Marinda Nancy Johnson, 19
- Martha Rebecca Browett, 23
Orson Hyde and Marinda Nancy Johnson were civilly married in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1834. Eight years later in Nauvoo, Marinda was to sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity. Orson was sealed for eternity to Martha Rebecca Browett in February 1843, and one month later civilly married to Mary Ann Price. Mary Ann would later be sealed for eternity in February 1846, as would Marinda to Orson. The significance of these events and their meaning to the participants are hotly contested among historians of Mormonism.
Both Orson’s and Marinda’s families were among the first converts to the church. Marinda was baptized in April 1831 and Orson joined the church later that year. He rose quickly in the ranks of church leadership and was appointed one of the original members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in February 1835. Marinda was a charter member of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo in March 1842. They were, by almost any measure, Latter-day Saint elites and closely associated with Joseph and Emma Smith. The Smiths had lived with Marinda in her family home in Hiram, Ohio, for almost eight months.
In April 1840, Orson left on a mission to Palestine and did not return until December 1842. A year earlier, Joseph Smith directed Ebenezer Robinson and his wife to provide a home for Marinda. Marinda later reported that this occurred shortly after Smith taught her the principle of plural marriage. According to at least one historical account, Marinda and Joseph Smith were sealed in April 1842, though Marinda later swore in an 1869 affidavit the sealing occurred a year later, in May 1843. Depending on which date is correct, Marinda may have been sealed to Smith before Orson’s return from Palestine and before Orson’s marriages to Martha Browett and Mary Ann Price.
Both Martha Rebecca Browett and Mary Ann Price were English converts who immigrated to Nauvoo in 1841. While Mary Ann traveled with her family, Martha and a sister preceded their families’ arrival in 1842 on the same ship which carried Orson home from his mission to Palestine. Soon after returning to Nauvoo, Orson introduced himself to Mary Ann and invited her to his and Marinda’s home where Joseph Smith introduced Mary Ann to the principle of plural marriage. After the meeting, Orson proposed to Mary Ann as he drove her home in his carriage. At the time, she was horrified by the prospect and adamantly refused. Apparently, the offer remained open, and over time as she came to know more about Orson’s character, she gradually became more amenable to the idea. She and Orson were civilly married in March 1843, and later sealed for eternity in the Nauvoo Temple in January 1846.
While Mary Ann had been considering the marriage, Orson had proposed to and been sealed for eternity to Martha Browett. In 1850, while in Winter Quarters on the way west, Martha and Orson had a child together, but it soon died. Later that year, Martha divorced Orson and married the recently widowed Thomas McKenzie. Orson officiated the ceremony. Martha divorced Thomas soon after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1852. She proposed remarriage to Orson in 1858 or 1859, but Orson responded by blaming Martha’s pride for their former troubles and only accepting remarriage on the condition that Martha submit to his authority absolutely. She declined. Martha died in October 1904 at 87.
In 1858, Orson was assigned by Brigham Young to preside over the settlements in Sanpete County, in south central Utah; four of his wives went with him. Miranda chose to stay in Salt Lake City with her four young children. This separation likely signaled the beginning of the end for their marriage, given that in 1870, after nearly forty years of marriage, Marinda and Orson were formally divorced. She died in Salt Lake City in 1886 at age 71.
The Hyde family never returned north to live in Salt Lake City, and Orson continued to marry plurally, marrying wives Charlotte Quindlin, Helen Winters, Ann Vickers, Julia Reinart, Elizabeth Gallier, and Sophia Lyon and fathering children until nearly 70 years old. He died in 1878 at age 73. Mary Ann lived until 1900 when she died in Spring City at age 84
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