Virtually all early sealings were polygamous sealings (in stead of a sealing to an existing civil wife). The one exception, the sealing of Newel and Elizabeth Whitney, was associated with a polygamous sealing (Joseph to their daughter, Sarah Ann).1

Data assembled from Table 1 and Table 2 of Gary Bergera’s article The Earliest Eternal Sealings for Civilly Married Couples Living and Dead

Male Polygamous Sealing Date Civil Sealing Date
Joseph Smith April 1841 May 1843
Heber C Kimball fall/winter 1841-42 fall/winter 1841-42 2
Reynolds Cahoon fall/winter 1841-42 Nov 1843
Brigham Young June 1842 May 1843
Newel K Whitney Aug 1842 1
Vinson Knight spring-summer 1842 NA
Willard Richards Jan 1843 May 1843
William Huntington Feb 1843 NA
Orson Hyde Feb/Mar 1843 3
Lorenzo Dow Young March 1843 NA
Joseph Bates Noble April 1843 NA
William Clayton April 1843 July 1843

The data clearly show that the initial emphasis of the sealing ceremony was on enacting plural sealings—sealings for civilly married couples appears to have been of much less concern. This emphasis also seems to be confirmed in other instances, such as JS’s sealing to Lucy Walker but lack of a sealing for William Holmes Walker.

originally posted here

  1. According to Lyndon Cook (as paraphrased by Bergera) “the prophet rewarded the Whitneys’ loyalty [demonstrated by giving their daughter to be sealed to JS] by sealing them for eternity.”  2

  2. A straightforward reading of Helen Mar Kimball’s account indicates that Heber had already been sealed to Sarah Perry Peak Noon when he told his first wife, Vilate, about the principle of celestial marriage (“She was also shown the woman he had taken to wife”). Bergera states “when this sealing [between Heber and Vilate] occurred, it either preceded or coincided with Kimball’s own first plural marriage in early 1842.” 

  3. Joseph Smith preemptively sealed himself to Orson Hyde’s civil wife.