We already reviewed the life of Emma Hale Smith, the first wife of Joseph Smith, the founder of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today we will focus on another of his wives, Eliza Roxcy Snow, who his fifth wife. She was a leader in the early Church and a poet. She was known as the “Zion’s poetess.” She also was one of the most celebrated Mormon women of the nineteenth century.”
Short biography of Eliza Roxcy Snow
Who was Eliza Roxcy Snow? Eliza, was a simple farm girl from Massachusetts, born on January 21, 1804. She started working in his father’s office when he served as justice of the peace. She also published poems in Ohio newspapers. The family took an interest in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and when Joseph Smith came to town, her mother and sister joined the new Jesus Christ Church of Latter-day Saints. Eliza followed suit. Eliza was baptized 1835. She became a teacher for the Smith family and lived with them. When the church moved because of religious persecution, Eliza Roxcy Snow moved with them. She donated a large sum of money for the building of the Kirtland Temple in Ohio. The church then settled in Nauvoo, Illinois and the Nauvoo Temple was constructed.
Eliza Roxcy Snow Smith became one of the 14 wives of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young. Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. According to About.com, Eliza was very independent and was self supporting. “She was known as a fierce defender of the doctrine and organization promoted first by Smith and then by Young.”
Eliza Roxcy Snow’s work within the church
Besides her large donations, we are told that Eliza Roxcy Snow co-founded the Female Relief Society, “a philanthropic and educational women’s organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).”
She was also the first secretary. Her appointment of secretary of the church set the stage for women to be actively involved in church matters. Once she married Brigham Young, she once again got involved with helping this organization grow, in each of the church’s Utah’s congregations. Young stressed the economic involvement of women and Eliza stressed the spiritual aspect. She traveled, lectured, promoted frugality, and women’s rights. She encouraged women to vote against the abolishment of polygamy. She had also managed Endowment House, before the temples were built.
Her involvement with the church did not end there, She also founded the Mutual Improvement Association to promote religious education for children. She founded the publication “Women’s Exponent,” which was inprint from 1872 to 1914. She was still active at 80; “helping to establish the Deseret Hospital, for women, sponsored by the Relief Society.” After a lifetime of service to the Mormon church, Eliza Roxcy Snow, died on December 5, 1887.