In the society built by the early Saints in the Salt Lake Valley, few women attained the status and fame accorded to Zina D.H. Young. A plural wife to Brigham Young and the third president of the Relief Society, “Aunt Zina” was recognized, known, and adored by virtually everyone. She was widely read, widely traveled, and widely respected. In the last century there have been numerous articles and entire books written about her life and times.
My purpose today is not to recount Zina’s life or add to the many general biographies focusing on her. Instead, I’ll focus on a much more limited period in her life–specifically the period almost wholly contained within the 1840s. It is this period–from the establishment of Nauvoo through the exodus to Salt Lake City–that introduces an amazing amount of change within the Church and, not coincidentally, within the life of Zina.
Zina arrived in Nauvoo with her parents in 1839, at the age of 18, after the Saints were driven out of Missouri. The coming decade formed a crucible in which Zina’s mettle was tested and her character forged. During the decade of 1841 to 1850 Zina would be married to three different men, participate in both polyandry and polygamy, establish several households, participate in the inner circles of Mormonism, be driven out of Nauvoo, travel across the continent, help establish a settlement in Iowa, attend the death of both her mother and father, and give birth to three children by two different husbands. To say that this was a formative decade in the life of a remarkable woman seems an exercise in understatement.
This decade of Zina’s life is also one that is misunderstood by many. Based solely upon this period, it is not uncommon to hear of Zina as both heroine and victim, as pawn and prevaricator. She is viewed by some as weak but by others as strong beyond measure. That this period of Zina’s life can be placed under the microscope and her experiences be used for both good and ill speaks to the remarkable nature of the woman and her times–this time; this one decade of foment and change.
Let me provide just one example of criticism stated by a poster on the FAIR message boards:
That marriage [of Henry and Zina] started their life and family together. Not long after starting, however, Joseph Smith wedged himself in as a third wheel–that bothers me, but at least Henry and Zina were still able to live and have children together. Then Brother Brigham comes along, and “one-ups” Joseph by taking Henry’s wife and sons as his “property,” and then, to add insult to injury, sends Henry on a far-away mission so he can’t cause any problems when Brigham and Zina start to cohabit at Winter Quarters. Hopefully this better explains why I am so disturbed by Joseph’s and Brigham’s treatment of Zina and Henry.
As shall be seen, nothing is ever as simple or as black and white as critics like to presume. In considering Zina and her relationships with the men in her life, let’s start with her marriage to Henry Bailey Jacobs.
Zina Marries Henry
Henry courted Zina in 1840 and early 1841. She was nineteen going on twenty,1 and Henry was four years her senior. Both were active Church members and close to the leadership. Henry was an avid missionary, a friend of Zina’s brothers, and a one-time member of the Nauvoo Legion Band.2
While Zina was being courted by Henry she was also approached by Joseph Smith who explained plural marriage to her and indicated that she should be his plural wife. From available accounts, Joseph approached Zina three times and was turned down each time.3 The teaching of plural marriage, at this time, was done in secret, one individual to another. There were only a few men and women who were introduced to and invited to participate in the principle. Zina clearly knew about the principle while being courted by Henry, but there is no extant information indicating he was aware of plural marriage or of Joseph’s proposals to Zina.
Zina and Henry were married on March 7, 1841, by John C. Bennett, just a month after Bennett’s election as mayor.4 Bennett was also Assistant President of the Church. Tradition among some descendents of Henry and Zina indicates that Bennett was not their first choice to perform the marriage. Oa Cannon, granddaughter of Zina and Henry, relates the following:
My mother, Emma R. Jacobs told me that Zina asked the Prophet to perform the marriage. They went to the Clerk’s office and the Prophet did not arrive, so they were married by John C. Bennett. When they saw Joseph they asked him why he didn’t come, and he told them the Lord had made it known to him that she was to be his Celestial wife.5
Inherent within the family tradition is the concept that Zina (and possibly Henry) knew, prior to their marriage, about plural marriage and that Joseph felt the Lord had commanded him to marry Zina.
Sealing to Joseph Smith
Sometime after Henry and Zina were married, Joseph told Dimick Huntington, Zina’s brother, the story of why he was compelled to introduce plural marriage, and asked that Dimick tell the story to Zina. As Zina is quoted by one author to have said, “Tell Zina I have put it off and put it off until an angel with a drawn sword has stood before me and told me if I did not establish that principle [plurality of wives] and live it, I would lose my position and my life and the Church could progress no further.”6
Sometime after Zina heard this story and almost eight months after being married to Henry, Zina was sealed to Joseph Smith. The ordinance was performed by Dimick on October 27, 1841, on the banks of the Mississippi River.7 This event marks a major change in Zina’s behavior, as she had previously turned down Joseph’s proposals.
There was no divorce from Henry; Zina was still married to him prior to the sealing, was pregnant with Henry’s first child at the time of the sealing, and continued to live as Henry’s wife after the sealing. Joseph obviously felt that it was permissible to marry an already married woman, else he would not have been sealed to Zina.8 Some may claim that such polyandrous sealings were eternal in nature only, meaning that Joseph never intended them to be recognized as an earthly marriage. There is strong historical evidence to refute such a position, however. Perhaps the best contraindication in Zina’s case is that the sealing was repeated after the completion of the Nauvoo temple, Brigham was married to Zina in what appears to be a levirate marriage on behalf of Joseph, and Zina declared herself a wife of the martyred Prophet after polygamy was made public in the 1850s.
Did Henry Know?
There is some disagreement among authors and scholars as to whether Henry knew about Zina being sealed to Joseph. It seems obvious that Henry would have known sometime after the fact, but for many the more tantalizing question is whether he knew beforehand.
Fawn Brodie concludes that Henry “apparently knew nothing of this special ceremony, for when he toured southern Illinois with John D. Lee in the winter of 1842, he talked constantly of his wife’s loveliness and fidelity.”9 In other words, she takes Lee’s late-life reflections of events a year after the sealing as conclusive evidence that Henry must not have known about the sealing.
Brodie’s conclusion is not based on first-hand reports. No such reports exist; neither Zina or Joseph left records indicating whether Henry knew, and Henry was not a “journal keeper” as so many other Saints were. Instead, Brodie bases her conclusions on inferences that she views as consistent with what, in her mind, must have been. In other words, Brodie cannot conceive of how Henry could possibly have known of and allowed the sealing, so she infers from the later statements of others that he must not have known.
Such a priori assumptions are shaky, and later authors have come to the opposite conclusion–that Henry must have known given his intimacy with the Prophet. Todd Compton states that his data suggests that the husbands of Joseph’s polyandrous wives (including Zina) “knew about the marriages and permitted them.”10 Richard and Jeni Holzapfel state that Henry stood as a witness to the sealing..11 I’ve discovered no evidence that Henry stood by as witness at Zina’s initial sealing to Joseph; I’ve also discovered no evidence that he didn’t. There may well be no evidence either way. The fact is that we just don’t know. Some authors have insisted that Henry was on a mission during October 1841, but this seems to be mere supposition; there is no historical record indicating that Henry was gone from Nauvoo at this time.12
Oa Cannon’s research ultimately convinced her that Henry did know about the sealing, and she even mentions that “Henry signed a paper relinquishing his right to Zina for eternity. The slip he signed is still in the records of the Salt Lake Temple.”13 Such a record has not turned up, but Oa mentions in more than one extant account that the slip existed. Assuming this family story is true, then it would seem that Henry knew, within days of his marriage, that Zina was to be sealed to Joseph.
Why Did Zina Get Sealed to Joseph?
Why Zina chose to be sealed to Joseph Smith has been a vexing puzzle to many individuals. The whole matter can initially be confusing: Why would a group of women in Victorian America–including Zina–choose “not to be sealed to [their] husbands,”14 preferring instead to be sealed to Joseph Smith in a polyandrous relationship? There are multiple theories as to why Zina would enter a polyandrous marriage with Joseph. Perhaps it was an Abrahamic test, or Zina was showing obedience to priesthood authority. Some authors (and many critics) have suggested that manipulation and coercion were involved.
I don’t have time today to analyze each of these possible reasons, but suffice it to say that there is strong evidence that each is incorrect. I believe that a much stronger case can be made for the concept that Zina was not being obedient or subservient to mortal leaders, but to her God.
This may seem a subtle difference, but it is a critical one.15 One can be convinced that a man is a prophet of God, and then choose to follow that prophet–whatever he says–based on that conviction. Events in Zina’s life do not show her to be that type of person, however. She did not apply a single, blanket spiritual confirmation to all her decisions; instead she sought individual confirmation for large decisions, of which the sealing to Joseph was undoubtedly one.
For instance, Zina reports that when she and Henry were courting, Joseph proposed to her on three separate occasions. On each occasion she turned him down.16 Zina did this even though she had received a testimony of Joseph’s prophetic call well before this time. Todd Compton points this testimony out:
Zina accepted Joseph as a prophet whose words were infallible revelations direct from God. Her older brother, Dimick, Smith’s close associate, probably also encouraged her to marry the Mormon leader, so it is remarkable that while she was an impressionable nineteen-year-old, she would refuse his suit.17
In what could be an unwitting choice of words, Compton points out the basic quandary–and a distinction apparently lost on many authors, including him. If Zina truly did see Joseph’s words as “infallible revelations direct from God,” why would she have refused his propositions when she was convinced he was a prophet? If Zina practiced plural marriage simply out of obedience to the prophet, then it makes no sense that she would have thrice turned down Joseph and instead married Henry. Indeed, Zina recounted in one of her autobiographies that
when I heard that God had revealed the law of Celestial marriage that we would have the privilege of associating in family relationships in the worlds to come, I searched the scriptures and by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in his Church.18
In her late-life interview with John W. Wight of the RLDS Church, Zina was asked if she could provide the date of her marriage to Joseph. Her answer, while not germane to Wight’s question, gave a glimpse into why, in retrospect, Zina had been sealed to Joseph:
Q. “Can you give us the date of that marriage with Joseph Smith?”
A. “No, sir, I could not.”
Q. “Not even the year?”
A. “No, I do not remember. It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years. I will tell you the facts. I had dreams–I am no dreamer but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order [Celestial marriage] I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it.”19
Zina’s answer on this occasion is consistent with the view that she received revelation from God–in the form of dreams, separate and distinct from her testimony of the prophet–that convinced her of the truthfulness of polygamy. Once received, Zina fearlessly acted on this revelation, consistent with her commitment to be obedient to her God.
Marriage to Brigham Young
After the 1844 death of Joseph Smith, the Saints in Nauvoo redoubled their efforts to complete the temple. Early on the morning of January 3, 1846, Henry and Zina received their washings, anointings, and endowments, being among the first company through the temple that day.20 A month later they were back in the temple, on February 2, 1846. On this day Zina received her second anointing21 from Parley P. Pratt,22 but there is no record of such being done for Henry. The records, however, do indicate that sealings were performed that day that involved Zina:
Joseph Smith (martyred) Dec 23, 1805 Sharon, Windsor Co. Vermont
Zina Diantha Huntington Jan 31 – 1821 Watertown, Jefferson Co. N.Y. were sealed husband & wife for time & all eternity (Prest. Brigham Young acting proxy for the deceased).
Brigham Young & Zina Diantha Smith were then sealed husband & wife for time by H.C. Kimball in presence of William D. Huntington, & Henry B. Jacobs & J.D.L. Young, Henry B. Jacobs expressed his willingness that it should be so in the presence of these witnesses done at 15 m. to 6.
Franklin D. Richards Clk.23
Shortly before 6:00 PM, Zina was sealed for time to Brigham Young, as “husband & wife.” This was done in the presence of Zina’s father and husband, as well as John D. Lee. This ceremony occurred only one week before leaving Nauvoo, and Zina was heavy with child at the time–her second child, fathered by Henry Jacobs, would be born on the banks of the Chariton River less than seven weeks later.
The wording of these temple records is interesting. Note that in the first proxy sealing Zina is referred to as “Zina Diantha Huntington,” and in the second as “Zina Diantha Smith.” What makes this interesting, of course, is that Zina had been married to Henry Jacobs for almost five years by this time. Even though Henry Jacobs is in the room, witnessing his wife being sealed to other men, recognition of Zina’s marriage to him is not granted in the record and, presumably, not in the verbalization of the ordinances performed that day.
Some authors point out that Brigham’s marriage to Zina (and seven other wives previously sealed to Joseph) was a form of levirate marriage. This is an Old Testament custom,24 practiced largely by ancient Israelites,25 in which the widow (Zina, in this case) is offered the opportunity to be married to the brother (Brigham, in this case) of her deceased husband (Joseph). Such an offer was apparently requested by Joseph before his death. The words of Susa Young Gates are reported by Zina’s biographers:
“We are told that the Prophet Joseph requested the Quorum to marry and take care of his widows,” Zina’s granddaughter would write, “and in some cases Joseph Smith’s plural wives were given their choice of the Twelve as their husbands for time, to give them the full honor and protection of marriage with an apostle.”26
Todd Compton reports that “many of Smith’s widows did marry members of the Twelve. Brigham married between seven and nine of them; [Heber C. Kimball] married approximately eleven.”27 He then recounts that other members of the Twelve and other prominent Church leaders married seven or more of Joseph’s plural widows. Leonard Arrington states that the “reason for Brigham’s marriages to Joseph’s wives is not difficult to imagine,”28 and then describes the practice of levirate marriage in the Old Testament.
There is evidence that the practice of levirate marriage was an Old Testament custom that was part and parcel of the polygamy restored by Joseph Smith. As implemented in Nauvoo, it appears that if a faithful blood relative was not available to marry the widow, then “a worthy church brother could act in his behalf.”29 As in the Old Testament practice, children born into a levirate relationship would belong to the original husband in the eternities; such marriages were solely for the purpose of perpetuating the name of the deceased, not for the glory or honor of the living husband.30
There is one problem with the concept of levirate marriage, particularly in the case of Zina. Henry was apparently “a worthy church brother,” and already married to Zina. Could not his marriage to her have been viewed as fulfilling any levirate law? Apparently not, if the fact that Zina married Brigham is accepted as prima facie evidence to the contrary. Joseph had asked the Twelve to look after his plural wives, and Henry was not one of the Twelve. Further, when Zina was given the choice of which of the Twelve she would marry in Joseph’s stead, she chose Brigham. While such a choice may be anathema to modern observers, it is apparently a choice made by Zina, accepted by Brigham, and approved by Henry.
Traveling to Mt. Pisgah
When Henry and Zina were forced out of Nauvoo a week later as part of the general exodus from the city, they left as husband and wife. They, along with thousands of other Saints, endured extreme hardship as they traveled the plains of Iowa. During their travels, on March 22, 1846, Henry Chariton Jacobs was born on the banks of the Chariton River about half way across Iowa.31
Ahead of the main camps, advance scouts selected the spots for Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah.32 Building on each camp started immediately after selection, with immigrants starting to stream in daily. Henry and Zina arrived at Mt. Pisgah within a day or two of the site selection.33 When they arrived, Iowa was still a territory.34 This was, essentially, the frontier; it was literally the “wild, wild West.” Even though it was technically part of the Iowa Territory, there was no organized government in the area. On May 21, 1846, William Huntington, Zina’s father, was called to preside over the Saints at Mt. Pisgah, for both temporal and spiritual affairs.35
Controversy at Mt. Pisgah
There is no doubt that the marriage of Henry and Zina dissolved at Mt. Pisgah; it was here for a very short time–just a matter of days–that they last lived together. Some authors and most critics see the dissolution of Henry and Zina’s marriage as a matter of imposing priesthood authority in the marital relationship, basing their conclusion–incorrectly, I believe–on a singular report that Brigham Young either commanded Henry to leave or made the leaving easier by calling him on a mission.
Today’s commonly accepted story traces its roots to one first told by William Hall and later by T.B.H. Stenhouse. Fawn Brodie recounted as history a story in Hall’s anti-Mormon book that Brigham forced Henry and Zina apart.36 This story was picked up and uncritically repeated a generation later by several other authors.
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.
The Corroboration by T.B.H. Stenhouse
Is it reasonable to conclude that Brigham Young made the statement attributed to him by William Hall? Without corroboration, accepting such a statement made by a disaffected member in a polemical and typically hyperbolic anti-Mormon book is questionable. The source that modern authors most often use for corroboration is the following from T.B.H. Stenhouse, in his history The Rocky Mountain Saints:
On the banks of the Missouri river, in an Indian country where redress was impossible–had it even been desired–Brigham called up the husband and told him that his domestic relations in that quarter were at an end: that he must not again be a husband to his wife! She whom he idolized, who had been to him the partner of his joys and cares, who had borne to him his children, and who had filled his soul with the hope of a happy future, was to be accounted his no more! … The elder was cavalierly informed that he could take another wife, and soon after that he was sent on a preaching mission to England, where he could assuage his grief by a second experience of connubial bliss!41
Unmentioned by those who use this source for corroboration is that it is impossible that Stenhouse heard the discussion he mentions. Stenhouse was baptized in England on July 14, 1845, and didn’t come to the United States until late 1855. He and his wife then served in the eastern United States for the next three and a half years. They finally immigrated to Utah in 1859,42 over a dozen years after the statement by Brigham Young was supposedly uttered.
Why, then, would Stenhouse write such a thing in a book claiming to be a history of the Saints? The Rocky Mountain Saints, published three years after Stenhouse apostatized from the Church, was history written with a purpose–to reflect the Godbeite heresy embraced by Stenhouse. Since the Godbeites considered their spiritualist refashioning of Mormonism to be a return to the faith’s original roots, the book’s portrayal of Joseph Smith was sympathetic, but the portrayal of Brigham Young was anything but flattering, showing him as “defiled by his ‘frenzied lust of power’ and his love of wealth” and that he had been “corrupted by his faith.”43
It is an ironic sidenote to Zina’s story that only after Stenhouse sought to take a third polygamous wife did his first wife, Fanny, rebel and denounce the Church. After the target of his amorous advances rejected him and married another, Stenhouse became allied with the Godbeites, joined Fanny in apostasy, and wrote his book. Who was this intended third wife? None other than Zina Prescinda Young, daughter of Zina Diantha and Brigham Young.
Because Stenhouse could not have heard the comments purportedly made by Brigham Young in Mt. Pisgah in 1846, it is more likely that he borrowed his account from William Hall’s Abominations of Mormonism, written over two decades earlier. In other words, Stenhouse borrowed Hall’s words as his own, as one more brushstroke in his Godbeite caricature of Brigham Young. Stenhouse’s telling cannot be considered corroboration, but simply recast repetition in the same vein as Brodie, Van Wagoner, and others who followed the same misleading track.
Henry Leaves on a Mission
Shortly after the arrival of the first Saints at Mt. Pisgah, Brigham Young proceeded to call several brethren on missions. On May 23 Zina’s brother, Oliver B. Huntington, was called, even though he had been in New York since the previous fall. A few days later, on May 31, Henry was also called on a mission to England along with Lorenzo D. Butler. Henry was apparently given Oliver’s mission papers at the same time that he received his own.
Henry left in short order, probably in a day or two. Patty Bartlett Sessions reports in her diary that on June 1, 1846, she sent a letter “by Henry Jacobs,” which would have been as he was leaving Mt. Pisgah.44
Despite Henry’s ability to carry a letter for a fellow pioneer, many authors report that he was almost deathly ill as he left for his mission. Todd Compton recounts the report of an earlier writer who said that Henry “was called on a mission to Europe and responded, although so weak from hardship and exposures that it was necessary to carry him to the missionary wagon in a blanket.”45 This story has changed over the years into the form most often heard today–Henry was so ill that it was necessary to put him on a quilt or blanket to transport him to the river so he could catch a boat to England.46
Both versions are rooted in myth more than fact. An immediate problem for the latter telling is that while Mt. Pisgah is near the middle fork of the Grand River, this waterway is not navigable by passenger boats (remember that the Saints came overland to Mt. Pisgah, not by boat). Thus, while Henry could have been placed on a quilt or blanket and taken to the river, there would have been no boat on that river capable of taking him to England.
But even the earlier telling has problems, for historical records show that Henry met incoming immigrants as he was returning on the trail from Mt. Pisgah toward Nauvoo on the first leg of his mission. Mary Haskin Parker Richards mentions meeting Henry and another England-bound missionary on the trail approximately fifty miles east of Mt. Pisgah on June 6, 1846.47
That Henry suffered from poor health while on his way to his mission is not in question; what is pure fabrication is the folklore latched onto by some critics that a seriously ill Henry, incapable of standing up to Brigham Young, was hurried out of camp so that Brigham could take Zina to wife. Instead, Henry accepted his mission call and left under his own power.
Zina’s Situation in Iowa
Once Henry left for his mission, Zina and her children moved into the home of her father, William Huntington. It was at this time that Zina later recounted she “had parted with [my] husband [and] was then alone with my father to look after me until I should get to Winter Quarters.”48
The record is also clear that Brigham Young wanted William Huntington to bring his family to Council Bluffs. That such a family would now include Zina, who lived with William, is implicit. William records the letter and request from Brigham in his diary on July 2, 1846, but he decided to stay at Mt. Pisgah based on subsequent counsel by “Bro. Pratt.”49
A short time later many in the camp succumbed to illness, with estimates of approximately 150 people dying during the first six months of the settlement.50 Leadership was not immune to disease and death, with William Huntington falling ill on August 9, 1846, and dying only ten days later, on August 19.
Zina was left alone, a single mother of two children under five years old, without aid or assistance. All her family was gone–Henry was on a mission with Oliver, her father was dead, Dimick and his family were en route to Mexico with the Mormon Battalion, and her siblings Prescindia, William, and John were in Winter Quarters.
Alone, Zina took up residence with others in the community. Her stepsister, Emily Dow Partridge Young (also a plural wife to both Joseph and Brigham) wrote to Brigham that “Zina is well and is living with Sister Boss.” In the same letter she adds “Zina sends her love to you.”51 It is curious that Zina would express her love to Brigham, through her stepsister, if she considered the concept of a spousal relationship with him to be foreign or entirely new to her thought.
Transitioning to Brigham’s Family
Zina also corresponded with her brother, Oliver, about her intentions to go to Winter Quarters. Shortly after the death of their father, Zina wrote a letter to Oliver that he received on December 19, 1846. Oliver recounted in his diary entry for that day some of the things that Zina told him. He mentioned the death of his father52 and he commented on Zina’s plans:
My sister, stated that she was at a place called Mount Pisga where my father died. … Zina expected to winter that winter at a place on the Missouri River about 100 miles west of the Mt. Pisgah where my brother William, John, and sister Precendia were, and also the main body of the church was there.53
Fulfilling Zina’s expectations, in late September Brigham sent his son-in-law, Charlie Decker, to bring Zina to Winter Quarters.54 Sometime between the death of her father in mid August and her first weeks in Winter Quarters, it appears that Zina considered herself fully divorced from Henry and married to Brigham. This is evidenced by well-known facts, such as Zina moving into the tent row that Brigham provided for his wives at Winter Quarters. Sometime after arriving in Winter Quarters Zina wrote a letter to her step-sister, Emily Dow Partridge, and step-mother, Lydia Partridge Huntington, who were still in Mt. Pisgah. In the normal course of the letter Zina expressed Brigham’s love for Emily and signed the letter as “your affectionate sister Zina D. Huntington” instead of as Zina Jacobs.55
Henry’s Mission in England
When Henry left Mt. Pisgah, he headed eastward, back across the same trail the Saints were still following from Nauvoo. There is no record of Zina ever writing directly to Henry on his mission,56 but Henry periodically wrote to her, with his first letter written from Nauvoo.57 Henry then traveled to Chicago and on to Cambria, New York, where he met up with Oliver B. Huntington, his brother-in-law and missionary companion, on July 11.58 Oliver was living at the home of his in-laws, with his wife of less than a year.
Oliver and Henry left Cambria on August 6 and headed toward New York City where they would meet other missionaries and arrange passage to England. In New York Henry again wrote to Zina, expressing his love and concern for her and the children. The letter also contains at least indirect evidence that Henry may have known of the shifting change in family alignment; that he knew Zina would go to live with Brigham Young:
Zina I have not forgotten you, my love is as ever the same, and much more abundantly, and hope that it will continue to grow stronger and stronger to all eternity, worlds without end, when families are joined together and become one consolidated in truth, when the keys of the Resurrection will be restored, and the fullness of the Gospel given the Law of the Celestial Kingdom be in force and every man and woman will know their place and have to keep it. Though there will be shiftings in time and revisions in eternity, and all be made right in the end. You told me in your letter that you calculated to start the next morning for the big camp. Well, may the Lord bless you and my little children with life and good health and a safe journey. Take good care of the cow and steers and all I left with you. Keep it safe till I return, for I will then again give my best respects to Brother Brigham and family.59
Even as Henry professes his undying love for Zina, he indicates that “though there will be shiftings in time and revisions in eternity, all will be made right in the end.” It is significant that he indicates his understanding that Zina will start for “the big camp” (Winter Quarters) the next morning. He exhorts Zina to take care of the children, the cow, and the steers, and that when he returns he will “again give my best respects to Brother Brigham and family.”
Henry and Oliver sailed from New York on August 22, 1846, arrived in Liverpool on October 1, served a successful mission for approximately nine months, sailed back to America on July 6, 1847, and finally arrived back in Cambria on August 18, 1847.
Back to Winter Quarters
Oliver’s diary records that Henry left Cambria, in the company of W.W. Phelps, on September 14, 1847.60 Henry arrived in Winter Quarters near the middle of November. Mary Haskin Parker Richards records in her diary for November 16 that she “took supper and spent the Eve with Bro [Henry B.] Jacobs folks.”61 Henry spent the evening telling Mary about the Saints in her native England and her family. Mary also referenced the evening’s festivities in a letter to her husband, Samuel Richards, who was on a mission in England. She indicated that “last Tuesday eve I had a first rate visit with Bro H B Jacobs and his wife.”62
Henry’s wife–the one that Mary refers to–is not Zina. Even though Zina was living in Winter Quarters at the time, the wife appears to be one that Henry married sometime between Oliver Huntington’s letter of August 27 and Henry’s arrival in Winter Quarters. Henry’s new wife was Aseneth Babcock,63 a twenty-two year old widow and mother of a five-year-old son.64
This presents an interesting situation, and more evidence that both Henry and Zina now considered Zina to be Brigham’s wife. Henry arrived in Winter Quarters with his new wife and stepson in November 1847. Zina didn’t leave to go to the Salt Lake Valley until May 1848. Brigham was away during much of this six-month period, and yet Henry and Zina did not live as husband and wife. In fact, there are no contemporary records that show the two even talked with each other.
Moving to the Salt Lake Valley
Zina migrated to the Salt Lake Valley in 1848 in the care of her brother, Oliver. He arrived in Winter Quarters on May 9, 1848,65 and they left within a week, along with over a thousand other Saints traveling in Brigham Young’s company. Henry Jacobs left at the same time and also traveled in Brigham’s company. Henry and Aseneth traveled in a group under the command of William G. Perkins, a “captain of an hundred.” Henry was a captain of 10 within the group of 50 commanded by Eleazer Miller.66
Zina and Oliver arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 20, 1848.67 We have no record of when, or if, Henry and Aseneth arrived in the Salt Lake Valley; they show up in none of the extant records. It is possible that they split from the main group before the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley to take a southern route to California, or perhaps they moved right on through the valley to continue to California.
A Question of Divorce
One question that often comes up concerning the dissolution of Henry and Zina’s marriage is why, if they were legally married, they never procured a legal divorce. Most people who raise this question have no problem with the concept of Joseph and Zina being “married” while Zina was still married to Henry; they typically assume that the marriage to Joseph was a platonic sealing, with no earthly accoutrements that normally attend marriage. The point at which the question inevitably comes up is when Zina married Brigham in the Nauvoo temple, continued to live with Henry during the trek across Iowa, and then transitioned into Brigham’s family after Henry left for his mission to England.
There are two points at which a divorce could reasonably have taken place: In Nauvoo, at about the time that Zina and Brigham were married, or in Iowa, after Henry left for England. There is no record of any divorce in Hancock County, Illinois.68 This is not surprising; for the nineteen months from the martyrdom in June 1844 until the Saints were driven from Nauvoo in February 1846, the relationship between the Saints and the various levels of government was tenuous, at best. The Saints did not trust the state or federal governments, having felt betrayed at every turn over the years. There is evidence that the Nauvoo municipal government was very dysfunctional during this period, and then entirely non-existent after the revocation of the Nauvoo Charter in January 1845. A year later, when Zina and Brigham were sealed, it is doubtful that the Saints would have turned to those they viewed as hostile enemies to request divorces.
The situation is even more unclear as the Saints migrated westward through frontier Iowa. According to Iowa territorial law in 1846, divorces were granted by district courts.69 At the time there were only three district courts established in the Iowa Territory, and these covered only the eastern-most counties of the state. 70 There were no District Courts that covered the unincorporated areas (the “Indian lands” where Mt. Pisgah was located), nor were there any in 1846 in any of the counties bordering the unincorporated areas.
Critics who complain of Henry and Zina not having a “legal and lawful” divorce fail to point out what constitutes “legal and lawful” when it comes to a frontier where there is no established government. Who, exactly, should Henry and Zina have gone to in order to satisfy our modern sensibilities of what constitutes a “legal and lawful” dissolution of marriage?
The inaccessibility of government and the hostility of the trail may not be the only reasons why a formal divorce was not sought by Henry and Zina. Many people during the era, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, particularly those who were poor and transient (conditions that certainly applied to this couple), would engage in self-divorce. Rather than seek out the approbation of authority that was often seen as meddlesome, distant, and aloof, couples would simply agree to dissolve their marriage, and then each go their separate ways. This seemed, to those predisposed to distrust a hostile government, a practical and pragmatic solution to ending a marriage, and appears to be the path chosen by Henry and Zina.
A Question of Happiness
One of the recurring explanations for the dissolution of Henry and Zina’s marriage is that it was an unhappy union. This explanation seems to have first surfaced in the written record in the late 1870s or early 1880s. In 1883 a picture entitled “Representative Women of Deseret” was published which showed many of the leading women of the Relief Society. Among these was Zina D.H. Young. In the following year, Augusta Joyce Crocheron wrote a short book as an adjunct to the picture, containing short biographical sketches for each of the women. In the information about Zina, the statement is made that “Sister Zina was married in Nauvoo, and had two sons, but this not proving a happy union, she subsequently separated from her husband.”71 The verbiage, according to the author, relied heavily on earlier statements in the Woman’s Exponent.
This verbiage was repeated in later years by other authors72 and by Zina herself in her 1898 interview with John W. Wight.73 The theme was picked up and repeated in later twentieth-century publications and studies, as well.74
Was Zina’s marriage to Henry really unhappy? It may be more fruitful to ask what is meant when unhappiness is asserted. Was Zina unhappy with Henry’s treatment of her? Was Zina unhappy living in poverty for her five years with Henry? Did Zina simply have unhappy memories of the time and project those memories onto the marriage with Henry? We really don’t know.
From first-hand contemporaneous accounts in the 1840s it appears that Zina was not necessarily unhappy in her marriage. To be sure, we can reasonably impute unhappiness from her diary entries that recount family sickness or death of loved ones. But none of this unhappiness–which seems the lot of many during that period–does she seem to blame on Henry. Instead, she is a supportive wife and he is as attentive a husband as he can be.
It is also possible that Zina’s views on the marriage changed over time–as she acquired a more stable life in Utah she may have been able to compare it to her old life and thereby come to the conclusion that she was unhappy. It is also possible that Zina felt that explaining her first marriage as unhappy was an easier way to deal with the questioning of friends, family, and strangers than to explain the complex reasoning that led to her and Henry’s decision to dissolve the marriage.75
Whether Zina really decided her lot had been unhappy or it was created it as convenient explanation, we will never know. All we do know is that the marriage does not appear, on critical review, to have had any outward signs of unhappiness; it does not seem to have been any more troubled than those of her contemporaries.
The Fate of Henry B. Jacobs
Extant letters indicate that even though Henry married other women after Zina, his heart remained fixated on her, remembering the happy times in preference to the hard times he later had. In this regard, Henry is no different than many today who, after their marriage dissolves, realize what they lost and pine away with desire for what once was.
Besides marrying Aseneth, there is evidence that Henry married Sarah Taylor in Arizona in 1850.76 He was also disfellowshipped in January 1851,77 in abstentia, apparently in relation to performing an unauthorized plural marriage for W.W. Phelps as Henry was traveling with Phelps to Winter Quarters from Cambria, New York. (Phelps was excommunicated for having entered the marriage; Henry was disfellowshipped for having performed the marriage.)78
A visit with Henry is recorded, in California, in the December 12, 1852, diary entry of Caroline Barnes Crosby. She indicates that Henry had lived in California for three or four years and that he had been left by his wife;79 whether that was Aseneth or Sarah we do not know. He stayed with the Crosbys for the holidays and in the first few days of 1853 plans on marrying Mary Clawson, a local widow.80 A week later (January 10, 1853) Caroline reports that Henry was married to Mary in Caroline’s home.81 Within a few months the marriage dissolved, for Caroline records that on March 20, 1853, Mary called on her and “looked very sad, said she had been weeping gave us an account of her late husband Henry B Jacobs leaving her in consequence of his old wife coming and claiming her previous right.”82
The previous wife that caused the dissolution of Henry’s new marriage was either Aseneth or Sarah; we don’t know which. The decision to remarry was not without religious fallout, as Caroline records then Henry was “disfellowshiped in consequence of unlawful conduct in regard to matrimony” at a Church conference on April 9, 1853.83
The next time that any documents mention Henry is September 2, 1858, when he writes a very poignant, heart-breaking letter to Zina from his home in Sacramento.84 There are no extant letters from Henry to Zina from the time he arrives back from his mission in 1847 until this one in 1858. It is clear, however, that his thoughts concerning his past relationship with Zina weigh heavy on his mind. The letter doesn’t mention any current wife, he apparently has recently learned of his disfellowshipment in Utah, and he is depressed over his situation in life. He longs to again be with Zina and to see his children.
Nothing more is heard about Henry for almost twenty years. Family tradition is strong, however, that he kept in touch with his children, Zebulon and Chariton, who finally persuaded Henry to return to Utah where he rejoined the Church and became active again.85 This move apparently occurred in early 1880, as on May 8 of that year Oliver Huntington recorded in his diary that “Henry Jacobs came from California to spend the remainder of his days with his sons in Salt Lake, by their request.”86 Henry died on August 1, 1886, and was buried in the Jacobs family plot in Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Was Henry’s Family “Stolen” by Brigham?
It is tempting for those reading the heart-breaking letters of Henry to Zina to assert that, somehow, Brigham “stole” Henry’s family. Such a conclusion treats Zina and her children as objects that can be physically stolen, like any of Henry’s other possessions, such as a horse, a jacket, or a pocket watch.
Zina, however, was not an object, and neither were her children. Zina certainly had a choice in her marriages, and she showed on more than one occasion that she was willing and capable of exercising that choice. The fact that she chose to be married to Brigham in Nauvoo, chose to move into his housing in Winter Quarters, chose to not live with Henry in Winter Quarters after his mission, chose to go to Salt Lake and live in Brigham’s housing there, and finally to live publicly as Brigham’s plural wife all indicate that Zina played an active part in the dissolution of her marriage to Henry and the establishment of her marriage to Brigham.
While it is true that many of Henry’s post-1846 letters to Zina are heartbreaking, none of them indicate that he felt Brigham had stolen his family, and none of them indicate any animosity toward Brigham. While a modern reader, put it Henry’s place, might feel that Brigham had stolen his family, this does not change the fact that Henry apparently did not feel that way.
Making Sense of Zina’s Marriages
Marital patterns among the Mormon “insiders” of the 1840s were anything but simple. Because of this, it is important to go back and examine the source documents from the period, so far as they are available, before coming to any conclusions concerning Mormon marriage in general or a single marriage in particular. This is especially true when it comes to the marital relationships between Zina Diantha Huntington and her men: Henry Jacobs, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young.
It is easy to jump to conclusions and say any (or all) of the participants were somehow misguided, wrong, victims, or evil. All of these judgments, and more, have been pronounced upon this complex situation by authors, historians, and critics over the years. Each reviewer comes to the available documents with their own notions and biases, and tends to view those documents through the lens of those preconceptions. It should be no surprise that those critical of polygamy, polyandry, or the Mormons in general would find plenty in Zina’s situation to feed their criticisms. Likewise, those predisposed positively toward Mormonism can find many points to similarly support their positions.
The fact of the matter is, however, that there will never be enough data about Zina and her men to permit an analysis that fully and clearly favors one side or the other. It should be evident from the sources considered in this paper that a complex situation requires a complex analysis; there are no pat answers. It should also be clear that many of the commonly accepted so-called facts concerning Zina and her men are nothing more than myth or canonized polemic. Dispelling such should be an easy task, but only time will tell if such a task has been adequately achieved.
In making sense of Zina and her men, it is best to remember that those involved were no different than any of us–these were people dedicated to serving their God and willing to do whatever that entailed. Even though we, from the lofty perch time has afforded us, might not agree with how they conducted their lives, charity would dictate that we climb down from that perch and exercise compassion rather than dismissive judgment.
Critics have, and certainly will, cherry-pick items to defame Zina, her men, and the Church that they helped to build, but the full record of their lives tells a series of stories that have left an indelible and incredibly faithful mark on history.
1 Zina was born January 31, 1821. [See Oliver B. Huntington, A History of William Huntington: Written by Himself and Transcribed by His Son O.B. Huntington, January A.D. 1855 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 6.]
2 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 7 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 135.
3 Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000), 108, where the authors state “Joseph pressed Zina for an answer to his marriage proposal on at least three occasions in 1840, but she avoided answering him.” Historian Richard Bushman states “when Joseph explained plural marriage to herÖher first response was to resist.” [Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005), 439.]
4 Henry Jacobs & Zina D. Huntington Marriage Certificate, L. Tom Perry Special Collections (BYU), MSS SC 294. The marriage license is dated March 6, 1841, and the marriage certified by “John C. Bennett, Mayor of Nauvoo,” on March 7, 1841. On the reverse side of the license the notation is made that it was returned and registered on March 15, 1841. See also Oliver B. Huntington, A History of William Huntington: Written by Himself and Transcribed by His Son O.B. Huntington, January A.D. 1855 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 33.
5 Oa J. Cannon, History of Henry Bailey Jacobs (Typescript, n.d.), L. Tom Perry Special Collections (BYU), MSS SC 1592, 1. See also Richard S. Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18, no. 3 (Fall 1985), 78; Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 44.
6 Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000), 113. While outside the scope of this paper, the concept of the Church being able to “progress no further” if polygamy was not adopted is a fascinating subject worth of additional study.
7 Affidavit of Zina D.H. Young, Affidavits on Celestial Marriage, May 1, 1869, Vol. 1:5 and 4:5, LDS Church Archives (MS 3423). See also Andrew Jensen, “Plural Marriage,” Historical Record 6, nos. 3-5 (May 1887), 233.
8 Various authors point to other women who were sealed to Joseph while already married to a living husband. The numbers of such women is a subject open to dispute (each author has their own collection of names), but virtually every author agrees that Zina was the first such sealing.
9 Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, Second Edition (New York: Knopf, 1971), 302. John D. Lee’s statement, referenced here by Brodie, is discussed in more detail elsewhere in this paper.
10 Todd Compton, “A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith’s Thirty-Three Plural Wives,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29, no. 2 (Summer 1996), 22-23.
11 Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Jeni Broberg Holzapfel, Women of Nauvoo (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992), 98.
12 Henry’s first mission was in 1842, to Chicago. See Joseph Smith, The Papers of Joseph Smith, Vol. 2, edited by Dean C. Jesse (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992), 347-348.
13 See Oa J. Cannon, History of Henry B. Jacobs, LDS Archives (MS 3248). The comment is in a letter that accompanies the short, on-page history, addressed to a “Brother Peterson” in the Church Archives.
14 Jeffery Ogden Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20, no. 3 (Fall 1987), 64. See also Jeffery Ogden Johnson, “Determining and Defining ‘Wife’: The Brigham Young Households, Brigham Young’s Homes, edited by Colleen Whitley (Logan, Utah: Utah State University, 2002), 11.
15 Indeed, this distinction may be entirely lost upon or rejected by those who see Joseph Smith as the embodiment of the only god with which Mormonism has to do. Those who reject any divinity in the movement see only manipulation and count Zina’s faith in God as synonymous with her faith in Joseph Smith. Such rejection by critics says more about their view of divinity or Mormonism than it does about Zina’s true motivation, for the extant historical record shows that Zina was always subservient to her God, but not always subservient to priesthood authorityóeven Joseph’s authority. Indeed, part of Mormonism’s dynamic nature can be attributed to its ability to merge the concept of an infallible God with mortal, fallible prophets whose words are confirmed by revelation to interested individuals. Conflating Joseph and God caricatures Zina’s faith and Joseph’s teachings.
16 Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, “Plurality, Patriarchy and the Priestess: Zina D.H. Young’s Nauvoo Marriages,” Journal of Mormon History 20, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 90, citing one of Zina’s autobiographies. In searching the autobiography noted by the authors, it appears that the citation may be in error; I could not locate it within the source.
17 Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 79.
18 Autobiography of Zina D. Young, no date, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 17.
19 Interview of John Wight with Zina D.H. Young, October 1, 1898, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young,” Saints Herald, 52 (11 January 1905), 29.
20 The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846, edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005), 296-298. See also the Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register 1845-1846, as quoted in Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume 25, compiled by Susan Ward Easton-Black (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1986), 230.
21 The second anointing was a priesthood ordinance given to those who had previously received their endowments and sealings and proven themselves dedicated to the cause of the Church. This anointing was given to relatively few members of the Church, and those who received it in Nauvoo were often referred to as members of the “Quorum of the Anointed.” For additional information, see Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed 1842-1845, edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005) or David John Buerger, “‘The Fulness of the Priesthood’: The Second Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983), 10-44.
22 The Nauvoo Endowment Companies, 1845-1846, edited by Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005), 564.
23 “A Book of Proxey,” No. 142. This entry is reproduced in Lyndon W. Cook, Nauvoo Marriages Proxy Sealings 1843-1846 (Provo, Utah: Grandin Book Company, 2004), 178. Cook makes an editorial note for the entry that “although hard evidence is lacking, it is quite possible that the propria persona aspect of this ceremony is also repetitiousóBrigham Young and Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs were undoubtedly sealed together for time in 1844 Nauvoo, Hancock, IL.” Such a sentiment, while consistent with the nature of the work being done in the newly available templeóratifying, as it were, previous work done when the temple was not availableócannot be verified by extant documents.
24 Levirate marriage is most clearly spelled out in Deuteronomy 25:5-6, but the practice is also mentioned in Genesis 38:8, Matthew 22:24, Mark 12:19, Luke 20:28, and Ruth 4:5, 10. In Judaism, Levirate marriage is referred to as yibbum (pronounced “yee-boom”).
25 Levirate marriage was also practiced by other cultures in the ancient Near East. It was not a uniquely Israelite practice.
26 Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, “Plurality, Patriarchy and the Priestess: Zina D.H. Young’s Nauvoo Marriages,” Journal of Mormon History 20, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 103. See also Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000), 131. This is a quote from Susa Young Gates, typescript, Box 12, fd. 2, Susa Young Gates Papers, Utah State Historical Society.
27 Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 83.
28 Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 121. The reference for the Susa Young Gates quotation used by Arrington is Susa Young Gates Papers, box 12, folder 2 Utah State Historical Society.
29 Danel W. Bachman, A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage Before the Death of Joseph Smith (Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Master’s Thesis, 1975), 123.
30 See Deuteronomy 25:6.
31 The child was not named after his father; his first name was given in honor of his paternal grandfather and his middle name was taken from the river beside which he was born.
32 The camps were selected to be approximately half way between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, once it became evident in early 1846 that the entirety of the Saints would not be able to make the journey to the Salt Lake Valley in a single season. The two camps are about forty miles apart, with Mt. Pisgah located on a picturesque setting on the middle fork of the Grand River. For detailed information on the establishment of both Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah, see Leland H. Gentry, “The Mormon Way Stations: Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah,” BYU Studies 21, no. 4 (Fall 1981), 445-461.
33 Patty Bartlett Sessions, who had traveled in Henry and Zina’s wagon on May 16, 1846, records in her diary entry for June 2, 1846, that “we are now ready to take up our line of march and leave this place we have been here ever since the 18 of May it is a prety place the saints call it Mount Pisgah.” [Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, edited by Donna Toland Smart (Logan, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1997), 53.]
34 Iowa was granted statehood in December 1846. It is somewhat ironic that one of the requirements of statehoodósufficient populationówas only achieved when large numbers of Saints migrated through Iowa on their way from Nauvoo, stopping at the way stations of Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah.
35 Oliver B. Huntington, A History of William Huntington: Written by Himself and Transcribed by His Son O.B. Huntington, January A.D. 1855 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 88-89. See also Leland H. Genry, “The Mormon Way Stations: Garden Grove and Mt. Pisgah,” BYU Studies 21, no. 4 (Fall 1981), 452.
36 Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, Second Edition (New York: Knopf, 1971), 465-466. The story is repeated by critics such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, Revised Edition (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 239.
37 William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed (Cincinnati, Ohio: I. Hart and Company, 1852), 43-44.
38 See diary entry for June 3, 1847, in Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, edited by Donna Toland Smart (Logan, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1997), 84.
39 William’s recollection of the prayer meeting is rather poignant: “the twelve and some others, my self and my council that is brothers Ezra T. Benson and Charles C. Rich went onto the prairie some two miles north pitched a tent clothed ourselves according to the order of the priesthood had for the first time a prayer meeting in which such thing as we stood in kneed.” [Diary of William Huntington, March 26, 1846 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 36.]
40 Diary of William Huntington, June 1, 1846 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 37..
41 T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (Salt Lake City: Shepard Book Company, 1904), 186-187. This edition is a reprint of the original 1873 edition published in New York by Appleton.
42 Ronald W. Walker, “The Stenhouses and the Making of a Mormon Image,” Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974), 53.
43 Ronald W. Walker, “The Stenhouses and the Making of a Mormon Image,” Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974), 68.
44 Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, edited by Donna Toland Smart (Logan, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1997), 52.
45 Andrew Jenson, “Jacobs, Zebulon,” Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1914), 401. This rendition, attributed to Zebulon (who would have been barely five years old at the time) is recounted by Todd Compton. See Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 88.
46 See Oa J. Cannon History of Henry B. Jacobs, LDS Archives (MS 3248). This seems to be a preliminary written history of Oa’s grandfather in which she states “They had to put Henry in a quilt and haul him to the river and catch the boat to embark to England.” The letter that accompanies the short, one-page history (addressed to a “Brother Peterson” in the Church Archives) states, as well, that “the history says he was so ill he had to be put on a blanket and carried to the boat.” See also Joseph Smith Jacobs, The Life of Henry Chariton Jacobs, 1846-1915, (Salt Lake City: typescript, Utah State Historical Society, July 19, 1960), 3, which states “They had to put Henry in a quilt and haul him to the river to catch the boat to embark to England.” Van Wagoner later repeats the assertion by saying “witnesses to his departure commented that he was so ill they had to ‘put him on a blanket and carry him to the boat to get him on his way.'” [Richard S. Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polyandry in Nauvoo,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 18, no. 3 (Fall 1985), 79.] Van Wagoner again made the same assertion in Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 44. The statement by Oa J. Cannon is repeated, without comment, in Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, “Plurality, Patriarchy and the Priestess: Zina D.H. Young’s Nauvoo Marriages,” Journal of Mormon History 20, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 107, as well as in their later book, Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, Four Zinas: A Story of Mothers and Daughters on the Mormon Frontier (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2000), 152.
47 See letter of Mary Haskin Parker Richards to Samuel W. Richards (her husband) dated June 9, 1846 in Mary Haskin Parker Richards, Winter Quarters: The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, edited by Maurine Carr Ward (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1996), 74. Spelling and punctuation standardized.
48 Autobiography of Zina D. Young, no date, p. 15, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 17.
49 Oliver B. Huntington, A History of William Huntington: Written by Himself and Transcribed by His Son O.B. Huntington, January A.D. 1855 (BYU Special Collections, Vault MSS 272), 94. The reference to “Bro. Rich” is referring to William’s counselor, Charles C. Rich.
50 Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Desert News Publishing Company, 1941), 546. Later historians estimated that up to 400 people died and where buried at Mt. Pisgah. See also Benjamin F. Gue, History of Iowa from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, Vol. 1 (New York: Century History Company, 1903), 235.
51 Emily Partridge Young letter to Brigham Young, 31 August 1846, cited in Dean Jessee, “Brigham Young’s Family: The Wilderness Years,” BYU Studies 19:4 (Summer 1979), 481.
52 Zina’s letter was not the first word that Oliver had received of the death of his father. His diary records a visit on October 15, 1846, in which a Brother Scovil took Oliver aside “and told me that he expected my father was dead, for Parley [Pratt] said he left him very low and though he could not live.” [Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part I (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 72.]
53 Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part I (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 103-104.
54 Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, “Each in Her Own Time: Four Zinas,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26, no. 2 (Summer 1993), 129.
56 No missionary journal of Henry’s has been discovered, to date, and none may exist. (Henry does not seem to have been a journal writer.) We have a window into the letters received by Henry while on his mission in England from the diary of Oliver B. Huntington. While Oliver and Henry were not together the entire time on their mission, they seemed to be together on days that they received mail, and Oliver frequently made mention of what mail he and Henry received and who the mail was from. In no instance does Oliver indicate that Henry received mail from Zina, although Henry received several letters from Zina directly or forwarded to Henry by his wife, Mary. One such journal entry, for April 13, 1847, is typical: “Brother ParkinsonÖbrought us each [Oliver and Henry] a parcelÖ. There were four pamphlets in Brother Jacobs, sent by my father-in-law, and mine by my wife.” [Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part I (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 130.]
57 Letter from Henry B. Jacobs to Zina Diantha Jacobs, June 25, 1846, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 1.
58 Oliver married Mary, Brother Neal’s only daughter, on August 17, 1845. He lived with his new wife at his in-laws’ home until he left on a mission with Henry almost one year later, on August 6, 1846.
59 Letter from Henry B. Jacobs to Mrs. Zina D. Jacobs, Brooklyn, L.I. NY, to Camp of Isreael, Grand Isleand, August 19, 1846, LDS Archives (MS 3248).
60 Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part I (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 168.
61 Mary Haskin Parker Richards, Winter Quarters: The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, edited by Maurine Carr Ward (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1996), 181.
62 Mary Haskin Parker Richards, Winter Quarters: The 1846-1848 Life Writings of Mary Haskin Parker Richards, edited by Maurine Carr Ward (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 1996), 202.
63 Oa J. Cannon, History of Henry Bailey Jacobs (Typescript, n.d.), p. 29, LDS Church Archives (MS 6891).
64 Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, “Plurality, Patriarchy and the Priestess: Zina D.H. Young’s Nauvoo Marriages,” Journal of Mormon History 20, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 110.
65 Some authors have reported that Zina actually emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley with Oliver in 1849. [See, for instance, Martha Sonntag Bradley and Mary Brown Firmage Woodward, “Plurality, Patriarchy and the Priestess: Zina D.H. Young’s Nauvoo Marriages,” Journal of Mormon History 20, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 110.] Such statements should be considered errors, as they are inconsistent with the available source documents and later statements by Zina herself.
66 For additional information on this, see John D. Lee, A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee, 1848-1876, Vol. 1, edited and annotated by Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks (San Marino, California: Huntington Library, 1955), 32-34, 36. Henry apparently didn’t get along well with Perkins, who in turn commented to Lee about the problems he was having with Henry. That didn’t stop Henry from preaching at least once in Sunday services on June 11, 1848, at Beaver Creek.
67 Autobiography of Zina D. Young, no date, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 17. See also Kate B. Carter, They Came in ’48 (Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1948), 521. This source shows that Oliver arrived in company K and Zina arrived in company Y.
68 Oa J. Cannon, History of Henry Bailey Jacobs (Typescript, n.d.), L. Tom Perry Special Collections (BYU), MSS SC 1592, 30. This is a page that is a photocopy of a letter dated November 20, 1974, from David J. Wilson to William Lillis, Circuit Clerk at the Hancock County Courthouse in Carthage, Illinois. Mr. Wilson asked if there was any records of a divorce proceeding for Zina and Henry in the county between March 1841 and June 1848. The response, typed at the bottom of the same letter, is “I find no record of a divorce for the above people.”
69 Revised Statutes of the Territory of Iowa, Revised and Compiled by a Joint Committee of the LegislatureóSession 1842-43, Chapter 65, pages 169-172.
70 Ibid. According to the statutes, the three District Courts were almost circuit courts, with no “home” courthouse. Instead, court was held in certain counties on certain days of the year. The first judicial district included Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Van Buren, and Lee counties; the second judicial district included Cedar, Linn, Johnson, Washington, Louisa, and Muscatine counties; and the third judicial district included Jones, Scott, Clinton, Jackson, Clayton and Du Buque [sic] counties. Thus, the District Courts covered only approximately half of the thirty-one counties in Iowa in 1846. Iowa established a fourth district court February 4, 1847, after Zina and Henry were no longer in the state together. Even so, the redistricting still did not cover the Indian territories where the Saints were gathered in Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove.
71 Augusta Joyce Crocheron, Representative Women of Deseret: A Book of Biographical Sketches to Accompany the Picture Bearing the Same Title (Salt Lake City: J.C. Graham & Company, 1884), 12.
72 See James H. Crockwell, Pictures and Biographies of Brigham Young and His Wives (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1887), 33. This particular instance of citing unhappiness as a reason for marital dissolution is significant because the work includes a “Publisher’s Authority” which states, over the signature of Z.D.H. Young (and other wives) that provides approval for the information in the booklet. See also Andrew Jenson, “Young, Zina Diantha Huntington,” Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 697; Susa Young Gates, History of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1911), 23.
73 Interview of John Wight with Zina D.H. Young, October 1, 1898, “Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young,” Saints Herald, 52 (11 January 1905), 29.
74 See Kate B. Carter, “Brigham YoungóHis Wives and Family,” Our Pioneer Heritage (Salt Lake City: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1958), 431; Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, Second Edition (New York: Knopf, 1971), 302; Danel W. Bachman, A Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage Before the Death of Joseph Smith (Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Master’s Thesis, 1975), 118-119, 134-135.
75 Compton seems to favor the “revisionist” approach to the question of happiness as a way to, as Compton judges, “gloss over her simultaneous marriage” to both Henry and Joseph. See Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 81.
76 We don’t know if this marriage was polygamous or not; it is based on family tradition, not on contemporaneous records. Perhaps the most solid evidence for such a marriage is in the late-life journal of Oliver Huntington, about thirteen years after Henry died. On October 9, 1899, Oliver was traveling in California. He recorded staying with “a man by the name of Ginger who married the woman that used to be Henry Jacobs wife, maiden name, Sarah Taylor.” See Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part II (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 440.
77 Journal History, 26 January 1851, LDS Church Archives
78 Henry did not learn of the disfellowshipment until some time later, first mentioning it in a September 1858 letter to Zina. [Letter from Henry B. Jacobs, September 2, 1858, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 2.]
79 Caroline Barnes Crosby, No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities, edited by Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne, and S. George Ellsworth (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005), 176.
80 Caroline Barnes Crosby, No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities, edited by Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne, and S. George Ellsworth (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005), 177-178.
81 Caroline Barnes Crosby, No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities, edited by Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne, and S. George Ellsworth (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005), 178.
82 Caroline Barnes Crosby, No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities, edited by Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne, and S. George Ellsworth (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005), 184.
83 Caroline Barnes Crosby, No Place to Call Home: The 1807-1857 Life Writings of Caroline Barnes Crosby, Chronicler of Outlying Mormon Communities, edited by Edward Leo Lyman, Susan Ward Payne, and S. George Ellsworth (Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2005), 186.
84 Letter from Henry B. Jacobs, September 2, 1858, part of the Zina Card Brown Family Collection (1806-1972), LDS Church Archives, MS 4780, box 2, folder 2.
85 Joseph Smith Jacobs, The Life of Henry Chariton Jacobs, 1846-1915, (Salt Lake City: typescript, Utah State Historical Society, 1960), 4.
86 Oliver B. Huntington, Diary of Oliver B. Huntington, 1842-1847, Part II (typescript, 1942), L. Tom Perry Special Collections, BYU, BX 8670.1 .H925, 149.