170 years ago today - Sep 2, 1850

Joseph E. Johnson is on trial impregnating one of Apostle Lorenzo Snow's plural wives. A Church court in Kanesville, Iowa, had already decided that "his priesthood was required to be laid down [i.e., he was disfellowshipped] until he came here" to Salt Lake City. Johnson said "I never heard any conversation to say it was right to go to bed with a woman if not found out--I was aware the thing [with Mrs. Snow] was wrong." He told the court "He was familiar with the first frigging -- that was done in his house with his mother in law [Mary Heron Snyder (Snider)] -- by Joseph [Smith]." He added " I knew at the time I was doing wrong [with Mrs. Snow] -- I never av [have] taken any body as a[n] excuse -- I never plighted my faith on Joseph's transactions."

In 1850 Joseph E. Johnson was not an uninformed novice about Joseph Smith's polygamy a decade earlier. Two of his sisters (Delcena in 1842, then Almera in 1843) married the Prophet, who also performed the polygamous marriage for their brother Benjamin F. Johnson, after which Joseph Smith unsuccessfully asked to marry yet another of the Johnson family's daughters in the spring of 1843 (16-year-old Esther).

[Council meeting and trial of Joseph E. Johnson, 2 September 1850, Miscellaneous Minutes, Brigham Young Papers, referenced in "Evidence For The Sexual Side of Joseph Smith's Polygamy," Comments by D. Michael Quinn on Session #2A "Reconsidering Joseph Smith's Marital Practices," Mormon History Association's Annual Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 29 June 2012 (unabbreviated version, revised during July)]

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