|Joseph Smith, Jr.*|
“How many alleged marriages or alleged sealings to Joseph were done by proxy before his death?”This seems a relevant and crucial question in light of:
SAN BERNARDINO, California,Of course the alleged Farr sealing could have been performed after Joseph's death as there seems no record of her as a plural wife, but could more proxy sealings like Lucy Walker's(?) have been possible during Joseph's life? This brings up the second crucial question: If there were such sealings, was Joseph aware of them? As far as we know he never wrote of them, and as to witnesses of alleged non-proxy marriages / sealings, how can we place full confidence in any of them with all the confusion of opinion, speculation, rumor-mongering, conflicting accounts, and motivated(?) memory (by both sides) that so plagued the early Church (even beyond the turn of the century)? And knowing our own memory failures, is it possible that years later someone could remember Joseph saying something promoting plural marriage when in fact it was something John Cook Bennett (or some other) had “shared” about what Joseph had allegedly said?
December 31st, 1883.
Mrs. Mary Ralph being duly sworn, deposes and says: I lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, close to the house of Joseph Smith, just across the road, sometime. ... and I believe he was a true prophet of God. I was well acquainted with the two Partridge girls and the two Walker girls and their two brothers William and Lorin Walker, they were orphans, and all lived in the family of Joseph Smith, but I never knew they were any of them his wives; but I saw Susy [Lucy?] Walker in 1847 and she had a young baby in her arms, she told me she had been sealed to Joseph for eternity and to Heber C. Kimball for time, and Bro. Heber was acting proxy for Bro. Joseph. Dianthy [Diantha] Farr, daughter of Aaron Farr, told me she was sealed in the same way and W[m]. Clayton was acting proxy for Bro. Joseph with her. The first I ever heard of the proxy and sealing business was in 1846. Bathsheba Smith, wife of Geo. A., told me of it then.
Sworn to before me this 31st day of December, 1883, W. J. Curtis, Notary Public in and for San Bernardino county, state of California.3 [Bold emphasis added.]
Perhaps the proxy question was explored by Joseph Smith III or others who interviewed some of the involved parties in later years, but so far in my readings, the above quote is the only reference I have come across about proxy sealings regarding Joseph and plural wives before his death. Has the proxy question been thoroughly researched?
I raise this for several reasons:
▪ What if admitted revisions of church records in 18454 and beyond, also encompassed marriage / sealing records? Here is a classic, relevant, revision example5:
From Joseph Smith Papers: Document Transcript ~ Book 3, 15 July 1843–29 February 1844
[Red text indicates those words that were deleted when this was subsequently recorded in History of the Church Vol. 6:46]
5 October 1843 • Thursday
Thursday October 5. morning rode out with Esqr Butterfild [Justin Butterfield]. to farm &c.—— P.M rode on prairie to shew
theSome brethren some land.— eve at home walked up and down st. with scribe.— and gave inst[r]uction to try those who were preaching teaching or preachingthe doctrin of plurality of wives. on this Law. Joseph forbids it. and the practice ther[e]of— No man shall have but one wife229 [6 lines blank] [p. ]
[Accessed at https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/journal-december-1842-june-1844-book-3-15-july-1843-29-february-1844/1#full-transcript]6
From History of the Church, Vol 6
[Purple text indicates those words that were inserted when the above JS journal account was subsequently recorded in History of the Church 6:46]
Vol. 6: Page 46
Thursday, 5.—This morning I rode out with Esquire Butterfield to the farm.
Instructions Respecting Plurality of Wives.
In the afternoon, rode to the prairie to show some of the brethren some land. Evening, at home, and walked up and down the streets with my scribe. Gave instructions to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives: for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.
[Accessed at https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/volume-6-chapter-2]
NOTE: the interpolations here could easily be understood as the very reverse of what Joseph's journal records (as in the “turning of things upside down”??)
▪ Wouldn't proxy have been the perfect cover for secrecy from Emma and the uninitiated, perhaps even from Joseph if those engaging in “spiritual wifery” wanted to foster the notion that “elite” relationships were sanctioned by Joseph but which he could not acknowledge? Would it not lend heavy-weight justification for secret agendas and actions?There seems to be so much evidence supporting both sides in the Joseph Smith polygamy debate that it's unlikely we shall ever know the full truth, this side of the veil, especially with all the conjectures (including this post), and theories, assumptions, falsehoods, and alleged facts (public and private) that have flooded this matter.
▪ Considering the character of John Cook Bennett,7 the proxy concept would have been a (small g) “god-send,” not to mention the possibility of other secret polygamists subsequently inventing and recording marriages / sealings to lay a foundation for pending doctrine. And likely, even before Bennett arrived in Nauvoo, he would have heard the rampant polygamy rumors.
▪ Since memory is so susceptible to distortion, persuasion, and conflation could “witnesses” have subsequently conflated proxy with “in-person” when interviewers did not specifically ask?
▪ With the passage of time, how easy might it be to remember rumor as fact?
▪ The nature of most men and women to self-justify or mis-remember behaviors or beliefs when criticized or under pressure is well known; as is the déjà vu on déjà vu ploy where offenders accuse whistle-blowers or truth-tellers of what they, themselves, are doing.
Perhaps, in all the confusion, God's witness8 of Joseph's honor is the one that matters.
1. 1st child of Lucy and Heber C. Kimball was Rachel Sylvia Kimball (28 January 1846 – 12 December 1847), so in 1847 she would have been just over one-year old.
2. The sealing was apparently May 1, 1843 per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives (though Lucy's account on that site differs from Mary Ralph's report above.
3. Proxy Sealings quote: from Chapter 14 “William Smith Provided Further Insights into the Origin of Polygamy” from the book Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Vol. 2 at http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-vol2/2chp14.htm (Bold emphasis added.)
I first referenced this in a footnote (#10) of a Déjà Vu ~ Times II post (Dec. 15, 2015) entitled “Could it Be?” where I also reflected on the probable psychopathy of John Cook Bennett at https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2015/12/could-it-be.html.
Granted, the meaning of proxy here could be viewed / interpreted by some as similar to Levirate marriage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levirate_marriage . Farr is listed as a plural wife of Clayton, (married Jan. 9, 1845) but the conjoined phrase “proxy and sealing business” could lend itself more to one person standing in for another during a sealing ceremony and not as a marriage partner. [Update Jan. 22, 2020: However, I could be wrong. Yesterday, I came across Whitney Horning's references to Levirate marriage. This understanding might reconcile the Mary Ralph account with other accounts, but I believe the proxy question is still a valid one to pursue with all the conflicting accounts and proxy possibilities, especially with no record of Farr as a plural wife to Joseph.]
4. What Is Our Real History? at https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2019/10/what-is-our-real-history.html
5. References are thanks to Whitney Horning from Joseph Smith Revealed: A Faithful Telling: Exploring an Alternate Polygamy Narrative (p. 217). Kindle Edition.
6. NOTICE: how the practice of leaving blank lines after JS journal entries leaves room for additions at some future date without the ability to know for certain when or who added the entry and for what purpose. Of course it can serve a legitimate purpose, but also opens the way for illegitimate use. The 229 pullout in the JS journal quote relies not on the numerous words of Joseph wherein he states his unrelenting opposition to “plurality of wives,” but relies on the oft-belated, alleged witness of others, some of whom were already practitioners or soon-to-be-practitioners in violation of extant scripture: (1835 D&C Section CI  Marriage: p. 251) at https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/doctrine-and-covenants-1835/1#full-transcript (Also see “one wife” at p. 192 and in the New Testament | 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6; Doctrine and Covenants | Section 49:16.)
7. I first encountered the FairMormon expositions on polygamy in this new year, January 2020. I do not agree with some of the assumptions, interpretations, and conclusions, but their information is worth considering and attempting to prove otherwise where suspect or based on assumption. None of these FairMormon posts have a date that I could find as to when they were researched or posted, but they confirm some of my thoughts on Bennett's character.
● https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Polygamy_book#John_C._Bennett (draft chapters)ior_to_Nauvoo
Also see the Déjà Vu ~ Times II 2015 post about Bennett's probable psychopathy at https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2015/12/could-it-be.html
8. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 122:1-9 ~ Word of the Lord to Joseph Smith ~ March 1839
1 THE ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee;
2 While the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under thy hand.
3 And thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors.
4 And although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor; and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce lion, because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.
5 If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
6 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can't you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
9 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. [Bold emphasis added.]
Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 3:6-15
Could It Also Be?: https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2015/12/could-it-also-be.html
Ten-thousand [Malicious] Lies: https://dejavu-timestwo.blogspot.com/2016/01/ten-thousand-malicious-lies.html (latter portion of the post.)
* Joseph Smith Painting source: By Unknown - Unknown, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1388993