Web version © 2001 by H. Michael Marquardt. All Rights Reserved.
At Nauvoo, Illinois in July of 1842 the Joseph Smith Store was the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.1 Working at the store were Newel K. Whitney, Bishop of the Church, and his brother-in-law, Joseph C. Kingsbury.
There was a close relationship between Joseph Smith, Prophet and President of the Church, and Bishop Newel K. Whitney.
This bond of affection was strengthened and intensified by the giving in marriage to the former of the Bishop's eldest daughter, Sarah, in obedience to a revelation from God. This girl was but seventeen years of age, but she had implicit faith in the doctrine of plural marriage, as revealed to and practiced by the Prophet, was of celestial origin. She was the first woman, in this dispensation, who was given in plural marriage by and with the consent of both parents. Her father himself officiated in the ceremony. The revelation commanding and consecrating this union, is in existence, though it has never been published. It bears the date of July 27, 1842, and was given through the Prophet to the writer's grandfather, Newel K. Whitney, whose daughter Sarah, on that day, became the wedded wife of Joseph Smith for time and all eternity.2Sarah Ann Whitney was the eldest daughter of Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Whitney; she was born on March 22, 1825, and was married to the Prophet Joseph Smith when she was seventeen on July 27, 1842, by her father. She died in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 4, 1873, thirty-one years after her marriage with Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith had first seen Sarah Ann Whitney when he arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, about the first of February 1831, she was then almost six years old. Eleven years later they were married by her father as husband and wife for time and for all eternity.
It seems that it took a special revelation to Joseph Smith to win the parents consent. "On July 27, 1842, Sarah Ann Whitney wrote that she was to be married to Joseph Smith and that her own father was going to perform the ceremony." It is most appropriate that "This note is found at the end of a revelation giving Newel K. Whitney the words of the marriage ceremony, original in the L.D.S. Church Historian's Library."3
The following are some affidavits and testimonies concerning this marriage between Joseph Smith and Sarah Ann Whitney.
Territory of Utah }
County of Salt Lake.}ss.
Be it remembered that on this nineteenth day of June, A.D. 1869, personally appeared before me Elias Smith, Probate Judge for said county, Sarah Ann Kimball, who was by me sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath saith that on the twenty-seventh day of July, A.D. 1842, at the city of Nauvoo, county of Hancock, State of Illinois, she was married or sealed to Joseph Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Newell K. Whitney, Presiding Bishop of said Church, according to the laws of the same regulating marriage, in the presence of Elizabeth Ann Whitney her mother.
Sarah A. Kimball.
E. Smith, Probate Judge.4
Territory of Utah }
County of Salt Lake.} ss.
Be it remembered that on this thirtieth day of August, A. D. 1869, personally appeared before me, James Jack, a notary public in and for said county, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, who was by me sworn in due form of law, and upon her oath saith that on the twenty-seventh day of July, A. D. 1842, at the city of Nauvoo, county of Handcock, state of Illinois, she was present and witnessed the marrying or sealing of her daughter Sarah Ann Whitney to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for time and all eternity, by her husband Newel K. Whitney then Presiding Bishop of the Church.
E. A. Whitney.
James Jack, Notary Public.5
"The following statement was sworn to before John T. Caine, a notary public, in Salt Lake City, Feb. 16, 1874:
'During this period the Prophet Joseph took several wives. Amongst the number I well remember Eliza Partridge, Emily Partridge, Sarah Ann Whitney, Helen Kimball and Flora Woodworth. These all, he acknowledged to me, were his lawful, wedded wives, according to the celestial order.'
(Signed) WILLIAM CLAYTON.
"The following statement was
given under oath before Charles W. Stayner, a notary public, in Salt Lake City, May 22, 1886:
'I will add that I also knew that the Prophet Joseph Smith had married other women besides his first wife--Emma; I was well aware of the fact of his having married Sarah Ann Whitney, the eldest daughter of Bishop Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Whitney, his wife.'
(Signed) JOSEPH C. KINGSBURY."7
In August of 1842 the activities of Joseph Smith are given as follows:
Mon. 8. - Joseph Smith was arrested by a deputy sheriff at Nauvoo, by requisition from Gov. Thos. Reynolds, of Missouri, falsely accused of being accessory to the shooting of ex-Governor Boggs. O. Porter Rockwell was also arrested as principal. A writ of habeas corpus was issued by the municipal court of Nauvoo, by which the prisoners were released for the time being.
Wed. 10. - The deputy sheriff returned to Nauvoo to re-arrest Joseph Smith and O. Porter Rockwell, but they could not be found. To escape imprisonment the Prophet had to keep concealed for some time.8
While Joseph Smith concealed himself in the house of Edward Sayer, he wrote a letter to his first wife Emma, to whom he had been married for more than fifteen years. At the close of this letter to Emma Smith, dated August 16, 1842, he wrote: "Yours in haste, your affectionate husband until death, through all eternity; for evermore."9
It was reported that Joseph Smith then "went to Carlos Granger's."10 While he was hiding at the home of Carlos Granger, who although not a Mormon was friendly to them, he wrote a very revealing letter to three of his closest friends.11 They were Bishop Newel K. Whitney, his wife Elizabeth Ann and the person whom he refers to as "and &c" -- Sarah Ann Whitney whom he had been married to for twenty-two days. The letter refers to this event in his life in the words "Since what has pased lately between us."12
From the reading of this letter one can gain an insight into the thought pattern of Joseph Smith, especially what he thought of his wife Emma Smith. In this letter written by Joseph Smith in his own hand, dated August 18th, 1842, he wrote the following remarks concerning Emma:
"the only thing to be careful of, is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be Safe, but when She is not here, there is the most perfect Safty" also "I think Emma wont come tonight if she dont dont fail to come to night."The following is a line by line transcription of the letter by Joseph Smith to Newel K. Whitney, his wife and daughter, dated August 18th, 1842. They were to "burn this letter as soon as you read it," this instruction they did not keep.
LINE TEXT 1 Nauvoo, August 18th 1842 2 Dear, and Beloved, Brother and 3 Sister, Whitney, and & c.-- 4 I take this opportunity to communicate, 5 Some of my feelings, privetely at 6 this time, which I want you three 7 Eternaly to keep in your own 8 bosams; for my feelings are so 9 Strong for you Since what has 10 pased lately between us, that the 11 time of my abscence from you 12 Seems so long, and dreary, that 13 it Seems, as if I could not live if you 14 long in this way; and ^ Three would 15 come and See me in this my lonely 16 retreat, it would afford me great 17 relief, of mind, if those with whom 18 I am alied, do love me, now is the 19 time to afford me succour; in the 20 days of exile, for you know I 21 foretold you of these things. I am 22 now at Carlos Graingers, Just back 23 of Brother Hyrums farm, it is only one 24 mile from town, the nights are 25 very pleasant, indeed, all three of can 26 you come^ and See me in the 27 fore part of the night, let Brother 28 Whitney come a little a head, and 29 nock at the south East corner of the 30 the house att ^ window; it is next to 31 the cornfield; I have a room inti- 32 -rely by myself, the whole matter 33 can be attended to with most perfect know 34 Safty, I ^ it is the will of God that you me 35 should comfort ^ now in this time 36 of affliction, or not at all, now is the
|1||time or never, but I hav no kneed of saying|
|2||any such thing, to you, for I know the|
|3||goodness of your hearts, and that you|
|4||will do the will of the Lord, when it is|
|5||made known to you; the only thing|
|6||to be careful of, is to find out when|
|7||Emma comes then you cannot be|
|8||Safe, but when She is not here, there|
|9||is the most perfect Safty: only be|
|10||careful to escape observation, as|
|11||much as possible, I know it is a|
|12||heroick undertaking; but so much|
|13||the greater friendship, and the more|
|14||Joy, when I see you I ^ tell you all|
|15||my plans, I cannot write them on|
|16||paper, burn this letter as soon as you|
|17||read it; keep all locked up in|
|18||your breasts, my life depends up-|
|19||-on it. one thing I want to see you|
|20||for is ^ git the fulness of my blessing|
|21||Sealed upon our heads, &c. you|
|22||will pardon me for my ernest-|
|23||-ness on ^ when you consider how|
|24||lonesome I must be, your good|
|25||feelings know how to ^ every allow|
|26||-ance for me, I close my letter.|
|27||I think Emma wont come tonight|
|28||if she dont dont fail to come to|
|29||night, I subscribe myself your|
|30||most obedient, ^ affectionate,|
|31||Companion, and friend.|
The letter and signature are in the handwriting of Joseph Smith.
Two months after the marriage of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the following certificates were published:
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, and we give this certificate to show that Dr. J. C. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a creature of his own make as we know of no such society in this place nor never did.
S. Bennett, N. K. Whitney, George Miller, Albert Pettey, Alpheus Cutler, Elias Higbee, Reynolds Cahoon, John Taylor, Wilson Law, E. Robinson, W. Woodruff, Aaron Johnson. ______________________
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, and we give this certificate to the public to show that J. C. Bennett's "secret wife system" is a disclosure of his own make.
Emma Smith, President, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Counsellor, Sarah M. Cleveland, Counsellor, Eliza R. Snow, Secretary, Mary C. Miller, Catherine Petty, Lois Cutler, Sarah Higbee, Thirza Cahoon, Phebe Woodruff, Ann Hunter, Leonora Taylor, Jane Law, Sarah Hillman, Sophia R. Marks, Rosannah Marks, Polly Z. Johnson, Angeline Robinson, Abigail Works.13
Ebenezer Robinson, one of the men whose name appears on the first certificate, wrote concerning the statement that he signed as follows:
In October, 1842, a statement was written out, and signed by a large number of the brethren and sisters, including myself and wife, setting forth the fact that we knew of no other form of marriage ceremony in the church except the one published in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, which statement was true at that time, as we had no knowledge of such a ceremony, or that "spiritual wifery," or "polygamy," was taught by the heads of the church, as they had not up to that time taught it to us.
We knew it was talked of in secret, and had been for more than a year, ...
These secret rumors could not constitute a knowledge that certain persons taught such things when they had not taught them to us.14
Among the other names of persons which appeared upon the certificates were Bishop Newel K. Whitney, the father of Sarah Ann Whitney and the one who performed the marriage ceremony between Sarah Ann and Joseph Smith. Sarah's mother, Elizabeth Ann, who was a counselor in the Relief Society, and a witness to the marriage of her daughter, had her name on the certificate of the ladies who belonged to the Relief Society.
Elizabeth Ann Whitney said the following concerning the time when her husband, Bishop Newel K. Whitney, kept store for Joseph Smith:
Our hearts were comforted, and our faith made so perfect that we were willing to give our eldest daughter, then seventeen years of age, to Joseph, in the order of plural marriage. Laying aside all our traditions and former notions in regard to marriage, we gave her with our mutual consent. She was the first woman given in plural marriage with the consent of both parents. Of course these things had to be kept an inviolate secret; ...15
Nine months after Joseph's marriage to Bishop Whitney's daughter, Sarah Ann, she was married to Joseph C. Kingsbury. A pretended marriage was performed for the glory of Joseph Smith and Sarah Ann and to shield the fact that they were husband and wife.
The following is taken from "The History of Joseph C. Kingsbury":16
History of Joseph C.
Kingsbury written by
his own hands 1846-
A Record of Joseph Corrodon Kingsbury giving a sketch of his life, or in the first place his decsent & cronology as far back & he has any knowledge or information And I Joseph C Kingsbury write this Record with my own hands.-17
. . .and on the 16th day of Oct, My Wife Died after a Severe Sickness of three months & being delivered of A Son the same day of her death which lived Thirteen Hours (his Name is Newel)18 . . .and on 29th of April 1843 I according to President Joseph Smith Couscil & others agreed to Stand by Sarah Ann Whitny as supposed to be her husband & had a preteded marriage for the purpose of Bringing about the purposes of God in these last days as Spoken by the mouth of the Prophets Isiah Jeremiah Ezekiel and also Joseph Smith, & Sarah Ann Should Recd a Great Glory Honor, & eternal lives and I Also Should Recd a Great Glory, Honor & eternal lives to the full desire of my heart in having my Companion Caroline in the first Resurection to claim her & no one have power to take her from me & we both shall be Crowned & enthroned together in the Celestial Kingdom of God Enjoying Each other's Society in all of the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ & our little ones with us as is Received in this blessing that President Joseph Smith Sealed upon my head on the Twenty third day of March 1843 as follows-19
Brother Joseph--I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus Christ to bestow upon thee a Patriarchal Blessing according to the Power & authority of the Holy Priesthood vested in me I say unto thee thou Shalt Be Blessed with the good things of this wourld abundantly in thy Lifetime and I Seal thee up to Come forth in the first resurrection unto eternal life--And thy Companion Caroline who is now dead thou shalt have in the first Resurection for I seal thee up for and in her behalf to come forth in the first Resurrection unto eternal lives (and it shall be as though She was present herself) and thou Shalt hail her and She Shall be thine and no one Shall have power to take her from thee, And you both Shall be crowned and enthroned to dwell together in a Kingdom in the Celestial Glory in the presents of God And you Shall enjoy each other Society & embraces in all the fullness of the Gospell of Jesus Christ wourds without End And I Seal these blessings upon thee and thy Companion in the name of Jesus Christ for thou shalt receive the holy annointing & Endowment in this Life to prepare you for all these blessings even So Amen [Witnesses to above Blessing Newel K Whitney Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Sarah Ann Whitney]20
On April 29th, 1843, Joseph Smith gave his plural wife Sarah Ann Whitney to another man--Joseph C. Kingsbury, whose wife had died on October 10th, 1842, six months before his second marriage.
That Joseph Smith performed the ceremony that joined Joseph C. Kingsbury and Sarah Ann Whitney together in marriage is known from a record of marriages performed in Nauvoo. The following is from a slip of paper signed by Joseph Smith stating that he performed this marriage:
I hereby certify, that I have upon this the 29th day of
April 1843, joined together in Marriage Joseph C.
Kingsbury and Sarah Ann Whitney, in the City of Nauvoo, Illinois.
Joseph Smith Elder
rec'd 27th May 1843
The marriage was then recorded in "A Record of Marriages, in the City of Nauvoo, Illinois" from which the following is taken:
Joseph C. Kingsbury and Sarah Ann Whitney were joined together in marriage, in the City of Nauvoo, Ills, upon the 29th day of April 1843, by Joseph Smith, Elder.22
On January 12, 1846, in a ceremony in the Nauvoo Temple Sarah Ann Whitney was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity.23 The proxy for Joseph Smith (who died on June 27, 1844) was Heber C. Kimball, one of the Apostles of the Church. Sarah Ann was then sealed to Heber C. Kimball for time.
Since her marriage to Joseph C. Kingsbury on April 29, 1843, and until she went to live with Heber C. Kimball in May of 1846, Sarah Ann Whitney still lived with Joseph C. Kingsbury. While Sarah Ann and Joseph C. Kingsbury lived together, Heber C. Kimball was courting Sarah Ann. The date of Heber C. Kimball's religious marriage as recorded by Sarah's father Newel K. Whitney was on March 17, 1845 (see additional note after the summary).
Two months after their sealing in the Nauvoo Temple a baby boy was born to Heber C. Kimball and Sarah Ann Whitney while she was traveling with Joseph C. Kingsbury. This boy was born on March 8, 1846, and was given the name of David Kimball Smith by his father.
The following is from Joseph C. Kingsbury's History:
(I being prepared took my Journey on 28th Feby 1846 with Sarah my Supposed wife & Loenza my wife & Mary Huston Sarah Hand Made & Emaline Sarah Assisted in Company with Bishop N. K. Whitney, my Gospel Father and his famaly We Traveled verry Slow being in a grate Compy bad wether, & muddy roads) and on 8th March Sarah was delivered of a Son in the Valley of David and after Going thru a very fatiguing Journey thru cold & wet I was taken Sick & suffered much) but through the mercis of the Lord I recovered
and theOn the forepart of may Sarah Went to live With President Kimball her husband & I was left with my Real wife Loenza to journey by ourselves (& we reached Council Bluffs in June (about the middle)24
Willard Richards recorded in his journal the following:
8 minutes before 7 A. M., Sarah, Daughter of Bishop Whitney, was delivered of a fine son, named by his Father, David Kimball Smith, after the name of the place where Bishop Whitney was encamped, which he called the Valley of David.25
David Kimball Smith didn't live long for he "died in infancy."26
It might not have been too uncommon in the City of Nauvoo for men and women to live together before they were married. From the diary of Hosea Stout, who was the chief of police in Nauvoo, comes the following entry of Friday, February 14, 1845:
14th F. At home in the forenoon writing my history. and at 4 o'clock went to the fencing school thence to the police & Lodge home at 9 o'c today Lucretia Fisher came to live with me.
Juanita Brooks, who edited the Diary of Hosea Stout, explains this entry:
Lucretia Fisher lived in the home two months before she was married to Stout. This plan was sometimes followed to see if the two wives would be compatible, and also to determine whether or not the second was attracted to the husband sufficiently to become his wife. The Stout family Bible gives the wedding date as April 20, 1845.27Amasa M. Lyman, an Apostle of the Church, performed the marriage ceremony.
Sarah Ann Whitney was married to Joseph Smith on July 27, 1842. Nine months later on April 29, 1843, she was married to Joseph C. Kingsbury with the Prophet Joseph Smith officiating. She was then eighteen years old. It seems that Joseph Smith married Sarah Ann Whitney for time and for all eternity and then relinquished her for time, in a pretended marriage ceremony, to Joseph C. Kingsbury. Sarah Ann Whitney was the first woman who had her marriage to Joseph Smith sealed for eternity in the Nauvoo Temple on January 12, 1846. From the foregoing marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney, her secret marriage to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, being commanded to marry him at the age of seventeen by a special revelation, the 1842 letter written by Joseph Smith to her parents and herself to come to visit him, her living with Joseph C. Kingsbury and her marriage with Heber C. Kimball it must be said: What a strange marriage system!
In the previous edition of this work the implication based upon the Jan. 12, 1846 Nauvoo Temple sealing date was that David Kimball was illegitimate. Concerning the marriage date of Heber C. Kimball and Sarah Ann Whitney (Smith, Kingsbury) Stanley B. Kimball recently wrote: "What Marquardt failed to find, however, was the record of the March 17, 1845, marriage of Heber to Sarah in the Newel K. Whitney 1841-45 Account Book & Diary, Special Collections, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah." (Heber C. Kimball, Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer, 1981, p. 315) Newel K. Whitney (Sarah's father) recorded in his Account Book: "Monday evening March 17, 1845 Sarah was LAV to HCK." I concur that the marriage date was March 17, 1845 rather than the sealing date of Jan. 12, 1846. The implication that David Kimball was illegitimate was an error on my part. I would like to thank Stanley B. Kimball for bringing this to my attention.
This was a religious marriage rather than a civil marriage ceremony. On March 27, 1845 Heber C. Kimball recorded in his journal that he received the washing of his feet by Sarah. When Sarah Ann went to the Nauvoo Temple for her endowment on Jan. 1, 1846 she used the pretended civil marriage name of Kingsbury when she was taken through the veil of the Temple by her husband Heber C. Kimball.
The following is from a typed copy, the original is in the Church Historian's Office, of the revelation given through Joseph Smith concerning his marrying Sarah Ann Whitney which, gives her father, Newel K. Whitney, the words of the marriage ceremony:
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 because of the lineage of my Priesthood, saith the Lord, it shall be upon you and upon your children after you from generation to generation, by virtue of the holy promise which I now make unto you, saith the Lord. These are the words which you shall pronounce upon my servant Joseph and your daughter S. A. Whitney. They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say, You both mutually agree, calling them by name, to be each other's companion so long as you both shall live, preserving yourselves for each other and from all others and also throughout eternity, reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph by revelation and commandment and by legal authority in times passed. If you both agree to covenant and do this, I then give you, S. A. Whitney, my daughter, to Joseph Smith, to be his wife, to observe all the rights between you both that belong to that condition. I do it in my own name and in the name of my wife, your mother, and in the name of my holy progenitors, by the right of birth which is of priesthood, vested in me by revelation and commandment and promise of the living God, obtained by the Holy Melchisedeck Gethrow [Jethro?] and others of the Holy Fathers, commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through you to your posterity forever. All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that through this order he may be glorified and that through the power of anointing David may reign King over Israel, which shall hereafter be revealed. Let immortality and eternal life hereafter be sealed upon your heads forever and ever.
The complete document with footnotes can be found in H. Michael Marquardt, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999), 315-16.