Question: Did Joseph Smith send men on missions in order to "steal" their wives while they were gone?

Table of Contents

Question: Did Joseph Smith send men on missions in order to "steal" their wives while they were gone?

This claim is contradicted by historical data: ten of the husbands of the twelve "polyandrous" wives were not on missions at the time

One critic of the Church states, "Joseph Smith would frequently approach other men’s wives about being his own plural wives — often while the men were away." [1]

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.[2]

The only question regards Orson Hyde, who had been on his mission for one year to two years 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.[3] 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.

Hyde's wife Marinda was sealed to Orson following Joseph's death

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.[4]

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

Notes

  1. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  2. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 313–314.
  3. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1, 273–274.
  4. Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 240–242. ( Index of claims )