Olive Frost was born on July 24, 1816, in Bethel, Maine, the eighth of eleven children of Aaron Frost and Susannah Grey Frost. Olive’s widowed sister, Mary Ann Frost Stearns, was converted in 1836 and subsequently married Parley P. Pratt in Kirtland, Ohio.
Three years later Olive joined her sister as a newly baptized Church member and joined Parley on his mission to England. While several of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve returned to America from their missions in Great Britain in the summer of 1841, Parley, with Mary Ann and Olive, remained behind. His responsibilities ended in late 1842 and on April 12, 1843, they arrived in Nauvoo with a group of English Saints.
At some point thereafter, Joseph Smith was sealed to Olive Frost. Mary Ann Frost’s biographer, Jayne Winters Fife postulates: “It is probable that their marriage for time and eternity took place on or near September 17, the date that she received her Patriarchal Blessing from Hyrum Smith, in which she was promised that she ‘shall be blessed in the Covenant with Abraham Isaac and Jacob’.” 1 This date corresponds to the second period of Emma’s acceptance of plural marriage and is a possibility.
Very little is known regarding the union. An October 26, 1902, entry in the journal of Church member Joseph E. Robinson records: “During the afternoon I called on Aunt Lizzie. … She knew Joseph Smith had more than two wives. Said he married … Olive Frost [who] had a child by him and that both died.”2 This appears to contradict James Whitehead’s 1885 comment that Olive died in childbirth, but more than ten months after Joseph’s death showing he could not be the father.3
Some information concerning Olive Frost was provided by Mary Ann Frost Pratt:
She [Olive Frost] seemed to realize and appreciate the magnitude of the great and important mission allotted to woman in the perfect plan of this Gospel Dispensation, and she desired to do her part in the good work. She freely accorded to man the title of king, and joyfully accepted the place of queen by his side, for it was at this time that the principle of the plurality of wives was taught to her, she never opposed it, and as in the case of baptism, soon accepted it to be her creed, in practice as well as theory. That she was sealed to Joseph Smith in his lifetime is well known to her family by the testimony of her own words. Also that after the death of Joseph Smith she was sealed to Brigham Young for time/. Sister Olive died at Nauvoo, Ill. Oct 6th 1845, after an illness of two weeks & of chills fever and pneumonia.4
For additional insights see “Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives after the Martyrdom.”
- “Letters From My Husband Parley P. Pratt,” forthcoming. (back)
- Joseph E. Robinson, Diary, October 26, 1902. See also D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 588. (back)
- Joseph Smith III Interview with James Whitehead, Alton, Illinois, April 20, 1885. Collection of John Hajicek, Mormonism.com, Independence, Missouri. (back)
- Olive Grey Frost Biographical Sketch by Mary Ann Pratt—in Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871–1942], MS 17956; CHL Box 4, Fd. 59, pages 4–5. See also Andrew Jenson, “Plural Marriage,” Historical Record 6 (July 1887): 235. (back)