Saturday, May 13, 2017

Desdemona Fullmer (Smith Benson McLane)

After joining the church, Desdemona Fullmer fled persecution after persecution. She arrived in Kirtland during a period when many were apostatizing, yet she stayed true. A year later, she joined the exodus to Missouri. She moved around frequently there trying to find safety from the mobs, often having to hide in the woods at nighttime to avoid harm. She lived in Haun’s Mill when the massacre occurred. The mobs gave her extra time before forcing her from Missouri because her brother was fighting a serious illness, and she was caring for him.

After arriving in Nauvoo, two major events occurred in her life. The first was that she joined the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo at its initial meeting and continued to be a part of it, although never in a prominent way. The second is that she became a polygamous wife of Joseph Smith. Emma Smith was unhappy about this marriage, and Desdemona knew it.

Desdemona fled mob violence yet again and travelled to Utah with the Willard Richards division. She remarried twice, but neither marriage lasted. She became the third wife of Ezra T. Benson, married for time, but they divorced after six years. A year later, she married Harrison Parker McLane, but after a few years, he left her and the church in one fell swoop, joining the Morrisite sect. Her only child did not survive infancy.

Desdemona experienced many hardships in her life, including mob violence, hunger, and loss. Yet, her faith gave her strength. In her autobiography, recorded later in life, she recorded that, “The spirit of the Lord direc[t]ed me and [angels] vis[it]ed me and my faith increased. in this church. I belong 30 years and the longer I live in it the better I like it.” She died true to the faith.


In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Todd Compton (1997).

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