Mary Wickersham, 22
- Ellen Wilding, 24
Edwin Dilworth Woolley and Mary Wickersham were both reared in Pennsylvania Quaker families who relocated to Ohio in 1831, where Mary and Edwin were civilly married in March of that year. The Woolleys joined the church in late 1837 and Edwin was soon assigned to preside over a local congregation. In 1839, the Woolleys and three of their eventual eight children migrated to Nauvoo to join the Saints displaced from Missouri. Mary became a member of the Relief Society and Edwin served several missions and ran a store. In summer 1843, Joseph Smith’s recently recorded plural marriage revelation was read publicly for the first time in the Woolley home. In December, the Woolley marriage become polygamous with Edwin’s sealings for eternity to Ellen Wilding and, shortly thereafter, to Louisa Chapin Gordon Rising. Most records have the two women sealed to Edwin on the same day, but some records indicate Louisa’s sealing occurred four months later.
Ellen Wilding joined the church in England and emigrated sometime between 1840 and 1843. At the time of her sealing to Edwin, Ellen was working as a domestic laborer in the Woolley home. At the time of Louisa’s sealing to Edwin, she had been married to David Lorin Rising for five years. It is unknown when they separated. Late in life, Louisa’s son by Edwin reported that she had separated from her first husband around the time the birth of her second child and sealing to Edwin. Although she assented to polygamy at first, Edwin’s first wife, Mary, evidently struggled with it and briefly left Nauvoo to live with her parents in Ohio. Upon returning, she participated in the Nauvoo temple ordinances and accompanied the family to the West.
After departing Nauvoo, the Woolley family lived for nearly two years at Winter Quarters, where Edwin had been asked by Brigham Young to maintain a store to provision the pioneer companies. In 1848, most of the Woolleys migrated to the Salt Lake Valley. Louisa Chapin was apparently separated from her husband David when she was sealed to Edwin. In 1846, however, Louisa had refused to follow the family west and died in 1849, in Galesburg, Illinois. When Edwin returned to Illinois for their son, he met and hired Mary Ann Olpin, to care for the boy. After reaching Utah, Mary Ann and Edwin were sealed for eternity.
Twice-widowed and mother of six Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” Fitzrandolph Marshall Jackman and her 20-year-old daughter Elizabeth Ann Marshall were sealed to Edwin in 1857. Her brief marriage to Edwin produced one child in 1858, but by1860, Betsy had separated from Edwin and relocated to Solano, California. She may have married again to a John Griswold in 1874 in Wisconsin. Both mother and daughter died in 1908: Betsy in Iowa, after living with her son for several years, and Elizabeth in Salt Lake City. Virtually nothing else is known about Elizabeth’s life except that by 1866 she was married to a David Wallace.
For the last dozen years of his life, Edwin was again a monogamist. In addition to the three wives who had left him, first wife Mary died within a decade of arriving to Utah. In 1869, Ellen Wilding’s daughter Sarah and her husband were appointed to settle Idaho and Ellen went with them, dying there in 1913. Only Mary Ann Olpin remained with Edwin until his death in 1881.
Arrington, Leonard J. From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976).
Arrington, Leonard J., and Davis Bitton. “Edwin Woolley: Bishop of the Thirteenth Ward,” in Saints Without Halos: The Human Side of Mormon History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1981), 53–62.
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–1844,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (Fall 2005): 1–74, 42.
Coray, Howard, Autobiography, quoted in Jessee, Dean C. “The writing of Joseph Smith’s history.” Brigham Young University Studies 11, no. 4 (1971): 439-473
Esshom, Frank Elwood. “Woolley, Edwin Dilworth,” in Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913), 1263.
“Jackman, Besty Ann Fitzrandolph (9HBC-1HR),” “Marshall, Elizabeth Ann (KWJD-FQW),” “Sutton, John A. (KWZ8-RFV),” “Woolley, Edwin Dilworth (KWN2-GPW),” “Wilding, Ellen (LZ28-6BT),” and “Woolley, John Jr. (LLM9-8Q2),” FamilySearch
“John A. Sutton, A Pioneer: Another Faithful Pioneer Has Passed to the Great Beyond,” The Paris Post, Paris, Idaho, Friday May 16, 1913.
“Olpin, Mary Ann,” “Wickersham, Amos (LHT9-HTD),” “Woolley, Edwin Dilworth,” “Woolley, Ellen Wilding,” and “Woolley, Mary,” Pioneer Database 1847–1868
Parkinson, Preston Woolley. The Utah Woolley Family: Descendants of Thomas Woolley and Sarah Coppock of Pennsylvania. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1967), 113.
“Woolley, Edwin,” The Joseph Smith Papers