14. Hyrum Smith was not a polygamist as has been claimed.Hyrum married Jerusha Barden Nov. 2, 1826 and they had six children. She died in 1837. Then he married Mary Fielding on December 24, 1837. He had two children from this second marriage, Joseph F. Smith and Martha Ann Smith.
Mary Fielding had a sister Mercy Fielding who was married to Robert B. Thompson on June 4, 1837. Mr. Thompson died August 27, 1841 leaving Mercy as a widow.
In the Temple Lot Case in the 1890s Mercy Fielding Thompson was asked to testify. She stated:
Hyrum Smith never had any wives except the one that died and my sister and myself.But was Mercy even a wife of Hyrum? Notice that she said that she "was connected with him only by proxy." Why would she use that terminology if she considered herself a wife. We can get a more complete understanding by looking at the May 29, 1843 journal entry for Joseph Smith. Footnote 458 gives the following information:
Thompson, however, in an undated reminiscent account, reported that sometime in 1843, Hyrum Smith learned that “a Revelation had been given stating that Marriages contracted for time only lasted for time and were no more one until a new contract was made, for All Eternity and for those who had been sepperated by Death a Proxy would have to be obtained to Act for them.” Thompson reported that “no time was lost by those who had an opportunity of securing their Companions and the first presidency and as many of the Twelve as were [available] and the Presiding Bishop of the Church were all invited to meet in an Upper room in the Prophets House” to be married for eternity, “each Man bringing his Wife.” Thompson, whose husband Robert B. Thompson had died in 1841, noted that her situation “was a singular one and had to be considered but the Prophet soon concluded that his Brother Hyrum had the best right to act for Robert B. Thompson.” In Mercy Fielding Thompson’s marriage ceremony, Hyrum Smith thus served as proxy for Robert B. Thompson. Mercy also reported that her sister, Mary Fielding, Hyrum Smith’s second wife, stood as proxy for Hyrum’s first wife, Jerusha Barden, who had died in 1837.You can in this account from Mercy Fielding Thompson, that Hyrum was married to Mercy as PROXY for Robert B. Thompson. He wasn't married to Mercy at all. He was simply standing in for her dead husband. However, since Mercy was a widow, a couple years years after her husband's death (1841) she came to live with Hyrum and Mary in 1843 and lived with them until Hyrum's death in 1844. After that she was married to John Taylor for a time and then was divorced and married Lawson. So I am sure that she was told that she was a wife continuously after Hyrum's death. So she believed that she was, but she also knew that it was only a proxy relationship. She didn't seem to realize that it meant that she was only sealed to her first husband and not to Hyrum at all.
Catherine Phillips testified on January 28, 1903, (after her mother and other witnesses were dead) that—nearly 60 years prior--she had been plurally married to Hyrum in August 1843, lived with him a few months, but then moved away to St. Louis before the year ended (Joseph F. Smith, Jr., Blood Atonement and the Origin of Plural Marriage, 70). Her account stands in stark contrast to Hyrum’s personal writings during that same time-frame, which record no such relationship with her but instead documents at least three brutal court cases where Hyrum was prosecuting and disfellowshipping polygamists.
After Hyrum's death three women were sealed to him (Catherine Phillips, Lydia Dibble Granger & Polly Miller) but that is not proof that they were ever married to him as a plural wife.