Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy/Index/Chapter 1a

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 1" (pp. 26-51)

A FairMormon Analysis of: Nauvoo Polygamy: "... but we called it celestial marriage", a work by author: George D. Smith

27

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author suggests that Isaac Hale not being allowed to look at the plates was a "clumsy subterfuge."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

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28

Claim
  •  Author's quote: "Joseph's personal charisma was working its effect where he needed to rely on others for help. He elicited sympathy and created a sense of urgency; his enterprises bore a strange significance."

Author's source(s)
  • No source provided.
Response

28

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author refers to a talisman that Joseph "is said to have worn while digging."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

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28

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author notes that Emma "was nevertheless forbidden to see the plates herself."

FairMormon Response

  • She explained this didn't trouble her. Emma insisted that she was not forbidden to see them, but that she was convinced that it was the work of God, and that this sufficed for her. The author also does not report Emma's witness about the tangible reality of the physical plates.
  • Emma Smith not forbidden to see plates

|authorsources=

  • Van Wagoner & Walker, "Joseph Smith Gift," 50.

}}

28

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Married life was not easy. In fact, it was riddled with doubts, rumors, and deception from the start."

FairMormon Response

28

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "…Joseph was haunted by the suspicion, which followed him from place to place, that he crossed moral boundaries in his friendship with other women."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.
  • Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

28-29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph had an affair with Eliza Winters in 1828.

FairMormon Response

This hostile report is belied by other primary documents.

|authorsources=

  • No source provided

Eliza Winters (edit)

  • See also ch. 1: 28-29 and 29
  • See also ch. 3: 232

}}

29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "When Emma's mother, Elizabeth Hale, was asked about this [the purported seduction of Eliza Winters] in an interview forty-six years later, she declined to comment. Whatever she might have known went with her to the grave in February 1842…."

FairMormon Response

  • The author does not tell us that the same author interviewed Eliza (see above), she likewise said nothing about Joseph's attempted seduction. This is even stranger when we know that Eliza sued Martin Harris for slander because he accused her of loose morals; she lost the suit. She had no reason, then, to favor the Mormons—yet she never complained of Joseph's attempted seduction.
  • The author even makes the absence of evidence from Mrs. Hale sound suspicious.
  • Eliza Winters

|authorsources=

  • Vogel, Early Mormon Documents 4:296–97, 346–60; see also Frederick G. Mather, "The Early Mormons: Joe Smith Operates at Susquehanna," Binghamton Republican (29 July 188).

Eliza Winters (edit)

  • See also ch. 1: 28-29 and 29
  • See also ch. 3: 232

}}

29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that in the revelation that became D&C 132, that Emma was promised "annihilation if she failed to 'abide this commandment.'"

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

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29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author notes that D&C 132 "did not invoke the Book of Mormon's justification for taking more wives—the call to raise a righteous seed."

FairMormon Response

  • This calls into question, then, the author's theory that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon and had been concocting the whole polygamy idea since his teen years. If the Book of Mormon is Joseph's initial rationale for polygamy, why not use its best argument?

|authorsources=

Early preoccupation with polygamy (edit)

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29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The same year he married Emma…Joseph also probably had met Louisa Beaman, then only twelve years old."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Ages of wives (edit)

  • See also ch. Preface: ix
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 53
  • See also ch. 2a: 142-143
  • See also ch. 3: 198
  • See also ch. 6: 408

}}

29

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author speculates that Joseph's relationships in Ohio "with various families and their daughters...allowed him to invite the young women into his further confidence when they were older."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Ages of wives (edit)

  • See also ch. Preface: ix
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 53
  • See also ch. 2a: 142-143
  • See also ch. 3: 198
  • See also ch. 6: 408

}}

30

Claim
  • The author notes that "In most cases, the women were adolescents or in their twenties when he met them. About ten were pre-teens, others already thirty or above."

Author's source(s)
  • No source provided
Ages of wives (edit)
  • See also ch. Preface: ix
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 53
  • See also ch. 2a: 142-143
  • See also ch. 3: 198
  • See also ch. 6: 408
Response

30

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Whitney's daughter Sarah Ann would become one of Joseph Smith's wives, although at the time [1831] she was only five years old."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided

Ages of wives (edit)

  • See also ch. Preface: ix
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 53
  • See also ch. 2a: 142-143
  • See also ch. 3: 198
  • See also ch. 6: 408

}}

31

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

Mary Elizabeth Rollings is described as "an excitable and impressionable young woman…at age thirteen…had interpreted words spoken in tongues…."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided

Ages of wives (edit)

  • See also ch. Preface: ix
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 22, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 53
  • See also ch. 2a: 142-143
  • See also ch. 3: 198
  • See also ch. 6: 408

}}

31

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author points out that "[i]t was eleven years after the Smiths roomed with the Whitneys that Joseph expressed a romantic interest in their daughter, as well."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided

Whitney "love letter" (edit)

Womanizing & romance (edit)

}}

31

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Another future wife, Marinda Johnson, was fifteen when she met Smith in Ohio. She said when he looked into her eyes, she felt ashamed. At the time, the Smiths were living with Marinda's family…."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

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32

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The seven-year-old daughter of Apostle Heber C. Kimball was still another future wife…When she married Smith a few years later in Nauvoo at the age of fourteen, it was with her father's encouragement."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided

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32–33

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author speculates on the nature of Joseph Smith's relationships with these young women "from the time he first met them," and asks: "How relevant is it that in many instances he had lived under the same roof as his future wife prior to marrying her?"

FairMormon Response

  • Ah, now we see why it's brought up! But, the author explores none of these matters in detail—he just leaves it up to the readers' imagination. It does raise some questions, such as:
  1. wouldn't it be hard to hide anything inappropriate in the close quarters of 19th century home?
  2. doesn't this mean that these women and their families knew both the public and private Joseph very well—they were not merely 'seduced' by his public persona?

|authorsources=

  • No source given.

Womanizing & romance (edit)

}}

33

Claim
  • It is noted that Lucinda and George Harris lived across the street from the Smith family, and that "at an unspecified time, but probably by 1842, Lucinda became one more of the prophet's plural wives."

Author's source(s)
  • No source given.
Lucinda Harris (edit)
  • See also ch. 1: 33 and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 92
Response
  • Compton dates the marriage to 1838 (In Sacred Loneliness, 4). The author addresses none of the issues around the date's uncertainty.

34

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that in Illinois Joseph "was still hunted by law officials for old offenses."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

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35

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author notes that "[d]uring the 1837 recession, Smith's unchartered bank, called the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-banking Company, collapsed. Angry Ohioans could not be repaid for loans they had made to Mormon merchants and some church members lost their savings."

FairMormon Response

  • We are not told that loans were made because the Saints (including Joseph) were considered good credit risks. The economic collapse caught everyone by surprise.
  • Kirtland Safety Society

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

}}

37

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Missourians were alarmed by the influx of Mormons…and met to decide what to do about the intrusion. Sidney Rigdon warned that if they lifted their hand against the church, they would be 'exterminated.' In response to this incendiary speech, violence erupted on both sides, and Governor Lilburn Boggs soon declared in an echo of Rigdon's rhetoric that 'the Mormons…must be exterminated,' 'treated as enemies,' and 'driven from the State if necessary' to protect 'the public peace.'

FairMormon Response

  • Note that the author tells us nothing of the 1833 violent dispossession of the members in Jackson County, Missouri. The next paragraph says only that "Mormons found strife wherever they settled…this was true first in Jackson County….then to a succession of other counties."

|authorsources=

  • History of the Church 3:42, 175.

}}

38

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph and the other prisoners "escaped to join their people in Illinois, where they proceeded to found a theocratic society."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

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38n81 - "I hesitate to concur with Compton's interpretation of their relationship as a marriage"

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author notes that Todd Compton "has assembled the most complete documentation regarding Joseph and Fanny's relationship. However, I hesitate to concur with Compton's interpretation of their relationship as a marriage."

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

  • Note that the author does not engage or do more than mention Compton's strongest evidence: the Hancock autobiography. (He says only "Compton…draws from a late reminiscence by Mosiah Hancock to suggest that Smith married Alger in early 1833."[41 n. 90] But, we are nowhere told that this witness claimed to have performed the marriage ceremony.
  • Initiation of the practice
  • Fanny Alger—affair or marriage?
  • Fanny Alger—William McLellin account
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

Question: Did Joseph Smith marry Fanny Alger as his first plural wife in 1833?

Joseph Smith met Fanny Alger in 1833 when she was a house-assistant to Emma

Joseph Smith came to know Fanny Alger in early 1833 when she stayed at the Smith home as a house-assistant to Emma. Neither Joseph nor Fanny ever left any first-hand accounts of their relationship. There are no second-hand accounts from Emma or Fanny's family. All that we do have is third hand accounts from people who did not directly observe the events associated with this first plural marriage, and most of them recorded many years after the events.

Joseph said that the "ancient order of plural marriage" was to again be practiced at the time that Fanny was living with his family

Benjamin F. Johnson stated that in 1835 he had "learned from my sister’s husband, Lyman R. Sherman, who was close to the Prophet, and received it from him, 'that the ancient order of Plural Marriage was again to be practiced by the Church.' This, at the time did not impress my mind deeply, although there lived then with his family (the Prophet’s) a neighbor’s daughter, Fannie Alger, a very nice and comely young woman about my own age, toward whom not only myself, but every one, seemed partial, for the amiability for her character; and it was whispered even then that Joseph loved her."[1]

Joseph asked the brother-in-law of Fanny's father to make the request of Fanny's father, after which a marriage ceremony was performed

Mosiah Hancock discusses the manner in which the proposal was extended to Fanny, and states that a marriage ceremony was performed. Joseph asked Levi Hancock, the brother-in-law of Samuel Alger, Fanny’s father, to request Fanny as his plural wife:

Samuel, the Prophet Joseph loves your daughter Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Uncle Sam says, “Go and talk to the old woman [Fanny’s mother] about it. Twill be as she says.” Father goes to his sister and said, “Clarissy, Brother Joseph the Prophet of the most high God loves Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Said she, “Go and talk to Fanny. It will be all right with me.” Father goes to Fanny and said, “Fanny, Brother Joseph the Prophet loves you and wishes you for a wife. Will you be his wife?” “I will Levi,” said she. Father takes Fanny to Joseph and said, “Brother Joseph I have been successful in my mission.” Father gave her to Joseph, repeating the ceremony as Joseph repeated to him.[2]


39

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Joseph wrote in his journal on December 4, 1832, 'Oh, Lord, deliver thy servant out of temtations [sic] and fill his heart with wisdom and understanding.' If this was not in reference to Fanny Alger, it coincided with the report of two of Joseph's scribes, Warren Parrish and Oliver Cowdery, that Joseph had been 'found' in the hay with his housekeeper."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Fanny Alger (edit)

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39

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

Warren Parrish said that Joseph and Fanny were discovered together "as a wife."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Fanny Alger (edit)

}}

39

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery refered to Joseph's relationship with Fanny Alger as a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Fanny Alger (edit)

}}

39–41

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The William McLellin claims are discussed.

FairMormon Response

|authorsources= Fanny Alger (edit)

Ignoring Hancock autobiography (edit)

}}

40–41

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

It is noted that William McLellin sometimes claims there was also a "Miss Hill" involved with Joseph.

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • Newell and Avery, Mormon Enigma, 66.

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41–42

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "It might be important to mention that the testimony here and elsewhere regarding "[having] Fanny Alger as a wife" employs a Victorian euphemism that should not be construed to imply that Fanny was actually married to Joseph."

FairMormon Response

  • Yet it is not clear why we should not so construe it. G. D. Smith does not tell us that Johnson (the same person who reported the term 'had…as a wife') then insisted in the same document that “without a doubt in my mind, Fanny Alger was, at Kirtland, the Prophet’s first plural wife.”
  • G. D. Smith provides no evidence or citation to enforce his reading over Johnson’s clear view of the relationship.
  • Fanny Alger—affair or marriage?
  • Fanny Alger—William McLellin account
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Fanny Alger (edit)

}}

42

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "[t]here is no evidence to corroborate the claim that Fanny was pregnant."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Fanny Alger (edit)

}}

42–43

Claim
  • Five "primary accounts" of the Fanny relationship:
  1. ) Oliver Cowdery & Warren Parrish
  2. ) FG Williams via McLellin
  3. ) Emma Smith via McLellin
  4. ) Benjamin F. Johnson
  5. ) Fanny Brewer's affidavit

Author's source(s)
  • No source provided.
Fanny Alger (edit) Response
  • There is no Warren Parrish statement as suggested in #1; only Johnson's citation of him in 1905.
The author fails to mention:
6) Ann Eliza Webb x 2 (hostile, but thought was a marriage)
7) Chauncery Webb
These are "second hand," but so are Parrish, William, Emma, Johnson, and Fanny Brewer!

44

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Rumors may have been circulating already as early as 1832 that Smith had been familiar with fifteen-year-old Marinda Johnson, a member of the family with which Smith lived in Ohio."

FairMormon Response

  • Compton and Van Wagoner both reject this version of events.
  • Marinda Nancy Johnson
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

|authorsources=

  • No source provided.

Womanizing & romance (edit)

}}

44

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

Lucinda Harris is said to have claimed that she was Joseph's 'mistress' four years before an 1842 conversation with Sarah Pratt.

FairMormon Response

  • Such a claim is inconsistent with the mores of the time. The author does no source criticism on the problems with the Sarah Pratt statement from a virulently anti-Mormon work.
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

|authorsources=

  • Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 60.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 618.

Lucinda Harris (edit)

  • See also ch. 1: 33 and 44
  • See also ch. 2: 92

}}

44 n. 100

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Van Wagoner and Compton argue that "the mobsters...reacted to financial shenanigans, not to indiscretions with their sister. In defense of this position, Van Wagoner and Compton point to the fact that Sidney Rigdon was also tarred and feathered that night”

FairMormon Response

  • G. D. Smith fails to mention the strongest arguments advanced by those who disagree with him. He provides no citation for the explanation that he adopts.
  • Marinda Nancy Johnson
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

|authorsources=

  • Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 4 n. 4; Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 220–222.

Womanizing & romance (edit)

}}

45

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Gary James Bergera argued that "Smith introduced members…to the ordinances of…eternal marriage (1841)…."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

  • Bergera, "The Earliest Eternal Sealings for Civilly Married Couples Living and Dead," Dialogue 35 (Fall 2002): 41–42, 45.

44–45

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

"Civil marriage" was claimed to be "an outdated marriage contract which, church members came to understand, was an inefficacious as an improper baptism."

FairMormon Response

  • Not true, since one could be in good Church standing if one was civilly married, but not if one was committing adultery.
  • Beyond the grave, marriages were not binding. But this does not mean that they were "outdated," or that Church members did not continue to marry civilly.
  • Richard Lloyd Anderson and Scott H. Faulring, "The Prophet Joseph Smith and His Plural Wives (Review of In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith)," FARMS Review of Books 10/2 (1998): 67–104. off-site

|authorsources=

  • Bergera, "The Earliest Eternal Sealings for Civilly Married Couples Living and Dead," Dialogue 35 (Fall 2002): 41–42, 45. (I've not read this – GLS)

}}

48

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "In Smith's narrative, an otherworldly being Smith called 'the Lord' defends polygamy…."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

}}

48-49

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that D&C 132 "contravenes the Book of Mormon passage where polygamy is said to be allowed under certain conditions but is likely an indication of wickedness…." "However, Smith's 1843 revelation changes all this. Section 132 establishes polygamy as a virtuous higher law that is forever 'true'—no longer a time-sensitive practice."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

}}

49

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author speculates that a revelation received by Joseph seemed "to recall Smith's teenage concerns about sinful thoughts and behavior, reiterated this standard: 'Thou shalt not commit adultery….'"

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

Womanizing & romance (edit)

}}

50

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "…in 1841, Joseph Smith and Luisa Beaman participated in the first formal ceremony to legitimize a plural coupling."

FairMormon Response

  • Again ignores the Hancock autobiography, Ann Eliza Webb, Chauncery Webb, and Benjamin F. Johnson.
  • Joseph Smith/Polygamy

|authorsources=

  • No source given.
  • Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

    Ignoring Hancock autobiography (edit)
  • See also ch. 1: 1, 1n1, 38n81, 39–41, and 50
  • See also ch. 3: 237

50

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author suggest that Joseph engaged in "perilous anti-social behavior by indulging in sexual relations with the daughters and wives of close friends, albeit mostly in marital and religious contexts."

FairMormon Response

  • Sexual relations in a marital context is not an "anti-social" act. If all the data are taken into account (i.e., the Hancock autobiography) all were sanctioned in this way (see above).
  • There is scant evidence that Joseph had sexual relations with any polyandrous wife.
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

|authorsources=

  • No source given.

Ignoring Hancock autobiography (edit)

}}

51

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author states that "…LDS leaders denied violating Illinois law…."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • No source given.

Hiding polygamy (edit)

  • See also ch. 1: 3-4 and 51
  • See also ch. 4: 247

}}

51

The author(s) of Nauvoo Polygamy make(s) the following claim:

The author suggests that today there is "the continued abusive coercion of underage girls in polygamous communities," and that although polygamy has been repeatedly condemned by the modern Church, "the Nauvoo beginnings of the practice remain in LDS scripture as Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and in the church's temple sealings."

FairMormon Response

|authorsources=

  • Newspaper articles on "fundamentalist" plural marriage

}}


Further reading

A FAIR Analysis of Critical Works
  • Dean 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, Utah: Horizon, 1976), 38; punctuation and spelling standardized. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site
  • Levi Ward Hancock, “Autobiography with Additions in 1896 by Mosiah Hancock,” 63, MS 570, LDS Church History Library, punctuation and spelling standardized; cited portion written by Mosiah. Cited in Brian Hales, "Fanny Alger," josephsmithspolygamy.org. off-site