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Picturing history: Birth site of Emma Hale Smith, in Harmony, Pennsylvania

Emma’s childhood home at Harmony survived until sometime between 1873-1875 when it burned to the ground

SHARE Picturing history: Birth site of Emma Hale Smith, in Harmony, Pennsylvania
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The rebuilt home of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, shown in 2018.

Kenneth Mays

Emma Hale, who would marry the Prophet Joseph Smith, was born at Harmony, Pennsylvania (now Oakland Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania), on July 10, 1804. She met Joseph Smith in 1825 when he boarded with the Hale family. For the next year or so, Joseph was in the employ of Josiah Stowell and Joseph Knight of Colesville, New York (now Nineveh). During that time, Joseph courted Emma. They married at South Bainbridge (now Afton), New York, on Jan. 18, 1827 (see “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith,” by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery pages 3, 8, 17-19).

Within a day or two, the newlyweds moved north to Manchester, New York, to board with Joseph’s parents. Over the years Emma bore nine children, four of whom lived to adulthood. One of her adopted twins, Joseph Smith Murdock, passed away while still an infant. His sister, Julia, lived to adulthood passing away in 1880, about a year after Emma, who died April 30, 1879.

When Joseph and Emma left the Harmony area in 1830, she never again saw her parents, at least as far as is known.

Emma’s childhood home at Harmony survived until sometime between 1873-1875 when it burned to the ground. A new home was built on the site and remained there until 1951-52 when it was torn down. The original foundation of both homes was filled in to protect the site. A split rail fence and interpretive panel identified the site for visitors for several decades (see “Sacred Places, Vol. 2: New York and Pennsylvania,” edited by Larry C. Porter in LaMar C. Barrett, page 265.)

A new home was built on the site by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2015. It was dedicated with several other structures at the Priesthood Restoration Site on Sept. 19, 2015, by church President Russell M. Nelson, then serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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Home site of Isaac and Elizabeth Hale, parents of Emma Hale Smith, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, shown in 2008.

Kenneth Mays

Kenneth Mays is a board member of the Ensign Peak Foundation (formerly Mormon Historic Sites Foundation) and a retired instructor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Department of Seminaries and Institutes.