Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Children of polygamous marriages
Children of Joseph Smith by polygamous marriages
Important introductory material on plural marriage available here
Joseph Smith era:
- It is claimed that Joseph Smith fathered children with some of his plural wives, and that he covered up the evidence of pregnancies.
- It is claimed that Joseph Smith had intimate relations with other men’s wives to whom he had been sealed, and that children resulted from these unions.
To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here
Critics have long had difficulty reconciling their concept of Joseph as a promiscuous womanizer with the fact that the only recorded children of the prophet are those that he had with Emma. Science is now shedding new light on this issue as DNA research has so far eliminated a number of possibilities that had long been rumored to be descendants of Joseph Smith.
Is it possible that Joseph Smith fathered children with some of his plural wives, and that he covered up the evidence of pregnancies? Did Joseph Smith have intimate relations with other men’s wives to whom he had been sealed, and did any children result from these unions? DNA testing has so far proven these allegations to be false. (Click here for full article)
- Did Mrs. Hyde not know whether Orson or Joseph fathered her child?—
Brief Summary: There is no evidence to support this claim. Anti-Mormon sources sometimes confuse Hyde with Prescindia Buell. (Click here for full article)
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- Did Sarah Pratt (Mrs. Orson Pratt) not know whether Orson or Joseph fathered her child?—
Brief Summary: There is no evidence to support this claim. Anti-Mormon sources sometimes confuse Pratt with Prescindia Buell. (Click here for full article)
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- Did Prescindia Lathrop Huntington Buell not know whether Orson or Joseph fathered her child?—
Brief Summary: DNA testing rules out Joseph as the father of one child, and it is historically implausible that they were even together at the right time to conceive a child. A second child has been posited, but only on evidence from a very dubious source. (Click here for full article)
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- Presendia Buell—
Brief Summary: Did Joseph Smith father children by polyandrous plural wife Prescindia Buell? (Click here for full article)
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DETAILED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
There is no question that Joseph Smith was capable of producing children by Emma. It is logical to assume that if Joseph had intimate relations with many other women, that there would be evidence of pregnancy and children. The focus of the critics is primarily on Joseph’s sealings to women who were married to other husbands, since having a child by any of the previously single women to whom he was married would fall within the expected scope of plural marriage.
The available evidence, however, does not support the claim that Joseph had intimate relations with 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.
Brodie does indeed identify some specific individuals whom she claims are likely to have been the progeny of Joseph Smith. These individuals are examined, along with a comparison of Brodie’s claims against modern evidence.
|Mother||Brodie’s claim (‘’No Man Knows My History’’, p. 301, 345, 465)||Modern evidence|
|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. "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" 
|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.|
|”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. "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." 
|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.|
|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.|
|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.
|”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. 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."|
|Zina was “about seven months pregnant with Jacobs' child at the time of her marriage to the prophet.” (Brodie, p. 465) 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.
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. [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.
For more detail regarding the investigation into possible children from Joseph's polygamous marriages, please refer to the book chapter on this subject.
- [note] DNA Tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants, Deseret News Nov. 10, 2007.
- [note] Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," JJHWA, 133.
- [note] 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.
- [note] Deseret News, 2007.
- [note] Ugo A. Perego, Jayne E. Ekins, and Scott R. Woodward, "Resolving the Paternities of Oliver N. Buell and Mosiah L. Hancock through DNA," JJHWA, 134-135.
- [note] Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.
- [note] 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.
- [note] 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.
- [note] Perego, Myers and Woodward, 2005.