Jerusha Barden, 21
- Mercy Rachel Fielding, 36
- Previous Marriages:
- Robert Blashel Thompson
- Subsequent Marriages:
- John Taylor
Joseph Smith’s older brother, Hyrum Smith, and Jerusha Barden were civilly married in 1825 in Manchester, New York, and soon moved to live near Hyrum’s family in Palmyra. Hyrum and Jerusha soon found themselves at the center of Joseph Smith’s burgeoning religious community in New York. Hyrum was baptized in 1829, followed a year later by Jerusha. By the end of 1830, he and Jerusha moved their family to Kirtland, Ohio, the church’s new headquarters, and Hyrum became a member of its presidency. In October 1837, Jerusha died of complications from childbirth, leaving Hyrum to care for their five children, including a newborn daughter. Two months later, he was civilly married to Mary Fielding, an English convert and recent arrival to Kirtland. Mary and Hyrum’s marriage became polygamous in August of 1843, when her sister Mercy Rachel Fielding Thompson was sealed to Hyrum for time.
Mary and Mercy Fielding were born in Bedfordshire, England. In 1832, Mercy emigrated to Canada with their brother Joseph, followed two years later by Mary. In 1836, the three siblings joined the church and migrated to Kirtland the following year. In June 1837, Mercy was civilly married to Robert Thompson. When hostilities broke out in Kirtland in spring of 1838, the Thompsons accompanied Hyrum and Mary to Far West, Missouri, mere months before the governor issued his extermination order against the Mormons. In November, Mary gave birth to a son and became very ill, with only Mercy to care for her while Hyrum was in a Missouri prison accused of treason. Mary and her children were transported to Illinois with the aid of her sister and with Mary lying in the bed of a wagon. In the spring of 1839, Hyrum escaped his jailors and reunited with his family in Illinois.
On May 29, 1843, Hyrum was sealed for eternity to Jerusha, with Mary Fielding as proxy. The same day, Hyrum and Mary were sealed for eternity. In addition, Hyrum served as proxy when Mercy was sealed for eternity to her late husband Robert Thompson who had died in 1841 of tuberculosis. Several months later on August 11, Hyrum and Mercy were sealed for time. Later that month, Hyrum was sealed for eternity to his second plural wife, Catherine Phillips, about whom little is known. Before the end of the year, he was sealed for eternity to Louisa Sanger and Lydia Dibble Granger. Hyrum and his brother Joseph were murdered in June 1844.
Louisa Sanger’s family was originally from New Hampshire. Her father was a canal worker and the family had slowly migrated west, finding work on various canal projects. In 1842, they settled in Ottawa, Illinois, and joined the Latter-day Saints. Though Louisa’s parents were sealed in January, 1846, they ultimately left Nauvoo and returned to Ottawa, possibly disaffected by the practice of plural marriage. In 1845, the widowed Louisa was sealed for time to Reuben G. Miller: one of three women sealed to him on the same January day. Reuben and Louisa were initially drawn to James Strang’s claims to the church’s presidency after Joseph Smith’s death. Upon further experience with Strang, however, Reuben’s concerns about which of the claimants was divinely appointed were resolved in favor of Brigham Young. Louisa’s concerns about plural marriage were not satisfied, though they did not seem personal to Reuben. Nevertheless, she did not go with him to Utah and instead returned to Ottawa, Illinois, to be with her extended family and died there in 1877.
Lydia Dibble and her husband Oliver Granger joined the church in 1832 or 1833 and moved to Kirtland in 1833. Although the Grangers attempted to follow the Saints to Far West in 1838, they were turned back by mobs and returned to Kirtland, where Oliver remained until his death in 1840. Lydia reached Nauvoo in 1843. and, shortly thereafter, was sealed to Hyrum. When widowed for the second time by his death, she was sealed for time to John Taylor. Though he left for Salt Lake valley in 1847, Lydia did not make the journey until 1851 and died in 1862 in Salt Lake City.
Hyrum was not sealed to any other women during his lifetime, though two widows—the 57-year-old Susan Jordan and 55-year-old Polly Miller—were sealed to him by proxy for eternity in January 1846 respectively. Both women were then sealed to other men for time. Polly was sealed to Samuel Bent, who died later that year in Decatur, Iowa. She migrated to Utah in 1849 and died soon after. Susan was sealed for time to Edward Tuttle. She did not go with him to Utah, but rather followed her daughter Caroline Bullard to St. Louis and died there in 1872.
After Hyrum’s death, Mary Fielding was sealed for time to Apostle Heber C. Kimball. She migrated to Salt Lake City in 1848 with Heber, traveling with two of her biological children and three of Jerusha’s. She later had two children with Heber. In 1852, she died in Salt Lake City. Widowed for a second time, Mercy Fielding Thompson was sealed for time to Apostle John Taylor, a family friend who had been in the same Methodist congregation in Toronto, Canada, as the Fieldings and had introduced them to the Church. Mercy migrated to the Salt Lake valley with her daughter and lived in Salt Lake City next to her brother Joseph. She died there in 1893. Catherine Phillips never remarried. She migrated to Utah in 1860 and, at the age of 86, died in Salt Lake City.
Anderson, Richard Lloyd. “Reuben Miller, Recorder of Oliver Cowdery’s Reaffirmations,” BYU Studies Quarterly 8, no.3 (1968): 277–93, 280–86.
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74, 25–29.
“Conklin, Polly Miller,” “Granger, Lydia,” “Smith, Catherine,” “Taylor, John” and “Thompson, Mercy Rachel,” Pioneer Database 1847–1868, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/
“Granger, Lydia Dibble,” “Smith, Mary Fielding,” and “Thompson, Mercy Rachel Fielding,” The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/the-first-fifty-years-of-relief-society/people/
“Granger, Lydia Dibble,” “Granger, Oliver,” “Smith, Hyrum,” “Smith, Jerusha T. Barden,” and “Thompson, Mercy Rachel Fielding,” The Joseph Smith Papers, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/reference/people
“Bullard, Caroline M. Jordan,” and “Jordan, Susan Ivers,” FindAGrave database, https://www.findagrave.com/
O’Donovan, Connell. “Susan Ivers (Jordan),” Early Boston Mormons and Missionaries, D to M, 1831–1860, http://www.connellodonovan.com/boston_mormonsD-M.pdf. Accessed 11 Aug 2020.
Steel, David Warren. “David Sanger (1782–1852),” http://home.olemiss.edu/~mudws/family/dsanger.html. Accessed 11 Aug 2020.
Thompson, Mercy Rachel Fielding 1807-1893. Mercy F. Thompson autobiographical sketch, Church History Library, https://catalog.churchofjesuschrist.org/assets?id=f3e7311c-cd9c-4dea-811e-bdb9d973fa26&crate=0&index=2. Accessed: August 11, 2020.
Anderson, Richard Lloyd. “Reuben Miller, Recorder of Oliver Cowdery’s Reaffirmations.” Brigham Young University Studies 8, no. 3 (1968): 277-293, 286 n. 37.