|Emma Hale Smith was the wife of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. the founder of the Mormon religion. Emma was born on July 10, 1804, the seventh of nine children and grew up in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She was educated well and even had an extra year of school outside of the normal grammar school.Emma met Joseph Smith for the first time in 1825. Joseph was smitten with her, which wasn’t surprising. She was “a tall attractive woman with comely features, dark complexioned with brown eyes, and black hair. She possessed a singular regal beauty of form and of character.” In the fall of 1825, Josiah Stowell hired Joseph Smith and others to dig for silver on his property. While working for Mr. Stowell, Joseph boarded with the Hale family. Joseph and Emma enjoyed talking to each other in the evenings when Joseph returned from work, and they fell in love. Joseph told his family “I have concluded to get married, and if you have no objections with my uniting myself in marriage with Miss Emma Hale, she would be my choice in preference to any other woman.”1 Joseph’s parents thought Joseph had made a wise decision and even offered to let the newly married couple live with them. Joseph boarded with Emma’s family for two years and twice asked her father for permission to marry her, but was refused.Finally on January 18, 1827, Emma and Joseph were married without her father’s permission. After their marriage, the Hale family told them that they were always welcome in their home. On June 15, 1828, Emma gave birth to their first child; unfortunately the little boy only lived a few hours.Emma nearly died from complications, and Joseph spent two weeks by her side while she recovered.During the winter of 1828-1829 Emma helped Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon by working as a scribe. On June 28, 1830, Emma was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In that same year Joseph received a revelation about Emma. This can now be found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 25. In the revelation Emma was asked to put together a hymnal for the Church. She fulfilled this calling, and the hymnal was printed five years later.In February of 1831, Emma and Joseph moved to Kirtland. It was a hard time for Emma, because she was six months pregnant and had just recovered from an illness. In April, 1831, Emma gave birth to twins. The twins lived only three hours. The Smiths were able to adopt twins just a month later whose mother had passed away; they named them Julia and Joseph. In 1832 and again in 1836 Emma gave birth to sons. Both lived to adulthood.
In 1838 the Saints were forced from Missouri, and Joseph was put in jail. Emma had four young children and was forced out of her home by a mob in the middle of winter. She walked across Missouri to refuge in Illinois caring for her four young children and smuggling Joseph’s translation of the Bible out of the hands of the mob.
While in Nauvoo, Emma gave birth to three more sons. The first two died in infancy and the third was born after Joseph was martyred in 1844. In 1842, Emma was elected as the first president of the Relief Society and helped many of the needy and poor. After Joseph’s death Emma chose not to join the exodus of the Saints to Utah. Her separation from the Church in the last part of her life does not, however, take away from the important role she played in Mormon history. Her mother-in-law Lucy Mack Smith said, “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year,” she wrote, “with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done.”
1 Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, ed. Preston Nibley (1958), 93