[Polygamy] Eliza R. Snow (Age 38): In her youth, Elizas talent as poet was evident. Still in her early twenties, she published poetry in local magazines and newspapers, winning awards for her work. In 1828, twenty-four year old Eliza joined Alexander Campbells Christian primitivist movement, and would later join Mormonism. Wanting to be near others of her new faith, Eliza moved to Kirtland in December of 1835.
Upon her arrival in Kirtland, Eliza donated a large sum of money to the in progress temple project. In appreciation, the building committee insisted that she take a very valuable [lot]-situated near the Temple, with a fruit tree-an excellent spring of water, and house that accommodated two families. Eliza was already boarding at the home of Joseph Smith, so her older sister Leonora lived in one half; renters in the other half.
In 1838 Eliza, relocated to Missouri, and then Illinois. In 1842 Emma Smith selected her to be Secretary of the newly organized, Female Relief Society. Eliza remembers it was about this time she first understood that the practice of plurality was to be introduced into the church. The subject was very repugnant to my feelings...I consoled myself with the idea that it was far in the distance and beyond the period of my mortal existence. However, a few months later, on June 29, 1842, Eliza married Joseph Smith. She wrote, I was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, for time and eternity, in accordance with the Celestial Law of Marriage which God has revealed. Eliza fondly wrote of Joseph, my beloved husband, the choice of my heart and the crown of my life.
It is uncertain when Josephs first wife, Emma, became aware of his marriage to Eliza. In any case on August 14 Eliza wrote, Yesterday Mrs. Smith sent for me, having previously given me the offer of a home in her house...This...I trust is for good. Eliza soon moved in with the Smiths, schooling the Smith children, and performing other duties. She recalls, I was entirely governed by the wishes of Prest. and Mrs. Smith, I desire and aim to be submissive to the requirements of those whom [God] has placed in authority over me.
A week later Eliza revealed in poem her own anxious feelings about these recent events:
apt to conclude, from the medly of things;
Weve got into a jumble of late-
A deep intricate puzzle, a tangle of strings,
That no possible scheme can make straight
From the midst of confusion can harmony flow?
Or can peace from distraction come forth?
From out of corruption, integrity grow?
Or can vice unto virtue give birth?
Will the righteous come forth with their garments unstained?
With their hearts unpolluted with sin?
O, yes; Zion, thy honor will be sustained.
And the glory of God usherd in.
Eliza stayed in the Smith home for six months, until February 11, 1843, when she wrote in her diary: Took board and had my lodging removed to the residence of br. Holmes.. Several acquaintances of Eliza spoke of Emma discovering Elizas relationship with Joseph, leading to her departure.
When Joseph Smith was killed in 1844, Eliza was overcome with grief, even praying that she might also die and be reunited with her husband. She said that Joseph appeared to her in a vision and told her that his work upon earth was complete...but hers was not; ...she must be of good courage and help to cheer, and lighten the burdens of others. Eliza later married Brigham Young, and continued to influence others with her poetic talents. In 1845, she wrote the words to the, now popular, Mormon hymn, O My Father. (1)
[Polygamy] Elizabeth Davis Durfee (Age 50, already married to Jabez Durfee): When Elizabeth met Jabez Durfee in 1834 she was a widow, having lost her first two husbands in a shipwreck and sickness. Jabez was a widower, his wife having passed away earlier that year. They combined their families, 10 children between them, and were married in March of 1834 in Clay County, Missouri.
Elizabeth and Jabez moved to Nauvoo in 1839. There, Elizabeth participated in the newly established womens organization, the Relief Society. On April 14, 1842 Elizabeth was administered to by Society President Emma Smith and her two counselors. Later Elizabeth, bore testimony to the great blessing she received when administered to...by Prest. E.S. & Councillors Cleveland and Whitney. she said she never realized more benefit thro any administration-that she was heald, and thought the sisters had more faith than the brethren. In response to complaints about women giving blessings, Joseph shared his approval saying, If the sisters should have faith to heal the sick let all hold their tongues...if God gave his sanction by healing...there would be no...sin.
In the Spring of 1842 Elizabeth, now fifty one, married Joseph Smith. Like Patty Sessions, another one of Josephs relatively older wives, Elizabeth was a Mother in Israel who helped introduce younger women into plural marriage. In the Spring of 1843, nineteen-year-old Emily Partridge recalls being approached by Joseph: If you will not betray me, I will tell you something for your benefit...[he] asked me if I would burn it if he would write me a letter. Emily declined Josephs letter thinking, it was not the proper thing to do. Soon after, Elizabeth invited Emily to her home. Emily remembers, She introduced the subject of spiritual wives as they called it in that day [and wondered] if there was any truth in the report she heard...[I thought to myself] I could tell her something that would make her open her eyes if I chose. Emily kept quiet but later noted, I learned afterward that Mrs. Durfee was [already] a friend to plurality and knew all about it. On March 4th, Elizab
again met with Emily. Emily wrote, Mrs. Durf- came to me one day and said Joseph would like an opportunity to talk with me. I asked her if she knew what he wanted. She said she thought he wanted me for a wife...I was to meet him in the evening at Mr. Kimballs. Aided by Elizabeth's prompting, Emily met and married Joseph that evening.
After Josephs death in 1844, Elizabeth separated from her first husband, Jabez, and soon married Cornelius Lott. Lotts daughter Melissa had also been a wife of Joseph Smith. Elizabeth and Cornelius started west with the majority of the saints. Elizabeths son, John remembers, we went with [Brigham] as far as the Missouri River and then we saw so much of their manner of doing business, that we went back to Quincy. Cornelius continued on to Utah, eventually taking 5 plural wives. In Quincy, Elizabeth renewed her friendship with President Emma Smith. (1)
1 - Remembering the Wives of Joseph Smith, http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/
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