“My Joseph”: Meg Stout and Polygamy, Part 1

I meant to write this all out in one post, but it is long, and it may take a few posts to cover things adequately.

As many of my readers already know, a woman named Meg Stout has created a web site containing what she believes is clear and conclusive evidence that Joseph Smith did not engage in sexual polygamy. Her latest post is a condensed version of her lengthy series (I count 30 posts) on “A Faithful Joseph”:

Faithful Joseph: A Digest

After reading the digest, I dug in and started reading the articles themselves, and what follows is my response. First of all, let me say I feel more than a little guilty that her comments on my blog have become a sort of Internet meme, which I didn’t intend.

The beginning is not auspicious, as she seems to believe that those of us who accept the evidence of sexuality in Smith’s marriages believe that he was “just a pervert.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can think of any number of reasons he would have “restored” the practice of polygamy that do not involve lust or perversion. It apparently doesn’t occur to her that the “Joseph as sex fiend” theory is a straw man. Lack of imagination on her part is not a problem for me.

Next, she tells us that learning about Joseph Smith’s polygamy “shattered the simple testimony of [her] childhood,” and she spent “decades” trying to come up with an “explanation.” Needless to say, what she is doing is trying to find an explanation of Joseph Smith’s behavior that doesn’t conflict with her testimony that he was a prophet. So, let us not mistake what she is doing for historical research; this is apologetics, plain and simple. She already has her conclusion (Joseph Smith was a righteous prophet), so she will interpret the evidence to support that conclusion. A historian, on the other hand, follows the evidence to reach a conclusion. Thus, her approach is, to steal a phrase from her, “fundamentally flawed from an evidentiary and logical standpoint.”

One piece of evidence she tackles immediately is the lack of offspring from Joseph Smith and his plural wives:

I realized that there is something odd about the reproductive history of the women Joseph covenanted with prior to his death. In addition, modern DNA analysis cannot prove any children born to Joseph’s plural wives were engendered by him, with only one case even being inconclusive.”

Basically, then, she believes the lack of proof that Smith fathered children is evidence there was no sexuality in the marriages. This is, of course, the argumentum ex silentio, or argument from silence, a logical fallacy that states that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Setting aside the poor logic of this argument, we have testimony from multiple women who said they had sexual relations with Joseph Smith, and their testimony is corroborated by others. Also, we have testimony from multiple women who said that they believed Smith may have fathered their children or that they knew of the existence of such children. Such testimony makes no sense if there had been no sexuality in the relationships. In short, either everyone involved was lying, or at least some of the relationships were sexual.

In the next section, Ms. Stout outlines her belief that God demanded polygamy so that all might have an opportunity to be saved in the celestial kingdom. “If strict monogamy were to continue when the New and Everlasting Covenant was implemented, then men could only be sealed to one of their earthly wives, and children of women who were not sealed would remain eternal orphans.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t make much logical sense. Polygyny might ensure that children are sealed to someone else, but what happens to faithful men whose children are not sealed to them because their wives are sealed to someone else? They are left as eternally childless. In the early days of the LDS church, this problem was overcome by allowing people to be sealed as children to a non-relative “parent.” Such was the case with John D. Lee, for example, who was sealed to Brigham Young in just that way. So, there is no theological need for plural marriage to seal all children, and Ms. Stout’s logic doesn’t hold up.

Following that, Ms. Stout discusses “precursors” to Mormon polygamy. I’m not entirely sure what her purpose is in providing a medical, social, and religious context for the emergence of Smith’s polygamy, so I’ll have to withhold judgment for the time being. I did have to chuckle at this gem: “But Cochran’s free love spiritual wifery turned women into sluts while Smith’s concept of marriage turned women into queens (albeit potentially sharing their ‘king’).” This is just subjective judgment, nothing more. One might just as easily say that Cochran’s free love put women into an egalitarian position with respect to men, whereas Smith’s practices put women into a permanently inferior position, akin to a man’s property.

Next she moves on to “The 1831 Revelation Regarding Plural Marriage.” I’m puzzled here because she spins what she calls a “a bit of a midrash,” suggesting that it was Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible that prompted his inquiry about plural marriage. However, she quotes from the 1843 revelation that is now canonized as section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. This is problematic because the claimed 1831 revelation is one in which the Lord supposedly tells missionaries sent to preach to Native Americans to “take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites.” In short, there is no evidence, other than Ms. Stout’s “imagined” narrative, to suggest that section 132 was received in 1831. This is argument by assertion, another obvious logical fallacy. Saying something without evidence does not make it true.

Her next post, “The Decade of Delay,” is fascinating. Someone who didn’t know the actual history might be quite confused and misled, were they to accept Ms. Stout’s creative timeline. In beginning this section, we see Ms. Stout once again explaining her reasons for writing what she does: Joseph’s behavior fills her with “dread” and makes her wish the issues would “all go away.” I suspect it’s that unwillingness to face unpleasant facts that drives this section of her work.

She insists that, between 1831 and 1841, Joseph Smith “delayed” implementing plural marriage owing to a “series of disasters” that befell him and his family. The first such disaster is the tarring and feathering of Smith and Sidney Rigdon in February 1832, which some historians say was motivated by revenge for Joseph’s having made a sexual advance on Marinda Johnson, who would later become one of Joseph’s wives. The assault broke Joseph’s tooth, left Rigdon mentally damaged, and resulted in the death of Joseph and Emma Smith’s first child from exposure. Needless to say, such a traumatic event might make Joseph a little shy about looking for another spouse.

Next, we are told about one Hannah Dubois Smith, whom later writers associate with Joseph Smith. Hannah was married during this time to a John F. Smith, though according to Ms. Stout, no such individual with that name can be found. Rumor had it, apparently, that the name was a pseudonym for Joseph Smith. Ms. Stout, however, claims that, if there had been a Smith involved, it would have been Joseph’s younger brother William. All the evidence she provides consists of vague generalizations, as well as the assertion that William’s giving of a patriarchal blessing to Hannah’s children was unusual (it wasn’t, as he had been appointed church patriarch). The only specific claims is that, “when William is sent to Tennessee in disgrace, circa 1842, Philo Dibble and Hannah accompany him.” I’d like to see some documentation for that, as the evidence shows that William was editor of the LDS newspaper, The Nauvoo Wasp, until December of 1842, at which time he resigned to serve in the Illinois General Assembly. So, unless she has some documentation, I’m taking that one with a grain of salt.

Then Ms. Stout discusses Jared Carter, a member of Zion’s Camp, whose brother died, leaving a wife and seven children. Carter apparently believed he would be justified in taking her has a plural wife but was “chastised” by the church.

Finally we come to the case of Fanny Alger. Most readers will be familiar with the basics of the story: Miss Alger had been hired as a housekeeper in the Smith household, and sometime later, Emma discovered a relationship between Joseph and Fanny, and Fanny was compelled to leave the Smith home. Ms. Stout accepts evidence from Todd Compton that the relationship was a proper marriage, with Joseph having engaged in an “exchange of women,” promising Levi Hancock a wife if he helped acquire Fanny as Joseph’s wife. Then, without any justification whatsoever, Stout declares, “I propose Emma knew of and agreed to the marriage with the stipulation that it remain platonic until some future ‘safe’ time.” Let me just be clear:

  • There is no evidence that Emma knew of or agreed to the marriage.
  • There is also no evidence that the marriage was intended to be platonic for any length of time.

To insist otherwise is wishful thinking and argument by assertion, and it certainly is not rigorous historical research.

But Ms. Stout takes these unsupported assertions and runs with them. Thus, when multiple sources say that Emma discovered Fanny and Joseph together in some kind of compromising position, Stout says with an apparently straight face:

At some point around 1836 Emma found Joseph and Fanny together in the barn, but this needn’t have been bouncy illicit sex or even sex at all. Two people in love, even if not sexually intimate, can project an impression of togetherness that would be misunderstood by others unaware of the possibility of plural marriage. I submit Emma had a post-traumatic stress disorder reaction – not that she didn’t know of the marriage, but what she was seeing could so easily be misunderstood and result in a repeat of the mobbing in Hiram, Ohio.

In essence, then, Stout would have us believe that all of Joseph’s contemporaries, including Emma, jumped to the conclusion that this was, in Oliver Cowdery’s words, a “dirty, filthy, nasty scrape affair.” I could go through all of the relevant evidence and testimony, but then Ms. Stout is undoubtedly familiar with it but chooses to ignore it. She sums up this section as follows:

I like to think of this imprisoned Joseph as a man who had as yet not consummated a plural marriage–a man who was, rather, traumatized by the thought of entering into plural marriage and the failed and unconsummated proposal to Marinda and marriage with Fanny. My Joseph is a man whose dearest hope was to return to the side of his beloved Emma and forever relinquish the horrific requirement of plural marriage.

This is all we need to know: this is “her” Joseph, the man she wants him to be, no matter the evidence.

Part 2

25 Responses to “My Joseph”: Meg Stout and Polygamy, Part 1

  1. Jeff Seaman says:

    Do you think she’s aware of your blogging about her blog?

  2. Meg Stout says:

    Hi John,

    You have followed the common tactic of summarizing your data as though it is incontrovertible and belittling my position as though it is transparently implausible.

    Who are these women who claimed to have sexual intercourse with Joseph? There are any number of women who hinted that the had sex with Joseph, but for the most part the kept their cards close to the vest. Melissa Lott, Fanny Alger, and others refused to answer when asked by friends and family later in life.

    There are any number of people claiming to have shared a room or even a bed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean sexual intercourse was occurring.

    I don’t have a problem were Joseph having sex with his plural wives, but the standard of proof has not been met, except potentially in the case of Emily Partridge with her “Yes, sir.” under oath to the question regarding whether she’d had carnal intercourse with Joseph. But there are three possibilities:

    1) She was lying, as a “No” would completely discredit all she had said to hint that sex had occurred, and with that discrediting, all the other women’s testimonies would become suspect, and the temple lot stood to be lost.

    2) She was technically telling the truth, in the sense of meat commerce, as the meme has mocked. She certainly was well-enough acquainted with the English language to justify such a “truth” that would be widely misinterpreted and save the temple lot.

    3) She had engaged in sexual intercourse with Joseph and merely failed to get pregnant though living in the same house with him for upwards of a year after the earliest instance when sexual intercourse might have been deemed appropriate and possible (say the day after the March 1843 ceremony, since we know she didn’t have sex with him the night of the March ceremony).

    As for women claiming Joseph engendered their child, I can only think of the one instance, Sylvia Sessions’ confidence to her daughter Josephine. But Sylvia did not say “I had sex with Joseph nine months before you were born and I was not having sex with the man you have regarded to be your biological father.” Sylvia’s deathbed testimony is entirely consistent with the possibility that she was talking about the covenant relationship. Josephine had not initially married in the temple, when such relationships were revealed. Her other siblings either never married, died in childhood, or did marry initially in the temple. So lack of a similar confidence for the other children of Sylvia Sessions in no “proof” regarding the nature of the confidence to Josephine.

    As for Hannah Dubois, it is the descendants of Hannah Dubois who claim they are descended from Joseph Smith. But I am unaware of anything other than hope and speculation fueling that particular line of assertion.

    Emma didn’t welcome polygamy, but the widely accepted conclusion that she was deceived and ignorant of Joseph’s activities is similarly not a conclusion that is adequately supported by data. Indeed, Emma’s involvement in 1842 with Relief Society makes it highly likely that she was intimately aware of the difference between illicit intercourse/spiritual wifery and the New and Everlasting Covenant with the associated concept of plural marriage. The times we do know of her objections are more than adequately explained by her concern about economic security for herself and her children as well as her conviction that Joseph’s life would be forfeit were his practice of polygamy to become known to his enemies.

    I look forward to your assessment of what I write about Bennett, his Strikers, and the women who I allege were seduced.

    • runtu says:

      Here’s the problem: your entire thesis of nonsexual marriages rests only on your assertion, nothing else. I haven’t made any incontrovertible statements. Feel free to disagree with my interpretation of the evidence, but you provide no evidence whatsoever for your main assertions. I am not belittling you at all, just noting how groundless your assertions are.

    • Doug Nelson says:

      Thank goodness the life of Jesus doesn’t take these mental gymnastics to overcome major major issues. Joseph was a con man then and he’s still conning you in death.

    • Jeff Seaman says:

      I spent 6 years trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and this sounds a lot like my reasoning at one time. I can’t fault you for the need to defend your root paradigm, because I did it too. It wasn’t until I started studying cult leaders that the pieces really started fitting. It’s easy to see the fault in someone else’s religion and thinking, but so very hard to see the fault in your own. I remember watching one documentary interviewing both a Jim Jones survivor and a David Koresh survivor before I had actually left faith in Joseph and thought to myself, these very faithful and still converted leftovers are just like me. They sound like me, they emote like me. I swear I saw myself in them enough it shook me. At that point I knew what I was, but still didn’t accept it for another few days until I was examining more details about cults and cult leaders. Learning about the Strong City cult Michael Trevassar was the last nail in my coffin. I knew what Joseph Smith was right at that moment.

      • runtu says:

        I remember hearing an interview a few years back with a follower of Jim Jones. She said something to the effect of, “People are always focusing on the bad things, such as the mass suicide. No one wants to talk about the good things he did for his people.”

    • Andrew says:


      You are engaging in an “argument from silence.”


      Can you name a single (respected) historian who agrees with your theories? Have you ever tried submitting your work to peer review, or do you intend to?

    • Andrew says:

      Meg, regarding your #3 point.

      You say, “She had engaged in sexual intercourse with Joseph and merely failed to get pregnant though living in the same house with him for upwards of a year.” Shall we count all the assumptions being made here? You’re implying that they were having regular married-person relations for a year. But that’s not at all what it would have been like. Living in the same house yes, but a secret marriage Emma didn’t know about. Joseph wasn’t going into Emily’s room or asking Emma if it’s ok if they use the master bedroom tonight. Have you ever had a relative stay in your home? How easy would it be to have an affair with say an in-law without getting caught? Not very.

      For the lack of children, or more correctly the lack of proof of children, to be a persuasive argument, one would have to prove that children should be expected in the first place. Which hasn’t been done.

      For instance, women have a relatively narrow window during which they can conceive. And even with consistent and regular tries, most women take months to get pregnant, and that’s by modern health standards. The environment during early polygamy was such that Joseph didn’t likely have many opportunities to engage in intercourse with his wives. With all the secrecy and such, keeping things hidden from Emma, liaisons would have been very infrequent.

      Moreover, in general, polygamous wives were not in the best of spirits, sacred loneliness and all that. It’s a well established fact for instance that polygamous unions resulted in fewer children per woman than monogamous unions. That being the case, even when opportunities existed, it’s a fair bet the women might not have been “in the mood.”

      All this makes for a situation where frankly I wouldn’t expect many children to be conceived, if any at all. And then of course we can also toss in miscarriages and infant mortality which would eliminate testable evidence of a child. A fun exercise might be to try and develop a probabilistic model to predict how many children we would expect Joseph to produce if unions had been sexual. Something like this would be necessary to persuasively argue that children should be expected in the first place.

  3. Jenny says:

    As my old dead mother use to say, “Spit in one hand and wish in the other. See which one fills up first.”

  4. Equality says:

    Meg, why would “Melissa Lott, Fanny Alger, and others” refuse to answer when they were asked later in life if they had had sexual relations with Joseph Smith? I can understand why someone would refuse if the the answer to the question was “Yes.” If the answer was “No,” though, I can’t see why they wouldn’t just say that. Thoughts?

    • Meg Stout says:

      If you are asked to give the impression of sexuality (because that’s what was supposed to happen, per the revelation), but sex didn’t happen, and the entire culture you are in is dedicated to living fully sexual plural marriage, then you would simply not answer.

      • runtu says:

        But what is the reason for believing there was no sexuality involved? None of the evidence points in that direction, so you’re left simply denying the evidence that does suggest sexuality. There needs to be a good reason to deny the evidence, and I can’t find any, other than your obvious distaste for people who have sex behind their spouse’s back.

      • Meg Stout says:

        I’ll reply to myself, runtu, since the nesting doesn’t give me an option to reply to you.

        Of the single women who became Joseph’s plural wives, only one might have become pregnant based on any rumor, Eliza Snow. And her journal strongly suggests that Joseph wasn’t the father, or at least that someone else had been sleeping with her in 1842.

        Hales tries to make the case that Olive Frost bore a child to Joseph, but she died in October 1845, leaving more than enough time for the rumored child she bore and died with to have been engendered by Brigham Young.

        Lucy Walker bore a child who died in Winters Quarters. The death record states the child was born January 1845, which would make the child Joseph’s, but then says the child was not quite two years old, which means the birth date could not have been 1845, but was instead 1846. I assert it is far more likely they messed up the math on the year and got the age right.

        None of the other otherwise-single women have children.

        Other women who had pretend husbands (Sarah Whitney, Elvira Annie Cowles) do not become pregnant during Joseph’s lifetime.

        Only Joseph’s plural wives who had legal husbands bear children, and none of them can be proven to have been engendered by Joseph. In fact, all those who can be tested other than Josephine Lyon are definitively the biological children of their legal fathers. None of Josephine’s potentially full-blood siblings survived other children survived, and her descendants share common ancestry with Lucy Mack and Joseph Smith Sr., accounting for the faint genetic similarity and thwarting current attempts to arrive at a definitive answer.

        Most of the statements regarding sexuality were assembled when the Mountain Saints (aka Brighamites) were attempting to prove that the RLDS stance (and the assertion of Emma’s sons) regarding Joseph’s lack of involvement in plural marriage was wrong. Therefore all the faithful who testified and spoke had strong motive to portray Joseph as a practicing polygamist.

        There are others, who one would not characterize as faithful, who also claimed Joseph was sexually intimate with various women. These were typically attempting to drag Joseph’s name through the mud. Not that their accounts might not be true, but if I’m asked to weigh William Law’s account of events against Emma Smith, I think I might be less impressed with William Law.

        You mention Backenstos’ testimony is vague, yet he is an impartial witness who was not Mormon, who we actually know might have had reason to protect Bennett rather than expose him. In addition, his testimony is contemporary, where the interview with Joseph Bates Noble is in the 1890s, many decades after the fact (and he testified to help save the temple lot).

        Of course I can’t “prove” there was no sex between Joseph and his plural wives. But my constant point is that the evidence currently used to claim Joseph was sexually involved with his plural wives is insufficient.

  5. sideon says:

    I hate it when my prophet turns out to be a pioneering man-slut.

  6. God’s supposed “one true church”, the one he want every soul to join, should not need so many apologists falling over themselves to try, exhaustively, to explain away the unexplainable and inexcusable. I get that even church prophets are human and fallible, but what Joseph did goes beyond the beyonds.

    Meg stating that the “meat intercourse” thing is “plausible” (no matter the reason for stating this ludicrous excuse) is simply embarrassing.

    No God who loves his children and wants them to be a part of his “one true” would ask them to have to jump through never ending mental hoops, contort their brains, and then just turn them off when all that hoop jumping and contorting doesn’t work.

    Occum’s Razor, friends. What’s really the most logical and plausible?

    • Meg Stout says:

      Hi Jana,

      Your introduction to me was the meat commerce thing. I agree that Emily simply lying (if she hadn’t had sex with Joseph) is more likely. But since I’ve visited Intercourse, PA, I don’t see why the meat commerce thing is so embarrassing, compared to the other things people were doing in the 1880s and 1890s to defy the US Government. My great grandpa was known for dressing up as a woman to evade arrest.

      Occam’s Razor does not require eliminating evidence, which is what many proponing the current popular view of Joseph’s activities have done.

      • Mance_Lotter says:

        If you “don’t see why the meat commerce thing is so embarrassing,” you may want to run your thoughts by an objective party from here on out until you figure it out. Whether you like it or not, those types of comments kill one’s credibility. Sure, probably not within your own circle, but outside of that you’re the “meat commerce” lady as you have seen already. If you doubt that assertion but have incredible courage, then I challenge you to throw your “carnal intercourse could mean meat commerce” idea to several random university professors and a few reporters (NY Times, perhaps). I’ll apologize personally if you don’t have to get a new email address because you are being bombarded with mocking emails.

        But let me use your premise here, slightly switching subjects. Mr. Smith once wrote: “I saw two Personages…One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

        Turns out,

        “Personage” can mean “a dramatic, fictional character.” (Merriam-Webster). “See” can mean “to imagine as a possibility” (Ibid), and “son” can mean “a male adopted child.” (Ibid)

        So, it’s very possible, that Joseph wanted to create an amazing story about the foundation of his Church, but he didn’t want to lie; so when he said, “I saw two Personages,” he really meant, “I imagined as a possibility two dramatic, fictional characters” and when one of the fictional characters introduces his buddy, it was just his adopted child. And how do I give this theory credence? Ever been to Personage Road in India? It’s lovely!

  7. grindael says:

    Melissa Lott Willes Temple Lot Testimony,

    227 Q:–Did you ever room with Joseph Smith as his wife? A. Yes sir.

    228 Q:– At what place? A:– At Nauvoo

    229 Q:– What place in Nauvoo? A:– The Nauvoo Mansion.

    230 Q. At what place in the Mansion? A. Do you want to know the number of the room, or what?

    231 Q. Well just what part of the house the room was in if you can give it? A. Well I can give it and the number of the room too. It was room number one.

    252 [sic] Q. Room number one? A. Yes sir.

    233 Q:–Who else roomed there? A:–I don’t know of any one.

    234 Q:–Where was Emma Smith at that time? A:–I don’t know I didn’t ask where she was.

    235 Q:–Did you know where she was at that time? A:–No sir I didn’t.

    236 Q:–Did she know where you were at that time? A:–I did not ask her whether she did or not.

    237 Q:–So you roomed with him in the Nauvoo Mansion in room number one? A:–Yes sir.

    238 Q:–That was the house that Joseph Smith lived in was it not? A:–Yes sir.

    239 Q:–And you don’t know whether Emma Smith was in the house or not? A:–No sir.

    240 Q:– And you can’t say whether she knew where you were? A:–No sir. I couldn’t say where she was, and I don’t know that she knew about me, for I did not speak to her.

    241 Q:–Well she was at home? A: Yes sir.

    242 Q:–How do you know? A:–She was there when I see her last.

    243 Q:–What time was that? A:–That I saw her?

    244 Q:–Yes madam? A:–I can’t tell you the time, If I had thought I was to be asked all these questions I might have kept a note of all these things, but as I didn’t know anything about this examination I didn’t.

    245 Q:–How often did you room there with Joseph Smith? A. Well that is something I can’t tell you.

    246 Q:–Well was it more than once? A:–Yes sir, and more than twice.

    247 Q:–Well that is something I would like to know? A:–Well there is something I would like to know. If I am to be asked these questions I would like to know if I am to answer them. I have told you all about this thing that I know, and I can’t see any reason in your worrying me with these questions, and I would like to know if I have to answer them?

    248 Q:–Well if you decline to answer them say so, and that will do? A:–I don’t decline to answer any question that I know anything about.

    249 Q:–Well answer that question then? A:–What is the question?

    250 Q:–I asked how many times you had roomed there in the house with Joseph Smith? I do not expect you to answer positively the exact number of times, but I would like to have you tell us the number of times as nearly as you can remember it? A:–Well I can’t tell you. I think I have acted the part of a lady in answering your questions as well as I have, and I don’t think you are acting the part of a gentleman in asking me these questions.

    251 Q:–Well I will ask you the question over again in this form, –was it more than twice? A:–Yes sir.

    252 Q:–Well How many times? A:–I could not say.

    253 Q:–Did you ever at any other place room with him? A:–In what way.

    254 Q:– Of course I mean as his wife? A:–Yes sir.

    255 Q:– At what places? A:–In my father’s house.

    What does “as his wife” mean? We all know. It means they had sex. That is what “as his wife” means. There is so much evidence that Smith had sex with his wives that it defies credulity for anyone to say that it didn’t happen. But that is the irrational world that some Mormon apologists live in I guess.

    • runtu says:

      This is quite similar to Emily Partridge’s testimony. The same question is asked about having “roomed” with Joseph Smith. She seems not quite to understand the question, so she confirms that she “slept with him” and further clarifies that she slept in the same bed with him. She says she didn’t sleep with him until after they were married, which suggests that she wants it made clear they didn’t have sex until after the wedding. She again confirms that “sleeping in the same bed with Joseph Smith” means having “carnal intercourse. It’s all pretty clear to me. If Meg is correct, then Emily was lying about having slept with Joseph in the same bed and is being deceptive in saying they had carnal intercourse.

      I think it is worth noting that Emily did have motivation to confirm sexuality (that was the whole purpose of her being called as a witness), just as the other wives did. Interestingly, some of the wives simply refused to answer, saying the questions were insulting. But Melissa Lott Willes and Emily Partridge are pretty clear. I don’t think a tortured reading of either possible, so they either told the truth or lied when they said they had a sexual relationship with Smith.

      Q. Had you roomed with him prior to . . . the night after you were married the last time?

      A. No sir, not roomed with him.

      Q. Well had you slept with him?

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. [Had you] slept with him . . . before the fourth of March 1843 [their marriage date]?

      A. No sir. . . .

      Q. Did you ever live with Joseph Smith after you were married to him after that first night that you roomed together?

      A. No sir. Emma knew that we were married to him, but she never allowed us to live with him. . . .

      Q. Do you make the declaration now that you ever roomed with him at any time?

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him in the same bed?

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. How many nights?

      A. One.

      Q. Only one night.

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. Then you only slept with him in the same bed one night?

      A. No sir.

      Q. Did you ever have carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith?

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. How many nights?

      A. I could not tell you.

      Q. Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him but one night?

      A. Yes sir.

      Q. And that was the only time and place that you ever were in bed with him?

      A. No sir.

      Q. Were you in bed with him at any time before . . . you were married?

      A. No sir, not before I was married to him. I never was.

  8. grindael says:

    As for Backenstos, a little research proves that you don’t know what you are talking about Meg,

    There are some problems with Backenstos affidavit from 1842. Why would Bennett confide this to a close friend of Joseph Smith’s, knowing that it could hurt him? This makes little sense. Also, Backenstos who was also a close friend of Joseph Smith, had loaned him a large sum of money. You could not get a more biased person to write up an affidavit. Backenstos had also been accused of lying and shady deals.

    According to Greg Whitman and James Varner, Backenstos was personal friends with Joseph Smith and in the spring of 1842 loaned Smith $1000. (Orner W. Whitman and James L. Varner, Sheriff Jacob. B. Backenstos: Defender of the Saints, Journal of Mormon History, Volume 29, Issue 1, (Spring, 2003) 153.

    He had political aspirations and he could benefit in them by being friendly with the Mormons. His brother was married to Smith’s niece. Writing in 1847, Governor Ford characterized the sheriff as a “smart-looking shrewd, cunning, plausible man of such easy manners that he was likely to have great influence.” He also described him as a deadbeat who ran out on his debts in Sangamon County and used accounting tricks to transfer his goods to his brother William. (ibid., 156)

    On October 15, 1845 Heber C. Kimball recorded that Backenstos told him “he firmly and positively believed {Mormonism] to be the truth, and he intended to embrace it … and he would go with us the whole extent to the expense of his life and all he possessed.” (ibid., 164)

    He was suspended from his army post in 1849 (page 170), and in 1851 was forced out and resigned his commission. (page 172) He petitioned some influential men for political appointments in Oregon, but found no support, (page 172) not even for his reinstatement in the Army (ibid., 173).

    He engaged in land speculation and his reputation was viewed as being “exceeding odious”. (ibid., 175) In 1857 he was involved in an altercation over a land deal and attempted to murder an “unarmed neighbor” and when his pistol misfired multiple times the neighbor came after him with an axe. (ibid.) In September of 1857 he was indicted by a grand jury for “assault with attempt to kill.” (ibid.) Before his case could come to trial Backenstos committed suicide by throwing himself in the Willamette River near its powerful waterfalls, something he had mentioned to his wife as a possibility to escape a prison sentence. (ibid., 176)

    Jacob Backenstos was hardly “impartial”. And, It was not until 1842 in The Wasp that George Miller claimed that he received a letter about Bennett having a wife and children in April of 1841. That is the same month that Bennet was raised to Assistant President of the Church. Again, if there was such a letter, and Smith knew about Bennett’s adultery, why did they so vigorously defend him and why did Smith claim to have a “revelation” from God who said he saw the works of Bennett and would “accept them if he continued those works? Did this include Bennett’s adultery? Why did Joseph plead for and forgive Bennett on May 26, 1842? The entry reads,

    Dr John C. Bennet[t] confessed the charges preferred again[s]t him concerning. females in Nauvoo. & was forgiven Joseph plead in his behalf.—

    Goddard was a Danite. The Goddards claimed that the house was built by Robert Foster, while Mary Smith claimed that the house belonged to John C. Bennett. Ebeneezer Robinson, who took the Backenstos affidavit, claimed that it was also Bennett’s house as did John D. Lee. So which was it? Someone was mistaken. And it is simply ludicrous that Bennett could set up Sarah Pratt with a house, occupy it with her for many months and that no other neighbors besides the Goddards would notice or say something and that Bennett would not be tried for adultery along with Sarah Pratt. Why would the Goddards keep it a secret from their friend Orson Pratt and not report it to the church?

    • runtu says:

      Thanks for the information. I had remembered that Backenstos wasn’t as “impartial” as represented. And as I noted before, the Goddard affidavits are demonstrably false, as Bennett was not in Nauvoo during the time they claim he spent every night but one of a month in bed with Mrs. Pratt. Besidees, the accusations only materialize after she went public with Smith’s proposition. None of it makes much sense if Bennett had indeed been sleeping with Mrs. Pratt.

  9. grindael says:

    There is credible evidence that Bennett was not in Springfield during that time.

  10. grindael says:

    Even without that prop, the whole argument is simply silly and so transparently made up that one wonders why anyone would believe it.

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