January 19, 2023

Emma Smith Homeless in Kirtland

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Emma Smith married Joseph Smith when she was twenty-two years old. Emma grew up in a home where she was well cared for. Emma's parents made sure she was was educated and intelligent. In Doctrine and Covenants the Lord called her and “Elect Lady.” When she married the Joseph Smith she could not have known the hardships and trials she was getting into by marrying the first prophet of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. It is hard not to feel sympathy for Emma with the life she had to struggle through being married to the prophet Joseph Smith, his struggles became her struggles and there were many. Emma would not want people to feel bad for her, but to learn from her strength and dedication to the Lord.

Every step of Joseph and Emma’s journey had hardships and many hardships happened in Kirtland, Ohio. Emma was twenty-six years old when the Lord commanded the Saints to gather in Kirtland, Ohio. The young couple lived in Kirtland for seven years and for over half their time Joseph and Emma did not have a home of their own! They had to rely on the hospitality of others. They shared quarters as guests of new members. Joseph was gone often dealing with Church situations and this left Emma at the homes of others, alone.

One of the saddest stories was when Joseph Smith had Church business in Missouri and left Emma in Hyrum, Ohio. Fearing for Emma’s safety Joseph told Emma to go and stay with members in Kirtland to stay safe while he was gone. Emma had just lost her twins and one of her adopted twins had just died, she was in mourning and very sick. To top it all off she was pregnant, and trying to manage it all with her husband gone. Joseph was gone for two and a half months.

Emma went to Newel K. Whitney’s home to seek a safe place to stay, but an Aunt of the Whitney's was staying at the home and did not want Emma there also. Here is the account from Joseph.

He wrote:

“She went to Kirtland, to Brother Whitney’s and Sister Whitney’s an aunt of the Whitney's Sarah Smith, inquired of her niece(Sister Whitney) if my wife was going to stay there; and, and on being answered in the affirmative, said she should go away, for there was not room enough for the both of them; accordingly sister Whitney invited my wife to leave, which she did immediately; having enjoyed about two hours visit. She then went to Brother Reynolds’s Cahoon’s, and father Smith’s and Doctor Williams, where I found her very disconsolate on my return.”

Imagine the heartbreak of Emma. She is alone in a new area, with no help, sick, tired and mourning the loss of a child. Emma was strong and through these incredibly hard situations she became stronger. She knew how to help people displaced from homes, because she had been homeless. She knew who to comfort, because she had been in need of comfort.

Other Blog Posts:

Fun Facts about Joseph Smith

Facts about Emma Hale Smith

Get to know Newel K. Whitney

Saints to gather in Kirtland, Ohio

Get to know Isaac Morley

Places to Visit:

Sacred Grove

Hill Cumorah

Emma’s Home, Harmony Pennsylvania

Historic Kirtland

Newel K. Whitney Store

Isaac Morley Farm


”Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, eyewitness accounts” by Karl Ricks Anderson (p. 35-36)

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