Joseph Smith Jr. Elopes With Emma Hale

Emma first met her future husband, Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1825.

Smith lived near Palmyra, New York, but boarded with the Hales in Harmony while he was employed in a company of men hoping to unearth buried treasure (specifically a silver mine for Josiah Stowell, a farmer whose home still stands on the north side of the Susquehanna River on New York State Route 7 in Ninevah, New York, just west of Afton). Although the company found no treasure, Smith returned to Harmony several times to court Emma. Isaac Hale refused to allow the marriage because he considered Smith's occupation disreputable. Finally, on January 17, 1827, Smith and Emma eloped across the state line to South Bainbridge (Afton), New York, where they were married the following day. The marriage site is now the Afton Fairgrounds, located on New York State Route 41 on the east side of the Susquehanna River; and a New York State Historical Marker commemorates the location.

On January 17, 1827, Joseph and Emma rode away from the Hale residence on a horse and the following evening were married by a judge in South Bainbridge.

Emma remembers, “I had no intention of marrying when I left home...[but] Preferring to marry him to any other man I knew, I consented.”

Emma and Joseph retreated to Palmyra to live with Joseph’s parents. Months later they returned to the Hale home to retrieve Emma’s belongings.

Isaac Hale was angered: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to the grave.”

In an attempt at reconciliation, Joseph promised Isaac he would give up the treasure seeking business.