Betsey Thompson, 26
- Lorain Stevens, 30
Widower John Edward Page married Mary Adams Judd in a civil ceremony near Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839. He had been married twice before but both previous wives, Betsey Thompson and Lorain Stephens, had died. The circumstances of Betsey’s death are not known, but John blamed Missouri’s “furious mob” for the death of Lorain and two of their three children, a two-year old and a newborn, in 1838. Mary Adams Judd was from Ontario, Canada, and had been among the company of converts the Pages brought with them to Far West, Missouri, in the fall of 1838. She would bear John eight children, four of whom lived to maturity. Shortly after arriving in Far West, John was ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Scholars disagree whether the Page’s marriage became polygamous in 1844 with the addition of Nancy Bliss (who, in any case, seems to have left the following year) or whether Mary’s sisters, Rachel Judd and Lois Judd were John’s first plural wives. According to an affidavit given in her final years, Mary claimed that she had “given” John multiple wives during Joseph Smith’s lifetime, though this may be misremembered, as most scholars date Rachel and Lois’s sealings to 1845.
The year following Joseph Smith’s death in 1844, John was actively engaged in his duties as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, including participation in the Council of Fifty and the Nauvoo temple worship. He had doubts about the Quorum’s authority to lead the Church, however. Ultimately, he chose to follow James Strang, not Brigham Young. Consequently, in February 1846 John was removed from the Quorum and, several months later, excommunicated.
After his excommunication, Mary stayed with John, but her sisters Rachel and Lois left him and joined the exodus west led by Brigham Young. Sometime between 1846 and 1848, Rachel married a “Mr. Henderson,” who died a year later. In 1849, she married Jacob Hamblin, with whom she remained until her death in Santa Clara, Utah in 1865 at age 43. Lois was sealed to Benjamin Thomas Mitchell in January 1848 at Winter Quarters. She died in Draper, Utah in 1912 at age 87. All of Rachel and Lois’ children were by their second husbands.
Following their 1849 ejection from the Strangites, Mary and John associated with several Latter-day Saint movements but never found in them the simpler, Bible- and Book of Mormon-centered gospel he sought. After John’s 1867 death in Illinois, Mary was married to William Eaton. She died in 1907 in Independence, Missouri, where she had lived with her son.
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (2005): 1–74.
“Betsy Thompson (L296-DCV),” “John Edward Page (KWJR-TLC),” “Lavona (Lorain) Stevens (L296-DCN),” and “Mary Adams Judd (L29X-GBB),” FamilySearch, https://www.familysearch.org/
Compton, Todd. “Civilizing the Ragged Edge: The Wives of Jacob Hamblin,” Journal of Mormon History 33, no.2 (Summer 2007): 155–198.
Goldman, Henry H, ed. “[The] First Twenty Years of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the [‘] Queen City of the Trails [‘],” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 32, no.2 (Fall/Winter 2012): 197–225.
“Henderson, Rachael,” and “Mitchell, Lois,” Pioneer Database 1847–1868, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/.
“Judd Mitchell, Lois,” The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/people/J?lang=eng.
“Lois Judd Mitchell,” “Mary Adams Judd Page,” and “Rachel Judd Hamblin,” FindAGrave, https://www.findagrave.com/.
Quinn, D. Michael. The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994).
“Page, John Edward,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/person/john-edward page?highlight=john%20edward%20page.
Shepherd, William. “Shadows on the Sun Dial: John E. Page and the Strangites,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 41, no.1 (2008): 34–66.
Smith, George D. Nauvoo Polygamy: “…but we called it celestial marriage” (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008).
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1905), 49–50.