Wife of Joseph Smith – Mary Rollins Lightner

Wife of Joseph Smith – Mary Rollins Lightner

When 12-year-old Mary first met the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland in 1831, she was immediately enamored with the 25 year old prophet, recalling:

“when he saw me, he looked at me so earnestly, I felt almost afraid [and I thought, ‘He can read my every thought,’ and I thought how blue his eyes were.] after a moment, or too he came and put his hands on my head and gave me a great Blessing, (the first I ever received)”.


Image Credit – Elspeth Young

Mary’s family moved to Zion in Missouri, and, at age 15, Mary bravely saved pages from the Book of Commandments from a mob while hiding in a cornfield with her sister Caroline.


Image Credit – Clark Kelly Price


Image Credit – Elspeth Young

In 1835, Mary married Adam Lightner, a Missourian who was not LDS. Mary and Adam finally moved to Nauvoo in 1842, where Mary met Joseph Smith again. By this time, Joseph had begun his practice of polygamy:

Joseph made known to me that God had commanded him in July, 1834, to take me for a wife. But he had not dared to make it known to me, for when he received the revelation, I was in Missouri and when he did see me, I was married.

Joseph was in effect saying that before Mary got married to Adam, God said Mary belong to him. Mary recalls that Joseph said:

“I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in hell should never get me from him…”

She also related the following narrative:

“[He] told me about his great vision concerning me. He said I was the first woman God commanded him to take as a plural wife.” (she was actually probably the 9th wife)

“Well,” said I, “don’t you think it was an angel of the devil that told you these things?” Said he, “No, it was an angel of God. God Almighty showed me the difference between an angel of light and Satan’s angels. The angel came to me three times between the years of 1834 and 1842 and said I was to obey that principle or he would slay me. “But,” said he, “they called me a false and fallen prophet but I am more in favor with my God this day than I ever was in all my life before. I know that I shall be saved in the Kingdom of God. I have the oath of God upon it and God cannot lie; all that he gives me I shall take with me for I have that authority and that power conferred upon me.”
Well, I talked with him for a long time and finally I told him I would never be sealed to him until I had a witness. Said he, “You shall have a witness.”

Mary records that she continued to hesitate, but that she had a witness in the form of an angel appearing to her at night and so she changed her mind. She was 8 months pregnant with Adam’s child at the time of the sealing to Joseph which was performed by Brigham Young.  After the marriage she continued to live with Adam who never joined the church. When Joseph Smith was killed, Mary, who was the last of Joseph’s wife’s to die, left many statements. Here are a few more quotes of interest:

“I could tell you why I stayed with Mr. Lightner. Things the [current] leaders of the Church does not know anything about. I did just as Joseph told me to do…”

“…I Love to talk about the Prophet and the Early days of the Church [I] will always remember how Joseph looked…at that first sealing…he was tall and of a commanding figure, full of Life…Yes; I could tell you many things that I cannot write – I remember every word he…ever said to me of importance…”

Notably Mary also recorded that she knew that Joseph had 6 other wives (In reality he had closer to 35 wives) and that he had at least 3 children by these 6 plural wives.

Mary was 23 | Joseph was 36 | She was married and pregnant | The marriage date is Feb, 1842

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Featured Image Copyright – LostMormonism.com, Image Credits –  Elspeth Young, Clark Kelly Price, Photo Credit – Public Domain