History of the Church Series
This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by William G. Hartley. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
In October 1835, Newel Knight and Lydia Bailey, two spouseless adults still in the prime of life, found themselves living in the same boardinghouse and eating at the same dining table. As lodgers with Hyrum and Jerusha Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, they had good reason to notice each other. Lydia's husband had deserted her more than three years earlier, and Newel's wife had died a year before. Romance developed quickly, and in a couple of months, Lydia accepted Newel's marriage proposal. Their pending wedding led Joseph Smith to declare his right to perform marriages. Being a leader in a church that had published its beliefs concerning marriage, he could legally do so, and he also believed he had authority from God by virtue of the priesthood he held. Nevertheless, the wedding has given rise in recent times to historical controversy.