Question: Did Brigham Young tell Henry Jacobs in front of hundreds of people that he needed to find another wife?

Table of Contents

Question: Did Brigham Young tell Henry Jacobs in front of hundreds of people that he needed to find another wife?

The immediate problem with such a statement is that there is no contemporary corroboration for it from among the "hundreds" who supposedly observed it

Allen Wyatt explains how this story originated,

The Charge by William Hall

Critics of the early Saints have, often with glee, latched onto William Hall’s story and used it as a prime example of ecclesiastical abuse, pitting a powerful Brigham Young against a penniless and ill Henry Jacobs, with Zina as some kind of prize for the winner of their imagined contest. It is easy to understand how one might see things that way; it is certainly the way that William Hall portrayed the episode:

At a place called, by the Mormons, Pisgah, in Iowa, as they were passing through to Council Bluffs, Brigham Young spoke in this wise, in the hearing of hundreds: He said it was time for men who were walking in other men’s shoes to step out of them. “Brother Jacobs,” he says, “the woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirit.”37

The immediate problem with such a statement is that there is no contemporary corroboration for it. Hall states that Brigham’s statement was made in the hearing of hundreds of people, yet there are no other diaries that indicate such a statement or, indeed, any statement from Brigham to Henry. The statement itself would need to have been made sometime between Henry’s arrival at Mt. Pisgah (May 18) and his departure on his mission (approximately June 1).

For instance, Patty Bartlett Sessions, who was a detailed journal writer, arrived at Mt. Pisgah in the same company as the Jacobs’ and left Mt. Pisgah on June 2, 1846. None of her diary entries for the period refer to any such statement by Brigham Young, and it is safe to assume that she would have been among the “hundreds” referenced by William Hall. In fact, Sessions continues to refer to Zina as either “Zina Jacobs” or “sister Jacobs” as late as June 3, 1847,38 which reference would seem unlikely if she had heard Brigham claim Zina (and her children) as his property and exile Henry.

The diary of William Huntington records only one semi-public and one fully public meeting between May 18 and the first of June. There was a prayer meeting for selected individuals held on May 31,39 and a meeting in the grove near Huntington’s house on June 1 that turned into a “special conference” at which “considerable business” was done.40 There is, however, no record in his diary of any denouncing of his son-in-law by Brigham.[1]

For more information, see Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," FAIR presentation transcript, 2006. FairMormon link

Notes

  1. Allen Wyatt, "Zina and Her Men: An Examination of the Changing Marital State of Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith Young," 2006 FAIR Conference.