Joseph Smith and Emma Hale met while Joseph was rooming with his employer, who was an acquaintance of Emma’s parents. During the two years Joseph lived there, he asked for Emma’s hand in marriage more than once before they finally eloped on January 18, 1827. She was disowned by her family, her father saying to Joseph,
“You have stolen my daughter. I would have rather had followed her to the grave.” (Gracia Jones, Emma and Joseph, Covenant Communications, American Fork, 1999 50)
Known to have a quick wit, sense of humor, a deep compassion for her fellowman, loyalty to her husband, family and God, a fierce sense of temerity and determination, cheerful and hard-working, Emma was aptly suited to be the wife, sweetheart and helpmeet of the Prophet of the Restoration.
On September 22, 1827, Emma accompanied Joseph to the Hill Cumorah where the precious gold plates the Angel Moroni had told Joseph about were given into his care. From that day forward life took on a dangerous and desperate bent, at times, while Joseph and Emma tried to protect and preserve the ancient record given to Joseph for translation.
Deeply in love with one another they tried to form a life together despite the constant persecution. A teacher and scriptorian, Emma served, until she became pregnant and too sick to do so, as a scribe for her husband in the translation of the Book of Mormon. At one point, when Joseph was in the process of translating, he paused and then asked,
“Emma? Did Jerusalem have walls around the city?” When she answered in the affirmative, he replied, “Oh, I thought I was mistaken. (Ibid)
While Emma lay sick, both physically and at heart, after the birth and death of her first son, Joseph cared tenderly for her while grieving the loss of his child at the same time. Coming to the surface after a few weeks, he noticed Martin Harris had not returned with the 116 pages of translated manuscript he’d taken to show his bitter and angry wife. As soon as Emma was well enough, he left for Martin’s home in New York to retrieve the pages.
This was the beginning of a pattern that continued throughout their entire marriage. While Joseph tended to the details of restoring the kingdom of God upon the earth, no small task, Emma was left to keep the home fires burning, doing her part, as well as Joseph’s.
Of the gold plates, eventually translated and published as the Book of Mormon, Emma said:
“The Plates often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen tablecloth which I had given him to fold them in. I once felt the plates as they thus lay on the table, tracing their outline and shape. They seemed to be pliable like thick paper, and would rustle with a metallic sound when the edges were moved by the thumb, as one does sometimes thumb the pages of a book.” (Gracia Jones, Emma and Joseph, Covenant Communications, American Fork, 1999 37)
This shows the integrity of the woman who was a helpmeet and companion to the prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith, Jr. She was commanded to not look at the plates, and she did not. Together, Joseph and Emma fought all who came against them, pushed forward with the work of the Lord and loved each other through it all.