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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Emma Hale Is My (Distant) Cousin

You're probably wondering who the heck is Emma Hale? Up until a few days ago I couldn't have helped you, but now I know a great deal more. She was born in Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. This is in the northern part of the state not too far from Binghampton, New York. She died in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1879.

Emma was the wife of Prophet Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). The religion is based on the Book of Mormon, which is a translation of the inscriptions on some gold plates that Joseph discovered. The inscriptions tell of a visit by Jesus to the natives of North America.

The following description of Emma Hale's marriage is from the Wikipedia article on Emma Smith.
Emma was born July 10, 1804, in Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, as the seventh child of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis Hale. Emma first met her future husband, Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1825. Smith lived near Palmyra, New York, but boarded with the Hales in Harmony while he was employed in a company of men hoping to unearth buried treasure (specifically a silver mine for Josiah Stowell, a farmer whose farm home still stands on the north side of the Susquehanna River on New York State Route 7 in Ninevah, New York, Just West of Afton). Although the company found no treasure, Smith returned to Harmony several times seeking the hand of Emma. Isaac Hale refused to allow the marriage because he considered Smith's occupation disreputable. Finally, on January 17, 1827, Smith and Emma eloped across the state line to South Bainbridge (Afton), New York, where they were married the following day. The site of the marriage is on the site of the present day Afton Fairgrounds located on New York State Route 41 within the Village of Afton, in the Town of Afton. The Afton Fairgrounds is located on the East side of the Susquehanna River and a New York State Historical Marker commemorates the location. The couple moved to the home of Smith's parents on the edge of Manchester Township near Palmyra.

While there, on September 22, 1827, Joseph and Emma took a horse and carriage belonging to Joseph Knight, Sr. and went to a hill now known as the Hill Cumorah where Joseph claimed to receive a set of Golden Plates. This created a great deal of excitement in the area. In December 1827, the couple decided to move to be with Emma's parents' in Harmony where they reconciled to an extent with Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, who helped Emma and Joseph obtain a house and a small farm. While living there, Joseph began work on the Book of Mormon, and for a time, Emma acted as a scribe. She became a physical witness of the plates, reporting that she felt them through a cloth, traced the pages through the cloth with her fingers, heard the metallic sound they made as she moved them, and felt their weight. She later wrote in an interview with her son, Joseph Smith III: "In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."[3]

While in Harmony on June 15, 1828, Emma gave birth to her first child—a son named Alvin—who lived only a few hours.

In May 1829, Emma and Joseph left Harmony and went to live with David Whitmer in Fayette, New York. While there, Joseph finished work on the Book of Mormon, which was published by March 1830.
Emma's father was Issac Hale (1763-1839) and his mother (Emma's grandmother) was Diantha Ward (1741-1771). She is the daughter of Arah Ward (1718-1780) and Arah's father is William Ward (1678-1768). William is the son of Andrew Ward Jr. (1645-1691) who is the son of Andrew Ward Sr. (1597-1660) [Ancestors of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale].

Andrew Ward Sr. is Emma Hale's great4-grandfather and my great9-grandfather. So Emma Hale and I are distant cousins (very distant). The Ward family is from the New Haven area of Connecticut. It was Emma's father, Issac, who first moved to northern Pennsylvania near the New York state border.

Think about it. I am a Mormon in some alternate universe that isn't very different than this one. Only a few minor changes are required.

Contingency is scary.

UPDATE: Turns out I am not related to Andrew Ward so I'm not related to Emma Hale.


  1. Fascinating family tree that you have Larry. My family's name has been in N. America since the 1680s and is not as storied or as colorful as your family.

    I'm curious, are you a recent transplant to Canada or were your ancestors Crown Loyalists that went north during the American Revolution?

  2. Fascinating family tree that you have Larry.

    And he hasn't even told you about the other side of the family yet; they run the mafia in Australia.

  3. Ah, but did your side inherit the magic underwear?

  4. JefFlyingV asks,

    I'm curious, are you a recent transplant to Canada or were your ancestors Crown Loyalists that went north during the American Revolution?

    I descend, in part, from residents of the Thirteen Colonies who moved north to the other British Colonies after the American War of Independence.

    We call them United Empire Loyalists. I actually don't have a single American ancestor that I'm aware of.

    Some of my ancestors from New York are descendants of French Canadians who moved south to the newly incorporated Dutch Colony in the late 1600s. Their descendants tended to be United Empire Loyalists.

  5. You may already be a mormon. They tend to convert people without telling them.

  6. There are sometimes members of one's family that one is just as happy not to know about.
    Related to Joseph Smith? Better than being related to GWB, but only just!

  7. Larry thanks for the additional history that you provided, and the clarification of United Empire Loyalists. My last name is from French protestants that were originally fur trappers.

  8. You and I have the same family tree. My great grandfather was Phillip Richard Standley, son of Elizabeth Hale (sister of Emma Hale)and Harvey Standley. Really great to find someone further removed than the "cousins" I have found in Oregon where my grandparents homsteaded in the late 1800's. It would be fun to have Christmas Card contact. Bess