Martha McBride (Knight-Smith-Kimball): 17th Wife of Joseph Smith
Age 37 – married August 1842 (Joseph Smith, age 36)
As you delve into the stories of each new bride charmed by Joseph Smith, a discernible pattern emerges: many of the women he married either stayed in his home with Emma, sometimes years before the engagement, or he lodged at their houses during various journeys.
Martha was no exception. In targeting a typical plural marriage scenario, which may sound peculiar, this appears to fit the bill.
While there is limited information about the Pre-Utah days, the most intriguing aspect of Martha McBride’s life, as with many others in Joseph’s harem, was her strength and independence. These early LDS women, often overlooked by the Mormon Church, deserve greater acknowledgment. Concealing their marriages to the Church’s founder has relegated them to obscurity.
This unfortunate omission is a blemish on the original history of the Church and the bravery of its women.
Martha exemplifies a vital force in Mormon history that remains inadequately recognized for her hardships. Enduring the most challenging episodes in crossing the plains, Martha, now the bride of Heber C. Kimball (as was Sarah Ann Whitney before her), received a call from Brigham Young to help settle the area known today as Ogden, Utah (about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City). Her husband, burdened with perhaps the largest congregation of plural wives, was required in Salt Lake City and seldom visited Martha. During this time, the Ogden area posed challenges with Native Americans, who observed the Mormons encroaching on their land with hesitation and occasional violence. Martha McBride endured these trials, demonstrating fortitude that deserves more credit than many early Mormon men receive.