Joseph Smith/Polygamy/Plural wives/Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde/Circumstances of her plural marriage

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Did Joseph Smith send Apostle Orson Hyde on a mission so that he could secretly marry his wife Marinda while he was gone?

Summary: Nancy married future apostle Orson Hyde on 4 September 1834. He was involved briefly with apostasy at Far West in the fall of 1838, but had returned to the Church by March 1839 following a dramatic vision in which he saw the consequence of continued rebellion. Marinda was sealed to Joseph in April 1842, while Orson was on a mission. Only antagonistic accounts of this sealing exist. Of the four reports, two claim that Orson was aware of the sealing, and two claim that he was not.

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Question: Did Joseph Smith send men on missions so that he could secretly marry their wives while they were gone?

This claim is contradicted by the historical data

It is claimed that Joseph Smith sent men away on a missions so that he could secretly marry their wives while they were away.

Researcher Brian C. Hales noted that this claim is without foundation:

Another detail in [John C.] Bennett's Pittsburgh affidavit is that the Prophet had sent men on missions so he could marry their wives in Nauvoo. This statement is contradicted by historical data. Of the twelve "polyandrous" husbands identified by Todd Compton, ten were not on missions at the time Joseph was sealed to their legal wives. Of the two possible exceptions, only one, Orson Hyde, is documented as on a mission at the time of Marinda Johnson Hyde's sealing to Joseph Smith. The second possible case involves George Harris, who left on his fourteen-month mission in July 1840. His wife, Lucinda may have been...sealed to Joseph Smith at some point, but the date is unavailable.[1]


Question: Was Apostle Orson Hyde sent on a mission to dedicate Israel so that Joseph Smith could secretly marry his wife, Marinda Hyde, while he was away?

Orson was involved briefly with apostasy at Far West in the fall of 1838, but had returned to the Church by March 1839

Marinda Nancy Johnson married future apostle Orson Hyde on 4 September 1834. He was involved briefly with apostasy at Far West in the fall of 1838, but had returned to the Church by March 1839 following a dramatic vision in which he saw the consequence of continued rebellion. [2]

Marinda was sealed to Joseph in April 1842, while Orson was on a mission. Only antagonistic accounts of this sealing exist. [3] Of the four reports, two claim that Orson was aware of the sealing, and two claim that he was not.

Orson had been on his mission for about a year before the sealing

It is of note that Orson had been on his mission for about a year before the sealing--he departed on 15 April 1840, and would return 7 December 1842. There are two dates available for her sealing to Joseph--either April/Spring 1842, or May 1843.[4] Thus, even with the earliest sealing date, Orson had been gone for nearly two years prior to Joseph's sealing to Nancy.

This long delay does not fit well with the claim that a sexually-aggressive Joseph simply wanted his male rivals out of the way.

The Hydes divorced in 1870, but Marinda was sealed to Orson following Joseph's death

The Hydes were to divorce in 1870: "The precise reasons for the divorce are not known, but it appears that Orson was giving most of his attention to his younger wives at this time." [5]

Unique to the Hyde's marriage is the fact that Marinda was sealed to Orson following Joseph's death. All of the Prophet's other polyandrous wives were posthumously sealed to Joseph by proxy. [6]

Marinda's children Orson W. Hyde and Frank Henry Hyde

Two of Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde's children have been suggested as possible children. The first, Orson, died in infancy, making DNA testing impossible. Compton notes, however, that "Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home. (He arrived in Nauvoo on December 7, 1842, and Marinda bore Orson Washington Hyde on November 9, 1843),"[7] putting the conception date around 16 February 1843.

Frank Hyde's birth date is unclear; he was born on 23 January in either 1845 or 1846.[8] This would place his conception around 2 May, of either 1844 or 1845. In the former case, Frank was conceived less than two months prior to Joseph's martyrdom. Orson Hyde left for Washington, D.C., around 4 April 1844,[9] and did not return until 6 August 1844, making Joseph's paternity more likely than Orson's if the earlier birth date is correct.[10] The key source for this claim is Fawn Brodie, who includes no footnote or reference. Given Brodie's tendency to misread evidence on potential children, this claim should be approached with caution.

Frank's death certificate lists Orson Hyde as the father, however, and places his birth in 1846, which would require conception nearly a year after Joseph's death.[11] A child by Joseph would have brought prestige to the family and Church, and Orson and Nancy had divorced long before Frank Henry's death.[12] It seems unlikely, therefore, that Orson would be credited with paternity over Joseph if any doubt existed. Without further data, Brodie's dating should probably be regarded as an error, ruling out Joseph as a possible father.


Question: What did Orson Hyde, the husband of Marinda Nancy Johnson, know about her sealing to Joseph Smith for eternity?

There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph

Marinda Nancy Johnson was married to Orson Hyde. There are contradictory accounts which make it impossible to know for certain whether or not Orson knew of and consented to Marinda's sealing for eternity to Joseph. However, according to Hales, "If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge." Yet he also notes that "John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: 'Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.'" [13]

There are two sealing dates for Joseph to Marinda - one during a period of one to two years after Hyde left on his mission, and one after he had already returned

The popular story among critics is that Joseph sent Orson away on his mission so that he could quickly marry his wife Marinda. However, the first sealing date shows that Joseph was sealed to Marinda for eternity one to two years after Hyde had left on his mission, so there was nothing "quick" about it. Furthermore, the evidence indicates that this was an "eternity only" sealing typical of Joseph's other "polyandrous" marriages involving other men's wives. No children are known to have conceived during this time. However, upon Hyde's return, not only did he father children by Marinda, but he also quickly asked Joseph to seal him in a new polygamous marriage of his own.

Todd Compton: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home”

Fawn Brodie speculated that Mrs. Orson Hyde’s sons Orson and Frank “could have been Joseph’s sons.” [14] Orson Washington Hyde, born November 9, 1843, died as an infant and therefore had no descendants. DNA testing cannot help determine paternity.

Brian Hales notes the following regarding the timeline,

The timeline shows that Apostle Orson Hyde, Marinda’s legal husband, served a mission to Palestine from the spring of 1840 to December 7, 1842. Weeks after his return, Marinda became pregnant with Orson Washington Hyde (conception approximately February 16, 1843) who was born on November 9, 1843. Several authors alleged Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry with some of his plural wives including Marinda, despite a mountain of contradictory evidences [15] However, no evidence has been found to connect Joseph Smith with this child. Todd Compton observes: “It is striking that Marinda had no children while Orson was on his mission to Jerusalem, then became pregnant soon after Orson returned home.” [16] They also allege that a second son, Frank Henry Hyde, was father by Joseph Smith under the assumption that he was born January 23, 1845 (conception approximately May 2, 1844). [17] However, his birth certificate and an obituary in the The Ogden Standard, June 29, 1908, “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” both corroborate a January 23, 1846, birthdate (May 2, 1845, approximate conception). [18][19]

Timeline of the marital status of Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde. From the website Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site

Hales continues,

If the 1842 date for the sealing between Joseph and Marinda marriage is correct, then Joseph may have been sealed to Marinda in an “eternity only” sealing without Orson Hyde’s knowledge. While such a sealing would not have affected her civil union with Orson, a late second-hand report from exposé author Ann Eliza Webb Young states:

When Joseph Smith first taught polygamy, and gave the wives as well as the husbands opportunity to make new choice of life-partners, Mrs. Hyde, at that time a young and quite prepossessing woman, became one of the Prophet’s numerous fancies. . . . Hyde was away on a mission at the time, and when he returned, he, in turn, imbibed the teachings of polygamy also, and prepared to extend his kingdom indefinitely. In the mean time it was hinted to him that Smith had had his first wife sealed to himself in his absence, as a wife for eternity. Inconsistent as it may seem, Hyde was in a furious passion.” [20]

However, John D. Lee remembered that Orson gave his permission: “Hyde’s wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state.” [21] [19]

Hyde requested that Joseph perform his own plural marriage just a few weeks after returning from his mission

Hales concludes,

Whatever the sequence, Orson appealed to Joseph to perform his own plural marriage weeks after returning from his mission stating in 1869: “In the month of February or March, 1843, I was married to Miss Martha R. Browitt, by Joseph Smith, the martyred prophet, and by him she was sealed to me for time and all eternity in Nauvoo, Illinois.” [22]

The details of the relationship between Marinda and the Prophet will probably never be known. If Marinda had chosen Joseph as her eternal husband, she apparently changed her mind because she chose to be sealed to her legal husband Orson Hyde in the Nauvoo temple on January 11, 1846.

However, Marinda Nancy Johnson relocated to Salt Lake City in 1852 and later divorced Orson Hyde. She died in 1886, having kept the faith in the Church established by her eternal husband.[19]

The accounts of the sealing of Marinda to Joseph

Much of what we know about the Hyde sealing is also contaminated by hostile, mutually contradictory accounts that contain some known false information.


Author Date Claim Comments
Sidney Rigdon[23] 1845
  • Orson unaware of marriage
  • Orson refused to live with wife when he found out

Contrary to claim, Orson continued to live with Miranda and father children by her.

William Hall[24] 1852
  • Joseph demanded Miranda and all Orson's money to let him back in the Church
  • "Many jokes were cracked at his [Hyde's] expense."

Very unlikely—no record of others mocking Hyde; Hall is unreliable on other marriages as well. [25] Orson's return to the quorum was in June 1839, [26] putting Hall's account two years too early for marriage. [27]

Ann Eliza Young[28] 1876
  • Orson did not know of marriage
  • Angry when he learned of it
  • Swore would not live with his wife; did so anyway.

Too young to have any first-hand knowledge of Nauvoo, her book's intent was clearly to titillate with stories of polygamous intrigue. Claims that Brigham told Orson that she was only to be his wife for time, and Joseph's for eternity—but this is frankly false, since sealed to Orson in early 1846. [29] She also confuses the temporality, since she describes Hyde "in a furious passion," because "he thought it no harm for him to win the affection of another man's wife… but he did not propose having his rights interfered with even by the holy Prophet whose teachings he so implicitly followed" (326). Yet, Orson did not begin practicing plural marriage until after he knew of Miranda's sealing to Joseph.

John D. Lee[30] 1877
  • "Report said that Hyde's wife, with his consent, was sealed to Joseph for an eternal state, but I do not assert the fact."
Lee's work was published posthumously and may have been altered by anti-Mormon editor.

A biography of Marinda Nancy Johnson may be viewed on Brian and Laura Hales' website "josephsmithspolygamy.org". off-site

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes

  1. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 313–314.
  2. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 234.
  3. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238–239.
  4. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1.
  5. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 230–243.
  6. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 240–242.
  7. Compton, "Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith's Plural Wives," 165.
  8. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 345, 464. gives his birth as 1845, though there is no footnote indicating her source. Frank's death certificate lists his birth in 1846}} Compton follows the date of 1846, citing Howard H. Barron, Orson Hyde: Missionary-Apostle-Colonizer (Salt Lake City: Horizon, 1977), 134 and Ancestral File.
  9. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:286. Volume 6 link Times and Seasons 5 (15 September 1844): 651}}
  10. Andrew Jenson, LDS Church Chronology: 1805–1914 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1914), entry for 6 August 1844. GospeLink (requires subscrip.).
  11. Frank H. Hyde, State of Utah--Death Certificate, State Board of Health File No. 967300}} Online at <http://wiki.hanksplace.net/index.php/Image:FrankHHyde.jpg>
  12. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 249.
  13. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  14. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 301, 345, 465
  15. Brian Hales: "See also discussion regarding John Bowes Quoting William Arrowsmith Regarding Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde in Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 1:314–16."
  16. Todd Compton, “Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives and Polygamy: A Critical View,” in Reconsidering No Man Knows My History: Fawn M. Brodie and Joseph Smith in Retrospect, ed. Newell G. Bringhurst (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996), 165.
  17. See Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 345.
  18. Brian Hales: "Birth certificate available at http://wiki.hanksplace.net/index.php/Image:FrankHHyde.jpg (accessed August 27, 2009). Thanks to Gregory L. Smith for identifying this. See also “Frank H. Hyde Dies Suddenly,” The Ogden Standard (June 29, 1908), 5."
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Brian Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy off-site Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "halespolygamy" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "halespolygamy" defined multiple times with different content
  20. Ann Eliza Webb Young, Wife Number 19, or, The Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford: Dustin, Gilman, and Co., 1876), 325–26.
  21. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled, or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee and W. W. Bishop, eds. (St. Louis: Byron, Brand, 1877), 147. Lee added “but I do not assert the fact.”
  22. Affidavit of Orson Hyde, September 15, 1869, MS 3423, CHL; affidavit was copied into Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 2:45; published in Joseph Fielding Smith, Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1905), 74.
  23. J. GI SON DIVINE [Sidney Rigdon], "To the Sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," Latter Day Saint's Messenger and Advocate (Pittsburgh) 1/10 (15 March 1845): 154–158.
  24. William Hall, Abominations of Mormonism Exposed; Containing Many Facts and Doctrines Concerning That Singular People, During Seven Year's Membership with Them; from 1840 to 1847 (Cincinnati: I. Hart, 1852), 113.
  25. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 239.
  26. See History of the Church, 3:345. Volume 3 link Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:24–25n12. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 1:340 (journal entry dated 25 June 1839). ISBN 0941214133.
  27. See Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238.
  28. Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, or the Story of a Life in Bondage, Being a Complete Exposé of Mormonism, and Revealing the Sorrows, Sacrifices and Sufferings of Women in Polygamy (Hartford, Conn.: Custin, Gilman & Company, 1876), 324–326.
  29. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 243.: "Marinda was sealed to Orson Hyde, not Smith, for time and eternity on January 11, 1846."
  30. John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee; (Written by Himself) Embracing the History of Mormonism ... With an Exposition of the Secret History, Signs, Symbols and Crimes of the Mormon Church. Also the True History of the Horrible Butchery Known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre (St. Louis: Bryan, Brand, 1877), 147.