In the spring of 1843, Joseph Smith was sealed to Flora Ann Woodworth and thereafter presented her with a gold watch.1 On August 23, 1843, William Clayton reported in his journal a conflict between Emma and Flora Ann: “President Joseph told me that he had difficulty with Emma yesterday. She rode up to Woodworths with him and called while he came to the Temple. When he returned she was demanding the gold watch of Flora [Woodworth]. He reproved her for her evil treatment. On their return home she abused him much.”2
Seymour B. Young, a member of the First Council of Seventy in 1883 and the son of Joseph Young, brother to Brigham recounted in 1912 secondhand information he had received that Joseph Smith had “given a gold locket or watch [to Flora] which was stamped under foot by Emma.” If this foot-stamping incident actually occurred, Flora reacted radically to the quarrel by marrying Carlos Gove, a non-member, the very next day.3
Helen Mar Kimball recounted a different sequence: “A young man boarding at her father’s after the death of Joseph not a member of the Church had sought her hand, in time won her heart, and in a reckless moment she was induced to accept his offer and they eloped to Carthage, accompanied by a young lady friend, and were there married by a Justice of the Peace.”4
Malissa Lott recalled in 1887, “Flora Ann Woodworth … married Carlos Gove at Navoo with the consent of the Prophet.”5 Malissa does not specify whether the “consent” was granted before or after Flora’s legal marriage to Gove; but after witnessing Emma’s confrontation with Flora, Joseph may have returned to the Woodworth home that very evening to discuss the situation. Regardless, he allowed Flora to separate from him without any public repercussions.
Flora’s eternal sealing to the Prophet may also have been cancelled. She was not one of the twenty-nine women who were sealed by proxy to Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo Temple in 1846.6
On a note sheet he created in late 1886 or early 1887, Andrew Jenson recorded: “She [Flora Ann Woodword] regretted her last marriage, her husband being an unbeliever, and intended to cling to the Prophet.”7
Helen Mar Kimball Whitney had earlier chronicled: “Flora was never happy with him as he hated the Mormons, and she felt condemned for the rash step she had taken. She made this confession to me while I was nursing her, and said she desired to cling to Joseph hereafter. … She still expressed herself as strong in the faith of the Gospel, also her great desire to cleave to the Prophet. I never saw her again as she died at that place, [Winter Quarters] leaving two or three children.”8
Flora Ann’s desire to “cling” and “cleave” to the Prophet could be references to an eternal sealing.
- No record exists of the exact date of the marriage or when Joseph gave Flora Ann the watch. However, a possible date for their sealing is March 4, 1843. The last line of the Prophet’s diary entry for that date appears to have been “Woodworth,” which is crossed out and is difficult to discern. Yet the name “Woodworth” reappears interlineally above in shorthand. Turley, Selected Collections, 1: DVD #20. See also Scott H. Faulring, ed., An American Prophet’s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 327, xviii. The Prophet may also have given a gold watch to Eliza R. Snow. Mary Ann Boice, in John Boice and Mary Ann [Barzee] Boice, “Record,” 174, MS 8883, microfilm of manuscript, reported that she was “acquainted with Eliza R. Snow Smith, his [Joseph Smith’s] wife and saw his gold watch which she carries.” (back)
- George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle, 119. (back)
- Flora Woodworth, Marriage to Carlos Gove, August 23, 1843, in Tri-County Genealogical Society, comp.,Hancock County, Marriage Index, 1829–49 (Augusta, Ill.: Tri-County Genealogical Society, 1983), 19. (back)
- Helen Mar [Kimball] Whitney, “Travels beyond the Mississippi,” Woman’s Exponent, 13, no. 11 (November 1, 1884): 87; emphasis mine. This marriage is not listed in Lyndon Cook, Nauvoo Deaths and Marriages, 1839–1845 (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1994) possibly because his marriage records are extracted from Church publications and records. (back)
- Letter of Malissa Willis to Andrew Jenson, June 27, 1887, in Andrew Jenson Papers (ca. 1871–1942), MS 17956, Document #14, Box 49, fd. 16, LDS Church History Library (hereafter cited by title, document, box, and folder number). (back)
- Tinney, The Royal Family of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., 8–12. A proxy sealing was performed for her and Joseph Smith in the Salt Lake Temple in 1899 under the direction of Lorenzo Snow (41). (back)
- Andrew Jenson, Document #13, “Flora Ann Woodworth biographical information sheet,” in Jenson, Papers, Box 49, fd. 16, Document #13 (back)
- Whitney, “Travels beyond the Mississippi,” 87. (back)