Compton’s assessment

Todd Compton’s assessment of the evidence for sexuality

Short analysis of the testimony evidence

This is my cursory analysis of some testimony evidence.

Given testimony and evidence, with which women can we reasonably infer that Joseph Smith had sex?

The list follows with the age at marriage and the evidence indicating a sexual relationship.

  • (17) Lucy Walker (later Lucy Kimball): “Shortly afterwards I consented to become the Prophet’s wife, and was married to him May 1, 1843, Elder William Clayton officiating. I am also able to testify that Emma Smith, the Prophet’s first wife, gave her consent to the marriage of at least four other girls to her husband, and that she was well aware that he associated with them as wives within the meaning of all that word implies. This is proven by the fact that she herself, on several occasions, kept guard at the door to prevent disinterested persons from intruding, when these ladies were in the house.” Jenson, “Historical Record,” 229–30
  • (19) Emily Partridge: said she ‘roomed’ with Joseph the night following her marriage to him, and said that she had ‘carnal intercourse’ with him. (also based on deduction from Lucy Walker’s statement) Jenson, “Historical Record,” 240
  • (22) Eliza Partridge: based on deduction from Lucy Walker’s statement.
  • (17) Sarah Lawrence: based on deduction from Lucy Walker’s statement.
  • (19) Maria Lawrence: based on deduction from Lucy Walker’s statement.
  • (19) Melissa Lott Willes: After admitting to rooming with Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo Mansion “more than twice” she was asked “Q. Did you ever at any other place room with him? A. In what way? Q. Of course I mean as his wife? A. Yes sir. Q. At what places? A. In my father’s house.” (see Temple Lot Transcript, part 3, pp. 97, 105–6, questions 87–93, 224–60 and footnote 5 on Malissa Lott’s josephsmithspolygamy.org page). Shortly after she was interviewed by Joseph Smith III: “Q. Were you married to my father? A. Yes. … Q. Was you a wife in very deed? A. Yes.” (from a notarized statement in possession of Myrtle Willes Bailey [granddaughter of Malissa Lott Smith Willes], from footnote 6 of Malissa Lott’s josephsmithspolygamy.org page)

Mormon Enigma identifies the 4 individuals Emma consented to as Emily and Eliza Partridge and Sarah and Maria Lawrence. (source)

The ages of the women we suspect he had sex with from this analysis were: 17 (2), 19 (3), 22 (1).

Temple lot Case evidence

curious_mormon compiled data from the Temple Lot case indicating sexual relationships between some of his wives, based on their testimony.

Wives reported to have been beautiful

From Emily Dow Partridge Diary, 1880-1893 (typescript) taken from the Emily Dow Partridge Young Collection Marriott Library, MS 113, as transcribed by Brian Hales

Jan. 8th. Attended Mary V. Young’s funeral. [This was a sister wife in the Brigham Young family.] Remarks were made by Br. Cannon Br. J. F. Smith and Br. Taylor. He spoke a few words of comfort to Pres Young’s widows. He said that in the early days of polygamy, when it was first taught to the Bretheren [sic] in Nauvoo, it was a little hard to receive in consequence of their traditionated ideas. He received a testimony that the principle was true. He saw Joseph surrounded with a number of the most beautiful women that he ever saw in his life and he knew they were his wives.

While this is a second-hand account, the fact that the wives were “the most beautiful women that he ever saw in his life” may suggest that sex was part of the appeal.

What is the evidence for polyandrous sex?

Below taken from /u/curious_mormon’s post here. Note: I am aware of the tenuousness of the Eli Johnson source, so all of these sources should be taken with a grain of salt until I can check them for reliability.

Let’s talk about sexual polyandry for a moment. We’ve all heard the apologetic fantasies of “eternal only” sealings. We’ve all seen the arguments that are more or less bias driven, but let’s look at some contemporary sources that are basing their evidence on more than good feelings and wishful thinking.

Even if you accept that the fabricated “eternal only sealing” exists, you still have polyandrous marriages with women sealed for time and eternity to Joseph while simultaneously living with legal husbands. You have children and a mother’s belief that her child could be Joseph’s (it doesn’t matter who the father is in the case). All evidence points to Joseph sleeping with other men’s wives, whether a certain apologist wants to admit it or not.

If sex didn’t happen with some, and it may not have, then it has nothing to do with the arrangement or restrictions within the rite.

Evidence:

  • Testimony of Sarah Pratt regarding Lucinda Harris - “We, however, declined this proposition. You have made a mistake in the table of contents of your book in calling this woman “Mrs. Harris.” Mrs. [G. W.] Harris was a married lady, a very great friend of mine. When Joseph had made his dastardly attempt on me, I went to Mrs. Harris to unbosom my grief to her. To my utter astonishment, she said, laughing heartily: “How foolish you are! I don’t see anything so horrible in it. Why, I AM HIS MISTRESS SINCE FOUR YEARS!”

  • Testimony of Josephine Lyons regarding her mother, Sylvia Sessions Lyons - “Just prior to my mothers death in 1882 she called me to her bedside and told me that her days on earth were about numbered and before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret fro me and from others until no but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the Prophet Joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the Prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon had was out of fellowship with the Church.”

  • Ann Eliza Web’s testimony on Zina Huntington Jacobs - “One woman said to me not very long since, while giving me some of her experiences in polygamy : “ The greatest trial I ever endured in my life was living with my husband and deceiving him, by receiving Joseph’s attentions when-ever he chose to come to me”. Another case with similar wording from Anne’s mother names this woman as Zina

  • Nelson Winch Green’s testimony of Presendia Huntington Buell - “The Prophet had sent some time before this, three men, law, foster and Jacobs, on missions and they had just returned, and found their wives blushing under the prospective honors of spiritual wifeism; and another woman, Mrs Buel, had left her husband, a Gentile, to grace the prophet’s retinue on horseback, when he reviewed the Nauvoo Legion. I heard the latter woman say afterwards in Utah, that she did not know whether Mr. Buel or the Prophet was the father of her son.”

  • Elvira Cowles Holmes - Affidavit shows that she was sealed to Joseph for time and all eternity in 1843. Her daughter Phebe Welling also reported, “I heard my mother testify that she was indeed the Prophet’s plural wife in life and lived with him as such during his lifetime.”

Accusations of sex prior to marriage:

  • Marinda Johnson Hyde - Eli Johnson, her uncle is quoted as being “furious because he suspected Joseph of being intimate with his sister [actually she was his sixteen year old niece[20]], Nancy Marinda Johnson, and he was screaming for Joseph’s castration”

Ambiguous:

  • Mary Rollins Lightner - ambiguous at best. She claimed that she was sealed to Joseph Smith (while living) for “time and eternity” which even apologists accept included the potential for sex. Likewise, after Joseph’s death, she was sealed to Joseph for Eternity by proxy and to Brigham for time despite continuing to bear her legal husband’s children. It should be noted that /u/mithryn stated she may have believed her child could have belonged to Joseph. I would love to see a source for this.

Unknowns:

  • Patty Bartlett Sessions - unknown. While her affidavit does ask for secrecy, the reason why is unclear.

  • Elizabeth Davis Durfee - I can’t find anything one way or the other. Possible she was just an intermediary for the younger girls.

  • Sarah Kingsley Cleveland - I can’t find anything one way or the other. Possible she was just an intermediary for the younger girls.

  • Ruth Vose Sayers - I can’t find any information on this, one way or the other.