Wives of Joseph Smith

Over the course of 2015 I will be blogging about the various women believed to have covenanted with Joseph Smith. For each I will provide biographical background, along with what, if anything, is known of her life after Joseph’s death.

In evaluating allegations that women were “married” to Joseph Smith, it is important to establish what constitutes sufficient evidence that a woman should be listed as a “wife.” I have come up with the following “tells” that can give us a high-level view of the women whose names are associated with Mormon founder, Joseph Smith. The first four attributes speak to whether or not a marriage occurred. The second four attributes speak to what may have motivated the marriage and what the marriage meant to the woman after Joseph’s death.

Bride   Did reliable contemporaries consider the woman a wife?
ManWoman  Are details of the alleged marriage known?
intercourse   Was the marriage said to be sexually consummated?
baby    Is it said Joseph Smith had a child with the wife?
marriage   Was the woman sealed to Joseph after his death?
temple   Did the woman go to Utah after Joseph’s death?
vision   Was the marriage a subject of prophecy?
dynasty Did the marriage “bind” Joseph to important people?

In some cases, the woman died before she could have achieved the milestones of being sealed to Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo temple or traveling to Deseret with the Saints.

RIP The woman died before she could have achieved this milestone

Because we now have DNA evidence, I will also include the status of DNA results for assertions that specific children born to a woman were fathered by Joseph Smith (which necessarily implies that she had sex with Joseph). It’s obviously impossible to prove that Joseph didn’t have sex with any particular individual, just as it’s impossible to prove that any one of us wasn’t having sex with any number of our acquaintances or colleagues. But these DNA results are still informative.

intercourse baby Sex is asserted. Pregnancy is asserted but the alleged child died either prior to birth or the claim has not yet been evaluated using DNA analysis.
intercourse_green baby_green The woman’s children are proven to be descended from Joseph Smith
intercourse_yellow baby_yellow DNA cannot prove or disprove that this woman’s offspring were fathered by Joseph Smith
intercourse_red baby_red Where testable, this woman’s offspring were fathered by someone other than Joseph Smith

Similarly, the fact of a sealing ordinance between a woman and Joseph Smith comes in different levels of assuredness.

marriage_green The woman participated in the temple ceremony sealing her to Joseph Smith
marriage_yellow A temple ceremony was performed prior to 1900 on the woman’s behalf sealing her to Joseph Smith due to belief that a sealing had occurred
marriage It is asserted the woman participated in a ceremony sealing her to Joseph Smith after 1845, but no record exists

Below is a table listing the women identified as wives of Joseph Smith for whom I feel there is reliable contemporary information. I will be filling in the icons for each woman as I cover her story.

Name, Age (1844),
Date Married
Bride ManWoman intercourse baby marriage temple vision dynasty
Emma Hale, 39,
January 18, 1827
Bride ManWoman intercourse_green baby_green   –   – vision dynasty
Fanny Alger, 27,
Apr 1836
Bride intercourse_yellow baby_yellow marriage_yellow dynasty
Louisa Beaman, 29,
Apr 5, 1841
Bride ManWoman intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Zina Huntington, 23,
Oct 27, 1841
Bride ManWoman intercourse_red baby_red marriage_green temple vision dynasty
Presendia Huntington, 34,
Dec 11, 1841
Bride ManWoman intercourse_red baby_red marriage_green temple dynasty
Agnes Coolbrith, 36,
Jan 6, 1842
Bride ManWoman
Mary Elizabeth Rollins, 25,
Feb 1842
Bride ManWoman intercourse baby marriage_green temple vision dynasty
Sylvia Sessions, 25,
Feb 1842
Bride intercourse_yellow baby_yellow marriage_green temple
Patty Bartlett, 49,
Mar 9, 1842
Bride ManWoman temple
Eliza Roxcy Snow, 40,
Jun 29, 1842
Bride ManWoman intercourse baby marriage_green temple
Sarah Ann Whitney, 19,
Jul 27, 1842
Bride ManWoman intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Martha McBride, 39,
Aug, 1842
Bride marriage_green temple
Emily Dow Partridge, 20,
Mar 4, 1843
Bride ManWoman intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Eliza Maria Partridge, 23,
Mar 8, 1843
Bride ManWoman intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Flora Ann Woodworth,
1843
Bride marriage_yellow dynasty
Almera Johnson, 31
Apr 1843
Bride intercourse marriage_yellow temple dynasty
Lucy Walker, 18
May 1, 1843
Bride ManWoman intercourse baby marriage_green temple vision
Maria Lawrence, 20
May 1843
Bride intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Sarah Lawrence, 18
May 1843
Bride marriage_green temple dynasty
Helen Mar Kimball, 15
May 1843
Bride marriage_green temple dynasty
Marinda Nancy Johnson, 29
May 1843
Bride intercourse_red baby_red marriage_green temple vision dynasty
Elvira Cowles, 30
Jun 1, 1843
Bride ManWoman marriage_green temple
Rhoda Richards, 59
Jun 12, 1843
Bride ManWoman marriage_green temple dynasty
Desdemona Fullmer, 34
Jul 1843
Bride ManWoman marriage_green temple dynasty
Mary Ann Frost, 35
July 1843
intercourse_red baby_red marriage_green temple
Olive Grey Frost, 29
summer 1843
Bride intercourse baby marriage_green RIP dynasty
Melissa Lott, 20
Sep 20, 1843
Bride ManWoman intercourse marriage_green temple dynasty
Fanny Young, 57
Nov 2, 1843
Bride ManWoman marriage_yellow temple dynasty
Ruth Vose, 34
Feb 1844
Bride marriage_yellow temple

There are additional women who are alleged to have been married to Joseph Smith, for which there are no marriage details. I have indicated for each the year I suspect the women were sealed to Joseph.

Hannah Ann Dubois
before 1841
Bride intercourse baby temple
Mary Heron
1841
intercourse temple
Delcena Johnson
1842
Bride intercourse
temple
Elizabeth Davis
1842
Bride marriage_green
Hannah Ells
1842
Bride marriage_yellow RIP
Lucinda Pendleton
1842
Bride marriage_green
Nancy Maria Winchester
1842
Bride marriage_green temple
Sarah Kingsley
1842
Bride marriage_green
Phebe Palmer [Graves]
1842
Bride temple
Sarah Rapson [Poulterer]
1842
Bride marriage_yellow temple
Lydia Kenyon [Carter]
1842
Bride marriage temple
Sarah Scott [Mulholland]
1842
Bride temple
Mary Houston
1842
Bride marriage_green
Esther Dutcher
1843
Bride marriage temple
Phebe Watrous [Woodworth]
1843
Bride marriage_green temple
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

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