Sylvia Sessions

Sylvia Sessions was Joseph Smith's seventh plural wife.

#7 Sylvia

This is a video summary of Sylvia.

Background

As we will learn from Patty’s story, Sylvia was one of three children that survived of her parents, Patty and David Sessions. She joined the saints with her family, who were converted in 1834. After making the trek from Maine to Missouri and building a new home with her parents in Far West, she was married at the age of nineteen to Windsor P. Lyon. Joseph Smith performed the ceremony. Windsor practiced medicine as an “army physician”. 

Shortly thereafter, they fled Missouri for Illinois, with the rest of the Mormons. Said Perrigrine, “The weather was cold and we had to tent by the way. This tried our souls. When we would pass through towns and villages, they would holler at us and ask us where our Old Jo. Smith was, or our Mormon God, and where we were going, and threaten us with death. And some they whipped nearly to death. Here, women and children traveled on foot until they wore their shoes out and went barefoot when you could track them by blood on the prairies.”

 

Life in Nauvoo

Windsor, Sylvia’s husband, was the first to construct a major building in Nauvoo. One side was their home and the other was his mercantile and drug business. 

Sylvia’s first child was born here, named Marian. The next year, she had a second daughter, named Philofreen.

 

Sylvia Marries Joseph Smith

When Sylvia was twenty three, she was sealed to Joseph Smith (for “time” only). Almost nothing is known about this polyandrous marriage, except that later she claimed that her daughter Josephine was a product of it. 

We don’t know what Windsor’s reaction was to it, but it seems that he might have known about it and permitted it. We know that he was a faithful Saint who accepted Smith as a prophet.

 

Eternal Families?

Sylvia’s first child, Marian Lyon, died in March 1842. Her body was brought to Smith while he was preaching to a large group near the temple, and he changed his topic to speak about the salvation of children. 

Technically, Marian was now sealed to him, not Windsor, in the eternities.

Later, Windsor was excommunicated for suing a stake president in the church.

 

Marrying a non-Mormon

Windsor passed away in 1846 from tuberculosis. He was a polygamist at the time, he had taken on a second wife. When Windsor died, Sylvia wrote to her brother in Utah to come and collect her and her children to join the Saints. However, upon his arrival (in 1849), he found that she was just about to get married to a non-Mormon, named Ezekiel Clark. Her brother was disappointed, but gave her away to her husband. 

Sylvia and Ezekiel had one child together. Sylvia’s Lyon children did not live long. The only child left was Josephine, who she thought was Joseph’s child. 

Later, Ezekiel helped Sylvia's brother to bring them to Utah (buying a carriage, etc), expecting them to return back the next year, but Sylvia put roots down in Utah immediately and Ezekiel came after her in 1855, but she did not come back.

 

Did Joseph have sexual relations with Sylvia Sessions?

Josephine Sessions, Sylvia’s daughter, recalls thas in 1882:

“Before she passed away from mortality she desired to tell me something which she had kept as an entire secret from me and from all others, but which she now desired to communicate to me. She then told me that I was the daughter of the prophet joseph Smith, she having been sealed to the prophet at the time that her husband Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the church.”

DNA evidence shows that Josephine was indeed Windsor’s daughter.

The only way Sylvia's confession makes sense is to understand that she was having sexual relations with both Windsor and Joseph Smith at the same time period. 

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