Wife number 19
by Ann Eliza Young
THE PROPHET'S FAVORITE WIFE. -
HOW HE CONDUCTED HIS LOVE AFFAIRS.
The Prophet's Favorite Wife. Amelia. - How Brigham made Love in the Name of the
Lord. - How he won an Unwilling Bride. - A Lady with a Sweet Temper. - How she
Kicked a Sewing-Machine down the Prophet's Stairs. - She has a new House built
for Her. - Rather Expensive Habits. - Her Pleasant Chances for the Future. - Mary
Van Cott Cobb - A Former Love of the Prophet's. - Miss Eliza-Roxy Snow. - The
Mormon Poetess. -Joseph Smith's Poetic Widow. - Versification of the Saints. -
Mrs. Augusta Cobb. - Emily Partridge.
THE favorite wife of the Prophet, Amelia Folsom, is a woman about forty years of
age, and was a New England girl.
She was born at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and with her parents, who were
converts to Mormonism, came to Utah. She is tall, of a good figure, has rather
regular features, brown hair, bluish-gray eves, and a querulous, discontented
expression, with a very great deal of decision indicated by the mouth. And, indeed,
in spite of all that is lavished upon her, she is not happy. She did not wish to marry
Brigham, as she had a lover to whom she was fondly attached; but he wished to
marry her, and that settled her fate. Her parents favored his suit, and urged it
strongly; but she was bitterly opposed to it, and it was months before she would
yield to their united desires.
He was a most arduous and enthusiastic lover, and during all the time that his suit
was in progress, his carnage might be seen standing before the door of her
parents' house several hours at a time every day. He evidently did not intend that
absence should render her forgetful of him. He promised her anything that she
might desire, and also agreed to do everything to advance the family interests.
Promises had no weight with her. He then had recourse to "Revelation;" he had
been specially told from heaven that she was created especially for him, and if she
married anyone else she would be for ever damned. The poor girl begged, pleaded,
protested, and shed most bitter tears, but all to no purpose. His mind was made
up. and he would not allow his will to be crossed. She had been converted to
believe in special revelation, and to look upon Brigham as the savior of all the
Mormon people, and to think that disobedience to him was disobedience to God,
since God's commands came through him. In answer to her pleading, he said,
"Amelia, you must be my wife; God has revealed it to me. You cannot be saved by
anyone else. If you marry me, I will save you, and exalt you to be a queen in the
celestial world; but if you refuse, you will be destroyed, both soul and body."
VIEW IN SALT LAKE CITY - SHOWING AMELIA'S NEW HOUSE.
This is the same argument he used to win me, and the one he has always in
reserve, as the last resort, when everything else fails to secure his victim.
Of course she yielded; what else was she to do? It was a foregone conclusion
when the courtship commenced. She was married to him the 23d of January,
1863, more than six months after the anti-polygamy law had been passed by
Congress, and the marriage was celebrated openly, and in defiance of the law.
Since the marriage, Amelia has ruled with a hand of iron, and she has her lord in
pretty good subjection. She has a terrible temper, and he has the benefit of it. On
one occasion he sent her a sewing-machine, thinking to please her; it did not
happen to be the kind of a one which she wanted; so she kicked it down stairs,
saving, "What did you get this old thing for? You knew I wanted a `Singer.'"
She had a Singer at once.
I was once present when she wanted her husband to do something for her; he
objected, and she repeated her demand, threatening to "thrash him," if he did not
comply. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to say that she was not obliged to ask him
again. I know he is afraid of her, and that she holds him flow through fear, rather
than love. She accompanies him to the theatre, and occupies the box, while the
rest of the wives sit in the parquet. She goes with him on his visits to the
settlements, and drives out with him constantly.
She has a beautiful new house, elegantly furnished, and Brigham has very nearly
deserted the "Bee-Hive," except during business hours, and spends most of his
time at Amelia's residence. She dresses elegantly. has jewels and laces, and has
saved ten thousand dollars out of her "pin-money," which she placed in bank. I am
delighted at her success in getting so much; the other wives have succeeded in
getting nothing but their living from him, some scarcely that; and I, for my part,
congratulate Amelia on her good management. It was a hard struggle for her to
marry him, and all she gets will never half repay her for the suffering she has
endured in the past, even if she has grown contented now.
She is rather careless in her treatment of the other wives, but gets along the best
with the "proxies." When she lived at the "Bee Hive," she dined at the "Lion
House," with her husband and the other wives. She and Brigham sat at a table by
themselves - a small table, standing at the head of the dining-room. The other
wives, with their children, sat at a long table, running nearly the entire length of the
room. The fare at this table was very plain, while the other was loaded with every
delicacy that the season would afford. When strangers dined with Brigham, the
difference in the fare was less noticeable, and the long table would be amply
provided for, so as to make a good Impression upon the visitor. Amelia is not well;
indeed, she is at times quite an invalid. She has no children.
About six months before my marriage to the Prophet, he took a pretty young
widow. Mary Van Cott, for a wife, much to Amelia's distress, who had considered
herself the last for so long, that she was quite unprepared for the introduction of a
rival. She was very bitter in her denunciations both of Brigham and Mary, and
commenced at once to make friends with some of the other wives. She said to
Aunt Zina. I believe, that she knew now how Emmeline felt when Brigham took her.
Emmeline had been the favorite wife for years, and was really fond of her husband,
and it was a terrible blow to her when he deserted her for another.
For some time Brigham's fickle affections hovered about Mary, but Amelia, with a
determination which but few Mormon women possess, fought against her rival until
she compelled her lord to withdraw his attentions from the new wife, or to bestow
them on the sly. Mary felt very much hurt and aggrieved, but she has managed to
hold her own sufficiently to get a very pretty cottage house, which is very daintily
furnished, and which she makes very attractive.
She has two children, one by a former husband; the other, a pretty little girl, three
or four years old, the youngest of Brigham's children, and who is always called
"Baby." After I left it was said she very nearly decided to take the same step. She
was very discontented, and the treatment she received from the Prophet and his
family was not such as to encourage her to stay with him. Her own people, who
are devout Mormons. became aware of her intention, and finally succeeded, by a
great amount of persuasion, in inducing her to try a little longer. Brigham, too,
found out what step she was contemplating, and knowing that opinion would set
strongly against him if two of his wives should leave him so nearly at the same
time, added his arguments to theirs, and also agreed to fix her house and give her
more things, among which was a grand piano, if she would not bring another
scandal upon him. For the sake of her child she decided to remain, but she is in a
state at mental rebellion, which may break out at any time. She is, since my
defection, the last added member of the family.
Miss Eliza R. Snow is the first of Brigham's "proxy" wives, and is the most noted of
all Mormon women."
She was one of Joseph Smith's wives, and, after his death, was sealed to Brigham
for time, but is to return to Joseph