Desdomona W Fullmer was born 6 October 1809 in Huntingdon, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Peter Fullmer (1774-1857) and Susannah Zerfass (1773-1856) and died 9 February 1886 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah of unspecified causes. She married Joseph Smith (1805-1844) March 1843 in Nauvoo, Illinois, United States. She married Ezra Taft Benson (1811-1869) 26 January 1846 in Nauvoo, Illinois, United States.


Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer (1809-1886)

Desdomona Wadsworth Fullmer McLane Smith Benson was a convert to the Mormon Church and was married three times. Her father, Peter Fullmer (1774-1857), and brother, David Fullmer (1803-1879) player important roles in the pioneer migration of the Mormon Church to Utah.

Her First Marriage was to Harrison Parker McLane (1815-1835) who died in 1835.

Haun's Mill Massacre

In 1838, Desdemona was living with her brother, David Fullmer, who purchased a farm just 1.5 miles from Haun's Mill and were in the process of moving in when the mobs came to raid that place. A very violent illness kept David from going to assist the brethren who had gathered (and subsequently massacred) trying to protect the village. The family hid in the brush to escape the mobs. In the following March they became part of the refugee group to flee to Illinois. Her sister-in-law, Rhoda Ann Marvin (1813-1892), recorded the family experience there:

Soon after this the mob sent word that they were coming to kill all they could find alive and burn their houses and possessions.

I took our three children and went and concealed ourselves as best we could. Sister Lewis and her two children were along with me. We went into the woods and came to a large oak tree that had fallen to the ground, so we crept through the upper branches of this tree and sat down on the trunk. Here we were screened from observation by the branches and foliage of the tree. My husband, not thinking it wisdom for all to hide together, hid himself in another place. About 3 o'clock in the morning we decided to go and see if the mob had been to carry out their threats, but we found that the mobbers had not come, so we went into our house and got in just in time to be sheltered from a heavy thunder storm. The Saints were permitted to remain till the following spring providing they would then leave the state, and not attempt to put in crops of any kind.

In March, 1839 Brother Kelley and by husband got a wagon and team between them and moved both families at the same time. There were nine in Bother Kelley's family and my husband's family numbered five besides his sister Desdemona, who was living with us, making a total of 15 souls. We traveled this way to Quincy in the state of Illinois. We were about two weeks on the journey. We were poor, having been compelled to leave our property. Our children were barefoot, and all or us that could walk were compelled to do so, there being but one team for so many. We made our beds on the ground as we camped by the way.

Plural Marriage

Her Second Marriage was to Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the Mormon Prophet as a plural wife, (#30). This appears to be a "spiritual marriage" only as they had no children together. William Clayton said Smith told him in February 1843 that Fullmer was one of his plural wives.

Her third marriage was to early Mormon Apostle, Ezra Taft Benson (1811-1869) as one of his plural wives.

Gravestone of Desdemona in Salt Lake City Cemetery

Desdemona is my great-great-great-great-great-aunt. Desdemona Wadsworth Fullmer Smith was born Friday, October 6, 1809 in Huntington Mills, Pennsylvania to Peter Fullmer (1774-1857) and Susannah Zerfass (1773-1856).

She was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on July 29, 1839 by Elder John P. Greene. She was living with her brother, David Fullmer (1803-1879), at Haun's Mill at the time when the massacre of the saints occurred there. She and other members of her family were under the necessity of secreting themselves to the woods to escape the mob.

Desdemona arrived in Salt Lake City in October of 1848 in the Willard Richards Company, and lived there for nearly forty years, residing at 375 West 400 South in the Downtown district of Salt Lake City.

She was a quiet, unassuming, faithful woman and was greatly respected by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance. Desdemona worked as a tailoress for most of her life, and completed her autobiography a few years before her death.

Desdemona married Joseph Smith Jr. in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois. They were later sealed on January 26, 1846 in the Nauvoo LDS Temple. After his death, she later married Ezra Taft Benson on January 26, 1846 in the Nauvoo LDS Temple.

Desdemona passed away peacefully on Tuesday, February 9, 1886 at her home of causes incident to age.

Funeral Services were held on Thursday, February 11, 1886 at 1:00 p.m. in the Salt Lake Sixth Ward Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 270 East 500 South in Salt Lake City. Following the conclusion of the Funeral Services, the funeral procession commenced and solemnly and slowly proceeded through the streets of Salt Lake City and concluded at the Salt Lake City Cemetery located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and "N" Street in The Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City, where Desdemona was laid to rest in the family plot overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. REST IN PEACE.

Vital Records

1880 US Federal Census

Household #95 : Salt Lake Sixth Ward - taken 6th June 1880. Many Fullmer families (children of Desdemona's brother David) show on this and the following census page and they appear to be stonemasons working on the Salt Lake Temple project. Desdemona is living with David's 2nd wife, Sarah Sophronia.

  • Smith, Desdemona F - F/69 - B: Pennsy - Ocp: Seamstress
  • Fullmer, Sarah S - F/57
  • Fullmer, John W - M/21
  • Fullmer, James M - M/16 - Ocp Laborer



Offspring of Desdomona W Fullmer and Harrison Parker McLane (1815-1835)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Sarah Dasdemona McLane (1855-1855)



Footnotes (including sources)