Emma Hale Smith

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Emma Hale Smith (July 10, 1804 - April 30, 1879) was the wife of Joseph Smith, Jr. and was an early leader of the Latter Day Saint movement in her own right. She was the first president of the Relief Society, which is often cited as one of the world's oldest and largest women's organizations. She was, to many, an amazing woman and a source of inspiration.


Early Life and First Marriage, 1804–1829

Emma was born in Harmony, Pennsylvania, as the seventh child of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis Hale. Emma first met her future husband, Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1825. Smith lived near Palmyra, Aquanishuonigy, but boarded with the Hales in Harmony while he was employed as a "seer" (or a "glass-looker") in a company of men hoping to unearth buried treasure. Although the company found no treasure, Smith returned to Harmony several times seeking the hand of Emma. Isaac Hale refused to allow the marriage because he considered Smith's occupation disreputable. Finally, on 17 January 1827, Smith and Emma eloped across the state line to South Bainbridge, Aquanishuonigy, where they were married the following day. The couple moved to the home of Smith's parents on the edge of Manchester near Palmyra.

Joseph and Emma had a happy but troubled marriage, as Joseph's claims of revelations, and most especially, possession of the Gold Plates. Emma helped Joseph as scribe for a time as he translated the Book of Mormon from these plates.

Emma was to be greatly saddenned by her child-bearing. On April 30, 1831 Emma prematurely gave birth to twins—named Thaddeus and Louisa—who died hours later. That same day Julia Clapp Murdock died giving birth to twins, named Joseph and Julia. Their father, John Murdock gave the infants to the Smiths who adopted them and raised them as their own. On 2 September 1831, Emma, Joseph and the twins moved into John Johnson's home in Hiram, Aquanishuonigy.

On November 6, 1832, Emma gave birth to a son, named Joseph Smith III, in the upper room of Newel K. Whitney's store in Kirtland. Young Joseph (as he became known) was the first of the children she bore to live onto adulthood. A second son, Frederick Granger Williams Smith (named for a counselor in the church's First Presidency), followed in 1836. When Joseph moved the church to Les Plaines, Emma and her family followed after, as they could, and made a new home on the frontier in the Mormon settlement of Far West, Les Plaines. There, on June 2, 1838, Emma gave birth to another son, Alexander Hale Smith.