Adams

Root Marriage

James Adams, 25
Harriet Denton, 21
1809

First Plural

Roxanna Repshire, 38
1843-07-11
Previous Marriages:
Daniel Mayhope Repsher
Subsequent Marriages:
Isaac Higbee Jr

Subsequent Plural

James Adams

Unlike many Nauvoo insiders, James Adams and Harriet Denton did not join the church until 1840, close to the end of their lives. James and Harriet, both from Hartford Connecticut, had been married in 1809. By the time their marriage became polygamous with James’ sealing for eternity to Roxanna Repshire, James was 60. He died a month later.

In approximately 1820, James and Roxanne moved from Oswego Co., New York, to Springfield, Illinois, where James served as a probate judge for nearly twenty years and was a prominent Freemason, a role he would later play in Nauvoo. He met Joseph Smith in November 1839 when Smith passed through Springfield on his way to petition President Martin Van Buren for reparations for the Saints’ losses in Missouri. James evidently sought Smith out and invited him to stay in his home for several days. Smith was impressed, remarking later that James had treated him “like a father.”

James Adams quickly became part of Joseph Smith’s inner circle. In spring 1842, Smith invited him to join a small group of male church leaders—only nine in total—who were the first to participate in the new temple rites. The following spring, James sealed Emily and Elizabeth Partridge to Smith and was himself sealed a few weeks later, presumably by Smith, for eternity to his wife of 34 years, Harriet. Six weeks afterwards, Roxanna also was sealed to James for eternity.

At the time, Roxanna was married, but separated from her husband Daniel Mayhope Repsher, though he, too, was living in Nauvoo. She had been a Latter-day Saint since at least the mid-1830s when she was among a group of Mormons excommunicated for following the revelations of James Collins Brewster. By the time of her sealing in 1843, she had returned to fellowship and later followed the main body of the Church westward. During Winter Quarters in 1847, she was resealed by proxy to the deceased James and, on the same day, was sealed for time as a plural wife to Isaac Higbee, Jr.  

Only one member of the Adams family—which had included James, Harriet, and four children when they arrived at Springfield in 1821—survived past 1844. James was preceded in death by two adult children, including a recently married daughter. After his own death in August 1843, his and Harriet’s youngest child, Vienna, died in February 1844, followed by Harriet in August, 1844. Only their son, Lucien, would survive both parents. Lucien did not follow the Saints west, instead living out his adult life in Springfield.

Unlike many Nauvoo insiders, James Adams and Harriet Denton did not join the church until 1840, close to the end of their lives. James and Harriet, both from Hartford Connecticut, had been married in 1809. By the time their marriage became polygamous with James’ sealing for eternity to Roxanna Repshire, James was 60. He died a month later.

In approximately 1820, James and Roxanne moved from Oswego Co., New York, to Springfield, Illinois, where James served as a probate judge for nearly twenty years and was a prominent Freemason, a role he would later play in Nauvoo. He met Joseph Smith in November 1839 when Smith passed through Springfield on his way to petition President Martin Van Buren for reparations for the Saints’ losses in Missouri. James evidently sought Smith out and invited him to stay in his home for several days. Smith was impressed, remarking later that James had treated him “like a father.”

James Adams quickly became part of Joseph Smith’s inner circle. In spring 1842, Smith invited him to join a small group of male church leaders—only nine in total—who were the first to participate in the new temple rites. The following spring, James sealed Emily and Elizabeth Partridge to Smith and was himself sealed a few weeks later, presumably by Smith, for eternity to his wife of 34 years, Harriet. Six weeks afterwards, Roxanna also was sealed to James for eternity.

At the time, Roxanna was married, but separated from her husband Daniel Mayhope Repsher, though he, too, was living in Nauvoo. She had been a Latter-day Saint since at least the mid-1830s when she was among a group of Mormons excommunicated for following the revelations of James Collins Brewster. By the time of her sealing in 1843, she had returned to fellowship and later followed the main body of the Church westward. During Winter Quarters in 1847, she was resealed by proxy to the deceased James and, on the same day, was sealed for time as a plural wife to Isaac Higbee, Jr.  

Only one member of the Adams family—which had included James, Harriet, and four children when they arrived at Springfield in 1821—survived past 1844. James was preceded in death by two adult children, including a recently married daughter. After his own death in August 1843, his and Harriet’s youngest child, Vienna, died in February 1844, followed by Harriet in August, 1844. Only their son, Lucien, would survive both parents. Lucien did not follow the Saints west, instead living out his adult life in Springfield.  

year later, Smith also included Adams in the new practice of eternal marriage. On the same day that Smith was sealed to his civilly married wife, Emma, in eternal marriage, Smith also joined James Adams and his civilly married wife Harriet for time and eternity.  

On July 11, 1843, Smith sealed Roxena Rachel Repsher (1805-1876) to James Adams. A native of New York and a longtime convert, Roxena was also a member of the Female Relief Society. Little is known about Roxena except that she participated in prayer circles and in religious discussion.  

Less than six months after the sealing, however, James Adams died; Harriet died less than a year later. In 1847, Roxena married Isaac Higbee Jr. (1797-1874); at some point she left Higbee and married Andrew Van Horn Patten. She died in Utah Territory at the age of 71.


Sources

“Adams, James,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/james-adams

Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (2005): 1–74, 5.

Black, Susan Easton. “James Adams of Springfield, Illinois: The Link between Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Smith,” Mormon Historical Studies 10, no. 1 (Spring 2009):33–49.

“James Adams (L5ZK-97B),” FamilySearchhttps://www.familysearch.org/

Walgren, Kent L. “James Adams: Early Springfield Mormon and Freemason,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 75, no.2 (Summer 1982): 121–36.