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In 1998 Jared Diamond won the Pulitzer Prize for his non-fiction book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Diamond argued that Eurasian civilizations survived and conquered due to environmental factors. Diamond’s text emphasized the role of real physical conditions, and how important it is to consider these realities when interpreting history and constructing hypotheses.

Though Joseph Smith lived a mere two hundred years ago, the modern student needs to be reminded of the differences between Joseph’s time and our day. Weaponry was primitive. Medicine was primitive. Sexual innovations had emerged in the name of religion. However there were many beliefs that persuaded men and women to be circumspect even within marriage. Hypotheses about what happened in Nauvoo during the 1840s must take these realities into consideration.


On June 27, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith died while in custody at Carthage jail, each shot by several balls.

Hyrum was killed first, shot in the face. But the fatal shot was likely the ball that entered his back from the east and passed through his entire body. The force of the ball was such that it shattered his pocket watch when it exited his flesh.

Less than a minute later, Joseph Smith was shot while poised in the second-story window of the jailhouse sitting room. Two balls hit him in the back, shot from the west-facing doorway inside the jailhouse. One ball hit Joseph’s shoulder and another hit him in the chest. The coroner found that it was the chest wound that had caused Joseph’s death.

The facts regarding the deaths of the Smith brothers become striking when one understands the limited range and accuracy of guns in 1844. Most guns used by armed forces in 1844 were smooth bore muskets. The musket’s smooth bore made the gun easy to load and shoot. [1] But such musket shots were relatively ineffective by modern standards.

Rifled guns had been invented by Germans in the late 1400s. [2] The twisting grooves in the barrel of the musket made the ball spin. The spinning gave gyroscopic stability to the ball, eliminated bouncing within the barrel, and prevented veering caused by the Magnus effect. Loading the ball with a patch of natural fabric ensured the ball took the spin. Thus more of the energy from the ignited gunpowder was imparted to the ball. A rifle could kill at twice the range of a musket.

But accuracy and ability to kill at range came at a price. Rifled muskets took more time to load due to the tight fit of the patched ball. The rifling grooves became fouled with unexploded gunpowder. For these reasons, George Washington argued that rifles were militarily inferior to smooth bore muskets. In 1844 there were many more muskets in circulation than rifles. For example, in the year ending June 1844, the United States disbursed 5,750 muskets and only 680 rifles. [3]

Shortly after the shooting, John Taylor calculated the distance from which the shot must have been fired to hit Hyrum on the far side of a second-story room. [4] John determined that someone at least 100 yards to the east had fired the shot that pierced Hyrum’s torso. On that basis, Taylor decided the ball that hit Hyrum must have been shot by a member of the Carthage Greys, stationed some distance to the east of the jail.

Meanwhile, John C. Elliott claimed to have killed both Smith brothers with a borrowed Neimeyer rifle, reportedly a .49 caliber private weapon that likely had a hair trigger. [5] John C. Elliott was reportedly an undercover U.S. Marshall at the time [6] and would go on to become a noted slave chaser prior to his death in the Civil War. John C. Elliott was celebrated by his peers as the man who killed the Smith brothers.

The coroner who examined the four wounds on Joseph Smith’s body found that the fatal ball was the one that had pierced his right breast, shot from the east, outside the jail. [7] The most noticeable wound on Hyrum was the wound to his face, but it is likely the body shot from the east that caused his actual death. If the fatal wounds were inflicted from the east by the same gunman, they must have been consecutive shots.

Small arms trials conducted by the U.S. Army in 1860 demonstrated that only rifles braced on a rest could consistently hit the center of the target from 100 yards. [8] This use of an unusually accurate weapon braced for enhanced stability would eventually give rise to the military specialty of sniper. Appendix B contains charts showing representative targets from the 1860 Small Arms Trials.

Confusing matters, William Daniels had been watching across the road from Carthage jail. Daniels suggested that a firing squad of four men shot at Joseph after he fell from the jailhouse window. [9] However it seems unlikely that a firing squad shooting at a man propped against a wall could have inflicted two wounds in that man’s back. It seems more likely that the marksman shooting from the east was merely gathered with others who wanted to claim they had fired the fatal shot. A gathering of men, examining their handiwork and demonstrating their techniques could have appeared to a distant observer to be a firing squad.
The constraints of a prior time inform our understanding of that time. The killing shots from the east were almost certainly from a rifle, shot by a person using a rest. Death was thus delivered with chilling pre-meditation. The report that four men gathered around the body combined with later certainty that Elliott had inflicted the fatal shot evokes a scene of men jovially evaluating the evidence and then congratulating the winner.
The gun John C. Elliot had used on June 27, 1844, was cherished as “the rifle that killed Joe Smith” until at least the 1890s. [10]


There are many theories about sexual activity in Nauvoo in the 1840s. For example, someone e-mailed me regarding a 19th-century woman who was reportedly raped and is believed by some to have never had children. My correspondent postulated the woman had realized she was infected with a venereal disease, then selflessly decided to avoid sexual relations for the rest of her life, to spare a future husband any risk of infection.

The problem with this theory is that it presumes a modern understanding of disease and a modern ability to diagnose disease and its consequences. The concept of bacteria was unknown in 1844 and would not be known until Lister’s experiments with penicillium glaucum in 1871. Even then, it would take well over a decade before doctors accepted Lister’s theories regarding bacteria.

The term infection was used in 1844 to refer to illness caused by bad air. It was not understood how illness affected the air. But serious concern regarding infection was associated with superstition. This is demonstrated in Jane Austen’s book Sense and Sensibility, in the scene where Marianne Dashwood becomes ill. When the doctor mentions infection, the reasonable characters dismiss the possibility of risk to the infant in the home. These reasonable characters were the doctor, Eleanor Dashwood, Colonel Brandon, and Mister Palmer. It is only the ridiculous characters who are concerned (Mrs. Jennings and her daughter, Charlotte Palmer).

It was believed placing aromatic herbs near the nose could prevent illness. Children would be sent out with pungent bags of asafetida around their necks to ward off colds and influenza. These “asfeddi” or “acifidity” bags were being recommended as late as 1918 to combat the Spanish Influenza. However the National Institutes of Health webpage on asafetida dismisses the medicinal benefit of wearing the pungent spice, stating “Whatever effectiveness it had was probably due to the antisocial properties of the amulet rather than any medicinal virtue.” [11]

Florence Nightingale, the famed nurse of the Crimean War during the 1850s, rejected germ theory. Nightingale did not believe that disease could be spread by physical contact, referred to as contagion. [12] Instead she advocated patients be kept warm and clean in well-ventilated facilities.

Hypotheses about the 1840s must account for both the reality of bacterial infection and the public’s ignorance regarding bacteria.

For example, since few children were produced by known covenant relationships, it is sometimes asserted that the unusually low number of children associated with the many presumed liaisons was due to surgical removal of the unborn infants.

In the 1880s, long after Sarah Bates [Pratt] had given up any pretense of believing in Mormonism, she gave an interview to Wilhelm Wyl [13] for his 1886 expose of Mormonism, Mormon Portraits. Sarah claimed to have seen Dr. Bennett with a long metal implement used to perform abortions, explaining he had just performed such an operation on one of Joseph’s wives. By implication, other pregnancies were also surgically terminated, explaining the lack of offspring from the presumed liaisons.

However doctors in the 1840s would not have sterilized their instruments. Surgical termination of pregnancies should have resulted in statistically significant rates of maternal death.

Widespread non-exclusive sexuality should also have resulted in evidence of venereal disease, even if the mechanisms of venereal infection would not have been understood at the time.

Ironically, beliefs in the 1840s regarding the causes of illness would have discouraged un-necessary intimacy within marriage. Cholera in particular was believed to be associated with intemperate sexuality, including unnecessary sex in marriage. [14]

Cholera first appeared in India in 1817. By 1832 cholera epidemics broke out in New York and London. The linkage between cholera and the environment would not be discovered until 1849, when Dr. John Snow was able to use statistics to construct a theory linking the spread of cholera to contaminated water. The existence of the micro-organisms causing cholera would not be confirmed until bacteriologist Robert Koch observed them in an advanced microscope in 1883. [15]

Lacking a medical context for the scourge of cholera, leaders in both London and New York “attributed the disease to poor morality, because outbreaks clustered within the poverty stricken sectors of the cities. Specifically, Irish immigrants were regarded as second class… their vice was considered a contributing factor to their high mortality rates. Americans saw neither poverty nor wealth as accidental conditions. The affluent classes viewed success as testimony of their virtuous habits and poverty as a product of vice, idleness, intemperance, and immorality.” [16]

A survey of medical professionals in 1833 found that only one physician of more than 100 surveyed thought cholera was a contagious disease. Most believed the disease was caused by promiscuity and excessive sexuality within legitimate marriages. If a respectable individual contracted the disease, gossip confirmed that he harbored a clandestine vice. Fear of cholera persuaded many to embrace formal religion and refrain from excess sexuality. [17]


With the advent of DNA analysis, we can now evaluate the biological parentage of the few children historically believed to be engendered by Joseph Smith with the women with whom he entered into covenant. Joseph Smith could not have been the biological father of any of the children whose claim has been tested. [18]

Yet casual scholars of Joseph’s life persist in trying to maintain that Joseph was manipulative and libidinous by putting forward seemingly plausible explanations for Joseph’s alleged sexual activity and the lack of children. Such modern scholars live in a world that elevates sexual satisfaction to the status of an inalienable right, where people regularly tinker with fertility. But Joseph lived in a completely different world. Thus we need to review the sexual realities, mores, and folkways of the 19th century.

Birth Control. Moderns typically achieve desired intervals between children by using birth control. But in the 1800s birth control was considered to be criminal. In 1832 atheist physician Charles Knowlton published The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People. Knowlton’s little book described what was then known about the process of conception. He gave suggestions on treating infertility, overcoming impotence, and preventing conception. Knowlton was prosecuted and fined for the initial publication. A second printing earned Knowlton three months imprisonment at hard labor. Publishers who subsequently attempted to publish the book were convicted of obscenity for publishing instructions on contraception.

In 1877 activists Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant were convicted for attempting to publish Knowlton’s book, but their conviction was overturned on a technicality. The publicity of the Bradlaugh/Besant case transformed Knowlton’s little sex manual into a best-seller. Britains strove to eliminate the poverty attributed to ‘excess births’ and avoid the Malthusian catastrophe many believed would result from overpopulation.

However the American frontier of the early 1800s was not particularly concerned about overpopulation. The average citizen would have been horrified at the thought of promoting sex for purposes other than conception.

Procreative Sex. Considering the belief that sexual excess contributed to the cholera epidemic of 1832, it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that many married couples in 1840s Nauvoo limited sexual activity to the minimum required to produce children. The legacy of such restraint or prudery was still manifest in Mormon circles over a century later. In some Mormon circles, the cultural habit of restricting sexual contact to the production of children was still in force well into the 1980s. [19]

Another tell of this married restraint can be seen in the term Irish twin, referring to a child born within a year of a preceding sibling. It was considered only the intemperate Irish would be so unwise as to engage in married sex when a mother was newly delivered of a child. In an age where birth control was not considered moral, the only sure way for a husband to protect the health of his wife and her nursing infant was to avoid procreative intercourse until pregnancy would not create a health burden.

Joseph Smith and Emma Hale appear to have refrained from sexual contact until the prior child was at least a year old, limiting their conjugal activities to key dates. [20] While it is impossible to prove sexual restraint, an analysis of the pregnancies of Joseph’s wife, Emma Hale, demonstrates that in only one case did Emma became pregnant sooner than two years after her prior conception. In addition, most of her children, including her firstborn, were apparently conceived in September. September was the time of year she and Joseph retrieved the golden plates in 1827, the anniversary of Joseph’s vision of the Angel Moroni. Two were conceived around Valentine’s Day, within two weeks of Emma’s wedding anniversary. This pattern may not have been noted previously because Emma’s twins would naturally have been born less than 40 weeks after conception. The conception of Emma’s boy who was stillborn in February 1842 may have been as late as September.

Infertility. As none of the few children born to women known to have covenanted with Joseph Smith can be confidently attributed to Joseph, some suggest that infertility may have been the cause. [21]

Yet Joseph Smith engendered children with Emma Hale on a regular basis throughout their marriage. Emma first conceived within a year of the date Joseph and Emma married. She was pregnant with their final child when Joseph was killed.

Similarly many of the women with whom Joseph Smith covenanted during his lifetime went on to bear children. They usually conceived within weeks of re-marrying after Joseph’s death. In the case of Louisa Beaman, the first woman Joseph Smith covenanted with in Nauvoo, she remained childless during the period of Joseph’s life. After marrying Brigham Young in 1846, Louisa gave birth to five children in a period of five years before her death of cancer in 1850.

It has been argued that roughly 20% of women who were infertile are able to become normally fertile after treatment. But as only 6% of women are found to be infertile, normal fertility after a period of infertility would only occur in 1% of all women. Moreover, the fertility treatments associated with “fixing” infertility were not available in the 1840s. While it is possible something went temporarily wrong in an individual case, there are dozens of instances where the women who covenanted with Joseph conceived only after Joseph’s death. Theories as to what was happening must take into account this large and fertile data set.

Infertility is not sufficient to explain why so few children were born to plural wives prior to Joseph’s death (with apparently none engendered by Joseph with the women with whom he had entered into covenant). Meanwhile, sexual abstinence in the service of religion was a commitment other respected Christians were making.

Shakers and Celibacy. The religious sect most associated with celibacy was founded by English-born Ann Lee. Born in 1736, Ann Lee taught her followers that it was possible to attain perfect holiness. One aspect of gaining this holiness involved giving up sexual relations.

Ann was forced to marry against her wishes. Her four children all died in infancy, informing her radical rejection of sexuality and marriage. In 1774, Ann Lee and some followers emigrated from England to Albany County, New York, and formed the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. They were also referred to as the Shaking Quakers or Shakers because their worship services involved dance and charismatic shaking. The community grew from converts and from taking in children who had been abandoned by others. However the Shakers’ celibacy has led to near extinction of practicing Shakers. [22]

In 1831 a Shaker from the Cleveland area, Leman Copley, became a Mormon. Copley sought to bring Shaker beliefs into the Mormon faith. These beliefs included the idea that Ann Lee was the incarnation of Christ’s Second Coming, that it was wrong to eat meat, and that it was wrong to have sex or enter into marriage. D&C 49 specifically refuses these Shaker doctrines for the LDS faith. The revelation was sent to the Shaker group in Cleveland, but the message was rejected. [23]

Since 1831, Mormon doctrine has clearly been built around the idea that families are ordained of God and that sexuality within marriage is righteous. Yet the example of the Shakers demonstrates that sexuality could be deferred for extensive periods of time or even denied entirely in the service of God.

There are those, however, who point to the aberrant sexual practices of other Christian sects as the source of Joseph Smith’s supposed activities.

Spiritual Wives. Jacob Cochran, like Ann Lee, formed a denomination that worshipped using dancing and charismatic shaking. Cochran’s initial settlement was located in Saco, Maine, and his denomination was called The Society of Free Brethren and Sisters. Like Ann Lee, Cochran taught that marriage was not valid. Cochran taught that believers should hold everything in common. However instead of teaching celibacy, Cochran allegedly taught that intercourse could occur between “spiritual” husbands and wives, pseudo-marriage arrangements that were temporary. Care for children resulting from these short-duration “spiritual marriages” would theoretically be provided by the entire community.

Rival preacher, Ephraim Stinchfield, published a pamphlet in April 1819 exposing the sexual habits of the Cochranites. Stinchfield wrote:

“each brother and sister in this fraternity, has a spiritual husband, wife, mate, or yoke fellow, such as they choose, or their leaders choose for them. These spiritual mates, dissolve, or disannul, all former marriage connections; and many of them bed and board together, to the exclusion of all former vows.” [24]

Cochran was soon arrested for lewdness. After his release, he relocated his community to Grove township, in Allegany, New York.

Various high profile Mormons such as Warren Cowdery came from the areas near the Cochranite settlements. Austin Cowles was a former neighbor of the Cochranites who would aggressively reject Joseph’s teachings regarding plural marriage.

The term “spiritual wifery” would be used by most in Nauvoo to describe sexual intercourse that was not part of a marriage. [25] Secondary documents describing the marriage situation in Nauvoo attempt to simplify the confusing terms by referring to everything as “polygamy.” Yet we see time and again that spiritual wifery was rejected by the same people who had embraced Joseph’s teachings regarding Celestial marriage. We never see Joseph refer to his teachings regarding Celestial marriage as spiritual wifery. Even though Joseph’s own brother advocated spiritual wifery, Joseph’s most trusted intimates, including the women with whom he covenanted, rejected spiritual wifery. An example of this is Zina Diantha Huntington’s strong negative reaction when William Smith preached in 1845 regarding spiritual wifery. [26]

Complex Marriage and Social Intercourse. Another relatively well known group sometimes cited as Joseph Smith’s inspiration was the Oneida community formed by John Noyes. Noyes claimed “his new relationship to God canceled out his obligation to obey traditional moral standards or the normal laws of society.” [27]

John Humphrey Noyes was born in 1811. In the early 1830s he attended Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1834, Noyes declared himself perfect and free from sin. This outraged the Divinity School. Noyes’s license to preach was revoked. Undeterred, Noyes returned to his native Vermont and established a religious community committed to his unorthodox views. Regarding sex, Noyes would teach that sexual intercourse could be separated into two components: the social and the procreative. By 1844 the community became a formal organization where the pursuit of perfection was facilitated by male continence (sex without ejaculation) and complex marriage, where persons were permitted to engage in “social” intercourse with individuals to whom they were not married.

Noyes felt it was a positive social act for everyone to participate in intercourse starting at puberty, which Noyes considered began at age 14. Young men were initially to have intercourse with older women past the age of bearing, to avoid “sexual starvation” at a time when the sexual appetite is at its peak. Only men like himself, who had perfected the skill of engaging in intercourse without ejaculating, were permitted to have intercourse with nubile teens and women who were not married.

Noyes fled the United States in 1879 when he was told he was going to be arrested for statutory rape. Two months later, Noyes directed his followers to abandon complex marriage and revert to traditional marriage practices.

Noyes is sufficiently late that it is not clear that his sexual experiments would necessarily have informed the origins of Mormon polygamy. However the key technique Noyes used to achieve social intercourse without risking pregnancy was a variation of onanism, the practice of having intercourse without allowing the man to ejaculate during penetration. Onan and sufficient detail regarding what he did are discussed in Genesis 38:8-10. On the other hand, the Bible record of onanism claims that Onan was killed for this behavior. Thus it seems a stretch to presume that a people who embraced the Bible would embrace onanism at that time, unless it was specifically documented as a practiced behavior.

Onanism was explicitly rejected by Mormon leaders as part of the 1885 excommunication of Albert Carrington. Carrington thought sex was not adultery unless the man ejaculated during penetration. On that basis, he had been “friendly” with young ladies who were not his wives. The LDS Church still allowed polygamy in 1885. Yet Carrington’s onanism was considered adultery, fornication, and “lewd and lascivious conduct.” [28]

Illicit Intercourse. There is documentation confirming that many individuals in Nauvoo were engaging in promiscuous sex in 1841-1842. Though rarely mentioned in discussions of Mormon polygamy, this epidemic of illicit intercourse must be considered to fully understand why Joseph established so many covenants between himself and his female followers and their families.

Treatment of Hysteria. Given the discussion of the sexual prudery of the 1800s, it may seem incomprehensible that individuals in 1840s Nauvoo could embrace promiscuous sex to any significant degree. However a treatment for hysteria used since ancient times could have been the precursor to Nauvoo promiscuity.

As seen in the writings of Hippocrates (before 370 BC), medical literature had promulgated the idea that women were prone to a variety of disorders caused by the uterus, hystera in Greek. The uterus would supposedly wander about the body like a living creature, causing disease, blocked passages, and obstructed breathing.

The wandering of the uterus could supposedly be cured by causing it to become sufficiently lubricated. This occurred as a result of sex or pregnancy. Cappadocian physician Aretaeus, writing in the 1st century BCE, described the uterus or womb as “closely resembling an animal… It delights also in fragrant smells, and advances towards them.” Aretaeus’s views would become more influential in Medieval and Renaissance medicine regarding “hysteria” than the more biologically correct gynecological writings of Galen of Pergamon and Soranus of Ephesus. The idea of the wandering womb was still in vogue when Sigmund Freud described the wandering mind. [29]

By the 1800s, the recommended remedy for female hysteria was to massage the genitalia to produce a uterine paroxysm. Such a “paroxysm” was believed to cause the wandering uterus to become lubricated and to reseat itself in the proper position. The medical literature of the day did not refer to this as orgasm.

It was believed a woman with an attentive husband would become regulated in the normal course of marital relations, as had been described in the Hippocratic corpus. However even a married woman might become hysterical in high stress situations. Treatment was administered manually by practitioners of either sex. This was considered an honorable task. [30]

In the latter half of the 1800s, a new device unimaginatively referred to as a vibrator was developed to assist healers. The vibrator helped relieve the repetitive stress a doctor incurred by treating hysteria manually. These new devices also allowed women to treat their own hysteria without having to resort to medical professionals. Vibrators were widely advertised in respectable periodicals of the day for medical use.

It was not until the advent of film that this method of treating hysteria was questioned. When the process of treating hysteria was shown on film in the 1910s, it was deemed to be offensive, obviously more of a sexual act than a medical act. This is reflected in the precipitous drop of medical papers describing hysteria and treatment of hysteria after 1900. [31] Not only was the traditional treatment for hysteria now considered immoral, doctors began to be more exact about female ailments, rather than attributing every possible problem to hysteria.

In the early 1800s, when Mormonism was forming, it would have been perfectly respectable for a doctor to treat his female patients for hysteria. This becomes important as we consider reports of early interactions between Dr. Bennett and Mormon women. It is possible that Dr. Bennett’s early interactions with women were legitimate. It is conceivable he convinced honorable men that treating women in need for “hysteria” was a legitimate Christian duty.

Dr. Bennett’s medical experience would later give him the confidence to persuade appalling numbers of people that they could indulge in sexual activities outside of marriage. Dr. Bennett promised that it was acceptable, that it was safe, and that there would be minimal risk of pregnancy.

Guns, Germs, and Sex – Notes.

Joseph Smith’s death was not the result of impulsive anti-Mormon mob action, but was apparently the result of a concerted conspiracy that included a pre-meditated killing by a highly-skilled marksman using state of the art weaponry.

Sexual mores and folkways of the 1840s were very different from modern practices and beliefs. Most people limited sexuality to intentional procreation, as it was widely believed cholera was caused by moral depravity, including non-procreative sexuality within marriage.

Moderns presume rampant sexual excess under the leadership of Joseph Smith failed to produce a commensurate number of children because of birth control, infertility, and abortion. However birth control was considered obscene and criminal. Frontier pioneers, specifically Joseph Smith and many of the women with whom he covenanted, were not afflicted with infertility. Surgical abortion should have produced a statistically noticeable number of deaths because people in the 1840s would not have taken any of the sanitary precautions required to avoid infection. No such pattern of suspicious deaths exists among those known to be involved.

Joseph Smith and the male and female leaders who succeeded him specifically rejected the celibacy of the Shakers, the spiritual wifery of Jacob Cochran, and the male continence or onanism taught by John Humphrey Noyes.

Yet time-honored medical procedures for treating hysteria may have paved the way for gross sexual misbehavior in Nauvoo during the early 1840s.

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[1] It takes about 20 seconds to muzzle-load a smooth-bore musket. The ease of loading and shooting is in comparison to the time required to load and shoot early rifles, prior to the creation of the minié ball after 1848.

[2] As bow wood became more dear, it appears gun makers attempted to make muskets more accurate by imparting spin to the balls, as spinning arrows were known to fly more true.

[3] Johnstun, Joseph, “Weapons Related to the Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2015, p. 18.

[4] I have verified the 100 yard estimate using the dimensions of the upper story room and the minor amount of drop a rifled ball would experience.

[5] Johnstun, Joseph, “Weapons Related to the Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2, Fall/Winter 2015.

[6] Wicks, R. S., & Foister, F. R. (2005). Junius and Joseph: Presidential politics and the assassination of the first Mormon prophet. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, pp. 258-260. Elliott is reported to have arrived at Warsaw, Illinois in 1843 as an undercover U.S. Marshall from Ohio, posing as a school teacher.

[7] William Elliott indictment, October 1844, LDS Archives. Jonas Hobart 1845 trial testimony (Sharp, Trial, 2). Cited in Junius and Joseph, p. 258.

[8] See Appendix B.

[9] Douglas O. Linder, The Carthage Conspiracy Trial: An Account, 2010. Online 23 Mar 2016 at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/carthage/carthageaccount.html.

[10] “John C. Elliott,” Hamilton (OH) Daily Republican, August 29, 1892. Cited by Joseph Johnstun, “Weapons Related to the Murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, Fall/Winter 2015, Vol. 35, No. 2, p. 29.

[11] Poonam Mahendra and Shradha Bisht. Ferula asafoetida: Traditional uses and pharmacological activity. Online 23 Mar 2016 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459456/.

[12] Charles E. Rosenberg, “Florence Nightingale on contagion: The hospital as a moral universe,” Explaining Epidemics and other studies in the history of medicine,” Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 92. “The idea that disease could be induced by a specific contagion was anathema to Nightingale. It seemed to contradict her belief that filth, disorder, and contaminated atmosphere were responsible for hospital fevers and infections. To assume the reality of contagion was, as she saw it, was to deny the possibility of improving hospital conditions and perhaps even to question the need for the hospital’s existence… Contagion seemed morally random and thus a denial of the traditional assumption that both health and disease arose from particular states of moral and social order.”

[13] Wilhelm Wyl was the pen name of Wilhelm Ritter von Wymetal. Wyl, Wilhelm, Mormon Portraits, pp. 61-62.

[14] DiBacco, Thomas V., “The Ravages of Cholera”, The Washington Post, 11 Sep 1990, online 19 Sep 2016 at https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/1990/09 /11/the-ravages-of-cholera/c819a8bf-faba-4989-b7ad-974e4a22b747/.

[15] Harning, Lisa N., Comparing and Contrasting Social, Political, and Medical Reactions to 19th Century Cholera Epidemics in London and New York City (2015). University of New Hampshire Honors Theses. Paper 229, p. 3. Online 23 Mar 2016 at http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1232&context=honors.

[16] Ibid., p. 4.

[17] DiBacco, “The Ravages of Cholera”, The Washington Post, 11 Sep 1990.

[18] Perego, Ugo, “Joseph Smith and DNA,” The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume I, pp. 233-256. Also see Appendix C.

[19] A special adults-only session of Stake Conference was held in the DC suburbs where I lived in the 1970s. The sermon focused on encouraging couples to express their love physically to one another also for the purpose of strengthening the relationship, not only to produce children. In the 1980s, the periodical Exponent II (By Mormon Women, For Mormon Women, About Mormon Women) discussed that sexuality between married individuals could extend beyond mere procreation. See Bonnie Shaw, “Mormon Sexuality: An Interview with Mary Beth Raynes,” Exponent II Vol. 9, Issue 1 (Fall 1982): 3-4.

[20] Emma Hale’s reproductive history is well documented. For my analysis, see Stout, Meg, “Joseph’s Wives: Emma Hale,” millennialstar.org, April 22, 2015, online 25 Nov 2015 at http://www.millennialstar.org/josephs-wives-emma-hale/.

[21] The infertility hypothesis is defended by those reporting that 20% of women who were considered infertile become normally fertile after treatment. However as only 6% of women are considered formally infertile, this temporary infertility would only apply to 1% of all women. Further, modern fertility treatments associated with the reported 20% who achieve renewed fertility were not available to women in the 1800s.

[22] From visit to Watervliet Shaker Historic District in Colonie, New York, a National Park Service site, see also www.nps.gov/nr/travel/shaker/wat.htm.

[23] D&C 49: 15-16 specifically refutes the idea that it is acceptable to forbid to marry, indicating that marriage is lawful “that the earth might answer the end of its creation.”

[24] Ephraim Stinchfield wrote his observations of the Cochranite Delusion in 1819. Cochran would spend four years in prison for what the state deemed gross lewdness.

[25] The main exception to this pattern is Emily Partridge. In later writings, Emily equates spiritual wifery and plural marriage, suggesting she did not know there was a difference.

[26] In William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet, p. 297, citing Beecher, All Things Move in Order in the City, p. 318.

[27] This oft-quoted Noyes assertion is pulled from the same source as statements that “mankind was now living in a new age,” “he did not sin,” and his choices “came from a perfect heart.” See www.gutenberg.us/articles/john_humphrey_noyes. It appears these would have come from a Noyes writing circa 1834, when he embraced Perfectionism.

[28] Bergera, Gary James, “Transgressions in the Lattery-day Saint Community: The Cases of Albert Carrington, Richard R. Lyman, and Joseph F. Smith – Part 1: Albert Carrington,” Journal of Mormon History, Volume 37, Issue 3, Summer 2011, pp. 119-161.

[29] Gilman, Sander L., Hysteria Beyond Freud, University of California Press, 1993, p. 118.

[30] Maines, Rachel P, The Technology of Orgasm: “Hysteria”, the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

[31] Micale, Mark S., On the “Disappearance” of Hysteria: A Study in the Clinical Deconstruction of a Diagnosis, Department of History, Yale University, pp. 496-526. See chart showing number of French psychiatric theses on hysteria, which reached a high of 111 in the 1890s, when Freud was writing about hypnosis to cure hysteria, dropping to under 20 in the 1910s and less than 10 in the 1920s.