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In the spring of 1842 Joseph is reported to have rapidly increased his attempts to teach the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, also referred to as Celestial Marriage or plural marriage. At the same time, Emma Hale [Smith] was preaching against sexual sin. Many researchers have been certain these were signs of Joseph’s sexual cupidity and Emma’s hostility. Yet a fuller understanding of the history shows Joseph and Emma knit together in the same purpose. They were each on a hunt to uncover the secret seducers that remained in their midst and save the women and men of Nauvoo.

Debauchers and Strikers. In 1844 conspirators would claim Joseph was leader of the seducers. In the Nauvoo Expositor, the conspirators decried the activities of these predators. They wrote, speaking of the new converts that would arrive in Nauvoo, “But what is taught them on their arrival at this place? They are visited by some of the Strikers, for we know not else what to call them…” Striker was a term the translators of the King James Bible had used in the New Testament, [1] a 16th century synonym for debaucher or “virile whoremonger.” [2] The men involved in illicit intercourse may not have considered themselves to be whoremongers or debauchers. But Emma and Joseph most certainly would have considered these seducers to be without any redeeming merit. Joseph and Emma would likely have used words like debaucher or striker to describe those who continued to seduce despite having been corrected.

As Emma and Joseph became aware there were strikers continuing to mislead and seduce, it seems Joseph went from sealing women to himself for the purpose of obeying commandment to covenanting with women as part of either securing their loyalty or offering them protection. As some of these women were also working closely with Emma, Joseph was likely keeping Emma informed of the situation. She had an absolute and clear need to know, particularly after March 17, 1842.

Who could Joseph and Emma trust in this continued investigation? By the beginning of January 1842, Joseph had complete trust in those he had taught about the New and Everlasting Covenant. These women included his wife, Emma, and the women with whom he had covenanted: Louisa Beaman, Zina Huntington Jacobs, Presendia Huntington Buell, and Agnes Coolbrith. The men Joseph believed he could trust included those who had participated in the covenant ceremonies linking him to the women: Joseph Bates Noble, Dimick Huntington, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.

Emma similarly had complete trust in those women who had stood by her in times of past need: Elizabeth Whitney had taken Emma in when she first arrived in Kirtland, Sarah Cleveland had sheltered Emma when she arrived in Nauvoo after fleeing Missouri. Elizabeth Davis [Goldsmith Brackenbury Durfee] was obviously part of the circle of Emma’s trusted friends. The Smith governess, Elvira Annie Cowles, may also have been one of Emma’s confidantes.

Joseph did not share the doctrine of the New and Everlasting Covenant with his brother, Hyrum, in 1842. However it appears Joseph did ask Hyrum to help preach against the heretical sexual practices.

The 1842 Nauvoo City Census.

On January 18 Nauvoo Stake President, William Marks, suggested the bishops should have “the Priests visit from house to house…” [3]

A member of the High Council wondered what response should be given if the bishops were to refuse this request. Hyrum Smith replied that the High Council had authority to deal with them for such a refusal, “that the Council should call on the Presidents of the Lesser Priest-hood to attend the Council & receive instruction… That it was necessary for them to go from house to house, to his house, and to every house and see that every family done their duty…” [4]

Neither Hyrum Smith nor William Marks knew about the New and Everlasting Covenant, nor did the vast majority of the members of the “Lesser Priest-hood” who would be conducting the house to house visits. On the other hand, it does not appear that Joseph had allowed any man other than himself to enter into the New and Everlasting Covenant by January 1842. Joseph likely felt confident that he could account for his own activities. Any other activities needed to be uncovered, as none of them would have been authorized.

Nauvoo was constantly changing as new converts streamed in. A federal census had been conducted in 1840, but that information would not have been available to Joseph and Emma Smith. In any case, the 1840 federal census merely identified the head of household and the number of individuals associated with the household, rendering it nearly useless for investigative purposes. [5]

The city census served two purposes. It documented which persons lived in each of the four city wards. It also provided a pretext for gaining access to each home.

Men holding the priesthood had visited members in their homes since the earliest days of the church. [6] Sending the priesthood into each home with the express charge to teach families their Christian duty would allow a warning against unvirtuous behavior to simultaneously reach all households.

Dr. Lyman DePlatt’s evaluation suggests the census was taken during the first two weeks in February, 1842. The census was formally presented to the City of Nauvoo on March 1, 1842. [7] The census itself contains no information about who might have been abused.

While the regular members of the lesser priesthood went to each home to write down names and preach righteousness, Joseph began to reach out to various women.

Nancy Mariah Winchester.

No one now alive knows the date when Joseph covenanted with Nancy Winchester, but she was only 15 years old when Joseph was killed.

In January 1841, Benjamin Winchester, Nancy’s brother, was abruptly excommunicated. Benjamin Winchester had been a frequent contributor to the Times and Seasons when Don Carlos Smith, Robert B Thompson, and Ebenezer Robinson were in charge.

Benjamin would not be restored to the Church until July 1842. The July 1842 announcement restoring Benjamin Winchester to fellowship in the Church also warned him to leave Nauvoo immediately. [8]

Around the time Nancy’s brother was excommunicated, it appears Emma and Joseph decided to add medical expertise to their team. On January 13th Joseph pulled Willard Richards into his inner circle, having Willard move into the Smith home. [9] Willard was a Thomsonian [10] physician who had saved Joseph’s life in Kirtland. In the following months Joseph would involve the wife of the town druggist, Sylvia Lyon, and a respected midwife, Sylvia’s mother, Patty Sessions.

The only known impetus for Joseph’s covenant with Nancy is Benjamin’s excommunication for undocumented sin. It is troubling that Nancy was barely 13 years old when her brother was excommunicated in January 1841. Nothing is known of Nancy’s covenant with Joseph other than the fact that it happened. However similar covenants with others held the promise of peace and salvation despite wrenching mortal grief.

Nancy’s later life hints at trauma, possibly sustained in early 1842. On December 8, 1845 Heber rushed to Steven Winchester’s home to bless Nancy, who was having fits. [11] While the fits may have been merely associated with a commonplace illness, it is possible Nancy had developed a susceptibility to fits from some trauma. [12] Perhaps more telling, Nancy would continue to reside with her parents for the remainder of her life, independent of her married status.

After Joseph’s death, Heber Kimball accepted responsibility for Nancy as her levirate husband. It is reported that Heber Kimball never consummated the marriage between himself and Nancy Winchester. Kimball would eventually arrange for Nancy to marry another man, Amos Arnold.

Nancy would bear one child by her final husband when she was nearly 40 years old. [13] Nancy continued to live with her parents even after marrying Amos Arnold and finally allowing the level of sexual contact that is required to conceive a child.

Of note, Clarissa Marvel worked for the Winchester family around the time Benjamin was excommunicated. Clarissa subsequently moved on to live with Agnes Coolbrith [Smith]. Soon thereafter it was alleged Clarissa was spreading rumors about Joseph Smith and his widowed sister-in-law. [14] Clarissa was the first person questioned by the Relief Society that would be formed in March 1842 with a founding purpose to “warn the unwary.”

Patty Sessions and Sylvia Lyon.

As Joseph and Emma learned the seductions were continuing, they may have suspected the the predators were using medicine to make women vulnerable. Laudanum was a common medicine used at the time. Based on opium, laudanum could “initiate, sustain, or lengthen sleep.” A second possibility is that Joseph and Emma may have learned medicine could be used to prevent conception. [15] Willard Richards was a Thompsonian and therefore would not have first-hand knowledge of medical contraception. But Richards may have heard of Charles Knowlton’s scandalous birth control manual. Richards was likely aware it was medically possible to prevent pregnancy.

Patty Bartlett [Sessions]. After Willard Richards, the next medical individual Joseph pulled into the investigation was Patty [Sessions]. Patty was in her late forties at this time. An experienced mid-wife, Patty had been delivering children regularly since 1812, when she had been a teenage newlywed. [16] In approximately 1867 Patty would write in her journal that she had been sealed to Joseph on March 9, 1842. Willard Richards officiated. Patty’s daughter, Sylvia, reportedly stood as witness to the covenant ceremony. [17]

Informing Patty [Sessions] of the difference between Celestial marriage and illicit intercourse could indicate Joseph and Emma now feared the seductions had resulted in pregnancies.

Sylvia Sessions [Lyon]. Sylvia was the wife of Windsor Lyon, who was the town store clerk and druggist. [18] In March 1842 Sylvia had reportedly stood as witness when Joseph Smith covenanted with her mother. It is often presumed that women who witness plural marriage covenants had themselves entered into covenant with Joseph before standing as a witness.

Sylvia was likely sworn to secrecy as one of those informed of Celestial marriage, as had occurred with Dimick Huntington. Based on Sylvia’s deathbed discussion with her daughters, Joseph did not covenant with Sylvia until many months later, during the period of time her husband was excommunicated from the Church.

Windsor Lyon was excommunicated from the Church in November 1842 and would not be rebaptized until 1846. The most widely accepted reason for the excommunication was Lyon’s attempt to sue William Marks over a financial agreement. Allegedly the discipline had been intended to punish Lyon for bringing legal charges against a fellow member of the Church. However many of the other men excommunicated in 1842 had continued teaching and practicing illicit intercourse after the winter of 1841/42. Alternately, Windsor may have been providing Bennett medicine to prevent conception, assistance that could have been considered an offense worthy of excommunication. Gustavus Hills had been using medicine in his illicit intercourse activities confessed in fall 1842. Late discovery of possible medical complicity on the part of Windsor may account for the November 1842 date of Windsor’s excommunication.

Sylvia would tell her daughter, Josephine, that Joseph Smith was her father. Sylvia explained she had been sealed to Joseph Smith at the time Windsor was cut off from the Church. This deathbed confession has been interpreted as confirming biological fatherhood, ignoring the fact that Josephine’s sister, Phebe Jane Clark [Ellis], was also in the room, and reportedly considered herself included in the confidence that Joseph Smith was their father. As Josephine’s younger sister was conceived after Joseph’s death, Sylvia was likely merely telling her daughters of of a covenant relationship they had with Joseph Smith. [19]

Brian Hales proposed that Windsor Lyon and Sylvia Sessions [Lyon] became separated during Lyon’s excommunication, preventing any possible sexual interaction between Sylvia and Joseph Smith from technically qualifying as polyandry. [20] However Brian Hales’s logic cannot extend to the conception of Asa Windsor Lyon, who was conceived weeks after Sylvia reportedly witnessed her mother’s sealing to Joseph Smith and before Windsor was excommunicated.

Analysis of Josephine Lyon’s DNA proves Windsor Lyon was the biological father of Josephine Lyon. The unit of genetic similarity between cousins is the centiMorgan (cM). Two grandchildren of the same individual would share roughly 1700 cM, with the amount of shared cM declining by roughly a factor of two with each generation.

The amount of shared genetic material between Joseph Smith’s closest descendants and Josephine’s closest descendants should be about 106.25 cM. Though up to 7 cM of similarity can naturally occur between unrelated persons, the amount of autosomal material each of Josephine’s five closest descendants shared with known descendants of Joseph Smith was 0 cM. Joseph could not have been an ancestor to Josephine’s descendants. [21]

Johnson and Johnson.

Two women with the maiden name Johnson next enter the story. As will be true of most women who covenanted with Joseph Smith in 1842, little is known of the circumstances under which they entered into covenant with Joseph.

Marinda Johnson [Hyde]. Marinda Johnson [Hyde] was the wife of Orson Hyde, an apostle who was serving as a missionary in Palestine. In December 1841 Joseph Smith became concerned about Marinda, who was living in life-threateningly poor conditions. In an uncanonized revelation, Joseph was advised to “say unto my servant Ebenezer Robinson, & To my handmaid his wife, Let them open their doors and take [Marinda Johnson Hyde] and her children into their house…” Ebenezer Robinson managed the Nauvoo paper, the Times and Seasons, prior to January 27, 1842. His family lived on the ground floor of that establishment. [22]

On Christmas Eve Willard Richards had escorted Marinda to a holiday party with several of the twelve apostles, including Orson Pratt and his wife Sarah. It appears Marinda may have been invited to represent her absent husband. Their host, Hiram Kimball, proceeded to give “each of the 12, a Lot of Land & supper of Turkeys.” [23]

On January 13th Willard Richards moved from the home of Brigham Young to live with Joseph. Willard was the Thompsonian doctor who had saved Joseph’s life in Kirtland. Willard’s shift in living arrangements suggests Joseph may have become aware of abuses that would require the attention of a doctor in the January 1842 timeframe.

Two weeks later, Joseph received another revelation, directing the Twelve Apostles to take charge of the Times and Seasons, where the excommunicated Benjamin Winchester had been a frequent contributor and assistant. Robinson and his family were evicted, but Marinda remained. Willard Richards moved into the lower floor of the Times and Seasons, barring the windows, and shooting off his gun. These actions are usually described by those who thought Willard and Marinda were having an affair.

Ebenezer Robinson’s later activities and writings indicate he was unusually knowledgeable about Dr. Bennett’s activities and perversions. If the Times and Seasons office had become a location frequented by Bennett’s ring, the shooting could have an alternate interpretation. Willard may have been warning everyone that there was new management in the building, and that they could take their unholy business elsewhere.

By April, Marinda was assisting Joseph’s investigation. [24] On April 9th, Marinda invited Nancy Rigdon to her home at the printing office to meet with Joseph Smith. Nancy believed she was being propositioned. However the alleged correspondence between Joseph and Nancy, if an actual letter written by Joseph, could be read as showing Joseph hunting out guilty men. Joseph expressed concerned for Nancy. The letter seems desperate to win Nancy’s soul back from a corrupted path. [25]

Despite the assistance Marinda offered Joseph during 1842, she would later report that she did not enter into covenant with Joseph until 1843.

Delcena Johnson [Sherman]. Lyman Royal Sherman had been called to be an apostle during the flight from Missouri, but died before ever learning of the call. Delcena Johnson was left a widow with seven surviving children in 1839, as the Mormons were being driven from Missouri. Her youngest was only three months old when her husband died.

Joseph’s concern for women living without protection (as in Marinda’s case) might be the reason he asked Delcena to move in with Louisa Beaman, who had covenanted with Joseph in April 1841.

It is known the Strikers would approach other widows, insinuating that there was no harm in such women participating in illicit intercourse and even demanding that the women yield. It is possible the Strikers approached the widow Delcena about yielding herself to illicit intercourse. Having Delcena move in with Louisa Beaman would give the widow protection from either potential or realized attempts on her virtue.

Other Women Who May Have Covenanted with Joseph in 1842.

There are other women who may have covenanted with Joseph Smith during this time, though so little is known of their situations that they are not included in most lists of the women with whom Joseph covenanted.

The first is Sarah Scott [Mulholland], a convert from Canada who had been born in Ireland. Sarah Scott was the older sister of Robert Scott, the young man William Law would approach in 1844 about participating in the conspiracy to kill Joseph Smith. In 1841/42 Sarah was a widow. Lyndon W. Cook’s compilation of Celestial Marriage ceremonies includes the proxy ceremony uniting Sarah Scott to the deceased James Mulholland, with Joseph Smith standing proxy. Lyndon Cook lists the ceremony uniting Joseph Smith and Sarah Scott “for time” immediately after the ceremony uniting Joseph Smith and Delcena Johnson [Sherman] for time. [26]

Sarah Scott [Mulholland] resembles Catherine Laur [Fuller] in being a recent widow. She was an associate of William Law, who Hyrum Smith accused of adultery. In 1844 William Law would reach out to Sarah’s brother, Robert Scott. This suggests Robert Scott was one of the young people “initiated” into spiritual wifery in the summer of 1841, as Orange Wight would later relate.

As with Delcena Johnson [Sherman], Joseph’s covenant with Sarah Scott [Mulholland] would have given the widow a sort of protection from either potential or realized attempts on her virtue.

Others who may have covenanted with Joseph because of the events of spring 1842 include:

  • Mary Houston [27]
  • Lydia Kenyon [Carter] [28]
  • Lucinda Pendleton [Morgan Harris] [29]
  • Sarah Rapson [Poulterer] [30]
  • Hannah Ann Dubois [Smith Dibble] [31]
  • Phebe Watrous [Woodworth] [32]
  • Sarah Granger [Kimball], [33] and
  • Esther Dutcher [Smith]. [34]

Esther Dutcher [Smith], like Sarah Scott [Mulholland], was associated with a known Striker. She is the only Esther Smith in Nauvoo who matches the details of testimony given in the fall of 1842 before the Nauvoo High Council. Esther Smith attested that Gustavus Hills had attempted to seduce her in the early months of 1842 in the Nauvoo. Hills had this conversation with Esther on the bluff around 9 pm, the Thursday before the Choir was dismissed.  Gustavus Hills had also pressured Mary Clift to yield, and Clift conceived as a result despite the medicine Hills had provided. [35]

The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.

The Nauvoo census was presented to the city on 1 March, 1842. On March 4, less than a week later, Sarah Granger [Kimball] came to Joseph Smith with a plan. Sarah was the wife of the non-Mormon businessman who had gifted land and turkeys to the Twelve. Sarah, together with Eliza Snow and others, had determined there was a need for a benevolent female society. The women presented Joseph the constitution they had drafted for such an organization.

The men working on the temple were sometimes ill-clothed. Sarah [Kimball] wished to relieve their suffering by making shirts for them. Sarah may have been inspired by the way women during the Revolutionary War had assisted the Continental Army by sewing shirts. [36]

Joseph counter-proposed a woman’s organization that was a formal arm or auxiliary of the Church. Around this time Joseph attempted to talk with Sarah [Kimball] about the New and Everlasting Covenant, possibly as a prerequisite for formally involving her in the investigation. Sarah [Kimball] refused to hear such talk from Joseph at that time but would request to be sealed by proxy to Joseph in 1877, over a decade after her legal husband, Hiram Kimball, had died. [37]

At the founding meeting of the organization, Joseph said the “restored Church of Jesus Christ could not be perfect or complete without [an organization for the women].” In addition to the power of organizing women for charitable purposes, the organization had as a founding purpose to “warn the unwary.” [38]

The priesthood census and teaching of correct doctrine had not ended the abuse of women. Preaching specifically to women about the evils of sexual sin would clearly be much more effective. Joseph and Emma would instruct them directly, and the members of the Relief Society would in turn minister to the women of Nauvoo.

The first meeting of the women’s organization was held March 17, 1842. Joseph Smith and John Taylor were present, but the reigns were soon turned over to the women. Sarah [Cleveland] suggested that Emma lead the new organization. Emma selected for her counselors two particular confidantes, Elizabeth [Whitney] and Sarah [Cleveland]. She nominated Elvira Cowles to be treasurer. Eliza Snow was nominated to be secretary [39] a nod to the group of women who had originally proposed the organization.

At the second meeting of Relief Society, the matter of scurrilous rumors attributed to Clarissa Marvel was brought before the group. Clarissa had allegedly claimed Joseph was spending an inappropriate amount of time in the company of Agnes Coolbrith [Smith]. Mrs. Markam and Mrs. Billings were ultimately assigned to investigate the matter. They reported back that Clarissa was innocent. Then Mrs. Durfee and Mrs. Allred were sent to investigate the two young women who had claimed Clarissa Marvel had talked with them. Interestingly, it is Sarah [Cleveland], Emma’s counselor, who reports back, saying the investigation into the rumors allegedly spread by Clarissa Marvel had been completed.

The proceedings of the Relief Society were documented in detail by the Relief Society secretaries, primarily Eliza R. Snow. [40] By April 28th, women seeking membership in the Relief Society were only admitted upon consensus vote, individual by individual. Some were denied entry. However by mid-May, large groupings of sisters were being admitted without any objection.

On May 19th, Emma (Mrs. Prest.) stated:

“this day was an evil day— that said she would that this Society were pure before God— that she was afraid that under existing circumstances, the sisters were not careful enough to expose iniquity— the time had been when charity had covered a multitude of sins— but now it is necessary that sin should be expos’d— that heinous sins were among us— that much of this iniquity was practiced by some in authority, pretending to be sanction’d by Prest. Smith… [Emma] continued by exhorting all who had err’d to repent and forsake their sins— said that satan’s forces were against this church— that every saint should be at the post.” [41]

Lucy Ann Munjar was then “suspended for a time.”

In the week following this stern sermon from Emma Hale [Smith], women who had been seduced by Dr. Bennett or his Strikers confessed to the Nauvoo High Council. On May 26th, Joseph and Emma both attended the Relief Society. Joseph was almost certainly aware of the confessions that had been made to the Nauvoo High Council. It is clear that when Joseph mentions “fellows,” he is referring to women. Joseph said:

“females… are also subject to an overmuch zeal which… cause them to be rigid in a religious capacity – [they instead] should be arm’d with mercy notwithstanding the iniquity among us… melancholy and awful that so many are under the condemnation of the devil…

“they are our fellows — we lov’d them once. Shall we not encourage them to reformation?

“We have not forgiven them seventy times— perhaps we have not forgiven them once. There is now a day of salvation to such as repent and reform— they should be cast out from this Society, yet we should woo them to return to God lest they escape not the damnation of hell!

“At this time the truth on the guilty should not be told openly – Strange as this may seem, yet this is policy. We must use precaution in bringing sinners to justice lest in exposing these heinous sins, we draw the indignation of a gentile world upon us…” [42]

Emma took a different tack. If Joseph and Emma were playing good cop, bad cop that day, Emma clearly had the role of bad cop:

“…all idle rumor and idle talk must be laid aside yet sin must not be covered, especially those sins which are against the law of God and the laws of the country — all who walk disorderly must reform, and any knowing of heinous sins against the law of God, and refuse to expose them, becomes the offender — said she wanted none in this Society who had violated the laws of virtue.” [43]

The next day over a hundred women sought membership in Relief Society. It seems membership in Relief Society was becoming seen as a declaration of virtue. Lucy Ann Munjar was re-admitted to the membership, indicating the speed with which forgiveness could be dispensed to the penitent.

By the beginning of June the bar had been raised. New members would not be admitted “but by presenting regular petitions signed by two or three members in good standing in the Society— whoever comes in must be of good report.” Even so, more than a hundred women qualified to become members of the Relief Society in a single day in early June 1842.

Joseph and Emma had together urged the ladies to forsake and expose sin. One of the women who would confess before the High Council would explicitly credit one of Joseph’s sermons as causing her change of heart. The words and actions of the others strongly imply that Joseph’s public sermons had brought them to repentance.

The women who would testify before the High Council in May 1842 would not be exposed at that time, despite the terrible storm that would erupt in 1842. It would only be when Joseph’s life was on the line that some of the testimonies would be published. Even then, the testimonies that were published were redacted to protect all the men other than Chauncey Higbee and Dr. Bennett.

It appears one of the most effective initiatives in the investigation into the continued seductions was the Relief Society, headed by President Emma Hale [Smith] in full cooperation with her prophet-husband, Joseph.

Swearing Righteous Men to Secrecy.

With the women mobilized to preach virtue, Joseph put in place two mechanisms to perform a similar function for men in the community.

The Nauvoo Masonic Lodge. First, Joseph moved forward to establish a Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo. In this, Joseph took advantage of the ground work Dr. Bennett had laid, though Bennett’s attempt to establish a Nauvoo Lodge had foundered due to reports of his past. Even so, formation of the Nauvoo Lodge was irregular as there were few, if any, current Masons already in Nauvoo. Masons had an established structure that encouraged mutual support and rectitude. This would allow Joseph to involve not only Mormons but all prominent men of the surrounding area in mutual pledges of virtue and charity.

An Endowment of Power. Second, Joseph instituted the endowment, an ordinance during which the “endowed” individual is instructed in sacred history and asked to pledge obedience. Given existence of widespread illicit intercourse in the community, the most striking pledge is one related to remaining sexually faithful to one’s spouse. The endowment ceremony was restricted to high profile Mormons, including Bishop George Miller and President William Law, an Assistant President of the Church.

Interviewing Suspected Victims.

Some small trace remains in the extant record of the means the investigators used to determine what damage had been done. We know Joseph tried to talk to teenagers Emily and Eliza Partridge during this timeframe. Emily reports Joseph talked to her, saying:

“Emily, if you will not betray me, I will tell you something for your benefit.”

When Joseph was unable to persuade Emily to talk with him, he offered to give her a letter. Emily refused the letter. Elizabeth [Durfee] was sent in next. She invited Eliza and Emily Partridge to her home where she asked what the girls might think of “spiritual wives, as they were called in those days.” The girls said nothing. However the very attempt to determine if the girls had been associated with spiritual wifery raised additional suspicions in the girls’ minds. [44] There is no indication the Partridge girls ever realized the questioning was in service of apprehending evil-doers.

Joseph also allegedly questioned Nancy Rigdon, daughter of his long-time associate and Assistant President of the Church, Sidney Rigdon. [45]

It appears there was another category of interviewees: the fallen women who were now penitent. The record suggests some of the women who became plural wives in 1842 were vulnerable women who had been propositioned or seduced.

For the most part, those who had been innocently seduced were protected from exposure. But not all the women could hide their involvement. Some of the women, like Catherine Laur [Fuller Warren], had to testify, to ensure the ring of seducers was brought to justice.

Hunt in the City Beautiful – Notes.

Joseph and Emma Smith worked together against the debauchery spreading through Nauvoo society. The covenants Joseph entered into with women during the first half of 1842 established relationships of fealty in support of the investigation or protected women who were potential victims.

A census was taken of Nauvoo residents in February 1842, with those visiting homes charged to preach righteousness. A Masonic Lodge was established in Nauvoo to support moral conduct among men. The Endowment of Power was instituted with the notable requirement that recipients swear to restrict sexuality to their spouse.

A Female Relief Society was formed with a founding purpose to warn the unwary. Membership in Relief Society became desired as a public declaration of virtue, despite increasingly strict requirements for membership. As the fallen were discovered, Joseph asked the Relief Society to forgive the sinners and “woo them to return to God.” Lest the women think permissiveness was acceptable, Emma insisted “all who walk disorderly must reform.”

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[1] Striker is used to explain the qualities a Bishop should not have, see Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7.

[2] A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature, p. 1332. As late as 1913, Webster’s dictionary gives “A wencher; a lewd man” as the third meaning, after “One who, or that which, strikes” and “A harpoon; also a harpooner.” Definitions 4 and 5 are “A workman who is on a strike” and “A blackmailer in politics; also one whose political influence can be bought.”

[3] Minutes of the High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1840-45, entry for January the 18th 1842. The Nauvoo City Council and High Council Minutes, John S. Dinger editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 2011,  pp. 399-402.

[4] ibid.

[5] The 1840 census only showed the name of the head of household and numbers of family members in gender and age bins. To see a blank copy of the 1840 federal census form is Online 13 Mar 2014 at http://www.mymcpl.org/_uploaded_resources/MGC-1840censusblank.pdf.

[6] For a history of Home Teaching, see Rex Anderson, A documentary history of the Lord’s way of watching over the church by the priesthood through the ages, online 14 Mar 2014 at http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/MTAF/id/2337. On page 24 Anderson relates the story of William F. Cahoon, who was assigned to be a teacher to Joseph Smith and his family when Cahoon was only seventeen. As Cahoon was born in 1813, this must have been around 1830.

[7]  Maurine Carr Ward, 1842 Census of Nauvoo: Identification of Members: Civil Ward One, online 13 Mar 2014 at http://mormonhistoricsites.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/NJ5-1_Ward2.pdf. The early February timing was reconstructed by Dr. Lyman De Platt based on extensive analysis, see Early Mormon Records Series, Vol. 1, Highland, Utah, 1980.

[8] “Notice.” Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, No. 17 of 1 July 1842, online 20 Mar 2014 at http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/9200.

[9] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 236.

[10] Thomsonian medicine focused on herbal remedies in contrast to the bleedings, purgatives, and surgeries used by mainstream physicians of the day.

[11] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 607.

[12] An elevated frequency of sexual abuse is a suspected causal factor for psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Modern diagnostic techniques involve monitoring seizures with video and an electroencephalograph. It is impossible to know whether a report of “fits” in 1845 meets the diagnostic criteria for PNES. Even if Nancy’s fits were PNES, Nancy’s possible trauma could have occurred in the 1838-1839 timeframe. But the excommunication of Nancy’s brother and the change of management for the Times and Seasons, with which her brother had been associated, suggest something happened in early 1842.

[13] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, particularly p. 608.

[14] I have been unable to find information about Clarissa Marvel outside of the minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo during March and April of 1842, see the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, online 13 Mar 2014 at http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperDetails/nauvoo-relief-society-minute-book.

[15] Queen Anne’s Lace (QAL) seeds may have been used to prevent pregnancy in Nauvoo. The side effects of QAL are minimal, compared to other contemporary contraceptives.

[16] Sylvia’s earlier records were lost, but from 1867 until her death in 1892 at age 97, Patty delivered nearly 4000 children.

[17] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 179. Date of journal entry in Compton, p. 682.

[18]  Joseph F. Smith prepared two affidavits for Sylvia’s signature. One was dated February 8, 1842. The other was dated February 8, 1843. Joseph F. Smith apparently derived the date from the birthday of Sylvia’s daughter, Josephine, born February 8, 1844. Sylvia never signed an affidavit attesting she had been sealed to Joseph during his lifetime. Sylvia was sealed to Joseph Smith after his death, on January 26, 1846. A late assertion by Sylvia that her daughter Josephine was Joseph’s child could be because Josephine was the only one of Sylvia’s children to marry outside of the temple, where the sacred information that an individual was sealed to Joseph was usually revealed.

[19] Based on examination of marriage records for other covenant children of Joseph Smith (i.e., Marietta Holmes [Welling]), it appears Josephine should have learned about this covenant relationship in the temple when she was married. Except Josephine had not been initially married in the temple like her younger half-sisters. Her full-siblings died as children. At the time of Sylvia’s death, only her daughters Josephine Lyons [Fisher] and Phebe Jane Clark [Ellis] were still actively involved in Mormonism.

[20] Hales, Brian, “Biography of Sylvia Sessions” on website Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, online 2 May 2016 at http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/plural-wives-overview/sylvia-sessions/.

[21] Perego, Ugo, Was Joseph Smith the Biological Father of Josephine Lyon? The Genetic Evidence, presented June 11, 2016 at the 51st Mormon History Association Conference. Scientific data online 14 Jun 2016 at http://www.josephsmithdna.com/josephine-lyon.html. For earlier results, see “Joseph Smith and DNA,” The Persistence of Polygamy, Volume I, pp. 233-256.

[22] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 236.

[23] ibid.

[24] Belief that Joseph married Marinda in April 1842 is based on cryptic notes in Joseph’s journal history. Marinda herself would indicate she was not sealed to Joseph Smith until Mary 1843 in the presence of Eliza and Emily Partridge.

[25]  Bennett, John, History of the Saints, 1842, pp. 243-244. The letter Joseph wrote to Nancy Rigdon is also found in Brian Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Chapter 17.

[26] Cook, Lyndon W., Nauvoo Marriages – Proxy Sealings 1843-1846, Grandin Book Company, Provo, UT, 2004, pp. 15, 11.

[27] Mary Houston, born 1818 in Ohio, was single in 1842. She would later marry Heber C. Kimball. According to Orson F. Whitney, Mary Houston and Sarah Scott [Mulholland Mullinder Kimball] were known to have been Joseph Smith’s wives during Smith’s lifetime. See Whitney, Orson F., Life of Heber C. Kimball, 1888, p. 431 (1945, p. 419).

[28] Lydia Kenyon [Carter], b. 1799, was the aunt of Matilda and Rosilla Milla Carter, both of whom would become plural wives to Orange Wight. Lydia’s niece, Marietta, was killed in 1840 in an attack likely intended to kill Joseph Smith and Emma Hale [Smith]. It is not known why Joseph would have covenanted with Lydia.

[29] Lucinda Pendleton [Morgan Harris], b. 1801, would have herself sealed to Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo temple in January 1846, asking her legal spouse, George Washington Harris, to stand as Joseph Smith’s proxy, prompting a belief that Lucinda had covenanted with Joseph Smith during his lifetime. It is not known why Joseph would have covenanted with Lucinda.

[30] Sarah Rapson [Poulterer], b. 1789 in Sussex, England. “Miss B*****” John C. Bennett identified in his 1842 book, History of the Saints. Several researchers presume that Sarah was the Sarah joined the Church in Philadelphia along with her husband and children. Her son, Samuel, was disfellowshipped in April 1842 after returning from a trip “west,” presumably to Nauvoo. Her husband subsequently withdrew himself from fellowship and was cut off the following year. See Ward, Maurine C., “Philadelphia Pennsylvania Branch Membership: 1840-1854,” Mormon Historical Studies, vol 6, no. 1, Spring 2005, pp. 85-86. In a 24 Dec 1854 letter from Augusta Adams [Cobb Young] to Brigham Young, Augusta wrote “Sister Poulterer wishes to go to him [Joseph Smith] for Eternity. I ought to have mentioned that to you but it entirely slipped my mind while talking with you. Br Joseph and herself had some talk in Philadelphia which makes it appear her duty to go to him.” It is unclear when the “talk in Philadelphia” could have occurred, but it seems possible that the April 1842 discipline involving Sarah’s son and subsequent alienation of her husband from the LDS Church may have been involved in Sarah’s determination to be formally united to Joseph.

[31] Hannah Ann Dubois [Smith Dibble] had married Philo Dibble on 11 Feb 1841. Lyndon Cook notes that “there is convincing evidence that [Hannah] was sealed for time and eternity to Joseph Smith Jr at Nauvoo, IL (1842-1843). However Hannah chose to be sealed to Philo Dibble in the Nauvoo temple and never had herself sealed Joseph Smith. It seems the “convincing evidence” arises from rumors and family accounts from those unable to find documentation for Hannah’s first husband, John F. Smith. Hannah’s descendants have not submitted their claims to DNA evaluation.

[32] Phebe Watrous [Woodworth], b. 1799, would have herself sealed to Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo temple in January 1846, asking her legal spouse, Lucien Woodworth, to stand as Joseph Smith’s proxy, prompting a belief that Phebe had covenanted with Joseph Smith during his lifetime. It is not known why Joseph would have covenanted with Phebe. Phebe reportedly told Orange Wight in 1843 that her daughter, Flora Ann Woodworth, was Joseph Smith’s wife. Flora would subsequently marry a non-Mormon, Carlos Gove, on 23 August 1843, reportedly eloping to Carthage.

[33] Sarah Granger [Kimball], b. 1818, would later say Joseph Smith attempted to speak with her in 1842, but she refused to hear such talk from him at the time. In 1877, over a decade after her husband died, Sarah would have herself sealed to Joseph Smith.

[34] Esther Dutcher [Smith], b. 1811, was reportedly sealed to Joseph Smith during his lifetime. The sole evidence for this is a 25 Jun 1888 letter from Daniel H. Wells to Joseph F. Smith, stating “[Albert Smith was] also much afflicted with the loss of his first wife. It seems she was sealed to Joseph the Prophet in the days of Nauvoo, though she still remained his wife, and afterwards nearly broke his heart by telling him of it, and expressing her intention of adhering to that relationship. He however got to feeling better over it, and acting for Joseph, had her sealed to him, and to himself for time.” There appears to be no formal documentation of the reported sealing. It appears the covenant with Joseph Smith may have occurred in relation to her 1842 report that Gustavus Hills had attempted to seduce her.

[35] The Nauvoo City Council and High Council Minutes, John S. Dinger editor, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 2011, p. 425. It is clear Esther was testifying to support Mary Clift’s assertion that she had been seduced.

[36]  Women offered funds to assist the Continental Army, but General Washington refused monies, as this gave the impression the new nation had to rely on women for finances. Shirts, however, were deemed acceptable. See Cokie Roberts’s Founding Mothers, as noted in the Kirkus review of the children’s version of Roberts’s book, online 13 Mar 2014 at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/cokie-roberts/founding-mothers/.

[37] Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Chapter 10. Sarah Kimball was sealed to Joseph on March 2, 1877 in the St. George temple. Hiram Kimball had died in a freak accident while in the Sandwich Islands.

[38] Smith, Joseph, in Relief Society Minute Book, Nauvoo, Illinois, June 9, 1842, Church History Library, 63. Women “were to be empowered through the calling of the priesthood to be grouped into suitable organizations for the purpose of ministering to the sick, assisting the needy, comforting the aged, warning the unwary and succoring the orphans.”

[39] Phebe Wheeler was also nominated to be secretary the day Relief Society was founded. Phebe Wheeler and Hanna(h) Ells recorded minutes of the Relief Society at times, but Eliza Snow recorded all of the sermons Joseph Smith delivered to the Relief Society. Phebe Wheeler, a servant in Hyrum Smith’s home, married Oliver Olney, brother-in-law to Marinda Nancy Johnson [Hyde]. Olney was excommunicated the day Relief Society was founded, and would go on to print anti-Mormon pamphlets. Phebe Wheeler [Olney] drops out of the stream of well-documented Mormon history. Hannah Ells, on the other hand, apparently covenanted with Joseph in 1843. Hannah Ells passed away in the home of Sarah Granger [Kimball] in 1845 when she was about 32. Eliza Snow was at Hannah’s bedside and documented her passing.

[40] Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo during March and April of 1842, see the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, online 29 Dec 2016 at http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/nauvoo-relief-society-minute-book/1.

[41] ibid., p. 48.

[42] ibid., pp. 51-52.

[43] ibid., p. 53.

[44] Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 406.

[45] See Van Hale, “The Purported Letter of Joseph Smith to Nancy Rigdon: Supplement,” online 29 Dec 2016 at http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Van-Hale-Nancy-Rigdon-addendum-complete.pdf.