Emmeline B. Wells

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About Emmeline B. Wells

Wikipedia Biographical Summary:

"...Emmeline Blanche Woodward Harris Whitney Wells (February 29, 1828 – April 25, 1921) was an American journalist, editor, poet, women's rights advocate and diarist. She served as the fifth general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1910 until her death..."

"...Emmeline Blanche Woodward was born in 1828 in Petersham, Massachusetts, the daughter of David and Deiadama Hare Woodward. Her father died when Emmeline was four years old..."

"...Woodward joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in 1842. She married 16 year old James Harris, also a new member of the church, the following year. In 1844, the young couple, his parents, and other Latter Day Saints from their region migrated to the headquarters of the Church, Nauvoo, Illinois. After the death of their infant son Eugene Henri, Harris left Nauvoo looking for work and never returned..."

"...The young Emmeline Harris returned to teaching. Through his children in her school, she met and later married Newel K. Whitney, a significantly older man, under the LDS doctrine of plural marriage. Emmeline Whitney left Nauvoo in 1846, and traveled to Utah with the extended Whitney family in 1848. At this time, she began maintaining a personal journal. Wells would continue writing in her diaries (forty-six journals are known) until 1920, shortly before her death..."

"...Whitney's death in 1850 left her with two young daughters, whom she supported by again teaching school in Salt Lake City..."

"...Emmeline Whitney approached Daniel H. Wells, a friend of her late husband and a prominent civic leader, about marriage. In 1852, she became Daniel Well's seventh wife, bearing him three daughters..."

"...Wells was active in the national women's suffrage movement, where she served as liaison between Mormon and non-Mormon women and fielded hostile criticism associated with the practice of polygamy. On the national level, she was closely associated with both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony..."

"...Wells was called as the Relief Society organization's general president in 1910 at the age of 82. She served for eleven years, administering service issues related to the world war and dealing with issues relating to growth and administrative expansion..."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Emmeline B. Wells', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 November 2010, 07:20 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Emmeline_B._Wells&oldid=396662251> [accessed 10 February 2011]


  1. James Harris from 1842-1844 (James whereabouts after 1844 is unknown).
  2. Newel K. Whitney as a plural wife. He died in 1850.
  3. Daniel H. Wells in 1852 as his 7th wife.

Marriage to James Harris:

"...Emmeline joined the Church in 1842 in the rural Massachusetts village of New Salem. The next year she married James Harris. Both of them were just 15. In 1844 they traveled with his parents to Nauvoo. Two months later the Prophet and his brother were assassinated, and soon after, the elder Harrises, Elias and Lucy, left the Church. They urged James and Emmeline, with their newborn son, Eugene, to return with them to Massachusetts, but the young couple refused. When Emmeline and James also refused to allow James' parents to take the baby with them, until the young parents were more settled, the Harrises left Nauvoo alone, leaving bad feelings behind. The baby, unfortunately, died soon afterwards, and James, unable to find any satisfactory work in Nauvoo, took a boat to Saint Louis, promising to return for the bereaved Emmeline as soon as he found employment. Alone in Nauvoo, Emmeline found a place to stay with the Aaron Johnson family, waiting day after day for word from James.

"I hope soon, very soon, to see him and hear words of love and affection," she wrote in her diary. But those words never came. Nor did James. Emmeline carried the heartache of his desertion throughout her life, and I assumed this chapter of her life was closed. Then, in one of those cases of pure serendipity, a diary came into my hands that had not been deposited in the archives. In it Emmeline recorded her return to New England 40 years after leaving it. Besides giving me details about her early life there, as she revisited the scenes of her girlhood, the diary picked up the thread of the James Harris mystery. While in New Salem, Emmeline visited her former mother-in-law, Lucy Harris, then Mrs. Blackinton. The visit was cordial if awkward, but it reconnected the two women and opened the door for another visit to the Blackinton home a few years later, after Lucy's death. While there the second time, Emmeline came across a packet of letters. They were from James—addressed to her—written before his death at sea. His mother had never forwarded them. Emmeline drove directly to Lucy's grave and, in the words of her sister and niece who were with her, the diminutive Emmeline "raised her arms to heaven and called down a curse upon her mother-in-law that made us tremble—and no doubt caused the wicked one to writhe in her shroud"

SOURCE: Quoted in a letter from Geneva Ramsey Kingkade to Carolyn Chouinard, 24 August 1970, copy in possession of author (Carol Cornwall Madsen). History: A Journey of Discovery. Retrieved from: http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=365 BYU Speeches.

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Emmeline B. Wells's Timeline

February 29, 1828
Petersham, MA, United States
Age 15
November 2, 1848
Age 20
August 18, 1850
Age 22
September 10, 1853
Age 25
UT, United States
December 7, 1859
Age 31
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
August 27, 1862
Age 34
Salt Lake City, UT, United States