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In D&C 132, The Lord told Emma:

And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God. [1]

The Lord then went on to say:

Let no one, therefore, set on my servant Joseph; for I will justify him; for he shall do the sacrifice which I require at his hands for his transgressions, saith the Lord your God…

And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

…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. [2]

Who were these virgins, virtuous and pure?

Nine of the women Joseph covenanted with during his lifetime would marry an apostle within a year after Joseph’s death. These were Emily and Eliza Partridge, Sarah and Maria Lawrence, Lucy Walker, Olive Grey Frost, Sarah Whitney, Eliza Snow, and Nancy Winchester. [3], [4]

These women may have been among the ten virtuous and pure Joseph was given by the revelation. But there are several additional women who appear to fit this description, women with whom Emma expressly allowed Joseph to covenant.

Below is a partial list of those who were single and apparently virgins when they covenanted with Joseph. The names of those who remarried an apostle within a year of Joseph’s death are highlighted:

Louisa Beaman (26)

born Feb 7, 1815

sealed Apr 5, 1841

Eliza Partridge (22)

born Apr 20, 1821

sealed Mar 4, May 11 ‘43

Emily Partridge (19)

born Feb 28, 1824

sealed Mar 4, May 11 ‘43

Malissa Lott (19)

born Jan 9, 1824

sealed Sep 20, 1843

Sarah Lawrence (17)

born May 13, 1826

sealed May 1843?

Maria Lawrence (19)

born Dec 18, 1823

sealed May 1843?

Hannah Ells (~30)

born 1813 (England)

sealed 1843?

Lucy Walker (17)

born Apr 30, 1826

sealed May 1, 1843

Flora Woodworth (16)

born Nov 14, 1826

sealed 1843

Olive Grey Frost (~27)

born Jul 24, 1816

sealed 1843

Sarah Whitney (17)

born Mar 22, 1825

sealed Jul 27, 1842

Helen Mar Kimball (14)

born Aug 22, 1828

sealed May 1843

Rhoda Richards (58)

born Aug 8, 1784

sealed Jun 12, 1843

Desdemona Fullmer (31)

born Oct 6, 1809

sealed Apr 1841

Almera Johnson (30)

born Oct 12, 1812

sealed Apr 1843

It is not clear if the following three women were virgins when they were sealed to Joseph Smith.

Eliza Snow


born Jan 21, 1804

sealed June 29, 1842

Elvira Annie Cowles (29)

born Nov 23, 1813

sealed Jun 1, 1843

Nancy Winchester (14?)

born Aug 10, 1828

sealing undated

Many of these women are under-documented. Several died before the major efforts attempting to document the nature of Nauvoo plural marriage. These were Joseph F. Smith’s collection of affidavits circa 1869, Andrew Jensen’s parallel research effort stretching into the 1880s, and the Temple Lot trial testimonies of the 1890s. Todd Compton did his best to explore the life of each of the women who covenanted with Joseph in his book, In Sacred Loneliness.

It is interesting that the revelation mentions “those who are not pure, and have said they were pure,” saying these would be destroyed. Illicit sex had permeated Nauvoo society the previous year. Francis Higbee was one involved in illicit intercourse who was alleged to have suffered from venereal disease. Emma and Joseph might not have believed in contagion, but an omniscient God may well have been concerned. Ensuring the purity of the women Emma was commanded to accept as Joseph’s wives was potentially a matter of life and death, though Emma and Joseph were likely only concerned about spiritual corruption.

As most of these women eventually married a high Church leader, it may be that the apostles initially selected those nine in greatest need, with the intention of reaching out to Emma Hale [Smith]. There is no reason to suspect any of these women were not considered virtuous and pure.

The Hagars

We know of five women who Emma had embraced, only to evict them from her hearth. Of these, Eliza Snow was invited to return in 1844.

The first of these was Fanny Alger sometime in 1836. Many of Fanny’s friends and family considered her relationship with Joseph to be a marriage. Joseph himself tried to thread the discord caused by Oliver Cowdery’s belief that the matter was a mere dalliance by responding that intimacies Joseph engaged in the context of a marriage should hypothetically be permitted.

Fanny ended up leaving the Smith household after Emma reportedly found Fanny alone with Joseph in the barn. The only source for what they were doing in the barn is rumor and Emma’s anger. But as we will see, Emma’s anger could flare for reasons other than sexuality. There is scant reason to believe Fanny actually had a child by Joseph. [5]

According to the revelation on plural marriage as it was eventually recorded, the children of a woman who has been sealed in the New and Everlasting Covenant are born into that covenant. Fanny, Joseph, and/or Emma may have determined that Fanny need not remain in the Smith household for the marriage to serve God.

Any assertions about Fanny and Emma and Joseph are tentative at best. But the pattern set with Fanny becomes important because of how it manifests for the women Emma casts out in 1843.

Eliza and Emily Partridge were the two women Emma specifically selected to covenant with Joseph as a symbol of Emma’s acceptance of the New and Everlasting Covenant. We have evidence of the Partridge girls forwarding the plural marriage agenda, serving as witnesses for plural sealings and trying to get the daughter of Vinson Knight to accept an interview with Joseph. [6] However Eliza and Emily married Joseph believing Joseph was lying to Emma. Perhaps they thought this meant Emma could be safely disregarded.

Emily documents that Emma would not permit Joseph to be alone with the Partridges shortly after the ceremony where Emma gave the Partridge women to Joseph. This is ironic since Emily said she spent the better part of the prior year avoiding being alone with Joseph. Emma reportedly told the Partridges to marry other men, as Fanny had done.

In August 1843, Emma demanded that Joseph send the Partridges away from Nauvoo. Joseph did not send them away from Nauvoo, but he did send them away from the Smith household. There is no indication from Emily or Eliza that Joseph continued any sort of physical relationship with them after this departure from the Smith household.

Flora Woodworth also covenanted with Joseph. As a token of the relationship, Joseph gave Flora a gold watch. When Emma learned of the valuable gift, she demanded Flora return the watch. This conflict may have had more to do with the distribution of wealth associated with Joseph’s responsibilities towards the women with whom he had covenanted, rather than possible sexual activity between Joseph and Flora. Flora almost immediately married Carlos Gove, a member of the Nauvoo Legion but not affiliated with the Mormon Church. Flora’s flight from Joseph’s side to marry a non-Mormon is strikingly similar to Fanny Alger’s departure from the Smith household. Given the report that Emma tried to get the Partridge girls to marry non-Mormons, Flora’s marriage to a non-Mormon may have been suggested by Emma.

Eliza Snow would also leave Nauvoo in the fall of 1843. On August 21, 1843, Emma discovered two letters from Eliza in Joseph’s clothes. Something about the letters caused Emma to become “vexed and angry.” Eliza Snow would move away from Nauvoo for a period of time, but returned to Nauvoo on April 14, 1844. [7] This would be shortly after Joseph had learned that hundreds of men had sworn an oath to kill him. It may be there was no longer a need to avoid the appearance of a relationship, as the worst had already occurred.

Jealousy or Fear?

It is presumed that Emma evicted the Partridges and Eliza out of jealousy. This fits nicely with the prevalent hypothesis that Emma did not know what was going on. In this view, Joseph was bravely or cravenly going behind Emma’s back to acquire and bed plural wives. In this view, the Partridges and Eliza just happened to be ones Emma discovered.

But Emma had known explicitly about Joseph’s covenants with the Partridges. If the reported staircase incident occurred, Emma also knew about Eliza and Joseph. We have reason to know Emma was aware of many other women who had covenanted with Joseph.

Fear may have been the reason for the departure of the Partridges, Flora, and Eliza Snow from the Smith household. According to Orange Wight’s account late in life, Wight had been “fully initiated” into the illicit sexual activities taught by Bennett and the Higbees at some point during the winter of 1841/42, when he was a teenager.

By 1843 Orange was back in town, concerned with securing a wife for himself before they were all snapped up. In this vein he courted Flora Woodworth. When Flora’s mother revealed Flora was not available, Orange replied that he had known or suspected that the Partridges and Eliza Snow were Joseph’s wives, but he had not known about Flora.

In the summer of 1843 the four women Orange Wight referred to as Joseph’s wives would leave the Smith circle: Eliza Snow, Flora Woodworth, Emily Partridge, and Eliza Partridge. It could be that their presence proximate to Joseph, in light of Orange Wight’s comment, was too great a risk. Orange Wight’s manner of describing his knowledge seemed innocuous to him, and has seemed unremarkable to prior researchers. But Orange did not realize he was part of the Striker community, and prior researchers have largely ignored the illicit intercourse heresy when interpreting his account.

In the wake of the Orange Wight incident, Joseph’s journal for October 5, 1843 states, “Joseph forbids [teaching plurality of wives], and the practice thereof—No man shall have but one wife.” [8] Some have read this as a global rejection of plural marriage, hoping to prove that Joseph never taught a plurality of wives. However the data is overwhelming that Joseph did teach Celestial marriage and a plurality of wives. It appears the October 1843 journal entry reflected a tactical retreat from plural marriage in light of some perceived threat, likely due in part to Orange Wight’s comments.

Two weeks later, once the Partridges, Flora, and Eliza Snow had departed. William Clayton would note that Emma was now “quite friendly and kind.”

Clayton’s plural wife, Margaret Moon, was five months pregnant in mid-October. He was one of only two or three [9] men “practicing” conjugal plural marriage. Thus it would seem that he would have been under censure. Yet Joseph passes on Emma’s advice “that I should keep M[argaret] at home and it was also his council. Says he [would advise me to] just keep her at home and brook it and if they raise trouble about it and bring you before me I will give you an awful scourging and probably cut you off from the church and then I will baptize you and set you ahead as good as ever.” [10]

Multiplying Talents: Women of Covenant and Female Power

Most who learn of Joseph’s many covenants with other women see only an opportunity for Joseph to enjoy lots of sex. They do not know the history of Mormon women in the 1800s and the power these women would come to wield.

Three women who had covenanted with Joseph would preside over Relief Society from its formation through 1901: Emma Hale [Smith], Eliza Snow [Smith Young] and Zina Diantha Huntington [Jacobs Smith Young]. At the time Relief Society was a separate entity that reported directly to the Prophet. The children’s ministry (Primary) and the ministry for female youth (then the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association) were administered by the Relief Society. Leaders of the Relief Society collaborated with leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in the national fight for female rights.

In 1842 Joseph confirmed that it was right for women to perform blessings of healing, a practice Brigham Young also upheld. The wives of Joseph Smith performed blessings and spoke in tongues, meeting together regularly amongst themselves, particularly on the anniversaries of Joseph’s birth and death.

With the deaths of Joseph’s wives, there was no longer a living testimony of the power Joseph himself had granted to women. A vast congregation of women remembered such gifts. But this coincided with a time when large cultural changes were taking place as a result of the end of plural marriage. Having ended plural marriage, the Church focused on priesthood power as the marquee rationale for why the Church was the sole organization authorized to effect the salvation of all mankind. Priesthood authority increasingly became seen as a thing vested in men, rather than the power of God available to both men and women. [11]

One form of blessing uniquely performed by women was washing and anointing expectant mothers, a ceremonial blessing in some ways similar to ordinances performed by Levitical priests in the temple built by Moses. [12] This one form of blessing apparently could not be turned over to men who held the Melchizedek priesthood. [13] The practice of washing and anointing expectant mothers continued amongst those women aware of the practice until the end of World War II.

At the start of World War II, the Relief Society President was Amy Brown [Lyman]. In late 1943, President Lyman’s husband was discovered committing adultery and was excommunicated. President Lyman requested that she be released from service. She was replaced by Belle Smith [Spafford].

Soon after taking charge of Relief Society, President Spafford inquired about the practice of washing and anointing expectant mothers. Joseph Fielding Smith wrote President Spafford and agreed the practice was permitted. However, he reaffirmed the preference that the sick request blessings from priesthood brethren.

Belle Smith [Spafford] had been a mature teenager during the social transformation that occurred in conjunction with World War I. As a young woman, Belle had never wanted to be a part of Relief Society. She thought the group was old and outdated, a collection of fusty quilting circles. [14] Ending the practice of females performing the washing and anointing blessing was one of many modernizations President Spafford implemented during her decades as President of the Relief Society.

By ending the practice of washing and anointing pregnant women, President Spafford terminated the last vestige of female-administered blessings. It was an era where confidence in modern medicine had largely undercut the belief that a ceremonial blessing could materially change the fate of mother and child.

President Spafford presided over a new age when Church organizations were being brought together. Women in the Church were being asked to contribute to the overall mission of the Church, rather than focused solely on initiatives of the Relief Society. But this involved loss of autonomy, as Relief Society and other organizations subordinated themselves to central leadership.

Sexuality in Joseph’s Marriages?

For those who have studied the history, the clear fruit of Joseph’s plural marriages was the establishment of a cadre of women of power. These women nurtured the rest of the Church, particularly the women. Joseph’s wives established patterns of service and female community that still resonate today.

DNA research suggests Joseph did not produce children with any of the dozens of women he covenanted with other than Emma Hale [Smith]. Emma tried very hard to convince people that plural wives were not supposed to have children.

Emma told a pregnant Lucy Meserve (secretly a plural wife of George A. Smith) that plural wives “were only sealed for eternity, they were not to live with [their husbands] and have children…” When Lucy said she did not know what Emma was talking about, Emma replied, “You do know. It’s sticking out too plain.” It appears this conversation must have occurred just before Lucy left Nauvoo on February 9, 1846, [15] as Lucy likely conceived her first child in November or December 1845.

Upset by the discussion with Emma, Lucy confided in her husband, George A. Smith. George comforted Lucy, telling of a time he had come upon Joseph washing his hands, likely no earlier than February 1842. Apparently to explain why he had blood on his hands, Joseph told his cousin “one of his wives had just been confined, and Emma was midwife and he was assisting her.” [16]

Lucy took comfort in George Albert Smith’s story. The clear implication was that Joseph had engendered a child with one of the women with whom he had covenanted. The sting of Emma’s criticism was softened by believing Emma had knowingly assisted in the delivery of Joseph’s unidentified child.

Though it is possible Emma was helping deliver a child who has not been documented, the list of Joseph’s wives believed to have given birth after covenanting with Joseph is concise and includes only one otherwise unmarried woman. In several cases the mother lived far from Nauvoo, making it unlikely that George Albert Smith could have casually happened upon Joseph immediately after assisting Emma in delivering his child by another woman.

Possible “Plural Wife” Whose Birth Was Assisted By

Emma and Joseph Smith, as Reported by George Albert Smith

Mother Child Discussion

(unlikely cases shaded grey)

Presendia Huntington John Hiram
Buell (7/13/43) X
John conceived and born 60 miles from Nauvoo. Unlikely Joseph was involved at conception or birth.

Legal husband was not Mormon.

Zina Huntington Zebulon Williams Jacobs (1/2/42) Child conceived before reported October 1841 covenant between Zina and Joseph. Zebulon proven to not be Joseph’s child by genetic testing. Reported scenario unlikely in early January 1842. Legal husband faithful Mormon. X
Mary Rollins Lightner George Algernon Lightner (3/22/42) X Lightners lived in Pontoosuc, Illinois, 17 miles upriver of Nauvoo. Reported scenario unlikely. Legal husband was not Mormon. X
Florentine Mattheas Lightner (’43) X X
Eliza Snow miscarriage (’42) X Possible miscarriage in Nov 1842 matches reported scenario. Poems suggests father was a “vile wretch” P
Nancy Marinda Johnson Orson Washington Hyde (11/9/43) X Child conceived before reported May 1843 covenant between Nancy and Joseph. Reported scenario possible but does not make sense. Legal husband was a Mormon apostle. ?
Josephine Rosetta Lyon (2/8/44) Joseph’s paternity disproved based on autosomal DNA testing. Reported scenario possible. Legal husband was excommunicated 1842 – 1846. ?

X – Died without producing children

In no case is it likely the child in question was engendered by Joseph Smith. In the case of the wives whose husbands were faithful Mormons, the child in question was conceived before the woman covenanted with Joseph Smith. The women who conceived after covenanting with Joseph Smith were married to men who were not Mormons at the time. [17] It is not clear why Emma and Joseph would be secretly assisting at the delivery of a child whose mother had a legal husband, though some have asserted Windsor Lyon’s excommunication impacted his living situation with Sylvia Sessions [Lyon].

When questioned later by those trying to prove Joseph had never taught plural marriage, women who had covenanted with Joseph tried to explain that the conditions had not been right, that they had been nervous. Given that modern science has proven that even the anxiety associated with being raped does not inhibit conception, it seems unlikely that the “nervous” explanation is credible. [18]

We have a lack of the fruit we would expect had sex been the activity. Though largely forgotten, we have a rich history of amazing spiritual works that were the fruit particularly of those women who had covenanted with Joseph Smith. These women then taught the rest of the female Mormon community. As no children can be proved to have been engendered by Joseph with anyone other than Emma Hale [Smith], it is reasonable to suggest that Joseph was teaching these women rather than having sex with them during the times we know of him spending time alone with them.

Ministering Angel

By the end of 1843, the requirement for Emma to grant Joseph ten virgins had been more than filled, even discounting the ladies Emma evicted from her home.

In November 1843, Joseph and Brigham were conversing with Brigham’s sister, Fanny, an older widow. In response to the discussion about the need for Celestial marriage, Fanny said:

“Now, don’t talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, if I ever get there, I shall request the privilege of being a ministering angel; that is the labor I wish to perform. I don’t want any companion in that world; and if the Lord will make me a ministering angel, it is all I want.”

Joseph replied, “Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want.” Fanny agreed to be sealed to Joseph, with Brigham Young officiating. [19] Shortly thereafter, Joseph reportedly became violently ill after eating dinner. Joseph suggested Emma had poisoned his food, possibly influenced by a dream Desdemona Fullmer had of Emma poisoning her. Emma vehemently denied she had done any such thing.

Some have suggested this episode ended Joseph’s career of covenanting with women. [20] Yet Ruth Vose [Sayers] was likely sealed to Joseph Smith in February 1844, [21] and there are other women known to have covenanted with Joseph [22] who may have been sealed to him in the last months of his life. It seems there might have been a fourth wave of ceremonies, where Joseph stood as Celestial husband purely so a woman could receive the blessings of accepting the New and Everlasting Covenant. This was the nature of Joseph’s covenant with Fanny Young. With Ruth, her unbelieving husband agreed to let the ceremony occur to make Rose happy. [23]

Though Joseph covenanted with dozens of women, there was one more woman I wish had covenanted with Joseph. It is heartbreaking to see how close she came to becoming part of Joseph’s covenant family during his lifetime, given the factors that prevented her from being sealed to him after his death.

Those Virtuous and Pure – Notes

Emma had been commanded to receive those virgins “virtuous and pure” the Lord had given to Joseph. The revelation stated Joseph would not sin if he had ten virgins given to him under the law. In the year after Joseph’s death, nine of the many women who had covenanted with Joseph accepted one of the surviving apostles as levirate husband.

It is presumed that Emma rejected this commandment, sending the Partridges and Eliza Snow away from Joseph. However an evaluation of the details of fall 1843 suggests fear, rather than jealousy, drove Emma’s actions. Teenager Orange Wight had made comments suggesting the network of Strikers was still in place and more extensive than Emma and Joseph had known.

Despite the large number of women covenanting with Joseph, there appear to have been no pregnancies caused by Joseph, other than the pregnancies of Emma Hale [Smith]. However we do see that the women who had covenanted with Joseph would subsequently fill prominent leadership roles, subordinate only to the later prophets of the Church.

It is proposed Joseph’s 1843 covenant with Fanny Young was his last plural marriage. But Joseph may have subsequently married other women.

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[1] D&C 132:52

[2] From D&C 132:60-62

[3] If these nine were among the “ten” Joseph was told he was permitted, it seems Emma Hale [Smith] may have been the tenth.

[4] According to Todd Compton, Martha McBride married Heber C. Kimball on October 12, 1844, when Martha was 39. However other biographies of Martha McBride claim she did not marry Heber C. Kimball until two months before leaving Nauvoo, which would suggest the date was October 12, 1845. As Martha was a widow and mother of four daughters and a son when she covenanted with Joseph, I think the 1845 date is more likely, suggesting she was taken under protection in the context of the danger posed by the wolf hunts and the pending flight from Nauvoo rather than as one of the “virtuous and pure.”

[5] Some claim Fanny gave birth to a son named Orson or Orrison. Ugo Perego has evaluated this case and found that the descendants of Orrison could not have Joseph Smith as an ancestor. Chauncey Webb indicated Fanny was pregnant when she lived in his home in the late summer of 1836, however by the Don Bradley reconstruction of the relationship, Fanny may have been only a couple of months pregnant at the time if she conceived after April 1836. The symptoms Chauncey may have observed could have been produced by amenorrhea, cessation of menstruation caused by stress. See Bradley, Don, Weighing the Case of Fanny Alger, The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume I, pp. 14-58. Also see Perego, Ugo, Joseph Smith and DNA, The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume I, pp. 244-246.

[6] Vinson Knight’s daughter fled from the attempted discussion. As Joseph and others may have feared, the young Miss Knight left Mormonism, confident in her interpretation that Joseph Smith was involved in prurient sexuality.

[7] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 316. Compton does not explicitly mention Eliza’s departure from Nauvoo.

[8] Joseph Smith Papers, journal facsimile for October 5, 1843.

[9] The third possibility is Heber Kimball, who may have engendered a child with Sarah Peak Noon by this point. On the other hand, it is not clear who engendered the son Sarah Peak [Noon] gave birth to in 1842.

[10] Clayton, William, Journal entry for October 19, 1843, see Smith, George D., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1995, p 122.

[11] Initially faith healing, performed by both men and women, was seen as a “proof” that the Church was true. In the late 1800s other churches began to perform faith healings. Allocation of priesthood solely to men was a pet theory of Joseph F. Smith, a theory his followers ensconced as doctrine in the 1900s.

[12] Exodus 40:12-13.

[13] It is not clear what washing and anointing an expectant mother consisted of, exactly. The implication is that it was sufficiently intimate that it was not a form of blessing a man could appropriately perform.

[14] Belle Spafford was called to serve in her local Relief Society Presidency as a young mother, a calling she initially despised. Speaking of those days, she said, “To me the society needed lifting up and pushing forward. We needed to enroll more young women, and have programs a little more meaningful. We needed to do something on the homemaking day besides quilting. … So I worked toward these goals along with my president and the other counselor.” See Janet Peterson and Connie Lewis, “Making a Difference for Women: Belle S. Spafford,” Ensign, March 2006.

[15] Smith, Lucy Meserve, Original Historical Narrative of Lucy Meserve Smith (1888-1890), LDS Church Archives, cited by Carol Cornwall Madsen, Journey to Zion: Voices From the Mormon Trail. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997, p. 157.

[16] Meserve Smith, Lucy, “Statement,” Wilford Wood Collection of Church Historical Materials, Microfilm at LDS Church History Library, MS 8617, Reel 8, internal reference within collection – 4-N-b-2.

[17] The only woman married to a faithful Mormon who reportedly conceived before July 1844 and after covenanting with Joseph Smith was Esther Dutcher [Smith]. However it is unclear what the nature of her covenant or when, exactly, it occurred. See Appendix C.

[18] Stress can cause amenorrhea, a cessation of menstruation. However stress did not appear to cause significant rates of amenorrhea at later times for Joseph’s wives. For Malissa Lott, the most descriptive account of a possible consummation of the marriage to Joseph is documented in the 1900s by R.C. Evans in attempting to prove the RLDS Church was wrong. See Evans, R. C., Forty Years in the Mormon Church: Why I Left It!, Toronto, R. C. Evans, 1920. According to Evans, Malissa said Joseph wished her to bear his child. They were allegedly intimate just once, in the nursery next to the bedroom where Joseph and Emma slept. This would agree with Malissa’s 1894 testimony that she had been Joseph’s wife “in very deed.” The tale resembles the famous Road Hill murder case, where the nursery was atypically adjoined to the master bedroom to facilitate intrigue between the master of the house and the governess. However Joseph Smith III confirms Emma loved to have the children near, so had insisted that the children’s room be adjacent to the bedroom where Emma and Joseph slept. If Malissa and Joseph did consummate their marriage with the intent to have Malissa bear a child, this likely occurred in May 1844. If the attempt had occurred earlier, a second attempt would have reasonably been made when it had become clear Malissa had not quickened. Malissa was a strategic choice, as her father was Joseph’s bodyguard and the Lotts had a farm outside town. A potentially pregnant Malissa and her eventual child would have been sheltered from danger. It could have happened. But that does not mean it did happen. Malissa refused to confirm she had been intimate with Joseph when her own family pressed her for details. Amongst the women who had covenanted with Joseph, Malissa’s treatment by Church authorities after Joseph’s death is notably offhand.

[19] Brigham Young, discourse given Aug. 31, 1873, JD 16:166-67, quoted by Todd Compton in Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Signature Books, 1997, p. 616.

[20] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 621. Compton writes of Fanny Young’s death, “The last married of Joseph Smith’s wives had passed over to the other country.”

[21] Ruth Vose Sayers claimed Hyrum Smith performed a ceremony sealing her to Joseph Smith in February 1843. But Hyrum Smith did not accept the doctrine of plural marriage until May 26, 1843. It appears Ruth misremembered the year, and was sealed to Joseph in 1844.

[22] Bergera, Gary James, “The Earliest Polygamists,” Dialogue, Vol 38, No 3, p. 30. Bergera writes “I am persuaded that the evidence allows for an additional four (if not more) plural wives [in addition to the women identified as Joseph’s plural wives by Todd Compton in Sacred Loneliness]—Mary Houston, Sarah Scott Mulholland, Mary Ann Frost Stearns Pratt, and Phebe Watrous Woodworth…” Bergera also mentions Lyndon W. Cook’s suggestion (Nauvoo Mariages Proxy Sealings 1843-1846, 2004, pp. 12-13) that Lydia Kenyon [Carter], Sarah (Bapson) Rapson [Poulterer], and Hannah Dubois [Smith Dibble] were Joseph’s plural wives. I discuss Mary Ann Frost [Stearns Pratt], Phebe Watrous [Woodworth], and Hannah Dubois [Smith Dibble] in the main text of this book. Mary Houston and Sarah Scott were married to Heber C. Kimball in 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. Heber’s grandson, Orson Whitney, wrote these two women were acknowledged to have been Joseph’s wives. Sarah Scott (b. 1816) was a widow in 1839 and her brother was one William Law would invite to participate in the conspiracy to kill Joseph. Mary Houston’s age (b. 1818) and lack of progeny are also consistent with involvement in the illicit intercourse scandal. Lydia Kenyon [Carter] (b. 1799) was sister-in-law to Jared Carter and aunt to Carter girls who married Jonathan Harriman Holmes and Orange Wight. Lydia’s long-time legal husband would travel with her to Utah. Lydia may have been a mentor to younger women at risk of being led astray.  Sarah Rapson [Poulterer] (b. 1793) was an English widow whose children had all died. Sarah “Bapson” may have been one of the semi-anonymous women mentioned in Bennett’s History of the Saints, suggesting she was working to expose the strikers during 1842. Other women sealed by proxy to Joseph Smith in 1846 and later are alleged to have covenanted with Joseph during his lifetime.

[23] In the heaven I imagine, Mr. Sayers will have accepted the saving ordinances and will be united to Rose, who he loved so much he was willing to let her have the desire of her heart.