Delcena was born November 19, 1806, in Westfield, Vermont, to Ezekiel Johnson and Julia Hills Johnson. She married Lyman Royal Sherman on January 16, 1829. She and her husband, like others of her family, were converted to the Church in January 1832. The Shermans moved to Kirtland, Ohio, probably in June 1833 with Mrs. Julia Johnson and family, where they resided until 1838. Lyman Sherman died in early 1839 and was a close friend of the Prophet.
Delcena left no record of her relationship with Joseph. Benjamin F. Johnson, her brother, provided the sole evidence corroborating her sealing, dating it to “The marriage of my eldest sister to the Prophet was before my return to Nauvoo [on July 1, 1842], and it being tacitly admitted, I asked no questions.”1
Delcena was married to Joseph Smith for time and was later sealed for eternity to Lyman Sherman by proxy in the Nauvoo temple. 2
Joseph’s plural widows were given a choice to whom they would be sealed in the Nauvoo temple.
Delcena Johnson died October 21, 1854, in Salt Lake City, Utah, an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For additional insights see “Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives after the Martyrdom.”
- See Benjamin F. Johnson in Dean R. Zimmerman, ed., I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs, Reporting Doctrinal Views of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Bountiful, UT: Horizon, 1976), 45, see also 40, 43; For the date, Benjamin returned to Nauvoo, see Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Mesa, Arizona: 21st Century Printing, 1992, reprint), 90, see also 95. For discussion of minor discrepancies in the dating, see Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1997), 710. (back)
- A proxy sealing may have occurred during Joseph’s lifetime, although I’ve found no record of it. See Gary James Bergera, “The Earliest Eternal Sealings of Civilly Married Couples Living and Dead,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 35, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 51, 59. Regardless, it was also performed in the Nauvoo temple. See Lisle Brown, Nauvoo Sealings, Adoptions, and Anointings: a Comprehensive Register of Persons Receiving LDS Temple Ordinances, 1841–1846 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2006), 272. (back)