List of the wives of Joseph Smith

List of the wives of Joseph Smith

Most historians agree that Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805–1844), the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, taught and practiced polygamy during his ministry, and married multiple women during his lifetime. Smith, and the leading quorums of his church, publicly denied he taught or practiced it.[1][2][3]

The first publication of a list of Smith's alleged plural wives was in 1887, by assistant LDS church historian Andrew Jenson. It included 27 women besides Emma Smith.[4] Currently, historians disagree as to the number of plural wives which Smith had and their names. Various scholars and historians, including Fawn Brodie, George D. Smith,[5] and Todd Compton, have tried to identify the women who married Smith.[6] The discrepancy is created by the lack of documents to support some of the alleged marriages. As Compton has stated, for many of these marriages, "absolutely nothing is known of [the] marriage after the ceremony."[7]

Smith's son Joseph Smith III, widow Emma Smith, and most members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS, now called Community of Christ) attempted for years to refute the evidence of plural marriages. They taught that Joseph Smith opposed the practice of polygamy.[3][8][9]


List of wives

Plural wife - maiden name (married name) Marriage Date Age[10] Recognized by Marital status at time of sealing Notes
TC[11] GS[12] FB[13]
Emma Hale (Smith)
Emma Hale Smith Bidamon.jpg
Jan. 17, 1827 22 yes yes yes n/a The first woman to whom Joseph Smith, Jr. was married and whom he claimed publicly was his only spouse.[14] Continued church activity within the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.[15] Throughout life and on her deathbed denied Joseph Smith, Jr. had plural wives.[16] Claimed that the very first time she ever became aware of a polygamy revelation being attributed to Joseph Smith was when she read about it in Orson Pratt's booklet The Seer in 1853.[17]
Fanny Alger Early 1833 16 yes no no Single According to George D. Smith, Alger's marriage to Smith was attested to by several people, including Emma Smith, Warren Parish, Oliver Cowdery, and Heber C. Kimball.[18] Compton cites Mosiah Hancock's handwritten report of his father Levi's account of the marriage ceremony of Smith and Alger, and records his father's account of negotiations between Levi and Smith in procuring their respective wives. Compton also notes that nineteenth-century Mormons in Utah, including Benjamin Johnson, Heber C. Kimball and Andrew Jenson, and former Mormons Chauncey Webb and Ann Eliza Webb Young, regarded the Smith-Alger relationship as a marriage.[19] Historian Lawrence Foster asserts a claim that later Mormons may have falsely assumed there was a marriage where there was only a sexual relationship: he views the marriage of Alger to Joseph Smith as "debatable supposition" rather than "established fact".[20]
Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris Est. 1838 37 yes yes yes Married Historians Richard Lloyd Anderson and Scott H. Faulring dismiss this claim as being based on "no solid evidence".[21] Compton notes the following evidence: she is the third woman on Andrew Jenson's 1887 list of Joseph Smith's plural wives; Compton writes that "Sarah Pratt reported that while in Nauvoo Lucinda had admitted a long-standing relationship with Smith"; and that there is an "early Nauvoo temple proxy sealing to Smith...." This marriage was polyandrous, as Lucinda lived with her then husband George Washington Harris until about 1853. Compton believes the marriage occurred around 1838, when Smith was living with Lucinda and her husband.[22]
Louisa Beaman
Louisa Beman.jpg
Apr. 5, 1841 26 yes yes yes Single (February 7, 1815 - May 16, 1850). Though Mormon history and press indicate Beaman was not baptized until May 11, 1843,[23][24] she had migrated with Mormons to Nauvoo in 1839 or 1840.[25] She has been called the "first plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith." [26] After Smith's death, Beaman remarried, becoming the ninth wife of Brigham Young. They had five children together, all of whom predeceased Beaman, who died young at age 35.[27][28] Listed as a Smith plural wife by Joseph F. Smith,[29] who noted 1869 affidavit of Beaman's brother-in-law Joseph B. Noble, stating he officiated at the wedding,[30][31] William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Beaman was one of his plural wives.[32] This would have been prior to her baptism.
Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs)
Zina D. H. Young.JPG
Oct. 27, 1841 20 yes yes yes Married Husband was Henry Bailey Jacobs, who was aware of Zina's plural marriage to Smith. Jacobs wrote, "[W]hatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man." (Compton 1997, pp. 81–82) Sister of Presendia Huntington. After Smith's death, married Brigham Young while husband Jacobs was on mission to England.
Presendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell) Dec. 11, 1841 31 yes yes yes Married (7 September 1810 in Watertown, New York - 1 February 1892 in Salt Lake City, Utah) Sister of Zina. After Smith's death, married Heber C. Kimball.
Agnes Moulton Coolbrith
Agnes Moulton Coolbrith.jpg
Jan. 6, 1842 31 yes yes yes Single Widow of Smith's brother Don Carlos. (1808–1876) She had been married to Don Carlos Smith, Joseph's younger brother. After Don Carlos died in 1841, Coolbrith married Joseph in 1842.[33] Coolbrith was the mother of Ina Coolbrith, who became the first poet laureate of California.
Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon
Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon Clark .jpg
Feb. 8, 1842 23 yes yes yes Married Daughter of David Sessions and Patty Bartlett Sessions, who married Joseph Smith one month after her daughter's marriage to him. On her deathbed, Sylvia informed her daughter Josephine Lyons that she was Smith's daughter:

"Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside … to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith." (Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 44, Compton 1997, pp. 183)

Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner Jan. 17, 1842 23 yes yes yes Married (9 April 1818 in Lima, New York–17 December 1913 in Minersville, Utah) Claimed that Smith had a private conversation with her in 1831 when she was twelve years old,[34][35]

[At age 12 in 1831], [Smith] told me about his great vision concerning me. He said I was the first woman God commanded him to take as a plural wife. … In 1834 he was commanded to take me for a Wife … [In 1842 I] went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham Young performed the sealing … for time, and all Eternity. I did just as Joseph told me to do[.]

After Smith's death, she remarried, becoming the 24th plural wife of Brigham Young. They married in 1845 and she bore him no children. Mary Elizabeth and her sister Caroline were instrumental in salvaging printed pages of the Book of Commandments when the printing press was destroyed by a mob on 20 July 1833.[36]
Patty Bartlett (Sessions)
Patty Bartlett Sessions.jpg
Mar. 9, 1842 47 yes yes yes Married (4 February 1795 in Bethel, Maine - 14 December 1893 in Bountiful, Utah). Her daughter Sylvia Porter Sessions Lyon, who had married Smith one month before, was present at Session's wedding to Smith.[37]
Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde)
Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde.jpg
Apr. 1842 27 (16)[38] yes yes yes Married (28 June 1815 in Pomfret, Vermont - 24 March 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah). Jon Krakauer wrote in Under the Banner of Heaven,[38]

"In the summer of 1831 the Johnson family took Joseph and Emma Smith into their home as boarders, and soon thereafter the prophet purportedly bedded young Marinda. Unfortunately, the liaison did not go unnoticed, and a gang of indignant Ohioans—including a number of Mormons—resolved to castrate Joseph so that he would be disinclined to commit such acts of depravity in the future."

Elizabeth Davis (Brackenbury Durfee)
Elizabeth Davis Brackenbury Durfee.jpg
Bef. Jun. 1842 50 yes yes yes Married (11 March 1791 in Riverhead, New York - 16 December 1876 in White Cloud, Kansas)
According to Anderson and Faulring, this claim is based on Bennett and "an ambiguous statement attributed to Sarah Pratt by the hostile journalist Wyl."[21]
Sally A. Fuller 1842  ? no yes no  ?
Sarah Maryetta Kingsley (Howe Cleveland) Bef. Jun. 29, 1842 53 yes yes yes Married (1788 - 20 April 1856 in Plymouth, Illinois)
Anderson and Faulring state that this is "only a guess" based on a claim "without any supporting data".[21]
Delcena Johnson (Sherman)
Delcena Diadamia Johnson Sherman.jpg
Bef. Jul. 1842 37 yes yes yes Single (19 November 1806 in Westfield, Vermont - 21 October 1854 in Salt Lake City, Utah; widow of Lyman R. Sherman)
Eliza Roxcy Snow
Eliza Roxcy Snow photograph.PNG
Jun. 29, 1842 38 yes yes yes Single Sister of Lorenzo Snow. Organized a petition in Summer 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying Smith a polygamist.[39] As Secretary of the Ladies' Relief Society published a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy.[40] William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Snow was one of his plural wives.[41] She was married to Brigham Young from 1844 until his death in 1877.
Sarah Ann Whitney Jul. 27, 1842 17 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Newel and Elizabeth Whitney. Joseph C. Kingsbury said he was "well aware" of this marriage.[42] William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives married during the early May 1843 period.[41] She was married to Heber C. Kimball from March 17 1845 to June 22, 1868.
Martha McBride (Knight)
Martha McBride.jpg
Aug. 1842 37 yes yes yes Single Widow of Vinson Knight; later sealed to Heber C. Kimball.
Sarah Bapson 1842 yes  ?  ?
Ruth D. Vose (Sayers) Feb. 1843 34 yes yes yes Married
Flora Ann Woodworth Spring 1843 16 yes yes yes Single William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives married during the early May 1843 period.[41]
Emily Dow Partridge
Emily Dow Partridge Smith Young.jpg
Mar. 4, 1843 19 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Edward Partridge and sister of Eliza. After Smith's death, she married Brigham Young. William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives married during the early May 1843 period.[41]
Eliza Maria Partridge
Eliza Maria Partridge.jpg
Mar.8, 1843 22 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Edward Partridge and sister of Emily. Eliza married after Smith's death, to Amasa M. Lyman, who was already husband to Eliza's older sister, Caroline. William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives married during the early May 1843 period.[41]
Almera Woodward Johnson
Almera Woodard Johnson Smith Barton.jpg
Apr. 1843 30 yes yes yes Single (12 October 1812 in Westfield, Vermont - 4 March 1896 in Parowan, Utah)
Lucy Walker May 1, 1843[43] 17 yes yes yes Single Wrote about her plural marriage to Smith,[35][44]

"In the year 1842 President Joseph Smith sought an interview with me, and said, ‘I have a message for you, I have been commanded of God to take another wife, and you are the woman.' … He asked me if I believed him to be a Prophet of God. … He fully Explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage … that it would prove an everlasting blessing to my father's house. … [Joseph encouraged her to pray] 'that the grave would kindly receive me that I might find rest on the bosom of my dear [recently deceased] mother … Why Should I be chosen from among thy daughters, Father I am only a child in years and experience.' And thus I prayed in the agony of my soul. … [The marriage] was not a love matter—at least on my part it was not, but simply the giving up of myself as a sacrifice to establish that grand and glorious principle that God had revealed to the world."

Sarah Lawrence May 1843 17 yes yes yes Single (13 May 1826 in Pickering Township, Ontario, Canada - 1872) Sister of Maria.
Maria Lawrence May 1843 19 yes yes yes Single (b. December 18, 1823, Pickering Township, Ontario - d.? Nauvoo, Illinois) Sister of Sarah. After Smith's death, Lawrence married Brigham Young, becoming his sixteenth plural wife. They divorced in 1845, but remarried the following year.[28]
Helen Mar Kimball May 1843 14 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Heber C. Kimball. At aged 14, Helen Mar Kimball wrote,[35]

"[My father] asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph … [Smith] said to me, ‘If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father's household & all of your kindred.[‘] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. … [After the marriage] I felt quite sore over it … and thought myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur."

William Clayton listed her as one of Smith's wives married during the early May 1843 period.[41]
Hannah Ells 1843 29 yes yes  ? Single (4 March 1813 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England - 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois)
Elvira Annie Cowles (Holmes) Jun. 1, 1843 29 yes yes yes Married (23 November 1813 in Unadilla, New York - 10 March 1871 in Farmington, Utah)
Rhoda Richards
Rhoda Richards Smith Young.jpg
Jun. 12, 1843 58 yes yes yes Single (8 August 1784 in Framingham, Massachusetts - 17 January 1879 in Salt Lake City, Utah) 1st cousin of Brigham Young whom she married after Smith's death.
Desdemona Fullmer
Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer Smith.jpg
Jul. 1843 32 yes yes yes Single (6 October 1809 in Huntington, Pennsylvania - 9 February 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah). William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Fullmer was one of his plural wives.[41]
Olive Grey Frost Summer 1843 27 yes yes yes Single (24 July 1816 in Bethel, Maine - 6 October 1845 in Nauvoo, Illinois) After Smith's death, Frost would remarry, becoming the eighteenth plural wife of Brigham Young. They married in 1844, and she bore him no children.
Mary Ann Frost (Pratt) Summer 1843  ? no yes  ?
Melissa Lott Sep. 20, 1843 19 yes yes yes Single Daughter of early Mormon leader Cornelius P. Lott, who managed Smith's farm in Nauvoo.
Nancy Mariah Winchester 1842 or 1843 14 yes yes yes Single Daughter of Stephen Winchester Sr. of Vershire, Vermont, who was a member of the Danite militia and the Quorum of the Seventy, and his wife Nancy Case of Argyle, N.Y. Anderson and Faulring write that this claim is based on "unsupported information".[21]
Fanny Young (Murray) Nov. 2, 1843 56 yes yes yes Single (8 November 1787 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts - 11 June 1859)
Mary Houston Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Sarah Scott Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Olive Andrews Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Jane Tippets Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Sophia Sanburn Before 1844 no yes  ?  ?
Phoebe Watrous (Woodworth) Before 1844  ? no yes  ?  ?
Vienna Jaques Before 1844  ? no yes  ?  ?

Temple Lot case

The Temple Lot Case, legally Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v. Church of Christ, in 1894 included analysis of testimony about Joseph Smith, Jr. and his plural wives. In his ruling, Judge John F. Philips was recorded as disagreeing with assertions about whether some of the women listed above had been legally married to Smith. Nonetheless, reliable historians since his time have disagreed with his conclusions. There is no historical consensus that gives his ruling more weight than the historians' conclusions about wives as cited above.[45][46]

See also


  1. ^ bound edition"Notice", Times and Seasons, Volume 5, No. 3, 1 February 1844, p. 423, quote: "As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan."
  2. ^ Roberts, B. H. (Brigham Henry) (1912), History of the Church, 6, Deseret News, pp. p. 411,, "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one." 
  3. ^ a b The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 4 [January 1844]: 144
  4. ^ Jenson, A. Historical Record 6 [May 1887]:233–234]
  5. ^ Smith 1994, p. 14
  6. ^ Brodie 1971, p. 457
  7. ^ Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University
  8. ^ Whitmer 1887
  9. ^ Times and Seasons, Volume 5, page 474
  10. ^ Compton 1997 and Newell & Avery 1994
  11. ^ Wife recognized by Todd Compton (Compton 1997)
  12. ^ Wife recognized by George D. Smith (Smith 1994, pp. 13–15)
  13. ^ Wife recognized by Fawn Brodie. Unless otherwise noted, wives are listed in No Man Knows My History (Brodie 1971)
  14. ^ LDS History of the Church 6:410–411
  15. ^ Frequently Asked Questions at official Community of Christ website
  16. ^ The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Volume 3, pp. 355-356, Independence, Missouri, Herald House Publishing, 1967- , c1896-; ISBN 0830900756
  17. ^ Saints' Herald 65:1044–1045
  18. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 128, footnote 15[broken citation]
  19. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 25–32.
  20. ^ Todd Compton, Review of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 33 (Spring 2001): 184-186
  21. ^ a b c d Anderson 1998
  22. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 43–44
  23. ^ History of the Church, 5:385
  24. ^ Millennial Star 21: 75
  25. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 58–9
  26. ^ Boyack (1962, pp. 21, 29)
  27. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 59–69
  28. ^ a b Brigham Young's Wives and His Divorce From Ann Eliza Webb, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Utah Lighthouse Ministry website.
  29. ^ Historical Record 6:233
  30. ^ Smith, J.F. (1905) Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret News Press, 75)
  31. ^ Bennett, J.C. (1842) The History of the Saints; or, An Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism, Boston: Leland & Whiting, p. 256
  32. ^ Clayton (1874, p. 225)
  33. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 153
  34. ^ Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 65, link.
  35. ^ a b c Compton 1997
  36. ^ Carter, Kate (1962), Our Pioneer Heritage, Salt Lake City, UT: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, pp. 308 
  37. ^ Compton 1997, pp. 175–179
  38. ^ a b Krakauer 2003, pp. 120. Krakauer quotes Miranda's older brother Luke Johnson: "[The mob] had Dr. Dennison there to perform the operation [of castration]; but when he saw the Prophet stripped and stretched on the plank, his heart failed him and he refused to operate."
  39. ^ Times and Seasons 3 [August 1, 1842]: 869
  40. ^ Times and Seasons 3 [October 1, 1842]: 940
  41. ^ a b c d e f g Clayton (1874, p. 225).
  42. ^ Kingsbury (1886, p. 226).
  43. ^ Newell & Avery 1994, pp. 65
  44. ^ Newell & Avery 1994
  45. ^ Newell 1994
  46. ^ Marquardt, 2005


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