The Wives of Wilford Woodruff

Todd Compton

The following is the not the result of original research; I merely wanted to create a simple list of Wilford Woodruff’s marriages using solid secondary resources (mainly Thomas G. Alexander, Woodruff’s most recent biographer, and D. Michael Quinn, historian of the Mormon hierarchy), supplemented by Woodruff’s own diaries and Family Record when possible. (Woodruff included a Family Record in the beginning of his journals.)[1] As is typical of projects like this, I found that the job was more challenging than I expected, so my research is ongoing. I would especially like to know more about Clarissa Hardy and Mary Caroline Barton. Any corrections or relevant additions will be welcome. Thanks to Mel Tungate for helpful comments.

I bold names of special importance. Children that did not survive infancy are not bolded. Nicknames or commonly used names are given in quotation marks. Variants are given in brackets. Married names are given in parentheses.

Wilford Woodruff’s Birth, Parents and Siblings

Wilford Woodruff was born March 1, 1807 in Farmington, Hartford, Connecticut.[2] He died on September 2, 1898 in San Francisco, California.

His parents were Aphek Woodruff, born November 11, 1778 in Farmington, and Bulah [Beulah] Thompson, born on April 22, 1782. Their marriage date was November 11, 1778. They had three children: Azmon was born on November 29, 1802. He joined Millerites, then later came to Utah and rejoined the church. Ozem Thompson (“Thompson”) was born on December 22, 1804. (And Wilford was born in 1807.)

Bulah died in June 1808.

After Bulah’s death, Aphek married Azubah Hart, and they had six children, but four died before adulthood. The two who survived, half-siblings of Wilford Woodruff, are: Asahel, born in 1814, and Eunice, born in 1820.

Wives of Wilford Woodruff

1. Wilford Woodruff’s first wife was Phebe Whittemore Carter; they were married on April 13, 1837.[3] She and Wilford were both thirty at the time, which is later than is usual for Mormons of that time period. Born in Scarborough, Maine, on March 8, 1807, Phebe converted to Mormonism in 1834, then moved to Kirtland. She had nine children, but five died in infancy. Wilford lists Sarah Emma (1838-1840), Willford Jr. (1840-1921), Phebe [Phoebe] Amelia (Snow) (1842-1919), Susan Cornelia (Scholes) (1843-1859), Joseph Carter (1845-1846), Shuah [Sarah] Carter (1847-1848), Bulah [Beulah] Augusta (Beatte) (1851-1905), and Aphek (1853-1853).[4] Phebe Amelia became a plural wife of Apostle (and later President) Lorenzo Snow.[5]

Phebe offers a case history of a first wife, a role that had advantages and disadvantages. Alexander wrote that in the 1870’s, “[Wilford] and Phebe became less intimate. . . . Increasingly, she and Wilford lived parallel lives residing in the same house but moving on separate courses. Phebe had become a community leader in her own right. . . . She became a leader in promoting women’s political activity, writing on one occasion that ‘she would as soon think of neglecting her prayers as neglecting to go to the polls.’ . . .

“As Wilford and Phebe grew more independent, Wilford’s interest in providing for his younger wives and their children and in developing business operations with his older sons led him to engage less than previously in ventures involving Phebe . . . Phebe may have become more distant from her husband because of her swelling dislike of polygamy, and she may have harbored some resentment over Wilford’s increasing attention to his younger wives and their minor children. . . . She once publicly observed that she ‘thought it [plural marriage] the most heinous thing I ever heard of’ until she became convinced of its divinity . . . In private she may have found the institution an ‘unclean thing,’ yet she realized that in her position she could not oppose her husband and other church leaders on the issue.”

Although their relationship changed, Woodruff neither ignored Phebe nor left her entirely to her own devices. As his first wife, she still occupied the primary position in his families . . . She remained publicly his most visible wife. They went to the theater and traveled together on occasion . . .”[6]

Phebe died on November 10, 1885, at the age of 68, while Wilford was on the underground. He was able to watch the cortege, but couldn’t attend the funeral.[7]


2. Wilford Woodruff’s second wife was Mary Ann Jackson; they married on April 15 or August 2, 1846, at the Nauvoo Temple or at Winter Quarters. Mary Ann was twenty-eight, Wilford was thirty-nine. They had one child, James Jackson, but divorced in 1848.

Mary Ann had been born on February 18, 1818, in Liverpool, England, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Lloyd Jackson, and Wilford Woodruff met her on his English mission. In his journal, on August 8, 1845, he wrote: “I recieved 2 letters & wrote 2. 4 m. Sister Mary Jackson commenced labour with us this day.”[8]

On August 2, 1846, Woodruff wrote: “During the evening President Young And Dr Richards Called at my tent. President Young deliverd an interesting lecture upon the priesthood And the principal of sealing there being present: Phebe W. Woodruff / [Mary] Caroline Barton / Caroline [mistake for Sarah] Brown / Mary Jackson.”[9] There is a picture of a large heart with four keys. This is a typical pre-1852 cryptic reference to plural marriages. On August 8, at a time of rebaptisms, Woodruff rebaptized the trio, and got the names right: “Caroline, Sarah, Mary.” He also has the names correct on August 26: “Caroline Barton and Sarah Brown.” He describes them there as “members of my family.”

Alexander writes, “While in England he had met Mary Ann Jackson, a twenty-eight-year-old Liverpool native, who had converted to Mormonism in May 1843. Working for the Woodruffs as housekeeper, she returned with Phebe and a party of emigrants via New Orleans in January 1846. On April 15, two days after his return to Nauvoo for a reunion with his wife and children, Wilford and his family and friends visited the temple. The records are contradictory, but he married Mary Ann on that occasion or on August 2, at Winter Quarters. The marriage produced one son, James Jackson Woodruff, who was born on March 25, 1847, at Florence, Nebraska. Mary Ann and Wilford subsequently divorced, but James remained on good terms with his father.”[10]

Mary Ann died on October 25, 1894 in Salt Lake City. Wilford Woodruff spoke at her funeral.[11]


3. Wilford Woodruff’s third wife was Mary Carolyn [Caroline] Barton; who had been born on January 12, 1829 in Wilmington, New Castle, Delaware. They were married on August 2, 1846. She and Wilford Woodruff divorced four weeks later and she returned to her parents.[12]

Alexander writes, “The two young wives [she and Sarah Brown, see below] began keeping company with three young men nearer their own ages, staying out with them until early in the morning for several days. . . . The thirty-nine-year-old Woodruff forebade his teenage wives from consorting with the men . . . they continued dating their friends, and Woodruff thought some sexual misconduct had taken place . . . As promised, he sent Carolyn Barton back to her parents and Sarah Brown to another famly, and Hosea Stout whipped the boys. Woodruff thought the girls deserved similar punishment, but expulsion sufficed . . . Brigham Young agreed to divorces between Woodruff and the two women.”[13]

Two years later Mary married Erastus Curtis, with whom she would have eleven children. She died on August 10, 1910 in Barton, Custer, Idaho.[14]


4. Wilford Woodruff’s fourth wife was Sarah Elinore [Elinor or Eleanor] Brown; they were married on August 2, 1846. She was eighteen, Wilford was thirty-nine. They divorced four weeks later and Sarah went to live with another family.[15] Sarah Brown was born on August 22, 1827, in Vinal Haven, Knox, Maine, the daughter of Charles Brown and Mary Arey.

Wilford Woodruff apparently married her sister posthumously. He records in his diary: “Rebeca Brown born in vinal Haven Maine Oct 30, 1826 / Sealed to WW Died Aug 1839 Aged 13 year /June 15 1807/.”[16]

Sarah later married Lisbon Lamb in Salt Lake City on February 15, 1849, with whom she had three children. She died on December 25, 1915 in Farmington, Utah.


5. Wilford Woodruff’s fifth wife was Mary Giles Meeks Webster; they were married on March 28, 1852. She was forty-eight and a widow; Woodruff was forty-five. On March 28, 1852, Woodruff wrote, “28th I Preached at the 13th ward School House in the forenoon & wrote in the Afternoon [unt?]ill 4 ocok  then Attended the prayer Circle with the presidency And Prayer Twelve. The president called upon me in the Evening with several others & spent A little time with us. Sister Mary Meek Giles took up her abode with us as a Boarder /And was sealed to W Woodruff for time & Eternity/.”[17]

In Woodruff’s Family Record, we read “Mary Giles Webster, Daughter of Samuel & Elizabeth Giles born in Marblehead Essex County Mass. Sept 6, 1803, Sealed to W. Woodruff March 28, 1852. /Also at the Alter Endmt House, June 15 1867/ Died Oct 3d 1852 Aged 49 years.”[18]

Mary died about a half year after this marriage. On October 3, 1852, Wilford wrote, “Oct 3d   Sunday Sister Mary Giles Meeks Webster died at 1 oclok P.M. this day. I sat by her at her last moments & closed her eyes.”[19]


6. Wilford Woodruff’s sixth wife was Clarissa Hardy. So far I have found only secondary attestations for this marriage.[20] According to Quinn, the marriage took place in 1852. If this is correct, she was about eighteen and Woodruff was about forty-six. Again, according to secondary sources, they were divorced in 1853., on Clarissa’s personal entry, tells us that this person is Clarissa Henrietta Hardy, born on November 30, 1834, in East Bradford, Essex, Massachusetts, daughter of Leonard William Hardy and Elizabeth Nichols. Leonard William Hardy was a friend of Wilford Woodruff and was frequently mentioned in Woodruff’s journals.[21] He went to England with the Woodruffs on their mission to England in 1844 and 1845.[22] He became first counselor in the presiding bishopric in 1856.[23]

On, Clarissa is listed as having three husbands: (1) Woodruff (no marriage date given); (2) Alonzo Havington Russell (marriage date December 11, 1853, 3 children); and (3) Thomas William Winter (marriage date February 11, 1867).

Clarissa died on September 3, 1903 in Salt Lake City.


7. Wilford Woodruff’s seventh wife was Emma Smoot Smith; they were married on March 13, 1853. Woodruff recorded in his diary, “Wilford Woodruff & (Emma Smith born March 1st 1838 At Diahman Davis County Missouri) was sealed for time & Eternity by President Brigham Young at 7 oclock P.M. March 13 1853.”[24] Emma was fifteen; Wilford was forty-six. Alexander writes, “He probably refrained from sexual relations with Emma until she became older, since she did not bear her first child, Hyrum Smith Woodruff, until October 4, 1857, seven months after she turned nineteen.”[25] In the Family Record, Woodruff wrote, “Emma Smith was Born at Diahman Davis County Missouri March 1st 1838 Emma Smith Daughter of Samuel & Mohecla [Martishia] Smith Married to Wilford Woodruff sen March 13 1853.”[26] Genealogical records give the mother’s name as Martishia Smoot. She was sister of the famous Abraham Smoot.

The Family Record lists the following children for Emma: Hiram Smith (1857-1858), Emma Manella [Minilla] (1860-1905), Asahel Hart (1863-1939), Anna Thompson (1867-1867), Clara Martishia [Martisha] (Beebe) (1868-1927), Abram [Abraham] Owen [“Owen”] (1872-1904), Wineford [Winifred] Blanch (Daynes) (1876-1954), and Mary Alice (McEwan) (1879-1916). Abraham Owen was ordained an apostle by his father in 1897. Like his father, he was a polygamist; he married one plural wife in 1901.[27]

After Phebe’s death in1885, Emma became Wilford’s public, legal wife. She died in Salt Lake City on March 4, 1912.[28]


8. Wilford Woodruff’s eighth wife was Sarah Brown; they were married on March 13, 1853. Sarah was nineteen; Wilford was forty-six. In his diary, Woodruff writes, “Wilford Woodruff and (Sarah Brown born in Hendersen County New York Jefferson County New York Jan 1st 1834) was sealed for time and Eternity By President Brigham Young at 7 oclock PM March 13, 1853.”[29] A biography gives her parents as Harry Brown and Rhoda North.[30] There is a lovely picture of Wilford, Sarah and three children in Nelson Wadsworth’s Set in Stone Fixed in Glass.[31]

Wilford lists eight children for Sarah: David Patten (1854-1937), Brigham Young (1857-1877), Phebe Arobella [Arabella] (Moses) (1859-1939), Sylva Malvina [Melvina] (Thompson) (1862-1940), Newton (1863-1960), Mary (1867-1913), Charles Henry (1870-1871), and Edward Randolph (1873-1873).

Sarah died on May 9, 1909 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah.


9. Wilford Woodruff’s ninth wife was Sarah Delight “Delight” Stocking; they were married on July 31, 1857. Delight was nineteen, Woodruff was fifty. He wrote, “July 31…A few days since I Called upon Presidet Young & had some Conversation with him. I then went to the Endowment House & worked till 2 oclok. <President Young sealed Sarah Delight Stocking to me. She was born in Canton, Hartford County> Ct July 28 1838.”[32] Genealogical records list Delight’s parents as John Jay Stocking and Catherine Emeline Ensign.[33]

In the Family Record, Woodruff lists seven children for Delight: Marion (1861-1946), Emeline (Burrows) (1863-1915), Ensign (1865-1955), Jeremiah (1868-1869),  Rosana (1871-1872), John L. [Jay] (1873-1964), and Julia Delight (Park) (1878-1954).[34]

Delight died on May 28, 1906 in Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake City.


10. Wilford Woodruff’s tenth wife was Eudora Lovina [Lovinia, Lavina] (“Dora Lou”) Young (Dunford); they were married on March 10, 1877.[35] Eudora was twenty-five, Woodruff was seventy. She was a daughter of Brigham Young and Lucy Bigelow, and thus was the sister of Susa Young Gates. Her birthdate was May 12, 1852. She had previously married Moreland Dunford, with whom she had two children, but this marriage had ended in divorce.

The marriage of Woodruff and Eudora was a pure dynastic marriage: “Obviously enthused by the festivities and convinced of the divinity of Woodruff’s revelation, Young offered the apostle his twenty-five-year-old recently-divorced daughter Eudora Lovina as an additional wife,” writes Alexander.[36] On March 10, 1877, Woodruff wrote, “10 We gave Endowments to 106. 36 Elders ordained. W Woodruff sealed 7, E Snow 27. Presidet Young was with us to day in the Temple of the Lord And I feel thankful for it. The Blessing of God Rested upon the people. <President Young gave his daughter Eudora [Lovinia?] to me in marriage and sealed us together at the altar in the temple of the Lord this day and I thank the Lord for it.>.”[37]

Eudora had one son with Wilford Woodruff, who died soon after birth; then there was a divorce. She reportedly gave Woodruff’s name to federal marshals in 1879.[38] She later married non-Mormon judge Albert Hagan, with whom she had four children. She died in Nevada on November 12, 1922.


There is one more possible plural wife of Wilford Woodruff: Lydia Mary Olive von Finklestein Mamreov (Mountford). It is disputed whether Wilford Woodruff married this flamboyant lecturer. Thomas Alexander, Woodruff’s biographer, argues that he did not marry her. D. Michael Quinn and E. Carmon Hardy, historians of post-Manifesto polygamy, accept her as a plural wife of Woodruff.[39] Alexander writes, “My own belief is that a marriage sealing [of Woodruff and Mountford] during Woodruff’s lifetime did not take place but that the two were good friends and admired each other.”[40]]


Many of the standard patterns of Mormon polygamy are present in Woodruff’s marriages. We find the phenomenon of favored wives and less-favored wives. We have dynastic marriages (where a young woman is used to bond two older elite men), and problems when a middle-aged or older man marries a teenager or young woman, often for religious or dynastic reasons. In the case of Mary Meeks Webster, we also have Woodruff marrying an older widow, probably to care for her. In the cases of Mary Caroline Barton and Sarah Elinor Brown, it is possible that these teenagers did not fully understand that “celestial marriage” was applicable in this life.

Alexander summarizes Woodruff’s family life: “He did not treat his wives and children equally. He clearly preferred Phebe and her children, and after her death Emma and hers. He was much less involved with Sarah and least with Delight and her children. At least four of his marriages failed for reasons not entirely clear, but which included incompatibility in Mary Ann’s case . . . perhaps his neglect in Eudora’s case.”[41]

Yet some of Woodruff’s marriages were fully successful. On his ninety-first birthday, he himself summarized his families with pride:


March 1, 1898 This is the Birth Day of myself & wife Emma. I have lived 91 yeres today and My wife Emma 60 Years. I have had to acknowledg the hand of God in the preservation of our lives untill the present time. I did not deem it wisdom to have a Birth Day Party to day. Last year I met many thousands in the Tabernacle and Emma and myself shook hands with some 7,000 of the Assembly and I did not feel like going through that operation this season.

            Emma has lived with me as my wife 45 years. She has born me 3 sons and 5 daughters. One son died in childhood. 2 sons grew to Manhood and both are Noble Men.

            Asahel ordaind into the Quorum of Seventies, has presided over the sabbath School Children for many years, Also over Mutual Improvement Association for years. He presides over the Dry Goods departmen of Zions Merchantile institution where they sell some $4,000,000 dollars worth of Goods Annually And He purchases the goods mostly in New York. He Performed a good Mission of about 2 years in England.

            Abraham Owen has filled a Mission of two years & a quarter in Germanny & Performed a good work. He was Called & Ordained into the quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the fall of 1897 And is Thoroughly fulfilling his Mission as An Apostle.

            Emma lost one Daughter in Childhood but raised four to Motherhood All Noble women.

            Phebe Carter Woodruff My first wife bore me Nine Children 4 sons & 5 daughters. 3 sons died in Early Childhood. Wilford is Still living 50 years of Age. Spent one Mission in England of some two years. He is now laboring in Salt Lake Temple. He Came to this valley with his Father and Mother in 1850. Phebe Lost 2 Daughters in Childhood & 3 grew to womanhood & Motherhood.

            My wife Sarah Brown Woodruff bore me 4 sons. 2 are still living. Brigham Y drowned at 20 years of age. Randolph died at Birth. She also bore me 3 daughters Arobell & Sylvia are Mothers. Mary is teaching school in the Provo Academy.[42]

Phoebe Whittemore Carter Woodruff

by Ellice W. Smith

from Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, pp. 231-32

Phoebe Whittemore Carter was born March 8, 1807, in Scarborough, Maine, a daughter of Ezra and Sarah Fabyan Carter. While still a young woman, Phoebe embraced the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1834 against her parents' wishes. A year later with strong faith in her new-found religion and a promise to her grief-stricken mother that she would return if Mormonism proved false, Phoebe journeyed 1000 miles to Kirtland, Ohio, where she joined the colony of Latter-day Saints. Before her departure, Phoebe wrote and left notes for her family, as she was too sad to bid farewell to her loved ones.

After she arrived in Kirtland Phoebe met the Prophet Joseph Smith and became a close friend of his family. Within a year she married Wilford Woodruff. Joseph Smith had promised to perform the ceremony, but was unable to do so. Phoebe's life from then on proved to be a very eventful one. She accompanied her husband on two missions, the Fox Islands off the State of Maine, and to England. Their first child, Sarah Emma, was born while Phoebe was visiting her parents at Scarborough, Maine. When her husband came for her, the Carters begged her to remain with them, as it was October and they were fearful the trip to Nauvoo would involve hardships for the family. Her husband said of her at this time: "Yes, Phoebe possessed too much firmness, faith and confidence in God to put her hand to the plough and then look back, or to give way to trials however great." They spent three months traveling in wagons through rain, mud, snow and frost. It was on this trip that Phoebe was stricken with a severe headache which developed into brain fever. The baby also became ill. As Phoebe's condition worsened, she was believed to [p.232] be dying, but a prayer was offered for her and next morning the travelers continued a little farther, where they found a house in which to stay for several days. It was here her spirit apparently left her body, but the faith and prayers of her husband and friends brought her back to life. She related after her recovery that she saw her body as in death and was given her choice of being released from this earth or to return to her body and stand by her husband through all the trials and tribulations she would be called upon to pass through. She chose to return to this earth, resulting in her being able to continue the journey to Quincy, Illinois, where her husband decided to settle.

Wilford, Jr., Phoebe Amelia and Susan Cornelia were born to the Woodruff's in Illinois, and here Sarah Emma died and was buried. Phoebe joined her husband in fulfilling a mission to England and while there a son, Joseph, was born. On their return to America, they found the Saints had left Nauvoo and established themselves at Winter Quarters. They joined the Saints and the care of the family fell upon the shoulders of Phoebe as her husband was called to fulfill another mission. About this time Phoebe's mother, father and one sister were baptized into the Church. Another son, Ezra, and a daughter, Sarah Carter, were born at Winter Quarters, but each died soon after birth, and to add to their grief Joseph, who was born in England, also passed away. With all of her tribulations, Phoebe believed sincerely in the gospel and remained completely devoted to her husband. She spoke of him as "a most worthy man with scarcely his superior on earth." On June 20th, 1850, Wilford and Phoebe, with their three remaining children, Wilford, Jr., Susan and Phoebe, left for the Great Salt Lake Valley where they arrived, after many interesting and trying experiences, October 14, 1850.

Soon after their arrival, Wilford moved his family from the Old Fort into a home near the Temple Block to his tract of land on what is now South Temple and West Temple Streets. A storehouse and an adobe house were built on this property where Phoebe lived until a large brick home was erected into which she moved and lived her remaining years. Two more children were born to the Woodruffs in Salt Lake City, Beulah Augusta and Aphek. Of her nine children, only four lived to maturity: Wilford, Susan, Phoebe and Beulah.

November 10, 1885, Phoebe Woodruff died at the age of seventy-eight. Her husband was greatly affected by her death and painfully humiliated because he was only able to watch her funeral procession as it passed the historian's office where he was in hiding from the authorities of the law because of polygamy, a doctrine she had struggled so hard to embrace. A historian of note who resided with the Woodruff family for some time, said:

Phoebe Carter Woodruff is one of the noblest examples of her sex, truly a mother in Israel, and in her strength of character, consistency and devotion, she has but few peers in the Church.


Mary Ann Jackson Woodruff

by Fanny Ensign Gunn

from Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, pp. 233-34

Mary Ann Jackson Woodruff was born in Liverpool, England, February 18, 1818, the daughter of William and Elizabeth Lloyd Jackson. On May 2, 1843, she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder William Cooper and confirmed by Elder John Greenbaugh, being the only member of her family to join the Church. January 16, 1846, she sailed on the ship Liverpool with friends, the Fergusons and forty other Saints, bound for New Orleans, and ultimately Nauvoo, arriving April 10, 1846.

Mary Ann attended the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple with the Woodruff family in May, and on the 16th of that month she, with other Saints, was driven forth by the mob across the river, from which they traveled farther west. Storms and fair weather were encountered before they reached Mt. Pisgah, where a requisition was made by the United States Army for a battalion of 500 men to march to Mexico for the purpose of defending the nation. The following was taken from Mary Ann's writings:

Owing to circumstances with which they were surrounded, the brethren were some of them reluctant to fill the ranks and leave as they did some young brides, and others, wives with large families of children, and others, dear old widowed mothers with none to care for them but their sons; but our beloved Brigham was equal to the task. He told the Saints that a battalion must be raised if it took the authorities and the women to fill it up. On July 16, 1846, I stood and watched the battalion break camp for their long western march, composed of the beardless youth and the white-haired veteran.

The following was taken from James J. Woodruff's journal:


On the 2nd day of August, 1846, President Brigham Young and Willard Richards called at the tent of Apostle Wilford Woodruff and united in the bonds of marriage by the power of the Holy Priesthood Wilford Woodruff and Mary Ann Jackson. President Brigham Young performed the sacred ordinance and President Richards was the witness. In Wilford Woodruff's journal for this day, he has drawn a large heart with four keys and the following words are written, "August 2, President Brigham Young called at my tent and delivered an interesting lecture upon the priesthood and the principles of sealing. Present was Phoebe W. Woodruff, Mary Jackson, Caroline Barton and Sarah Brown.

Mary Ann Jackson Woodruff remained in Winter Quarters after the first company of pioneers left. Here her first child was born. "On May 25, 1847, my baby was born, a son. We called him James Jackson Woodruff. On the 13th of June I began the journey to follow the pioneers when he was nineteen days old. I started with dear old father, Aphek Woodruff, blessed be his name, for in the hands of the Lord, he was the means of saving my life."

Quoting from her son, James Jackson's record, we read: “My heroic mother started with my dear grandfather Aphek, with two wagons, two horses, an ox and one cow. One wagon was loaded with flour milling machinery and the other for the family and provisions. The company arrived in the Valley in September 1847.”

As a Utah pioneer, Mary Ann experienced hardships and sorrows; but as a mother and wife, she was a joy and a blessing to her family all of her life. She died of a heart attack October 25, 1894, at the age of seventy-six. Her funeral was held Sunday, October 28th, in the Seventeenth Ward and her husband, President Wilford Woodruff, was one of the speakers.


Emma Smith Woodruff

by Winnifred Blanche Woodruff Daynes from

from Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p. 234-35

Emma Smith Woodruff was born March 1st, 1838, in Springhill, Davis County, Missouri, three miles from Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Her father, Samuel Smith, was of English descent, and her mother, Martishia Smoot, was one of French lineage, and was sister to the well-known Abraham O. Smoot. Her parents came originally from Tennessee and located in Spring-hill. When but a small child, her parents moved to Nauvoo as converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She remembered the Prophet Joseph Smith and how handsome she thought he was as he rode past the children as they played near the street, and it was not unusual, when he saw her, for him to dismount and [p.235] ask how she was. Until her death she treasured this precious memory as one of her most sacred treasures.

In 1850 Emma started west with her parents. Her father had worked hard in preparation for the journey into a wilderness, and yet he undertook it with the same hope and manly courage that was typical of most of the early pioneers. When the family reached Salt Creek, the father was stricken with cholera and after only two hours of suffering, died. Three days later, the mother gave birth to a little girl. Emma, then only twelve years of age, assumed the responsibility of looking after the bereaved family. After many trials the company reached the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in the fall of 1850.

In the year 1853, Emma, fifteen years of age, became the third wife of Wilford Woodruff, devoting her full time and energy to the welfare of her husband and his family. Eight children were born to Emma Woodruff, the first when she was twenty years of age. Emma was very active and useful in the organizations of the Church. She was a charter member of the Retrenchment Society, and was chosen to act on the first Salt Lake Stake board of Relief Society. She became president of the Farmers Ward Relief Society, first stake Relief Society president of Granite Stake and a member of the general board of Relief Society when it was incorporated in October 1892. Here she labored for many years, traveling and ministering in her calling among the sisters of that organization. When the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated in April 1893, Emma Woodruff was one of the first women chosen to officiate in that sacred house. Emma felt it an honor to be the wife of President Woodruff, and that their children were willing to take his counsel was her greatest blessing. She died on March 4, 1912, at her home 1622 South Fifth East, Salt Lake City.


Sarah Brown Woodruff

by Sylvia Moses Handley

from Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p.235-36

Sarah Brown Woodruff, third child of Harry and Rhoda North Brown, was born January 1, 1834, at Henderson, Jefferson County, New York. Before her birth the family had accepted the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in 1836 joined Zion's Camp in Missouri. Sarah attended school until she was sixteen years of age when she was awarded a teacher's certificate.

In 1852 the Brown family boarded the river steamer, Saluda, bound for Council Bluffs. Soon after the steamer started, an explosion occurred, causing many deaths. Sarah was struck on the head by a flying object which knocked her to the floor unconscious. The father was severely injured and died three weeks later as a result of the accident. Her brother Ira's leg was broken and his front teeth knocked out. They transferred to another steamer and proceeded on their journey, arriving in Council Bluffs where they remained until July 14th, 1852, when the mother and children began the long journey across the plains. [p.236]

At Laramie, Ira's leg, which was badly infected, was amputated, and here the mother and children, except Sarah, remained, coming to Utah the following summer. Sarah arrived in Salt Lake City October 1, 1852, in the Henry Miller Company. Discouraged, Mrs. Brown returned to her former home after living in the Valley only one year. Sarah never saw any of her people again.

Sarah was married to Apostle Wilford Woodruff March 13, 1853. Their oldest son, David Patton, was born on April 4, 1854. The next year she taught school in Weber County, returning to Salt Lake City the following year where she taught in the Fourteenth Ward, her own ward. She learned to make gloves, which she sold to the stores. Some she embroidered with silk, receiving seven to fifteen dollars per pair. Another accomplishment of Sarah Woodruff was that of making straw hats and bonnets, which she ofttimes displayed at the fair.

On May 30th, 1871, Sarah's family moved to Randolph in Rich County. Her oldest son, Brigham, remained in Salt Lake City to continue his education at the university. In 1876 she moved to Smithfield, Cache County. Brigham graduated from the university and came home in June 1877, but his family was only privileged to enjoy his association twenty-four hours. He went duck hunting with his brothers, shot a duck, took off his clothing and plunged into the cold water to retrieve it. Although he was a good swimmer, he developed cramps and was drowned! The body was not found for five days. His father, then president of the St. George Temple, was unable to be present for the funeral.

Mary died in 1891 and Grandmother Sarah cared for the children for some time. Sarah Brown Woodruff was the mother of eight children, and at the time of her death, May 9, 1909, was grandmother to thirty-four children, and great-grandmother to twenty-four. She died in Smithfield, but the body was taken to Salt Lake City for burial in the City Cemetery.


Sarah Delight Stocking Woodruff

by Julia Woodruff Parks

from Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, pp. 236-38

Sarah Delight Stocking Woodruff was born July 26, 1838 in Canton, Hartford County, Conn., the daughter of John J. Stocking and Catherine Emeline Ensign, converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843. The family moved to Nauvoo in September 1844 where Sarah's father followed his trade as tailor for a short time, but was compelled to take any work available to obtain supplies for their intended journey with the Saints. They left Nauvoo and traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, where Mr. Stocking harvested twenty acres of wheat. This wheat was used for food on their journey to the Salt Lake Valley.

During the journey, Sarah's mother became ill with cholera and died. Wrapped in a sheet and covered with a thick bark from a nearby tree, her body was placed in the earth and covered with dirt and rock. The cholera epidemic was increasing and the sick were not recovering. Sarah was very ill and pleaded with her father to baptize her in the river, explaining that she knew if he would do so she would be made well, but if he did not, she would die. Her father decided to do as she asked, although he was fearful her death might be hastened as a result of the baptism. He carried the child in a chair to the river bank. News spread through the camp, and many of the company gathered to witness the ceremony. Some remonstrated with him, but he explained that Sarah's faith was strong and he must comply with her wishes. She was taken in his arms into the water where he baptized her three times. After the third immersion she was healed and walked from the water unaided.

After many trials, one of which was the attempted abduction of Sarah, the family arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake September 12, 1850. Mr. Stocking married his deceased wife's sister, Harriet, who was very strict and severe with the children, and required them to work hard, which training they later appreciated. The Stocking family settled in Fort Herriman, and seven years after her arrival in the Valley, Sarah married Wilford Woodruff in the Endowment House July 31, 1857, Brigham Young performing the ceremony. She moved into the Valley House and made her home with his four other wives.

As the Woodruff family grew, Sarah moved to a ten-acre farm on Third East near Tenth South. Here her family earned their living. She became the mother of seven children, four sons and three daughters. One child died in infancy, and one was an Indian boy she raised who was given to her husband by a tribe. Sarah found time for Church duties, particularly Relief Society and M.I.A. When her youngest daughter married and left home, Sarah moved to Big Cottonwood where she made her home with her unmarried son, John J. She was characterized as a woman of sweet disposition, modest and unassuming. After being an invalid for more than two years, she died May 28, 1906, at Big Cottonwood, and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

[1] For Woodruff’s diaries, see Scott Kenney, Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 1833-1898, Typescript, 9 vols. (Midvale, UT: Signature Books, 1983-1985). This edition of Woodruff’s journals is the single basic primary source for Woodruff’s life. Thomas G. Alexander’s Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1991) is a splendid, up-to-date biography of Woodruff, the basic secondary source for Woodruff’s life. It pays special attention to Woodruff’s family life, which was often ignored in old-fashioned, conservative biographies. However, Alexander did not supply a formal list of Woodruff’s wives. Incidently, Signature Books deserves great credit for having published the two basic books on Wilford Woodruff. They are both available on Signature’s indispensable New Mormon Studies CD-ROM. Other books of interest for Woodruff’s life and times, especially his later life, are Leo Lyman, Political Deliverance: The Mormon Quest for Utah Statehood (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Carmon Hardy, Solemn Covenant: The Mormon Polygamous Passage (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992); Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); and D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 605-7 (which has one of the authoritative listings of Woodruff’s wives, though unfortunately this list has no footnotes).

[2] See Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 6; Family Record, in Kenney 1:203.

[3] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 52. In the Family Record, Wilford writes, “Phebe W. Carter [born] March 8 1807 [married] April 13, 1837 [died] /November 10/85.” Kenney 1:203.

[4] Kenney 1:203-4.

[5] Kenney 5:323 (Apr. 4, 1859) (cf. 5:22, 5:278).

[6] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 223-24.

[7] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 241.

[8] Kenney 2:588

[9] Kenney 2:65.

[10] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 129. Alexander’s footnotes have further documentation on the date of Mary Ann’s marriage to Wilford Woodruff.

[11] For other references to Mary Ann in Woodruff’s journals, see Kenney 3:42, 3:65-66, 6:113, 6:582, 7:294, 8:411, 8:479-84, 8:486, 8:488, 8:491, 8:494, 8:496-97, 8:499, 8:507, 8:509, 8:513-17, 8:520, 8:523-25, 8:528-29, 8:531. For a short biography, with a picture, Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 10, p.233. (This article has been added as an appendix to this paper.)

[12] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 135. See above on Mary Ann Jackson for her marriage date.

[13] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 135. For further on this story, see Woodruff journal, August 2, 26, 29, Sept. 6, 1846 (Kenney 3:71-72, 75); Hosea Stout journal, in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier, the Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, 2 vols. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1964) 1:190-192.

[14] Frank Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Company, 1913), 833. Thanks to Mark Bowman and Colleen Bowman, descendants of Mary Caroline, for information on her life.

[15] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 135. See above on Mary Ann Jackson for her marriage date.

[16] Kenney 1:209.

[17] Kenney 4:103.

[18] Kenney 1:209. In an entry on the same page, Woodruff lists Mary, but has a less precise birthdate.

[19] Kenney 4:149.

[20] Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins, 605; Richard Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (SLC: Signature Books, 1982), 396; the LDS church’s genealogical website,, on Clarissa’s personal entry; Kenney 1:xvii.

[21] Kenney 2:498, 4:398, 4:461, 4:472-73, 4:481, 4:495, 4:516, 5:50, 5:273, 6:115, 6:319, 6:407, 6:533, 7:414-16, 8:267-68.

[22] Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: A. Jenson History Company, 1901-1936) 1:236-37.

[23] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Salt Lake City : Signature Books, 1997), 659-60.

[24] Kenney 4:211.

[25] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 168.

[26] Kenney 1:.206.

[27] Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions, 717-18.

[28] See Winnifred Blanche Woodruff Daynes, “Emma Smith Woodruff ,” in Kate Carter, ed., Our Pioneer Heritage, 20 vols. (Salt Lake City, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-) 10:234.  (This article has been added as an appendix to this paper.)

[29] Kenney 4: 211. In the Family Record, we read, “Sarah Brown was Born Jefferson Co in Henderson New York Jan 1 1834. Sarah Brown Daughter of Henry & [       ] Brown Married to Wilford Woodruff sen March 13 1853.” Kenney 1:205.

[30] Sylvia Moses Handley, “Sarah Brown Woodruff,” in Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 10:235-36. (This article has been added as an appendix to this paper.)

[31] Nelson Wadsworth, Set in Stone Fixed in Glass, p. 62.

[32] Kenney 5:70. In the Family Record, we read, “Sarah Delight Stockings was sealed to W Woodruff at the Alter in the Endowmt House July 31, 1857 By Presidet Young.” Kenney 1:209. And also, “Sarah Delight Stockings Daughtar of John & [       ] Stockings was married to Wilford Woodruff sen July 31, 1857 /She was born in Canton Hartford Co Connecticut July 28 1838/.” Kenney 1:208.

[33] See Julia Woodruff Parks, “Sarah Delight Stocking Woodruff ,” in Carter, Our Pioneer Heritage, 10:236-37. (This article has been added as an appendix to this paper.)

[34] Kenney 1:208.

[35] See Kenney 7:330, 7:338 (marriage), 7:339, 7:340, 7:341, 7:345, 7:347, 7:363.

[36] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 230.

[37] Kenney 7:338.

[38] On March 9, 1879, L. John Nuttall wrote in his diary, “Bro. Woodruff was here to avoid the arrest of U.S. Marshals who were on this track to arrest him for practicing Polygamy. His late wife, Endora [sic] L. Young. having reported him to the U.S. officers, although she has been divorced.” Available on New Mormon Studies CD-ROM.

[39] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 326-29; Hardy, Solemn Covenant, 227-32.

[40] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 329.

[41] Alexander, Things in Heaven and Earth, 332.

[42] Kenney 9:534-36.