Mormon Church apostle explained:
"When the family
organization was revealed from heaven—the patriarchal
order of God, and Joseph began, on the right and the left,
to add to his family, what a quaking there was in Israel."
one brother to another, "Joseph says all covenants [previous
marriages] are done away, and none are binding but the
new covenants [marriage by priesthood sealing power];
now suppose Joseph should come and say he wanted your
wife, what would you say to that?" "I would tell him to
go to hell." This was the spirit of many in the early
days of this Church. . . . What would a man of God
say, who felt aright, when Joseph asked him for his money?
[he would give it all willingly] Or if he came and said,
"I want your wife?" "O yes," he would say, "here she is,
there are plenty more."
" . .
. Did the Prophet Joseph want every man's wife he asked
for? He did not . . . the grand object in view was to
try the people of God, to see what was in them. If
such a man of God should come to me and say, "I want your
gold and silver, or your wives," I should say, "Here they
are, I wish I had more to give you, take all I have got."
A man who has got the Spirit of God, and the light of
eternity in him, has no trouble about such matters."
- Apostle Jedediah M. Grant, second counselor to Brigham
Young and father of President Heber J. Grant, sermon delivered
on 19 February 1854 (JD 2: 13-14)
Smith's Failed Proposals to Married Women
John Taylor's Wife, Leonora
"The Prophet went to the home of President Taylor, and said
to him, 'Brother John, I WANT LEONORA.'" Taylor was stunned,
but after walking the floor all night, the obedient elder
said to Smith, "If GOD wants Leonora He can have her." Woodruff
concluded: "That was all the prophet was after, to see where
President Taylor stood in the matter, and said to him, Brother
Taylor, I dont want your wife, I just wanted to know just
where you stood."
- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, John Mills Whitaker Journal,
Nov. 1 1890; emphasis in original
Heber C. Kimball's Wife, Vilate
“During the summer of 1841, shortly after Heber's return
from England, he was introduced to the doctrine of plural
marriage directly through a startling test-a sacrifice which
shook his very being and challenged his faith to the ultimate.
He had already sacrificed homes, possessions, friends, relatives,
all worldly rewards, peace, and tranquility for the Restoration.
Nothing was left to place on the altar save his life, his
children, and his wife. Joseph demanded for himself what
to Heber was the unthinkable, his Vilate. Totally crushed
spiritually and emotionally, Heber touched neither food
nor water for three days and three nights and continually
sought confirmation and comfort from God." Finally, after
"some kind of assurance," Heber took Vilate to the upper
room of Joseph's store on Water Street. The Prophet wept
at this act of faith, devotion, and obedience. Joseph had
never intended to take Vilate. It was all a test."
- Biography of Heber C. Kimball, "Heber C. Kimball,
Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer." By Stanley B. Kimball, page
Orson Pratt's Wife, Sarah
"Sometime in late 1840 or early 1841, Joseph Smith confided
to his friend that he was smitten by the "amiable and accomplished"
Sarah Pratt and wanted her for "one of his spiritual
wives, for the Lord had given her to him as a special
favor for his faithfulness" (emphasis in original). Shortly
afterward, the two men took some of Bennett's sewing to
Sarah's house. During the visit, as Bennett describes it,
Joseph said, "Sister Pratt, the Lord has given you to me
as one of my spiritual wives. I have the blessings
of Jacob granted me, as God granted holy men of old, and
as I have long looked upon you with favor, and an earnest
desire of connubial bliss, I hope you will not repulse or
deny me." "And is that the great secret that I am not to
utter," Sarah replied. "Am I called upon to break the marriage
covenant, and prove recreant to my lawful husband! I
never will." She added, "I care not for the blessings
of Jacob. I have one good husband, and that is enough for
me." But according to Bennett, the Prophet was persistent.
Finally Sarah angrily told him on a subsequent visit, "Joseph,
if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again,
I will make a full disclosure to Mr. Pratt on his return
home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it."
"Sister Pratt," the Prophet responded, "I hope you will
not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not
expose me. Will you promise me that you will not do it?"
"If you will never insult me again," Sarah replied, "I will
not expose you unless strong circumstances should require
it." "If you should tell," the Prophet added, "I will ruin
your reputation, remember that."
(Article "Sarah M. Pratt" by Richard A. Van Wagoner,
Dialogue, Vol.19, No.2, p.72. Also see: http://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/spratt.htm)
William Law's Wife, Jane
"William Law, a former counselor in the First Presidency,
wrote in his 13 May 1844 diary: "[Joseph] ha[s] lately endeavored
to seduce my wife, and ha[s] found her a virtuous woman"
The Laws elaborated on this in a public meeting shortly
thereafter. "The Prophet had made dishonorable proposals
to [my] wife . . . under cover of his asserted 'Revelation,'
" Law stated. He further explained that Joseph came to the
Law home in the middle of the night when William was absent
and told Jane that "the Lord had commanded that he should
take spiritual wives, to add to his glory." Law then called
on his wife to corroborate what he had said. She did so
and further explained that Joseph had "asked her to give
him half her love; she was at liberty to keep the other
half for her husband" Jane refused the Prophet, and according
to William Law's 20 January 1887 letter to the Salt
Lake Tribune, Smith then considered the couple apostates.
"Jane had been speaking evil of him for a long time . .
. slandered him, and lied about him without cause," Law
reported Smith as saying. "My wife would not speak evil
of . . . anyone . . . without cause," Law asserted. "Joseph
is the liar and not she. That Smith admired and lusted after
many men's wives and daughters, is a fact, but they could
not help that. They or most of them considered his admiration
an insult, and treated him with scorn. In return for this
scorn, he generally managed to blacken their reputations--see
the case of . . . Mrs. Pratt, a good, virtuous woman."
("Mormon Polygamy" by Richard S. Van Wagoner, page 44)
Hiram Kimball's wife, Sarah
Sarah M. Kimball, a prominent Nauvoo and Salt Lake City
Relief Society leader was also approached by the Prophet
in early 1842 despite her solid 1840 marriage to Hiram Kimball.
Sarah later recalled that
Smith taught me the principle of marriage for eternity,
and the doctrine of plural marriage. He said that in teaching
this he realized that he jeopardized his life; but God had
revealed it to him many years before as a privilege with
blessings, now God had revealed it again and instructed
him to teach with commandment, as the Church could travel
[progress] no further without the introduction of this principle."
("LDS Biographical Encyclopedia" By Elder Andrew Jensen,
like Sarah Pratt, was committed to her husband, and refused
the Prophet's invitation, asking that he "teach it to someone
else." Although she kept the matter quiet, her husband and
Smith evidently had difficulties over Smith's proposal.
On 19 May 1842, at a Nauvoo City Council meeting, Smith
jotted down and then "threw across the room" a revelation
to Kimball which declared that "Hiram Kimball has been insinuating
evil, and formulating evil opinions" against the Prophet,
which if he does not desist from, he "shall be accursed."
Sarah remained a lifetime member of the Church and a lifelong
wife to Hiram Kimball.
- "LDS Biographical Encyclopedia" By Elder Andrew Jensen,
6:232, 1887, Official History of the Church 5: 12-13,
Note: Although Joseph Smith did not take Hiram Kimball's
wife as a plural wife, Smith later secretly married Hiram's
fourteen-year-old daughter, Helen Mar Kimball. Read her
story here: http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/26-HelenMarKimball.htm
Rigdon's daughter, Nancy
Read her story and Joseph Smith's
Smith's Successful Proposals to Married Women
Adam Lightner's wife, Mary
Mary Elizabeth Rollins, already married to non-Mormon Adam
Lightner since 11 August 1835, was one of the first women
to accept a polyandrous proposal from Joseph Smith. "He
was commanded to take me for a wife," she wrote in a 21
November 1880 letter to Emmeline B. Wells. "I was his, before
I came here," she added in an 8 February 1902 statement.
Brigham Young secretly sealed the two in February 1842 when
Mary was eight months pregnant with her son George Algernon
Lightner. She lived with her real husband Adam Lightner
until his death in Utah many years later. In her 1880 letter
to Emmeline B. Wells, Mary explained: "I could tell you
why I stayed with Mr. Lightner. Things the leaders of the
Church do not know anything about. I did just as Joseph
told me to do, as he knew what troubles I would have to
contend with." She added on 23 January 1892 in a letter
to John R. Young: "I could explain some things in regard
to my living with Mr. L[ightner] after becoming the Wife
of Another (Joseph Smith), which would throw light,
on what now seems mysterious--and you would be perfectly
satisfied with me. I write this; because I have heard that
it had been commented on to my injury"
(Lightner, Mary E. Statement. 8 Feb. 1902; Lightner
to Emmeline B. Wells, 21 Nov. 1880; Lightner to John R.
Young, 25 Jan. 1892. George A. Smith Papers. Special Collections.
University of Utah)
Orson Hyde's Wife, Marinda
Marinda Nancy Johnson, sister of Apostles Luke and Lyman
Johnson, married Orson Hyde in 1834. A year before Hyde
returned from Jerusalem in 1843, Marinda was sealed to Joseph
Smith in April of 1842, though she lived with Orson until
their divorce in 1870. Many suspect Joseph Smith was the
actual father of Marinda's son Frank Henry who was born
on 23 Jan 1845, for two reasons. First, because Marinda
had been the polygamous wife of Smith since Apr 1842. Second,
because Smith had sent her first husband, Orson Hyde, on
a mission to Washington on April 4, 1844 "immediately" after
a meeting with Joseph Smith (History of the Church,
pg. 286). The gestation period for a human is on average
266 days (not 9 months), which would date the conception
to early May 1844. Of course, 266 is an average date and
the figures vary. To give you an idea of the range, only
four percent of pregnancies are actually carried two weeks
or more beyond the average time (Guttmacher, 1983).
Frank Henry was born on January 23, 1845. Orson Hyde left
for Washington April 4, 1844. The difference in these two
dates is 294 days! That is almost a month longer than expected
and is basically physiologically impossible, especially
considering that Orson Hyde had not returned to Nauvoo until
August 6, 1844.
(Andrew Jenson, Church Chronology, August 6, 1844)
Marinda later divorced Orson Hyde and voiced her disgust
Windsor Lyon's Wife, Sylvia
Sylvia P. Sessions, married to Windsor P. Lyon, gave birth
to a daughter on 8 February 1844, less than five months
before Joseph Smith's martyrdom. That daughter, Josephine,
related in a 24 February 1915 statement that prior to her
mother's death in 1882 "she called me to her bedside and
told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before
she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something
which she had kept as an entire secret from me and all others
but which she now desired to communicate to me." Josephine's
mother told her she was "the daughter of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time
that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the
(Affidavit to Church Historian Andrew Jenson, 24 Feb.
Norman Buell's Wife, Prescindia
Prescindia D. Huntington, a faithful Mormon and married
woman in Nauvoo, was also a polyandrous wife of Joseph Smith.
Prescindia had married Norman Buell in 1827 and had two
sons by him before joining Mormonism in 1836. She was secretly
sealed to Joseph Smith by her brother Dimick on 11 December
1841, though she continued to live with her husband Buell
until 1846, when she left him to marry Heber C. Kimball.
In a "letter to my eldest grand-daughter living in 1880,"
she explained that Norman Buell had left the Church in 1839,
but that "the Lord gave me strength to Stand alone & keep
the faith amid heavy persecution." (Mormon
Polygamy: A History" by Richard S. Van Wagoner, page
Prescindia, who was Normal Buell's wife and simultaneously
a "plural wife" of the Prophet Joseph Smith, said that she
did not know whether her husband Norman "or the Prophet
was the father of her son, Oliver." And a glance at a photo
of Oliver shows a strong resemblance to Emma Smith's boys.
(Mary Ettie V. Smith, "Fifteen Years Among the Mormons",
page 34; Fawn Brodie "No Man Knows My History" pages 301-302,
Lucinda Morgan Harris, wife of Far West high councilor George
Harris, admitted in 1842 that she had been Smith's "mistress
since four years," and it is known that she visited Smith
while he was incarcerated in Liberty Jail in 1838.
Henry Jacob's Wife, Zina
Prescindia's twenty-year-old sister Zina was living in the
Joseph Smith home when Elder Henry B. Jacobs married her
in March 1841. According to family records, when Zina and
Henry asked Joseph Smith why he had not honored them by
performing their marriage, Smith replied that "the Lord
had made it known to him that [Zina] was to be his Celestial
wife." Believing that "whatever the Prophet did was right,
without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the
reasoning of any man," the devout Elder Jacobs consented
for six-months-pregnant Zina to be sealed to Joseph Smith
27 October 1841. Some have suggested that the Jacobs's marriage
was "unhappy" and that the couple had separated before her
sealing to Joseph Smith. But, though sealed to Joseph Smith
for eternity, Zina continued her connubial relationship
with her husband Henry Jacobs. On 2 February 1846, pregnant
with Henry's second son, Zina was re-sealed by proxy to
the murdered Joseph Smith and in that same session was “sealed
for time" to Brigham Young. Faithful Henry B. Jacobs stood
by as an official witness to both ceremonies.
("History of Henry Bailey Jacobs." By Ora J. Cannon,
page 5-7. also see "Recollections of Zina D. Young" by Mary
Zina and Henry lived together as husband and wife until
the Mormon pioneers reached Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. At this temporary
stop on the pioneer trail, Brigham Young announced that
"it was time for men who were walking in other men's shoes
to step out of them. Brother Jacobs, the woman you claim
for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual
wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy,
and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property.
You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure
to get one of your own kindred spirit" (Hall 1853, 43-44).
President Young then called Jacobs on a mission to England.
Witnesses to his departure commented that he was so emotionally
ill they had to "put him on a blanket and carry him to the
boat to get him on his way".
("Short Sketch of the Life of Henry B. Jacobs" By Ora
Henry returned from his mission and settled in California.
But he was still in love with his wife Zina, now a plural
wife of Brigham Young. Henry's letters to his wife Zina
were heartrending. On 2 September 1852 he wrote: "O how
happy I should be if I only could see you and the little
children, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh." "I am unhappy,"
Henry lamented, "there is no peace for poor me, my pleasure
is you, my comfort has vanished.... O Zina, can I ever,
will I ever get you again, answer the question please."
In an undated Valentine he added:
my mind never will change from Worlds without Ends, no never,
the same affection is there and never can be moved I do
not murmur nor complain of the handlings of God no verily,
no but I feel alone and no one to speak to, to call my own.
I feel like a lamb without a mother, I do not blame any
person or persons, no--May the Lord our Father bless Brother
Brigham and all purtains unto him forever. Tell him for
me I have no feelings against him nor never had, all is
right according to the Law of the Celestial Kingdom of our
god Joseph [Smith]." ("Short Sketch of the Life of Henry
B. Jacobs" By Ora J. Cannon)
It was the rule
rather than the exception for Smith to encourage a polyandrous
wife to remain with her legal husband.
Faithful Mormon Joseph Kingsbury even wrote that he served
as a surrogate husband for Joseph Smith:
"I according to Pres. Joseph Smith & council &
others, I agreed to stand by Sarah Ann Whitney [sealed to
Smith 27 July 1843] as though I was supposed to be her husband
and a pretended marriage for the purpose of shielding them
from the enemy and for the purpose of bringing out the purposes
of God." (Elder Joseph Kingsbury, "History of Joseph
Kingsbury Written by His Own Hand," page 5, Utah State Historical
Read Mormon apologist explanations for why
Joseph Smith married other men's wives:
Did Joseph Smith have sex with his wives?
Did Joseph Smith emotionally blackmail these women into
Read the detailed history of each of Joseph Smith's 33 plural
wives in Todd Compton's excellent book In
For some details on the other married women
Joseph married and impregnated, see:
more discussion on Mormon sexuality, see this on-line article:
Within The Contemporary Mormon Experience (external