Episode 37: Meet Emma Hale Smith Bidamon, part two

Join historian John Hamer as he and Lindsay discuss Emma Smith’s marriage to Joseph, the martyrdom and Emma’s new marriage and life in the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints. Listen to part one here!

Links mentioned in this podcast:
Lindsay’s “Forgotten Women of Joseph Smith” series

Todd Compton’s book, “In Sacred Loneliness.”

John Hamer’s new and exciting slideshow on “The History of Community of Christ.”

Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery (Jun 1, 1994)

Emma Smith My Story, Trailer

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    • While I don’t have tables of contents for Emma’s two RLDS hymnals, “O My Father” would not have found its way into either since its verses talk about celestial marriage. At the time, the concept of celestial marriage was the same as the concept of plural marriage; Emma and the Reorganization adamantly opposed plural marriage.

    • Elizabeth: The Voice of Innocence was published in the March 20, 1844, edition of the Nauvoo Neighbor. There’s a PDF archive here: http://boap.org/LDS/Nauvoo-Neighbor/

      There’s an article that begins the second column of page 2 with the title “Virtue Will Triumph” that introduces and includes “THE VOICE OF INNOCENCE FROM NAUVOO.”

      The link to the PDF: http://boap.org/LDS/Nauvoo-Neighbor/1844/3-20-1844.pdf

    • Janet: Thanks! The Reorganization happened after Joseph III has his own household, so the boys were mostly grown up. Lewis didn’t go to the general conference and my recollection is that he wasn’t ever involved in the church. For the church today, he isn’t particularly remembered other than as a stepfather to Joseph III and his siblings and as Emma’s second husband. He’s remembered at our historic sites in Nauvoo, where guides are supposed to tell the story both before and after 1844. For example, the little stone building attached to the Nauvoo House (across the street from the Mansion House) is referred to as the “Lewis Bidamon Stable” and it probably also contained Lewis’s office.

  1. When was the famous portrait of Emma painted? Because I’m struck by how much Emma aged from the portrait to the picture above after Joseph had died. No doubt a hard life was a factor in that. The things she endured not only at the hands of her enemies but because of the hands of her friends is heartbreaking to me. I find in her an incredible example. I wish her story was told more. Thank you.

    • Pollyanna: You’re right that they are close together. The image with the infant David H. Smith would have been winter 1844-45 or spring 1845 and the famous portrait would have been painted only a few years earlier, probably 1842. Unless the painting was overly generous, you can’t help but get the impression that Emma aged many years in those three years.

  2. comment in fb page that I thought I’d put here as well:
    Thank you so much for this podcast. I really enjoyed it! I just wanted to briefly mention a little more of the story surrounding Nancy Abercrombie which I find so touching. From Mormon Enigma, “Nancy Abercrombie struggled to raise her young family alone for four years. In 1868 she asked Emma to take four-year-old Charles. Emma accepted and raised the child, treating the little boy with such love and affection that as an adult Charles Bidamon recalled, “I was raised in her home and knew what kind of woman she was… …A noble woman, living and showing charity for all, loving and beloved.”" (p. 276) “Emma’s compassion was moderating force in almost all of her relationships. In a surprising but characteristic manner, she extended it to Nancy Abercrombie, who ultimately benefited most from Emma’s strength of character. As Charlie grew older, Emma employed Nancy enabling her to be closer to her son.” (p. 277) And then toward the end of her life, “Emma sensed that her time was short. Concerned about the stigma of illegitimacy that surrounded fifteen-year-old Charles Edwin Bidamon, she called Nancy Abercrombie and Lewis to her bedside. In an extraordinary act of compassion, she asked them to marry and provide the boy with proper parentage after she died. They did so a year after Emma’s death.” (p. 303) I wonder if Emma’s strength and compassion in regard to Bidamon and Abercrombie’s relationship came from earlier lessons she may have experienced with Joseph Smith and other wives.

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