 1898, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young,” Saints Herald, 52 (11 January 1905): 28.
  156. Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 1:5, CHL.
  157. Brian C. Hales, "Encouraging Joseph Smith to Practice Plural Marriage – The Accounts of the Angel with a Drawn Sword," Mormon Historical Studies 11/2 (Fall 2010).
  158. Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History, 2:187.
  159. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History 2:190. Originally quoted in "The Prophet's Birthday," Deseret News, January 12, 1881, 2.
  160. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy: History 2:190. Originally quoted in "Joseph, the Prophet, His Life and Mission as Viewed by Intimate Acquaintances," Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, January 12, 1895, 212.
  161. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  162. Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1986),48; citing Robinson, Journal, 23–24.
  163. Orson Hyde, "The Marriage Relations," (6 October 1854) Journal of Discourses 2:75-75.
  164. Note that "spiritual wifeism" likely refers to John C. Bennett's pattern of seduction and sexual license, which the Saints were always at pains to deny.
  165. That is, the Relief Society document condemning adultery, which Foster had engaged in under the tutelage of John C. Bennett.
  166. Again, Joseph is denying the spiritual wifeism of Bennett, which he calls "wickedness" and was quick to oppose via Church discipline.
  167. Jackson was another witness against Joseph Smith, and would go on to write an anti-Mormon tract: Joseph H. Jackson, The Adventures and Experiences of Joseph H. Jackson in Nauvoo, (Printed for the Publisher: Warsaw, Illinois, 1846).
  168. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:410-412. Volume 6 link
  169. Bradshaw cites Criminal Code, section 123, Revised Laws of Illinois: "Any man or woman who shall live together in an open state of adultery or fornication, or adultery and fornication, every such man and woman shall be indicted...." (Bradshaw, 407, emphasis added).
  170. "Compare [the strict criteria for statutory adultery] to Illinois divorce law which allowed adultery as a grounds for divorce; however, the cases that involved divorce petitions on this basis do not seemed [sic] to have followed any clear standard defining what constituted adultery, focusing rather on proving individual acts of adultery. Divorce law did not require that the conduct be "open" or "notorious." - Bradshaw, "Defining Adultery," 407–408n21.
  171. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 16. ( Index of claims )
  172. Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 114; citing Diary of George Laub, BYU Special Collections, 18.
  173. Journal of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, BYU Special Collections, 7; cited by Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 103.
  174. Joseph Smith, Discourse of 9 April 1842, Wilford Woodruff Diary; cited in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 112.
  175. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor,” Utah Law Review 9 (1965):874.  (Key source)
  176. Oaks, 897–898.
  177. "Today in History, November 7," United States Library of Congress. off-site
  178. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1922), 134. See also Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:390–395. Volume 1 link; Anonymous, "A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri," Times and Seasons 1 no. 2 (December 1839), 18. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  179. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:338–339. Volume 1 link
  180. James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd edition revised and enlarged, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992[1976]), 208. ISBN 087579565X. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  181. William Law, "Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844," 13 May 1844; cited by Cook, "Nauvoo Dissenter"
  182. Francis M. Higbee, “Citizens of Hancock County,” Nauvoo Expositor (7 June 1844).
  183. Brian and Laura Hales, "Lucinda Pendleton," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  184. Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 1:5, CHL.
  185. Presenda Huntington Kimball, “Biographical Sketch,” 1881, MS 742, CHL, first copy page 2 and variant copy page 2. off-site
  186. Joseph F. Smith affidavit books, CHL 1:7. off-site
  187. Donna Toland Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife: The 1846–1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions (Logan: Utah State University, 1997), 276–77. off-site
  188. R. Scott Lloyd, ""Joseph Smith apparently was not Josephine Lyon's father, Mormon History Association speaker says," Deseret News (13 June 2016)
  189. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sylvia Sessions," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  190. Andrew Jenson Papers, MS 17956, CHL, box 49, folder 16.
  191. Brian and Laura Hales, "Sylvia Sessions," Note 28 josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  192. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, “Remarks” at B.Y.U April 14, 1905, copy of original signed typescript, Vault Mss 363, fd 6, HBLL, BYU, 7.
  193. Holograph letter of John L. Smith attached to a letter of the First Presidency dated March 8, 1895, the letter of Smith being written on Feb 27, 1895, to David H. Cannon; copy in D. Michael Quinn Papers—Addition—Uncat WA MS 244 (Accession:19990209-c), Box 1—Card file—Topic: Polygamy, Joseph Smith’s. off-site
  194. Anon. Biography, CHL. Possibly by August Cleveland Smith quoted in Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 283. off-site
  195. Ruth Vose, Affidavit, May 1, 1869, Joseph F. Smith, Affidavit Books, 1:9; see also 4:9.
  196. Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871–1942], LDS Archives. Brian Hales notes: “It appears that the documents in these folders were used to compile Jenson’s 1887 Historical Record article on plural marriage. See Joseph F. Smith affidavit books, LDS Archives, 1:9 for date of this sealing “February A.D. 1843.”However the affidavit states that the sealing was performed by Hyrum Smith, which is unlikely because Hyrum did not accept plural marriage until May of that year.” off-site
  197. Undated holograph letter of William Wright, stamped as received in the First Presidency Office on June 2, 1931, in Box 65, CR 1/44, Misc. Corresp. Of 1st Pres., at CHL; copy in D. Michael Quinn Papers, Yale University, Special Collections, Uncat WA MS Uncat. WA MS. 98, 881028, bx3, fd 2. off-site
  198. Brian and Laura Hales, "Elvira Annie Cowles," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  199. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  200. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 301, 345, 465
  201. Brian Hales: "See also discussion regarding John Bowes Quoting William Arrowsmith Regarding Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde in Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 1:314–16."
  202. Todd Compton, “Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives and Polygamy: A Critical View,” in Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996), 165.
  203. See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 345.
  204. Brian Hales: "Birth certificate available at http://wiki.hanksplace.net/index.php/Image:FrankHHyde.jpg (accessed August 27, 2009). Thanks to Gregory L. Smith for identifying this. See also “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” The Ogden Standard (June 29, 1908), 5."
  205. Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife Number 19, or, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford: Dustin, Gilman, and Co., 1876), 325–26.
  206. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  207. Affidavit of Orson Hyde, September 15, 1869, MS 3423, CHL; affidavit was copied into Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 2:45; published in Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 74.
  208. J. GI SON DIVINE [Sidney Rigdon], "To the Sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," Latter Day Saint's Messenger and Advocate (Pittsburgh) 1/10 (15 March 1845): 154–158.
  209. William Hall, Abominations of Mormonism Exposed; Containing Many Facts and Doctrines Concerning That Singular People, During Seven Year's Membership with Them; from 1840 to 1847 (Cincinnati: I. Hart, 1852), 113.
  210. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 239.
  211. See History of the Church, 3:345. Volume 3 link Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:24–25n12. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 1:340 (journal entry dated 25 June 1839). ISBN 0941214133.
  212. See Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238.
  213. Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 324–326.
  214. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 243.: "Marinda was sealed to Orson Hyde, not Smith, for time and eternity on January 11, 1846."
  215. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee; (Written by Himself) Embracing the History of Mormonism ... With an Exposition of the Secret History, Signs, Symbols and Crimes of the Mormon Church. Also the True History of the Horrible Butchery Known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 147.
  216. Brian and Laura Hales, "Elizabeth Davis," josephsmithspolygamy.org off-site
  217. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (Original version). The author removed this claim in a 19 May 2014 update of the Letter.
  218. Jeremy Runnells, "Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director" (2014)
  219. Footnote 4 in Hales' response: Questions and answers to lines 189–193, Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 121, read:
    189 Q. And the man that violated this law in this book [Doctrine and Covenants 1835 edition] until the acceptance of that revelation by the church violated the law of the church if he practiced plural marriage?
    A. Yes Sir. He was cut off from the church. I think I should have been if I had.
    190 Q. What would be the condition of the man that would marry more than one person prior to the giving of that revelation in 1843? A. What would be the condition of a man that would do that?
    191 Q. Yes sir? A. Why he would be cut off from the Church.
    192 Q. Would not it have been adultery under those revelations I have just read? A. Yes sir. I expect it would be.
    193 Q. You are one of the apostles in the church at the present time are you not . . .
  220. Footnote 5 in Hales' response: Lorenzo Snow, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 128, question 323.
  221. Brian Hales, "Jeremy Runnells—the New Expert on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy?", Rational Faiths (blog), posted 15 July 2014 off-site
  222. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Complainant, Vs. the Church of Christ at Independence, Missouri: Richard Hill, Trustee; Richard Hill, Mrs. E. Hill, C.A. Hall [and Others] ... as Members of and Doing Business Under the Name of the Church of Christ, at Independence, Missouri, Respondents. In Equity. Complainant's Abstract of Pleading and Evidence off-site
  223. A digital abstract of the Temple Lot court proceedings containing this quote may be viewed here: Abstract of Evidence Temple Lot Case U.S.C.C.
  224. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
  225. Brian Hales, "Lorenzo Snow’s Temple Lot Testimony," Joseph Smith's Polygamy (website) off-site
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