Hanna was born in England
in 1813. She later immigrated to America and lived several years
in Philadelphia. By 1841, Hanna had relocated to Nauvoo.
In Nauvoo, Hanna opened
a dressmaking business. She advertised her business in the Nauvoo
Newspaper, the Times and Seasons:
MILLINERY AND DRESS MAKING
Miss H.S. Ells begs leave to respectively inform the Ladies
of Nauvoo, and its vicinity, that she intends carrying on
the above business, in all its varied branches: and further
states, that she has had several years experience in one of
the most fashionable French establishments in Philadelphia
...Nauvoo, Sept. 30, 1841.
According to LDS Church
Historian, Andrew Jenson, Hanna married Joseph Smith sometime in the first
half of 1843. In Nauvoo, Hanna lived in the home of John Benbow.
Benbow recalls, “President Smith frequently visited his wife Hannah
at [my] house.” A little more than a year after their marriage,
Joseph was killed by a mob in Carthage and Hanna became a widow.
Hanna was close friends
with the Wilford Woodruff family. In August 1844, as Wilford and
Phoebe Woodruff were leaving Nauvoo on a mission, they all visited the
unfinished Nauvoo Temple to pray. Wilford wrote, “As we approached
it we lifted up our eyes and beheld the greatness grandure and glory...[we
climbed to the top] and their with up lifted hands towards heaven, I called
upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph by Prayer and supplication.”
Wilford prayed for a successful mission. He also prayed that God
would avenge the blood of Hanna’s husband, "Joseph the Seer."
Wilford noted that they all left the temple, “with Joy and peace.”
Hanna died in Nauvoo
sometime in 1845. There are few details of her death, but another
one of Joseph’s wives, Eliza R. Snow, was with Hanna at the time.
Eliza said, “I loved her very much-was present at her death”.
Historian Jenson wrote, “[she was] a lady of culture and refinement-somewhat
tall in stature. Those who were acquainted with her speak of her as a good
and noble woman.”