Joseph and Emma

The Choice of My Heart


On January 18, 1827, Joseph Smith married Emma Hale1 in South Bainbridge, New York. In 1842, Joseph reflected, “What transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand on that night, my beloved Emma[,] . . . even the wife of my youth: and the choice of my heart.”2

Born July 10, 1804, Emma was the daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, from Harmony (now Oakland), Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Emma was genuinely religious and given to prayer. She readily accepted Joseph Smith’s calling from God and stood by him all his life. Just before her husband’s death, Emma wrote, “I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side.”3

Joseph and Emma Smith’s marriage of 17 years was blessed with 11 children (2 adopted), 6 of whom died in infancy. Joseph Smith taught that parents are to treat children with unfailing love and kindness and teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ.4

Joseph and Emma Smith centered their marriage and family in the gospel of Jesus Christ—an example to all.


Joseph Smith Quotes

Joseph wrote the following to Emma from prison in Richmond, Missouri: “I received your letter, which I read over and over again. It was a sweet morsel to me. O God, grant that I may have the privilege of seeing once more my lovely family in the enjoyment of the sweets of liberty and social life. To press them to my bosom and kiss their lovely cheeks would fill my heart with unspeakable gratitude” (letter to Emma Smith, Nov. 12, 1838, Richmond, Missouri, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 405–6; spelling, punctuation, and capitalization modernized).

In his journal for 1842, Joseph reflected: “Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through. The fatigues, and the toils, the sorrows, and sufferings, and the joys and consolations from time to time [which] had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh! What a co-mingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here . . . undaunted, firm and unwavering, unchangeable, affectionate Emma” (journal extract, Aug. 16, 23, 1842, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee (2002), 560; spelling modernized).


Parley P. Pratt, Apostle, 1835–1857

“It was Joseph Smith who taught me how to prize the endearing relationships of father and mother, husband and wife; of brother and sister, son and daughter. It was from him that I learned that the wife of my bosom might be secured to me for time and all eternity; and that the refined sympathies and affections which endeared us to each other emanated from the fountain of divine eternal love. . . . I had loved before, but I knew not why. But now I loved—with a pureness—an intensity of elevated, exalted feeling (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (1938), 259–60; paragraph divisions altered).

Lucy Mack Smith, Mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith

“I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which [Emma Smith] has ever done. . . . She has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman” (Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (1853), 169).


Is it true that Joseph and Emma eloped?

“Owing to my continuing to assert that I had seen a vision,” Joseph explained, “persecution still followed me, and my wife’s father’s family were very much opposed to our being married. I was, therefore, under the necessity of taking her elsewhere; so we went and were married at the house of Squire Tarbill, in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, New York. Immediately after my marriage, I left Mr. Stoal’s, and went to my father’s, and farmed with him that season” (Joseph Smith—History 1:58).

Who were the children of Joseph and Emma Smith?

Nine children born to Joseph and Emma included Joseph III (born 1832), Frederick Granger Williams (born 1836), Alexander Hale (born 1838), Don Carlos (born 1840), and David Hyrum (born 1844). Two other children died before receiving names: sons in 1828 and 1842. Infant twins, Thaddeus and Louisa, died in 1831. Shortly thereafter, Joseph and Emma adopted the Murdock twins, Julia and Joseph, whose mother died during childbirth. Joseph Murdock Smith died in 1832. Don Carlos died in Nauvoo in 1841. The other five children lived to adulthood.

What were Joseph Smith’s feelings for his wife, Emma?

“My dear wife,” he wrote from New York City, when Julia was their only living child and Emma was about to give birth. “The thoughts of home, of Emma and Julia, rush upon my mind like a flood, and I could wish for a moment to be with them. My breast is filled with all the feelings and tenderness of a parent and a husband. . . . God is your friend in heaven and . . . you have one true and living friend on earth, your husband” (letter to Emma Smith, Oct. 13, 1832, New York City, New York, in Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, comp. Dean C. Jessee [2002], 278–79; spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar modernized).


Online Resources at

Interim Events”—in “A Period of Preparation, 1823–29,” Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2003), 41–43

He Married Emma Hale”—in “Joseph Smith: First President of the Church,” Presidents of the Church Student Manual (Church Educational System Manual, 2004), 8