Marinda was Joseph Smith's tenth polygamous wife.
Marinda was born on June 28, 1815 in Vermont. She was the seventh of fifteen children. When her parents joined the church, Marinda remembers feeling “indignation and shame” at their belief in such a “ridiculous fake.” When Joseph simply looked at her she said she knew he was what he claimed to be and never doubted him thereafter.
Marinda’s mother Elsa had been suffering from chronic rheumatism for two years and could not even raise her hand to her head. But “the prophet laid hands upon her, and she was healed immediately” [Luke Johnson]. Even a non-Mormon, visiting the area, gave an even fuller account, saying that Joseph commanded her in the name of Jesus Christ to be whole then he “immediately left the room.. Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it up with ease…”
Joseph and Sidney Rigdon stayed in the Johnson farmhouse as they preached in the Pomfret area (she would have been about fifteen or sixteen). Later, Joseph and Emma also stayed with the Johnsons for seven months.
Tarred & Feathered
On March 24, 1832, while Joseph was staying with the Johnsons and mob came and tarred and feathered him. There are two versions of the story:
Version #1 is from Clark Braden (late, anti, and secondhand). He claims that Marinda’s brother Eli led the mob against Joseph because the prophet had been too intimate with Marinda. They brought the doctor to castrate him because he had committed a sexual impropriety. This would suggest a very early marriage for Joseph and Marinda. Also, Marinda doesn’t have a brother named Eli.
Version #2 comes from Hayden and S. F. Whitney who say that Simonds Ryder lead the mob. The reason for the violence in this one is for economic reasons, “the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Smith.”
There are a number of facts that come from Luke Johnson, whom we have no reason to doubt:
Marinda marred Orson when she was nineteen and he was twenty-nine, on September 4, 1834. Her first child died at birth, but her second lived. Three weeks later Orson was called on a mission and did not return until their child was a year old. In 1838, Orson Hyde became disaffected from the church.
In 1838, Orson Hyde signed an affidavit that said that Joseph Smith planned “to take this state, and he professes to his people to intend taking the US, and ultimately the whole world… If he [Joseph Smith] was .. let alone he would be a second Mohamet to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the rocky mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.”
According to Todd Compton, “This inflammatory document seriously compromised Smith’s image and contributed toward his arrest and imprisonment in Liberty Jail.”
Orson sought reinstatement in the Church in March 1839. (I want to note here that Marinda truly seems to have loved Orson. The doctrine of polygamy was very hard for her to accept.)
Marinda marries Joseph Smith
On December 2, 1841 Joseph Smith received a revelation for Marinda Johnson that was never canonized:
“Verily thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph. That inasmuch as you have called upon me to know my will concerning my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde, behold it is my will that she should have a better place prepared for her than that in which she now lives, in order that her life may be spared unto her; Therefore go and say unto my servant Ebenezer Robinson, & to my handmaid his wife, Let them open their doors and take her and her children into their house and take care of them faithfully and kindly until my servant Orson Hyde returns from his mission… and let my handmaid Nancy Marinda Hyde hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph in all things whatsoever he shall teach unto her, and it shall be a blessing upon her and upon her children after her, unto her justification saith the Lord.”
There is a rumor that Joseph Smith would send men on missions so that he could marry their wives. So far, we have not shown that to be the case (although he did often send men on missions AFTER he had married their wives as was the case with Zina and Henry). This is the wife that this rumor comes from. Joseph and Marinda were sealed in April, 1842. She was 26 and Joseph, 36.
There are four antagonistic reports of this marriage:
#1 Sidney Rigdon in 1845, Orson did not know of the marriage and Joseph plays a “trick” on Orson “in his absence.” Orson’s “dignity becomes offended, (and well it might) refuses to live with his wife.” By this story Orson only finds out in 1843, and in reality, Orson didn’t stop living with his wife.
#2 William Hall in 1852, Joseph demanded Orson’s wife and all of his money when Orson was reinstated and Orson gave her up. (Hall proved unreliable with Zina’s marriage to Smith and it’s likely he is unreliable here)
#3 John D. Lee asserts that Marinda had permission from Orson to marry Joseph and that he knew of the marriage.
#4 Ann Eliza Webb Yount suggests that Orson didn’t know of the marriage in 1842, and that he was extremely upset with the news when he learned of it after his mission.
Todd Compton poses an interesting theory: “Theoretically the ‘second husband’ may have encouraged the ‘first husband’ to take other wives to compensate for the loss of the first wife, to help them start their own eternal kingdoms” [p. 241].
Orson becomes a polygamist
After he returned from his mission, Orson married other women. Throughout the remainder of their marriage Orson married younger and younger women. One interesting fact is that we know for certain that Orson received his Second Anointing in January 1844, but he said in December 1845 that she had not yet received her fulness of the priesthood ordinance (usually it’s both husband AND wife).
Another interesting thing is that usually the wives were sealed (by proxy) to Joseph Smith for time and eternity and then to their husband for time only. But on January 11, 1846, Orson and Marinda were sealed for time and eternity.” One wonders if Orson understood that if Marinda was sealed to Joseph for eternity he would lose her and his children, as they would become Joseph’s in the next life.
Marinda and Orson get divorced
As Orson continued to marry other women (most of them much younger), Marinda changed her mind about her sealing to Orson and on July 31, 1856, she was sealed to Joseph for eternity instead.
Finally, in 1870, after thirty-four years of marriage, Marinda and Orson formally divorced. One biographer, Myrtle Hyde, said that she could find no evidence of animosity between Orson and Marinda, they just simply drifted apart.
Marinda was dear friends with a number of other prominent Mormon women, Eliza R. Snow, Zina Huntington, Louisa Beaman, Mary Elizabeth Lightner, and many others. In many ways Marinda’s story shows the strains on a polygamous bride in that she has to work to make ends meet, rely on her sister wives and female friends, depend on her children, and watch her husband woo younger and younger women.
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