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Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy
Vision Articles

How Men Nearest the Prophet Attached Polygamy to His Name
in Order to Justify Their Own Polygamous Crimes

By Richard and Pamela Price

"What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives,
when I can only find one"
—Joseph Smith (LDS History of the Church 6:411).

[ Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Index ]

Joseph and Hyrum Planned Charges against Polygamists before the High Council

Joseph and Emma Smith

Presidents Joseph and Hyrum Smith stood staunchly together in the spring of 1844, determined to seek out those who were teaching and practicing polygamy and bring charges against them before the High Council. Patriarch Hyrum Smith published a warning in the Times and Seasons to those involved in preaching the doctrine of polygamy—warning that they could be brought before the High Council, and charged with transgression. William Marks, who was president of the High Council, gave credence to Hyrum's intent to bring charges against the polygamist advocates. This Marks did when he stated that Joseph had discussed with him a plan to bring those involved in polygamy before the High Council. Marks asserted:

I met with Brother Joseph. He said that he wanted to converse with me on the affairs of the church, and we retired by ourselves. I will give his words verbatim, for they are indelibly stamped upon my mind. He said he had desired for a long time to have a talk with me on the subject of polygamy. He said it eventually would prove the overthrow of the church, and we should soon be obliged to leave the United States, unless it could be speedily put down. He was satisfied that it was a cursed doctrine, and that there must be every exertion made to put it down. He said that he would go before the congregation and proclaim against it, and I must go into the High Council, and he would prefer charges against those in transgression, and I must sever them from the church, unless they made ample satisfaction. There was much more said, but this was the substance. The mob commenced to gather about Carthage in a few days after, therefore there was nothing done concerning it.

After the Prophet's death, I made mention of this conversation to several, hoping and believing that it would have a good effect; but to my great disappointment, it was soon rumored about that Brother Marks was about to apostatize, and that all that he said about the conversation with the Prophet was a tissue of lies. (RLDS History of the Church 2:733)

Marks' statements that Joseph had discussed with him the prosecution of polygamists before the High Council were discredited because Apostle Young and a majority of the apostles were practicing plural marriage at that time. Joseph and Hyrum had been their greatest threat. With them dead, the apostles did not intend for Stake President Marks, or any others, to interfere with their intent to make polygamy a Church doctrine.

By March 1844 polygamy was steadily increasing outside the apostles' secret plural marriage circle. Certain elders were boldly teaching it in the vicinity of China Creek (also called Chancy Creek), ten miles south of Nauvoo. It was also being taught at La Harpe, a few miles northeast of Nauvoo. Joseph and Hyrum had a tremendous job before them—that job was to uproot polygamy, which was strongly entrenched, with Young and other powerful members of the Twelve helping spread and feed that doctrine behind Joseph and Hyrum's backs.

Richard Hewitt
Richard Hewitt, who discussed the doctrine of polygamy with Hyrum Smith, and received a letter from Hyrum condemning that doctrine.
Jerusha Hewitt
Jerusha Hewitt, who supported her husband in his stand against polygamy and believed Hyrum's testimony to have been truthful.

One great testimony of Joseph and Hyrum's fight against plural marriage is known today because of the concern of Elder Richard Hewitt, a farmer, who had a great concern for the welfare of the Church. Elder Richard Hewitt lived with his wife, Jerusha, and their children near China Creek, about ten miles south of Nauvoo. The family had gathered to the Nauvoo area from Indiana. China Creek was located on the east side of the Mississippi River at Hamilton, Illinois, almost opposite of the present Keokuk Dam.The preaching and teaching of the doctrine of plural marriage was so disturbing to Elder Hewitt that he decided one crisp March day to travel the ten miles north to Nauvoo to ask Joseph or Hyrum if polygamy was a doctrine of the Church, and if it was being advocated or practiced by the Church leaders.

Richard's first wife had died leaving him with children. He then married Jerusha Parker. They were also the parents of several children. Their first child was a daughter, whom they named Mary Jane. She was fourteen years of age in March 1844 when Richard set out to converse with either the Prophet or Patriarch of the Church.

Mary Jane long remembered her father riding to Nauvoo to question Joseph or Hyrum, her father returning with Hyrum's letter, and how a remark later made by Brigham Young, in which he alluded to Mary Jane becoming his plural wife, caused Hewitt to break with Brigham Young and go to Texas. Mary Jane, who later married Stephen Maloney, told stories of her life to her children, and they retold those stories to their children, that they might know the truth of what happened in the Church. Upon reaching adulthood Mary Jane's daughter, Lettie Jane Maloney Hartman, wrote her "Memories of Childhood" in which she recalled her mother's account of March 15,1844. Lettie Jane wrote:

We often heard her [Mary Jane] tell of a time when she lived with her parents in Illinois [on China Creek). Her father had come home one day and said he had heard some false doctrine taught and that he was going at once to see Joseph and Hyrum about what he had heard. The family were preparing supper and grandma [Jerusha) wanted him to wait and cat before going but he said, "No, I will neither eat nor sleep until I have seen Joseph or Hyrum, and know whether there is any such evil taught in the church." He was soon riding on horseback to Nauvoo where he soon learned there was no such evil doctrine taught by Joseph and Hyrum.... His [Hyrum's) reply has long been on church record written in Times and Seasons, volume 5, page 474. (Autumn Leaves 23 [September 1910]: 395, 396)

Upon arriving at Church headquarters at the Prophet's store, Hewitt conversed with Hyrum. It is recorded that on that day, March 15, Joseph "Spent the day in council" (LDS History of the Church 6:264). What is not recorded in the Mormon history is Hyrum's letter to the brethren on China Creek, and the text of a paper, "The Voice of Innocence," which was to be presented the next day at two consecutive meetings of the Ladies' Relief Society. Those meetings were held in the large room adjoining Joseph's small office, and Emma Smith, as president of the Female Relief Society, would be leading the approving of that paper, which strongly condemned polygamy and like crimes.

Hyrum recorded that Richard Hewitt called upon him. Hyrum's home was on the north side of Water Street within a block of Joseph's store. Hyrum's office, where he gave patriarchal blessings and met in council with Saints such as Elder Hewitt, was a small brick building about twelve by fourteen feet in size, located across the street from his home, on the south side of Water Street. His office was a short distance west of Joseph's store (see The Saints' Herald [August 8,1906], 741). Hyrum worked in his office, along with his secretary and recorder, giving patriarchal blessings and counsel to the Saints who sought his fatherly advice (see Times and Seasons 3:585).

Richard and Jerusha Hewitt
Richard and Jerusha Hewitt, who taught their children that polygamy was an evil doctrine.

The subject of polygamy being practiced within the Church was so serious that Richard Hewitt and Hyrum may have sought the privacy of the outdoors for their discussion. After all, there were men working in the Church offices, such as William Clayton and Willard Richards, who had plural wives. The weather for that date was reported to have been a "Dull, cloudy day, [with a] north wind" and a "Frosty night" (LDS History of the Church 6:264). In spite of the cool wind the two men found privacy outside, perhaps near Hyrum's home, where Hewitt could water his horse at Hyrum's well, and where Hyrum could sit on the well curb and write. Elder Hewitt informed Hyrum of the polygamous teachings being taught by priesthood members in his area, as well as some strange doctrines which the men were attaching to the plural marriage doctrine. One can determine what those strange new doctrines were by reading the list of false doctrines that Hyrum named and condemned in the letter which he gave to Hewitt. Those same doctrines are also listed in the letter that Hyrum had published in the Times and Seasons. Hyrum took some paper and a pen, and sat down on the well curb and wrote a letter to the Church brethren of China Creek. The false doctrines which he listed as being entwined with polygamy included the teaching that men having a certain priesthood could have plural wives. It also included the preaching of mysteries, grand councils of heaven, the making of gods (plural), worlds, and a change in the previously taught doctrine of how one obtains celestial glory. The reader should note that those doctrines condemned by Hyrum are all found in Section 132 of the current LDS Doctrine and Covenants, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Utah.

Hyrum, a member of the Presidency, authoritatively condemned polygamy and those false doctrines attached to it. Hyrum wrote:

Nauvoo, March 15,1844.

To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting:—Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here [at Nauvoo]: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practised here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about.

And again I say unto you, an elder has no business to undertake to preach mysteries in any part of the world, for God has commanded us all to preach nothing but the first principles unto the world. Neither has any elder any authority to preach any mysterious thing to any branch of the church unless he has a direct commandment from God to do so. Let the matter of the grand councils of heaven, and the making of gods, worlds, and devils entirely alone: for you arc not called to teach any such doctrine—for neither you nor the people are capacitated to understand any such principles—less so to teach them. For when God commands men to teach such principles the saints will receive them. Therefore beware what you teach! for the mysteries of God are not given to all men; and unto those to whom they are given they are placed under restrictions to impart only such as God will command them; and the residue is to be kept in a faithful breast, otherwise he will be brought under condemnation. By this God will prove his faithful servants, who will be called and numbered with the chosen.

And as to the celestial glory, all will enter in and possess that kingdom that obey the gospel, and continue in faith in the Lord unto the end of his days. Now, therefore, I say unto you, you must cease preaching your miraculous things, and let the mysteries alone until by and bye. Preach faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; repentance and baptism for the remission of sins; the laying on of the hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost: teaching the necessity of strict obedience unto these principles; reasoning out of the scriptures; proving them unto the people. Cease your schisms and divisions, and your contentions. Humble yourselves as in dust and ashes, lest God should make you an ensample of his wrath unto the surrounding world. Amen.

In the bonds of the everlasting covenant,

I am
Your obedient servant,
(Times and Seasons 5 [March 15, 1844]: 474)

Note Hyrum's stern warning above that "any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about."

Hyrum's warning that those teaching polygamy were in danger effacing charges before the High Council agrees with Nauvoo Stake President William Marks' declaration that Joseph the Prophet met with him and told of his intention of seeking out the polygamists and charging them with crimes before the High Council. Remember that Marks was president of the High Council, and therefore was the correct officer for Joseph to have conferred with when considering making such charges.

Marks' statement that Joseph planned to prosecute polygamists before the members of the High Council by bringing charges of transgression against them, agrees with Hyrum's letter of intent of the same for all to see. Those who feel that Marks has no credibility because he disagreed with Young's "measures" and was against polygamy, can read that Hyrum suggested the same method of prosecution.

Since Elder Hewitt had left his home while his wife was preparing "supper," the evening meal, the hour must have been late when Hewitt and Hyrum ended their discussion. However, either Hyrum's letter, or a copy of it, was taken to the nearby Times and Seasons' printing office. No doubt, workmen in the printing room were busily engaged in meeting the deadline for the March 15, 1844, issue of the Times and Seasons, that was due off the press that day. Despite the lateness, room was found in the paper for Hyrum's letter to the brethren at China Creek. It was hastily typeset and placed in that issue of the Times and Seasons.

The fact that the letter bears the date of March 15 is evidence of how important Hyrum felt it was to get it into that issue. If there had been time, the letter would possibly have been placed on the front page, or near the front of the paper. However, Hyrum's submission of the letter so close to the paper's scheduled printing is probably the reason for it being placed on the eleventh page of the March fifteenth issue (page 474). Only a request by Hyrum or Joseph, or both, could have caused the editors and printers at that late hour to remove the article or articles already planned (and perhaps already typeset) for that page, and replace it with Hyrum's letter against the doctrine of polygamy.

Hewitt Makes Hyrum's Letter Public

Richard Hewitt showed Hyrum's letter to others. Among those who saw the original letter, and heard Hewitt read it aloud, was John Taylor, who held the priesthood office of teacher in the Church at Nauvoo. He should not be confused with Apostle John Taylor, who had the same name. Years later, Teacher John Taylor testified in the Temple Lot Case that "Hyrum Smith sat on a well curb and wrote" the letter for Hewitt to take to the brethren and Saints at China Creek, and that he [Taylor] had seen the letter, and had heard the letter read by Hewitt.

Teacher John Taylor's Testimony

John Taylor testified:

I held the position of teacher in the original church from September, 1832, until Joseph Smith's death in 1844. I performed the duties of teacher from the time I went to Nauvoo until 1844. We had our bounds set off for us,—two teachers to each ward to look after the members in the ward, to see that no backbiting, or evil speaking, or iniquity was practiced, and see that all members of the church did their duties.

It was my mission to teach and instruct from the Book of Covenants, and the Book of Mormon, and the New Testament. We went together from house to house and visited every house.... It was our duty in case we found anybody with more wives than one to report them to the President of the Teachers' Quorum. There were twenty-four in the Teachers' Quorum. It was an organized quorum, and our instructions were if we found any case of that kind to report it to the President of the Teachers' Quorum, and the president would report them to Hyrum Smith. That was the instruction that Brother Hyrum Smith gave in the quorum. We were not to report these alone [only], but any other misdemeanor that we found in our wards, and they were all reported alike to the President of the Quorum.

... It was about that time that John C. Bennett's secret wife system came to be heard of, and it was talked around that there was such a thing as that; and that was the reason that the instructions were given us, for [we] were told to search it out and find what there was to it if we could. That was the way it was, and so I got after him [Bennett], and followed him, and saw him go into a house that did not have a very good reputation. I followed him.... And one evening I traced him and saw him go right into the house. During the time that I was a teacher from 1832 up to 1844, there was no rule or law of the original church that permitted the practice or principle of polygamy.... after I reported John C. Bennett there was action taken on his case. He was cut off from the church for that offense.... Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith never taught polygamy, and there was no revelation on polygamy or celestial marriage, or anything of the kind. The church was governed entirely as a monogamy church from 1832, at the time I became connected with it, up to the time of Joseph Smith's death.

There was a man by the name of [Hiram] Brown that taught that doctrine. He was notified by the church authorities [both Joseph and Hyrum], tried, and cut off from the church.... There was another man by the name of Durfy who went to La Harpe, Illinois [in northeast Hancock, County], and he told the people that he thought the time would come when they would practice polygamy, or the same doctrine with reference to plural wives that David and Solomon did. That was what Durfy taught. That was reported to Hyrum Smith, and Hyrum sat on a well curb and wrote a notice to him that such a doctrine was not to be taught in the church. I saw that letter, and it was a severe rebuke....

The letter I referred to ... is a letter that Hyrum Smith wrote and delivered to Mr. Hewitt, to take to those brethren out where this man [Durfy] was preaching this doctrine, or telling the people that the doctrine of plural marriage would sometime be taught in the church. I saw the letter at the time it was read to me. I saw the handwriting, but I did not read it myself. The letter was read to me. Mr. Hewitt read it to me, and I saw the writing, the same as if you had a letter opened there and I should see it. I saw the writing when Mr. Hewitt was reading it to me. The full name of the man who read it was Richard Hewitt. I don't know whose handwriting the letter was in. Mr. Hewitt said it was Hyrum Smith's handwriting. He told me that Hyrum Smith wrote it and gave it to him. (Temple Lot Case, 190–191, 192–193)

Richard Hewitt Threatened to Shoot Apostle Young

Events transpired quickly after Elder Hewitt visited with Hyrum. Three months after the two men conversed, Joseph and Hyrum were murdered. Within two years the Saints were driven from Nauvoo. Hewitt and his family joined the main body of Saints when they left Nauvoo and crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa Territory.

Apostle Brigham Young was by this time living more openly with a number of plural wives, while Elder Hewitt was strongly opposed to that doctrine. Hewitt believed Hyrum's denials of polygamy to have been truthful, and he was convinced that both Joseph and Hyrum despised plural marriage and all the strange doctrines attached to it.

After Joseph and Hyrum were murdered, a statement made by Brigham Young to Hewitt in reference to Hewitt's teenaged daughter, Mary Jane, caused Hewitt to sever all connections with Young and take his family to Texas, and then back to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Both Richard and Jerusha were of Cherokee heritage according to their genealogy records and family writings.

Later Mary Jane married Stephen Maloney and they joined the RLDS Church. She told their children the thrilling stories of her life as a girl on China Creek near Nauvoo, of the journey with her family across Iowa, and of her parents' break with Apostle Young over a remark which he made to her father about her. Years later Mary Jane's daughter, Lettie Jane Maloney Hartman, recorded Mary Jane's recollections in these words:

Another memory mother [Mary Jane] had was after Joseph was killed and the Saints were driven from their homes, the good and the bad together, she was traveling with her parents and one evening at camp, Brigham Young pointed at her and said, "Now, Brother Hewett [Hewitt], you know you would give me your daughter there to be one of my wives, if I should ask you."

His [Richard Hewitt's] reply was, "I would give you a bullet through your black heart first."

That was the father's sentiment regarding polygamy. He believed Brigham Young to be a rascal, as he proved to be. (Autumn Leaves 23 [September 1910]: 396)

Rebecca Mariah Hewitt Bradley
Rebecca Mariah Hewitt Bradley, daughter of Richard and Jerusha Hewitt, joined the Reorganized Church August 29, 1877.

Rebecca Mariah Hewitt, who was Mary Jane's younger sister, wrote:

... We lived on Chaney Creek [China Creek] about 10 mi from Nauvoo and [Father) sold out his farm there to follow the Church [when forced from Nauvoo] but Father did not go very far before ... he stoped and declaired Brigham Young to be fals. yet it was no easy task to give up the association of the saints who had the knowledge of the restored gospal. But not the lest bit shaken in the faith he went from Iowa to Texas and with all he found fo [of] the saints he told them never to follow Brigham for the righful heir was young Joseph. (Life of Rebecca M. Hewitt, page 1; copied from a photocopy of Rebecca's handwritten journal; original spelling retained)

Rebecca also tells another story which shows her father's (Richard Hewitt) independence and his lack of fear of Brigham Young. She wrote:

I will now relate a circumstance that happened while we was travling with the companey [of Saints after leaving Nauvoo]. One of Mr Young's wagons got stuck in the mud up to the axle, and ours was close behind, when he, Brigham, drove up in his carage and said, " Bro Hewitt get out and help get that wagon out of the mire." Father said, "You are a younger man than I, get out and put your sholder to the wheel, and I will asist you. It is your wagon, not mine," was Father's reply, (ibid., 3; original spelling retained)

In hopes of finding a group of Saints who were not practicing polygamy and were holding fast to the true Gospel, Hewitt left Brigham Young and his followers and went to Texas (see Pearl Wilcox, Saints of the Reorganization in Missouri, 132). Hewitt, who had been ordained a seventy while at Nauvoo, hoped to find peace and fellowship in the colony of Saints in Texas. But to Elder Hewitt's sorrow and dismay, he found Apostle Lyman Wight and others practicing polygamy. Rebecca Hewitt recorded in her journal that her father, Richard Hewitt, visited Apostle Lyman Wight,

but could not agree with him as being in sound doctrin. Father was an Elder and would often preach sometimes at our house.... There was several families of saints.... I was now 10 years old and was babtised by my Father. (Life of Rebecca M. Hewitt, 4–5; original spelling retained)

On June 14,1849, Richard Hewitt, who was at the time in Texas, wrote a letter on the subject of polygamy to James J. Strang, who claimed to be Joseph the Martyr's successor. The editors, who compiled the RLDS History of the Church, volume two, printed an extract from Hewitt's letter to Mr. Strang, and an introduction which the editors wrote. They published:

In connection with this the following extract from a private letter to J. J. Strang, written by Mr. Hewitt, of Bastrop, Texas, June 14,1849, (the original of which is now before us [the editors]) is significant:—

I want to know what your mind is about men having the priesthood, having more wives than one. The principle is taught amongst all that I have been with. Some have from two to ten, or twenty, and some have none. If it is consistent I want you to let me know when you write to me, and I want you to write as soon as you get this, so Brother Miller [Bishop George Miller] and myself may know what to do. You must excuse me for asking so much, but you must bear with me, as I confess I am ignorant. Bro. Miller says their whoring will send them all to hell. You can see Bro. Hyrum's epistle to me on that subject, in the Times and Seasons, 15th March, 1844, if I don't mistake. I don't find such things in the Book of Covenants, nor in the Book of Mormon, nor in the writings of the apostles: and I don't want to be deceived, nor flattered any more, etc. (RLDS History of the Church 2:732)

It is not known whether or not James J. Strang answered Hewitt's letter. It is known, however, that Hewitt never joined with Strang, who was a polygamist. Following Hewitt's doctrinal difference with Apostle Lyman Wight, Hewitt moved from Texas to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. He would have no fellowship with any group of Saints who practiced plural marriage in any form.

Was Hewitt's Faith in Hyrum Smith Justified?

Richard Hewitt died September 25,1853, at McCoy's Prairie, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, and was buried at Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma Territory. As long as he lived, Elder Hewitt believed that Patriarch Hyrum Smith had written a true statement in the March 15,1844, letter. One may ask, Was Hewitt misled by Hyrum? Or did Elder Hewitt have true discernment, and was he justified in believing Hyrum's denial that neither he nor Joseph were advocates of plural marriage?

Let us consider the Mormon Church's view. According to affidavits and testimonies published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, both Hyrum and Joseph had plural wives at the time Hewitt and Hyrum conferred. If the Mormon affidavits and testimonies are true, then the letter which Hyrum wrote against plural marriage was a sham, lies written deliberately to deceive Richard Hewitt and the innocent Saints. If his letter was a cover-up, did Hyrum brag to Joseph that he had deceived Elder Hewitt? Did Joseph chuckle at the gullibility of the Saints, and agree with Hyrum that he should put a copy of the letter in the Times and Seasons to further deceive the Saints? The Prophet and Patriarch were either men of truth, or men of sin who lied to deceive the Saints. "But," argues one, "it was justifiable because Joseph and Hyrum were trying to keep the general public from knowing of their plural wives, in order to protect the Saints from persecution."

According to Apostle Brigham Young the world already knew, while Joseph lived, that the Prophet had many wives. On August 28, 1852, when he introduced the alleged revelation on a plurality of wives and celestial marriage, Young declared:

The world (the public) have known, long ago, even in brother Joseph's days, that he had more wives than one. One of the Senators in Congress, knew it very well. Did he oppose it? No! but he has been our friend all the day long, especially upon that subject [of a plurality of wives]. He (the senator) said pointedly to his friends, "if the United States do not adopt that very method [of plural marriage) ... their generations will not live until they are 30 years old...." Said he, "Joseph has introduced the best plan for restoring and establishing strength and long life among men, of any man on the earth...." Many others are of the same mind. . . . They have cried out, "proclaim it;" but it would not do, a few years ago; everything must come in its time.... I am now ready to proclaim it. (Supplement to The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star 15 [ 1853 ]: 31)

If Young's assertions are true, there was no need for secrecy by Joseph and Hyrum. Did secrecy, as Young claims, keep persecution from coming upon the Saints? No! What could have been a greater persecution than the Prophet and Patriarch being slain, and the Saints being driven from their homes and out of the United States?

In spite of what Apostle Young declared, the authors of this chapter believe that there is much evidence to show that Joseph and Hyrum did not deceive the Saints. They testified as truthful men, never wavering from their testimonies nor in their fight against plural marriage. There is much evidence to show that Richard Hewitt, and all who believed the words of Hyrum's letter to be true, were not deceived. Was there deception? Yes! And which Saints were deceived? Those who believed the testimonies of Brigham Young and some of his plural wives, Heber C. Kimball and some of his plural wives, and others who had become entangled in the web of polygamy, and joined in that conspiracy to falsely lay the blame for its practice on Joseph and Hyrum, the dead Martyrs.

DNA News Concerning the Prophet

After the plural marriage document introduced by Brigham Young became a law of the Mormon Church, it began to be rumored that certain individuals were the children of Joseph the Martyr and alleged plural wives. Until recently there were no scientific ways to test such claims. Now there is DNA. For some time efforts have been made to ascertain through DNA testing if certain individuals are descendants of Joseph and those alleged plural wives. Naturally, the tests were begun on persons who were thought to most likely be Joseph's descendants. DNA has so far ruled out five whom it was alleged were descendants of Joseph. The first three are: Moroni Llewellyn Pratt, son of Mary Ann Frost Pratt, who was married to Apostle Parley P. Pratt; Zebulon Jacobs, son of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, who was married to Henry B. Jacobs; and Orrison Smith, believed by some to have been a descendant of Fanny Alger and Joseph. These three were proven not to be genetically linked to Joseph the Prophet (see Journal of Mormon History 32 [Fall 2005]: 42–60).

Two more alleged descendants have since been declared not to be Joseph's descendants. On November 10, 2007, the Deseret Morning News printed an article by Carrie A. Moore, DNA tests rule out 2 as Smith descendants, in which it was stated that DNA tests had ruled out two more purported descendants as having no genetic link to Joseph the Prophet. These two, whom the members of the Mormon Church have proclaimed for over one hundred years were Joseph's descendants by plural wives, were: Mosiah Hancock, son of Clarissa Reed Hancock, who was married to Levi Hancock; and Oliver Buell, son of Prescindia Huntington Buell, who was married to Norman Buell.

So a total of five, who were considered by Mormon historians, authors, and specific families to be Joseph's descendants, have been eliminated as being genetically linked to him. DNA testing is planned on others thought by Mormons to have descended from the Martyr and alleged plural wives. Many individuals await those findings. The authors of this chapter are confident that Joseph the Prophet was a truthful monogamist, and that future DNA testing of alleged descendants will also be negative, and furnish further evidence that Joseph Smith was not a polygamist.

(Much credit is due Connie Fry Isaacks, great-great-granddaughter of Richard and Jerusha Hewitt, for providing photos, genealogy records, and a copy of Rebecca M. Hewitt s journal for this article. Rebecca, who was Richard and Jerusha s daughter, was Connie's great-grandmother. Connie has been a lifelong member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She is a Restorationist and attends the Glendale Branch in Independence, Missouri.)


[ Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy Index ]

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Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy—Volume I, by Richard and Pamela Price, can be purchased at the Restoration Bookstore or from our online store.  Articles on this subject continue to be published in Vision magazine, which also can be purchased at the Restoration Bookstore or online. It is planned that this additional material will be compiled into future volumes.

For a general understanding of both the origins of polygamy among the Latter Day Saints and the several conspiracies to falsely implicate Joseph in polygamy, read the article on our Web site, "Joseph Smith: Innocent of Polygamy," by Richard Price.


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