Martha McBride married Vinson Knight in 1826 at the age of twenty-one.  Eight years later, while living in New York State, the couple met Joseph Smith and together they joined the church.  In the spring of 1835, Martha and Vinson sold their property and joined the Saints in Kirtland.  Thinking he had found the truth, Vinson wrote a letter to his Mother, “Now you think that your priests are holy...I do know that the foundation you stand on is an abomination in the sight of God”. He continued, “...we are blessed with the privelege of going to meeting such as we never had before.”

By 1841, Martha and Vinson were in Nauvoo, where Vinson was appointed Bishop of one of the three Nauvoo wards.  About this same time, Joseph taught Vinson the doctrine of plural marriage and he soon took a second wife, Philinda Merrick.  In mid 1842, Vinson became sick.  Joseph Smith’s diary records, “Bro Knight has been sick about a week and this morning he began to sink very fast untill 12 o clock when death put a period to his sufferings.” 

Less than a month after Vinson’s death, Martha married Joseph Smith.  The details of the wedding and subsequent married life with Joseph are sparse.  Joseph did inquire about Martha’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Almira, wondering if she would be willing to become a plural wife of his brother, Hyrum.  Martha discussed the issue with her daughter, but Almira chose to marry another man instead, eventually leaving Nauvoo and the unfolding of polygamy.  Martha’s other daughter, Adaline, would follow her mother’s path by entering polygamy.  Many years later, Martha received a letter from Almira discussing her apprehension about polygamy: “I can never like [polygamy] for [it] has robed my Sister & her family of their just dues by dividing...substance between more than the law allows & what is still worse divided affection  worse than none at all  would have killed me in a vary little time  but God spared me  my heart bleeds for her...  write soon from your affectionate daughter...”.  Since Almira mentions her sister in this letter, she was perhaps unaware that her mother, Martha, was a plural wife of Joseph Smith.

After Joseph Smith was in killed in 1844, Martha obtained a cut of his hair, which she kept in a locket and treasured throughout her life.  A few months later, she married Heber C.  Kimball.  Martha joined the westward migration to Utah, building friendships with several of her “sister wives”.  For a few months she lived in Salt Lake City with three of Heber’s thirty-nine wives, although she lived most of her life with relatives in the Ogden and Weber County area, essentially living apart from Heber.   At one point she wrote in a letter to her daughter Adaline, “ to tell you all my feelings would be hard to do  but feel some like a wanderer for truly I have not a home on the earth. I do not know where I shall go nor what I shall do. I have no one to look to but the Lord alone...I trust in him and do not dispair”.  Martha died in 1901.


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