AGNES COOLBRITH SMITH
Agnes Coolbrith was
baptized in Boston in July of 1832 and gathered with the saints in Kirtland,
Ohio. There she boarded in the home of Joseph and Emma Smith.
In 1835, Agnes married Joseph’s brother, Don Carlos. Three years
later, when Joseph fled Kirtland for Missouri, Agnes and Don Carlos followed.
Eventually they settled in Nauvoo with their three daughters. During
the summer of 1841, Don Carlos contracted malaria and passed away.
Five months later Agnes
would marry Joseph Smith. The marriage was guarded with secrecy.
On January 6, 1842 Brigham Young wrote a cryptic entry in his journal using
Masonic symbols. Decoded, it reads: “I was taken in to the lodge
J Smith was Agness”. The abbreviation “was” means “wedded and
sealed”. On the same day in Joseph’s diary we find: “Truly this
is a day long to be remembered by the saints of the Last Days; a day in
which the God of heaven has began to restore the ancient order of his Kingdom...all
things are concurring together to bring about the completion of the fullness
of the gospel”.
Later that spring,
at a meeting of the women’s “Relief Society”, Emma Smith announced that
a young woman, Clarissa Marvel, “was accused of [telling] scandalous
falsehoods on the character of Prest. Joseph Smith”. Eager to
prove her husband innocent of improper behavior, Emma initiated an investigation.
A few days later, Clarissa signed the following statement: “This is
to certify that I never have at any time or place, seen or heard anything
improper or unvirtuous in the conduct or conversation of either President
Smith or Mrs. Agnes Smith...I never have reported any thing derogatory
to the characters of either of them”. By this time, Joseph and
Agnes had been married almost four months.
After Joseph Smith’s
death, Agnes married Joseph and Don Carlos’ cousin, George Albert Smith.
As George Albert and the rest of the Saints were leaving for Utah, Agnes
wrote, “I have no other one to ask but you my mind is much troubled
about comeing...I want to come and I do not want to come I feel alone all
alone if there was a Carlos or a Joseph or Hyrum there how quickly would
I be there”. Agnes ultimately did not migrate to Utah.
She married a fourth husband, William Pickett, and eventually moved to
California, essentially leaving her Mormon past behind.
Many years later, her
marriage to Joseph Smith still shrouded in secrecy, Agnes wrote to her
nephew, Joseph F. Smith: “I acknowledge none greater...than those
that belong to the household of Joseph our Dear Dear Dear departed one
Joseph...I could say many things to you...that I know and that has been
told me by those that are dead and gone but perhaps you would not believe
me no I know that you would not so it is best for me to keep silent”.