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Mormonism LIVE: 098: Gold Gifts, Deeds, & Harsh Measures

In this Episode Bill and RFM will go into a story few members know about in regards to the Prophet Joseph Smith and one of his young plural wives. It involves some re-gifting, a land deal, and Harsh Measures

T-Shirt Contest Voting takes place here –

A.) Lucien Woodworth born April 3rd 1799

  1. becomes a close associate of Joseph Smith around the year 1841 

a.) Appointed aide-de-camp in Nauvoo Legion, May 1841

b.) Member of Nauvoo Masonic Lodge

c.) Admitted to Council of Fifty, 11 Mar. 1844

d.) Traveled to Texas to negotiate with Sam Houston for possible Latter-day Saint settlement, 1844.

e.) Sent by JS to deliver letter explaining Latter-day Saint difficulties to Illinois governor Thomas Ford, 22 June 1844.

  1. Married Phebe Watrous in 1825 and had at least 3 children (seen in 1850 Census) 
    1. The oldest of those children is Flora Ann Woodworth born June 12, 1826 according to one genealogy site and November 14, 1826 according to Brian Hales

B.) The Interactions between The Woodworth family and the Smiths generally

  1. March 31, 1843 ~ Friday On the 31 friday I spent the afternoon at Mr Lucian Woodworth’s in company with Joseph Smith, Hiram Smith, Heber C. Kimball Orson Hyde, a Br Chase with our wives we had a feast of a fat turkey & had a good time (Before her Sealing to JS most likely) –  

C.) Strange Interactions with potential suitor

  1. nineteen-year-old Orange Wight (Son of Lyman Wight) pursued Flora Ann and is interrupted and offered a ride by Joseph Smith 
    1. He wrote, “[Having just returned from a mission] I concluded to lo[o]k about and try to pick up one or more of the young Ladies before they were all Gone, so I commenced keeping company with Flora Woodworth… [We were walking near Joseph’s home when he (JS) rode up in a carriage and invited us to take a ride] 

D.) William Clayton records multiple visits by the Prophet to see young Flora Ann Woodworth

  1. March 31, 1843 ~ Friday On the 31 friday I spent the afternoon at Mr Lucian Woodworth’s in company with Joseph Smith, Hiram Smith, Heber C. Kimball Orson Hyde, a Br Chase with our wives we had a feast of a fat turkey & had a good time (Before her Sealing to JS most likely) 
  2. May 2nd: “Joseph rode out today with Flora W.”   
  3. June 1st: “Evening Joseph rode in the carriage with Flora.”   
  4. August 26th: “Hyrum and I rode up to my house and Joseph met Mrs. Wdth and F[lora] and conversed some time.”   
  5. August 28th: “President Joseph met Ms Wdth at my house.”   
  6. August 29th: “A.M. at the Temple. President Joseph at my house with Miss Wdth.” 

E.) Joseph Smith seems to be in the picture a lot but this is because 16 year old Flora Ann has by the Spring of 1843 become a plural wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith

1.) In the spring of 1843 Joseph Smith was sealed to 16 year old Flora Ann Woodworth

  1. According to Brian Hales “A March 4, 1843, entry in the Prophet’s diary appears to have been written “Woodworth,” which is crossed out and is difficult to discern. The name “Woodworth” appears interlineally above in shorthand, so it is possible they were sealed that day.” 
  2. Those visits by Smith to Flora recorded by Clayton – they have already been sealed/married by then 

2.) That story w/ Orange Wight…  here is the rest of the story

  1. “I was walking along the street with Flora near the Prophet’s residence when he, Joseph, drove, up in his carriage, stopped and spoke to I and Flora and asked us to get in the carriage and ride with him. He opened the door for us and when we were seated opposite to him he told the driver to drive on. We went to the [Nauvoo] temple lot and many other places during the afternoon and then he drove to the Woodworth house and we got out and went in. After we got in the house Sister Woodworth took me in another room and told me that Flora was one of Joseph’s wives. I was aware or believed that Eliza R. Snow and the two Partridge girls were his wives but was not informed about Flora. But now Sister Woodworth gave me all the information necessary, so I knew Joseph believed and practiced polygamy…Now as a matter of corse I at once—after giving her Flora/ a mild lecture left her and looked for a companion in other places, and where I could be more sure. I was now called on a mission to go up the river 5 or 6 hundred miles to make lumber for the Nauvoo house and Temple.” 
    1. Mild Lecture 
    2. Joseph gets him out of town sending him on a mission 500 to 600 miles away….  

F.)  The Gift Giving of a Gold Watch

  1. Emma somehow becomes aware that Flora Woodworth has on her person a Gold watch which she comprehends is the Gold Watch of her Husband and the Prophet Joseph Smith (RFM to give most rational explanation).  We know this because William Clayton records the following 
    1. “President Joseph told me that he had difficulty with E[mma] yesterday. She rode up to Woodworths with him and called while he came to the Temple. When he returned she was demanding the gold watch of F[lora]. He reproved her for her evil treatment.” 
      1. No record exists of the exact date of the marriage or the gift-giving of the watch (According to Hales
      2. The story implies that Joseph didn’t knowwhen dropping off emma at the woodworths that a conflict would ensue over the watch.  The Smith’s and Woodworths hung out a lot it seems so it likely it all seemed normal when he dropped Emma off 
      3. RFM – when did Emma discover Flora had JS watch? 
      4. Joseph seems to only figure out that he has been caught when he returns to pick Emma up and she is in the middle of a confrontation with Flora demanding the watch back
        1. How embarrassing for Emma
  1. Joseph seems to have a history of giving Gold watches to his plural wives 
    1. The Prophet may have given a gold watch to several of his plural wives. Mary Ann Barzee Boice remembered that she was “acquainted with Eliza R. Snow Smith, his [Joseph Smith’s] wife and saw his gold watch which she carries.” Mary Ann Boice in John Boice and Mary Ann (Barzee) Boice “Record,” MS 8883, Microfilm of manuscript, 174. 
    2. link to an image of the gold watch Joseph Smith gave to Eliza R. Snow

G.) According to Clayton the argument that started when Smith showed up on the scene to find Emma in a confrontation with Flora continued on the carriage ride home and once the Smith’s got back to their homeGeorge D. Smith, ed., An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995), 119.

  1. “President Joseph told me that he had difficulty with E[mma] yesterday. She rode up to Woodworths with him and called while he came to the Temple. When he returned she was demanding the gold watch of F[lora]. He reproved her for her evil treatment. On their return home she abused him much and also when he got home. He had to use harsh measures to put a stop to her abuse but finally succeeded.” 
    1. What are Harsh Measures in this context that could stop “the abuse” by Emma? 
      1. This speaks volumes about how Emma might feel in this situation was disregarded.  How she isn’t seen as having a right to her hurt and anger. 
      2. It addresses the quote from last week where Bednar suggests these women pursued Joseph for a sealing when the reality is that He pursued them.   
      3. It also runs counter to Bednar’s imposing these were adoptions and not marriages and certainly not sexual.  (Gold watch, Orange Wight, Emma’s being caught off guard)  We should spend a few minutes sorting this out)
        1. This instance demonstrates the brethren are either naive and ignorant and speak out of turn on such things or they intentionally play on the naivete and ignorance of members or a combination of both. 
      4. Oh and what happened to the watch you ask – Seymour B. Young recalled in 1912 that Emma destroyed the watch: “The name of the Prophet’s plural wives [included] … Flora Woodward [sic] to whom he is said to have given a gold locket or watch which was stamped under foot by Emma.” – Seymour B. Young, Journal, April 2, 1912, CHL, restricted; excerpt copied in D. Michael Quinn Papers—Addition—Uncat WA MS 244 (Accession:19990209–c), Box 1—Card file—Topic: Polygamy, Joseph Smith’s

H.) Coincidence or Women scorned

  1. Flora apparently had a serious life event the very next day after the confrontation. The marriage index of Hancock County records Flora Ann marrying Carlos Gove, a non-member, the very next day after her confrontation with Emma. – Marriage of Flora Woodworth to Carlos Gove, August 23, 1843, in Marriage index of Hancock County, Ill., 1829–1849, Tri-County Genealogical Society, comp. (Augusta, Ilinois: Tri-County Genealogical Society, 1983), 19. 
    1. Helen Mar Kimball recalled a different chain of events: “A young man boarding at her father’s after the death of Joseph not a member of the Church had sought her hand, in time won her heart, and in a reckless moment she was induced to accept his offer and they eloped to Carthage, accompanied by a young lady friend, and were there married by a Justice of the Peace.” Helen Mar Whitney, “Travels Beyond the Mississippi,” Woman’s Exponent (November 1, 1884), 87; italics mine. This marriage is not listed in Lyndon Cook, Nauvoo Deaths and Marriages, 1839–1845 (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1994), undoubtedly because his marriage records are extracted from Church publications and records. 
    2. According to Hales – “The level of friendship between Gove and Flora prior to their legal marriage is unknown, but it is probable that Emma encouraged the nuptial” – and his evidence for that is “Emily Partridge recalled that Emma: “once proposed to a young man to ask Eliza [Partridge, Emily’s sister] to take a ride with him.” Emily Dow Partridge Young, “Incidents in the early life of Emily Dow partridge,” MS d 2845, fd 1, typescript in possession of the author.”

I.) And as I was digging into this story…… I found a couple more things

  1. Land Deed between Lucien Woodworth and Joseph Smith 
    1. Mention the transfer of money into the hand of Joseph Smith of $250 
      1. Note that I am not saying there is anything odd about this Land deed 
    2. But It is odd when juxtaposed against this Land Deed directly to Flora Ann Woodworth
      1. The Land Deed itself between Joseph and Flora
      2. Notice the date of May 13th 1843 is just two months after the “march 4th” possible sealing date between Flora and Joseph
      3. Notice it appears to be part of the same lot
      4. Notice the amount of $1000
        1. Which 16 year old girl has $1000
        2. Did actual money change hands or was Flora given land valued at $1000 as a inheritance for her marriage?
        3. My hunch is nothing was paid but the wording is a formality for a gift.
  2. Other Land Deals
    1. Land Deed to Sarah Ann Whitney –
      But then, of course, there was Sarah herself. Only seventeen years old at the time, and by all accounts well liked by her peers, this was an event that would change the course for her whole life. Even while she was initiated into the Mormon church’s inner circle, and linked forever to the faith’s prophet, she must have known that she risked alienation from everyday life. Could she survive as the secret wife of an already much-married man? There had to be compensation. Six weeks after the secret sealing, and two weeks after Smith’s request for a clandestine meeting, Smith deeded to Sarah a lot of land only one block from his own. It was rare for a woman to own land in Nauvoo, especially a woman as young as Sarah; indeed, it was so rare that whoever filled out the deed had to strike out “his” and write in “hers” to match the inheritor’s gender. 
      1. FOOTNOTE 1 – While the land deed states that the property cost one thousand dollars, a figure slightly higher than most plots sold that year, it is very unlikely that Sarah herself paid that amount. It is possible that Sarah’s parents provided the money, or that Smith merely covered it himself but desired not to leave a paper” trail. 
      2. Joseph Kingsbury (sham) marriage to Sarah Ann Whitney
  3. Emma Smith Land Deed – 
    1. $10,000 
  4. Patty Bartlett Sessions – 
  5. Mary Elizabeth Rollings Lightner – 
  6. Helen Mar Kimball – 
  7. Sylvia Sessions Lyon – 
  8. Sarah Scott Mulholland – 
    1. Four years later [1843], Sarah is thought to have married Joseph Smith in a union concealed by her October 25, 1843, civil marriage to Alexander Mullinder –a ceremony performed by Apostle John Taylor.  On February 3, 1846, Sarah was sealed to Mulholland, Heber C. Kimball acting as proxy for her deceased first husband.  There are two reasons for concluding that Sarah was joined to Joseph for time and eternity.  First, in her 1846 sealing ceremony, she was identified as Sarah Smith, indicating a prior marriage to Joseph.  [NO FOOTNOTE OR REFERENCE.]  Second, in a biography of Heber Kimball, family tradition lists her among “the wives of the prophet” whom Kimball adopted as his own, 1844-46  –   George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: “… but we called it celestial marriage”, Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008, 218. 
    2. Sarah Scott, who had married James Mulholland (1810–39) in early1839, wed Alexander Mullinder/Mullander (born ca. 1810) civilly on October 25, 1843, with Apostle John Taylor performing the ceremony. Mulholland was probably a “front” husband to conceal Sarah’s plural marriage to Smith—much the same arrangement by whichSmith had authorized Joseph Kingsbury and Sarah Whitney’s “prete[n]ded marriage” on April 29, 1843. Scott was sealed to Mulholland for eternity and to Heber Kimball, not Mullinder, for time on February 3, 1846, in the Nauvoo Temple. The record of that ceremony identifies her explicitly as “Sarah Smith,” implying an earlier sealing to Joseph Smith – Gary J. Bergera, “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841-1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought38, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 31 
  9. Elizabeth Buchannan Coolidge (Plural Wife)- 
  10. Elizabeth Davis Durfee – (Brian Hales) 
  11. Partridge Sisters – 
  12. Marinda Nancy Johnson Hyde – 
  13. Hyrum Smith’s Plural Wives 
    1. Lydia Dibble Granger – 
    2. Mary Fielding Smith – 

J.) Other Interesting facts

  1. Flora’s marriage/sealing to Joseph happened right around the same time to Lucy Walker and Helen Mar Kimball 
    1. Speak again to Bednar’s imposition on JS’s Polygamy 
  2. Joseph Smith, May 1844: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” 
    1. JOSEPH SMITH’S WIVES as of May 1844: Emma Hale, Louisa Beaman, Mrs. Zina Diantha Huntington (Jacobs), Mrs. Presendia Lathrop Huntington (Buell), Agnes Moulton Coolbrith (Smith), Mrs. Lucinda Pendleton (Morgan Harris), Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Rollins (Lightner), Mrs. Sylvia Porter Sessions (Lyon), Mrs. Patty Bartlett (Sessions), Mrs. Sarah M. Kingsley (Howe Cleveland), Mrs. Elizabeth Davis (G. Brackenbury Durfee), Mrs. Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde), Delcena Diadamia Johnson (Sherman), Eliza Roxcy Snow, Mrs. Sarah Rapson (Poulterer), Sarah Ann Whitney, Martha McBride (Knight), Mrs. Ruth Daggett Vose (Sayers), Flora Ann Woodworth, Emily Dow Partridge, Eliza Maria Partridge, Almera Woodward Johnson, Lucy Walker, Sarah Lawrence, Maria Lawrence, Helen Mar Kimball, Mrs. Elvira Anna Cowles (Holmes), Rhoda Richards, Hannah S. Ells, Mary Ann Frost (Stearns Pratt), Olive Grey Frost, Nancy Maria Winchester, Desdemona Catlin Wadworth Fullmer, Melissa Lott, Sarah Scott (Mulholland), Mrs. Phebe Watrous (Woodworth), Mary Huston, Fanny Young (Carr Murray). (George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy [2008]). 
  3. Here are the wives of Joseph Smith who were under the age of 20: Fanny Alger (16); Sarah Ann Whitney (17); Flora Ann Woodworth (16); Lucy Walker (17); Sara Lawrence (17): Helen Mar Kimball (14); Nancy Winchester (14)

K.) Sad Ending

  1. 1850 Census record of Flora – middle of the page 
  2. That same year Flora was staying in Kanesville Iowa 
    1. Never making it to Utah, Flora passed away in Kanesville, Iowa around 1850.  Helen Mar wrote, “I never saw her again as she died at that place, leaving two or three children.”  Flora would have been in her mid-twenties at the time.


This list the plural marriages around the same time  (should be an interesting read) (Father) (Deed to parents)

May 1, 1843 Nauvoo, Illinois Joseph Smith paid Lucien Woodworth, general contractor, monies toward the building of the Nauvoo House. Sources: History of the Church,(link is external) Joseph Smith, 5:366, 372

March 31, 1843 ~ Friday On the 31 friday I spent the afternoon at Mr Lucian Woodworth’s in company with Joseph Smith, Hiram Smith, Heber C. Kimball Orson Hyde, a Br Chase with our wives we had a feast of a fat turkey & had a good time

Some book on Clayton’s recording plural marriage


2 thoughts on “Mormonism LIVE: 098: Gold Gifts, Deeds, & Harsh Measures”

  1. Great episode y’all, thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing some new info and insights.

    Seems to me that you either missed the caller’s point or ignored it. You certainly didn’t answer what standards of morality you used draw your conclusions.

    By the way Bill, your opinion of what’s rational and logical is far from universally applicable. Which is fine with me… it would just be nice if you could acknowledge that verbally and/or to yourself occasionally.

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