Comments | Meridian Magazine

Sign up for our newsletter

   

Signed up, but still not getting our newsletter? Click here.

 

November 28, 2021

Comments | Return to Story

Pat ChiuJanuary 11, 2015

One of the commenters seems to have assumed that Meg's work, ' A Faithful Joseph' is a work of fiction because she had originally intended to write a fictionalized account of the actual relationship between her ancestor, Annie Elvira Cowles, who was a teacher of the Smith children and lived in their home; and Joseph Smith to whom she was sealed. Meg has not written fiction in her series of articles in millenialstar.org. She has considered facts as far as they can be deduced and presented an idea that is surprising to many. Unlike many who write about history, she has been clear about those areas where she speculates. Speculation about history is part of the legitimate process of piecing together a coherent account of events. We cannot know everything that takes place, even in the lives of our friends and family. We can observe effects and hypothesize about causes. With the tools of genetics we can know who is probably decended from a given individual. This was not possible only a few years ago when it was widely believed that a number of children were fathered by Joseph Smith in polygamous relationships. That none seem to have been is part of the information Meg had to consider. Joseph was a man I love and admire and I am fond of Emma. If Meg's hypothesis is reflective of events in Kirtland and Nauvoo, and I believe it is, I consider it a tragic irony that their reluctance in following the requirements given them resulted in confusion and accusations that Joseph was a scoundrel.

KaryJanuary 8, 2015

I just spent most of yesterday reading all of Meg Stout's 'A Faithful Joseph' posts (and all the ensuing comments!) on the Millennial Star blog. This is fascinating stuff, Meg. I have read extensively on this period of LDS history, from the time of my baptism 40ish years ago at BYU. I am very impressed by your research and conclusions, and I recommend that everyone with questions about Joseph and plural marriage head over to the Millennial Star. I hope you collect the blog posts into a book soon!

Meg StoutJanuary 7, 2015

Wonderful comments! Except that really long comment by that Meg Stout person... LOL. To Mike, I am well aware of the work of Richard and Pamela Price, the "Joseph Fought Polygamy" work you mentioned. Unfortunately, their premise, that Joseph never taught plural marriage, simply doesn't hold up to the weight of all the evidence. I am particularly grateful, however, for their documentation of certain items that the "Joseph had sex with over a dozen women" researchers have been pleased to omit from their writings, such as accusations that respected Mormon women had been seduced by John C. Bennett or his acolytes. However I don't think you will find my hypotheses to be mere parroting of the themes the Price's explored.

Debbie SelvageJanuary 7, 2015

My husband and I are serving a Mission currently in the Texas, Dallas Mission. We needed to hear your story right now at this very minute! So many that are seeking the truth are stuck in this "Polygamy" story. You have given my Testimony such a boost and now have a different angle to help people to understand. Thanks to all those that commented, especially Dr. Ruffer. Your conversion story is awesome and we hope you don't mind us using it! We won't use your name, however. Thank you !

Meg StoutJanuary 6, 2015

I wrote a big long response, but I see it hasn't show up (yet). In the mean time, you can google "Meg Stout Faithful Joseph" to get to the series I wrote over at Millennial Star.

Meg StoutJanuary 6, 2015

My series over at Millennial Star, A Faithful Joseph contains roughly nine months worth of weekly posts that lay out what I believe was happening. As I mention in this interview, I originally was "merely" attempting to lay out a plausible history for the fiction I intended to write. However as the series progressed, I became more and more convinced that this wasn't merely a plausible history, but the only current interpretation that comes close to threading the totality of documents. In summary, I think Emma was conflicted about allowing Joseph or indeed any man to engaged in sexual relations with a "plural wife." However she did, I believe, agree to allow Joseph to enter into covenant relationships with various women, including Fanny Alger. However the plural wives weren't always content with the prospect of sexless marriage. In my view, it must be considered that Fanny's interaction with Joseph in the barn was not a romp in the hay, but Fanny pleading with Joseph to either make her a wife in deed or to free her from the covenant. Either of these would have been very upsetting to Emma. And one can understand how a distraught Emma discussing this with Oliver Cowdery might have conveyed an impression Oliver Cowdery would later described as a filthy matter. First to the biological lack of evidence, evidence that should exist. Ugo Perego's fine work has demonstrated that none of the testable male offspring of Joseph's plural wives could have possibly been engendered by Joseph. I understand a more detailed examination of the DNA for Josephine Lyon Fisher's descendants show they do not have three genetic mutations that are found in all the descendants of Lucy Mack and Joseph Smith Sr. This would strongly suggest, then, that Josephine was not Joseph's biological child (and I have an explanation for the deathbed confidence where Josephine was told she was Joseph's daughter). Second is the surprising lack of children born to otherwise un-married plural wives of Joseph Smith. Several of these women, like Elvira, went on to be quite fertile. In the case of Louisa Beaman, she went on to have five children in five years after Joseph's death. In other cases, we merely have plural wives who asserted they were Joseph's wife "in very deed," yet who attributed their childless state to "nerves." Since when do biologicsts believe women are unable to conceive simply because they are nervous? This false biology was the basis for Todd Akin's infamous assertion that "legitimate rape" rarely gets a woman pregnant. If we reviled Todd's non-scientific fallacy, why do we then turn around and insist Joseph was having procreative sex with his plural wives in an age before reliable birth control based on words that suggest the plural marriage with Joseph might have included sexuality. Finally, most current researchers ignore how discovery of a ring of seducers (eventually determined to be led by John C. Bennett) could have prompted Joseph to approach large numbers of women to teach God's view of plural marriage and similarly prompted Emma to preach against sexual sin (so often presumed to be diatribes against Joseph's activities). If you've studied this matter in any depth, you are no doubt thinking "but what about..." I assure you I have an explanation for whatever proof you think you've stumbled across that paints Joseph as a man who betrayed Emma's trust and forced himself on married grandmothers and immature 14-year-olds alike. Yet have you never considered how odd it is that Emma trusted the men associated with Joseph's plural wives? At a time when she was so irritated with Brigham Young that she acted to prevent Joseph's remains from falling into Brigham's hands, lest it lend Brigham legitimacy, Emma did trust four men to help relocate Joseph and Hyrum. Jonathan Harriman Holmes was the public husband of Elvira Annie Cowles, who married Joseph in June 1843. Dimick and William Huntington were brothers to Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs Smith, who Joseph had married in October 1841. Gilbert Goldsmith was the son of Elizabeth Durfee, one of the women Bennett asserted was married to Joseph. Though there is no documentation supporting the idea that Elizabeth Durfee necessarily married Joseph during his life, she did have herself sealed to Joseph in the Nauvoo temple in 1846. In addition, Elizabeth Durfee broached the subject of spiritual wifery with young women (Emily and Eliza Partridge), often seen as the actions of a mature plural wife preparing younger women to accept Joseph's advances rather than seen as Emma's confidante assisting Emma and Joseph to determine which women had been seduced by the large group of men teaching it was acceptable for women to engage in illicit intercourse with men (both Church members and non-members, with individual women sometimes engaging in illicit intercourse with multiple men). Some have suggested that I am a crack pot. I was forwarded a comment string where an individual was threatened with being reported to Facebook for abuse simply because they had posted a link to my initial "Faithful Joseph" post. Others claim I am inflicting harm because I point out that some individuals we have long revered may have been either among the seduced or the seducers. Somehow these individuals seem not to have noticed how many regard Joseph's "plural wives" as deceitful trollops having sex with Emma's husband in Emma's house behind Emma's back. Finally, there are those who condescendingly tell me I am twisting the data to paint Joseph in the most faithful possible light, presuming that my 'brittle' testimony can't bear the full "truth" that others know about Joseph. But my testimony doesn't need a monogamous Joseph. My testimony of the gospel, coming as it did from God, would remain as bright even if I thought Joseph was having extra-marital sex. But the data do not support such a reading of Joseph's history, despite the efforts of many to portray Joseph's legacy as that of a deranged sex fiend. Frankly, the data we now have access to thanks to DNA and the massive availability of records is not consistent with the majority of current "presumptions" regarding Joseph Smith. Joseph's become one of my favorite people, along with Emma. I can't wait to see "Brother Joseph" in some future day.

James A. Ruffer MDJanuary 6, 2015

In May of 1978, my wife Margarita and I became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (at the midpoint of my life), today being the 6th of January 2015. In the midst of my joy, in those first days, I glanced at the anti-Mormon literature my father had sent me in response to my baptism. I have never forgotten the experience of those first few days which, in some ways, have guided my religious life ever since. Yes, I was shocked– near-to-death–by the literature, and I was revived from my painful fall only when a kindly relief society president "happened" to knock at the door, bearing gifts of homemade preserves and the testimony of Christ for the new members; meanwhile, my wife, who did not read religious material, sat comfortably in our home basking in the light of the spirit of her new religion. Together, we have stayed strong ever since. I only casually remember being told of news of Joseph Smith—revelations of polygamy—a few weeks ago. I did not respond by seeking more information (I am not such an intellectual, anymore); sorry, but I had other things to do at the time. If Joseph had forty wives, then they probably all needed husbands, thought I at the time. From a standpoint of reason, I doubted he ever consummated those marriages, if there were any truth to it; and I didn't remember any offspring from these wives, in any case. Well, the Lord knows why such amazing things happen, if they happen! I am a physician–retired now–and was once very busy. I was a military physician for many, many years, and while serving in Panama at the time of the Invasion-of-Panama, I was called to the High Council of the Panama Stake City. I had employed a very poor and humble man, a Panamanian, as a part-time gardner, whom I otherwise did not know. One day I presented myself for my first Stake meeting; sitting to my right, in seniority to me at the long-table of twelve, was my humble gardner, dressed in a humble suit. I beheld him, and my heart cried out in joy!–as my heart has become accustomed, from the time the Relief Society first came. About the time of the Stake calling, I was called by my four-star U.S. Army Commanding General to make up a team and find and count the Panamanian fatalities, both military and civilian, caused by the just-completed U.S. invasion of Panama. The number of dead I counted–and repeated the count–was 202, still the official U.S. count. When I arrived back in the U.S.A. in March of 1990, I watched the television program Sixty Minutes with Mike Wallace, as he erroneously reported the deaths of 2000-4000 innocent Panamanians killed by U.S. forces during bombardments from the air and by U.S. ground forces who had killed indiscriminately during the invasion. The bodies of the innocent, as many as 6000 said he, had been buried surreptitiously. But I knew the truth, and this was not the truth. My government did not respond to Sixty Minutes, even upon my written pleadings! Meanwhile, my wife remained comfortable at home raising our children; this time the relief society did not come and bring preserves. The Lord's work is One Eternal Round of justice, truth and fulfillment. Man's work, sometimes, is in concert with the Lord's and sometimes is distinctly different. I am so thankful that we can hope to know that difference, even in this life!

MikeJanuary 6, 2015

Having read most of the books you referenced, I wonder if you know of the book "Joseph Smith fought polygamy". It's easy to find and read on the internet, if you would rather not buy it. It is a decades-long research project written by Reorganized LDS authors on behalf of Emma and her children to tell about the truth behind polygamy fiasco. It answers a very lot of questions, as well as telling what I believe is the real truth.

RitaJanuary 6, 2015

With all the confusion surrounding the role of women in the world, I look to the women of the Church for a more sure path to follow as I work toward my goal of becoming like Christ. The story of Emma Smith, as presented in the books, articles and movies I've encountered so far, has always left me unsatisfied with the conclusions they've drawn. Emma was an intelligent, strong and spiritual woman, one who was loved by God for her goodness and faith. To conclude that she was somehow duped by Joseph, was unaware or conflicted about his relationships with his other wives, just kept me figuratively "kicking against the pricks". I just couldn't accept any of it.The deceitful and underhanded way Joseph was portrayed was every bit as problematic for me. How could I accept such a person as the Prophet? It's been a rough 39 years since I heard the missionaries and converted to the Church. There are so many things I've had to "put on the shelf". I am so looking forward to reading your book!

Melanie SteinJanuary 6, 2015

Thank you Sis. Stout, for your testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet. Thank you for sharing your well thought out conclusions. I appreciate the hard work you have done and look forward to more information. This has been a challenging year for many of us "stalwarts" and sadly, I see many leaning towards the teachings of the world. I am so grateful for women and men of intelligence and integrity who are not afraid to find and tell the truth!

Janis SmithJanuary 6, 2015

Thank you. I am a great..granddaughter of Hyrum Smith and therefore part of Joseph Smith's history/family. I have always felt in my heart there was more to this story than what is being published or talked about. As my mother used to say, "The truth will out - and it may not be the truth you thought was truth."

Robert ElliottJanuary 6, 2015

I have always been concerned that polygamy was not discussed at church when it is one of the first things thrown at new members. If we are happy for old testament prophets like Abraham and Jacob to have several wives, then why not Joseph and Brigham? Truth is always the best way to grow testimony.

LaneJanuary 6, 2015

So when are you going to tell us the rest of the story? I'm very interested in the different light and the intrigue you refer to.

ADD A COMMENT

  • INSPIRATION FOR LIVING A LATTER-DAY SAINT LIFE

    Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.

Order Your Kirtland Diary Now
2022 Old Testament Calendar