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Emma Smith Woodruff was born 1 March 1838 in Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Daviess County, Missouri to Samuel Smith (1807-1850) and Martisha Smoot (1812-1886) and died 4 March 1912 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah of unspecified causes. She married Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) 13 March 1853 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah.


History - Emma, Wilford's seventh wife, was the daughter of Samuel Smith and Martishia Smoot, the oldest of their four children. Samuel and Martishia were married January 25, 1835 and taught the gospel by David W. Patten and Warrren Parrish. Samuel and Martishia were baptized March 22, 1835. Martishia's brother, Abraham O. Smoot, was also baptized in March and served as one of Wilford's missionary companions in 1836 when he was preaching in Kentucky and Tennessee. Wilford writes about staying in the home of Samuel and Martishia Smoot Smith while on his mission in April 1836.

The Smoot and Smith families left in February 1837 to migrate to Missouri. (See Abraham O. Smoot's Journal, February 20-21, 1837.) They named their first child Emma, after Joseph Smith's wife. Emma was born in Spring Hill, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri on March 1, 1838. They lived in Davies County until they were expelled by order of General Wilcox on November 1, 1838. They relocated to Caldwell County, but were expelled from there a few months later, in February 1839, after Governor Boggs issued his extermination order. The Smiths moved first to Quincy, Illinois, for several months then Zarahemla, Iowa until 1841. Emma's sister Sarah Ann was born on December 19, 1841. The Smith family finally settled in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Migration to Utah

Emma's family then began the trek across the plains June 15, 1850, in the Wilford Woodruff Company. Over 400 Saints were part of the gathering Wilford Woodruff accomplished between 1848-1850 when he was sent East from Winter Quarters to bring more Saints to Utah. When they joined Wilford Woodruff's Company, Emma was 12 years old, her sister Sarah was 8, her brother Joseph was 4 and Owen was only 10 months old.

When the company reached Salt Creek, Nebraska on June 27, her father became ill with cholera and died a few hours later. He was only 43 years old. Two weeks later, on July 12, 1850, Emma's mother gave birth to their fifth child, Martishia Rosalia. They continued their journey and Emma helped her mother and younger siblings. The company arrived in Salt Lake October 14, 1850.

Marriage to an Apostle

Wilford Woodruff and Emma Smith

Two and a half years later, when Emma was 15, she was sealed to Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) on March 13, 1853. In his journal Wilford recorded that he was sealed at 7:00 pm to both Emma Smith and Sarah Brown (1834-1909) by Brigham Young (1801-1877) . Emma received her endowments in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on March 17, 1854.

Initially Emma lived with Phoebe Whittemore Carter (1807-1885) (Wilford's first wife) and Sarah and their children in the Valley House. She may have been more like a daughter to Phebe, because Phebe's daughters Susan and Phebe were 10 and 11. In the summer of 1857, when their Relief Society made the 14th Ward quilt to auction off to raise money for the Perpetual Emigration Fund, Emma and Phebe Amelia used the same fabric to create the flowers they included in their squares. Later that year, on October 4, 1857, Emma bore her first child, Hyrum Smith Woodruff. He only lived for 14 months.

In 1866 Wilford built a second home on his farm and Emma lived there, perhaps with Sarah, until Sarah moved north to Randolph, Utah in 1871. Emma bore another seven children between 1860 and 1879, and six of them lived to become adults: Emma Manella (1860-1906); Asahel Hart (1863-1939); Anna Thompson (1867-1867); Clara Martishia (1868-1927); Abraham Owen (1872-1904); Winifred Blanche (1876-1954); and Mary Alice, (1879-1916).

Following Phebe Woodruff's death in 1885, Wilford moved to Emma's home on the farm. He built it in 1859-1860, and it was a log home covered with adobe. Emma was his "public" wife for the remainder of his life. Because of the laws against polygamy, Wilford could not be seen in public with his other wives, Sarah and Sarah Delight Stocking (1838-1906). However they and their children were part of private gatherings and celebrations held in Emma's farmhouse and later the Woodruff Villa after it was completed. (Wilford built the Villa in 1891 next door to Emma's farm house. They lived together in the Villa from 1892 until his death in 1898.)

Emma and her daughter Mary Alice accompanied Wilford St. George during the winter of 1886 and 1887. Her mother Martishia died November 3, 1886. There Mary Alice was baptized in the St. George Temple on January 4, 1887, two days after her 8th birthday.

Emma also accompanied Wilford and several others on a vacation to Northern California in the spring of 1889 and British Columbia that fall. Their last trip together was along the West Coast from Portland, Oregon to San Diego, California in August and September, 1896. They were accompanied by George Q. and Caroline Cannon, among others. In San Diego they stayed at the Hotel del Coronado for three days and spent time fishing from the pier. They also spent a day deep-sea fishing off the coast and caught about 600 pounds of fish.

Family Life

Marriage to Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) - During Woodruff's time as president of the LDS Church, his wife, Emma Smith Woodruff, accompanied him to public functions, and she was the only wife he lived with after Phoebe's death in 1885. She was a niece of Abraham O. Smoot. Although she married Woodruff when she was 15, she did not have the first of her eight children until she was 20. Emma was involved in the Relief Society, serving as both a ward and stake president for that organization. She also served as a member of the Relief Society General Board from 1892 to 1910.

  1. Hyrum Smith Woodruff (1857-1858) - died young
  2. Emma Manella Woodruff (1860-1905) - married her cousin,Henry Azmon Woodruff (1855-1939)
  3. Asahel Hart Woodruff (1863-1939)
  4. Ann Thompson Woodruff (1867-1867)
  5. Clara Martina Woodruff (1868-1927)
  6. Abraham Owen Woodruff (1872-1904) - LDS Apostle who died at early age.
  7. Winnifred Blanche Woodruff (1876-1954)
  8. Mary Alice Woodruff (1879-1916)


Offspring of Emma Smith Woodruff and Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Hyrum Smith Woodruff (1857-1858)
Emma Manella Woodruff (1860-1905) 4 July 1860 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah 30 November 1905 Vernal, Uintah County, Utah Henry Azmon Woodruff (1855-1939)
Asahel Hart Woodruff (1863-1939)
Ann Thompson Woodruff (1867-1867)
Clara Martina Woodruff (1868-1927)
Abraham Owen Woodruff (1872-1904) 23 November 1872 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah 20 June 1904 El Paso, El Paso County, Texas Helen May Winters (1873-1904) Helen May Winters (1873-1904) Eliza Avery Clark (1882-1953)
Winnifred Blanche Woodruff (1876-1954)
Mary Alice Woodruff (1879-1916)




Footnotes (including sources)