John W. Wight, an Elder of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, interviewed Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith Young at her home in Utah, October 1, 1898. The interview was later published in the Saints’ Herald 1905. This is a complete transcript1 of the entire Saints’ Herald article,2 which contains the interview.
Evidence from Zina D. Huntington-Young
The elders of the Reorganization whose mission has been in Utah and throughout the territory have tried to secure the evidence of persons with whom they could secure interviews touching the complicity of Joseph Smith the Martry with the dogma and practice of plural marriage. Some of these interviews have been published, others have not. In order that the readers of the Herald may see the character of some of these evidences, we cite the following:
Copy of an interview had by John W. Wight, elder of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with Mrs. Zina D. Huntington-Jacobs-Smith-Young, at her home in Utah, October 1, 1898, in the presence of Mrs. Emeline B. Wells, Zina D. Card daughter of Mrs. Zina D. by B. Young, Elder Charles W. Penrose now of the Deseret News staff, Elder E. A. Davis of the Reorganized Church, and Mrs. Pauline Higgins, and Susie Walker, stenographer.
Question. You claim to have married Joseph Smith?
Answer. No, I do not claim any such thing. He married me. The Lord told him to take me and he did so.
Q. I believe you claim your brother officiated at the marriage?
A. He did at the first. When Brigham Young returned from England, he repeated the ceremony for time and eternity.
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, I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it.
Q. You say Brigham Young repeated the ceremony after his return from England?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Who first approached you with the subject of plural marriage?
A. I was about to say that is none of your business.
Q. Now, you will understand, Mrs. Young, that any question you may deem improper, you are at perfect liberty, so far as I am concerned, to refuse to answer.
A. All right. Thank you.
Q. You will remember that you have granted this interview and I am in your house.
Q. I believe you married a man by the name of Henry Jacobs, did you not?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you give the date of that marriage?
A. No, sir.
Q. You had a license, I presume, from the State of Illinois?
A. I do not know. I knew nothing about licenses.
Q. Can you tell me where you married Mr. Jacobs: that is, in Nauvoo or where?
A. I can hardly tell you. I do not see what this has to do with my marriage with Joseph Smith.
Q. Can you tell me when you were married to Mr. Jacobs?
A. That is no matter.
Q. Can you tell me how many children were born to Mr. Jacobs?
A. I had two sons, both noble boys.
Q. Do you remember the dates of their birth?
A. That is no matter.
Q. Is it not a fact that one of those boys was born after you left Nauvoo; was he not born on the Chariton River?
A. Yes, on the Chariton River; that is the reason he was called Chariton.
Q. Then it is a fact that it was as late as the year 1846 or 1847 this boy Chariton was born on the Chariton River?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then it is a fact, Mrs. Young, is it not, that you married Mr. Smith at the same time you were married to Mr. Jacobs?
A. What right have you to ask me such questions? I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity.
Q. Mrs. Young, you claim, I believe, that you were not married to him for time?
A. For eternity. I was married to Mr. Jacobs, but the marriage was unhappy, and we parted.
Q. You do not remember the time either — with regard to the day of the month or the year?
A. No, sir.
Q. Who were present when you were sealed to Joseph Smith?
A. My brother who is dead.
Q. That is, your brother, yourself, and Joseph Smith?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was it in Mr. Smith’s house, or in his private office?
A. That is none of your concern.
Q. You refuse then to answer that?
A. Well, anyway, I was in my proper placer; at my home.
Q. You were living with your parents, were you?
A. That is none of your concern.
Q. I presume you are aware of the fact that it is claimed by your church that the marriage with Mr. Jacobs was not an agreeable one?
A. That is true.
Q. After your separation from Mr. Jacobs, whom did you marry?
A. I married my father, my mother died, and I went to keep house for my father.
Q. Do you know, Mrs. Young, that what you did in these matters was contrary to law?
A. There was no law for polygamy.
Q. Are you aware of the fact that at that time, that is, prior to the death of Joseph Smith, the law of Illinois was against the taking of more than one wife?
A. I do not know.
Q. Do you object to telling the date as to your marriage with Mr. Young?
A. I do not remember the date.
Q. Did you hear the question of plural marriage discussed either privately or publicly, prior to your having been sealed to Joseph Smith?
A. No, we hardly dared speak of it, the very walls had ears. We spoke of it only in whispers.
Q. How then, could you have been sealed to Joseph Smith without first having heard the doctrine of plural marriage?
A. Joseph Smith sent my brother Dimick to explain it to me.
Q. It is a fact then, that you were never taught it by Joseph Smith himself?
A. My brother Dimick told me what Joseph Smith told him. I knew it was from the Lord, and I received it. Joseph did not come until afterwards.
Q. You mean by that then, that after your brother Dimick had returned to Joseph and given him the information that you had accepted such teaching, that Joseph then came to you, prior to having been sealed, and taught you the doctrine of plural marriage?
A. I told you that the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith that he was to marry me. I received it from Joseph through by brother Dimick.
Q. Who was present at the time that Joseph taught you the doctrine of sealing besides yourself and Joseph?
A. My brother Dimick.
Q. Were you sealed to Joseph on the occasion of this visit?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. It is a fact then, Mrs. Young, that Joseph was not married to you only in the sense of being sealed for eternity?
A. As his wife for time and eternity.
Q. Mrs. Young, you have answered that question in two ways; for time, and for time and eternity.
A. I meant for eternity.
Question to Mr. Penrose: Do you indorse the publication of the Historical Record by Andrew Jensen?
A. No, we do not indorse it, neither do we repudiate it.
Q. Do you indorse the affidavits made by these women?
A. I would have to read them to see whether I could indorse them or not.
Q. Mrs. Young, you have stated that you were married to Joseph Smith for time and eternity. Now, how could you marry Joseph Smith for time when at the same time you were married to Mr. Jacobs?
A. I do not wish to reply. I only know that this is the work of God upon the earth, and I know by testimony from God that Joseph Smith was a prophet.
Q. Now, Mrs. Young, you have testified that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God?
A. Yes, sir; I know by testimony that he was a prophet.
Q. Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a hypocrite?
A. No, sir, I do not.
Q. Do you believe that Joseph Smith was a deceiver?
A. No, sir, he was not.
Q. Could you say why that on the first day of February, 1844, together with his brother Hyrum over their signatures as presidents of the church they published to the world in the Times and Seasons a notice to one Hiram Brown, cutting him off the church for teaching “polygamy and other false and corrupt doctrines?”
A. I know nothing about it.
Response by Mr. Penrose. I have read that, I remember it distinctly.
Question to Mrs. Young. Are you aware that in the Doctrine and Covenants there was published an article on marriage?
A. I do not remember. What is your object in quizzing me like this?
Response by J. W. Wight. To establish the truth.
Mrs. Y. Mr. Wight, you are speaking on the most sacred experiences of my life.
Mr. W. Mrs. Young, you are at perfect liberty at any time you may desire, to bring this interview to a close.
Mrs. Y. I do not see why I should be questioned on these sacred matters.
Mr. W. You do not wish to be interviewed further?
A. No, sir.
This interview was secured by request from Elder J. W. Wight, who was desirous of obtaining what evidence Mrs. Zina D. Young, could give touching the plural marriage practice before the death of Joseph Smith; it having been confidently state to him that “Aunt Zina” knew all about it.
The result shows that Zina D. Jacbos, nee Huntington, was not a wife to Joseph Smith; or if she was it was at the same time that she was married to and living with Henry Jacobs, to whome she bore a son after her alleged marriage with Joseph Smith.
The evidence is like the rest of what has been offered to the sons of the prophet Joseph Smith to silence their opposition to the dogma of plural marriage and convince them that their father taught and practiced polygamy.
The foregoing interview, taken in shorthand, was subsequently written out and the copy submitted to Mrs. Zina D. Huntington Young and her daughter, Mrs. Card, who stated that it was as Mrs. Young had given it. It was also submitted to Charles Penrose, who declined to affirm or deny its correctness. It was handed to us by Br. Wight for publication if we saw proper. Reference is hereby made upon the authority of Bro. J. W. Wight to Mrs. Pauline Higgins, who is a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Evan A. Davis, of Pittsburg, Kansas, if any one chooses to make inquiry in regard to the correctness of the interview as reported. It must be rememembered that this was not an interview of a press reporter seeking for a basis for sensational journalism, but was the candid inquiry of a man interested in the facts which might be brought out in such interview. Every reader must determine for himself as to the reliance to be placed upon the statements made by this witness. It is a little unfortunate that the witness should have been either unwilling or unable to give the dates upon which certain actions which she states had taken place. It remains a fact based upon her own statements that at the time she claims to have been the wife of Joseph Smith she was the wife of Henry D. Jacobs, living with him as his wife, and having children by him as her husband—a most remarkable condition of things under any hypothesis.
Quotation marks around each question and answer have been removed (they may be assumed for each question and answer). So, where single quotes were present, those have now been changed to double quotes. The first identifier on a line indicates the speaker. Text has been re-formatted for continuous flow (i.e., I do not follow line breaks on columns). ↩
I initialized the transcript using text from Doctrines and dogmas of Brighamism exposed but corrected it against the photocopy from the Saints’ Herald (they deviate in a few minor ways, but I followed the photocopy Saints’ Herald when they differed). ↩