Recovery Board  : RfM
Recovery from Mormonism (RfM) discussion forum. 
Go to Topic: PreviousNext
Go to: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 04:14PM

From Steve Benson's article at:

"Emma discovered the sexual affair between Smith and Fanny and exploded in anger. Caught with his hand in Fanny's cookie jar, Smith confessed. A noticeably pregnant Fanny eventually was kicked out of the house by Emma, as reported thusly:

“Former Mormon apostle William McLellin later wrote that Emma Smith substantiated the Smith-Alger affair. According to McLellin, Emma was searching for her husband and Alger one evening when through a crack in the barn door she saw 'him and Fanny in the barn together alone' on the hay mow. McLellin, in a letter to one of Smith's sons, added that the ensuing confrontation between Emma and her husband grew so heated that Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery had to mediate the situation.

"After Emma related what she had witnessed, Smith, according to McLellin, 'confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him.' While Oliver Cowdery may have forgiven his cousin Joseph Smith, he did not forget the incident. Three years later, when provoked by the prophet, Cowdery countered by calling the Fanny Alger episode 'a dirty, nasty, filthy affair.'

“Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: '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' . . ."

All Wikipedia and some other sources have to say is that Fanny wound up in Indiana, and bore 9 children, none of which survived her. But as to this particular there any source about what happened to the "Prophet's" child?

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Chump ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 05:15PM

I tried researching this a while back and came up empty-handed. I found very little info on her life and children.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: scotchipman ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 05:36PM


Fanny Alger
A fourth Kirtland incident occurred in about 1835 with nineteen year old Fanny Ward Alger, one of ten children born to church members Samuel and Clarissa Alger. McLellin continued his narrative to Joseph Smith III:
Again, I told her [Emma] I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!!! She told me this story too was true.[27]
Associate President Oliver Cowdery said that he learned of this incident from Joseph Smith himself and that Joseph had confided to him that "he had confessed to Emma," seeking her forgiveness.[28] Fanny Alger and her family left Kirtland, in September 1836 and moved to Dublin, Indiana, where she married non-Mormon Solomon Custer shortly after on November 16, 1836. Joseph Smith never saw Fanny Alger again.[29] Benjamin F. Johnson would later say that the Alger incident was "one of the Causes of Apostasy & disruption at Kirtland altho at the time there was little Said publickly upon the subject."[30]
Oliver Cowdery was probably the first to openly talk about the Alger affair. In November 1837, he "insinuate[d] that Joseph Smith Jr. was guilty of adultery" in a conversation with George W. Harris and again with Apostle David W. Patten.[31] In a letter to his brother Warren Cowdery on January 21, 1838, Oliver was more blunt. He referred to Smith's deed as "a dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Algers."[32] Obviously, Cowdery had lost respect for his close associate. On April 12, 1838, Oliver was excommunicated, with nine charges listed, the second being for "seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith jr by falsly insinuating that he was guilty of adultery."[33]
Several Mormon scholars have claimed that Fanny Alger was Joseph's first polygamist wife.[34] However, to make the case, they need to persuasively explain the following problems. (1) There is no marriage/sealing ceremony or record of the ordinance. (2) A witness was not present. (3) There is no text of a revelation permitting polygamous marriage. Joseph Smith may have talked about polygamy in Kirtland, but there is no evidence that he practiced it until April 5, 1841, at Nauvoo. (4) The LDS Church believes Joseph Smith received the keys to "seal" couples for eternity on April 3, 1836, not before.[35] (5) Alger left the state and quickly rejected counsel by marrying a non-Mormon, something one would not expect from a plural wife.
Lucinda Harris

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: exodus ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 06:09PM

In my research, I found that it's not known what happened to the child (if there indeed was one born). You can bet that this would be a major talking point if it was known... but unless some evidence gets dug up, any details relating to this child are unknown - if it even existed.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 06:25PM

There was no baby. She ate too many bowls of pinto beans and the bloating was due to gas!

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: nolatterdaysainthere ( )
Date: February 21, 2017 02:24PM

ahh the classic food baby

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 07:21PM

The website "Joseph Smith's Polygamy--run by Mormon Church apologist/"historian," Brian C. Hales--offers this rather predictable response to the question about the suspected birth and fate of Fanny Alger's newborn child:

"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:

Now, for a more honest take:

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."

His conclusion: Fanny got pregnant by Joseph Smith and was sent out of state to have the baby.

Bradley 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:

Bradley'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:

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2014 07:26PM by steve benson.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: ificouldhietokolob ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 08:08PM

Thanks, Steve. That's the kind of stuff that's really hard to find by just googling :)

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: icedtea ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 08:15PM

I'm related to Fanny Alger through a common ancestor, so I've done a bit of research on Ancestry and other sites, and am working on a paper about it.

From my previous post in,1163443,1163443 :

"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."

My best guess is that Perego tested descendants of one of these three and then unsurprisingly found them NOT related to JS. What happened to Fanny's son? He may have been brought up by someone else under another name or have died very young.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 11:19PM

Emma Smith was quite aware of the adulterous affair that her faithless hubby Joseph Smith had with one of his "adopted daughters," Fanny [Fannie] Alger:

"Benjamin Johnson, a close friend of Joseph Smith, described Fanny as, 'very nice and comely, [to whom] everyone seemed partial for the amiability of her character.”

"She is generally considered the first plural wife of Joseph Smith. Although undocumented, the marriage of Fanny and Joseph most likely took place in Kirtland, Ohio, sometime in 1833. She would have been sixteen years old.

"At the time, Fanny was living in the Smith home, perhaps helping Emma with house work and the children.

"Ann Eliza Webb recalls:

"'Mrs. Smith had an adopted daughter, a very pretty, pleasing young girl, about seventeen years old. She was extremely fond of her; no mother could be more devoted, and their affection for each other was a constant object of remark, so absorbing and genuine did it seem.'

"Joseph kept his marriage to Fanny out of the view of the public, and his wife Emma.

"Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship:

“'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.'

"Ann Eliza again recalls:

“' . . . [I]t was felt that [Emma] certainly must have had some very good reason for her action. By degrees it became whispered about that Joseph’s love for his adopted daughter was by no means a paternal affection, and his wife, discovering the fact, at once took measures to place the girl beyond his reach . . . . Since Emma refused decidedly to allow her to remain in her house . . . my mother offered to take her until she could be sent to her relatives . . . .'

"Book of Mormon witness, Oliver Cowdery, felt the relationship was something other than a marriage. He referred to it as '[a] dirty, nasty, filthy affair . . . '

"To calm rumors regarding Fanny’s relationship with Joseph, the [Mormon] church quickly adopted a 'Chapter of Rules for Marriage among the Saints,' which declared, 'Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with . . . polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife . . . .” This 'Article on Marriage' was canonized and published in the 'Doctrine & Covenants.' In 1852, the doctrine of polygamy was publicly announced, thus ending eighteen years of secret practice. 'The Article on Marriage' became obsolete and was later removed."

("The Wives of Joseph Smith: Fanny Alger," at:

Mormon historians Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery shed further light on the Joseph Smith/Fanny Alger affair:

"Emma [Smith] took nineteen-year-old Fanny Alger into her home early in 1835. Fanny's parents and brother were members of the church. Benjamin F. Johnson said . . . 'that Joseph LOVED HER.'

"But Joseph loved her indiscreetly, for Warren Parrish told Benjamin Johnson '[t]hat he himself & Oliver Cowdery did know that Joseph had Fanny Alger as a wife, for they were SPIED UPON & found together.'

"William McLellin told his account of Joseph and Fanny Alger to a newspaper reporter in 1875: '[McLellin] . . . informed me of the spot where the first well-authenticated case of polygamy took place, in which Joseph Smith was "sealed" to the hired girl. The "sealing" took place in a barn on the hay mow, and was witnessed by Mrs. Smith through a crack in the door! . . . Long afterward when he visited Mrs. Emma Smith . . . she then and there declared on her honor that it was a fact--"saw it with my own eyes."'

"In an 1872 letter, McClellin gave other details of the story. He said that Emma missed both Fanny and Joseph one night and went to look for them. She 'saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through the crack and saw the transaction!! She told me this story too was verily true.'

"Joseph's theology may have allowed him to marry Fanny, but Emma was not ready to share her marriage with another woman. When Fanny's pregnancy became obvious, Emma forced her to leave. . . .

"The incident drove a serious wedge between Oliver Cowdery and Joseph. Oliver wrote to his brother Warren from Missouri on January 21, 1838: '. . . [W]e had some conversation in which . . . [a] dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger's was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth in the matter . . . . [J]ust before leaving, he wanted to drop every past thing, in which had been a difficulty or difference . . . .'"

(Linda King Newell and Valleen Tippetts Avery, "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith--Prophet's Wife, 'Elect Lady,' Polygamy's Foe" (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1984), p. 66, original emphasis)

Historian Fawn Brodie (who placed the age of the orphaned Fanny at 17 when Joseph "seduced" her after she came to live with Joseph and Emma), described the affair as a "breath of scandal hot upon his neck," regardless of "[w]hether or not [she] bore Joseph a child." (Brodie reports, nonetheless, that "[t]here is some evidence that Fannie Alger bore Joseph a child in Kirtland"). Adding intrigue to the tryst, Brodie writes that "[w]hen in later years, polygamy had become an accepted pattern in Mormon life, Joseph's leading elders looked back to the Kirtland days and concluded that Fannie Alger had been the prophet's first wife. But when they questioned her about her relation with Joseph, she replied: 'That is all a matter of my own, and I have nothing to communicate."

Joseph's affair with Fanny was something that Emma could not easily forget. Indeed, Brodie observes that this "unfortunate infatuation" on Joseph's part for a "winsome servant girl" whom Emma had "taken into the family," absolutely incensed her:

"The scandal was insufferable to Emma, who was passionately fond and jealous of her husband. She had, moreover, a keen sense of the propriety and dignity of his office and must have been humiliated for the Church itself, which was beginning to attain stature and some degree of stability."

Brodie suggests that the affair ended up having a corrosive effect on Joseph's personal relationship with Emma, as hinted at "in November 1835 [when] he made a public statement [published in the 'Latter-Day Saint Messenger and Advocate'], part of which by its strange emphasis would seem to indicate that his domestic life was far from tranquil: 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the Church. . . . Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.'"

(Fawn Brodie, ""No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet," 2nd ed., revised and enlarged (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983], pp. 181-83, 345)

Sounds like good ol' Emma had a lot to be mad at about--and a lot to hide. And that could have included knowing that her dear husband Joseph was (truth be told) a lying, conniving, untrustworthy snake, donchya think? But, hey, that just means, as Emma said, that he "was but a man except when the spirit of God was upon him."

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 22, 2014 11:30PM

"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.


("Re: Fanny Alger, Joseph Smith and Questions about the Baby," by Don Bradley, on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board 29 February 2014, at:,1163443,1164338#msg-1164338)

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2014 11:37PM by steve benson.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: johnnie ( )
Date: September 23, 2014 05:38PM

So why do so many articles talk about fannie alger as a 14 year old?

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Bookrattnli ( )
Date: October 28, 2014 05:15PM

Is someone confusing Fanny Alger with Helen Mar Kimball? Because Joseph Smith had relationships with both when they were young girls.

Helen was 14 when Joseph first approached her and/or her parents, offering plural marriage.

I don't know how old Fanny was when Joseph first started sniffing around her, but she was apparently either 17 or 19 when they had sex in the barn, where Emma caught them.

In addition, Nancy Marinda Johnson was variously called age 12, 14 or 16, at the time Joseph Smith made his first advances toward her; those apparently inappropriate moves/suggestions in part explain why Joseph was tarred and feathered by a mob. I think she was 24 or so, when she and Joseph Smith later "married" plurally. Please note that she was already married to another man, an LDS church member, at that time.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: October 28, 2014 05:24PM,1163039,1163039#msg-1163039

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 10/28/2014 05:39PM by steve benson.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Up ( )
Date: February 20, 2017 03:54AM

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: badassadam ( )
Date: February 20, 2017 04:11AM

A part of me still doesn't want to know Joseph Smith's story in detail its too demented, unless someone wants to tell me I'm wrong he was one sick bastard.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Kathleen ( )
Date: February 20, 2017 05:52PM

Adam, there's stuff waaaayyyy more demented about mormonism than Joseph Smith's machinations.

JS was crazy as a fruit bat in a mango tree--but there's worse.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: badassadam ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 01:49PM

Jeeesus christ

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: aaron ( )
Date: February 21, 2017 01:19PM

I think Joseph chased fanny his entire life.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: badassadam ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 01:50PM

He chased a lot of fannies in his life haha jk actually not kidding.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Breeze ( )
Date: February 21, 2017 02:53PM

Bwaahahahahaha! Aaron!

You're right. I had to read through this thread quickly, and what disgusted me the most, was that everyone was trying to determine if this was a "plural marriage" or an "affair." At this point, what difference does it make? JS's "Plural marriage" garbage was nothing but a scam! He had no authority from God--ever. There's no such thing as "the new and everlasting covenant," people.

It was statutory rape.

JS was a pedophile rapist and an adulterer. People are just splitting hairs, here.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: cutekitty ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 02:20PM

And SEALING means having SEX!!!!! Yeah!

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 03:28PM

I'm with you, Breeze; the word play and spin that apologists have to apply to JS is quite a thing to behold--since he was The Prophet of the Restoration, it's a foregone conclusion that everything about him has a halo above it, and he couldn't possibly be a scumbag schemer with a god-complex.

Similarly, when mormons use words like "fascinating" or "complicated" about their history, it often means "This is bad, really bad."

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: JaimeRea ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 01:08PM
Too many public records what happened to James he was Murillo watched the video and saw them

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: Breeze ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 01:51PM

Fanny's parents shipped her off to Idaho, where she gave birth to the baby. The baby was adopted out, for a fee, through LDS Social Services, to a good LDS family. Not one word was spoken about the matter; in fact, everyone denies that anything happened. They said Fanny decided to work in Alaska for a few months. She returned home, finished high school, married a returned missionary in the temple, and had other children

"Baby? What baby?"

"Fanny didn't give her baby up. She gave it a mother AND a father."

Anyway, that's what the Mormons in our neighborhood do. I assume they are just following the Prophet, as always.

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: cludgie ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 02:09PM

Someone lost her baby when Emma Smith pushed her down the stairs. Who was that. Not Alger?

Options: ReplyQuote
Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 08, 2017 02:15PM

In the movie it was Eliza Snow, played by Drew Barrymore, in high heels.

Options: ReplyQuote
Go to Topic: PreviousNext
Go to: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In

Sorry, you can't reply to this topic. It has been closed. Please start another thread and continue the conversation.