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Cordelia Calista Morley Cox, 1823-1915

Autobiography (1823-1909)
Holograph, HBLL


While I am on earth and able to write with the pen in my own hand, I will give to my children and my children's children, a testimony that I know that God lives and will bless all those who wish to do his will. I was baptized when eight years old. I always tried to bear a good name and follow the teachings of my parents and those whose right it was to rule over me. In the spring of forty-four [1844], plural marriage was introduced to me by my parents from Joseph Smith, asking their consent and a request to me to be his wife. Imagine if you can my feelings, to be a plural wife, something I never thought I ever could . I knew nothing of such religion and could not accept it. Neither did I.

In June 1844, Joseph Smith was martyred and it was a time of mourning for all. After Joseph Smith's death, I was visited by some of his most intimate friends who knew his request and explained to me this religion, counseling me to accept his wishes for he now was gone and could do no more for himself. I accepted Joseph Smith's desire and in 1846, January 27, was married to your father in the Nauvoo Temple. While still kneeling upon the altar, my hand clasped in his, now his wife, he gave his consent and I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity. I lived with your father and loved him. I was satisfied with the course I had taken. I had three little girls with him. I took comfort [they were] born under the new and everlasting covenant. I had not doubted. I thought if one principle taught by Joseph Smith was true, all he taught must be true. I was sincere in my belief and had never doubted the truth of what I had accepted. Still, I had no testimony for myself of the truth of such a principle and became acquainted with the trials and hardships of such a life but was satisfied and contented in the course I had taken. I had three little girls born under the new and everlasting covenant. I loved them and took good care of them.

The Latter-day Saints were preparing to leave and come to Utah. We lived in a settlement where as the Mormons moved away, the Gentiles would buy the improvements until our family was left quite alone with the outside world. Then they began to persecute us. Your father was taken into a Gentile court and tried for breaking laws of the land by living with more than one wife. I had a true companion; her husband was mine also. We were driven from our home in the dead of winter. They told us our religion was false and we had been deceived. I had no one to go to for knowledge or for comfort. I began to worry and to wonder if I had in these ears been so deceived. I longed for a testimony from my Father in Heaven, to know for myself whether I was right or wrong. I was called a fallen woman. The finger of scorn was pointed at me. I felt that it was more than I could endure and in the humility of my soul, I prayed that I might have a testimony from him who knows the hearts of all. One night I dreamed. I thought I was in the midst of a multitude of people. President Young arose and spoke to the people. He then said there would be a spirit go around to whisper comfort in the ear of everyone. All was silent as death as I sat. Then the spirit came to me and whispered in my ear these words, "Don't ever change your condition or wish it otherwise," for I was better off than thousands and thousands of others. This brought peace to my mind and I have felt satisfied ever since. The Lord has been my guide; in Him I put my trust. I am thankful that I have been true to the covenants I have made with my Father in Heaven. I am thankful for my children that have been given to me. I pray that God will accept us all, and blessed to come forth through a glorious resurrection and receive a crown of eternal life in His kingdom.

Cordelia Cox

The Relief Society was organized by Joseph Smith in 1842, 67 years ago today, March 17, 1909.