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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 01:07PM

Sources indicate the Joseph Smith sired a child through Fanny Alger:

"Chauncy Webb suggested that Emma learned about Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger when the girl became pregnant. According to Wilhelm Wyl, who interviewed 'Mr. W,': 'In Kirtland, [Joseph] was sealed there secretly to Fanny Alger. Emma was furious and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house.'

"There is no record that Fanny, in fact, had a child, but Emma’s angry reaction would be consistent with her later behavior under similar circumstances. She obviously did not consider it a genuine marriage. . . .

"There are certainly a number of scenarios (including miscarriage and stillbirth) by which Fanny could have been pregnant but had no child who made it into contemporary records. In 1878, William McLellin told Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt: 'Emma Smith told him that Joseph was both a polygamist and an adulterer.' (Joseph Fielding Smith, 'Life of Joseph F. Smith, Sixth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' [Salt Lake City, Utah:p. Deseret, 1938. 239]. If Emma made such a statement and if McLellin reported it correctly (he would have been 72 in 1878), then it may mean that Emma accepted Nauvoo plural marriage as 'polygamy,' but rejected Joseph’s Kirtland relationship with Alger, calling it 'adultery.'"

("Joseph Smith's Polygamy: The Joseph Smith-Fanny Alger Relationship--A Brief History," at:

Mormon historian Todd Compton, in his book, "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997, p. 35), concludes that Smith likely had sex with Alger, got her pregnant and that:

--Fanny miscarried,

--the baby was born but died prematurely, or

--the baby was raised under a different identity:

"[Chauncy] Webb acknowledges that this was a fully sexual union. Since there is no record of Fanny having a child, either Webb was mistaken (though that seems unlikely, if Fanny lived in his home after leaving the Smith home), the child was miscarried or died young, or it was raised under another name. Without futher documentation, there is no way of knowing."

Don Bradley, an LDS history specialist, presented a paper at the August 2010 Sunstone Symposium entitled, "Dating Fanny Alger: The Nature, Timing and Consequences of an Early Polygamous Relationship."

Bagley summed up his paper's thesis as follows:

"Fanny Alger left Joseph and Emma Smith�s home pregnant, under Emma�s wrath, and in the middle of the night. The incident set Kirtland on fire with rumors of the prophet�s adultery�or was it polygamy? Some scholars have argued that the relationship was an 1835 affair, too early for polygamy, others that it was an 1833 marriage. Which of these theories is right? Or are they all they wrong together? I will piece together what happened the night Fanny was evicted, what consequences followed, and when all this occurred, illuminating Joseph and Fanny's relationship and other longstanding enigmas."

(Don Bradley, abstract of paper, "Dating Fanny Alger: The Nature, Timing, and Consequences of an Early Polygamous Relationship," delivered at "Sunstone 2010 Symposium and Workshops, Salt Lake City, Utah, 7 August 2010, at:

Bagley's presentation was later summarized thusly:

"Bradley tried to pin down when the 'affair' happened. Apparently, Emma discovered Joseph and Fanny late at night in the barn. According to Bradley, Alger appeared pregnant. Emma threw a fit, and threw Alger out of the house. (Apparently Alger had been working as a sort of nanny).

"The discovery of the relationship by Emma probably dates to the summer or fall of 1835. Bradley recounted several people who have tried to pin down the date, and noted problems with each date. Some authors have discussed an “embarrassing” incident of polygamy in August 1835. Joseph left for Pontiac, Michigan, possibly to avoid embarrassment for his role. On October 14, 1835, Joseph describes 'dealing with household issues,' possibly a reference to evict Fanny. However, Mark Ashurst-Mcgee suggests this incident refers not to Fanny, but a problem with employees at the printing office.

"Fanny left Kirtland in August or September 1836, so the incident must have occurred prior to that. Bradley notes that dissenters condemned Joseph on July 24, and Joseph left for Salem, Massachusetts, for a treasure trip the next day on July 25.

"Bradley believes Joseph sent Fanny to Missouri at the same time. William McLellin gave his famous quote about having 'no confidence' in Church leadership around this time as well. Fanny soon married non-member Solomon Custer after just a six-week courtship. Bradley believes it may have been a cover of legitimacy if Fanny was indeed pregnant."

("Sunstone 2010--A Feminist Recap," by "Mormon Heretic," 17 August 2010, at:

For more information, see Bradley's research on polygamy entitled, "Mormon Polygamy Before Nauvoo?: The Relationship of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger," in "The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy," Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster, ed. (Independence, Missouri: JohnWhitmerBooks, 2010), at:

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Posted by: Jersey Girl ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 01:13PM

Wasn't there a story that Emma pushed Fanny down the stairs? That could cause a miscarriage. Or was than another of his plural wives?

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 01:17PM

"Charles C. Rich called at the Mansion House, Nauvoo, to go with the Prophet on some appointment they had together. As he waited in the main lobby or parlor, he saw the Prophet and Emma come out of a room upstairs and walk together toward the stairway which apparently came down center.

"Almost at the same time, a door opposite opened and dainty, little, dark-haired Eliza R. Snow (she was ‘heavy with child’) came out and walked toward the center stairway. When Joseph saw her, he turned and kissed Eliza, and then came on down stairs toward Brother Rich.

"Just as he reached the bottom step, there was a commotion on the stairway, and both Joseph and Brother Rich turned quickly to see Eliza come tumbling down the stairs. Emma had pushed her, in a fit of rage and jealousy; she stood at the top of the stairs, glowering, her countenance a picture of hell. Joseph quickly picked up the little lad, and with her in his arms, he turned and looked up at Emma, who then burst into tears and ran to her room.

"Joseph carried the hurt and bruised Eliza up the stairs and to her room. ‘Her hip was injured and that is why she always afterward favored that leg,’ said Charles C. Rich. ‘She lost the unborn babe.'"

("Evidence of sexual relations in Joseph Smith's plural marriage with Eliza R. Snow," at:,d.aWc_

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2014 01:21PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: More Men ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 01:59PM

So Emma didn't push Fanny Alger down the stairs.

She pushed a pregnant Eliza down the stairs and Eliza miscarried and tweaked her hip.

And Eliz was referred to in that account as a "little lad."

This is all a bit confusing.

A lad is a young boy, no?

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Posted by: shuckle ( )
Date: February 09, 2014 06:54AM

More Men Wrote:
> So Emma didn't push Fanny Alger down the stairs.
> She pushed a pregnant Eliza down the stairs and
> Eliza miscarried and tweaked her hip.
> And Eliz was referred to in that account as a
> "little lad."
> This is all a bit confusing.
> A lad is a young boy, no?

Prolly lad is lady with a typo

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Posted by: Shummy ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 01:44PM

Another totally Jerry Springer moment brought to you by Joseph's Jeans, now just half off.

Touching, actually.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2014 01:49PM by Shummy.

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Posted by: rationalist01 ( )
Date: February 08, 2014 05:38PM

Joseph was what I generally call these days .. an A-hole. You've met these guys in your life before. Thinks he's god's gift, has no feelings for anyone. Just screws his way through life leaving a path of broken hearts! He wasn't special.

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Posted by: Don Bradley ( )
Date: February 09, 2014 03:12AM

In assessing Chauncey Webb's account it's important to note just who Chauncey Webb was in relation to Fanny Alger. When Fanny Alger was kicked out of the Smith home by Emma, because of her relationship with Joseph, Fanny went and stayed with the Webbs. Thus when Chauncey says Fanny was visibly pregnant at the time, he was in a position to know.

Fanny's hurried marriage to Solomon Custer soon thereafter, within just weeks of meeting him, was undoubtedly for the purpose of giving legitimacy to her child. But since the later census gives no record of the child, he or she presumably died in infancy.


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Posted by: typo ( )
Date: February 09, 2014 06:53AM

"lad" is prolly a typo that should be "lady"?

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 03:40AM

. . . . "Joseph quickly picked up the little lad[y] . . .

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 03:39PM

That one's an understandable Freudian, but no way am I going to let Don ride on Will's coattails.

No how, no way...

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Posted by: verilyverily ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 03:01AM

I seem to remember (vaguely) that Emma pushed Fanny down the stairs (not deliberately pushed her just bumped into her or something like that) when she kicked her out of the home, and that she lost the baby due to that. THis could be completely off base, it is just something I heard. Too bad she didn't kick JS out instead of Fanny.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2014 03:02AM by verilyverily.

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Posted by: randyj ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 07:58AM

The woman whom Emma Smith reportedly pushed down the stairs was Eliza Snow circa 1843 in Nauvoo. The incident is disputed, but you can read about it and make up your own mind:

Joseph Smith's relationship with Fanny Alger was between 1833-36 in the Kirtland, Ohio area.

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Posted by: Question ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 04:21AM

Who was Chauncy Webb? Friend or foe of Mormons and JS? Why did Fanny run to his home when she was dismissed?

I'd like more background on the guy. Thx!

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Posted by: L Tom Petty ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 09:03AM

I think he was Ann Eliza Young's father. Greyfort posted the link to The 19th Wife.

Sounds like poor Chauncy lost everything to the cult more than once. He was taken in by the Kirtland Bank swindle and lost it all. Then later when they relocated to Missouri he left everything he had in Ohio to follow the profit.

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Posted by: Greyfort ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 08:15AM

Ann-Eliza Young (who married Brigham Young), in Wife No. 19, wrote about the Fanny incident and the revelation concerning polygamy.

You can read it on-line. Check out pages 65 - 86:

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Posted by: subeamnotlogedin ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 08:31AM

When I had church history in institute they skipped all that. They mentioned polygamy for the widows to receive blessings though. Learning about true Mormonism still makes me very emotional all those primary songs and lessons worshiping Joseph Smith who basically fear based "a flaming sword" made women marry him. Sick anyway thank you for posting and sharing valuable information.

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Posted by: icedtea ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 08:33AM

I'm currently working on a paper about the JS/Fanny relationship -- from a genealogical perspective. I've uncovered some surprising facts:

Fanny was born in Massachusetts on 30 Sept. 1817, which meant she would have been 16 years old in 1833 -- an age at which it was then common for girls to take jobs as nannies or live-in domestic help.

Her family moved to Cuyahoga county, Ohio at least by 1830. Some land and tax records suggest they may have purchased land there as early as 1823. Like many pioneer families, they didn't move alone, but were accompanied by extended family members, including some of the Hancocks (Fanny's mother's family), and perhaps some of Samuel Alger's brothers. The group settled just ten miles down the road from Kirtland. This circumstance shows that Fanny had other relatives int he area to whom she could have turned when Emma evicted her.

Fanny did, in fact, give birth to an illegitimate son named Orrison (Orson in some records) Smith sometime between 1834 and 1836. Although Ugo Perego stated that he had done DNA testing that ruled out JS as Orrison Smith's father, I wasn't able to locate any solid information on how that testing was conducted or even if it really happened.

The Samuel Alger family, having joined the Mormon church in 1830, left Ohio for Missouri in Sept. 1836, but stopped for the winter in Wayne County, Indiana sometime in late September or early October due to "bad roads" (Samuel Alger obituary). Fanny was with the family.

She married Solomon Custer in Dublin, Wayne County, Indiana on 16 Nov 1836 (Wayne County IN online marriage database; Solomon is listed as CARTER, not Custer). They went on to have several children of their own, remaining in Indiana. He died in 1885 and Fanny died at the home of one of her sons (with Custer) in Indianapolis in 1889 (Fanny Alger Custer obituary).

Orrison Smith isn't listed with the Solomon Custer household in the 1850, 1860, or 1870 Federal censuses. Solomon doesn't appear in the 1840 census (at least, not as Solomon Custer), and it's unlikely from the household composition that he and Fanny were living with Solomon's father Paul that year.

At least three men named Orrison Smith were born in Ohio during 1834-36; all three appeared in subsequent censuses with Smith families who appeared to be their biological parents. (If anyone has more info about this, please post it).

What, if anything, did Orrison Smith know about his parentage? Later in her life, Fanny refused to discuss her relationship with JS or her son. The LDS Church is adamant that Orrison has been tested and couldn't possibly be the bio child of JS -- but I suspect otherwise.

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Posted by: randyj ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 09:05PM

"Fanny did, in fact, give birth to an illegitimate son named Orrison (Orson in some records) Smith sometime between 1834 and 1836. Although Ugo Perego stated that he had done DNA testing that ruled out JS as Orrison Smith's father, I wasn't able to locate any solid information on how that testing was conducted or even if it really happened."

This is the first I've heard that Fanny actually had a child. I was familiar with the accounts which say she was pregnant, but I hadn't learned anything further than that. If, as Perego alleges, Joseph Smith wasn't the father, then that means that his first documented "plural wife," still a teenager, was banging some other guy at the same time. And that prospect tarnishes both Fanny's and Joseph's reputation. It also confirms the opinions of Smith's anti-polygamy critics that sex was the primary driver of the practice. I wonder if that has crossed Perego's mind.

Speaking of Perego, I won't believe any of his alleged DNA studies which rule out Smith as the father of this or that woman's child unless the tests are backed up by non-Mormon geneticists. The work of any scholar regarding Mormon truth claims who cashes a paycheck from LDS Inc. needs to be confirmed by an unbiased person of equal qualifications.

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Posted by: rjkcasl ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 11:31AM

You mentioned that you can't trust a DNA analysis from a Mormon. Can you or anyone else on this thread post a link to a "non-mormon" scientist study which proves that Joseph Smith was the father of any of these children that were claimed to be his through plural marriage? I can't seem to find any.

A food for thought. It is well documented that Joseph was under the impression that in order for anyone to receive exaltation, they must be sealed in what is called the "Everlasting Covenant." He mistakenly thought this meant that they needed to be sealed to his specific eternal family. This sealing has been called "marriage" by many.

So, he was sealed to Fanny to bring her into this everlasting family with a promise to Emma that there would be no sexual interaction. Emma found Fanny pregnant and assumed Joseph was the culprit. Emma reacted and sent her away. Joseph knew he was not the father but wanted to protect Fanny's integrity (any lesser of a man would have called Fanny out to protect his name). He sent her away and helped her with a marriage to protect her name.

Joseph never divulged this. He simply responded when accused "I did not commit adultery." Something to think about.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 11:52AM

It makes JS almost presidential in character! What a guy!

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Posted by: Ex-Sis ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 12:18PM

How many times did Joseph Smith lie? Start with the first vision... Why would you possibly believe a self-serving "prophet" who claimed he was greater than Jesus Christ, hired murders, committed bank fraud, destroyed a newspaper, "married" other men's wives after he sent them on missions... Seriously? He protected himself, every time, including the jail.

Where is that hymn?

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Posted by: peculiargifts ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 05:11PM

Yes, it only makes sense that Joseph was such a nice guy, given all of the con games, lies, deceptions, fraud, property destruction, and incendiary and treasonous statements that he made. Not to mention the commandments from god that he received and passed on to his flock --- which gave him personal gain. Only a really good person would do all of that.

And, of course, anyone who criticized such an outstanding fellow must be the real bad guy.

The thing is, that there is no particular reason that a non-Mormon geneticist would bother testing any and all of JS's possible descendants. Contrary to what Mormons believe, most of the rest of the world doesn't actually care that much about Mormon history.

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Posted by: Susan I/S ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 08:01PM

Assuming such, we are leaving this for everyone's amusement.

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Posted by: brandywine ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 08:48PM

I don't think most non-Mormons wouldn't care, they realize Mormonism is a fraud for many other reasons.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/01/2015 08:48PM by brandywine.

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Posted by: Questioning Fanny ( )
Date: November 01, 2015 09:14PM

Perego refuses to release the names of those Smith descendants he claims to have DNA tested. He says: "Look...just trust me!"

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Posted by: QWE ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 09:12AM

So both Emma and Oliver Cowdrey caught them in the barn? You'd think after the first time they'd be more careful lol.

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Posted by: Twinker ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 09:41AM

He was Chauncey Griswold Webb, a polygamist and close personal friend of JS and the father of Ann Eliza Webb Dee Young Denning, who wrote "Wife #19". It was in his home that Fanny found refuge after being driven from the Smith home by Emma.

Chauncy Griswold was also the father of Chauncey Gilbert Webb who later became involved in a land dispute with Brigham Young. Ann Eliza may have married BY in order to "patch things up" between her brother and BY. It didn't work.

Chauncey Gilbert Webb, mayor of Pima, Arizona, broke and out of favor, was later involved in the Wham train robbery, the loot from which $28,000 was never recovered. He lived out his life on the run, dying in Mexico.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2014 09:51AM by Twinker.

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Posted by: Twinker ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 11:06AM

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Posted by: RealityCheck ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 11:09AM

What about the possibility of "abortion." It seems that I read somewhere that John Bennett was a doctor in Nauvoo and he was very good at terminating pregnancies. Don't know if it is true or not but it brings abortion into the realm of possibility.

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Posted by: Facsimile 3 ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 11:29AM

Abortions were apparently common enough that Brigham Young was asked about that topic in regard to Church policy in the early 1850s. It was in one of baua's recent "This day in Mormon history" posts. Young was of the mind to forgive and forget, but to instruct not to do it anymore.

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Posted by: icedtea ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 11:45AM

Of course, we must remember that Dr. Bennett and Nauvoo were years later, long after Fanny gave birth to Orrison Smith.

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Posted by: blind mule ( )
Date: February 10, 2014 11:19AM

Ask and ye shall recieve.... thanks twinker, icedte & steve bensen. is such an awesome site thanks for the links. Knowledge is power. I have been looking for the Fanny Alger rest of the story for quite sometime. Living in Rexburg they have the Eliza R Snow building at BYUI campus. I just look at it in a different light every time I drive pass it. Thanks

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