Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Plural wives/Fanny Alger

Fanny Alger

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Fanny Alger

What do we know about Joseph Smith's first plural wife, Fanny Alger, whom he came to know in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant of sorts to Emma (such work was common for young women at the time). There are no first-hand accounts of their relationship (from Joseph or Fanny), nor are there second-hand accounts (from Emma or Fanny's family). All that we do have is third hand accounts, most of them recorded many years after the events.

Unfortunately, this lack of reliable and extensive historical detail leaves much room for critics to claim that Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny and then later invented plural marriage as way to justify his actions. The problem is we don't know the details of the relationship or exactly of what it consisted, and so are left to assume that Joseph acted honorably (as believers) or dishonorably (as critics).

There is some historical evidence that Joseph Smith knew as early as 1831 that plural marriage would be restored, so it is perfectly legitimate to argue that Joseph's relationship with Fanny Alger was such a case. Mosiah Hancock (a Mormon) reported a wedding ceremony; and 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.

Fanny Alger was Joseph Smith's first plural wife

Summary: What do we know about Joseph Smith's marriage to Fanny Alger?

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Claimed miscarriage of child by Joseph

Summary: Two women are claimed to have had miscarriages of a child by Joseph Smith. There are serious problems with accepting either account as probable.

Fanny Alger

—Brian C. Hales' site (Click here for full article)

See also Brian Hales' discussion: An Overview of Joseph’s Plural Marriage to Fanny Alger
Researching the relationship between Joseph Smith and Fanny is difficult because of limitations in available documentation. Only nineteen manuscripts have been identified in the historical record discussing the occurrence either firsthand or secondhand. Unfortunately they contain contradictory and ambiguous statements. (Link)
Was Fanny Alger Joseph Smith’s Only Plural Wife in Kirtland?
After evaluating all available evidence, it appears that Joseph Smith had a relationship with a single woman (Fanny Alger) in Kirtland in the mid-1830s. (Link)
Were There Other Polygamous Marriages Prior to Nauvoo?
While several authors affirm that the Prophet was involved with other women during the 1836–1841 period, a review of the documentation raises multiple weighty concerns, suggesting that such allegations are not reliable. (Link)
The Joseph Smith–Fanny Alger Relationship­: Plural Marriage or Adultery?: FAQ