Hanna was born in England in 1813.  She later immigrated to America and lived several years in Philadelphia.  By 1841, Hanna had relocated to Nauvoo.

In Nauvoo, Hanna opened a dressmaking business.  She advertised her business in the Nauvoo Newspaper, the Times and Seasons:

     Miss H.S. Ells begs leave to respectively inform the Ladies
     of Nauvoo, and its vicinity, that she intends carrying on
     the above business, in all its varied branches: and further
     states, that she has had several years experience in one of
     the most fashionable French establishments in Philadelphia
     ...Nauvoo, Sept. 30, 1841.

According to LDS Church Historian, Andrew Jenson, Hanna married Joseph Smith sometime in the first half of 1843.  In Nauvoo, Hanna lived in the home of John Benbow.  Benbow recalls, “President Smith frequently visited his wife Hannah at [my] house.”  A little more than a year after their marriage, Joseph was killed by a mob in Carthage and Hanna became a widow.

Hanna was close friends with the Wilford Woodruff family.  In August 1844, as Wilford and Phoebe Woodruff were leaving Nauvoo on a mission, they all visited the unfinished Nauvoo Temple to pray.  Wilford wrote, “As we approached it we lifted up our eyes and beheld the greatness grandure and glory...[we climbed to the top] and their with up lifted hands towards heaven, I called upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph by Prayer and supplication.”  Wilford prayed for a successful mission.  He also prayed that God would avenge the blood of Hanna’s husband, "Joseph the Seer."  Wilford noted that they all left the temple, “with Joy and peace.”

Hanna died in Nauvoo sometime in 1845.  There are few details of her death, but another one of Joseph’s wives, Eliza R. Snow, was with Hanna at the time.  Eliza said, “I loved her very much-was present at her death”.  Historian Jenson wrote, “[she was] a lady of culture and refinement-somewhat tall in stature. Those who were acquainted with her speak of her as a good and noble woman.”


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