Episode 12: Elizabeth Davis Durfee

Written by Lindsay Hansen Park on . Posted in year of polygamy

Elizabeth Eliza <i>Davis</i> Brackenbury
Join Lindsay for the primer series on Mormon Polygamy that will begin with the wives of Joseph Smith and eventually broaden to contemporary strains of the practice today. This episode deals with Elizabeth Davis Durfee. Links mentioned in this podcast:

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Comments (4)

  • Alf O'Mega


    I’ve just started this episode, and I have to make a correction to something you say here and have said several times in earlier episodes in this series.

    I think you misunderstand Brian Hales about which wives he believes Joseph slept with. His position is that Joseph slept with some and not with others. The category he is insistent about, though, is the wives with other husbands. My understanding is that he believes that for those women who were married to other men at the time they were sealed to Joseph, there is no evidence of sexual relations, except possibly in cases where they were permanently separated from their first husband. He could probably qualify that better, but I’m pretty sure that he would not recognize your assertion that he believes Joseph did not sleep with any of his plural wives.

    Thanks. Please proceed with your engaging series.


  • Brian Hales


    Hello, I appreciate Alf O’Mega’s comment and others who have just now made me aware of these podcasts. My biggest concern after going through them are the references used. Todd Compton did a great job and Fawn Brodie actually deserves credit for compiling the first published list, but these are secondary sources. I have not listened to the podcasts (yet although I would like to), but I don’t think the presentations can be greater than their sources. In other words, why not go to the primary documents, rather than quote someone else? There is danger in putting ourselves out there as an “expert” if we have not consulted the actual manuscripts from the participants. In my three volumes, http://www.amazon.com/Brian-C.-Hales/e/B001JPAAG4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1 Don Bradley and I have tried to reference or quote EVERY KNOWN DOCUMENT dealing with Joseph Smith and plural marriage. Everything is there – apologetic to anti-Mormon. This effort attempts to allow people like Lindsey to consult the original documents so she doesn’t have to quote Todd Compton, Fawn Brodie, or Brian Hales. DOCUMENTARY TRANSPARENCY on this topic is paramount. Otherwise we will be deceived by the biases of the authors. Regarding sexuality, I believe Joseph consummated twelve of his plural unions and possibly three more, but I also affirm that he believed sexual polyandry was adultery and he would never have tolerated it. You could also consult my new website (still under construction) http://josephsmithspolygamy.org/faq/sexuality-2/ . If we used primary manuscripts and data, we may not agree, but everybody wins. Thanks, Brian Hales


  • lindsay


    Thanks for the comment Brian and for the clarification from both you and the other commenter on your position regarding your take on Joseph’s sexuality. I agree about going to the primary sources, many which I have done since the original writing project that you read here. That project was done almost two years ago and I have since spent a great deal of time studying and researching this history. For the sake of brevity, I have linked the old project that cites secondary sources because I believe that a listener concerned about the credibility of the information presented here, has ample opportunity to check the facts and feel confident about their representation.

    While I say repeatedly in the episodes where my biases lie and that I am not a professional historian, I think you’ll find that for the most part, my research is solid and I call on the listeners to correct me on any mistakes. I don’t draw conclusions unless stating my biases first, and the conclusions stated are more historical record than editorializing. I think my biggest error thus far is to lump your work in apologetics, and I admit I haven’t read your books but have spent a great deal of time on your site and have read several of your essays on the topic. So I apologize for making it sound as if you thought none of Joseph’s relationships were connubial.

    Currently my research is taking me into the Utah period and I am lucky to be surrounded by a wealth of primary sources at my fingertips. Nauvoo polygamy is no doubt interesting and critical to understanding the practice, but I believe it is just a small piece of a very large puzzle that this series hopes to tackle. I hope to have you on the podcast so you can explore your position and defend any misrepresentations you may feel need to be addressed.

    Thanks for the feedback!


  • Brenda


    Why would Joseph have needed to seal himself to married women, if he didn’t want to sleep with them? Some of his and Brigham’s wives were already married to good, lds men and he still did it. It doesn’t make any sense. He could have just sealed them to their husbands, but he didn’t. He broke the law and married them. And its funny that Joseph would be so morally against adultery (even though polygamy in my opinion is 100% adultery) but pedophilia is completely fine?? 14 year olds are not supposed to be marriage material if you are a moral person.


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