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Root Marriage

William Felshaw, 27
Mary Harriet Gilbert, 18

First Plural

Charlotte Walters, 18
Subsequent Marriages:
Isaac Chase

Subsequent Plural

Elizabeth Cheney, 31
Mary Harriet Gilbert
William Felshaw
Charlotte Walters

William Felshaw and Mary Harriet Gilbert were civilly married in Washington, New York in early 1827. In 1832, they joined the church and, three years later, moved to Kirtland, Ohio. By this time Mary had already borne six children and buried four of them. In Kirtland, William was one of the primary carpenters for the construction of the Kirtland Temple (as, later, he would be for the Nauvoo Temple). The Felshaws moved with the Saints to Caldwell County, Missouri in 1838 and the following year fled to Illinois. Unlike many early polygamists, William was never a high-level church leader and did not serve very many missions. His primary role seems to have been using his trade to build the temples. Similarly, Mary was not a member of the Female Relief Society and does not appear to have been very well known.

In July 1843, William and Mary’s marriage became polygamous when William and Charlotte Walters were sealed for eternity. Little is known about Charlotte. She was born in Gloucester, England, and appears to have joined the church between 1839 and 1842. Once the temple was finished, a time when most of the Saints were renewing their covenants, Charlotte was resealed to William in 1846 and went west as part of the Felshaw family.

By the time they left Nauvoo, William and Mary had had ten children together, and would have three more later. Charlotte and William had four children before they separated. The cause and date of the separation are unknown. She was sealed for eternity as a plural wife to Isaac Chase in 1855. Elizabeth Cheney was also sealed to William prior to the exodus from Nauvoo, but later left him to marry Abner Bell in 1851.


Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74, 8.

“Died,” Deseret News [Weekly], 27 November 1867, 336. https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/details?id=2600364. Accessed 6 Aug 2020.

“Felshaw, William,” Missionary Databasehttps://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/missionary/individual/william-felshaw-1800?lang=eng. Accessed 6 Aug 2020.

“William Felshaw (KWJR-LQ5),” FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/