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?

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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. [1]

Marinda was sealed to Joseph in April 1842, while Orson was on a mission. Only antagonistic accounts of this sealing exist. [2] 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.[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.

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." [4]

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. [5]

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),"[6] 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.[7] 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,[8] and did not return until 6 August 1844, making Joseph's paternity more likely than Orson's if the earlier birth date is correct.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.

Notes

  1. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 234.
  2. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 238–239.
  3. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 1.
  4. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 230–243.
  5. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 240–242.
  6. Compton, "Fawn Brodie on Joseph Smith's Plural Wives," 165.
  7. 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.
  8. 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}}
  9. Andrew Jenson, LDS Church Chronology: 1805–1914 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1914), entry for 6 August 1844. GospeLink (requires subscrip.).
  10. 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>
  11. Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, 249.