Benjamin Johnson recalls being told that Joseph and Fanny Alger were "spied upon & found together"; calls Fanny Joseph's "first plural wife."

Apr 1903 - Oct 1911
Benjamin F. Johnson
3rd Hand

Benjamin F. Johnson, Letter to George F. Gibbs, 1903 April-October, 1911, 25-27, 33, MS 1289, Church History Library

Church History Library
Fanny Alger, Lyman Sherman, Jared Carter, Benjamin F. Johnson, Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Warren Parrish
George F. Gibbs

And now To your Question, “How Early did the Prophet Joseph Practice Polygamy?”—I hardly know how wisely to Reply-for the Truth at times may be better withheld But as what I am writing is to be published only uunder Strict Scrutiny of the wisest I will Say, That the Revilation to the Church at Nauvoo July 21th 1843 on the eternity of the Marriage Covenant and the Law of plural Marriage, was not the first Rivilation of the Law Received & Practiced by the Prophet—In 1835 at Kirtland I learned from my Sisters Husband Lyman R Shirman, who was close to the Prophet and Received it from him. “That the ancient order of plural marriage was again to be practiced by the Church This at the time did not impress my mind deeply. Altho there then lived with his Family a Neighbors daughter Fanny Alger. A vary nice & Comly young woman about my own age. towards \whoom/ not only mySelf but every one Seemed partial for \the/ ameability of her character and \it/ was whispered eaven \then/ that Joseph Loved her—After this there was Some trouble with Jarid Carter. and through Bro Shirman I learned that “As he had built himself a new house he now wanted another wife” which Joseph would not permit”—and then there was Some trouble with Oliver Cowdery. and whisper Said it was Relating to a girl then living in his Family And I was afterwords told by Warren Parish That He himself & Oliver Cowdery did know that Joseph had Fanny Alger as a wife for They were Spied upon & found together—And I Can now See that as at Nauvoo—So at Kirtland That the Suspician or Knowledge of the Prophets Plural Relation was one of the Causes of Apostacy & disruption at Kirtland altho at the time there was little Said publickly upon the Subject—Soon after the Prophet Flight in winter of 37 x 8 The Alger Family left for the west and Stoping in Indiana for a time Fanny Soon Married to one of the Citizens there & altho she never left the State She did \not/ turn from the Church nor from her friendship for the Prophet while She lived.

. . . .

Without doubt in my mind Fanny Alger was at Kirtland the Prophets first plural wife, In which, by Right of his Calling he was justified of the Lord See D.C. Sec 132_59-60 while Oliver Co\wder/y J Carter W Parish or others were not justified of the Lord Either in their criticisms upon \the/ doings of the Prophet or in their becoming a "law unto themselves" Through which they lost the light of their calling & were left in Darkness _ Fanny A. when asked by her brother and others. Even after the prophets death Regarding her Relations to him Replied "That is all a matter of our own. And I have nothing to communicate." Her parents died in Utah.

. . .

The marriage of my eldest sister [Delcena Didamia Johnson] to the Prophet was before my return to Nauvoo, and it being tasitly admitted I asked no questions.

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