Polygamy Timeline

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." (Galatians:6,7)
January 18, 1827 - Joseph Smith (Age: 21) married Emma Hale (Age: 22) "On January 17, 1827, Joseph and Emma rode away from the Hale residence on a horse and the following evening were married by a judge in South Bainbridge. Emma remembers, “I had no intention of marrying when I left home...[but] Preferring to marry him to any other man I knew, I consented.” Emma and Joseph retreated to Palmyra to live with Joseph’s parents. Months later they returned to the Hale home to retrieve Emma’s belongings. Isaac Hale was angered: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to the grave.” In an attempt at reconciliation, Joseph promised Isaac he would give up the treasure seeking business." (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pgs 1,20)
1830 - Book of Mormon is published and condemns polygamy "But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord... Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none." (Book of Mormon, Jacob 2:23-24,27; 1830)
1833 - Joseph Smith (Age: 27) married Fanny Alger (Age: 16) Joseph kept his marriage to Fanny out of the view of the public, and his wife Emma. Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: “Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house”. Ann Eliza again recalls: “...it was felt that [Emma] certainly must have had some very good reason for her action. By degrees it became whispered about that Joseph’s love for his adopted daughter was by no means a paternal affection, and his wife, discovering the fact, at once took measures to place the girl beyond his reach...Since Emma refused decidedly to allow her to remain in her house...my mother offered to take her until she could be sent to her relatives...”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 34,35)
1835 - Marriage is between one man and one woman "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband… We have given the above rule of marriage as the only one practiced in this church… We the undersigned members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and residents of the city of Nauvoo, persons of families do hereby certify and declare that we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants… We the undersigned members of the ladies' relief society, and married females do certify and declare that we know of no system of marriage being practiced in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints save the one contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants." (Doctrine And Covenants 101, 1835-1876)
1838 - Joseph Smith (Age: 32) married Lucinda Harris (Age: 37), who was at the time married to George Harris. The date of the marriage between Joseph and Lucinda is uncertain. Sarah Pratt, a friend of Lucinda’s (and wife of Apostle Orson Pratt), indicated that the wedding occurred sometime during Joseph’s stay in Missouri. After marrying Joseph, Lucinda continued to live with George. This was typical of Joseph’s other polyandrous unions. It is uncertain if Lucinda’s first husband, George, was aware of the marriage." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 49)
January 1838 - Joseph Smith (Age: 32) is caught having an affair. Oliver Cowdery wrote this of Joseph Smith, of which he was then excommunicated in April, 1838. "When he [Joseph Smith] was there we had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that what I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself." (The Mormon Kingdom, vol. 1, p.27; January, 1838)
December 1838 - Polygamy is spoken against “Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?” No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do disapprove of the custom, which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p270; December, 1838)
April 5, 1841 - Joseph Smith (Age: 35) married Louisa Beaman (Age: 26) Joseph and Louisa were married on April 5, 1841, “in a grove Near Main Street in the City of Nauvoo, The Prophet Joseph dictating the ceremony and Br Nobles repeating it after him.”, remembers Erastus Snow, Louisa’s brother-in-law. To help keep the union secret, Louisa wore a man’s hat and coat as disguise. Joseph Bates Noble recalled that after the ceremony, the couple spent their wedding night, “Right straight across the river at my house”. Noble said he encouraged them to, “Blow out the lights and get into bed, and you will be safer there”" (Mormon Polygamy: A History pgs 6, 23; Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 95, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 59,60)
October, 1841 -Joseph Smith (Age: 35) married Zina Huntington Jacobs (Age: 20), who at the time was married to Henry Jacobs. She is the sister of Presendia Buell. "Zina chose to obey this commandment and married Joseph on October 27. She later recalled, “When I heard that God had revealed the law of celestial marriage...I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in this church...I made a greater sacrifise than to give my life for I never anticipated again to be looked upon as an honerable woman by those I dearly loved...”. Zina continued, “It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years”." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 81,82)
December 1841 -Joseph Smith (Age: 35) married Presendia Huntington Buell (Age: 31), who at the time was married to Norman Buell. She is the sister of Zina Jacobs. "Presendia married Joseph Smith on December 11, 1841. Joseph had married her sister, Zina two months prior. As with Zina, Presendia’s brother, Dimick, performed the ceremony. Another brother, Oliver wrote, “Dimick had given our sisters Zina & Presendia to Joseph as wives.” In return, Joseph offered him any reward he wanted. Alluding to eternal salvation, Dimick replied, “that where you and your fathers family are, there I and my fathers family may also be.” Presendia continued to live with her first Husband, Norman. In November 1843, she bore her seventh child, John Hiram, but he passed away a year later. Only two of Presendia’s children had survived." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 122–124; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 44)
January 6, 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Agnes Coolbrith (Age: 33), who was the widow of Don Carlos (Joseph's brother). "Five months later Agnes would marry Joseph Smith. The marriage was guarded with secrecy. On January 6, 1842 Brigham Young wrote a cryptic entry in his journal using Masonic symbols. Decoded, it reads: “I was taken in to the lodge J Smith was Agness”. The abbreviation “was” means “wedded and sealed”. On the same day in Joseph’s diary we find: “Truly this is a day long to be remembered by the saints of the Last Days; a day in which the God of heaven has began to restore the ancient order of his Kingdom...all things are concurring together to bring about the completion of the fullness of the gospel.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 153,154)
January 17, 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Mary Rollins Lightner (Age: 23), who at the time was married to Adam Lightner. "Initially, Mary did not accept Joseph’s proposal. She wanted a witness from God. Mary recalls, “If ever a poor mortal prayed I did”. By February 1842 Joseph had convinced her it was a correct principle and she, “went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham Young performed the sealing...for time, and all Eternity.” Mary said her husband Adam was “far away” out of town at the time of her marriage to Joseph." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 212,213; Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pgs 100,101)
February 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Sylvia Sessions Lyon (Age: 23), who at the time was married to Windsor Lyon. "Sylvia married Joseph Smith on February 8, 1842, when she was 23 years old. It is uncertain if her husband, Windsor, was aware of the marriage, but she did continue to live with him. Brigham Young taught that “if the woman preferred a man higher in authority, and he is willing to take her and her husband gives her up-there is no Bill of divorce required...it is right in the sight of God”. Brigham also explained that the woman, “...would be in a higher glory”. This may help shed light on Sylvia’s complex marriage arrangement." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 179; Mormon Polygamy: A History pgs 45,47)
March 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Patty Bartlett Sessions (Age: 47), who at the time was married to David Sessions. She is the mother of Sylvia Lyon. "The Sessions spent a year in Missouri and then settled in Nauvoo. There, Patty wrote in her journal: “I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9 1842 in Newel K Whitneys chamber Nauvoo, for time and all eternity...Sylvia my daughter was presant when I was sealed”. Patty was 47. Her daughter Sylvia had married Joseph a month earlier on February 8. It is unclear if Patty’s first husband, David, was aware of the marriage." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 179)
April 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Marinda Johnson Hyde (Age: 27), who at the time was married to Orson Hyde. "Marinda soon moved to a better home. In the Spring of 1842 she married Joseph. In Joseph’s diary is a list of his marriages. It includes the entry: “Apr 42 Marinda Johnson to Joseph Smith.”. Eight months later, in December, Orson returned from his mission. It is not clear when, or if, Orson learned about his wife’s marriage to Joseph. However, by March, Orson had learned about plural marriage himself and married two additional wives." (Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 44; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 238,240,241)
June 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Sarah Kingsley Cleveland (Age: 54), who at the time was married to John Cleveland. "Sometime in early 1842, the Clevelands relocated from Quincy to Nauvoo. Emma soon chose Sarah as her counselor in the women’s Relief Society organization. About this same time Sarah, now fifty-four, also became one of Joseph Smith’s wives. As was common practice for Joseph’s wives, Sarah stood as witness at a subsequent wedding ceremony when Joseph married Eliza R. Snow in June of 1842. That same spring, rumors surfaced in the Relief Society about Joseph’s recent marriage to Agnes Coolbrith. Sarah came to his defense, warning “the Society against speaking evil of Prest. J. Smith...that it would not be a light thing in the sight of God...[she] express’d her fears that the Lord would cut off those who will not take counsel” and “said we would have none among us who would speak against the prophet of the Lord”" (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pgs 107–110,115,119; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 277,279)
June 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Eliza R. Snow (Age: 38). "In 1838 Eliza, relocated to Missouri, and then Illinois. In 1842 Emma Smith selected her to be Secretary of the newly organized, “Female Relief Society”. Eliza remembers it was about this time she “first understood that the practice of plurality was to be introduced into the church. The subject was very repugnant to my feelings...I consoled myself with the idea that it was far in the distance and beyond the period of my mortal existence.” However, a few months later, on June 29, 1842, Eliza married Joseph Smith. She wrote, “I was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for time and eternity, in accordance with the Celestial Law of Marriage which God has revealed”. Eliza fondly wrote of Joseph, “my beloved husband, the choice of my heart and the crown of my life.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 310–313; Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pgs 119,120; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 31)
June 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Elizabeth Davis Durfee (Age: 51), who at the time was married to Jabez Durfee. "In the Spring of 1842 Elizabeth, now fifty one, married Joseph Smith. Like Patty Sessions, another one of Joseph’s relatively older wives, Elizabeth was a “Mother in Israel” who helped introduce younger women into plural marriage. In the Spring of 1843, nineteen-year-old Emily Partridge recalls being approached by Joseph: “If you will not betray me, I will tell you something for your benefit...[he] asked me if I would burn it if he would write me a letter”. Emily declined Joseph’s letter thinking, “it was not the proper thing to do”. Soon after, Elizabeth invited Emily to her home. Emily remembers, “She introduced the subject of spiritual wives as they called it in that day [and wondered] if there was any truth in the report she heard...[I thought to myself] I could tell her something that would make her open her eyes if I chose”. Emily kept quiet but later noted, “I learned afterward that Mrs. Durfee was [already] a friend to plurality and knew all about it”. On March 4th, Elizabeth again met with Emily. Emily wrote, “Mrs. Durf- came to me one day and said Joseph would like an opportunity to talk with me. I asked her if she knew what he wanted. She said she thought he wanted me for a wife...I was to meet him in the evening at Mr. Kimballs”. Aided by Elizabeth's prompting, Emily met and married Joseph that evening." (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pgs 109,137,138; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 52; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 260-262, 406,407)
July 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Delcena Sherman (Age: 37), who was the widow of Lyman Sherman. She is the sister of Almera Johnson. "About this time, Delcena’s brother Benjamin left for Canada on a mission. He returned in July of 1842. He later wrote, “The marriage of my Eldest Sister to the Prophet [Joseph Smith] was before my Return to Nauvoo. and it being...admitted I asked no questions”. In Nauvoo, Delcena was living with another one of Joseph’s wives, Louisa Beaman. Less than a year later, Benjamin, Delcena and Louisa would be influential in introducing Delcena’s younger sister, Almera, to plural marriage and persuading her to become one of Joseph wives." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 293-296)
July 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Sarah Ann Whitney (Age: 17). Sarah Ann Whitney married Joseph Smith in a private ceremony during July of 1842. A revelation through Joseph Smith to Sarah Ann’s father authorized the union: “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto my servant N.K. Whitney, the thing that my servant Joseph Smith has made known unto you and your family and which you have agreed upon is right in mine eyes and shall be rewarded upon your heads with honor and immortality and eternal life to all your house, both old and young...” Sarah Ann’s Mother, Elizabeth wrote, “we were convinced in our own minds that God...approved...we were willing to give our eldest daughter, then only seventeen years of age, to Joseph, in...plural marriage.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 347,348)
August 1842 - Joseph Smith (Age: 36) married Martha McBride Knight. (Age: 37), who was the widow of Vinson Knight. "Less than a month after Vinson’s death, Martha married Joseph Smith. The details of the wedding and subsequent married life with Joseph are sparse. Joseph did inquire about Martha’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Almira, wondering if she would be willing to become a plural wife of his brother, Hyrum. Martha discussed the issue with her daughter, but Almira chose to marry another man instead, eventually leaving Nauvoo and the unfolding of polygamy. Martha’s other daughter, Adaline, would follow her mother’s path by entering polygamy. Many years later, Martha received a letter from Almira discussing her apprehension about polygamy: “I can never like [polygamy] for [it] has robed my Sister & her family of their just dues by dividing...substance between more than the law allows & what is still worse divided affection worse than none at all would have killed me in a vary little time but God spared me my heart bleeds for her... write soon from your affectionate daughter...”. Since Almira mentions her sister in this letter, she was perhaps unaware that her mother, Martha, was a plural wife of Joseph Smith." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 371,377)
1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) admitted to being a polygamist “They accuse me of polygamy, and of being a false Prophet, and many other things which I do not now remember; but I am no false Prophet; I am no impostor; I have had no dark revelations; I have had no revelations from the devil; I made no revelations; I have got nothing up of myself. The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people, would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. And they say if I do so, they will kill me! Oh, what shall I do? If I do not practice it, I shall be damned with my people. If I do teach it, and practice it, and urge it, they say they will kill me, and I know they will. But,” said he, “we have got to observe it. It is an eternal principle and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.”” (Contributor, v. 5, p259; 1843, Joseph Smith)
1843 - Joseph (Age: 37) married Nancy Winchester (Age: 14). "Nancy’s marriage to Joseph is undocumented, although according to Mormon Church Historian Andrew Jenson, Nancy married Joseph sometime before his death in June of 1844. Nancy would have been fourteen or fifteen years old." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 606)
February 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Ruth Vose Sayers (Age: 33), who at the time was married to Edward Sayers. "Six months later, in February 1843, Ruth married Joseph Smith. Typical of Joseph’s other wives who already had husbands, Ruth continued to live with Edward. When Joseph Smith was killed in June of 1844, Ruth was in Boston visiting her Aunt Polly and heard about Joseph’s death through a letter from her husband, Edward. Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young were near Boston on missions, and visited Ruth. Together they returned to Nauvoo. Upon Joseph’s death, many of his wives married Brigham Young or Heber C. Kimball and migrated to Utah. Ruth and Edward chose to return to Boston where they stayed until 1849. After 5 years in Boston, Ruth and Edward moved to Utah, reuniting with old acquaintances." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 383,384)
March 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Emily Dow Partridge (Age: 19), and her sister Eliza Maria Partridge (Age: 22). "Four days after his marriage to Emily, Joseph married Emily’s sister, Eliza. The details of the proposal and marriage are sparse. Eliza kept a journal but later burned it because it was “too full”. Years later she wrote, “While [living in Joseph’s house] he taught to us the plan of Celestial marriage and asked us to enter into that order with him. This was truly a great trial for me but I had the most implicit confidence in him as a Prophet of the Lord and [could] not but believe his words and as a matter of course accept the privilege of being sealed to him as a wife for time and all eternity.” Of the marriages, Emily said, “neither of us knew about the other at the time, everything was so secret.”" (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 139; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 36; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 408,409,732)
April 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Almera Johnson (Age: 30), the sister of Delcena Sherman. "Benjamin recalls the ceremony: “the Prophet with Louisa Beeman and my Sister Delcena had it agreeabley aranged with sister Almara and after a little instruction, She Stood by the Prophets Side & was Sealed to him as a wife by Brother Clayton. After which the Prophet asked me to take my Sister to ocupy Room No 10 in his Mansion Home during her Stay in the City.” Almera and Benjamin stayed in Nauvoo for three weeks, and then returned to Macedonia." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 297,298)
May 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Lucy Walker (Age: 17). "Now, bearing the burden of her own eternal salvation and that of her family, and with a deadline approaching, Lucy prayed more fervently for an answer. She couldn’t sleep the entire night. Just before dawn, and Joseph’s deadline, she “received a powerful and irristable testimony of the truth of the mariage covenant called 'Celestial or plural mariage'” and "I afterwards married Joseph as a plural wife and lived and cohabitated with him as such." Lucy married Joseph on May 1, 1843. At the time, Emma was in St. Louis buying supplies for the Nauvoo hotel. Lucy remembers, “Emma Smith was not present and she did not consent to the marriage; she did not know anything about it at all.” Of the relationship, Lucy said, “It was not a love matter, so to speak, in our affairs, -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.”" (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 139; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 59; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 465)
May 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Helen Mar Kimball (Age: 14). "The next morning Joseph visited the Kimball home. "[He explained] the principle of Celestial marrage...After which he 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. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing...She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come...; but it was all hidden from me.” Helen’s mother reluctantly agreed and in May of 1843, Helen married Joseph Smith." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pg 499; Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 146; Mormon Polygamy: A History pg 53)
May 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Sarah Lawrence (Age: 17), and her sister Maria Lawrence (Age: 19). "In the spring of 1843, Joseph married Sarah and Maria. A friend of Maria’s in Nauvoo recalls, “...[Maria] suffered her doubts, her fears, her uncertainty as to whether she was acting right or wrong, for she had a conscience and wanted to be right”, and also remembers Maria saying: “...if there was any truth in Mormonism she would be saved for...My yoke has not been easy nor my burden light.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 475,479; Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 144)
Spring 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Flora Ann Woodworth (Age: 16). "By 1843 Lucien Woodworth had become a close associate of Joseph Smith and was the architect of the Nauvoo House hotel (D&C 124). In spring of that year, Joseph married Lucien’s, sixteen-year-old, daughter Flora Ann. William Clayton, Joseph’s personal secretary, noted subsequent visits the Prophet made to Flora. She is mentioned in Clayton’s diary more often than any of Joseph’s other plural wives: May 2nd: “Joseph rode out today with Flora W.” June 1st: “Evening Joseph rode in the carriage with Flora.” August 26th: “Hyrum and I rode up to my house and Joseph met Mrs. Wdth and F[lora] and conversed some time.” August 28th: “President Joseph met Ms Wdth at my house.” August 29th: “A.M. at the Temple. President Joseph at my house with Miss Wdth.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 389–391)
June 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Elvira Cowles Holmes (Age: 29), who at the time was married to Jonathon Holmes. "In June 1843, six months after her marriage to Jonathan, Elvira married Joseph Smith. It is unclear if Jonathan was aware of the marriage, however he would know by 1846. As the Nauvoo temple neared completion, Joseph’s wives would re-perform their marriages, or sealings, to him within its walls. Since Joseph had been killed in 1844, Jonathan would stand proxy as Elvira was sealed to Joseph for eternity. Jonathan would be Elvira’s earthly companion, eventually surrendering Elvira and their children to Joseph Smith in the eternities. Many years later, as she lay sick and dying, Jonathan would ask Elvira, “what reports she would give to the Prophet Joseph. She replied, ‘Only the best report. You have always been a kind and devoted husband and father.’”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 548, 556)
June 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Rhoda Richards (Age: 58), who was the widow of Ebenezer Damon. "In the fall of 1842, Rhoda moved to Nauvoo and soon met Joseph Smith. Her brother, Apostle Willard Richards, was a close associate of Joseph Smith and perhaps introduced Rhoda to Joseph. In the spring of 1843, Rhoda made her home in “the Prophets store.” The following month, on June 12, Rhoda married Joseph Smith. Her brother Willard performed the marriage. Rhoda wrote, “In my young days I buried my first and only love, and true to that affiance [pledge], I have passed companionless through life; but am sure of having my proper place and standing in the resurrection, having been sealed to the prophet Joseph, according to the celestial law, by his own request, under the inspiration of divine revelation.”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 568–569)
Mid 1843 - Joseph (Age: 37) married Hanna Ells (Age: 29). "According to LDS Church Historian, Andrew Jenson, Hanna married Joseph Smith sometime in the first half of 1843. In Nauvoo, Hanna lived in the home of John Benbow. Benbow recalls, “President Smith frequently visited his wife Hannah at [my] house.” A little more than a year after their marriage, Joseph was killed by a mob in Carthage and Hanna became a widow." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 537,538)
Mid 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Olive Frost (Age: 27), who was at the time married to Parley P. Pratt.

"Their mission complete, Olive and the Pratts arrived in Nauvoo in April 1843. There, Olive lived with some old friends from Maine, Patty and David Sessions. She also socialized with Eliza R. Snow. Both Patty and Eliza had become wives of Joseph Smith a year earlier and Olive, herself, was soon introduced to plural marriage. Mary Ann remembers, “She seemed to realize and appreciate the magnitude of the great and important mission allotted to woman in the perfect plan of this Gospel dispensation, and she desired to do her part in the good work. She freely accorded to man the title of king, and joyfully accepted the place of queen by his side. It was at this time that the principle of plurality of wives was taught to her. She never opposed it, and, as in the case of baptism, soon accepted it to be her creed, in practice as well as in theory. She was married for time and all eternity to Joseph Smith...”" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 589–590)

July 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Desdemona Fullmer (Age: 32). "Desdemona married Joseph Smith in July of 1843. As Joseph continued to secretly accumulate wives, his first wife, Emma, struggled with polygamy. Perhaps Desdemona experienced, or maybe only feared, the anguish of Emma discovering her and Joseph’s relationship. She recalls the resultant anxiety, “In the rise of poligamy i was warned in a dream Amy [Emma] Smith was going to poisen me.” Desdemona was not poisoned and remained Joseph’s wife until he was killed in June of 1844. In 1846, before leaving for Utah, Desdemona had her sealing to Joseph re-performed in the Nauvoo temple." (Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith pg 165; In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 581–582)
July 1843 - Polygamy is introduced to the Mormon Church "Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Nauvoo, Illinois, recorded July 12, 1843, relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant and the principle of plural marriage. Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, evidence indicates that some of the principles involved in this revelation were known by the Prophet as early as 1831. See Official Declaration 1." (Doctrine And Covenants 132, July 1843-Current)
September 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Melissa Lott (Age: 19). By Fall of that year, Melissa had agreed to wed Joseph and they were married on September 20, 1843. Melissa’s parents stood witness at the ceremony. Melissa later recalled the wedding vows, “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition, that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others during your lives." Joseph’s wife, Sarah Ann Whitney, remembered similar vows, with an exception for Joseph who, of course, had many other wives: "...reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph by revelation."" (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 348,597,598)
October 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) denied ever being a polygamist and spoke against it. “Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p324; October, 1843)
November 1843 - Joseph Smith (Age: 37) married Fanny Young (Age: 56). "Fanny and Roswell moved to Kirtland, Missouri and eventually Nauvoo, arriving in 1839. Shortly after arriving, Roswell died and Fanny was left single. In Nauvoo, Brigham Young became a close friend of Joseph Smith and accepted Joseph’s teachings on plural marriage. Brigham remembers the fall of 1843 when he, Joseph and Fanny were discussing the Mormon belief in the necessity of entering plural marriage in order to obtain exaltation and enter the celestial kingdom. Not won over, Fanny remarked, “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.” and then turned to Brigham, “Here, Brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me.” Brigham said that Fanny submitted to Joseph’s impromptu proposal and he “sealed her to him.” Joseph was killed less than a year later and Fanny was once again widowed." (In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith pgs 613–615)
April 1844 - First Presidency Counselor William Law was excommunicated "After Jane Law rebuffs Joseph Smith's proposal to marry him, her husband William Law, who was Joseph's Second Counselor of the First Presidency is excommunicated. Austin Cowles, the First Counselor, quits the church in protest."
May 1844 - Joseph Smith denied (Age: 38) being a polygamist but only being married to Emma Smith. "I had not been married scarcely five minutes, and made on proclamation of the Gospel, before it was reported that I had seven wives. This new holy prophet [William Law] has gone to Carthage and swore that I had told him that I was guilty of adultery. This spiritual wifeism! Why, a man dares not speak or wink, for fear of being accused of this... What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago." (History of the Church 6:410-411; May 1844)
June 7, 1844 - Excommunicated member and Second Counselor, William Law, publishes a newspaper (the Nauvoo Expositor, of which condemned Joseph's polygamy. It included testimony from former First Counselor Austin Coles who also resigned from the church. "Forasmuch as the public mind hath been much agitated by a course of procedure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints... In the latter part of the summer, 1843, the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith, did in the High Council, of which I was a member, introduce what he said was a revelation given through the Prophet... according to his reading there was contained the following doctrines... the doctrine of a plurality of wives, or marrying virgins; that "David and Solomon had many wives, yet in this they sinned not save in the matter of Uriah. This revelation with other evidence, that the aforesaid heresies were taught and practiced in the Church; determined me to leave the office of first counselor to the president of the Church at Nauvoo." (Nauvoo Expositor, Vol. 1, No. 1, p.2; June 1844)
June 10, 1844 - Joseph Smith (Age: 38) was the mayor of Nauvoo at the time and ordered the Nauvoo Expositor printing press to be destroyed, of which they did. The Governor of Illinois then sentenced Joseph to jail.
June 27, 1844 - Joseph Smith (Age: 38) died after a mob broke out in the Carthage Jail
October, 1844 - Sidney Rigdon admits that the church authorities hid their practice of polygamy "It is a fact, so well known, that the Twelve and their adherents have endeavored to carry this spiritual wife business in secret... and have gone to the most shameful and desperate lengths, to keep it from the public... I could bring facts which can be established in any court of justice, in relation to these vile abominations practiced under the garb of religion that would make humanity blush." (Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 1, No. 1, October, 1844)
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2 thoughts on “Polygamy Timeline”

  1. Joseph gained as many wives as he could any way he could. Disgusting. Women, daughters ‘ sold’ for the promise of exaltation; stealing other men’s wives; secrets all over town. I wonder how many children were born that looked like Joseph


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