by Martha Sonntag Bradley
and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward
An Ordered Life
Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young in Nauvoo, 1839-46
“I never anticipated again to be looked uppon as an honorable woman by those I dearly loved.”
—Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs
[p.100] Zina Diantha Huntington was eighteen years old when she arrived with her parents and brothers in Quincy, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi in April 1839. They had been members of the Mormon church for six tumultuous years. Moved by the Spirit to enter their new faith through baptism, they relinquished ties to home and family in New York, struggled up from poverty in Ohio, then stood in mortal jeopardy in Missouri. They longed for peace, but Ohio and Missouri had prepared them for perhaps the most challenging period yet—Nauvoo.
The concept of liminality is a useful lens through which to examine this critical period in Zina Diantha’s life. According to cultural sociologist Victor Turner, liminality is a state in which everyday processes are suspended to allow for a transition to a new situation, a “no-man’s land betwixt and between the structural past and the structural future.” Liminality is “full of potency and potentiality” because it indicates a movement from separation to limbo to reaggregation at a “higher state of consciousness or social being.”1 Liminality transforms crisis, whether [p.101] personal, natural, or communal, into enlightenment by turning such moments into rites of passage.
In important ways, Zina Diantha’s experience in Nauvoo was liminal. It was required of her to shed earlier notions about propriety, traditional behavior and belief, and to begin literally a new life. Mormons were doing more than making an unsettled land habitable, pushing the wilderness back inch by inch with their houses, schools, and churches. They were expanding their understanding of life in the world. They were making a new future, one where anything seemed possible.
In this the prophet Joseph Smith was the guide—his vision of Zion dictated the shape that new world would take. For Zina, William, and the other Mormon immigrants, this was the new Zion found on the banks of the Mississippi River in Illinois. Joseph spoke to the importance of creating a “Zion-like” society.
The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight. They have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipation they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight; we are the favored people that God has made choice of to bring about the Latter-day glory; it is left for us to see, participate in and help to roll forward the Latter-day glory, “the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together all things that are in heaven, and all things that are upon the earth.2
The removal of Mormons to Nauvoo and the settling of Nauvoo as a Mormon city also created a psychological reality that made for a perfect liminal state. This transformation was a religious rite of passage that physically removed the Saints as a community from the American mainstream and defined their collective spiritual identity. In a more personal sense, Zina Diantha’s life in Nauvoo followed the rite of passage she had begun with her conversion and continued during her adolescence in Kirtland. She had left behind her homes in New York, Ohio, and Missouri, and perhaps more important, the world outside Mormonism, for new relationships, beliefs, traditions, and loyalties. When Joseph designed a Mormon world in Nauvoo, Zina willingly found a way to make it her own.
[p.102] Sixty-five-year-old William, thirty-one-year-old Dimick, and twenty-one-year-old William D. had proven themselves in Missouri as true friends of the prophet. As chair of the committee to oversee the removal of the poor from Missouri, William had again demonstrated his dedication to the church. Dimick too had shown his loyalty as a Danite and defender of the church’s interests.
When the family arrived in Illinois in April 1839, they had lost all their material possessions and had, with other Saints, feared injury or death, suffered from inadequate food, and traveled across Missouri in the dead of winter. Unlike many of the refugees who had to camp in inadequate shelters, Dimick had secured a cabin four miles east of Quincy where the families—except William D.—stopped for two or three weeks. William D. went straight to Commerce, the original site of Nauvoo, where he lived with Sidney Rigdon. The Huntingtons left the safety of Judge Cleveland’s house in Quincy at the same time as Joseph and Emma, but stopped briefly to bury Dimick’s and Fanny’s daughter Maryette. They arrived in Commerce/Nauvoo three days after Joseph Smith and his family, on 16 May 1839.
To survive, William’s and Zina’s family had to begin work immediately, which they did with “might and main,” according to Oliver. “All of us [had] to do something towards preparing for the future, and our first work was to plant potatoes and corn, what little ground we could occupy; and after that father made several thousand shingles to pay the rent and get a little something to live on as we went along.” They hunted for food and depended on the generosity of others. “Sometimes we would kill a quail or two, sometimes a squirril [sic] and sometimes catch a fish, all of which were very plenty, and which helped us to live.”3
Perhaps their greatest joy, however, was being out of their “enemies country” and in what Oliver described as a place of “tolerable plenty.” “Our wants were lessened, and … we found we could live with a great deal less than we once thought we could, and enjoy ourselves too.”4
Father William mentions the “sick around us,” with such difficulties being compounded by the severe weather. “Not one of us could cut a stick or bring a pail of water from the river when our ague and fever was on us.” Their cabin was twelve feet square but, in William’s view, comfortable.5 Here, however, he reflected on his changed economic condi-[p.103]tion. “In drawing contrast, I had passed from a state of affluence worth thousands, down to the lowest state of poverty; even to be in debt and nothing to pay my debts.”6 Ague, malaria, fevers, and chills plagued the Saints as they built homes on Nauvoo’s swampy land. It was “a wild, forsaken, sickening place, for it was very sickly there,” Oliver later remembered. William D. took up residence with Joseph and Emma Smith and “stayed there all summer”7 in 1839, but the remaining family members clung together, struggling to survive on the disease-ridden swampland on the east bank of the Mississippi. Zina Diantha’s reminiscence corresponds with Oliver’s—early Nauvoo was a city of “sickness [and] poverty,” transformed into blessings thanks to “the word of God by his Prophet.”8 Oliver found Nauvoo to be situated much like Diahman: on the “bend of a river.” “It was afterwards regularly laid off into blocks and streets, both ends of the streets running east and west terminated in the river. The prophet bought a farm about one mile below where the few buildings in memory of the former times were. … These he laid of into another city and offered lots for sale, as he had a good title of the land.” Joseph had platted the whole area into “blocks of four acres each and lots of one, with streets running due east, west, north and south.”9
Certainly during those first months, they must have felt more forsaken than blessed, for they were all ill. On 24 June Zina first fell sick with what they thought was a “congestive chill” but was actually malaria. Oliver and Zina Diantha also suffered from “chills and fever,” Oliver remembered. “Father took care of us and John done the house work by the direction of Zina Diantha, for Mother was too low to talk. In a day or two more and Father was flat on his back, then we had to get a hired girl.”10 Zina Diantha’s account is a chronicle of progressive suffering:
I was taken sick the morning of the 25th [of June]. My Father on the 27th, my Brother Oliver on the 1st of July. John was the only one that could give us a drink of water. … Pres Joseph Smith … and his family ware very kind. … He saw to our being taken care of as well as circumstances would posibly permit as there ware hundreds in tents and wagons that needed care.
He once came in, found us all needing refreshment [so] he went and made us warm drink [and] brought it to all of us. My Mother’s weight was 236 lbs so that when she needed lifting he sent Brethren to assist.11
[p.104] Joseph daily visited all families suffering with illness, blessing the sickest.
Zina knew she would not recover. From her deathbed, she told her daughter: “Zina my time has come to die. You will live many years; but O, how lonesome father will be. I am not afraid to die. All I dread is the mortal suffering. I shall come forth triumphant when the Saviour comes with the just to meet the saints on the earth.”12 Despite the family’s faith and best nursing, Zina Baker Huntington died of malaria on 8 July, leaving her family shattered by sorrow. Zina Diantha recalled her mother’s last moments:
Early in the morning just before the sun had risen the spirit of my blest Mother took its flight without moving a muscle or even a quiver of the lip. But 2 of the family [twelve-year-old John and twenty-one-year-old, William D.] could follow the loved one to its resting place. O who could tel the hearts of those surviving whose turn it would be to follow next, as we gazed into each others pallid faces.13
Oliver described the next several months as a “mere cipher in my memory.”14 William mourned the loss of his wife with still-fresh grief: “My companion gone who had passed with me thru all our trials and scenes of affliction by water, by land, in war in Missouri. Moving to this place, in her sickness to death, and never murmured or complained. We felt to bear all our afflictions for Christ’s sake, looking forward for the recompense of our reward as did Paul.”15
Twenty-one-year-old Benjamin F. Johnson, who had arrived in Nauvoo not long after the Huntingtons, was shocked at their plight:
Mother Huntington, with others just before my arrival had sickened and died, while sister Zina, under this great bereavement was confined to her bed with no one of the family [present]. And while feeling to mourn with her and to sorrow in the sickness and death … it was still a great happiness to minister comfort to her who was thoughtful of me when a homeless prisoner and comparative stranger. And I will here say that thru all my associations of youth, by no one was I more impressed with [the] purity and dignity of true womanhood than by her.16
Oliver lamented: “There was scarce anone [sic] well and strong enough to dig a grave. … Indeed, we were a pitiful sight and none to pity us but [p.105] God and his prophet.”17 Still struggling against fever in late August 1839, William, Zina Diantha, Oliver, and John moved into a house that William D. and Dimick had built in the woods along the banks of the river. “There Oh God, witness the scenes we have passed through!” Oliver later recounted. “We were all sick and hardly able to get a drink of water. He only knows how we lived or on what we lived for none of us was able to work hard.”18 William leased a piece of farm land and, at age sixty-five, once again embarked on a new beginning.
Zina Diantha managed the house for her brothers and father and “a good Mother she was to us all.”19 As she moved through the rhythms of housework—weaving, baking, and studying the scriptures, all patterns established by her mother—the familiarity must have both soothed her and harrowed up her grief afresh. She must have longed to see her mother’s spirit again, yet it was Fanny who reported that her mother-in-law had returned in spirit to “tell her some things concerning the family. She left a short message for Zina and a word for each, but Fanny was afraid & Mother left the room suddenly. This was in daylight. All her words were words of admonition and reproof.”20 It is unclear why Zina felt her children merited reproof or how they responded to Fanny’s report, but this episode is a clear indication of how ever-present she was in their lives despite her death.
On 24 September 1839, Zina’s brother William D., age twenty-one, married Caroline Clark. One year and five days later, on 29 September 1840, Zina’s father, William, married the recently widowed Lydia Clisbee Partridge. Lydia’s husband, Edward Partridge, had joined the church in 1830, been ordained its first bishop in 1831, served in Ohio and Missouri where he had been tarred and feathered, and had died in Nauvoo in May 1840. William, Oliver, and John moved into Lydia’s house, and William assumed a father’s responsibilities toward her five surviving children: Eliza Maria, Emily Dow, Caroline Ely, Lydia, and Edward Jr. (Another son, Clisbee, had died in infancy.) To ease the crowding, Zina moved in with Dimick, Fanny, and their two children—Clark and Fannie Maria. In October William was appointed to the Nauvoo High Council where he played a key role in community decision-making.
Joseph Smith manifested the tenderest solicitude for this struggling [p.106] family. In a story that paralleled that of others bonded to him during this difficult time, he had sixteen-year-old Oliver taken to Hiram Clark’s, while Zina Diantha and John came to his own house where Emma devotedly nursed them back to health. Zina and John stayed for three months during the winter of 1839-40. In her autobiography, Zina praised the Smiths’ generosity: “My Fathers life was dispared of, … Some times 30 or 40 would come from there tents and wagons to shake with the ague or have chills on President Smiths floor just to be in the shade. Sister Emma was like a mother, and [I] Fancy I can see the pales of Gruel and quarts of Composition that was retailed to the sick in those shadowy times.”21
Though sick and poverty-stricken, the Saints struggled to build homes and plant crops. Commerce, a small farming community with a few merchants and traders servicing river traffic, rapidly assumed a Mormon identity after the church had arranged to purchase 20,000 acres from Isaac Galland—unfortunately receiving a highly dubious land title in return. Joseph renamed the city “Nauvoo” (Hebrew, he said, for “city beautiful”), and encouraged the Saints to gather. His emerging community plans were grand: another temple, a university, a hotel, other public buildings, and thriving commercial and residential sectors. Surveyors laid out the plat of four-acre blocks, each divided into four one-acre lots. In time they annexed additional plats. Soon hundreds of log homes, some frame and stone buildings, and, after 1842, brick structures created a sense of permanency.
Their fellow citizens were initially charitable. The Courier of Joliet, Illinois, reported in June 1841: “The people of the town appear to be honest and industrious, engaged in their usual vocations of building up a town, and making all things around them comfortable.” Later that year, another periodical reported: “I saw a people apparently happy, prosperous and intelligent. Every man appeared to be employed in some business or occupation. I saw no idleness, no intemperance, no noise. … All appeared to be contented, with no desire to trouble themselves with anything except their own affairs.”22
In 1842 Nauvoo’s own newspaper provided a rich visual image of the town’s progress: “For three or four miles upon the river and about the same distance back in the country, Nauvoo presents a city of gardens, ornamented with dwellings of those who have made a covenant by sacri-[p.107]fice, and are guided by revelation, an exception to all other societies upon the earth.”23 At the time of the 1840 census, Nauvoo’s population was 2,450, equivalent to nearby Quincy or Springfield, and half the population of Chicago. At its peak in 1845, Nauvoo boasted 11,036 inhabitants (Chicago 12,088).24
Still mourning the loss of her mother, Zina Diantha asked the prophet’s help in understanding the meaning of her experience. She wondered if she would know her mother in the hereafter. He replied promptly, “Certainly you will. More than that you will meet and become acquainted with your eternal Mother, the wife of your Father in Heaven.” Never having previously considered the novel idea of a heavenly mother, Zina asked: “And have I then a Mother in Heaven?” “You assuredly have,” Joseph answered. “How could a Father claim His title unless there were also a Mother to share that parenthood.”25 Eliza R. Snow also learned of the doctrine of a heavenly mother from Joseph. This concept inspired her to write the words to “My Father in Heaven,” and the lines: “In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare. Truth is reason, truth eternal tells me I’ve a mother there.”26
The doctrine of a heavenly mother was not the only new concept Zina learned from the prophet she revered during the winter of 1839-40 while Emma nursed her back to health in the Smith home. The thirty-four-year-old Joseph Smith, in private conversations, taught Zina Diantha the controversial principle of plural marriage and invited her to become his plural wife.27
Plurality was inextricably linked to the Mormon notion of eternal marriage. Joseph taught that marriage under God’s “new and everlasting covenant” carried with it the same promise that Abraham and Sarah had received anciently that their seed or posterity “both in the world and out of the world should they continue [would be] as innumerable as the stars” (LDS D&C 132:19-20). A husband and wife sealed by the proper priesthood authority in the “new and everlasting covenant” might receive “an exceeding and an eternal weight of glory, thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers”—in short, a “fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.” Thus they could become “gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they [p.108] continue.” This compelling attraction became a basic justification for plurality.
According to Smith’s private clerk, William Clayton, as part of the ancient order of things, Joseph was attempting to restore the marriage patterns of ancient Israel. On 12 July 1843, Clayton transcribed a ten-page revelation to Joseph which described the practice of “Moses, Abraham, David and Solomon having many wives and concubines … a new and everlasting covenant.” Under this covenant, if a “man espouse a virgin … [or] ten virgins … he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him” (LDS D&C 132:4, 61, 62).
Even so, when the principle of plural marriage was first introduced to women like Zina, raised in monogamous homes and under the strict morality of Victorian America, it must have seemed an abomination. Joseph pressed Zina for an answer to his marriage proposal on at least three occasions in 1840, but she avoided answering him. Weighing against such a proposal was her affection for the prophet’s first wife, Emma, her respect for traditional Christian monogamy, the strangeness of this new matrimonial system, and the secrecy it would require. Influencing her toward acceptance was her gratitude for the kindnesses done her whole family and, more importantly, her wholehearted deference to Joseph as her spiritual, ecclesiastical, and social superior. She considered him God’s spokesman and the embodiment of male priesthood power which was intimately interwoven with her view of Mormonism as the only true church. As an eighteen-year-old girl, she also must have felt flattered by a proposal from the pre-eminent male in her culture. And surely, as never before, she must have longed for her mother and her sister to advise her. She had literally nowhere to turn for another point of view.
Zina was most circumspect, even in later reminiscences, about her reaction; but the records of other young women similarly approached while working in the Smith home may be analogous. Between 1839 and 1842, Joseph and Emma and their four children lived in Nauvoo in the “Homestead,” a log-and-frame house on the west side of Main Street just south of the intersection of Main and Water streets. It was not large, and the constant stream of guests must have strained their resources. Joseph Smith III later remembered that the house was “generally overrun with visitors. There was scarcely a Sunday in ordinary weather that the house and yard [p.109] were not crowded—the yard with teams and the house with callers. This made a heavy burden of added toil for Mother and unnecessary expense for Father.”28 In the summer of 1843, the Smiths moved to the much larger hotel/residence Mansion House, a new structure across Main Street from the Homestead. This two-storied, central-passage colonial style house had a parlor and “hall” or living room on the main level separated by a hall with a staircase to the second level’s four rooms. In time a large wing, which included several hotel rooms, was added to the back.
Zina’s stepsisters Eliza and Emily Partridge moved into the Homestead in the spring of 1840 to care for the Smith children. Emma was as kind toward them as she had been to Zina. Emily was sixteen, Eliza twenty, when Emma welcomed them into her home. “We did not work for wages but were provided with the necessities of life,” Emily later recalled. “Joseph and Emma were very kind to us; they were almost like a father and mother, and I loved Emma and the children.”29 The two girls spent the next three years with the Smiths.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1842, Joseph independently introduced both young women to the idea of plural marriage. “The first intimation I had from Brother Joseph that there was a pure and holy order of plural marriage was in the spring of 1842,” Emily continued. Joseph, she remembered, taught her gradually and attempted to convince her of the sacred secret. “‘Emily, if you will not betray me,’” he allegedly said. “‘I will tell you something for your benefit.’ Of course I would keep his secret, but no opportunity offered for some time to say anything to me … he asked me if I would burn it if he would write me a letter.” She wavered and described herself as about “as miserable as I ever would wish to be for a short time. I went to my room and knelt down and asked my father in heaven to direct me in the matter. … I could not speak to any one on earth. I received no comfort till I went back and watched my opportunity to say I could not take a private letter from him.” Soon after her feelings changed, and she recalled, “I cannot tell all Joseph said, but he said the Lord had commanded [me] to enter into plural marriage and had given me to him and although I had got badly frightened he knew I would yet have him. My mind was now prepared and would receive the principles.”30 Four days later her sister married Joseph. “I had shut him up so quick,” Emily remembered years later, “that he said no more to me [p.110] untill the 28th of Feb. 1843, (my nineteenth birthday) and I was married [to him] the 4th of March following.”31 Eliza turned twenty-three six weeks later, on 20 April.
Fifteen-year-old Lucy Walker Kimball and her three siblings moved into the Smith home during the summer of 1841 after the death of their mother and subsequent illness of their father. At some point in 1842, Joseph asked Lucy, who had turned sixteen, if he might speak with her privately. “I have been commanded of God to take another wife,” he said. “And you are the woman.” Astonished, Lucy described the request as “a thunderbolt” that shook her to her soul. “He asked me if I believed him to be the Prophet of God. … He explained to me the principle of plural or celestial marriage. [He] said this principle was again to be restored for the benefit of the human family. That it would be an everlasting blessing to my father’s house, and form a chain that could never be broken, worlds without end.”32 If Lucy’s experience is typical, Smith foresaw how plural marriage would connect the families of the most faithful and did not hesitate to use his authority as prophet and the faith of his followers to convince those reluctant to make the dramatic change in attitude toward marriage.
Because Lucy did not immediately accept his proposition, Smith encouraged her to pray “sincerely for light and understanding” on the matter. “I thought I prayed sincerely,” she would later remember. “But was so unwilling to consider the matter favorably that I fear I did not ask in faith for light. Gross darkness instead of light took possession of my mind.”33 Apparently her turmoil did not go unnoticed, for Joseph soon asked for another private conference. Attempting to ease her mind, he said, “Although I can not under existing circumstances, acknowledge you as my wife, the time is near when we will go beyond the Rocky Mountains and then you will be acknowledged and honored as my wife.” He continued, “I have no flattering words to offer. It is a command of God to you. I will give you until tomorrow to decide this matter. If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against you.”34 That night the motherless Lucy’s feelings changed, and she was sealed35 to Smith on 1 May 1843 in the prophet’s home.36
When Joseph invited twenty-four-year-old Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, wife of Adam Lightner, to become his plural wife in February 1842, she asked for a witness: “If God told you that why does he not tell [p.111] me?” Smith responded with an appeal to her loyalty: “He asked me if I was going to be a traitor.” He told her to pray, saying that an angel had promised him she would have a witness. Mary Elizabeth received the desired witness from “an angel of the Lord,” and confessed, “If ever a thrill went through a mortal it went through me. … I had been dreaming for a number of years I was his wife. I thought I was a great sinner. I prayed to god to take it from me for I felt it was a sin.”37
Bathesheba Smith was asked by her husband to accept plural marriage as a first wife. After struggling with the request, she was convinced that the revelation was of God, “and having a fixed determination to attain to Celestial Glory, I felt to embrace every principle, and that it was for my husband’s exaltation that he should obey the revelation on plural marriage in order to attain to kingdoms, thrones, principalities and powers, firmly believing that I should participate with him in all his blessings, glory and honor.”38
Like Mary Elizabeth, Zina Diantha yearned after righteousness and, like her stepsisters, was confused by Smith’s request. She later lamented in her journal, “O dear Heaven, grant me wisdom! Help me to know the way. O Lord, my god, let thy will be done and with thine arm around about to guide, shield and direct. Illuminate our minds with intelligence as you do bless the earth with light and warmth.”39
Simultaneously, Zina received numerous courtship visits from Henry Bailey Jacobs, who often accompanied brother Oliver to the house she now shared with Dimick and Fanny. Zina left no record if Henry’s public attentions made Joseph’s secret courtship less or more confusing, nor did she say if she had been courted by Henry before. Henry was a handsome, eligible twenty-three-year-old with brown eyes and dark curly hair. His violin entertained the Nauvoo Saints. Like Zina, he was born in upstate New York in Jefferson County on 5 May 1817 where he was baptized a Mormon in 1832. He was ordained a seventy on 19 January 1839. The following May he left on his first mission, accompanying Jesse Haven. An ardent missionary and popular preacher, Henry also wrote for local publications.
Henry was a friend of all three Huntington brothers, was William D.’s partner in a coffin-making enterprise, and later was Oliver’s companion on several missions. When Zina returned to her father’s house in [p.112] the spring of 1840, Henry’s frequent visits must have seemed natural. There is no record of additional discussions on the matter of plural marriage during the next year.
On 7 March 1841, twenty-year-old Zina married Henry Jacobs, then almost twenty-four. She must have felt that she had thus circumvented Joseph’s proposals.40 An announcement appeared that day in the Times and Seasons: “MARRIED—In this city March 7th by Elder John C. Bennett, Mr. Henry B. Jacobs and Miss Zina D. Huntington.”41 According to family tradition, Henry and Zina had invited Joseph to perform the marriage. He consented but did not appear, and John C. Bennett officiated in his place. When Zina later asked Joseph about his absence, he reportedly said that “he couldn’t give to one man [a woman] who had been given him by the Lord. The Lord had made it known to him that she [Zina] was to be his Celestial wife.”42
Zina’s description of this first of three wedding days is sedate but happy. Henry went on a series of missions, and in his absence Zina lived periodically with family members or in Henry’s and her own home. She characterized Henry and his father by their commitment to the church, an evaluation that would have important consequences later. Henry and Zina shared their common commitment to the church and a belief in Joseph’s prophetic mission. Clearly, they also enjoyed exercising their spiritual gifts. In a letter written in 1852, Henry reflected on the spiritual nature of their household. “When I was at home with you and the children … we could say our prayers together and speak together in tongues and bless each other in the name of the Lord.”43
Henry’s and Zina’s first home was a log house with a dirt floor, rented from Gad Yale, Dimick’s friend and fellow Danite. The couple created a makeshift “built-in” bed with two-inch auger holes bored into the corner logs of the cabin, fitted with hickory saplings, its “mattress” a cowhide tacked to the frame and padded with straw.44
Zina became pregnant almost immediately after her marriage, and began work as a wife and female member of the church. Like other young wives of Nauvoo, Zina’s role while Henry was gone was to be resourceful, build their home, and provide for herself. Thus their prosperity was secured. Besides her traditional round of female work, she took on additional responsibilities—teaching small classes of students, spinning [p.113] and weaving, dyeing cloth, sewing or fine tailoring for extra money, and trying to turn her rough house into a home.
Regardless of Zina’s pregnancy, her thoughts that first summer were not the tender anticipations of an expectant mother, happy in the love of her husband. Rather, she continued to be tormented by the feeling that she had rejected the Lord’s will by failing to follow the prophet’s counsel. Although extant records do not document further conversations with Joseph at this time, her anguish suggests he told her that her marriage to Henry did not spell an end to his plan that she become his “celestial wife.” Consequently, Zina prayed continuously for understanding and strength, returning repeatedly to the underlying issue: Smith’s spiritual authority. “I received a testimony for myself from the Lord of his work, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God before I ever saw him, while I resided in the state of New York, given in answer to prayer,” she told a public gathering in the Salt Lake Tabernacle years later. “I knew him in his lifetime, and know him to have been a great true man and a servant of God.”45
There is no indication that William knew of Zina’s turmoil or its cause. In the spring of 1841, while Zina was marrying, William began working as a stone mason in preparation for the construction of the Nauvoo temple. However, Joseph Smith made a confidant of Zina’s thirty-three-year-old brother Dimick. In October 1841, Smith sent him with an unwelcome message to force Zina to a decision. “Joseph said, Tell Zina I have put it off and put it off until an angel with a drawn sword has stood before me and told me if I did not establish that principle [plurality of wives] and live it, I would lose my position and my life and the Church could progress no further.”46 Following Dimick’s visit, Zina decided to accept the sealing. This resolution dissolved her anxiety. With her mind at peace, she felt emotionally prepared to take this additional step into Mormonism’s inner world.
No record exists of how Zina explained her decision to Henry or how much pressure she felt because the message bearer was her brother. Whatever personal demons he wrestled with, Henry gave tacit approval, believing that whatever the prophet did was right. We do not know if Zina told Henry about Smith’s earlier proposals before their marriage or if he fully understood what the sealing meant. Regardless, like Zina, Henry was so convinced of Joseph’s prophetic mission that he was will-[p.114]ing to obey, even when it meant relinquishing his claim on Zina in the next life.
From Zina’s later writings, part of the appeal was clearly a continuation of family relationships, even though it required a “sacrifice” that Zina considered shameful:
When I heard that God had revealed the law of Celestial marriage that we would have the privilege of associating in family relationships in the worlds to come I searched the scriptures and by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in his Church. I made a greater sacrifice than to give my life for I never anticipated again to be looked uppon as an honorable woman by those I dearly loved.47
As much as Henry did, she considered this request a test of faith and obedience. “Could I compromise conscience,” she asked rhetorically, “lay aside the sure testimony of the Spirit of God for the Glory of this world after having been baptized by one having authority and covenanting at the waters edge to live the life of a saint?”48
Dimick himself performed the rite that sealed Zina to Joseph on the banks of the Mississippi River on 27 October 1841. By that time Smith had taken at least three other women besides Emma: Fanny Alger, Lucinda Pendleton Morgan, and Louisa Beaman.49 In an interview on 1 October 1898, seventy-seven-year-old Zina related that sometime after Brigham Young’s return from a mission to England in July 1841,50 he repeated the ceremony “for time and eternity.”51 In that same interview, she said that she could not remember the date of this second sealing to Joseph Smith:
It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years. I will tell you the facts. I had dreams. I am no dreamer—but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order, I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it.52
Zina does not record if she and Joseph consummated their union, [p.115] although Zina later signed an affidavit that she was Smith’s wife in “very deed.”53 Nevertheless, Smith was never far from Zina’s thoughts from that time on. Her journal reports no private interviews or visits, refers to him only in such exalted and reverential terms as “The Sanctified,” but minutely notes his comings, goings, and speeches, and confesses, “[I] want to be where Joseph is.” Zina and Henry surrendered to Joseph’s authority, fully believing that he spoke with God and that the world he was reinventing held a sacred place for them. Smith promised, “All you who will not find fault with the words of life and salvation that God reveals through me for the salvation of the human family, I will stand like an officer of the gate, and I will see you safe through into the Celestial kingdom.”54
The language of acceptance used to describe plural marriage included angels, submission, and obedience, but also manifestations of the Spirit. Certainly these promises rang true for the young women whose situations most closely resembled Zina’s: Lucy Walker, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, Emily Dow Partridge, and Eliza Partridge. All were intelligent, sensitive young women of deep spirituality, perplexed by the doctrine and struggling with its ramifications. Standing at the pinnacle of patriarchal priesthood power, Smith held the keys to ordinances and authority supporting the doctrine.
Most of the women who were sealed to Smith before his death accepted this new order because they believed God wanted their obedience and sacrifice. When they accepted the prophet’s system of linking angels and revelations to plural marriage, they submitted to his authority. Their new status as the prophet’s plural wives, even though it was a secret, helped enhance the patriarchy within the network of family alliances thus formed. Zina’s three brothers—Dimick, William D., and Oliver—were devoted to Smith even before her sealing. Zina’s sealing connected the Huntington men to the prophet in a new way, for they became part of a system of kinship alliances associated with Mormonism’s patriarchal elite.
Each new woman entering an eternal union increased not only the potential size of the family kingdom but her new husband’s exaltation as well. Benjamin F. Johnson later remembered Smith teaching during this time about the eternal implications of the families created through plural unions. “The First Command was to ‘Multiple’ [sic] and the Prophet [p.116] taught us that Dominion and power in the great Future would be Commensurate with the no [number] of ‘Wives Childin [sic] and Friends’ that we inherit here and that our great mission to earth was to Organize a Neculi of Heaven to take with us. The increase of which there would be no end.”55
Six weeks after Zina’s sealing, Dimick further solidified his family connection to Joseph by sealing to him his only other surviving sister, Presendia Huntington Buell, on 11 December 1841. Years later Presendia wrote: “In 1841 I entered into the New Everlasting Covenant—was sealed to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Seer, and to the best of my ability I have honored plural marriage, never speaking one word against the principle. … Never in my life, in this kingdom, which is 44 years, have I doubted the truth of this great work.”56 Although Norman had been able to maintain a prosperous business by making known his negative views about Smith and the Mormons in Missouri, the social and economic chaos into which western Missouri was thrown during the Mormon War of 1838-39 was not appealing. His attitude toward Mormons had not softened, and he was, according to Presendia’s later accounts, an apostate.
Nevertheless, Presendia remained Norman’s wife. They had two more children: Oliver, born in 1839 in Missouri, and John Hiram, born in November 1843 in Illinois. It seems most probable that Zina and Presendia confided in each other sometime during that turbulent summer or fall of 1841, although it is not certain when. What is more certain is that, to Zina, the knowledge of her brothers and her sister of her new status provided the emotional support she needed as she negotiated her split commitment between her two husbands.
The rest of the Huntington family was soon drawn into plural marriage, as well. William D. married Caroline Clark. The first of their seven children had been born by 5 February 1843, when he married his first plural wife, Harriett Clark, age eighteen. Dimick married four plural wives in Utah, Oliver three.
Maintaining the secrecy of plural unions was an absolute requirement; and in some ways, the need to maintain surface normalcy, at least, probably made Zina’s life easier because she could concentrate on the ordinary [p.117] events of a young wife’s life. She gave birth to Henry’s son, Zebulon, on 2 January 1842 only a few days before her own twenty-first birthday.
Zebulon was born into a remarkably different situation than had greeted his mother’s family when they first came to Illinois. Nauvoo was a boom town marked by growth; sawmills, brickyards, a lime kiln, and carpenters’ shops attested to the rate of local construction. Shops of artisans lined the center streets of town; leather goods, pottery, an iron foundry, and a brewery spoke to a more stratified society and an increasingly diversified population.
This latest effort at Zion required of the Saints hard work and sacrifice. But along with new businesses came lyceums and institutes, the beginnings of a university, and classes on science, philosophy, literature, history, and languages. Always popular, dances held both outside under boweries and inside accompanied by bands or small orchestras were favorite entertainments. Nauvoo’s men joined Masonic lodges, priesthood quorums, and the Nauvoo legion. Women similarly began a pattern of organization in clubs for philanthropy, self-improvement, and culture, like women across the country in the mid-nineteenth century.57 They believed they could make the world anew, defending the good life, supervising the moral standards of their communities, and guarding against the wickedness that could destroy their homes.
As had been true for Zina Baker Huntington, Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs moved into her role defined by the Second Great Awakening as a player in religious life, which in Nauvoo meant spending her energy in prayer circles, as well as moral, education, and charity work. What had in America been traditionally a family effort, benevolence became, according to historian Keith Melder, “a collective process, encouraging bonds of sisterhood at all levels of organized operations, in local, regional, state, and national activities.”58
Benevolent societies became the focal point of women yearning for a greater sense of identification with other women, a connection forged by shared values and beliefs and a common urge to engage in service to the poor. According to Melder, “Between 1800 and 1840 the women’s benevolent movement had evolved from minute beginnings in a few American cities and towns into a great body of organizations numbering well into the thousands.”59 Fully in line with the ideal of true woman-[p.118]hood, clubs emerged as the vehicles whereby women could set and maintain moral standards for their families and communities.
Regardless of the physical progress Nauvoo had made after 1840, with growth and rapid immigration came poverty and sickness. The swampy lowlands near the river brought endemic illness, augmented by the unhealthy climate causing scores to die of malaria and fevers in winter and summer alike. No one was immune. Nauvoo’s cemeteries express the profound loss every family feels with the death of children. In addition, women were called upon to provide assistance to temple construction workers, a chance for them to make a tangible contribution to kingdom building. Recognizing a need, many of Nauvoo’s women, including Zina, wove yards of rugs for the temple, cloth for curtains, and shirts for the workers.
Early in March 1842, Sarah Kimball and a few of her neighbors considered formalizing their efforts at philanthropic activity. They “decided to invite a few to come and consult with us on the subject of forming a Ladies’ Society. The neighboring sisters met in my parlor and decided to organize.”60 They met in Kimball’s home, drafted a set of rules, and, because they believed she could do the most articulate job of it, asked Eliza R. Snow to compose a constitution and bylaws.
When Eliza presented the results to Joseph, he said they were “the best he had ever seen, but not appropriate for the purposes of the church.” Instead, he invited the women to a meeting the next Thursday, 17 March. There, he promised, he would present “something better for them than a written Constitution.” He said, “I will organize the women under the priesthood after the pattern of the priesthood.”61
Heady with the potential for the group’s contribution to the community, Eliza R. Snow said at their first meeting on 17 March that “the popular Institutions of the day should not be our guide—that as daughters of Zion, we should set an example for all the world, rather than confine ourselves to the course which had been heretofore pursued.”62
Joseph appointed his wife Emma as president of the group they decided to call the “Nauvoo Female Relief Society.” Emma chose Sarah M. Cleveland and Elizabeth Whitney as her counselors, Phebe J. Wheeler as assistant secretary, Elvira A. Cowles as treasurer, and Eliza R. Snow as secretary. From the first, relief for the poor was a key concern. “All I shall [p.119] have to give to the poor, I shall give to this society,” said Joseph at the first meeting.
The next week Zina and Dimick’s wife, Fanny Allen Huntington, joined the new society. Zina later wrote approvingly, “This Society was the means of doing much good.”63 She was sorry that Presendia was out of town and thus unable to attend.
Presendia lived in Lima, an agricultural town twenty-five miles south of Nauvoo. It would have been a three-hour journey for her to attend meetings. Nevertheless, on 19 April, the Nauvoo Female Relief Society’s minutes read:
Councillor Cleveland then arose and address’d the meeting by saying that … the meeting was specially called for the admission of Mrs. Buel who resided at a distance—was deprived of the privileges enjoyed by the sisters in Nauvoo, and wished to become a member of this Society. Mrs Buel arose and said that she rejoiced in the opportunity—that she considered it a great privilege she felt that the spirit of the Lord was with the Society, and rejoic’d to become a member altho’ residing at a distance and could not attend the meetings.64
This special meeting indicates that Presendia was considered an important person, worthy of honorary membership; it also suggests genuine affection for her on the part of the other women. This impression is reinforced by a blessing Eliza R. Snow pronounced upon Presendia in what was apparently a testimony-meeting format:
Miss Snow after making observations with regard to the Society—the importance of acting in wisdom & walking humbly before God &c. said she had a blessing for Mrs. Buel, that inasmuch as she had become a member of this Society, as the spirit of a person pervades every member of the body, so shall the Spirit of the Lord which pervades this Society be with her—she shall feel it and rejoice—she shall be blest where ever she is, and the Lord shall open the way and she shall be instrumental in doing much,—thro’ her own exertions by the instrumentality of others, she shall be enabled to contribute much to the fund of the Society—she shall warm up the hearts of those who are cold and dormant, and shall be instrumental in doing much good—Mrs. Leonard, Councillor W. and Councillor C. bore testimony to the truth of what Miss Snow had said to Mrs. Buel.65
[p.120] When Zina began keeping a journal the first week of June 1844, she provided a window into the life of a participant in Mormon kingdom building. As a member of the Relief Society, she engaged in charitable work, ministering to the infirm, sewing clothes for the destitute, and visiting the lonely and neglected. Along with other society members, she scrimped and proved resourceful in gathering decorations for the interior of the new temple and supplying food and clothing for workmen on the project. Clearly, she took seriously Joseph’s instruction about the society’s “duties to others also its relative duties to each other Viz. To seek out and relieve the distressed—that each member should be ambitious to do good—that the members should deal frankly with each other—to watch over the morals—and be very careful of the character and reputation of the members of the Institution.”66 In late July the Relief Society institutionalized its visits to the Saints to identify needs and more efficiently collect and distribute donations to the poor.67 By this time the society was divided into wards and included 1,179 members.
The Relief Society also offered Zina a role in church organization and official authorization for the steps she was taking as a young wife and mother into the social world outside the walls of her own home. In the 28 April 1842 meeting, Joseph reminded them that he was turning over to them the keys of the kingdom. In doing so, he created a hierarchy of leadership roles like those in priesthood quorums. Women were not ordained to the priesthood but received “blessings” in association with it.68 This provided avenues for service and learning to which Zina never before had access.
Twentieth-century scholarship suggests that one justification for the organization of the Female Relief Society was to instruct the sisters in the rituals of the temple (including eternal marriage) and the importance of keeping secret many new doctrines including plural marriage. Lawrence Foster, for example, suspects that the subterranean practice of plurality in Nauvoo “obviously necessitated some means of maintaining strict secrecy and determining who had first-hand knowledge of the new practice from those who did not. Some form of secret society thus was a pragmatic necessity.”69
On 4 May 1842, nine men received the “ancient order of things” which included secret “washings, anointings, endowments and the com-[p.121]munication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchisedek Priesthood … and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the First Born, and come up and abide in the presence of Eloheim in the eternal worlds.”70 According to Joseph Smith, the special “knowledge and intelligence” taught through the endowment ceremony was intended for the “spiritually minded and that the Saints would receive it once a proper place for sacred instruction had been established.”71 By the time the Mormons left Nauvoo, four years later, 3,000 women would be endowed, beginning with those in the Relief Society.
The Relief Society’s minutes hint at the complicated networks of loyalty that Emma’s friends and Joseph’s plural wives struggled to maintain during this time. Members were exhorted by both Joseph and their president, Emma, to obey the prophet.72 Between 24 March and 31 August 1842, Joseph and Emma made eight separate attempts to counter “scandalous” claims of sexual impropriety—including rumors of polygamy—leveled against Joseph Smith and others. Both also lectured members on the importance of refraining from gossip and speculation.73 During this time, Joseph attended nine of seventeen meetings, while Emma attended at least two-thirds of the meetings.
After the organization of the society, Eliza R. Snow heard rumors about plurality. “The subject was very repugnant to my feelings,” she remembered. “So directly was it in opposition to my educated prepossessions, that it seemed as though all the prejudices of my ancestors for generations past congregated around me.” She was eventually to accommodate the doctrine as part of Joseph’s restorationist vision. “But when I reflected that I was living in the Dispensation of the fulness of times, embracing all other Dispensations, surely Plural Marriage must necessarily be included.” But she also believed she would not have to live it during “the period of my mortal existence.” However, her friend Sarah Cleveland soon confided that she was one of Joseph’s plural wives. More important was Eliza’s personal commitment to follow Joseph wherever he might take her. “I had covenanted in the waters of baptism to live by every word He should communicate, and my heart was firmly set to do His bidding.” “As I increased in knowledge concerning the principle and de-[p.122]sign of Plural Marriage,” she continued, “I grew in love with it, and to-day esteem it a precious, sacred principle—necessary in the elevation and salvation of the human family—in redeeming woman from the curse, and the world from corruption.”74
Eliza Snow’s own marriage to Joseph was performed by Brigham Young on 29 June 1842. Sarah Cleveland witnessed the ceremony between the thirty-eight-year-old virgin and the thirty-six-year-old prophet. Eliza 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—the ceremony being performed by a servant of the Most High—authorized to officiate in sacred ordinances. This, one of the most important circumstances of my life, I never had had cause to regret.” Her defense of plurality reflected the standard justification—it emphasized the eternal nature of the union, the importance of priesthood authority, and that plural marriage was ordained of God.
Soon after the society’s founding, it became a vehicle for Emma’s opposition to plurality. In fact, at each of the society’s March 1842 meetings, Emma began with a reading of W. W. Phelps’s text, “The Voice of Innocence,” an eloquent plea for the protection of “virtuous mothers, wives and daughters of Nauvoo” against “debauchees, vagabonds, and rakes.” Not at all subtle, she then called upon the women “to examin[e] the conduct of their leaders of this Society—that you may sit in judgment on their heads.”75
Joseph also recognized the importance of these women and of correctly teaching them plural marriage. In her journal on 10 November 1844, Zina remembered: “He [Joseph] spoke of Union and said that it must be by this principle we are saved, by this the Saviour would come and reign, by union the authority of the Priesthood stands, and holds its Dominion.” She continued, “and when we become sufficiently united our enemies would have no more power, neither shall we see such miraculous displays of the Power of God as some anticipate until after the Thousand years reign. … Union will cause the Menlenean [Millennium]. It is not a momentary work.”76
In addition, the society provided Joseph with an opportunity to refine the role of women in the church. Besides exercising spiritual gifts, women directly administered to the sick. “If the sisters should have faith [p.123] to heal the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let every thing roll on.”77 “There could be no devils in it if God gave his sanction by healing—that there could be no more sin in any female laying hands on the sick than in wetting the face with water,” Smith continued. He was, however, more reserved in his encouragement of speaking in tongues. “If any have a matter to reveal, let it be in your own tongue,” he admonished. “Do not indulge too much in the gift of tongues, or the devil will take advantage of the innocent. You may speak in tongues for your comfort but I lay this down for a rule that if any thing is taught by this gift of tongues, it is not to be received for doctrine.”78
Within a month after the society’s organization in March 1842, four of Joseph’s plural wives, including Zina and Presendia, had joined the group. During its first year, Joseph married at least fifteen more women, including ten from the society’s own ranks.79 Regardless of the good the group accomplished, the relationships between Emma and Joseph, between plural wives, and the complications of keeping the principle secret made it impossible to continue operating, and the society’s last meeting was held on 16 March 1844. Twenty-four years later, Eliza R. Snow would say of this period: “It has been said that the Society in Nauvoo did more harm than good, but it was not so. … The society did a great deal of good, saved a great many lives &c.”80
While Joseph was introducing plurality to his most trusted friends and associates, Nauvoo was increasing in economic and political strength. This proved to be a mixed blessing in the 1840s, because increasingly the surrounding residents of Illinois began to fear that the church was becoming a political threat. This was a volatile time in Illinois—party politics were marked by a vying for control and confused loyalties and agendas. During the final years of his life, Joseph Smith became increasingly politically active—in 1842 he became mayor of Nauvoo. Also complicating the period was a series of attempts on the part of Missouri to extradite Smith and five others as fugitives from justice. But it was rumors of polygamy, sexual impropriety, and “spiritual wifery” that created a level of alienation impossible to bridge because, despite exaggerations, many of the rumors were essentially true. And in late June 1844, Joseph Smith would die in Carthage Jail, assassinated with his brother Hyrum by [p.124] ill-disguised militia taking vigilante action against what they perceived as a threat to democracy and decency.
Zina recognized the sanctity of this new principle and faithfully observed the necessary “double speak” in her journal, frequently using code names for Joseph and writing around “dangerous” subjects. For example, her first diary entry dated “June 5, 6, 7, 8, 9” [;] 1844, makes veiled reference to a meeting where some type of secret ceremonies were performed. “Went with Henres uncles family uppon the hill,” she writes. “From this day I understand the Kinsman degree of freemasonry. My husband, being a Master Mason, attended meeting. Hyrum Smith spoke exceeding well also red [sic] a revelation. I went to see Sister Gleson, and Sister Abigal Thorn in the past week.”81 “The hill” was the bluff above the Mississippi River where the temple was being built. There is no Kinsman’s degree in Freemasonry, suggesting that the meeting contained a ceremony of equal secrecy. Because Henry had been in Tennessee on a mission since 15 April, Zina’s reference to “my husband” must have meant Joseph Smith, an admitted Master Mason.
Unlike Presendia and Norman, Zina had Henry’s heart. Her sealing to Joseph had not created a rift between them. John D. Lee, Henry’s mission companion in January 1843, records in his diary that Henry entertained Lee with stories about Zina and “almost worshipped her.”82 Henry served at least eight missions between May 1839 and May 1845 varying from two weeks to four and a half months. Henry had been called on his second mission shortly after marrying Zina and was gone about two months. His mission with Lee was his third mission. He left on his fourth on 30 May 1843 with twenty-year-old Oliver Huntington and John Gleason. Both Henry and Oliver had relatives and friends in western New York where they were bound. Oliver clearly admired his brother-in-law’s stamina, and wrote, “My feet were badly blistered legs worn out … Elder Jacobs’ feet were also badly blistered his hips very lame also; take us as we were & we were 2 pityful objects.”83
That same year Zina opened a “school of small schollars in my house being lonely.” (She crossed out the words “it helped to pass the times as my husband …” Perhaps she might have completed her thought—“was frequently gone” in her journal.) The loneliness was real; but even privately, Zina seemed reluctant to complain. Zina seems to have genuinely [p.125] loved Henry and missed him during his absences. Her diary expresses concern for her security and Zebulon’s, rather than worries about financial privation. “This morning Henry again set out on another mission,” she wrote on 21 January 1845. “Wilt thou preserve me in his absence, O Lord, and my little son, and thy name shall have all the glory.”84
Zina records nothing in her journal to indicate that Henry complained or resented the demands on him. During his repeated absences, Zina did not turn to Joseph. Instead, she relied on the world of female kin and friends, a pattern that continued throughout her life. During one fairly typical week in July 1844, she visited female friends five out of seven days, assisted in a birth, and attended meetings at “the stand” (an outdoor gathering place near the temple for public lectures) again with a woman friend. There the Saints were instructed in theology and heard a variety of secular speakers address contemporary issues. Her father noted one particularly interesting speaker: “B. Wm. Smith,” Joseph’s younger brother, who delivered “a singular discourse” about the “Spiritual Wife,” a subject, according to William, “not interesting to the saints.”85
In the spring of 1844, Henry Jacobs left on another mission with 200 other specially called missionaries to support the election of Joseph Smith to the presidency of the United States. They traveled on the steamer Osprey for St. Louis and points east. Henry was in southern Illinois when he drafted a letter to be read before the Illinois state convention: “Please say for us as Americans, that we will support General Joseph Smith in preference to any other man that has given, or suffered his name to come before us as a candidate.”86
On 7 June 1844, incriminating articles in the first issue of the Nauvoo Expositor, published by six former Mormons including William Law, exposed the practice of plurality among church leaders. When the city council led by Joseph Smith ordered the destruction of the printing press and its first issue of papers, the owners retaliated with lawsuits against the city council. As a result, Joseph and Hyrum Smith and others were arrested and taken to Carthage where they awaited trial. Henry returned from his mission on 16 June.
Late in the afternoon of 27 June, a mob attacked the jail, meeting only token resistance from the jailers, shot both Smith brothers dead, wounded Apostle John Taylor, but overlooked Elder Willard Richards.
[p.126] The day after the assassination, Zina wrote a poignant but private lament that contained a partially coded reminder of her complicated situation:
O the ever to be remembered awful day of the 27 of June 1844 … the bullets flew like hail in a violent storm. They ware both shot twice. Thus in one day … the Prophet and Patr[i]arch of the Church of the Laterday Saints, the kind husbands, the affectionate fathers, the venerable statesman, the Friends of man kinde … O God how long before thou wilt avenge the innosent blood that has be[e]n shed? How long must widdows mourn and orp[h]ans cry before thou wilt avenge the Earth and cause wickedness to seace. Wilt thou hasten the day, O Lord, in thine own way. Wilt thou Prepare me to stand all things and come of[f] conqerrer through him who hath Loved us, and give me a seat in the selestial Kingdom with the Sanctified.87
The last phrase is particularly telling. Plainly, Zina grieved the loss of a leader but looked toward a glorified relationship with Joseph Smith in the highest kingdom of heaven.
Following the murders of Joseph and Hyrum, the entire city was grief-stricken, but secret wives like Zina had a dimension of sorrow they could not express. She “spent the day at Sister Jonese’s [sic], Carlos Smiths Widdow [Agnes Coolbrith Smith], the girls that resides with her, Louisa Bemon [Beamon], and Sister Marcum [Hannah Markham]. Very plesent to day, but ah what drearryness and sorrow pervades every bosom.”88 Agnes and Louisa were also plural wives of the prophet. By the time of his death, Joseph had as many as forty-six wives,89 and women throughout Nauvoo privately mourned his death with feelings unique to their peculiar situation.
General Jonathon Dunham called a 10:00 a.m. meeting of the town at the parade stands east of the temple. There he urged the Mormons to keep “quiet, and not to let their violently outraged feelings get the better of them.”90 The wagon bearing Joseph’s and Hyrum’s bodies reached Nauvoo on 28 June, covered with bushes to “keep them from the hot sun.”91 The bodies were met by a tidal wave of grief, a throng of several thousand about a mile east of the temple. The Nauvoo Legion (the local Mormon militia) escorted the bodies, followed by a long procession, [p.127] along Mulholland Street, then went to the Mansion House. William D. Huntington played in the band that followed the procession. It was a day “of as great mourning as was ever seen on earth,” father William recounted. “I was one of 16 who were appointed to bury their bodies.”92 Zina’s brothers, Dimick and William D., washed the bodies and, assisted by William Marks, tucked camphor-soaked cotton into the wounds, dressed the bodies in linen drawers and shirts, white kerchiefs, white cotton stockings, white shrouds, and laid them out. Zina took Zebulon, age two and a half, to see Joseph’s and Hyrum’s bodies, “out stretched in deaths cold embrace,” Zebulon later recalled. “There they lay at peace with all the world. I was young then but young as I was the fire that filled every Saint of God with righteous indignation filled my breast to that extent that I praid I might revenge their wrong.”93
It was intended that the simple coffins would be buried on the temple block, but at the last minute the decision was made to secretly bury them in the basement of the unfinished Nauvoo House to prevent them from being seized by mobs and destroyed. They remained buried in the cellar of the Nauvoo House until William, Dimick, and William D. Huntington, Jonathan H. Holmes, and Gilbert Goldsmith moved them to the side yard of the Mansion House a few months later at Emma’s request. Then as a sort of public recuperation from grief, the Saints redoubled their labors on the temple. Because the flood of newcomers strained available resources, many that summer were short of provisions. William summarized events in the city:
Many of them have and are going into the country to labor in the harvest fields as the wheat harvest is great in this country which is in favor of the saints at this time of distress. The people are waiting with anxiety for the return of the Twelve as soon as they return a special conference will be called for the purpose of appointing a trustee in trust or one who shall preside over the Church.94
Although Presendia lived in Lima, she frequently traveled to Nauvoo to visit Zina. Early in November 1844, her baby, John Hiram, died and was buried in Nauvoo near his grandmother Zina Baker Huntington. Zina and other members of their family spent that Christmas with Presendia and Norman, showing that there was still family feeling among [p.128] them. On 1 April 1845, according to William Huntington, “Norman Buell and wife came here to attend conference.” This suggests that Norman’s connection to the church was not entirely severed. Nor apparently did Norman oppose Presendia’s visits to Nauvoo or her attendance at some meetings.
Although Zina did not record the political and social pressures mounting against the city, she could not help but be aware of and fear them. She redoubled her efforts to combat loneliness and insecurity. Nearly every page of her diary acknowledges the “hand of Providence.” Actuated by the highest ideals of self-sacrificing Christian service, she cared ceaselessly for others. Although she always lived in less than adequate homes and moved three times after her marriage in Nauvoo, she generously opened her home to the sick and developed nursing skills she would use later in Utah as a midwife and healer.
These first years of marriage were not easy; but the next three challenged Henry’s and Zina’s faith to the limits. These were the years of her second sealing to a new prophet and the brutal ending of her conjugal relationship with Henry. They are also pivotal years for the church. The temple was nearing completion. Turning their energies from the Relief Society, the first women who had been endowed over Joseph’s Red Brick Store—Vilate Kimball, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, Mary Ann Young, and Bathsheba Smith—prepared rooms in the temple for ceremonies. Women like Zina, Presendia, and Fanny sewed veils, clothes for the various altars, and curtains.
The Mormon families who put their faith in the leadership of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles were preparing to move West. “Our parlor was used as a paint shop in which to paint wagons,” remembered Bathsheba Smith.95 “All Nauvoo was one vast machanic shop” in preparation for the trek into the west.96
Henry returned home from another mission on 6 February 1845. “He has ben prospered on his mission, had good success,” Zina wrote in her diary. Five days later he left on a mission that lasted only until 1 March. Four days after Henry returned, Zina wrote: “4 years ago to day since we ware Marr[i]ed. O God let thy hand be over us still to prosper us.” Through the next months, when Henry was in town he worked on a new house. The young couple attended meetings of the seventies quo-[p.129]rum and visited friends and family. When Zina’s health was not good, Henry administered to her, aided by Oliver and her father, blessing her with health and strength. Zina and Henry moved into a small log house leased from Jonathon Holmes on 25 April. Zina’s health improved and she conceived a healthy son in June whom she carried to full term and birthed the following March.
Although Zina was cheerful when she noted Henry’s birthday on 5 May, four days later something disturbing occurred, possibly bad news for Henry. Zina made only veiled reference to this troubling event: “Never to be forgotten at 11 o clock, O then what shall I say. At or after 4 I went to sleep. O Lord have mercy uppon my Sole. Teache me the ways of eternal life … Comfort us, yes Henry in his trouble, for he has not repined a word. Accept of our thanks for life, forgive the weakness of my heart, and let me do nothing but what shall be to thy honour and Glory and my soles salvation.”97
Possibly this trouble was the first warning of changes in her own status. They must have assumed that her sealing to Joseph Smith, now that he was dead, would have little impact on their daily lives; but a month later she recorded a visit between Henry and Brigham Young to discuss “his and [his] families situation. O God be merciful to us, I ask in the Name of Jesus, thy Sone,” she wrote.98 There is no other allusion to similar distress for several months.
On 24 May the Jacobses celebrated the dedication of the temple with other Saints in Nauvoo. Zina poetically noted the favorable weather: “This memorible day the Sun arose clear in the east. The morning was serene and silent. The Sun and Moon ware at about equel hith [height] in the horizen, as if to rejoice wit[h] the Saints in Praises to the most high.” It was truly a family celebration. Zina’s father and brothers had helped lay stone for the temple. A typical entry in William’s autobiographical account of the period focuses on the progress made on this building: “The great business of the city contin[u]es its operations with the same energy it has in times past. The work at and about the Temple moves on with power. Perfect harmony prevails in all its various parts pertaining to the great work which yet requires some 200 men in all, the work pertaining to the house.”99
As a member of the Nauvoo High Council, William sat on the stand [p.130] with the leaders of the church and the Nauvoo Band. The rank-and-file Saints “repared (all that knew it) to the Temple at 6 in the morning.” After a number of musical pieces, Brigham Young, Joseph’s acting successor, forcefully hammered the capstone into place and the entire congregation shouted: “Hosannah, Hosannah, Hosannah, to God and the Lamb. Amen. Amen. Amen.”
Zina spent her final days in Nauvoo visiting sick friends like Eliza R. Snow, attending funerals, and moving through her network of Relief Society sisters, relatives, and fellow Saints. Henry marched out with his friend Stephen Markham on 17 September 1845 to defend Nauvoo against mob action. Four days later Zina wrote her last journal entry in Nauvoo, saying cryptically: “All things move in order in the City.”
William, Oliver, William D., and Dimick assisted in preparing for “emigration operations,”100 gathering lumber with which to make wagons, collecting supplies to last them through the winter. Brother William wrote: “The saints are making rapid progress in wagon making. I have this week got a room in the Nauvoo House enclosed for a shop to make wagons for my company. The Temple or the attic story in the Temple is now in readiness for giving the saints their endowments.”101 Each family of five was expected to have one good wagon, three yoke of cattle, two cows, three sheep, 1,000 pounds of flour, twenty pounds of sugar, one rifle and ammunition, a tent and poles, from ten to twenty pounds of seed, twenty-five to 100 pounds of farming tools, bedding and cooking utensils. They were providing for their immediate needs, but were also looking toward the future when they would again attempt to create permanent communities. On 17 August 1845, Oliver married Mary Melissa Neal.
Although no serious contradiction to the personal solidity of Zina and Henry’s marriage is known to exist, their union was a civil contract. In Nauvoo one way the Mormons dissolved civil marriages was by superseding them with a covenant or eternal marriage, a “higher law” that overrode previous marriages without the necessity of a divorce. Such a system required cooperative men and women; and for the most part, it seems to have operated efficiently in establishing the plural marriage network. Some women whose husbands were not members of the church or whose civil marriages had never been replaced with sealings entered plural marriages. Their motivations were not always known, nor was the type [p.131] and degree of priesthood persuasion employed in such unions. However, the situations of the following polyandrous wives are instructive.
Augustus Adams Cobb, for one, joined the church in Boston in 1832, but her husband did not. She was still civilly married on 2 November 1843 when she was sealed to Brigham Young as a plural wife. However, because the church had never recognized her civil marriage, Young did not think it was necessary to secure a civil divorce. Confusingly, other civil marriages (such as Joseph Smith’s justice-of-the-peace marriage to Emma or Brigham Young’s marriage to his second monogamous wife, Mary Ann Angell Young) were recognized and maintained throughout their lives, not replaced or supplemented by a marriage performed by an ecclesiastical office. Again, the fluidity and lack of regularity in the early church reflect Smith’s efforts to reshape familial relationships in ways that would strengthen the social structure of the fledgling church.
Apostle Orson Pratt soundly criticized civil law in 1847: “As all the ordinances of the gospel Administered by the world since the Aposticy of the church was illegal, in like manner was the marriage Cerimony illegal.” He called the offspring of these unions “bastards” in need of adoption into the Mormon priesthood to “become sons and legal heirs to salvation.”102 In 1877 John D. Lee, an adopted son of Brigham Young, recalled the improvisational atmosphere of this earlier normlessness: “If a [couple’s] marriage had not been productive of blessings and peace, and they felt it oppressive to remain together, they were at liberty to make their own choice, as much as if they had not been married.”103 Although Lee made no apparent distinction between the initiative taken by men and women, plural marriages, especially in Nauvoo, were arranged by men. Women typically entered plural marriage following the request of a male priesthood holder who invoked his own righteousness and assured her that God would provide confirmation if she asked.104
“We are told that the Prophet Joseph requested the Quorum to marry and take care of his widows,” Zina’s granddaughter would write sixty years later, “and in some cases Joseph Smith’s plural wives were given their choice of the Twelve as their husbands for time, to give them the full honor and protection of marriage with an apostle.”105 These men, the highest in the priesthood hierarchy, became symbolic proxies in life [p.132] for Smith. Zina’s sister Presendia was sealed to Apostle Heber C. Kimball under this arrangement.106
In late 1861 Brigham Young addressed church members on divorce, marriage, and relationships among the faithful. He attempted to clarify this confusing concept. In his mind there was no legitimate way a woman could be freed from a temple sealing “while her husband remains faithful and magnifies his preisthood [sic] before God, and he is not disposed to put her away.” However, there was a way a marriage could be dissolved in the woman’s best interests. This method he had not “revealed, except to a few persons in this church, and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet as well as myself.” He said, “If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the preisthood [sic] with higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her he can do so, otherwise she has got to remain where she is. In either of these ways of seperation [sic], you can discover, there is no need for a bill of divorcement.”107
Thus on 2 February 1846, Henry Jacobs witnessed the sealing of his twenty-five-year-old wife, Zina, for time to Brigham Young, who was twenty years her senior. In the same ceremony in the Nauvoo temple, Zina received official ratification of her earlier marriage to Joseph Smith for eternity. This ceremony was almost certainly the subject of the “family” discussion that Young had held with Henry in June 1845; if the troubling episode in May was related to the same topic, then Henry and Zina had been struggling to come to terms emotionally with this new deprivation for nine months.
Three days before her sealing to Brigham, Zina and Henry received their endowments. Zina also received the second anointing, or “fulness of the priesthood” ordinance,108 and was admitted into the Holy Order, a circle of faithful and trusted Mormon elite.109 Originally, the endowment was performed only for men.110 When women were included in 1843, they became participants in the “privileges, blessings and gifts of the priesthood.”111 Presendia had received her endowments 9 January 1846. On 4 February, she was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity, with Heber C. Kimball acting as proxy. After this ordinance, she was sealed to Kimball for time. Prior to his marriage to Presendia, Heber had been sealed to thirty-one women.
Sexual relations with Joseph Smith, if any, had been infrequent and [p.133] irregular.112 Now both sisters, Zina and Presendia, became wives on this earth to their apostle-husbands, while remaining spiritual wives of Joseph Smith. At this point, their civil marriages to Henry Jacobs and Norman Buell were considered canceled, although no formal divorce was performed.113 Furthermore, it is likely that Henry considered himself Zina’s husband or at least was confused about his status until bluntly informed to the contrary by Brigham Young after arriving in Iowa on the trek west.114 Presendia, in contrast, continued to cohabit with Norman, despite his being an apostate. Their final break came early in May 1846 when she slipped away with her younger son Oliver and joined her westward-bound brothers.
Once again, no contemporary record exists of Zina’s motivations or of her understanding of the implications of this second sealing. Family tradition maintains that Brigham Young urged Zina to take the step, assuring her that “if she would marry him she would be in a higher glory.”115 Even though this story has passed through many hands, Young certainly made similar statements in public discourses such as the October 1861 discourse: “There was another way—in which a woman could leave a man—if the woman preferred another man higher in authority and he is willing to take her. And her husband gives her up … it is right in the sight of God.”116
Zina made no comment that illuminates her own preference in the matter, but her behavior was consistent with her past obedience to priesthood authority.117 We do not know how Henry was able to relinquish his marriage to Zina or even if either understood that this second sealing signaled the end of their union. In an ironic replay of the first sealing, Zina was seven months pregnant with Henry’s child when she married Brigham.
The men in Zina’s life—father, brothers, and priesthood-leader husbands—shaped and reshaped her family life. She struggled with her feelings, torn between loyalty to Henry and obedience to a higher law. But interestingly, she seemed not to doubt that this arrangement was “fair” or “right.” She later reflected:
The principle of plural marriage is honorable; it is a principle of the Gods, it is heavenborn. God revealed it to us among other things as a saving prin-[p.134]ciple; we have accepted it as such, and we know it is of Him, for the fruits of it are holy. … We are proud of the principle, because we understand its true worth, and we want our children to practice it, that through us a race of men and women may grow up possessing sound minds in sound bodies, who shall live to the age of a tree.118
2. Joseph Smith, Jr., et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, edited by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 6 vols. published 1902-12, Vol. 7 published 1932; reprinted by Deseret Book Co., 1976, paperback issue, 1978), 4:609-10.
32. Lucy Walker Kimball, “A Brief But Intensely Interesting Sketch of Her Experience Written by Herself,” copied for the Federal Writers Project by Elvera Manful, Ogden, Utah, 1940; typescript, copy at the Utah State Historical Society.
35. “Sealing” was a priesthood ordinance that bound a man and woman together in marriage for eternity. Now performed only in Mormon temples, through the nineteenth century such ceremonies occurred in a variety of settings including homes, boats, and even more secluded locations when federal pressure against polygamous marriages increased.
36. L. W. Kimball, “A Brief But Intensely Interesting Sketch of Her Experience.” After Joseph’s death, Lucy Walker was sealed for time to Heber C. Kimball on 8 February 1845 and became the mother of ten children.
37. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, “Remarks at Brigham Young University at age 87, 14 April 1905,” LDS Church Archives. Rex Eugene Cooper, Promises Made to the Fathers: Mormon Covenant Organization (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 140, suggests that Mary interpreted her sealing to mean that she shared Joseph’s salvation in the celestial kingdom. According to George D. Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841-46: A Preliminary Demographic Report,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Spring 1994): 1-72, between April 1841 and November 1843, Joseph Smith took an average of 1.5 wives each month. “By the end of 1843, Emma Smith’s biographers observed, most close friends of Smith’s legal wife had either married her husband or had given their daughters to him,” 9. Smith also found that the average age of new polygamist men was thirty-six, had been married an average of twenty-five years before their second marriage, and married a second wife of a mean twenty-five years of age. At that time their legal wives averaged thirty-two years old, or four years younger than themselves and seven years older than their first plural wife.
46. Zina D. H. Young, “Joseph, the Prophet His Life and Mission as Viewed by Intimate Acquaintances,” Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, 12 January 1895, 212. She made this statement at a memorial service commemorating Smith’s birthday, long an annual event among those who had known him. This particular meeting was held 24 December 1894 at Salt Lake City’s Sixteenth Ward. Speakers included Robert T. Burton, Rachael Grant, Samuel H. B. Smith, Joseph F. Smith, Frederick Kesler, Zina D. H. Young, Lucy Walker Kimball, Bathsheba W. Smith, Walter Wilcox, Claudius V. Spencer, Angus M. Cannon, John Smith, Elizabeth Roundy, Edward Rushton, and Homer Duncan. See also Joseph Fielding Smith, ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1954), 212.
49. For verification of Zina’s and Joseph’s marriage, plus the earlier sealings, see Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage” (M.A. thesis, Purdue University, 1975). The evidence for Zina includes a personal affidavit, a personal statement, witnesses present, other Mormon statements, inclusion on Andrew Jenson’s list, non-Mormon statements, and temple sealings, according to Todd Compton’s In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997); Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy.”
51. John Wight, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington Young,” Interview with Zina, 1 October 1898, Saints Herald 52 (11 January 1905): 28-30. Zina could not remember the date of the second ceremony and there are no public records of the event. Compton in Sacred Loneliness explains the complexity of working through the conflicting reports and memories of the two events: “However, as is the case in many of the plural marriages of Joseph, there seem to be multiple dates for the marriage, or more than one marriage ceremony. In the Wight interview, Zina stated that Dimick performed the marriage—but this was the first of two marriage ceremonies. ‘[Question] … Your brother officiated in [p.137] the marriage? [Zina]: He did at the first. When Brigham Young returned from England, he repeated the ceremony for time and eternity.’ As Brigham returned from England on July 1, 1841, did the marriage with Joseph, performed by Dimick, take place before that date? Then did Brigham perform the October 27 marriage? If Zina married Joseph soon after her marriage to Jacobs (in March 1841), this has important implications for the history of Nauvoo polygamy. She might have married Joseph before Louisa Beaman (on April 5), making her Joseph’s first wife in the Nauvoo period.” Compton goes on to suggest that Zina also could have confused her proxy marriage performed after Joseph’s death to Brigham with a “second” marriage to Joseph during his lifetime.
55. In Dean R. Zimmerman, I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Press, 1976), 47.
69. Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 304n64. Kent L. Walgren, “James Adams, Early Springfield Mormon and Freemason,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 75:2 (Summer 1982): 131, further developed this thesis: “Freemasonry provided instruction in the art of secrecy, a desirable commodity for an organization in which plural marriages were being contracted. … It is probably not coincidental that concurrent with his initiation into [p.138] Freemasonry Smith … established the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, which also seems to have had the aim of institutionalizing secrecy.”
71. Carol Cornwall Madsen, “Mormon Women and the Temple,” in Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective, edited by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 83.
76. The minutes of Nauvoo’s Relief Society suggest that a more typical meeting included planning for relief work and the exercise of spiritual gifts. Perhaps this is what fed the women best—speaking and interpreting tongues, testifying, praying, engaging in inspirational singing, and blessing the sick.
86. Henry Bailey Jacobs, Letter to Mr. G. W. Goforth, 4 May 1844, Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (chronology of typed entries and newspaper clippings, 1830-present), 17 May 1844, LDS Church Archives.
93. Zebulon Jacobs, Diary, typescript, 1, Zina D. H. Young Collection. He continued in equally flowery prose to describe their feelings in the wake of Joseph’s death: “They were slain on the 27th day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty four. When the tidings was brought to the City of Nauvoo, it was then that the cries, prayers and supplications assended to the throne of him who governs and controls all things, in the heavens and on the earth, that his avenging hand might not be staid from falling upon those who had sanctioned and perpetrated the foul and damning deed, which was a blot and a stain upon the Character of those who had the reigns [sic] of government in their hands.”
104. Cooper, Promises Made to the Fathers, 142, describes this situation as evidence of the simultaneous existence of “the suborder of human law and the suborder of priesthood or divine law. There is an interrelationship between these two forms of law. Since they are based on different premises, however, they are not always consistent. In spheres where both operate, this inconsistency can result in ambiguous rules and regulations.”
105. Cannon, untitled narrative, 23. This story is also told by Brigham Young’s daughter, Susa Young Gates. Emily Partridge and the other bereaved young plural widows were approached by Pres. Young and the Twelve after the Martyrdom with an offer of their shelter and sustenance, “for time only,” of these brave girls who had dared ridicule and even mobs and death to enter into that order. They were free to select any of these associates of the Prophet as their earthly protector. This was a tremendous undertaking for Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and their associates. Emily Partridge had been “given to the Prophet by his first wife Emma, as had Eliza R. Snow. Emily, with Louisa Beman ——, Zina D. Huntington, —— [in original] accepted Brigham’s offer in the spirit in which it was given. Eliza R. Snow, after reaching the valley, was glad to accept shelter and protection under his [roof], but she, like several other widows, was never his wife in actual fact. . . . Father and the Twelve Apostles felt the death of the Prophet far more keenly than did the people; and as we believe that children are a part of the glory we inherit hereafter, it seemed a cruel thing [p.140] that the beloved leader and Prophet should be stricken down in the prime of life, and left without issue in this Church. [Emma apostatized]. Father went to those noble women who had accepted the principle of celestial marriage with the Prophet as their husband and he told them that he and his brethren stood ready to offer themselves to them as husbands for time, and the widows might choose for themselves. Four of these young widows chose father, and he accepted the charge thus laid upon him. He felt the grand old Hebrew impulse, to be himself the instrument by which posterity for his dead brother might be born in this life. All honor to the great men who could make and carry out such splendid tributes to the dead leader and friend.” Susa Young Gates, typescript, Box 12, fd. 2, Susa Young Gates Papers, Utah State Historical Society.
106. Brigham Young married at least seven of Joseph Smith’s wives: Louisa Beaman Smith Young, Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner Smith Young, Eliza Roxcy Snow Smith Young, Emily Dow Partridge Smith Young, Rhoda Richards Smith Young, and Olive Grey Frost Smith Young. Heber C. Kimball married approximately eleven. George A. Smith married one, as did Amasa Lyman. Less prominent leaders, including Ezra T. Benson, Almon Babbitt, Cornelius Lott, John L. Smith, and John Bernhisel, married others of Joseph’s wives.
108. According to David Buerger, Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994), 62, “The higher ordinance was necessary to confirm the revealed promises of ‘kingly powers’ (i.e., godhood) received in the endowment’s initiatory ordinances. Godhood was the meaning of this higher ordinance, or second anointing, for the previously revealed promises in Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-26 implicitly referred not to those who had been sealed in celestial marriage but to those who had been sealed and ordained ‘kings and priests,’ ‘queens and priestesses’ to God. Such individuals would necessarily have received a higher anointing: ‘Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.’”
109. Nauvoo Proxy Sealings, 1846, 61, Nauvoo Sealings and Adoptions, 511-12, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. These records state that Amanda Barnes Smith and Augusta Adams Cobb Young, both plural wives of Brigham Young, were also present. According to emerging Mormon theology, a man could be sealed to any number of women, but a woman could be sealed to only one man. Thus, if the husband in a sealed couple died, the woman could not be sealed to a second man during mortality. Any offspring that resulted from subsequent unions would be born under the covenant she and her first husband had formed. Therefore, when Zina was sealed to Brigham as proxy for Joseph Smith, their only child, a daughter named Zina Presendia, was considered to be the eternal offspring of Joseph Smith. As Orson Pratt explained in “Celestial Marriage,” The Seer 1 (1853-54): 142, the second husband was “obliged to enter into a covenant to deliver her up with all her children to her deceased husband in [p.141] the morning of the first resurrection. In this case, the second husband would have no wife only [except] for time, neither could he retain his children in the eternal worlds, for they according to the law of Heaven, would be given up to the wife and her first husband.”
110. Those who received the endowment before the temple was completed were frequently referred to as the “Holy Order,” the “Quorum,” the “Holy Order of the Holy Priesthood,” or the “Quorum of the Anointed.” For a brief description of this group, see D. Michael Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies 19 (Fall 1978): 84-96.
111. Madsen, “Mormon Women and the Temple,” 80-110. According to Glen Leonard and T. Edgar Lyon, “The Nauvoo Years,” Ensign 9 (September 1979): 9, 13, “It was at Nauvoo that Joseph Smith introduced to the Church a full explanation of the eternal nature of the gospel. This was an expansion of the teachings unfolded gradually over the years at Kirtland, expounded in sermons in the grove on the slope below the rising temple at Nauvoo. In 1836 the Saints in Kirtland were introduced to ordinances of washing and anointings; the endowment was given in Nauvoo. Baptism for the dead was made possible through the keys restored by Elijah in his April 1836 visit in the Kirtland Temple, but the practice was first instituted at Nauvoo. Likewise, the revelation on marriage, section 132, was written in 1843 at Nauvoo; the first temple sealings were performed in Nauvoo in January 1846.”
112. The question of whether Joseph Smith’s spiritual unions produced any offspring has never been satisfactorily answered. See Cannon, untitled manuscript, 11: “Josephine L. Fisher wrote that her mother, Sylvia Sessions, told her “that [Josephine] was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Josephine L. Fisher, Letter to Andrew Jenson, 24 February 1915, LDS Church Archives. Presendia Huntington Buell once said that “she did not know whether Mr. Buel or the Prophet was the father of her son [John Hiram],” according to Mary Ettie V. Smith, Fifteen Years Among the Mormons, 2d. ed. (New York, 1859), 34.
113. Each plural marriage was handled differently. Some of Joseph Smith’s plural wives remained married to their first husbands and continued to cohabit with them. For example, Patty Bartlett Sessions continued in her marriage to David Sessions. Others were sealed to church leaders for time only and continued to cohabit with their first husbands. An example of this type of marriage was that of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner and her husband Adam. If the husband was a nonmember, the situation was particularly complicated because it was believed that proxy marriages in the Nauvoo temple were necessary for Joseph’s wives after his death. Nonmembers could not stand as proxies so men other than the woman’s husband were sealed to them in the temple for time only. Brigham Young was sealed to Zina for time.
114. When Hyrum Smith discussed the ordinance of temple sealing with his second wife, Mary Fielding Smith (his first wife, Jerusha Barden, had died on 13 October 1837), he told her that he could be sealed to Jerusha in the same way that one could do work by proxy for the dead. He could then be sealed as well to [p.142] Mary. Mary responded by saying, “I will act as proxy for your wife that is dead and I will be sealed to you for eternity myself for I never had any other husband. I love you and I do not want to be separated from you nor be forever alone in the world to come.” Manuscript History, 8 April 1844, LDS Church Archives. The concept of proxy sealing could take such strange forms as that recorded in the Pratt family. Parley P. Pratt, an apostle, stood as proxy for Joseph Smith and was sealed vicariously to his own estranged wife, Mary Ann Frost Pratt, on 6 February 1846. Mary Ann cohabited with Pratt after that time although there is no evidence of the nature of their new relationship. Pratt explained, “By mutual consent of parties and by the advise [sic] of President Young [Mary Ann] was sealed to Joseph Smith [the deceased] for Eternity and to her former husband [Parley] for time, as proxy.” Parley P. Pratt, writing in the diary of another plural wife, Belinda Marden Pratt, 11 March 1851, LDS Church Archives.