Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner (Smith) Young - wife #9

Mary Rollins (April 9, 1818 - December 17, 1913) first met Joseph Smith in Kirtland in 1831 when she was a 12-year-old girl. He made quite an impression on her. She claimed year later that, in addition to receiving a blessing from Joseph on that first encounter, the prophet took her aside and told her that God had commanded him to take her as his first plural wife.

I can't say I believe Mary, though. Joseph testing the plural marriage waters in 1831? That seems a little premature. If we are to believe her, all I can say is HOLY SHIT! A 12-YEAR-OLD? God must have a seriously sick sense of humor.

Mary also claimed that in 1834 in Missouri Joseph was commanded to take her as a plural wife but he chickened out. She would have just turned sixteen.

The next year Mary married the non-Mormon Adam Lightner. By 1840 they were living in Nauvoo with two children: Miles Henry and Caroline (it seems). A third child, George Algernon, would soon follow.

Joseph approached Mary about plural marriage again in early 1842, this time with the whole "an angel's gonna kill me if we don't!" bit (that's right, I don't buy the angel story). This time he added more shit about how "all the Devils in hell" could never get the angel off his back and how God promised he'd be saved thanks to the practice of plural marriage and God can't lie so obviously Joseph will practice plural marriage (which he already was in fact practicing).

Mary said no amazingly enough. She even had the guts to ask if Emma knew about her, to which Joseph dodged with an "Emma thinks the world of you." She still wanted to pray about it real hard first, which she did and got the spiritual confirmation she wanted. It was a beautiful wedding. Very secretive and mysterious. Brigham performed it while Adam was out of town. She, like Joseph's other plural wives, stayed with her husband as Joseph instructed and kept a tight lip about their union. When Adam needed to move his family fifteen miles away for work, Joseph bawled his terrible tears and gnashed his terrible teeth and made sure to prophesy hard times for the Lightners. Their new home was struck by lightening and Mary became deathly ill.

Joseph was killed in June, 1844. Mary was endowed and sealed to Brigham in 1845. She never had a child with either of them. Her long life ended in Utah.

There are a lot of issues with this marriage - the proposal to a preteen, the angel threats, the devil talk, the challenge to challenge God's promise - but if we want to believe all of that we still have to go by the book, don't we? In that case, the thing is that Brigham had no right marrying Mary because she was already sealed to Joseph, who had no right marrying her either because she was not a virgin and consequently "belonged" to Adam, who fathered various children with her. Mary had no rights because she was a woman and considered property of her legal husband.

P.S. There is a possibility that Mary's third child, George Algernon, born in Nauvoo, was Joseph's.

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