Ugo Perego reports on how DNA results rule out Josephine Lyon as Joseph's daughter.

Academic / Technical Report
Ugo Perego

Ugo A. Perego, "Using Science to Answer Questions from Latter-day Saint History," BYU Studies Quarterly 58, no. 4 (2019): 143-50

BYU Studies
Sylvia Lyons, Josephine Lyon, Joseph Smith, Jr., Ugo Perego
Reading Public


In 1915, Josephine Lyon recorded that in 1882, her mother, Sylvia Sessions, told Josephine that Joseph Smith was her father. Historical records show that at some time Joseph was sealed to Sylvia, but the timing is not known. Whether it was before or after Josephine’s conception in May of 1844 is uncertain. Neither is the type of sealing—whether for eternity only or for time and eternity—currently verified. In light of the genetic approach presented in this study, it appears that Josephine did not share a biological tie with the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although a reconstruction of Joseph Smith’s and Josephine Lyon’s DNA through their descendants will never provide the same level of accuracy that DNA obtained directly from Joseph and Josephine could (a true paternity test), data presented in this study is consistent and offers the strongest evidence to date toward clarifying the alleged father/daughter relationship of Joseph Smith and Josephine Lyon. Based on this analysis, it appears that Joseph Smith did not father Josephine and that perhaps what Sylvia Sessions told her daughter has a different meaning than the biological relationship many historians have assumed. It will now be their job and challenge to help us clarify the statement, keeping in mind this additional piece of genetic evidence in their future research of Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

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