|A response to D. Michael Quinn's, "1EVIDENCE FOR THE SEXUAL SIDE OF JOSEPH SMITH'S POLYGAMY," Comments on Session #2A Reconsidering Joseph Smith's Marital Practices Mormon History Association's Annual Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 29, 2012, (unabbreviated version, revised during July).
By Brian C. Hales
August 25, 2012
At the personal request of BYU professor, Richard Bennett, one of the Co-Chairs for the Mormon History Association's 2012 Conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, author and scholar D. Michael Quinn agreed to serve as the commentator for session #2A Reconsidering Joseph Smith's Marital Practices on June 29. The first paper was given by Lawrence Foster, “Why Polyandry Isn’t the Right Term to Describe Joseph Smith’s Marriages to Women Who Remained Legally Married to Other Men: Reflections on a Difficult and Challenging Issue.” It was followed by my presentation, “Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry and the Emperor’s New Clothes: On Closer Inspection, What Do We Find?” Both papers went slightly overtime leaving Michael only 18 minutes for his comments and there was no time for questions.
In order to allow his audience, and those who were not in attendance, to understand the nuances of his comments offered during the session, Michael made an expanded version of them available to dozens of individuals on August 2nd, by email attachment. His written comments contain over 10,052 words on 71 pages. The response portion comprises the first thirty-five, with an impressive 199 footnotes rounding out the remainder of the essay. It constitutes the first and only treatise defending the position that Joseph Smith practiced sexual polyandry ever distributed.
I personally feel very grateful to Michael for several emails we exchanged prior to the conference and for his willingness to tackle this knotty historical topic. Michael's background in Mormon history is unique. Perhaps no one has been exposed to the breadth and depth of documents, manuscripts, and data from the Restoration’s past. Doubtless, his familiarity with early Church leaders allows him to share interesting details regarding dozens of early Latter-day Saints. That he would specifically address Joseph Smith’s polyandry provides all researchers with an important new perspective, one deserving of consideration. That he, as an apparent defender of the position that the Prophet practiced sexual polyandry, would weigh and discuss supportive evidence available to him, creates a laser focused review of one of the most difficult subjects in Joseph Smith’s history to understand.
Despite the fact that two papers were presented, Lawrence Foster is mentioned only ten times in Michael’s review. In contrast, I, Brian Hales am referenced 198 times.1 I personally would prefer to use first names in a friendly exchange of ideas, such as these. However, as I respond to Michael’s interpretations and evidences, I will conform with scholarly conventions using his last name, but hoping at no time to reflect any disrespect. I highly value his incredible knowledge and friendship.
Michael Quinn’s Expanded Comments
As implied by the title, Quinn chose to expand his response beyond the topic of polyandry. Instead, he argues throughout the paper regarding the types and quantities of sexual interactions Joseph Smith allegedly experienced. This response will focus primarily on Quinn's arguments regarding polyandrous sexuality in the Prophet's life. A short table of contents identifies the variety of individuals and subjects addressed.
1-2 Historical introduction to polyandry
3  Esther Dutcher
3-4 Hannah Dubois
4 Mary Elizabeth Rollins
5 Elvira Annie Cowles
6-10 “Eternity only” sealings
6-10 George A. Smith
8-9 Zina Huntington
10 Polyandrous children
11-15 Mary Heron
15-16 Flora Ann Woodworth
17 Emily and Eliza Partridge
17 Joseph Smith's Virility
18-20 Discussion of Fecundity
21 August 21, 1842 Letter
22 Previously Undisclosed Historical Documents
22-24 Willard Richards' dream
24 Augusta Cobb
24-25 Brigham Young's dream
25 Martha McBride Knight
26-30 Leonora Cannon Taylor
30-31 Lydia Kenyon Carter
31 Ruth Vose Sayers
32-35 Joseph Smith’s “Immunity” from Adultery
53-54en109 Eliza R. Snow
68-70en196 Mary Ann Darrow Richardson
66en183 "Calculatedly Stringent Requirements"
After providing an enlightening introduction to historical polyandry, Quinn begins by discussing a “polyandrous” sealing of Esther Dutcher (1811-1856), legal wife of Albert Smith (no relation to the Joseph Smith or George Albert Smith). "Polyandry" means "many men," but in the context of plural marriage, it describes a woman with more than one husband.2 Esther Dutcher's sealing was "polyandrous” in a ceremonial sense. She had previously experienced a civil marriage ceremony (to Albert Smith) and then later a religious sealing ceremony (to Joseph Smith). She had two husbands from a ceremonial standpoint. However, for several reasons, it should not be assumed that she was thereafter the lawful wife (in God’s eyes) of both men, or that she practiced sexual polyandry.
In a letter from Daniel H. Wells to Apostle Joseph F. Smith, June 25, 1888, Wells explained:
He [Albert Smith was] also much afflicted with the loss of his first wife . It seems that she was sealed to Joseph the Prophet in the days of Nauvoo, though she still remained his wife, and afterwards nearly broke his heart by telling him of it, and expressing her intention of adhering to that relationship. He however got to feeling better over it, and acting for Joseph, had her sealed to him, and to himself for time.3
Esther's "intention of adhering to that relationship" sounds like a reference to a sexual relationship that "nearly broke" her legal husband's heart, not "adhering" to a "sealing for eternity," which the letter itself did not allege. At the least, that is one way to interpret the document's phrase, a possibility for "sexual polyandry" that Hales doesn't admit. (3)
Here at the beginning of Quinn's essay we can detect several problematic tendencies that are repeated throughout. First is an ability to detect sexuality where sexuality is not mentioned. Daniel H. Well's letter does not refer to conjugality, but Quinn affirms its existence in the sealing. Of course sexuality may be implied (see below), but inferring its presence in neutral language is a subjective exercise, so the conclusions may be more a function of a reviewer’s biases, than of the historical evidences being reviewed.
Second is the willingness to accept multiple assumptions. By assuming a sexual relationship between Esther and Joseph Smith and, at the same time assuming a sexual relationship between her and her legal husband, neither of which is documented, the conclusion that "sexual polyandry" is at least a "possibility" is supported. It illustrates that with enough assumptions, virtually anything may be considered "possible."
Third, contradictory evidences are generally ignored. Contradictory evidences may be historical or theological. For example, Joseph Smith taught that if he were sealed to a woman for "time and eternity," that marriage covenant would cause all "old covenants," including legal marriages, to be "done away" (D&C 22:1, 132:4). If Joseph and Esther were thus sealed for "time and eternity" as Quinn affirms (and is not otherwise documented), her civil union to Albert would have been "done away" and continued conjugality with him would have been adultery (see also D&C 132:41-42, 61-63). It appears that Albert and Esther were devout Latter-day Satins and therefore less likely to engage in adulterous relations. These doctrinal considerations, which affect almost every alleged sexually polyandrous relationship advanced in the essay, are not addressed at any time.
Forth is a tendency to interpret ambiguous evidence in extreme ways. In his analysis, Quinn asserts that "the letter itself did not allege" that Esther's "adhering" to the "sealing for eternity" is what "nearly broke" Albert's heart. This interpretation is debatable. Regardless, a more extreme view is promoted that a "sexual relationship" actually broke his heart. However, Well's statement does not mention a "sexual relationship," but a "sealed" relationship is referenced twice in "the letter." Furthermore, Quinn states: "Esther's 'intention of adhering to that relationship' sounds like a reference to a sexual relationship…" While it is theologically possible for her to "adhere" to a "sealing for eternity," it is less clear how she might adhere to a "sexual relationship" with a deceased man.
Fifth, "straw man" arguments are employed wherein my positions are incompletely or inaccurately represented and then rebutted. This may be unavoidable and hopefully I am not guilty of the same as I evaluate Quinn’s essay. Regarding Esther Dutcher, it is true that I did not "admit" (or consider) Quinn's interpretation, but addressing every "possible" sexual polyandry reconstruction has never been my intent, especially those that require multiple assumptions accompanied by rather extreme interpretations.
Concerning the plural marriage mentioned by Wells, Albert and Esther Smith had five children: Azariah (b. 1828), Emily (b. 1832), Candace (b. 1833), Joseph Albert (b. 1844), and Esther (b. 1849).4 Esther did not conceive any children while Albert was on his mission between September 12, 1842, and August 22, 1843. Then on approximately December 29, 1843, she conceived Joseph Albert Smith (born September 21, 1844).5 Without providing any supportive evidence, Quinn affirms that Joseph Albert may have been the biological son of Joseph Smith.6 The child's first name is perhaps suggestive, but his middle name of "Albert" seems inconsistent with that interpretation. If Esther was trying to keep the child's paternity secret from Albert, it seems she would be less inclined to name the child after the Prophet. The given name was likely a tribute to Joseph who had been martyred less than three months prior to his birth.
Concerning this incident, Quinn also asserts that Albert Smith's reaction is evidence that “contradicts his [Brian Hales’] claim that there were 'No Complaints from Legal Husbands' (Hales's emphasis) of the Prophet's already-married wives." Perhaps my earlier writings have been unclear, but my statement, "No complaints from legal husbands" was in reference to complaints against Joseph Smith. Albert was understandably disheartened upon learning that his wife had chosen the Prophet as an eternal husband, but according to available evidence, Albert did not accuse or criticize Joseph Smith for allowing the sealing. Disappointment undoubtedly occurred with some of the other active Latter-day Saint men who learned their legal wives sought someone else for an eternal husband. The account of Henry Jacobs' emotions as his legal wife, Zina Huntington, chose to be sealed to Joseph Smith and later to be Brigham Young's wife for time, is poignant.7 The fact that none of these men blamed the Prophet for allowing the sealings or complained against him, is significant.
Hannah Dubois (3-4)
The essay also mentions Hannah Dubois Smith Dibble:
Likewise, concerning John Hyde's anti-Mormon 1857 book that "paired Joseph Smith with Hannah Ann Dubois Smith Dibble in a story based upon hearsay evidence," Hales wrote in the same 2010 publication: "I have found no evidence to corroborate Hyde's assertion" about this wife of Philo Dibble. Nonetheless, during the Church trial of Benjamin Winchester in May 1843, a typescript of which was provided to Hales years ago by his research-assistant, Joseph Smith said that Winchester had "told one of the most damnable lies about me. [that I] visited Sister Smith--Sister Dibble ... that I was guilty of improper conduct." To protect himself and the Church, the Prophet dismissed the "lies" about him and his widowed sister-in-law Agnes Coolbrith Smith,8 yet Hales acknowledged that she was one of Joseph's polygamous wives. (3-4)
Here Quinn apparently confuses two separate stories about Hanna Dubois and Joseph Smith. One is from Benjamin Winchester, accusing him of impregnating her while he visited Philadelphia in 1839-1840 when she was either widowed or divorced and known as "Mrs. Smith."9 A second narrative is from excommunicated John Hyde who charged Joseph Smith with a polyandrous relationship after she moved to Nauvoo and married Philo Dibble on February 11, 1841.10 Quinn writes that Winchester's assertions somehow corroborate Hyde's accusations. In fact, they are two separate charges regarding alleged incidents over a year apart, both with serious credibility problems of their own.
Mary Elizabeth Rollins (4)
Perhaps the most problematic of all of Quinn's claims is his interpretation of the statement of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner: “I know he [Joseph Smith] had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children. They told me. I think two are living today but they are not known as his children as they go by other names.”11 Quinn writes:
Still another of these women publicly stated that she personally knew three children who (as adults) claimed Joseph Smith as their actual father, even though these children "go by other names" (i.e., the surnames of the men their mothers had married legally). Such a claim would occur only if each child's mother thought that Joseph Smith had impregnated her. DNA testing can disprove assumptions and speculations about paternity, but cannot disprove the 1905 claim of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner that three already-married women (besides herself) had borne a child they each assumed was produced by their literal relationship with the Prophet Joseph Smith, not by their legally recognized husbands with whom they were cohabiting. (4-5; italics added)
A review of the entire discourse shows that nowhere does Mary Elizabeth’s speak about “already married women” (i.e. polyandrous spouses) who were sealed to the Prophet. Her comments referred to Joseph Smith’s plural “wives” generally without differentiating their ages, sealing dates, or legal marital status. It is unclear why any investigator would assume that any of her comments referred strictly of “already married” wives of the Prophet nor did Quinn explicate his unique view of her remarks.
Elvira Ann Cowles (5)
Regarding Elvira Annie Cowles, Quinn writes:
However, my first objection is that he [Brian Hales] seems to brush-off the significance of some of the evidence he has cited… Shortly before her own death, Phebe Louisa Welling wrote: "I heard my mother [Elvira Ann Cowles Holmes] testify that she was indeed the Prophet Joseph Smith's plural wife in life and lived with him as such during his lifetime." I see no ambiguity in that statement by a daughter who was 20 when her mother died in 1871. Furthermore, I find it difficult to believe that Elvira's 37-year-old widower-husband Jonathan stopped having sex with her only six months after their civil wedding, simply to accommodate the Prophet's sexual relations with her (which in June 1843 seemed likely to continue for many years). (5)
The polyandrous triangle of Elvira Cowles, Jonathan Holmes, and Joseph Smith is difficult to understand due to a lack of historical documentation. On December 1, 1842, the Prophet performed the civil marriage for thirty-six-year-old Jonathan to twenty-nine-year-old Elvira in Nauvoo. Six months later, she was sealed to Joseph on June 1, 1843. Jonathan was a close friend of the Prophet and served as a pallbearer at the funeral. He joined the Mormon Battalion and Elvira traveled west with the Jedediah M. Grant company arriving in Salt Lake City October 2, 1847. They eventually reunited settling in Farmington where they raised their family of five daughters, three of whom survived to adulthood. At his death in 1880, Jonathan Holmes served as a member of the Davis Stake High Council.
The third of those children, Phebe Louisa, born in 1851 in Farmington, married Job Welling on December 21, 1868 in Salt Lake City. In 1982, an unidentified descendant of Job Welling compiled historical documents titling the collection: “The Ancestors of Marietta Holmes, Phebe Louisa Holmes and Emma Lucinda Holmes, Daughters of Jonathan Harriman Holmes and Elvira Annie Cowles Smith.”12 It includes a section entitled: “Written by Phebe Louisa Holmes Welling 2/9/38,” which would have been over a year before her June 30, 1939 death at eighty-eight. It reports: “I heard my mother testify that she was indeed the Prophet’s (Joseph Smith) plural wife in life and lived with him as such during his lifetime.”13 The phrase “lived with him” as a “plural wife” in nineteenth century parlance clearly implied sexual activity. Unfortunately, no other details regarding the declaration are available, nor did any of the other children leave similar recollections. In fact, nothing beyond this single statement implies sexuality between Joseph and Agnes.
It appears that all three individuals, Joseph, Elvira, and Jonathan, lived in Nauvoo during the year between Elvira’s sealing to Joseph in June 1843 and his death in June 1844. However, no specific evidence is available regarding the issue of sexual relations between them. Polygamy researcher Meg Stout wrote:
Elvira’s lack of children during this time [June 1, 1843 to June 27, 1844] indicates this sealing to Joseph was not physically consummated, despite Phoebe Holmes Welling’s 1939 history (remembered hearsay recorded almost 100 years later). Family tradition and the lack of children also indicate that Jonathan didn’t consummate his marriage to Elvira until after Joseph’s death, as late as February 1845. Elvira's first child, Lucy, was born nine months later. Elvira's daughter, Marietta, would be born nine months after Jonathan returned from his Mormon Battalion service. Elvira continued to bear a child every two years thereafter until she was 43 years old.14
After the martyrdom, Jonathan apparently respected his wife’s sealing to Joseph Smith, standing proxy in the Nauvoo Temple as she was resealed to Joseph vicariously for eternity.15 Also, their decision to move west indicates a transfer of loyalty from Joseph as Church leader to Brigham Young and the Twelve. However, I have found no further evidence exists about the further relationship of these three individuals. Elvira died March 10, 1871, so Phebe’s verbatim recollection spanned at least sixty-six years, and the family records that preserve her recollection contain no indication that she made a written record earlier that would have preserved her mother’s words closer to the time when they were spoken.
On June 2, 1931, seven years before Phebe made her report, William Wright, a member of the Church whom I have not be able to further identify, wrote a letter to the First Presidency containing a confusing reference to the relationship between Joseph, Jonathan, and Elvira in Nauvoo. This excerpt was transcribed by Michael Quinn in the 1980s and is found in his notes now housed at Yale University. The original letter apparently remains uncatalogued in the Church History Library: “I was well acquainted with two of Joseph’s wives, LaVina [Elvira] and Eliza [Snow or Partridge?]. I came to Utah in ’69, and rented LaVina Holmes farm. Before Joseph was shot, he asked Jonathan Holmes if he would marry and take care of LaVina, but that if LaVina wanted him to take care of her he would take her. He would fill that mission to please his Father in Heaven.”16 This statement is very late, secondhand, and somewhat garbled. It does not say whether Wright heard this claim of a protective marriage directly from Elvira, although it is implied and there is no other obvious source of the information. However, Wright does not remember Elvira's name correctly creating concerns regarding its accuracy.
Despite the weaknesses, Wright describes the possibility of a "pretend" marriage between Jonathan and Elvira. Such a marriage to protect the Prophet was not completely outlandish, since Joseph Smith, after his sealing on July 27, 1842 to Sarah Ann Whitney, asked Joseph C. Kingsbury, then unmarried, to enter what Kingsbury called “a pretend marriage” on April 23, 1843 to conceal Joseph and Sarah Ann’s relationship.17 In Elvira’s case, an apparently legitimate civil marriage preceded the sealing by almost a year. There seems to be no reason why Jonathan and Elvira’s marriage would not have included sexual relations, but the lack of children during Joseph Smith's lifetime coupled with Elvira's obvious fecundity afterwards is puzzling.
On August 28, 1869, Elvira Cowles signed an affidavit providing the only evidence of the date when she was sealed to the Prophet, June 1, 1843, nearly a year after her legal marriage.18 One possibility is that Elvira misremembered the date of her sealing to Joseph Smith. If she had been sealed to him in 1842, then possibly Joseph Smith asked Jonathan Holmes to marry Elvira about a year later to serve, like Joseph Kingsbury, as a “front husband” to shield the Prophet from suspicion should a pregnancy result. In that case, the marriage to Jonathan would have been legal but without connubial relations. This scenario would be more consistent with William Wright’s letter, but I stress that it is only conjecture and that the historical record seems to contradict it.
Given the ambiguities in the historical record, Phebe Louisa Holmes’s recollection that her mother “lived with” Joseph Smith as his “plural wife” might represent a declaration of sexual relations between Elvira and Joseph. However, proponents of sexual polyandry must also assume concomitant sexual relations with Jonathan, for which there is no supportive evidence, and under those circumstances, would have constituted adultery (D&C 132:61-63). Importantly, documents are available indicating that the legal marriage between Jonathan and Elvira may not have been consummated until after Joseph Smith's death.
Phebe's recollection could be considered supportive evidence for the existence of sexual polyandry in one of Joseph Smith's plural marriages. However, it probably would not be considered very strong evidence because of the need for several assumptions and the fact that contradictory evidences, both historical and theological, are unaddressed.
"Eternity Only" Sealings (6-10)
Surprisingly, Quinn continues to maintain the position that "eternity only" sealings, plural marriages that apply only after death, were not performed in Nauvoo or among Joseph Smith's polygamous unions. In his essay, Quinn quotes himself:
The original records of sealings in the nineteenth century used variations of only two phrases to define each marriage: "for time and eternity," and "for time only," both of which gave the sanction of the church for sexual intercourse between the living persons thus sealed. If the phrase "eternity only" ever appeared in an original record of LDS sealing in the nineteenth century, I have not discovered it while examining thousands of such manuscript entries. (6)
These observations appear to be accurate regarding “original records” of “sealings of the nineteenth century” in general. However, such declarations may have little application to sealings in Joseph Smith’s time. Prior to Joseph’s death, more than four dozen plural sealing ceremonies were performed for thirty men and their polygamous wives.19 Unfortunately, only one contemporary document is available providing the terminology that was used. Joseph dictated a ceremonial prayer uniting him to previously unmarried Sarah Ann Whitney that was pronounced by Sarah Ann’s father, Newel K. Whitney: “You both mutually agree calling them by name to be each others companion so long as you both shall live . . . and also through out all eternity.”20 Otherwise, the wording employed in the dozens of plural sealing ceremonies performed during Joseph Smith’s lifetime was apparently never recorded, either at the time of the ceremony or shortly thereafter. Regardless, it has not been preserved and is not currently unavailable to researchers. Accordingly, there is a lack of documented sealings using “eternity only” language during Joseph Smith’s day, just as there is a similar lack of documentation of the phrase “time and eternity” during that same period.
It is true that some later reminiscences state that their sealings in Nauvoo were for “time and eternity.” However, the women may have been applying language standardized in Utah to sealing ceremonies performed up to fifty years earlier in Illinois. When asked in 1892 if she could remember the words used to seal her to Joseph Smith, Malissa Lott replied: “I don’t know that I can go and tell it right over as it was. . . . I don’t remember the words that were used.”21 Similarly, Emily Partridge testified: “I can’t remember the exact words, that he said.”22
Quinn has also asserted that no "eternity" sealings could have occurred prior to May 28, 1843, because on that date Joseph Smith was sealed to Emma Smith, which Quinn affirms was the first eternal marriage in the new and everlasting covenant.23 This view is problematic because it assumes that, having received the sealing keys in 1836, Joseph Smith would not have used them to seal his plural marriages prior to his sealing to Emma, an interpretation that is without corroborative evidence. As quoted above, the revelation specifying the wording that Newel K. Whitney used to seal his daughter, Sarah Ann, to the Prophet on July 27, 1842, declared their union to be unquestionably "through [o]ut all eternity"--an eternal marriage.24
It is apparent that Joseph Smith did not teach about eternal marriage in a quorum setting until May 26, 1843, two days prior to his sealing Emma. 25 Andrew Ehat acknowledges that Joseph Smith's sealing on May 28 was the first "in a Quorum context," but not that it was the first such sealing ever performed.26 Furthermore, it does not appear that the words "new and everlasting covenant" are needed to perform a binding eternal matrimony. The revelation on celestial marriage speaks of the requirements to create an eternal marriage. It must include a "covenant" that is "for time and for all eternity," which is according to God's "word" and "law," and is "sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power" (D&C 132:18). Assertions that these conditions were not met prior to May 28, 1843, are without documentary foundation.
Quinn also reports: "Hales has written this year  that 'it is not possible to confirm or deny that ceremonies were performed during Joseph's lifetime using the language eternity only.'" (6) Then Quinn moves on as if no other evidence supporting "eternity only" existed. However, multiple other documents, some of which I introduced in my presentation at MHA , provide strong corroborating evidence (comprising an entire chapter in my upcoming three-volume set about Joseph Smith's polygamy). Included are documents found in Andrew Jenson’s research notes written in 1887 as he was interviewing an unidentified Nauvoo polygamist, but likely Eliza R. Snow or Malissa Lott:
Mrs. Sayers was married in her youth to Mr. Edward Sayers, a thoroughly practical horticulturist and florist,27 and though he was not a member of the Church, yet he willingly joined his fortune with her and they reached Nauvoo together some time in the year 1841;
While there the strongest affection sprang up between the Prophet Joseph and Mr. Sayers.28 The latter not attaching much importance to \the/ theory of a future life insisted that his wife \Ruth/ should be sealed to the Prophet for eternity, as he himself should only claim her in this life. She \was/ accordingly
the sealed to the Prophet in Emma Smith’s presence and thus were became numbered among the Prophets plural wives. She however \though she/ \continued to live with Mr. Sayers / remained with her husband \until his death.29
Another somewhat garbled document referring to the same sealing apparently dating to 1843 appears to be in the hand of excommunicated Mormon Oliver Olney, whose wife, Phebe Wheeler, worked as a domestic in Hyrum Smith's home: “What motive has [S]ayers in it--it is the desire of his heart. . . . Joseph did not pick that woman [Ruth Vose Sayers]. She went to see whether she should marry her husband for eternity.”30 Evidently, Olney was gathering information through his wife and learned of the episode involving the Sayers and the Prophet.
In addition, several observations and general documents assert that “eternity only” sealings occurred during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. Nauvooan Justus Morse recounted in an affidavit dated March 23, 1887:
In the year 1842, at Nauvoo, Illinois, Elder Amasa Lyman, taught me the doctrine of sealing, or marrying for eternity, called spiritual wifery,31 and that within one year from that date my own wife and another woman were sealed to me for eternity in Macedonia, by father John Smith, uncle to the Prophet. This woman was the wife of another man, but was to be mine in eternity and the said father John Smith, also taught me that if an unmarried woman was sealed to me that she was mine for time as well as eternity and that I was not limited as to number.32
Another late account is the second-hand recollection of Eliza M. A. Munson in 1931: “Eliza B. Manwaring was my mother’s name. . . . The Prophet Joseph came to her and wanted her to help introduce plural marriages, so she was sealed to Orson Spencer . . . but [she] never lived with [Spencer] as husband and wife.”33 Similarly, Benjamin F. Johnson recalled: "He [Joseph Smith] also visited my mother at her residence in Macedonia and taught her in my hearing the doctrine of Celestial marriage, declaring that an angel appeared unto him with a drawn sword threatening to slay him if he did not proceed to fulfill the law that had been given to him and counseled my mother to be sealed to his uncle, Father John Smith, to which She consented and to my certain knowledge was subsequently sealed to him by the Prophet."34
Bathsheba Smith testified during her testimony at the 1892 Temple Lot Case:
Q. Did you ever see him [Joseph Smith] out to church with any one except Emma as his wife?
A. Yes, sir….
Q. Who have you seen hanging on his arm?
A. Well, I have seen Mrs. Law, if you want to know.
Q. William Law’s wife?... Was he married to her?...
A. You can’t prove it by me for I was not present, but I believe it… I believe she was sealed to him for eternity… Sometimes they are married for time and eternity, and sometimes only for time. Sometimes for time and sometimes for eternity.
Q. And she was sealed to him for eternity?
A. I believe she was.
Q. But you don’t mean to say that Joseph Smith had that man’s wife living with him as his wife?
A. No sir, I mean that she was sealed to him for eternity, and I think that it was a good thing for her, for she will be much better off in eternity, much better off in the next world than if she had stuck to Law.35
President Joseph F. Smith, who was only six when his uncle Joseph Smith was killed, testified at the Reed Smoot hearing before the U.S. Senate’s subcommittee in 1904 that “eternity only” sealings were indeed accepted in Church doctrine. (Tayler was the committee’s attorney, and VanCott was the Church’s attorney):
Mr. TAYLER. Living persons have been united for eternity, have they not?
Mr. SMITH. I think there have been some few cases of that kind.
Mr. VANCOTT. To what time, Mr. Tayler, do you limit your question?
Mr. TAYLER. I was going to ask him. How recently have you known that kind of a marriage?
Mr. SMITH. Not very recently.
Mr. TAYLER. Do you mean five years or twenty-five years?
Mr. SMITH. Oh, twenty years or more.
Mr. TAYLER. Is there any rule of the church prohibiting that kind of marriage?
Mr. SMITH. Not that I know of.
Mr. TAYLER. It has merely fallen into disuse; is that all?
Mr. SMITH. It has merely fallen into disuse; that is all. I do not know that it could be said to have fallen absolutely into disuse.
Mr. TAYLER. Or rather, that the principle which still adhere[s] has not been invoked or exercised so often.
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; it has not been invoked. . . .
The CHAIRMAN. You have heard of instances where two living persons have been sealed for eternity?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. According to the doctrines of your church, did that carry with it the right of earthly cohabitation?
Mr. SMITH. It was not so understood.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, what is your---
Mr. SMITH. It does not carry that right.36
Despite a large number of attestations from a variety of individuals from Nauvoo, Quinn dismisses them as deception and cover up:
"Eternity only" polygamy later became the claim of Utah Mormons who were embarrassed about the already-married women who were the Prophet's wives during his lifetime, while "eternity only" became the assumption and claim of those women's descendants. Its palatability as an explanation doesn't make it accurate. (10)
Evidently, Quinn is saying that discussions of "eternity only" sealings arose in Utah as a construct designed to conceal the sexual polyandrous relationships that he is sure existed in Nauvoo. Hence, the assertion that only "time and eternity" sealings were performed in Nauvoo allows the assumption that sexuality was present (or was authorized) in any "sealing" mentioned in the historical record. This position is problematic for several reasons. First are the multiple recollections quoted above describing that "eternity only" sealings were then performed. Dismissing these as a widespread conspiracy to hide sexual polyandry is simply unconvincing. Second, since only one of Joseph Smith's plural marriages, that to Sarah Ann Whitney discussed above, is documented regarding the ceremony, it is impossible to refer to documents created during his lifetime to understand the types of plural marriages he contracted. However, records written less than two years later show that "eternity only” sealings were performed in the Nauvoo Temple. Irene M. Bates and E. Gary Smith explain:
On January 24 John [Smith, the uncle of Joseph Smith] was sealed to Aseneth Hubert, Rebecca Smith, and Julia Hills for eternity. All of these women were between fifty and sixty years of age, and it seems John might have married them to care for them during the removal from Illinois and on the journey to Salt Lake. It is also possible that the women requested marriage to Uncle John.37
Third are theological considerations that Quinn apparently ignores, but were not ignored by the Nauvoo polygamists themselves. As discussed above, Joseph taught that "time and eternity" marriage covenants would cause "all old covenants" to be "done away" (D&C 22:1, 132). The Prophet also described three scenarios in the revelation on Celestial marriage that describe sexual polyandry as "adultery" (D&C 132:41-42, 61-63).
Fourth, Quinn evidently posits that all sealed couples experienced sexual relations, because if conjugality was not present, then the marriage would have been, from a practical standpoint, an "eternity only" sealing, which he affirms did not occur. This may be an extreme interpretation of Quinn’s position, but to assume sexual relations in every “sealing” is not justified and contradicts multiple evidences.
Fifth, it is impossible to prove that something did not happen. This true principle is readily applied to my position that sexual polyandry did not occur in any of Joseph Smith's plural marriages. No matter what observations are recruited, it can never be undeniably proven. However, the likelihood that sexual polyandry was practiced can be assessed by documentation and investigation (for example, “probable” or “highly improbable”). This principle applies to Quinn's position as well. Declaring "eternity only" sealings (without sexuality) were not performed and were a later deception to hide sexual polyandry is similarly unprovable (and manuscript evidence is strong that they did occur). It seems that acknowledging these facts would be more useful than supplying declarations like, "'Eternity only' polygamy later became the claim of Utah Mormons who were embarrassed…" (10)