His beloved Mary died in Nauvoo on November 20th 1942 of the black
canker. Her grave has recently been marked in
the old Nauvoo cemetery with a stone that reads, "Mary Smith wife of
James Newberry". After her death, James married
other women. It is my opinion that he may also have been married to
Nancy Brown secretly, before Mary's death. There
is some evidence in the early LDS Relief Society Minutes that this may
have been an early polygamist marriage in Nauvoo.
In a book written by Valeen Avery and Linda Newell, Mormon
Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, Prophet’s Wife, Elect Lady,
Polygamy’s Foe 1983, it is suggested that "sister Brown"
was involved in a scandalous situation. This was about the time
that the society in Nauvoo began to see polygamy and the damage it was
about to do. Both Nancy and her sister Polly were
members of the society, but Polly never was suggested to have been
married, as Nancy was. Nancy became a member
of the Church sometime after 1840. She is also recorded in 1843 as a
signer on the Missouri Redress Petitions, but she
had not experienced the strife involved in Missouri in 1838-39. She
signed the petition with two of her step-daughters,
who were James and Mary's girls.
Nancy Brown b. May 29th 1792.
(This date may be wrong - as it is the same as James' birth date plus
one year) They were married civilly October 3, 1843 in Nauvoo.
She was the daughter of James Brown and Mary (Polly)
P. Williams. No divorce was re-corded or separation indicated. Nancy
took her Endowments Jan. 30, 1846, using her
maiden name. It is thought, but not proven that she was probably
Cherokee, and she may have been following the matrilineal
customs of the tribe. She went to Ogden, Utah with her brother Capt. James
Brown in 1851 and remarried late in life to
William Critchlow. It is thought that a division in their religious
beliefs may have caused James and Nancy to split. James
didn't approve of Brigham Young as leader of the faith after about
1849-50. It is not known for sure if they lived in polygamy
at the time they were driven from Nauvoo, but James went on to marry
Elizabeth Haskins in 1845. Nancy
There is a wonderful photo of Capt. James Brown in the photo album on this
Elizabeth Haskins in Des Moines
Township, November 17, 1845. They later were married in the temple on
Dec. 22, 1845. This information comes from descendants of his second
family. This information was supposedly scribed in a
Book of Mormon that belonged to James which has been donated to one of the
Church archives. However, no one is able to
find it at this time to verify the information. There is however, a family
journal on microfilm at the RLDS Archives, (Community
of Christ) which carries the same information plus blessings and baptisms
for the dead for James and Mary.
The marriage is further recorded in the Nauvoo Temple Endowment
record. They were sealed on February 7, 1846. The
sealing was solemnized by George Smith, and witnessed by J. W. Fleming and
Zebedee Coltrin at 6 p.m.
In the family journal James scribed his marriage in this way, "Age
Marriage &c., James Newbery born May 29th 1791 in the
town of Warwick, Orange Co. New York Elizabeth Haskins
Newberry born in the town of Loch, Cayuga Co., New York
March 9th 1815. Married in Montrose, Lee Co., Iowa Nov. 17th 1845"
Elizabeth Haskins was the
daughter of Lincoln Haskins and Experience "Peddy" Paine.
Elizabeth died after the birth of her last
child Daniel, February 28, 1855. Daniel also died.
James married Sybil
Pulsipher at "Winter
Quarters" (in modern Florence Nebraska) in April 22, 1848. It is
they were married and sealed at the same time, as Sybil had left her
husband in Lee Co. and traveled by herself to Winter
Quarters, stating that she was going to go to California on her own.
She never got there. They were married by President
Brigham Young, the witnesses were Wilford Woodruff and Orson Pratt.
After Brigham Young took his followers to Utah,
James and Sybil are found living apart but in the same neighborhood.
It is unknown how their arrangement worked, but James
was married to all three of the above women at the same time, but
apparently didn't reside in the same house. After Elizabeth
Haskins died, Sybil Pulsipher moved in and took up the duties of
mother. Most of Elizabeth's children remember Sybil as being
a caring and wonderful mother. She died January 6, 1870. She
was the daughter of John Pulsipher and Elizabeth Dutton
Pulsipher, and was born March 29th 1793 in Rockingham, Windham,
Vermont. Sybil's brother Zerah
Pulsipher was a general
authority in Brigham Young's Church and died in Iron County, Utah.
James' family with Elizabeth
(and Sybil) included Serastus, Alma Maroni, Joseph Hyrum, Heber,
Mary Elizabeth, Jolana Emily,
and Daniel. Serastus was adopted by Elizabeth and James. Nothing is
known about his birth family, except that they were probably
Polygamy had become a sanctioned practice, although many of the men of the
Church hid their plural marriages from their first wives,
and simply kept two homes - or their wives lived among their own immediate
family members. James' wives were probably aware
of one another at this point. Early polygamy, often found the first
wife was the last to know of the polygamous wives.
The men who were more likely to have plural marriages were those who were
closest to the prophet. The practice didn't become
wide spread through the membership until the Mormons were in Utah. It
is well known that Emma Hale Smith, Joseph Smith's
principal wife was vehemently opposed to plural unions. She tried
valiantly to put an end to the practice but failed. Being that as
it was, the later Reorganized Church opposed the practice encouraged by
Emma's brave opposition. Interestingly, perhaps to
protect her own fragile psychology or the memory of her children's father,
Emma denied the existence of plurality. Joseph Smith
III also denied it, even after being given unequivocal evidence by members
of his father's circle in Utah.
After the main body of
Mormons went to Utah, the people who remained in Iowa, a decade later
joined the Re-organized
Church. They were re-baptized under the tenets of the Reorganized
Church. Accordingly, the faction in Utah eventually ex-
communicated this group of people.
This made for difficult
relations in part for the family associated with Brigham Young's
faction, with other family members belonging
to the reorganized group. It seemed family disharmony was
prevalent even between sisters in Utah. Hannah Maria and two
her sisters went west with Brigham Young. For more on this see dissident
It is my own opinion knowing some of the history that Hannah, probably
would have liked to leave Utah, but her husband
was a well known individual. It is a historical fact that Hannah was
unhappy with the polygamy question. When George married
Annie Matthews, who was a woman from his native England, he chose to live
solely with her. George left Hannah in a destitute
condition, and locked her out of the stores in the cellar when he went 40
miles south of Salt Lake with his new bride. My
great grandmother Sarah Ann Grow Morris, in anger went to Salt Lake and
wielded an ax against the door and lock of the
cellar, opening it so her mother in law could feed the children who
remained at home. Hannah was pregnant with her 12th child
at the time her husband flew away on the wings of polygamy.
One more wife for James in
James married Amanda
sometime shortly after the death of Sybil Pulsipher. The only
thing we know about this young woman is
she was very young when she married James, and she was Native
American. We are still trying to find a marriage record for them,
but it appears that they were married in another county and perhaps even
in Kansas or Nebraska. We're still looking. Her name
was found on a deed where James sold land in Pottawattamie Co. Wheeler's
Grove. Clues tell us that he and Amanda didn't stay
together until the end of his life. It is thought that she went to
Harrison Co. after 1875. Amanda's existence was first intimated
to us in the early 1990's when researcher Marlene Barnes interviewed Cloda
Gunn who was then 102 years old. She remembered
stories about Amanda, but had very little information. Strangely, the
marriage was not recorded with the RLDS Church.