As a thirteen-year-old
girl, Desdemona Fullmer remembers studying various churches and praying
to know which one to join. On one occasion as she prayed she fell
to the ground unconscious. For several hours she laid there, as if
dead. She wrote, “Their was a voice said to me stop yet a little
longer. their is something better for you yet...so I stopt till I heard
the laterday santes preach the gosple I joined them soon after.”
Some ten years later,
in 1835, the Fullmer family obtained a Book of Mormon. They spent
time reading it aloud together. Desdemona’s brother, Almon remembers,
provoked mirth [amusement] since it so often came to pass. It riveted,
however, a conviction of its truth upon our minds.” Desdemona
was baptized a year later and soon gathered with the church in Kirtland
and later in Missouri.
In Missouri, Desdemona
witnessed many of the persecutions suffered by church members. In
spring of 1839 a mob came to the Fullmer home and demanded that they leave.
Desdemona bravely replied, “we have no teem or waggon. we may as well
dye in the house as a few roods from it. so they said hell let us go.”
Soon, however, the Fullmers were forced to leave for Illinois.
According to the Nauvoo
4th Ward records, in the spring of 1842, Desdemona was living in Joseph
Smith’s home. She probably knew Emily and Eliza Partridge and Elvira
Cowles who were also living there at the time. Some time before the
spring of 1843, Desdemona moved out of the Smith home.
Desdemona married Joseph
Smith in July of 1843. As Joseph continued to secretly accumulate
wives, his first wife, Emma, struggled with polygamy. Perhaps Desdemona
experienced, or maybe only feared, the anguish of Emma discovering her
and Joseph’s relationship. She recalls the resultant anxiety, “In
the rise of poligamy i was warned in a dream Amy [Emma] Smith was going
to poisen me.” Desdemona was not poisoned and remained Joseph’s
wife until he was killed in June of 1844. In 1846, before leaving
for Utah, Desdemona had her sealing to Joseph re-performed in the Nauvoo
Desdemona would marry
twice more in her life, but neither marriage endured. When Desdemona
was in her late fifties, she wrote a short autobiography and delivered
it to the Church Historian’s office where it could be preserved.
In it, she wrote, “I want to write a short history of my life the more
particuler part that I think will do the youth som godde [good] and those
that come into this church not having the same experience that I have had.”
Desdemona died in 1886 when she was seventy-six and was laid to rest in
Salt Lake City as “Desdemona Fullmer Smith”.