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Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 11:24
by Roy
dande48 wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 10:43
except for the part about JS marrying Fanny Alger. There's a lot of doubt that they were actually married, polygamous or otherwise .
This is an interesting tangent from the Mormon Primer thread. I had understood that the family of Fanny Alger understood her relationship to JS to be a form of marriage. What are the arguments/evidence for or against? Do those that doubt the marriage doubt a sexual relationship as well?

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 13:50
by DoubtingTom
I'll try to provide a quick response, but this is from my phone and I won't be able to look anything up or get sources, so I might make some mistakes.

For:
  • - Joseph Smith and other leaders referred to it as a marriage after the fact
  • - If it wasn't a marriage, then Joseph could be accused of adultery, which he vehemntly denied.
Against:
  • - There is something about Emma discovering Joseph with Fanny in a barn. What was going on is unclear. Was it an intimate encounter or maybe a marriage ceremony of some sort? We don't know. But we know Emma was very upset by what she caught Joseph doing.
  • - We have Oliver Cowdery referring to it as a filthy nasty scrap. Apparently "scrap" was also commonly used then to refer to an affair. This quote has been particularly damning, but maybe Oliver was just upset with Joseph at the time and wanted to defame him.
  • - Perhaps the most damning of all. The supposed marriage/affair happened before the sealing power was restored. So the question is how could he be married to another prior to that?
Whatever truly happened between Joseph and Fanny, we may never know. But we know it was kept hidden from Emma and upset her and Oliver and others. Some would argue that polygamy was a convenient cover up after the fact of an affair. Others would say it was a marriage and not an adulterous relationship.

There's lots more info about this that I don't recall with clarity or have at my fingertips at the moment. I apologize if I've gotten anything terribly wrong.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 14:33
by On Own Now
Couple of points I'd like to make about this.

- First, JS married many women and it is not known whether most or even many of these marriages involved sex. Unfortunately, we project our concept of 'marriage' onto what JS was doing and we then assume that they were having sex, planting gardens together, and inviting friends over. But he and they clearly saw these marriages as for "the next" world. Did he have sex with some? I'd say yes, but evidence is actually pretty sparse. Did he have sex frequently? I'd say no based on the lack of any identifiable offspring from JS other than with Emma.

- OC called it an "affair" between JS and FA. However, while "affair" is a term that we use almost exclusively to mean extra-marital sex, it wasn't so in those days. Usually, they used the term "an affair of the heart" and it might only mean 'love' not 'sex'. So, when OC called it a "dirty nasty filthy affair" he likely meant "matter" which might have meant to him that the two were caught in adultery or might have meant that JS married FA spiritually against OC's concept of marriage, or that JS paid FA out of church funds or that JS falsely accused FA of steeling or... well, you get the drift. We fill in these gaping blanks with what we expect it to have been.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 15:15
by hawkgrrrl
My personal opinion? This was adultery, plain and simple. Emma didn't know or agree to it. Oliver (who had been JS's right hand and wasn't yet on the outs - that came because of this) called it what it was. It wasn't honest, open, straight-up "plural marriage" (if any of that crap is truly honest). There was a 5 year gap after this before the so-called revelation on plural marriage. Come on.

Obviously, nobody cares what I think, but that's what I think. I suppose when we are dead, we can ask JS and Fanny. And then we can ask Emma.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 16:35
by SamBee
"Scrap" can also mean a fight.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 17:26
by DarkJedi
hawkgrrrl wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 15:15
My personal opinion? This was adultery, plain and simple. Emma didn't know or agree to it. Oliver (who had been JS's right hand and wasn't yet on the outs - that came because of this) called it what it was. It wasn't honest, open, straight-up "plural marriage" (if any of that crap is truly honest). There was a 5 year gap after this before the so-called revelation on plural marriage. Come on.

Obviously, nobody cares what I think, but that's what I think. I suppose when we are dead, we can ask JS and Fanny. And then we can ask Emma.
I care what you think because I agree with every word. Oliver was also the author of the deleted section of D&C (at the time section 101) framing marriage as monogamous.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 20:02
by Curt Sunshine
I believe it wasn't a marriage. I think it was an extra-marital affair.

I don't believe polygamy was a cover for the affair. I think Joseph saw prophetic polygamy in the Bible and believed in "restoring" all things that seemed reasonable to him. I think it seemed reasonable to him - but that was after his relationship with Fanny Alger.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 20:56
by dande48
It's suspiciously difficult to tell from the evidence whether Fanny and Joseph were married; which makes it feel suspicious, IMHO. If it wasn't marriage, it is highly likely that Joseph Smith and the rest of the Church would've referred it to marriage after the fact. The lack of record and lack of details also feels suspicious to me. Here's my list:

In favor of the marriage:
1. Fanny's mother testified that a "sealing" of sorts happened.
I do not know that the “sealing” commenced in Kirtland but I am
perfectly satisfied that something similar commenced, and my judgment is
principally formed from what Fanny Alger told me herself concerning her
reasons for leaving “Sister Emma.
2. Mosiah Hancock recorded in the 1890s that Joseph had approached Fanny's father to ask for her hand in marriage.
Samuel, the Prophet Joseph loves your daughter Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Uncle Sam says, “Go and talk to the old woman [Levi’s sister and Fanny’s mother] about it. Twill be as she says.” Father goes to his sister and said, “Clarissy, Brother Joseph the Prophet of the most high God loves Fanny and wishes her for a wife. What say you?” Said she, “Go and talk to Fanny. It will be all right with me.” Father goes to Fanny and said, “Fanny, Brother Joseph the Prophet loves you and wishes you for a wife. Will you be his wife?” “I will Levi,” said she. Father takes Fanny to Joseph and said, “Brother Joseph I have been successful in my mission.” Father gave her to Joseph, repeating the ceremony as Joseph repeated to him.
However, this seems to conflict with Fanny's mother's record above.

3. William McLellin did refer to the act Emma caught JS and Fanny in as a "sealing", which took place on the hay.

4. Joseph Smith did state in 1835,
The Lord God of Israel has given me authority to unite the people in the holy bonds of matrimony. And from this time forth I shall use that privilege and marry whomsoever I see fit.
However, this was more than a year before the sealing power was restored. Fanny did leave within a few months after the sealing powered was restored, but it seems much of the "incident" happened before then.

Against:
1. Five years apart for the revelation and the rest of the wives.

2. After JS death, William McLellin wrote to JS III
Emma saw him, and spoke to him. He desisted, but Mrs. Smith refused to be satisfied. He called in Dr. Williams, O. Cowdery, and S. Rigdon to reconcile Emma. But she told them just as the circumstances took place. He found he was caught. He confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him. She told me this story was true!! Again I told her I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was verily true.
However, Joseph Smith III and his mother Emma went on denying that JS ever practiced or preached polygammy. William McLellin was also excommunicated twice; the first time for adultery, the reinstated and ordained an apostle, and then excommunicated again for apostasy.

3. Martin Harris' record
In or about the year 1833, the servant girl of Joe Smith stated that
the prophet had made improper proposals to her, which created quite a talk
amongst the people. Joe Smith went to Martin Harris to counsel with him
concerning the girl’s talk. Harris, supposing that Joe was innocent, told him to
take no notice of the girl, that she was full of the devil and wanted to destroy
the prophet of God; but Joe Smith acknowledged that there was more truth
than poetry in what the girl said. Harris then said he would have nothing to
do in the matter, Smith could get out of the trouble the best way he knew how.
4. After Fanny left Kirtland, Joseph Asked her uncle Hancock to take her to Missouri, but she ran off with her parrents instead. She wound up in Indiana, where she married Solomon Custer, who wasn't mormon. She also suspiciously married him only a couple of weeks after they had met...

5.After JS' death, she was asked what her relationship was with the prophet. She replied, "That is a matter of my own. And I have nothing to communicate."

6. Oliver Cowdreywas also excommunicated for the accusation that Joseph Smith had committed adultery with Fanny. Had it been a polygamous marriage, the Church council would've acknowledged it.

7. The official doctrine of polygammy wasn't issued until 1843. Its earlier practice was shrouded in secrecy.

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 21:32
by Minyan Man
In FamilySearch.org they show JS with (43) spouses. Fanny Alger is not one of them. Did she stay in the church after JS's death?

Re: Fanny Alger, First Plural Wife?

Posted: 21 Jun 2017, 21:38
by LookingHard
Minyan Man wrote:
21 Jun 2017, 21:32
In FamilySearch.org they show JS with (43) spouses. Fanny Alger is not one of them. Did she stay in the church after JS's death?
My understanding is that she didn't. Her family came and took her away somewhat quickly and she remarried another man (not a Mormon) and this sounds like what someone of the time would do if they got pregnant out of wedlock. Fanny's brother stayed in the church to Utah and he was very upset when polygamy was ended.