The earliest evidence of sexual relations between Joseph Smith and Louisa Beaman was reported by John C. Bennett. In his 1842 History of the Saints, he wrote: “He [Joseph Smith] then went off to see Miss Louisa Beaman, at the house of Mrs. Sherman, and remained with her about two hours.”1 Bennett’s actual relationship with the Prophet is controversial. In light of Bennett’s credibility problems, such statements must be evaluated with caution.
Joseph B. Noble, Louisa’s brother-in-law, however, made a plain statement in 1892 in a deposition taken in the Temple Lot Case establishing that the couple had intimate relations:
Q. Do you know whether Joseph Smith ever lived any with Louisa Beaman as his wife?. . .
A. I know it for I saw him in bed with her. . . .
Q. What made you say the other day that Joseph Smith and that woman you sealed to him slept together that night?
A. Because they did sleep together.
Q. If you were not there that night, how do you know they slept together?
A. Well, they slept together I know. If it was not that night it was two or three nights after that.
Q. Where did they sleep together?
A. Right straight across the river at my house they slept together. . . .
Q. Did he sleep with her the first night after the ceremony was performed?
A. He did.
Q. Now you say that he did sleep with her?
A. I do.
Q. How do you know he did?
A. Well I was there.
Q. And you saw them go to bed together?
A. I gave him counsel . …
Q. What counsel did you give him?
A. I said “blow out the light and get into bed, and you will be safer there,” and he took my advice or counsel . . . .
Q. Well did you stay there until the lights were blown out?
A. No sir I did not stay until they blowed out the lights then.
Q. Well you did not see him get into bed with her that time?
A. No sir.
Q. And so you don’t know whether he followed your advice from your own knowledge?
A. No sir, I did not see him, but he told me he did.
Q. Well, you know from your own knowledge that he did?
A. Well, I am confident he did.
Q. But you don’t know it of your own knowledge from seeing him do it?
A. No sir, for I was not there.2
Benjamin Winchester, who had a stormy relationship with the Prophet and other Church leaders and was excommunicated in September 1844, also corroborates conjugality in a 1900 statement:
Q. Were you personally acquainted with any of Smith’s wives?
A. Yes, but especially with Louisa Beaman from a girl. About the year 43 Joseph Smith took rooms for her in my father’s house, and Smith came to see her about once a week.
Q. Did they sleep together?
A. Yes they did.
Q. Was there only one bed in the room?
A. Yes just one bed.
Q. Are you sure it was in 1843?
A. No, but it was about that time, or from 42 to 44.3
- John C. Bennett, The History of the Saints: Or an Exposé of Joe Smith and Mormonism, 229. (back)
- Joseph B. Noble, Deposition, Temple Lot Case, Part 3, pp. 396, 426-27, questions, 52–53, 681–704. The complete transcript of the Temple Lot Case is more than 1,750 pages long (copies at the Community of Christ Archives and microfilm at LDS Church History Library). A shortened version has been available from the RLDS Church (now Community of Christ) with much of the testimony regarding plural marriage in Nauvoo omitted (Lamoni, Iowa: Herald Publishing House, 1893); Price Publishing (Independence, Mo., 2003) reprints the RLDS version. See also Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community, 310 note 104. (back)
- Benjamin Winchester, Testimony to Joseph Smith III, Council Bluffs, Iowa, November 27, 1900. (back)