As many are aware, in October 2014 the LDS Church posted an article to their Web site stating that Joseph Smith, Jr., was a polygamist and that one of his 30 to 40 plural wives was a 14-year-old named Helen Mar Kimball. (See my previous post, "The LDS Church's Plural Marriage Statement," as to why I believe they posted this article.) This official statement from the LDS Church created quite a media storm, in particular the part that Joseph married a 14-year-old girl. While the LDS Church may believe he married Helen Mar Kimball, after reviewing all of her available writings, I don't believe he did.
Helen Mar's Background
Helen Mar was the daughter of Heber C. Kimball (an apostle in the Quorum of Twelve at Joseph's death) and Vilate Murray. In his life, Heber admittedly married 43 women including some alleged plural wives of Joseph (Lucy Walker, Sarah Ann Whitney, Martha McBride, Prescinda Huntington, and Sarah Lawrence) as well as Hyrum Smith's second monogamous wife (after his first died), Mary Fielding Smith, mother of Joseph F. Smith. These marriages took place after Joseph's and Hyrum's deaths. Heber took his first plural wife in 1842 (see familypedia.wikia.com), which, for chronological reference, was prior to Joseph's alleged celestial marriage revelation of July 12, 1843.
According to Andrew Jenson, Helen Mar Kimball allegedly married Joseph Smith, Jr., in May 1843 (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6, 234). Todd Compton lists her as Joseph's 25th plural wife (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness—The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, 6). When she allegedly married Joseph, she was 14 years old and was one of two 14-year-olds possibly married to Joseph, the other being Nancy Winchester (ibid., 6). These are the two girls that critics reference to accuse Joseph of pedophilia. In 1846, prior to leaving Nauvoo for the West, Helen Mar was married for time (and possibly eternity) to Horace Whitney (ibid., 504), son of Newel K. Whitney and Elizabeth Ann Smith. Horace was a brother to Sarah Ann Whitney (ibid., 343), who, as previously stated, was another alleged plural wife of Joseph. (See my blog post on Sarah Ann Whitney.) Sarah Ann Whitney became the plural wife of Helen Mar's father (Heber C. Kimball) on January 12, 1846, in the Nauvoo Temple (ibid., 354). In 1856 Horace Whitney married a plural wife, Mary Cravath (ibid., 513). Horace died on November 22, 1884 (ibid., 523), and Helen Mar died November 15, 1896 (ibid., 533).
Even though Helen Mar allegedly started her polygamous life with Joseph Smith, Jr., in great opposition to this principle, she later became one of its most vocal female advocates and published several writings in support of its practice. According to Todd Compton, because of her "autobiographical writings and diaries in her later life," she is "one of the best documented" plural wives of Joseph (ibid., 467).
Helen Mar's Writings
According to Todd Compton, Helen Mar wrote several items pertaining to her life in the LDS Church.
Her writings can be divided into four categories: two pamphlets, both defenses of polygamy; the Woman’s Exponent memoir; editorials published in the Deseret News and Woman’s Exponent; and her diary.
The first pamphlet—a broadside response to Reorganized Latter Day Saints president Joseph Smith III’s denial of his father, Joseph Smith, Jr.’s, involvement in polygamy—was Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni (Iowa) “Herald.” It was published by the Juvenile Instructor Office in 1882. The second was Why We Practice Plural Marriage, published by the same office two years later. References to these pamphlets appear frequently in Helen’s diaries. She gave copies of them to her relatives and friends outside of Salt Lake City to sell, and she often received payment for sales (for example, on January 2, 1885). These two pamphlets were impassioned defenses of polygamy that almost denounced monogamy as evil per se. They garnered attention as pleas for plural marriage from the perspective of a woman, although most of Helen’s arguments echoed polygamy apologetics developed by male church leaders such as Orson Pratt. From May 1880 to August 1886, the Woman’s Exponent published Helen’s memoirs in serial form under the titles “Scenes and Incidents at Nauvoo,” “Our Travels beyond the Mississippi,” and “Scenes and Incidents at Winter Quarters.” (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 33)
Helen Mar's complete diary is contained in the book, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, edited by Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton. She began to write her diary in 1884 when her husband Horace became very ill unto death. She continued writing it until the month before her death in 1896 (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 1).
The series of her recollections (memoirs) published in the Woman’s Exponent have been compiled into the publication, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History by Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds. and can be read on-line. This publication also includes her March 30, 1881, autobiographical letter to her children and her obituary. According to "The Rest of Her Story" section of this publication, "Helen Mar notes in her earliest written autobiography : 'I never wrote or kept a Diary one day in my life [(Whitney, 'Autobiography,' 9 January 1876)].'" Also, the "Introduction" states :
In addition to this series of recollections [memoirs], Helen Mar wrote letters and poems for publication in the same newspaper [Woman’s Exponent] between 1 October 1880 and 1 March 1891, adding important details of her life and activity during this period.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to obtain digital copies of her 1876 autobiography or her editorials published in the Deseret News and Woman’s Exponent. The conclusions I have made in this article are based on her writings listed below, which to my knowledge are the only ones available in digital format:
- Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni (Iowa) “Herald”
- Why We Practice Plural Marriage
- A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney
- A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History
In my opinion, writers have taken quotes from her writings and have interpreted them to their prejudice, as well as interwoven them with the hearsay testimonies of others to support their position that she was Joseph's plural wife. I found that when I read her above writings without an author interpreting them for me, I received a totally different impression of her relationship with Joseph than that portrayed by other writers.
Analysis of Her Writings
Helen Mar's writings give us a true sense of who she was and whether or not she had a polygamous relationship with Joseph. Only she can tell us who she is. Only she can tell us about her relationship with Joseph. Her writings are considered primary evidence and as such are extremely important in proving whether or not she was Joseph's plural wife. If her writings, as primary evidence, don't prove they were married, in my opinion it is improbable that they actually were.
Any widow, even 35 years after her husband's death, should be able to provide enough details about her marriage ceremony and her marital relationship to convince anyone she was married to him. Since Compton said, as previously quoted, her "autobiographical writings and diaries in her later life," make her "one of the best documented" plural wives of Joseph (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness—The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, 467), I was expecting her writings to clearly support the position that she was married to Joseph—including personal references to their relationship as well as a detailed account of their wedding ceremony with a date of marriage. However, her writings are almost silent about these things. And, what little she does state about being married to Joseph, is not personal or consistent. Thus, it is both what she said, as well as what she didn't say, that has convinced me she was not Joseph's plural wife.
For the sake of analyzing her writings, I am dividing them into two categories: her diary and her other writings.
Helen Mar's diary was written about her life from 1884–1896. In her diary, there are almost no entries pertaining to her alleged marriage to Joseph. However, scanning the diary, it appears she made a couple of references that need to be considered in determining whether she was actually married to Joseph. Her diary entry of June 27, 1887, includes the statement:
Bro. Gensen called to see me—wants me to write up incidents of my life as soon as I can. I gave him a few incidents of Flora Gove’s life who was a wife of Joseph Smith (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, transcribers and editors, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 246)
The summary of her 1887 diary entries provided by the editors on page 213 of this work indicate that this diary entry was a reference that Helen Mar was visited by Andrew Jenson, who wrote the "Plural Marriage" article of Historical Record 6.
In July 1887, Jenson published a twenty-seven page article, "Plural Marriage," in his monthly Historical Record. It identified by name twenty-seven plural wives of Joseph Smith. (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy, 1:11)
In the "Plural Marriage" article, Jenson listed Helen Mar Kimball as a plural wife of Joseph and that they were married in May 1843. However, he didn't state the source for this information (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6, 234). If it is true that the "Gensen" in Helen Mar's diary is in fact Andrew Jenson, and since Jenson's article was published a month after the interview, then they may have talked about her alleged marriage to Joseph, including the date.
However, the diary entry itself doesn't support that such a conversation occurred. It is only evidence that Jenson wanted her to write about her life as soon as she could and that she told him of Flora Gove's marriage to Joseph. (Of course, this information about Flora Gove and Joseph from Helen Mar—a third party—is considered hearsay.)
It is interesting to me that she told of Gove's alleged plural marriage to Joseph—but not of her own. I would think that if she truly had been married to Joseph in 1843, she would have also mentioned it when she mentioned Gove's. Nevertheless, the fact remains that this statement by Helen Mar in her diary does not provide any evidence that she was actually married to Joseph. To conclude anything else is pure speculation.
The second diary reference that needs to be considered is a direct reference to her alleged marriage to Joseph. According to Hales,
It is obvious that Helen's sealing [to Joseph] was for both time and eternity. In 1886 Helen told a Brother Hyrum Kimball that she "was sealed to the Prophet in Nauvoo." She wrote: "He was astonished and so was I that he was ignorant of this fact." (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy, 2:295; The Widows Tale: The 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, July 11, 1886 entry, 169).
What is obvious from this diary entry is that in 1886 Helen Mar believed she had been married to Joseph in Nauvoo. However, her statement doesn't indicate when the alleged marriage took place. Was she referencing a sealing for time and eternity in 1843 or, as the Nauvoo Temple records state, a sealing for eternity in 1846 after Joseph's death? (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy, 2:272) This is unclear, and her statement could have referenced either one. Thus, this entry doesn't substantiate that she was in fact married to Joseph in 1843 as his plural wife.
In addition, Helen Mar's shock that Hyrum Kimball didn't know about this event possibly shows that her alleged marriage to Joseph was not a known fact among those whom she felt should have known about this event. If her diary entry was referencing her alleged marriage to Joseph in 1843, this could indicate that such a marriage was merely in her mind and not in reality. As I proceed with the analysis of her other writings, this possibility will become more apparent.
Her Other Writings
Some of her other writings, including the pamphlets, extensively discuss polygamy indicating Joseph as the author of this principle within the LDS Church. In reading these writings, both what she said about Horace and what she didn't say about Joseph has clearly convinced me that Helen Mar Kimball was not a plural wife of Joseph Smith, Jr.
What She Said about Horace
What she said about her marriage to Horace Whitney (in the Nauvoo Temple in 1846 just prior to their evacuation from Nauvoo) indicates to me she was never married to Joseph. She gives two accounts of her marriage to Horace which materially conflict with one another. In "The Last Chapter of Scenes in Nauvoo" she states:
At early twilight on the 3rd of February  a messenger was sent by my father, informing H. K. Whitney and myself that this day finished their work in the temple, and that we were to present ourselves there that evening. The weather being fine we preferred to walk; and as we passed through the little graveyard at the foot of the hill a solemn covenant we entered into—to cling to each other through time and, if permitted, throughout all eternity, and this vow was solemnized at the holy altar. (Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History, "The Last Chapter of Scenes in Nauvoo"; Woman’s Exponent, vol. 12, no. 11, 1 November 1883, p. 81, emphasis added)
In this account, Helen Mar states that the vow ("to cling to each other through time and, if permitted, throughout all eternity") was "solemnized at the holy altar." To me, this indicates that she and Horace were married for both time and eternity on February 3, 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple.
However, in Helen Mar's earlier (March 30, 1881) autobiographical letter to her children she states:
Two years after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum I loved and married your father, Horace Kimball Whitney, eldest son of Bishop Newel K. and Elizabeth Ann Whitney. He stood proxy for Joseph & I stood for Elizabeth Sikes. We were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple over the alter on the 3 of Feb. 1846. (Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History; "Appendix One")
To me, this account means that on February 3, 1846, Helen Mar was married for time to Horace, but she was married for eternity to Joseph, who had died in 1844. Thus, her 1881 statement materially conflicts with her 1883 statement. Compton's chapter on Helen Mar Kimball supports her 1881 statement and suggests that she was remarried to Joseph for eternity in 1846, although he gives no reason why he accepted her 1881 statement over her 1883 statement. The Nauvoo Temple Proxy Sealing records also support Helen Mar's 1881 statement that she was sealed to Joseph for eternity in 1846 (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy, 2:272).
Nevertheless, whichever statement of hers you want to believe, in my opinion they both support the position that Helen Mar was never sealed to Joseph as a plural wife during his life. If she had been sealed to Joseph in 1843 for time and eternity, she couldn't have also been sealed to Horace for eternity according to her 1883 statement. Similarly, if she had gone through a formal sealing ceremony (like the one alleged for Sarah Ann Whitney in 1842—see my blog post) with Joseph in 1843 for both time and eternity, why would she have been sealed again in 1846 to Joseph for eternity according to her 1881 statement? Wasn't the first eternal sealing to the Prophet in his presence (and probably in the presence of other church officials including her father) sufficient? Since eternity never forgets, why would an eternal sealing have to be re-done? The fact that Helen Mar was sealed for eternity in 1846 to either Horace or Joseph indicates to me she was never sealed to Joseph in 1843, and thus she was never Joseph's plural wife.
Considering her diary statement in 1886 quoted above, these discrepancies give more support to the possibility that her marriage to Joseph in 1843 was a delusion and not a reality. If she had truly been married to Joseph, her actions and memories would have been true and consistent with the event. But the gross discrepancies in her accounts show that her belief that she was married to Joseph in 1843 was just that—a belief and not a fact.
What She Didn't Say about Joseph
What Helen Mar didn't say about Joseph in her other writings makes me also believe she was not married to him in 1843. While her writings adamantly profess polygamy as truth and reference Joseph as the author of this principle, she never states anything personal about her relationship with him. She never indicates that her belief in the principle was a result of her actually living it with the Prophet himself. She never gives her date of marriage or any details about her marriage ceremony. She never states the fact of their marriage and only alludes to it once.
Others have also made similar observations. The editors of A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History in their introduction state:
She makes no mention of the sealing [to Joseph Smith, Jr.] in these articles, in the brief autobiographical chapter in Representative Women of Deseret, nor in the two important pamphlets on the subject published in 1882. Apparently, the first sympathetic public announcement of her marriage to Joseph Smith was Andrew Jenson’s listing of the Prophet’s plural wives in 1887.
Also, Spencer Fluhman, an LDS historian, stated about the writings of Helen Mar:
. . . her reminiscences convey little social interaction with Joseph Smith after the marriage, let alone an intimate physical relationship. (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy 2:296; J. Spencer Fluhman, " 'A Subject That Can Bear Investigation': Anguish, Faith, and Joseph Smith's Youngest Plural Wife," 41-51)
In addition, the position she takes about polygamy in her other writings does not appear to have been forged by a polygamous relationship with the Prophet of the LDS Church and author of the celestial marriage doctrine. Instead, it seems to be a parroting of the positions taken on this issue by the leaders of her church in that day. I agree with Compton's statement above that "most of Helen’s arguments echoed polygamy apologetics developed by male church leaders such as Orson Pratt" (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 33).
Two Examples of What She Didn't Say about Joseph
First, in her other writings, she makes some references that her father, Heber C. Kimball, explained the principle of celestial marriage to her and asked her to marry Joseph. One of these references is in her autobiographical letter to her children, March 30, 1881. According to this account, her father explained the principle and made his request to her on one day and on the next day Joseph came to her and her family to explain the principle and request her to marry him. About this event she states that her father:
asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph, who came next morning & with my parents I heard him teach & explain the principle of Celestial marriage—after which he said to me, “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation & that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.
This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart—when Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied “If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.” She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older & who better understood the step they were taking, & to see her child, who had scarcely seen her fifteenth summer, following in the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was all hidden from me. (Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History; "Appendix One")
Her only reference in all of her other writings which could be construed that she married Joseph was her vague statement above: "This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward." Yet, as previously stated, in all of her other writings she never mentions the date of their marriage or anything more about their marriage, even though she mentions details of many other events occurring in her life during the year of 1843.
In addition, it seems odd to me in the above letter to her children that she didn't say more about her marriage to Joseph. If she had truly been married to him in 1843, this letter would have been the perfect vehicle to tell her family about their relationship and the influence it had on her belief in the correctness of plural marriage. Helen Mar was a part of the LDS Church royalty and elite (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 1, 2, 20, 34–35). This letter would have been an excellent way to pass on to her children the legacy and social status of her marriage to the Prophet so they could be proud of her as well as their own position in the LDS Church. It would have been a great opportunity to testify to them of the truth of the principle as one who lived it with the Prophet himself, setting an example for the women in her family as well as for all other women in the LDS Church. In my opinion, the fact that she did not state these things or similar ones in her letter to her children, or in her other writings, supports the position she was not married to Joseph in 1843.
Second, another instance of Helen Mar's failure to reference her personal relationship and marriage to Joseph in her other writings was her response to Joseph Smith III in her pamphlet, Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni (Iowa) “Herald". In both of her pamphlets, she was passionate about her belief in the truth of the principle of celestial marriage or plurality of wives (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 33). And with her ability to passionately present her belief in the truth of the principle, she should have had no difficulty in presenting herself in her writing to Joseph Smith III as his father's plural wife. Yet in her response to Joseph Smith III, the prophet and president of the RLDS Church at the time, she never once referenced herself as Joseph Smith, Jr.'s, wife or gave any detail about him or their marriage. In order to convince Joseph Smith III that his father was a polygamist, this would have been the perfect time to have provided personal references and details of her and Joseph's relationship and marriage. And she could have spoken with authority as Joseph's plural wife who had lived the principle with him. In my opinion, the fact that she did not say these things in her writing to Joseph III indicates she was not a plural wife of Joseph Smith, Jr.
The Importance of What She Didn't Say about Joseph
According to Todd Compton,
. . . most polygamous men held elite status in Mormon society, so polygamy often offered plural wives similar status. Helen Mar had great prestige because of her marriage to Joseph Smith. Historians and visitors to Salt Lake City called on her to hear her experiences with polygamy in Nauvoo." (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton, A Widow's Tale: 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 20)
If this is true, why didn't she state in her other writings anything personal about her marriage to Joseph? The fact that she didn't do so has convinced me that she was not married to Joseph in reality, and greatly supports the possibility that she deluded herself, for whatever reason, into believing that she was married to him 1843.
Was Helen Mar's "Silence" for Another Reason?
Could the argument be made that Helen Mar Kimball was so traumatized by her marital relationship with Joseph at age 14 that she buried it deep within her, refusing to bring it forth in her public writings? While I'm not a psychiatrist or psychologist, I understand that the details of such trauma can be hidden so deeply within the brain as a coping mechanism that they are not consciously recognized by the person as ever happening. However, this does not seem consistent with her publicly adamant support of polygamy later in life. In her writings she mentions the names of many other alleged plural wives of Joseph. In addition, she seems to have had no problem publicly defending and promoting in writing the principle of celestial marriage as allegedly taught by Joseph, even to the challenging of statements made by Joseph Smith III, as son of the Martyr and president of the RLDS Church. For these reasons I don't believe this argument could be substantiated.
Helen Mar's Signature
On her autobiographical letter to her children dated March 30, 1881, she first signed the letter "Helen Mar Kimball Whitney" and then inserted "Smith" between "Kimball" and "Whitney" (Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, A Woman's View: Helen Mar Whitney's Reminiscences of Early Church History; "Appendix One") as an afterthought. If she had truly been married to the Prophet according to the principle of celestial marriage—which she adamantly believed in, prolifically wrote about, defended publicly against his son Joseph III, sacrificed so much for, and pioneered with the Prophet himself—she would not have forgotten to sign her married name of "Smith." While this may be a minor point, it is just another indication to me that she was never married to Joseph during his life.
Why Didn't Helen Mar Testify in the Temple Lot Suit?
According to Hales, Helen Mar would have been a likely candidate to have testified for the Respondents (Church of Christ, Temple Lot and LDS Church) that she was a plural wife of Joseph, but she wasn't used for a specific reason.
At that time she lived in Salt Lake City where the depositions were held and had been a vocal defender of plural marriage in the 1880s. . . . I can identify no reason for Helen Mar Kimball to have been bypassed as a witness except that she could not testify of experiencing a full conjugal plural marriage with Joseph Smith, which was a primary focus of the defensive tactics of the attorneys for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). This observation provides support for my conclusion that the couple did not experience conjugality during their thirteen-month marriage. (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy 2:29)
I have two issues with this statement. First, if there were no sexual relations between Helen Mar and Joseph, in my opinion there was no plural marriage since one of the commonly known basic purposes of celestial marriage was to raise up righteous seed. And, if Joseph was the author of the principle of plural marriage, as prophet and leader of the Church, he would have felt the need to set the example for others to follow. Thus, in my way of thinking, if he was truly married to Helen Mar he would have had sexual relations with her. So, if he didn't have sexual relations with her, he wasn't married to her.
Second, I don't believe it was the lack of her sexual relations with Joseph that convinced the lawyers to not use her testimony in the case. I believe it was her lack of personal marriage references in her writings that would have made her a poor witness. Before the attorneys could establish that she had sexual relations with Joseph as his plural wife, they would first have to prove she had been married to him. With no personal references to their marriage in Helen Mar's public writings, it would have been impossible to establish in court with cross-examination that she had even been married to Joseph. In my opinion, she wasn't asked to testify in the Temple Lot Suit because the lawyers had no evidence to prove she was even married to Joseph.
Catherine Lewis' Statement
Hales stated about Catherine Lewis:
After leaving the Church, dissenter Catherine Lewis reported Helen's saying: "I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony." (Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy, 2:296; Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons; Giving an Account of their Iniquities, 19)
A reader of this blog has provided me with Lewis' complete statement from her 1848 publication:
The Twelve took Joseph's wives after his death. Kimball and Young took most of them; the daughter of Kimball was one of Joseph's wives. I heard her say to her mother, "I will never be sealed to my Father, and I would never have been sealed to Joseph, had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it. I say again, I will never be sealed to my Father; no, I will sooner be damned and go to hell, if I must. Neither will I be sealed to Brigham Young." The Apostles said they only took Joseph's wives to raise up children, carry them through to the next world, there deliver them up to him, by so doing they should gain his approbation, &c. (Catherine Lewis, Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons; Giving an Account of their Iniquities, 19)."
This work was published in 1848 and Helen Mar Kimball was alive at the time. If she was aware of the publication, she could have commented in her writings about the truth or falsity of this statement. However, in her writings, I could find no reference to Lewis' publication. With no acknowledgement from Helen Mar, Lewis' above statement has to be considered hearsay and, as such, has little to no value in proving Helen Mar was a plural wife of Joseph.
As stated earlier, Todd Compton believes that because of her "autobiographical writings and diaries in her later life," Helen Mar Kimball is "one of the best documented" plural wives of Joseph (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness—The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, 467). However, in her writings I found very little personal reference to Joseph, to their marital relationship, or to the event of their marriage including the date. And what she did mention about the event of their marriage was vague and contradictory. In my opinion, Helen Mar Kimball presented no evidence in her writings to support her belief, or anyone else's, that she was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, Jr. Thus, I don't believe that she was ever married to Joseph during his life.
And if Helen Mar Kimball, who allegedly is the most documented plural wife of Joseph, was never married to him, what about all the others?