Polygamy Sources: Emily Dow Partridge Young

Major thanks again to Grindael for providing a link to the Temple Lot transcripts.

I have been reading Emily Dow Partridge Young’s testimony in the Temple Lot case. A little background: Emily was born in 1824 in Painesville, Ohio, where her father, Edward, was a hat maker. Edward was sent by a committee of townspeople to New York to investigate the Mormon religion; he was baptized there in December 1830. When he returned to Ohio, he discovered that his wife had also converted in his absence. He later became the first presiding bishop of the LDS church and was a leader in the Mormon settlements in Missouri. After the Latter-day Saints were forced to relocate to Illinois, Edward died in 1840, victim of one of the epidemics that spread through the settlers because of the swampy conditions at Commerce (later Nauvoo). After Edward’s death, Emily (16) and her sister Eliza (19) moved into Joseph Smith’s home, where they would eventually become his plural wives. Emily was married to Joseph twice. On March 4, 1843, Emily was married to him without Emma Smith’s knowledge or consent. Two months later, Emma consented to Joseph taking additional wives, so long as she could choose them. She chose Emily and Eliza, not knowing that they were already married to her husband, so they performed a second ceremony for Emma’s benefit. After Joseph Smith’s murder, Emily married Brigham Young and bore seven of his children. At the time of her testimony, Emily was a widow in her late sixties.

What’s fascinating to me about the transcript is that the RLDS attorney keeps trying to get her (and Melissa Lott Willes) to admit that, because the public position of the church was against polygamy at the time she says she was married, she is admitting to violating church laws. Both of them said the same thing, however: Joseph told them he’d had a revelation, and that was good enough for them. I thought I’d post some interesting bits of Emily’s testimony.

As Meg Stout noted, Joseph took several months between the time he first approached Emily and when he eventually told her he was asking for her consent to marry him as a plural wife. Emily says several times that she had an inkling of what he was going to ask her but was too frightened to talk to him about it until she had prayerfully reassured herself that she could handle whatever he asked. So, rather than rehash all that, I’ll just start with the moment Joseph told her about plural marriage.

170 Q-Where were you when you had that conversation [when Joseph finally told her he wanted her as his wife]? A:-I was at the house of Heber C. Kimball.

177 Q-Who else was present besides Joseph C.[sic] Smith? A-Heber C. Kimball was present.
178 Q-Was there any body else present? A-I don’t know whether his wife was present or not at the time,-Well I will say that I don’t know who was present when we were talking there together,-I don’t think though that at that time there was any body present, for I think we were alone.
179 Q-You were alone together? A-Yes sir.
180 Q-You and Joseph Smith? A-Yes sir.
181 Q-And you are pretty certain that was March 1843? A-Yes sir.
182 Q-Did he offer to take your hand then? A-No sir.
183 Q-Or put his arm around you? A-No sir.
184 Q-He never did any such a thing as that? A-No sir.
185 Q-At any time or place? A-No sir,-not before we were married.
186 Q-Now did he tell you there about the principle of sealing? A-Yes sir.
187 Q-He did? A-Yes sir.
188 Q-He told you all about the doctrine or principle of sealing? A-Yes sir.
189 Q-Was it sealing for eternity? A-Yes sir,-time and eternity.

222 Q-Now at the time you had this last conversation you had seen the revelation then? A-No sir.
223 Q-You had not at the time you were married? A-No sir.
224 Q-Did you not say awhile ago that you had seen it then? A-No sir.
225 Q-How did you come to marry him without seeing it? A-Well he told me it was all right and I just took his word for it.
226 Q-Well did you go and get married without ever knowing it was the law of the church? A-I got married on his own teachings,-he was the prophet of the church and he told me it was all right and I took his word for it.
227 Q-You took his word for it and got married to him in that way on his own teachings? A-Yes sir, and on my own convictions, for I believed it was all right or he would not have taught me and told me what he did.
228 Q-Now did he teach you that a man can have more women than one? A-Yes sir.
229 Q-As wives? A-Yes sir.
230 Q-Well what words did he use in making this statement to you? A-I told you that I did not remember.
231 Q-Well did he say that they should be sealed to him for time and eternity, or was it for time? A-For time and eternity.
232 Q-For time and eternity both? A-Yes sir.
233 Q-That is what he told you? A-Yes sir.
234 Q-Did you ever hear the doctrine of plural marriage taught publicly before you were married to him? A-No sir.

310 Q-Who roomed with Joseph Smith that night, the night [of] the 11th of May 1843 when you say you and your sister were married to Joseph Smith? A-Well I don’t want to answer that question.
311 Q-Well answer it if you can, if you know? A-Well it was myself.

313 Q-You roomed with Joseph Smith that night? A-Yes sir.
314 Q-Where was Emma? A-She was in her room I suppose. I don’t know where she was but that is where I supposed she was.
316 Q-Was she there at the house? A-Yes sir. Well I think she was, but I don’t know it,-I have no reason to think she was any where else than there at the house.
318 Q-Well do you know whether she was or not? A-Well I don’t know positively whether she was or not, but I have every reason to believe she was there.
319 Are you willing to swear that she was in the city of Nauvoo at all? A-Yes sir, she was in the city of Nauvoo.

393 Q-How many children did you have by Joseph Smith? A-None at all. I have told you two or three times I had none.

396 Q-And while married to Brigham Young by the law of proxy you had children? A-Yes sir.

399 Q-My question is this,-that when you were married by the law of proxy you had children? A-Yes sir.
400 Q-And when you were married under the law of the church you did not raise children? A-I did not have any, but I don’t know that that had anything to do with it, for I might have had children married that way as well as under any other marriage relation.

480 Q-Had you roomed with him prior to that thime [sic] that you say you roomed with him at his house on the night after you were married the last time? A-No sir,-not roomed with him.
481 Q-Well had you slept with him? A-Yes sir.
482 Q-Slept with him prior to the time that you were married to him? A-What is that?
483 Q-I mean prior to the time that you were married to him, as you say, on the 11th of May? A-Yes sir I had prior to that.
484 Q-Had you before the fourth of March 1843? A-No sir.
485 Q-Now at the time that you were married as you say on the 11th of May 1843 what was the ceremony? A-Well I say perhaps it was not the 11th of May,-
486 Q-You do not swear positively to the date of that marriage? A-No sir, but I say that I do to the fact that we were married.
487 Q-Well what was the ceremony on that occasion? A-Well i can’t tell you, I can’t repeat it.
488 Q-Did Emma take your hand and place it in Joseph Smith’s hand? A-I think she did.

669 Q-And still you want to go on record as saying that after this statement made by so many prominent women in the work of the church there at Nauvoo, and members of the church, whose husbands also in a great many instances occupied prominent offices and important offices in connection with the government of the church,-that you do not know anything about the practice being denounced of polygamy? A-I don’t say that,-I do not say that it was not denounced I say that I don’t remember anything about it, but it probably was. I have no doubt but that it was published just as it is there and at that time too.
[670 appears to have been skipped.]
671 Q-And still do you say not withstanding this public, and unqualified denounciation [sic] of poly gamy [sic], that at this very time you and Joseph Smith were not only secretly talking about polygamy but were practicing it? A-Yes sir.
672 Q-You were? A-Yes sir. I don’t know that it was right at that time, but it was shortly after that.
673 Q-You said awhile ago that you talked it over in 1842. A-Yes sir.
674 Q-And this was in ’42? A-Well I have sa[i]d what he said to me, but he did not say anything to me about polygamy at that time, you know. That was before the time that he said anything about polygamy.

747 Q-Did you ever live with Joseph Smith after you were married to him after the 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.
748 Q-Now you make that statement in the face of the declaration that Emma Smith made in 1875 in which she said she never gave her consent for any body to marry Joseph? A-Yes sir I do.
749 Q-Now you make that declaration here at this time in the presence of a declaration signed by the present president of your church that at the very time you say you were having conversations with Joseph Smith about this matter, that there was no such a practice taught or practiced in the church? A-I make the statement here that I was married to Joseph Smith there at Nauvoo.
750 Q-And you also make the declaration that you roomed with him on the night of the 11th of May 1843? A-No sir I said it was in my mind that that was the day that I was married to him the second time, but when you read his diary I see that I was mistaken and I don’t say that was the date now, although it always run in my mind that that was the time.
751 Q-Well do you make the declaration that you ever roomed with him at any time? A-Yes sir.
752 Q-Do you make the declaration that you ever slept with him in the same bed? A-Yes sir.
753 Q-How many nights? A-One.
754 Q-Only one night? A-Yes sir.
755 Q-Then you only slept with him in the same bed one night? A-Yes sir.
756 Q-Did you ever have carnal intercourse with Joseph Smith? A-Yes sir.
757 Q-How many nights? A-I could not tell you.
758 Q-Do you make the declaration that you never slept with him but one night? A-Yes sir.
759 Q-And that was the only time and place that you ever were in bed with him? A-No sir.
760 Q-Were you in bed with him at any time before that time? A-Before what time?
761 Q-Before you were married? A-No sir, not before I was married to him I never was.
762 Q-Do you mean that you were in bed with him after the 4th of March 1843? A-Yes sir, but that was after I was first married to him.
763 Q-And that was before this revelation on plural marriage was given wasn’t it? A-I supposed it was.

787 Q-Now Mrs. Young, don’t you know that you were just simpl[y] sealed to him for eternity? Don’t you know that that was all that was done Mrs. Young,-that you were simply sealed to him for eternity? A-I know that I was sealed to him for time and eternity.

820 Q-Well there was a marriage ceremony performed was there not at the time that you were married to Joseph Smith? A-There was.
821 Q-You agreed to certain things did you not? A-Yes sir.
822 Q-And he also agreed to certain things didn’t he? A-Yes sir.
823 Q-What did he agree to? A-Well we agreed to be each others companions,-husband and wife.
824 Q-Keeping your selves for each other, and wholly from all others? A-Well I did.
825 Q-You say you agreed to that? A-Yes sir.
826 Q-That is what you agreed to on your part? A-Yes sir.
827 Q-Well didn’t he agree to the same thing? A-No sir I think not, for he could have other wives.


6 Responses to Polygamy Sources: Emily Dow Partridge Young

  1. CAB says:

    Hell’s bells. This is disturbing stuff.

    • yaanufs says:

      I’m thinking more along the lines of:

      “You Shook Me All Night Long”
      “Beating Around the Bush”
      “Caught with Your Pants Down”
      “Let Me Put My Love Into You”
      “Mistress for Christmas”

      It appears AC/DC wrote a whole lot of songs that resemble JS and his little shenanigans. LOL

  2. yaanufs says:

    It doesn’t paint Joseph Smith in a very flattering light. <—— understatement.

    • runtu says:

      What’s interesting is that someone could take the totality of her testimony and ignore everything except “carnal intercourse” and based on that one phrase, deny everything else that was said. Emily says she slept with him, roomed with him, was in bed with him, and had carnal intercourse with him. And yet people say, “Well, no one actually saw them get into bed together.”

      • Julie M. says:

        I wonder if the “meat commerce” lady has read the entire testimony? Have you sent it to her, runtu?

      • runtu says:

        I would imagine she has, but I couldn’t say. It just seems very odd to me that she says it “all boils down to” the single “yes” Emily gave when asked if she had carnal intercourse. When you read the whole thing, she’s either clearly acknowledging a sexual relationship or she is lying. I don’t think she was lying, as her testimony is corroborated by Benjamin Johnson’s statements.

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