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John C. Bennett and Sarah Pratt

John C. Bennett and Sarah Pratt

Summary: John C. Bennett and Joseph Smith exchanged charges, each claiming that the other had attempted the seduction of Sarah Pratt, wife of apostle Orson Pratt. Learn about this complex period of LDS history here.

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Sarah Pratt

Bennett was not long in attempting to turn the tables on Joseph Smith. Though Bennett never denied his own adulteries, he simply made Joseph out to be worse.[1] In letters published in the Sangamo Journal, Bennett charged Joseph with "spiritual wifery," and the seduction of Mormon women. Even those married to Joseph's closest followers were not safe, according to Bennett, and Sarah Pratt was his Exhibit A.

Historian Richard Van Wagoner goes to great lengths to exonerate Sarah Pratt in his biographical article on her, his book on plural marriage which reprints much of the article word-for-word, and his more shrill biography of Sidney Rigdon.[2] I believe his efforts are unpersuasive.

An attempted seduction?

Bennett claimed that while Orson Pratt was on a mission with the Twelve in England, Joseph propositioned Sarah. Bennett's account is larded with difficulties. He claimed that Joseph confided his desire for Sarah as a spiritual wife, and his plans to make her one of the "Cloistered Saints." [3] This is a term unique to Bennett, attested in no other source. Bennett insisted that there were "three…orders, or degrees" of women in the "Mormon seraglio." Using terminology that is almost certainly fabricated, Bennett reported that "[t]he first and lowest of these is styled the 'Cyprian Saints;' the second, the 'Chambered Sisters of Charity;' and the third and highest degree is called the 'Cloistered Saints,' or 'Consecratees of the Cloister.'"[4] That Joseph would establish an "Cyprian" (i.e., wanton or prostitute) order by name is absurd. Bennett here betrays both his ignorance of Joseph's actual plural marriage teachings and his utter disregard for the truth.[5]

Bennett claimed that he "apprised [Sarah] of Joe's contemplated attack on her virtue," with a warning that Joseph would destroy her reputation if she revealed him. Bennett has Joseph professing his "earnest desire of connubial bliss,"[6] but here again, his account does not match more reliable reports. Joseph's offers of plural marriage were not couched in romantic, wooing terminology.[7] Bennett and his readers could likely not conceive of a motivation for plural marriage apart from sexual desire, and so he cast Joseph in that mold.

Upon receiving Sarah's rejection, Bennett's Joseph then required a lamb to be sacrificed, "and the door-posts and the gate sprinkled with its blood, and the kidneys and entrails taken and offered upon an altar of twelve stones that had not been touched with a hammer, as a burn sin offering." Such pseudo-Mosaic ritual is without precedent in Joseph's theology. In his original letter, Bennett went on: "So I procured the lamb from Capt. John T. Barnett, and it was slain by Lieut. Stephen H. Goddard, and I [Bennett] offered kidneys and entrails in sacrifice for Joe as desired."[8] This portion was not reprinted when his letter was included in his anti-Mormon book; even he must have realized that his fabrication was over-the-top.

Having been once rejected, after Orson's return Bennett claimed that Joseph later "stealthily approach[ed] and kiss[ed] her," bringing the whole story into the open.[9] Though there is no other source for this claim, there is some suggestion that Orson knew about Bennett's charges before they were published. Bennett published a 5 July letter from Orson's brother-in-law, who claimed that "Mr. Pratt would write, but he is afraid to. He wishes to be perfectly still, until your second letter comes out—then you may hear."[10] Some have concluded that Orson was thus only awaiting Bennett's public charge against Sarah on 15 July to act.[11] This is possible, but I am not persuaded: Bennett is not above forging a letter, and even if genuine his correspondent may not speak for Orson.

Orson's Initial Reaction

The strongest argument against Orson's foreknowledge is his reaction on the day of publication. Joseph arranged a search party after a suicidal note from Orson was found. As Ebenezer Robinson later recalled:

I remember well the excitement which existed at the time as a large number of the citizens turned out to go in search for [Orson Pratt]. …Under these circumstances his mind temporarily gave way, and he wandered away, no one knew where…[the searchers] fearing lest he had committed suicide. He was found some 5 miles below Nauvoo, sitting on a rock, on the bank of the Mississippi river, without a hat.[12]

It remains an open question whether Orson was taken aback by Bennett's charges, or conflicted by second thoughts over his previous decision to support his wife and Bennett over the man he regarded as God's prophet. "Br Orson Pratt is in trubble in consequence of his wife," wrote Brigham Young to Parley Pratt two days later. "His feelings are so rought up that he dos not know whether his wife is wrong, or whether Josephs testimony and others are wrong and due Ly [do lie] and he decived for 12 years—or not." Young sympathized with Pratt's plight: "He is all but crazy about matters," but left no doubts about who he held responsible: "You may aske what the matter is concirning Sister P.—it is enoph, and doct, J.C. Bennett could tell all about himself & hir—enoph of that—we will not let Br. Orson goe away from us he is to[o] good a man to have a woman destroy him."[13]

Whatever his misgivings or surprise, Pratt seems to have overcome them within the week. On July 22, he refused to vote in favor of a public resolution attesting to Joseph Smith's good character. Joseph deftly pointed out that Pratt's disenchantment was based on second-hand testimony: "Have you personally a knowledge of any immoral act in me toward the female sex, or in any other way?" Admitted Orson, "Personally, toward the female sex, I have not."[14] Wilford Woodruff reported how the apostles worked for "four days with Elder Orson Pratt…to get him to recall his sayings against Joseph & The Twelve but he persisted in his wicked course & would not recall any of his sayings which were made in public against Joseph & others sayings which were unjust & untrue… Dr John Cook Bennet was the ruin of Orson Pratt." Pratt was excommunicated on 20 August.[15]

Alleged Adultery of John C. Bennett and Sarah Pratt

Joseph would not let Bennett's version stand unchallenged. Bennett was repeatedly attacked from the pulpit and in print. ‘‘The Wasp’’, edited by Joseph's pugnacious brother William, accused Bennett of "adultery, fornication, embryo infanticide and buggery."[16] On July 27, an extra of ‘‘The Wasp’’ published affidavits rebutting Bennett.[17]

Goddard evidence

Chief among the Saints' countercharges was that Sarah Pratt had committed adultery with Bennett. Stephen Goddard, with whom Sarah had boarded in the fall/winter of 1840, swore that beginning Oct 6, 1840

from the first night, until the last, with the exception of one night, it being nearly a month, the Dr. was there as sure as the night came, and generally two or three times a day…what their conversation was I could not tell, as they sat close together, he leaning on her ... whispering continually or talking very low… One night they took their chairs out of doors and remained there as we supposed until 12 o'clock or after; at another time they went over to the house where you now live and come back after dark, or about that time. We went over several times late in the evening while she lived in the house of Dr. Foster, and were most sure to find Dr. Bennett and your wife together, as it were, man and wife. Two or three times we found little Orson lying on the floor and the bed apparently reserved for the Dr. and herself …[18]

Goddard's wife Zeruiah confirmed his story, and added

Dr. Bennett came to my house one night about 12 o'clock, and sat on or beside the bed where Mrs. Pratt was and cursed and swore very profanely at her; she told me next day that the Dr. was quick tempered and was mad at her, but I have no other reason. I concluded from circumstances that she had promised to meet him somewhere and had disappointed him; on another night I remonstrated with the Dr. and asked him what Orson Pratt would think, if he could know that you were so fond of his wife, and holding her hand so much; the Dr. replied that he could pull the wool over Orson's eyes.

Mrs. Pratt stated to me that Dr. Bennett told her, that he could cause abortion with perfect safety to the mother, at any stage of pregnancy, and that he had frequently destroyed and removed infants before their time to prevent exposure of the parties, and that he had instruments for that purpose &c.

My husband and I were frequently at Mrs. Pratt's and stayed till after 10 o'clock in the night, and Dr. Bennett still remained there with her and her little child alone at that late hour.

On one occasion I came suddenly into the room where Mrs. Pratt and the Dr. were: she was lying on the bed and the Dr. was taking his hands out of her bosom; he was in the habit of sitting on the bed where Mrs. Pratt was lying and lying down over her.

I would further state that from my own observation, I am satisfied that their conduct was anything but virtuous, and I know Mrs. Pratt is not a woman of truth….[19]

The Goddards provide particularly damning testimony, and Van Wagoner goes to some lengths to dispose of it:

The Goddard story had serious problems that even Sarah did not point out. Bennett had been appointed 4 October 1840 to work with Smith on drafting the Nauvoo Charter. On this same day he was also selected as a delegate to lobby for passage of the bill through the state legislature at Springfield, nearly one hundred miles distant. That Bennett could draft the complicated documents, make the necessary trips to Springfield, and be with Sarah Pratt every night except one during a one-month period seems improbable.[20]

Other authors have accepted Van Wagoner's analysis with little comment.[21] Unfortunately, this reading is seriously flawed. A closer look at the timeline reveals that Bennett did not leave Nauvoo for Springfield until late November.[22] Bennett was able to present an outline of the charter during the afternoon session of the conference at which he was appointed to write it, leading one historian to conclude that "Smith and Bennett had already been at work on the charter and probably had it completed before the conference met."[23] There was thus likely little complex paperwork to prepare, and Bennett could easily have done any remaining work while at Nauvoo for almost two months. These two errors weaken Van Wagoner's analysis irreparably, and raise the plausibility of the Goddards' accounts, since their timeframe of "about a month" fits neatly between Bennett's arrival in Nauvoo and his departure to lobby for the charter's passage. It also matches a later claim made by Joseph in passing which dated Bennett's first immoralities to October 1840.[24]

Van Wagoner makes a stronger point when he argues that

it seems likely that had Bennett and Sarah been involved in a sexual liaison as public as the Goddard story implies, objections would have been raised when Smith called him to be "assistant president" six months later. Furthermore, despite the numerous cases of church action against sexual sins brought before the Nauvoo High Council, Sarah Pratt's name is never mentioned.[25]

One should not over-read the public nature of the reported behavior. The Goddards were purportedly aware because Sarah was boarding with them—this does not necessarily mean that Bennett was making a public spectacle of his affair. Van Wagoner's analysis presumes that any affair between Sarah and Bennett was handled by the high council. We have already seen evidence that Joseph dealt with the initial reports of Bennett's infidelities privately, without high council involvement.

In a more speculative vein, if this was true of the case involving Sarah's adultery, he may well have regarded the issue as closed—one wonders what role the Goddards may have played in first alerting Joseph to Bennett's true nature. (In this case, perhaps Sarah's role was kept quiet because she promised to reform, and because Joseph wished to spare Orson Pratt pain and embarrassment. When Bennett began accusing Joseph, however, the Goddards may have been given leave to reveal what they knew.)

When the Bennett imbroglio blew up a year later, Joseph may have been reluctant to publicly try Sarah—if he had proposed a plural marriage to her, the revelations that a hostile adulteress could make would be disastrous. (See discussion below on whether Joseph tried to marry Sarah.) Joseph doubtless had vivid memories of Oliver Cowdery's excommunication, and the unwanted disclosures about the Fanny Alger marriage that resulted.

The Goddards are not alone in their witness against Bennett and Sarah. Robert D. Foster claimed that "Mrs. White, Mrs. [Orson] Pratt, Niemans, Miller, Brotherton, and others," could confirm the claim that Bennett was a seducer, though the source of his information is not clear.[26]

Another non-Mormon witness

A non-Mormon witness, Jacob B. Backenstos, testified that "some time during [the] winter" of 1841–1842, "he accused Doctor John C. Bennett, with having an illicit intercourse with Mrs. Orson Pratt, and some others, when said Bennett replied that she made a first rate go." Backenstos insisted that "from personal observations I should have taken said Doctor Bennett and Mrs. Pratt as man and wife, had I not known to the contrary."[27]

Van Wagoner's attempt to diffuse Backenstos' testimony is unimpressive. He argues that because Sarah was ill and pregnant, and because Orson was back in Nauvoo by that time, "Mormon Backenstos's statement may thus be dismissed as slander."[28] (Backenstos was not, in fact, a Mormon—Van Wagoner corrects the statement in his later book, but his initial intent seems to be to impeach Backenstos on religious grounds.[29] ) His error highlights a problem with his "slander" claim—Backenstos was, unlike the Goddards, a non-Mormon.[30] He had no religious reason to defend Joseph Smith, or to accuse Bennett unfairly. Van Wagoner's effort to brush this claim away is disingenuous. Would he have us believe that no woman has carried on an affair while her husband is in the same city? Does pregnancy preclude adultery? Given that Bennett was often accused of promising abortions if his liaisons resulted in pregnancy, would not this give the lovers less reason to worry about discovery?

Backinstos' witness is credible on a number of fronts—if he was fabricating a tale, why be so vague as to the exact time? And, he carefully distinguishes between what he has been told by others, and what he has observed himself. Most importantly, perhaps, neither Bennett or Sarah challenged Backinstos' witness.[31] If he was truly guilty of slander, why did they say or do nothing, especially when Bennett was to publish a 300 page book justifying himself and condemning his enemies?

Bennett likewise said little about the Goddard accusations, though he mentions both individuals: Stephen is named as a witnesses to Joseph's demand for a sheep (he would claim that he did slaughter a sheep for supper, but denied any religious meaning), while Zeruiah supposedly heard Sarah Pratt declare that Joseph was "a corrupt man."[32]

Sarah's belated defense

Sarah said nothing to defend herself until decades later. Having left the Church, she gave an interview to anti-Mormon author William Wyl, and claimed that she approached Zeruiah about her testimony as soon as it appeared.

"She began to sob," [claimed Sarah,] "'It is not my fault,' said she; 'Hyrum Smith came to our house, with the affidavits all written out, and forced us to sign them. 'Joseph and the church must be saved,' said he. We saw that resistance was useless, they would have ruined us; so we signed the papers."[33]

While such a tale fits the anti-Mormon trope of powerful Church leaders and members who are willing dupes or pawns, it is not terribly persuasive. Why was this matter not raised during the cross-fire of charge and counter-charge at Nauvoo? Even if Sarah did not wish to speak, why did Bennett not publicize this further evidence of Mormon perfidy, instead of leaving the Goddard charges unmentioned? Why did Sarah wait so long to make her accusation, speaking only when the Goddards (long residents of Utah) were safely dead?[34]

Sarah's version is even undercut by an anti-Mormon work. Mary Ettie V. Smith claimed that

Sarah, occupied a house owned by John C. Bennett…Sarah was an educated woman, of fine accomplishments, and attracted the attention of the Prophet Joseph, who called upon her one day, and alleged he found John C. Bennett in bed with her. As we lived but across the street from her house we saw and heard the whole uproar. Sarah ordered the Prophet out of the house, and the Prophet used obscene language to her.[35]

Mary's book has many problems,[36] but she elsewhere showed no reluctance in condemning Joseph as a libertine and atheist.[37] Why pass up a perfect opportunity to condemn Joseph, if the Bennett/Sarah version is the truth? We have already seen how Joseph reportedly "flagellated" Bennett for his adulteries; a violent verbal reaction from the Prophet in this instance would be in character if he discovered Sarah in sin, and it is not surprising that Joseph's rebuke would be far more public than their secret tryst. It would also be unlikely for Joseph to create a scene if he was a jilted lover, but understandable if he is railing against vice.

Orson Pratt's change of heart

The most persuasive argument against Sarah and Bennett's version—and in favor of the account offered by Joseph's supporters, Mormon and non-Mormon—is Orson Pratt. Pratt would not let threats to his ecclesiastical office or his membership deter him from supporting his wife. Excommunicated, he remained in Nauvoo. He had made these sacrifices for his convictions; only an equally powerful change in those convictions would have made him reconsider.

In time his view of the matter changed. When he received a letter from John C. Bennett trying to enlist him in a plot to return Joseph to Missouri, Pratt handed the letter to Joseph.[38] Orson was later to say that he got his information about Joseph and Sarah from "a wicked source, from those disaffected, but as soon as he learned the truth he was satisfied."[39] He and Sarah were rebaptized on either the 19th or 20th of January 1843.[40] Joseph recommended that Orson divorce Sarah and remarry another—more evidence that Joseph was genuinely concerned about Sarah's behaviour, and was not slandering Sarah to force the Pratts' support.[41] Otherwise, why risk angering Sarah further by encouraging a divorce, now that she was back in the Church?

Sarah later claimed that her belief never recovered from this period.[42] Her later behaviour demonstrates that she had a talent for duplicity. Sarah soon betrayed Orson in another way, and hid her actions from everyone:

During Orson's 1852 mission…Sarah began to turn her children against Mormonism. She concealed her actions from neighbors, Church authorities, and her absent husband…

"I had not only to prevent my children from becoming Mormons, I had to see to it that they should not become imbued with such an early prejudice as would cause them to betray to the neighbors my teachings and intentions." She further explained to the reporter how she accomplished this:

"Many a night, when my children were young and also when they had grown up so as to be companions to me, I have closed this very room where we are sitting, locked the door, pulled down the window curtains, put out all but one candle on the table, gathered my boys close around my chair and talked to them in whispers for fear that what I said would be overheard."[43]

Such actions may be understandable, and a modern reader repulsed by plural marriage may even be in sympathy with them. They demonstrate, however, that Sarah's post-Nauvoo years were filled with duplicity, by her own admission—while Orson was away preaching, Sarah undermined the faith of his children at home.

At the same time that she tried to impeach the Goddards' witness, Sarah also insisted that Joseph had told her "God does not care if we have a good time, if only other people do not know it."[44] While this sounds like Bennett, it is inconceivable that Joseph would take this stance. Sarah elsewhere claimed that Bennett was the source of Joseph's revelation on plural marriage,[45] and that Joseph had "many more" than eighty wives, regarding himself "the Christ of this dispensation."[46] She also insisted that William Clayton was "a brute and a drunkard,"[47] while Brigham Young was "the most bloodthirsty of men."[48] Such transparent exaggeration and fabrication make her—or at least the version presented by Wyl—a witness to be used with extreme caution.

Conclusion

On one hand, we have Bennett—a serial adulterer, sociopath, and witness who perjured himself repeatedly, even over trivial matters—and Sarah Pratt, who waited until her accusers were safely dead before presenting any evidence in her own defense. Sarah also admitted to repeated deceptions of her husband and neighbors, and perjured herself repeatedly in Wyl's work.

Ranged against Bennett and Sarah are the wronged husband, and multiple Mormon and non-Mormon witnesses (including a hostile anti-Mormon source) who were not challenged contemporaneously, and whose accounts match the available timeline.

I think it probable, then, that Bennett and Sarah were engaged in an illicit affair. When Joseph learned of it, he was incensed and worried. Given that he entered plural marriage with the wives of other apostles, and was also sealed to some women whose husbands were not faithful Church members (see [49]), it is possible that he did offer Sarah a plural relationship. I suspect that he did. The tenor and circumstances of that offer, however, have doubtless been distorted beyond all recognition by Bennett and Sarah. Given Joseph's apparent belief that the sealing power could both bind him to faithful members and possibly help save the less valiant, he may have hoped to link himself more tightly to Orson and help redeem Sarah from her folly. If so, he succeeded in his first goal, but failed in the second.

Notes

  1. Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, 89. Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 460.
  2. Richard S. Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt: Shaping of an Apostate," ‘‘Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought’’ 19/2 (Summer 1986); Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), {{{pages}}}.; Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 2005), 298-299. (Reviews). One reviewer described Van Wagoner's Sidney Rigdon as providing "a near-caricature of early Mormon history as a backdrop….he has written a history by innuendo, not a balanced study that has carefully analyzed the earliest sources or fully considered a number of recent scholarly monographs." [David J. Whittaker, "Review of Richard Van Wagoner's Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess," Journal of Mormon History 23/1 (Spring 1997): 192–193.]
  3. Bennett, History of the Saints, 227–228. (Bennett examined)
  4. Bennett, History of the Saints, 220. (Bennett examined)
  5. Bennett elsewhere invents fanciful names for his imaginary degrees: "Saints of the White Veil," "Saints of the Green Veil," and "Saints of the Black Veil." (See Bennett, History of the Saints, 220, 222, 223, italics in original. (Bennett examined))
  6. Bennett, History of the Saints, 228–229. (Bennett examined)
  7. Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 440, 445. See  (needs URL / links) of present work for examples.
  8. ‘‘Sangamo Journal’’(15 July 1842), ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (27 July 1842); cited in Richard and Pamela Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy—Vision Articles [from Vision Magazine, Vol. 32–46, 48–51, 53–56], vol. 2 (E-book: Price Publishing Company, n.d.), "The Sarah Pratt Case," <http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-visionarticles/sarahprattcase.htm>
  9. Bennett, History of the Saints, 231. (Bennett examined)
  10. Bennett, History of the Saints, 46; citing William M. (Bennett examined) Allred to John C. Bennett, "Dear Friend," 5 July 1842, Nauvoo.
  11. This is the position adopted by Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy [Vol. 2], "Apostle Pratt's Revolt Against the Prophet," http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-visionarticles/orsonprattrevolt.htm.
  12. Ebenezer Robinson, "Items of Personal History of the Editor," ‘’The Return’’ 2/11 (November 1890); cited by Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 146n142.
  13. Brigham Young to Parley P. Pratt, 17 July 1842, LDS Church Archives; cited in Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 466; Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 31.; Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt," 76.
  14. ‘‘Times and Seasons’’ 3/19 (1 August 1842): 869.
  15. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833-1898 Typescript, ed. Scott G. Kenney, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983), 2:187, (1–21 Sept 1842), italics in original.
  16. ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (17 July 1842); cited in Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt," 80.
  17. "Affidavits and Certificates Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett's Letters," ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (27 July 1842).
  18. Stephen H. Goddard to Orson Pratt, 23 July 1842; published in ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (31 August 1842). Note that it is thought that a third page of the extra may be lost, but some sources quote this material from that issue. See: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/LDS/wasp1.htm#083142
  19. Zeruiah N. Goddard, affidavit, ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (31 August 1842).
  20. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, footnote 12, referenced on page 34.
  21. Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, 82.
  22. Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, 59.
  23. Robert Bruce Flanders, Nauvoo: Kingdom on the Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 96; cited in Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, 58.
  24. Joseph wrote to Illinois Governor Carlin, and claimed that "more than twenty months ago," Bennett began his immoral activity. Twenty months prior to June 1842 is October 1840. See Joseph Smith to Governor Carlin, "Dear Sir," (24 June 1842) in History of the Church, 5:42. Volume 5 link.
  25. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, footnote 12, referenced on page 34.
  26. Robert D. Foster, ‘‘The Wasp’’ 1 (15 October 1842)|pages= 2; cited in Price, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy [Vol 2], "The Sarah Pratt Case."
  27. J[acob] B. Backenstos, affidavit, 28 July 1842; published in ‘‘The Wasp’’ (Extra) (31 August 1842).
  28. Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt," 79.
  29. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 33. On Backenstos' status as a non-Mormon, see Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 466.
  30. Van Wagoner also mistakenly identifies Jacob Backenstos as the Sheriff of Hancock County. In fact, Backenstos was related to William Backenstos, the sheriff (see Smith, Saintly Scoundrel, 82). Jacob was the clerk of the Hancock County Circuit Court before Joseph's murder (see ‘‘Times and Seasons’’ 5/10 (15 May 1844): 537) and was elected sheriff by Mormon votes in 1845 (see Robert Bruce Flanders, "The Kingdom of God in Illinois: Politics in Utopia," ‘‘Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought’’ 5/1 (Spring 1970): 34).
  31. One may profitably contrast Bennett and Sarah's reaction to the Goddard and Backinstos accusations (silence) with the reaction of Bennett and the Rigdon family to Stephen Markham's accusations against Nancy Rigdon, in which the witness' credibility was questioned and he was sued for slander (see  (needs URL / links)).
  32. Bennett, History of the Saints, 231. (Bennett examined)
  33. Wilhelm Wyl, Mormon Portraits Volume First: Joseph Smith the Prophet, His Family and Friends (Salt Lake City: Tribune Printing and Publishing Co., 1886), 60–63; citing Sarah Pratt (21 May 1886).
  34. NEED DEATH DATES!!
  35. Nelson Winch Green, Fifteen Years among the Mormons: Being the Narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, Late of Great Salt Lake City; a Sister of One of the Mormon High Priests, She Having Been Personally Acquainted with Most of the Mormon Leaders, and Long in the Confidence of The "Prophet," Brigham Young (New York: H. Dayton, Publishers, 1860 [1858]), 30.
  36. On her limitations as a historical source, see John W. McCoy, "True Grit and Tall Tales: How Mary Ettie Coray (1827–1867) Got Her Man," (2006).
  37. Green, Fifteen Years, 35–36, 51.
  38. Orson gave the letter to Joseph on 10 Jan 1843 (History of the Church, 5:251. Volume 5 link
  39. George L. Mitton and Rhett S. James, "A Response to D. Michael Quinn's Homosexual Distortion of Latter-Day Saint History," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): footnote 70, citing T. Edgar Lyon, "Orson Pratt—Early Mormon Leader," (M.A. diss., University of Chicago, 1932), 31. See also Millennial Star 40 (16 December 1878): 788.
  40. Sources disagree on the date. For the 19th, see Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:212–213. ISBN 0941214133.; for the 20th, see Brigham Young, "History," Millennial Star 26:127; cited in Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University), 238n268. and "Minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve," 20 Jan.1843; cited in Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt," 80. History of the Church, 5:255–256 gives the date as 20th. Volume 5 link
  41. Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 467.
  42. Van Wagoner, "Sarah M. Pratt," 89–90.
  43. Richard S. Van Wagoner and Mary C. Van Wagoner, "Orson Pratt, Jr., Gifted Son of an Apostle and an Apostate," ‘‘Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought’’ 21/1 (Spring 1988): 85–86; citing "Orson Pratt's Harem," New York Herald (18 May 1877): 1–4, New York City Public Library, page 2.
  44. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 62.
  45. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 60–63; also in Charles A. Shook, The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy (Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Company, 1914 [1910]), 130–132.
  46. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 53–54.
  47. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 94.
  48. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 53.
  49.  (needs URL / links)