Thirza Stiles, 21
- Mary Hildrath, 61
Reynolds Cahoon and Thirza Stiles were among the first to learn of and practice Plural Marriage. Baptized in the fall of 1830, Reynolds was ordained to the Church’s higher priesthood the following year. In Kirtland, the Cahoons were close neighbors with many of those in Joseph Smith’s inner circle of trusted lieutenants. Reynolds received increasingly responsible positions of trust from Smith, including serving as a member of the building committees for the temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Thirza served as a charter member of the original Relief Society organization. The Cahoons had been married 31 years, and had five living children when Lucina Roberts Johnson was sealed for eternity to Reynolds in early 1842, followed by Mary Hildreth in 1846.
Vermonters Lucina Johnson and her first husband, Peter Henry Johnson (d. 1838) were early converts who wished to gather to the Church’s Kirtland headquarters. Tragically, while on the water in route to Kirtland, Peter and two of the Johnson children died of cholera. They and the family’s belongings were hastily committed to the Ohio River to avoid contagion. The widowed and impoverished Lucina and three remaining children, ages ten, five and two years, reached Kirtland, but there is no record of how they survived in the next few years or made their way to Nauvoo by 1841 or why, beyond their economic vulnerability, they might have been joined to the Cahoon family.
Mary Hildreth was born in Connecticut and no other information about her or her relationship with Reynolds is known. According to incomplete historical records, Reynolds may also have been sealed for eternity in January 1846 to a woman named Mary Atherton, though similarities between her date of birth and that of Mary Hildreth has caused some scholars to wonder whether they are the same woman. In any case, no woman fitting either Mary’s description is known to have migrated to Utah in the pioneer companies.
The Cahoon family travelled to Winter Quarters, Nebraska in 1846 and remained there for two years. In 1848, Reynolds, Thirza, Lucina, and their children migrated to Utah where they settled in Salt Lake City. Reynolds and Lucina both passed away in 1861, he at age 71, she at 55. Six years later, Thirza died at age 78.
Thirza bore eight children. Lucina had three children with Reynolds, in addition to three from her first marriage to Peter Henry Johnson; two of her children with Reynolds survived to adulthood, both dying in 1911. Mary had no known children.
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (2005): 1–74.
“Cahoon, Lucina,” “Cahoon, Reynolds,” and “Cahoon, Thirza,” Pioneer Database 1847–1868, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/.
“Cahoon, Reynolds,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/reynolds-cahoon.
“Cahoon, Thirza Stiles,” The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/people/thirza-stiles-cahoon?letter=C&lang=eng.
“Reynolds Cahoon,” and “Thirza Stiles Cahoon,” FindAGrave, https://www.findagrave.com.
Stella Cahoon Shurtleff and Brent Farrington Cahoon, comps. Reynolds Cahoon and His Stalwart Sons: Utah Pioneers (Salt Lake City: Paragon Press, 1960), 82. https://archive.org/details/reynoldscahoonhi00shur/.