Louisa Beaman first
met Joseph Smith in 1834 when Joseph and several missionaries stayed in
the Beaman home in Avon, New York. Louisa’s sister, Mary, remembered
the visit: “His society I prized, his conversation was meat and drink
to me”. One of the missionaries, Parley P. Pratt, also noted
the stay: “Among those whose hospitality we shared in that vicinity
was old father Beeman and his amiable and interesting family. He was a
good singer, and so were his three daughters; we were much edified and
comforted in their society...”.
The Beaman family joined
the church and moved to Kirtland, Ohio in 1835. While there, Louisa’s
father died at the age of 62. Amid church dissention in Kirtland,
Louisa, and her Mother, Sarah, made the trip to Missouri and then finally
to Nauvoo. Shortly after arriving in Nauvoo, Louisa’s Mother also
died, most likely of malaria, which was rampant. Louisa moved in
with her sister Mary and brother-in-law, Joseph Bates Noble.
In the fall of 1840
Joseph Smith taught Joseph Bates Noble, “the principle of celestial
marriage or plural marriage”, which Joseph said was given by revelation.
Joseph then asked Noble to perform a marriage ceremony between himself
and twenty-five-year-old Louisa. Smith also warned, “In revealing
this to you, I have placed my life in your hands, therefore do not in an
evil hour betray me to my enemies.”
Joseph and Louisa were
married on April 5, 1841, “in a grove Near Main Street in the City of
Nauvoo, The Prophet Joseph dictating the ceremony and Br Nobles repeating
it after him.”, remembers Erastus Snow, Louisa’s brother-in-law.
To help keep the union secret, Louisa wore a man’s hat and coat as disguise.
Joseph Bates Noble recalled that after the ceremony, the couple spent their
wedding night, “Right straight across the river at my house”.
Noble said he encouraged them to, “Blow out the lights and get into
bed, and you will be safer there”.
After Joseph Smith’s
death, Louisa married Brigham Young. Louisa bore five children by
Young, all of whom preceded her in death. Tragically, Louisa died of breast
cancer at the age of 35.
For many years, Louisa
Beaman was widely recognized as the first plural wife of Joseph Smith.
In 1851, the city now known as Parowan, Utah was christened Fort “Louisa”.
According to John D. Lee, this was, “ in honor of the first Woman who
listened to the light & voice of Revelation - & yielded obedience
to the Seal of the covenant...for this noble act, her Name is held in honorable
rememberance in the History of the Saints”.