A Book of Mormons
by Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker
1847. January 20: Ellis Reynolds was born in Davis County, Iowa. Soon after her birth, the family converted to Mormonism. They moved to Utah in 1852 and settled in Pleasant Grove.
In 1865 Ellis was “adopted” into the home of Brigham Young. Educated in the Young family school taught by Karl G. Maeser, she later attended the University of Deseret.
1866. May 5: Married Milford B. Shipp: “He was to me all that the enlivened fancy of girlhood or the matured judgment of woman could picture in her imagination. So kind and affectionate, so faithful to the cause of Mormonism. … He was ambitious, ardent and energetic in all that was noble and laudable. Enthusiastic and spirited in conversation. In truth, I never saw a person who could so enchant and fascinate by the power of language.” The Shipps had ten children, five of whom died in infancy.
Milford Shipp operated a hat and shoe store in Fillmore, Utah, for several years. When the store failed, the family returned to Salt Lake. Milford later married three plural wives.
Eliza R. Snow began urging women in the late 1860s to become physicians in order to keep men out of the delivery room. In 1873 Brigham Young added, “The time has come for women to come forth as doctors in these valleys of the mountains.”
Determined to care for her children and prepare for medical school, Ellis Shipp established a rigorous schedule. “Last night I wrote down my work for today which is as follows: rise at four in the morning, dress, make a fire, sweep, wash in cold water, comb my hair, clean my teeth. Write a few lines in my journal. Write a letter to Grandmother. Read a chapter in Dr. Bunn on health. Read a few extracts from Johnson. Dress the [p.259]children, make bed, sweep, dust and prepare my room for the breakfast table. Breakfast at nine. Sew on the machine until three—dinner hour. After dinner call on Sister Jones, who is sick. Wash and prepare the children for bed; from six till eight, knit or do some other light work. Review my actions for the day—offer my devotions to heaven and retire at nine.”
Four years later, in 1872, medical school still seemed a remote possibility: “I know that I am tired of this life of uselessness and unaccomplished desires, only so far as cooking, washing dishes and doing general housework goes. I believe that woman’s life should not consist wholly and solely of routine duties.”
[p.259 photo: Dr. Shipp (center row on right) and nursing students]
[p.259]Milford provided little help, but with supplements from her sister-wives, Ellis worked her way as a seamstress through the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. “How pure and heavenly is the relationship of sisters in the holy order of polygamy,” she wrote. “How beautiful to contemplate the picture of a family where one works for [p.260]the interest, advancement, and well-being of all.”
1878. Shipp received an M.D. in March. Returning to Utah, she and sister-wife Maggie Shipp, with Romania Pratt and Martha Paul, were set apart to the “ecclesiastical calling” of administering medicine to the Saints. (Maggie and Milford Shipp received their M.D.s in 1883.)
Dr. Shipp advertised herself as a “Physician and Surgeon; Special attention given to Obstetrics, diseases of women and minor surgery,” and opened a school of obstetrics and nursing “with the object of qualifying women for the important offices of nurse and accoucheur.” During the school’s first four years, she delivered over a thousand lectures while continuing her own practice.
Supportive of Dr. Shipp and other female doctors, the Deseret News urged “that the competent and educated doctors of our community … be patronized when necessary, by those of their own sex and faith, in preference to others. This is one of the occupations in which qualified women can act to advantage, and is a gesture of the woman’s rights question we can endorse and support.”
By 1893 Dr. Shipp had attended to 1,543 obstetrical and 2,350 gynecological cases. She delivered more than five thousand babies during her career, including N. Eldon Tanner.
One of the most highly trained physicians in Utah, Dr. Shipp did postgraduate work at the University of Michigan and at New York and Philadelphia hospitals. Despite her training as a general practitioner, she preferred to deal with female patients: “Let men care for their own sex and do the major operations. I have never had an ambition to take such responsibilities, for even men have fatal cases and, if a woman should have them, [she] would always be condemned because she was a woman.”
She was the personal physician of Emmeline B. Wells, Eliza R. Snow, and Zina D. H. Young. She served as staff physician at Deseret Hospital, specializing in “care of women and children.”
1898. Shipp was called to the Relief Society General Board, where she served for nine years. A personal friend of women’s rights leaders Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton, and Clara Barton, she was also an officer in two Salt Lake cultural societies—the Reapers’ Club and the Utah Women’s Press Club.
Concerned that so few Utah women were going to medical school, she observed, “In a land renowned for its equal opportunities for women, it’s simply amazing such a few follow a profession so befitting them.”
In her later years, she reflected, “I do not feel my spirit Great. But oh, I have suffered and pray it has never been in vain.”
1939. January 31: Died of neck cancer at her home at 1320 Michigan Avenue in Salt Lake City at the age of ninety-two. Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Casterline, Gail Farr. “Ellis R. Shipp.” Sister Saints. Edited by Vicky Burgess-Olson. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1978.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Journal History, 13 August 1878.
Musser, Ellis Shipp. The Early Autobiography and Diary of Ellis R. Shipp, M.D. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1962.
Emma Smith (1804-1879)
First Relief Society President
1804. July 10: Born in Harmony, Pennsylvania.
1827. January 18: Eloped with Joseph Smith, Jr.; they had eleven children:
Alva (born and died June 15, 1828) Louisa and Thaddeus (twins born and died April 30, 1831)
Joseph and Julia (adopted twin son and daughter of John and Julia Clapp Murdock born April 30, 1831; Joseph died March 29, 1832, and Julia in 1880)
Joseph III (born November 6, 1832; died November 10, 1914)
Frederick Granger Williams (born June 20, 1836; died April 13, 1862)
Alexander Hale (born June 2, 1838; died August 12, 1909)
Don Carlos (born June 13, 1840; died August 15, 1841)
Unnamed son (born and died December 26, 1842)
David Hyrum (born November 17, 1844; died August 29, 1904)
1829. Assisted the Prophet for a short time as a Book of Mormon scribe after Martin Harris lost the 116 pages of manuscript.
1830. June 20 Baptized by Oliver Cowdery.
July: A revelation designated Emma “an elect lady whom I have called. … And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., thy husband, in his affliction, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness. … And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit” (D&C 25:3, 5, 7).
First Relief Society President
In response to an 1835 commandment, Emma selected hymns to be published in the first hymnbook, A Collection [p.264]of Sacred Hymns. She also worked on revisions in 1839 and 1842 and, later, on a Reorganized LDS hymnbook.
1842. March 17: Called to be the first president of the Relief Society.
Wife and Homemaker
An efficient business woman, Emma often helped Joseph with tithing appraisals and the operation of his boardinghouses. She was also an accomplished hostess. On their fifteenth wedding anniversary she and Joseph served seventy-four guests at four tables. An immaculate housekeeper, she redressed her hair every day after completing her afternoon work.
1842. August: After three weeks of hiding from Missouri lawmen, Joseph returned to Nauvoo, where he described his feelings for Emma: “With what unspeakable delight, and transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand, on that night, my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, the choice of my heart. Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sufferings, and the joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our paths and crowned our board. Oh what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment, again she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm, and unwavering— unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”
First Woman to Receive Fullness of Priesthood with Husband
1843. September 28: A year after Joseph Smith introduced the Holy Order (endowment) to eight men, Emma Smith was sealed to him for time and eternity. According to the manuscript “Meetings of the anointed Quorum,” the Prophet was”anointed & ordained to the highest order of the priesthood (& Companion-d[itt]o.)”
[p.265]As an anointed prophetess, queen, and priestess, Emma Smith often performed the anointing and endowment ceremonies for other women introduced into the Holy Order during the next six months. Joseph Smith asked her, Bathsheba W. Smith, and Eliza R. Snow to design the garment for the actual endowment ceremonies. “They were too poor to buy buttons, so they tore strips of the cloth for strings … in making the garment they did not know just how to finish them at the top. Emma suggested that a small collar be put on which was done.” The basic garment worn by endowed persons when not participating in temple ordinances was the two-piece under-garment in common use at the time, with the addition of specified markings.
1844. June: Emma has often been blamed for causing Joseph’s return across the Mississippi River to Nauvoo by accusing him of cowardice. Actually, businessmen Reynolds Cahoon and Hiram Kimball, worried that the city business district would be adversely affected if the governor were to declare martial law, wrote to the Prophet demanding he return. Emma’s letter apparently described the difficulties in Nauvoo and the possible consequences of his leaving or returning.
When Joseph requested advice from Porter Rockwell and Hyrum Smith, Hyrum replied, “Let us go back and give ourselves up and see the thing out.” Joseph then said, “If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.” Hyrum, anxious to attend his daughter’s wedding in Nauvoo, replied: “No, no: Let us go back and put our trust in God, and we shall not be harmed. The Lord is in it. If we live or have to die, we will be reconciled to our fate.”
Contrary to popular belief, Joseph seems not to have been planning to go west. On June 23 he wrote Emma, “You may sell the Quincy property or any property that belongs to me that you can find anything about, for your support and children and Mother. Do not despair. If God ever opens a door that is possible for me I will see you again. I do not know where I shall go or what I shall do, [p.266]but shall if possible endeavor to get to the city of Washington.”
Emma Smith was widowed June 27, 1844, when Joseph and Hyrum were killed in Carthage Jail. Eliza R. Snow wrote of her at this time:
I knew her ere she had been left
In her heart’s loneliness—
Before her prospects were bereft
Of all its happiness.
I’ve seen the willow bending low,
And ’tis unbroken still.
Less than enthusiastic about the ascendency of the Quorum of the Twelve and Brigham Young to the leadership of the Church, Emma Smith became suspect because of her closeness to Joseph’s erratic brother William and his succession claims. She and Brigham Young also disagreed over the disposition of Joseph’s estate.
Disfavor with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and others prompted rumors that she had been excommunicated. The September 11, 1844, Warsaw Signal reported, “It is rumored that on Sunday, nineteen of the leading Mormons were ejected from the church at Nauvoo, among whom were widow.” Such rumors, however, were unfounded.
1846. Two years after Joseph’s death, Emma moved to Fulton, Illinois, to be closer to her family. One year later, however, she moved back to the Nauvoo Mansion House, declaring, “I have no place to go but home, and no friend but God.”
1847. December 23: Married non-Mormon businessman Lewis C. Bidamon—an attentive husband and father, although he had a drinking problem and fathered an illegitimate child whom Emma raised as her own.
[p.267]She also cared for the Prophet’s mother, who, like Emma, did not go west with the Saints. Lucy Smith wrote of her, “I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done; for I know that which she has had to endure—she has been tossed upon the ocean of uncertainty—she has breasted the storms of persecution, and buffeted the rage of men and devils, which would have borne down almost any other woman.”
1860. Emma Smith affiliated with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after Joseph Smith III became its first president. She had not raised her son to become president of the RLDS Church. Reluctant at first, he only decided to accept the presidency after persuasion from the church’s founders.
[p.267 photo: Standing, L-R: David Hyrum Smith, Alexander Hale Smith; Sitting, L-R: Major Lewis Bidamon, Frederick Smith, Joseph Smith III]
[p.268]1869. Emma Smith’s opposition to polygamy and her refusal to go west prompted much bitterness against her on the part of Utah Mormons, especially Brigham Young. Angered by the 1869 RLDS mission of Alexander and David Hyrum Smith to Utah, President Young said, “The sympathies of the Latter-day Saints are with the family of the martyred prophet. I never see a day in the world that I would not almost worship that woman, Emma Smith, if she would be a Saint instead of being a devil. … To my certain knowledge Emma Smith is one of the damnedest liars I know of on this earth; yet there is no good thing I would refuse to do for her, if she would only be a righteous woman.”
By this time Emma Smith cared no more for Brigham Young than he cared for her: “I tried before they [her sons] left here to give them an idea of what they might expect of Brigham and all his ites, but I suppose the impression was hardly sufficient to guard their feelings from such unexpected falsehoods and impious profanity as Brigham is capable of. … I do not like to have my children’s feelings abused, but I do like that Brigham shows to all, both Saint and Sinner, that there is not the least particle of friendship existing between him and myself.”
1879. “I have been called apostate,” she acknowledged, “but I have never apostatized, nor forsaken the faith I at first accepted; but was called so because I would not accept their newfangled notion [plural marriage].”
1879. April 30: Died in Nauvoo, Illinois, at the age of seventy- five; buried near Joseph and Hyrum Smith behind the Smith family homestead.
Avery, Valeen Tippetts, and Newell, Linda King. “The Elect Lady: Emma Hale Smith.” Ensign, September 1979, pp. 65-67.
_____. “Lewis Bidamon: Stepchild of Mormonism.” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979):375-88.
_____. “The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith.” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Winter 1980):81-97.
Bailey, Raymond T. “Emma Hale: Wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952.
History of the Church, 5:107, 6:249-250.
History of the Reorganized Church. 3 vols. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1967.
Independence, Missouri. RLDS Church Archives. Emma Smith Bidamon Letter Collection.
Provo, Utah. Brigham Young University. Harold B. Lee Library. Charles Bidamon Letter.
Saints’ Herald, 1 October 1879.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Archives. Journal History, 22 January 1848.
_____. Brigham Young Papers.
Smith, Lucy Mack. History of Joseph Smith. Edited by Preston Nibley. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958.
Smith, Mary Audentia, ed., condensed by Vertha Audentia Anderson Hulmes. Joseph Smith III and the Restoration. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1952.
Snow, Eliza R. Poems, Religious, Historical, Political. Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1856.
Times and Seasons, 10 June 1841.
1817. June 26: Born George Albert Smith in Potsdam, New York, to Clarissa Lyman and future Church Patriarch John Smith. First cousin to Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Church Patriarch John Smith, and second cousin to President Joseph F. Smith and Apostle Amasa M. Lyman.
In 1841 he married Bathsheba W. Bigler; one year later he married Lucy Meserve, Zilpha Stark, Sarah Ann Libby, Hannah Marie Libby, and Nancy Clement, and, in 1857, Susan Elizabeth West. He was the father of twenty children, including Apostle John Henry Smith, and the grandfather of President George Albert Smith.
1832. A strict Congregationalist, Smith was converted through a Book of Mormon left at his home by his uncle Joseph Smith, Sr., and cousin Don Carlos Smith.
1833. He moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where he met Joseph Smith for the first time. Large for his sixteen years, he became a bodyguard for the Prophet. He hauled the first two loads of stone for the Kirtland Temple.
1834. A huge, clumsy seventeen-year-old, Smith joined Zion’s Camp, outfitted in striped pantaloons made of feather ticking and awkward boots that wore blisters on his feet.
1835. Ordained a seventy by Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith, Sr., and Sidney Rigdon. In the next nine years he served seven missions: Ohio-Pennsylvania-New York (1835), Ohio (1836), Virginia (1837), Kentucky-Tennessee (1838), England (1840), Middle and Eastern States (1843), and Michigan (1844).
During his 1838 mission he committed “the meanest act of my life.” Delayed for several days on the Mississippi River below Saint Louis, the always hungry Smith observed a black servant baking potatoes in a stove. He offered to buy some, but was refused. When the servant [p.271]left the stove unattended, Smith helped himself to some of the potatoes, carefully replacing each one with a piece of coal. The potatoes and “a little parched corn” were all he ate in three days.
1839. At twenty-two, having previously served on the high council of the Adam-Ondi-Ahman Stake in Missouri, George A. Smith was called to the Quorum of the Twelve after the deposing of Apostles Orson Hyde and Thomas B. Marsh.
1846. After his wife Nancy and four children died of scurvy in Winter Quarters, he began advocating use of the potato to prevent the disease.
1847. July: Arriving in the Salt Lake Valley with the pioneer company, Smith soon wrote in his journal, “Potatoes all planted. I planted first.” His interest in the vegetable won him the affectionate nickname, “The Potato Saint.”
Exploring the Salt Lake City Valley, he discovered the warm springs at the base of Ensign Peak. Impressed by the temperature of the water, he commented that “hell was not one mile from the place.”
After a few weeks in the valley, Smith returned to Council Bluffs, where he and Orson Hyde presided over the Saints for several years.
“A Man Who Had No Quarrel With His Cook”
Five feet, ten inches tall, Smith weighed 250 pounds. An English traveler described him as “a huge, burly man, with a Friar Tuck joviality of paunch and visage, and a roll in his bright eye which, in some odd, undefined sort of way, suggested cakes and ale. He talked well, in a deep rolling voice, and with a dash of humour in his words and tone—he it was who irreverently but accurately likened the Tabernacle to a land turtle.”
A member of the Council of Fifty, Smith was “elected” lieutenant governor of the “ghost state” of Deseret in 1849, became a member of the Utah territorial legislature (1850-1870), and served as president of the upper house (1864-1870). He also represented Utah in the 1856 statehood bid.
1851. A self-taught lawyer, Smith argued his first and most notorious case just weeks after being admitted to the Utah bar. Howard Egan, a Mormon school teacher, had joined the California gold rush in 1849. While he was away, James Monroe seduced one of his wives, who gave birth to an illegitimate child. Egan returned to Utah and killed Monroe “in the name of the Lord” because his “peace on earth” had been destroyed.
Smith argued that “in this territory it is a principle of mountain common law, that no man can seduce the wife of another without endangering his own life. … The man who seduces his neighbor’s wife must die, and her nearest relative must kill him!” The jury declared Egan not guilty.
1851. Called to settle Parowan, Utah, and develop an iron works. En route, three of his oxen disappeared; one was found dead and another mortally wounded by eleven arrows. Seeing the oxen, “which had been in our service ever since we left Nauvoo,” Smith and his wife shed tears. But when two starving Indian boys accused of the crime were brought to Smith, he fed them and persuaded the older boy to trade his twelve-year-old companion for the dead oxen.
Smith was the commanding military officer during the Walker and Black Hawk Indian wars in southern Utah. During the 1857 advance of the Utah Expeditionary Forces he warned that “the first man that ravishes or seduces a wife or daughter of mine, I fully intend to blow out his brains.”
1854. Called to be Church historian and recorder at the death of Willard Richards. His grandfather described fourteen-year-old George as “a rather singular boy. When he comes here, instead of going to play as the rest of my grandchildren do, he comes into my room and asks me questions about what occurred seventy or eighty years ago.”
Smith’s memory was legendary. Brigham Young referred to him as a “cabinet of history,” and Orson F. Whitney described him as “a walking encyclopedia of general information.” His greatest contribution to Mormon history was completing the multi-volume History of the Church begun by Joseph Smith.
Describing himself to a New York cousin, Smith wrote, “When my wig is off there is scarcely a hair between me and heaven.” He also wore glasses and false teeth. An acquaintance noted that Smith “sometimes astounded the Indians by slowly removing all these appendages before them, and he came to be called by the natives, ‘Non-choko-wicher,’ which means, takes himself apart.”
1861. Accompanied Brigham Young, Erastus Snow, and others to establish the new “Dixie Mission” in southern Utah. Nearly 800 families—approximately 3,000 persons—were called to this mission over the next three or four years. The primary purpose of the mission was to produce indigo, madder, fruit, wine, tobacco, and especially cotton—a commodity in great demand since the outbreak of the Civil War. The first year 100,000 pounds of seed cotton were produced, and, in 1863, 56,094 pounds of ginned cotton. A factory was built in 1870 for cotton processing, but poor soil, unstable water supplies, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 made Utah cotton production unprofitable. Brigham [p.274]Young named the principal settlement “Saint George” in honor of George A. Smith.
Member of the First Presidency
1868. October 7: Sustained as first counselor to President Brigham Young after the death of Heber C. Kimball. President Young described Smith as a “devoted friend, a wise counselor, and a life-long companion.”
1870. During the first thirty-eight years of his ministry, George A. Smith delivered 3800 discourses. “No one ever wearied of his preaching. He was brief and interspersed his doctrinal and historical remarks with anecdotes most appropriate and timely in their application. Short prayers, short blessings, short sermons, full of spirit, was a happy distinction in the ministry of Geo. A. Smith.”
On one occasion after a full day of conference meetings in Parowan, Smith reportedly prayed: “Heavenly Father bless all good people, Thy servant George A. is tired. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
1875. September 1: Following a long illness which deprived Smith of his speaking voice and prevented sleep except in an upright position, he died of “lung disease” at the age of fifty-eight. His wife Bathsheba wrote, “He had a restless night, the following morning he walked into the front parlor twice. The last time he sat down in his chair and expired in about five minutes. … He was now through; all was quiet; his head lay against my bosom; good angels had come to receive his precious spirit. Perhaps our sons, prophets, patriarchs, saints beloved were there, but he was gone my light, my Sun, my life, my joy, my Lord, yea, almost my God; but I must not morn but prepare myself to meet him; but my hart sinks within my bosom nearly.”
Joseph F. Smith, to whom George A. had been a surrogate father, was nearly overcome with grief. Presiding over the European Mission, he wrote from England, “At first I could not weep. Words seemed like mockery. My [p.275]soul revolts at them, and would bury itself for a while in the grave with ‘Uncle George.’ … Oh! Why should he go! Who needed him so much as bleeding, persecuted Israel? … Israel needed him! The world needed him! and yet God has taken him, and the world is emptier than it was by one who was a prophet, seer and revelator and a King and Priest unto the Most High God.” Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Church News, 30 May 1951.
Gleave, Ray Haun. “The Effect of the Speaking of George A. Smith on the People of the Iron Mission of Southern Utah.” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1957.
Jenson, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Company, 1901-1936.
Journal of Discourses, 1:95-97, 2:360, 3:24-25, 15:97.
Ludlow, Fitz Hugh. The Heart of the Continent:A Record of Travel Across the Plains and in Oregon, with an Examination of the Mormon Principle. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1870.
McCarthy, Justin. Reminiscences. New York and London, 1889.
Palmer, William. “Pioneers of Southern Utah.” Instructor 79 (January 1944):21-24.
Pusey, Merlo J. Builders of the Kingdom: George A. Smith, John Henry Smith, George Albert Smith. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981.
Quinn, D. Michael. “Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: A Prosopographical Study.” Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1973.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Journal History, 29 July 1847, 12 June 1858.
_____. Bathsheba Smith Autobiography.
_____. George A. Smith Journal and Letter Collection.
Whitney, Orson F. History of Utah. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1892.
1870. April 4: George Albert Smith was born in Salt Lake City to Susan Farr and John Henry Smith. He was a great-grandnephew of Joseph Smith, Sr., and a grandson of George A. Smith.
At twelve, George attended the Brigham Young Academy for a year under Karl G. Maeser, returning home when his father left on a mission to England. At eighteen, he attended the University of Utah, but left after a year to work as a sales clerk at ZCMI.
In 1892 he married Lucy Emily Woodruff, a grand-daughter of Wilford Woodruff; they had three children. She died in 1937. He never remarried.
1891. Filled a two-month mission promoting the MIA in central Utah.
1892. One week after their wedding, Lucy and George Albert Smith were called on a mission to the Southern States.
While serving as president of the European Mission in 1919, he took his first airplane ride—from Brussels to London—in a two-passenger open-cockpit plane. This resulted in his life-long passion for flying.
1898. An enthusiastic supporter of William McKinley, Smith was appointed receiver in the U.S. Land Office when McKinley was elected president.
1903. Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by Joseph F. Smith after the death of Brigham Young, Jr., fulfilling an 1882 [p.278]promise by Patriarch Zebedee Coltrin that Smith would “become a mighty prophet in the midst of the sons of Zion.”
When President Smith sought the approval of George Albert’s father for his choice, Apostle John Henry was hesitant: “I told him if it was a political office I would advise against it but I could not stand in the way of the suggestions of the spirit to him.”They were the only father and son combination to serve in the same Quorum of the Twelve.
Just after ordination, Elder Smith listed the guidelines by which he intended to live his life: “I would not seek to force people to live up to my ideals, but rather love them into doing the thing that is right … I would not be an enemy to any living soul.”
Prolonged Nervous Breakdown
1909. From 1909 until 1913 George Albert Smith suffered what Reed Smoot called “mental trouble,” and a recent biographer termed “mental collapse.” He seemed to recover until the 1930s, when further complications developed. Throughout his service as a general authority after 1909, particularly as Church president, his associates did their best to limit demands upon him that might trigger a relapse. Recovering in the winter of 1909-10, he “became so weak as to be scarcely able to move. It was a slow and exhausting effort for me even to turn over in bed. One day under these conditions, I lost consciousness of my surroundings and thought I had passed to the Other Side. I found myself standing with my back to a large and beautiful lake, facing a great forest of trees. …
“Through the forest, I saw a man coming towards me. … I recognized him as my grandfather [George A. Smith]. … He looked at me very earnestly and said: ‘I would like to know what you have done with my name.’ Everything I had ever done passed before me as though it were a flying picture on a screen—everything I had done. … I smiled and looked at my grandfather and said: ‘I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.'”
1932. A long-time advocate of the Boy Scout movement in the Church, Smith was awarded the Silver Buffalo—the highest award in American Scouting. His citation read, “George Albert Smith: Business executive, religious leader, former President of the International Irrigation Congress and International Farm Congress, Federal Receiver of Public Moneys and Special Disbursing Agent for the State of Utah. Member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and General Superintendent of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association of the Church. Organizer and President of the Utah Pioneer Trails and Land-Marks Association. Member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, Program Divisional Committee on Relationships and of its Region Twelve Executive Committee, and identified with its local activities since its organization. He has been indefatigable in serving the cause of scouting and to his enthusiasm for its program must be largely traced the fact that Utah stands above all other states in the percentage of boys who are Scouts.”
[p.279 photo: not captioned]
[p.280]Advocate for the Visually Impaired
Smith was a long-time supporter of visual-handicap societies, serving as president of the Society for the Aid of the Sightless for sixteen years. As a teenager his own sight was permanently impaired while working in the desert glare near Green River, Utah, with a railroad surveying crew.
His own words best sum up his philosophy of benevolent Christianity: “I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, let us be generous with one another. Let us be as patient with one another as we would like others to be with us. Let us see the virtues, not find fault and criticize. If we will do that, we will radiate sunshine, and those who know us best will love us.”
Eighth President of the Church
1945. May 14: After two years as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, George Albert Smith, upon the death of Heber J. Grant, became the eighth President of the Church, with J. Reuben Clark and David O. McKay as counselors. He was the first Church president who did not have plural wives.
He dedicated the Idaho Falls Temple (1945), and was the first Church president to tour Mexico (1946) and to appear on a telecast of general conference (1949).
Shortly after World War II, President Smith visited Harry Truman to “‘ascertain from you, Mr. President, what your attitude will be if the Latter-day Saints are prepared to ship food and clothing and bedding to Europe.’ He smiled and looked at me, and said: ‘Well, what do you want to ship it over there for? Their money isn’t any good …. ‘ ‘We would give it to them. They are our brothers and sisters and are in distress. God has blessed us with a surplus, and we will be glad to send it if we can have the cooperation of the government.’ ‘How long will it take you to get this ready?’ I said: ‘It’s all ready.'”
President Smith served as a director of Utah Savings and Trust, Utah-Idaho Sugar, ZCMI, Heber J. Grant Company, Mutual Creamery, Utah National Bank, Salt Lake Theatre, and Decker Wholesale Jewelry Company. He was also president of Libby Investment Company.
1951. April 4: George Albert Smith died on his eighty-first birthday at his Yale Avenue home in Salt Lake City of lupuserythematosus disseminatus, a disease of the connective tissue which may have contributed to his mental collapse. Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Ballard, Melvin R. Melvin J. Ballard: Crusader for Righteousness. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966.
Conference Reports, October 1947.
My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth: Readings in Church History. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980.
Nibley, Preston. The Presidents of the Church. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1971.
Pardoe, T. Earl. The Sons of Brigham. Provo: Brigham Young University Alumni, 1969.
Provo, Utah. Brigham Young University. Harold B. Lee Library. Reed Smoot Diary.
Pusey, Merlo J. Builders of the Kingdom: George A. Smith, John Henry Smith, George Albert Smith. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981.
Salt Lake City, Utah. University of Utah. J. Willard Marriott Library. George Albert Smith Diary.
_____. John Henry Smith Diary.
Stubbs, Glen R. “A Biography of George Albert Smith: 1870 to 1951.” Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1974.
1800. February 9: Born in Tunbridge, Vermont, he was an older brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Apostle William Smith, first cousin to Apostle George A. Smith, and third cousin to Oliver Cowdery.
When he was eleven and Joseph seven, Joseph suffered a serious leg infection. “Hyrum,” recalled his mother, “sat beside him almost day and night, for some considerable length of time, holding the affected part of Joseph’s leg in his hands and pressing it between them, so that his afflicted brother might be enabled to endure the pain which was so excruciating that he was scarcely able to bear it.”
He married Jerusha Barden in 1826; they had six children. Jerusha died October 13, 1837, eleven days after giving birth.
Two months later, Hyrum married Mary Fielding, by whom he had two children, Joseph Fielding and Martha Ann. In 1843 he married Mary’s sister Mercy Fielding Thompson, Catherine Phillips, and Lydia Dibble Granger.
Promised by his brother Joseph that “his children shall be many and his posterity numerous, and they will rise up and call him blessed,” Hyrum had a son (John) who became patriarch to the Church, another (Joseph F.) who became sixth president of the Church, and a grandson (Joseph Fielding) who became tenth president of the Church. All patriarchs of the Church since 1855 have been descendants of Hyrum Smith.
Early Church Leader
1829. June 29: Baptized by Joseph Smith in Seneca Lake, New York. He later became one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.
1830. April 6: At thirty, Hyrum was the oldest of the original six members of the Church. David Whitmer was twenty-five; Joseph Smith, twenty-four; Oliver Cowdery, twenty-three; Samuel H. Smith, twenty-two; and Peter Whitmer, Jr., twenty.
[p.284]1831. Shortly after arriving in Kirtland, Hyrum Smith was called on a mission to Independence, Missouri, where he attended the dedication of the temple site August 9.
1833. June 5: Following two short missions to Ohio with Orson Hyde and Reynolds Cahoon, Smith, as chairman of the building committee, dug a foundation trench for the Kirtland Temple. He acted as foreman in the temple stone quarry and later served as chairman of the Nauvoo Temple building committee.
1834. Served as Joseph Smith’s bodyguard in Zion’s Camp, where both were struck by cholera which “seized us like the talons of a hawk.” Fourteen men died of the malady.
Counselor to the Prophet
1834. December 6: Hyrum and Joseph Smith, Sr., were ordained assistant presidents to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
1835. In Kirtland Joseph and William Smith debated the question, “Was it necessary for God to reveal Himself to mankind in order for their happiness?” When the debate was awarded to Joseph, six-foot-six William attacked the Prophet and Jared Carter. The following Saturday, Hyrum delivered a letter of apology for William. “I pray in my heart,” wrote Joseph, “that all brethren were like unto my beloved Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ; and I love him with that love that is stronger than death.”
1837. November 7: Sustained as second counselor in the First Presidency after the excommunication of Frederick G. Williams. The Prophet would often ask, “What shall we do, Hyrum?” After obtaining his brother’s judgment, Joseph usually concurred: “That is good enough.”
1838. October 31: Joseph and Hyrum Smith and other leaders were arrested in Far West, Missouri, for “treason, murder, [p.285]arson, larceny, theft, and stealing.” They were taken to Independence for trial while the rest of the Saints were driven from the state under the threat of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs’s extermination order.
November 28: After three weeks chained in a Richmond, Missouri, log cabin, the Smiths and five other prisoners were taken to the jail in Liberty. “Poison was administered to us three or four times. The effect it had upon our system was that it vomited us almost to death, and then we would lie some two or three days in a torpid stupid state, not even caring or wishing for life.”
1839. April 16: The prisoners were allowed to escape en route to Boone County on a change of venue. Hyrum’s seven-year-old son John later recalled his father returned with “a full beard, his hair was long, and he was riding a small bay horse.”
Church Patriarch and Associate President
1840. September 14: On his deathbed, presiding Patriarch Joseph Smith, Sr., ordained Hyrum his successor.
1841. January 19: A revelation confirmed Smith’s appointment as patriarch to the Church and appointed him a “prophet, seer, and revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph; that he may act in concert also with my servant who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessings and glory, and honour, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery.”
In a public meeting, July 16, 1843, the Prophet “said I would not prophesy any more, and proposed Hyrum to hold the office of prophet to the Church, as it was his by birthright. I am going to have a reformation, and the Saints must regard Hyrum, for he has the authority, that I might be Priest of the Most High God.”
Plural Marriage Opponent
1843. In the controversy over John C. Bennett’s lurid allegations [p.286]of spiritual wifery at Nauvoo and the denials of Joseph Smith and others, Hyrum condemned polygamy and declared he would never believe in plural marriage unless God gave a revelation sanctioning it.
July 12: Joseph Smith dictated the revelation now known as section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Converted, Hyrum presented the revelation to the Nauvoo high council in August, performed plural marriages for the Prophet and others, and married plural wives himself.
1844. June 23: Hyrum, Joseph, Willard Richards, and Porter Rockwell rowed across the Mississippi River into Iowa to escape lawmen trying to arrest the Prophet for ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor. “I advised my brother Hyrum to take his family on the next steamboat and go to Cincinnati. Hyrum replied, ‘Joseph, I can’t leave you.’ Whereupon I said to the company present, ‘I wish I could get Hyrum out of the way, so that he may live to avenge my blood.'”
Entreated to return to Nauvoo, Hyrum, who wished to attend his daughter’s wedding, responded, “Let us go back and put our trust in God and we shall not be harmed. The Lord is in it. If we have to die, we will be reconciled to our fate.”
[p.286 photo: Hyrum, Joseph, and Emma Smith grave from the Smith family homestead window]
[p.287]June 27: Martyred at forty-four with his brother the Prophet in Carthage Jail. Four bullets struck Hyrum; as he fell to the floor, he exclaimed, “I am a dead man.”
October: Brigham Young told the April conference of the Church, “Did Joseph ordain any man to take his place? He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum. But Hyrum fell a martyr before Joseph did.”
Joseph and Hyrum, who had never been separated for more than six months during their lives, were buried together in the unfinished basement of the Nauvoo House. Later they were moved across the street behind the Smith family homestead. The Reorganized Church located and verified the gravesites in 1928.
Corbett, Pearson H. Hyrum Smith: Patriarch. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1963.
History of the Church, 1:466; 2:294-297, 335-343; 3:419-428; 5:107.
Independence, Missouri. RLDS Church Archives. Minutes of First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Quinn, D. Michael. “Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: A Prosopographical Study·” Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1973.
Roberts, B. H. Comprehensive History 2:162, 6:527-530.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Brigham Young Papers.
Smith, Hyrum M., and Sjodahl, Janne M. Doctrine and Covenants Commentary. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1951.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Essentials in Church History. 26th ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1973.
Smith, Lucy. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Liverpool/London: Published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards, 1853.
Times and Seasons, 3:799.
1805. December 23: Born in Sharon, Vermont, to Joseph Smith, Sr., and Lucy Mack. He was a brother of Hyrum Smith and William Smith, a first cousin to George A. Smith, third cousin to Oliver Cowdery, fourth cousin to Willard Richards, fifth cousin to Heber C. Kimball, and sixth cousin to Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and Orson Pratt.
1827. January 18: Eloped with Emma Hale. They had eleven children, including adopted twins. Only five of the children reached adulthood, and one of them, David Hyrum, was born shortly after his father’s death. Joseph Smith, III, became the first president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Although some evidence indicates Joseph Smith may have been involved in polygamy as early as Kirtland, Erastus Snow testified that Louisa Beaman became the Prophet’s first plural wife in 1841. The total number of Joseph Smith’s wives is unknown. Some accounts list eighty. Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History names forty-eight, including widows of Bishop Vincent Knight and Seventies President Lyman R. Sherman, daughters of Heber C. Kimball, Edward Partridge, and Newell K. Whitney, sisters of Brigham Young and Willard Richards, the sister-in-law of Parley P. Pratt, and two stepdaughters of Seventies President Josiah Butterfield.
Joseph Smith reported a boyhood vision of God and Jesus Christ in Palmyra, New York. Though several accounts of this vision exist, the first known record was not made until 1831-32, and no account was published until Orson Pratt’s 1840 missionary tract, Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions and of the Late Discovery of Ancient American Records. The best-known version, published by the Prophet in the 1842 Times and Seasons, is included in the Pearl of Great Price.
Angelic visitations resulted in the young Prophet’s obtaining the Book of Mormon plates September 22, 1827.
[p.290]Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery later reported they had been baptized and ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist on May 15, 1829, and ordained one month later to the Melchizedek Priesthood by Peter, James, and John. In 1832 Joseph and Sidney Rigdon had a vision of God, Christ, and the eternal worlds, and in 1836, the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery had a vision of Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kiltland Temple.
Joseph Smith recorded more than a hundred revelations, including the Book of Moses (1830), the Law of Consecration (1831), a revelation prophesying the Civil War (1832), the Word of Wisdom (1833), and the revelation on plural marriage (1843).
“When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand?” he asked. “When was I ever confounded … ? I never told you I was perfect: but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.”
He began the translation of the Book of Mormon on April 28, 1828, publishing it in March, 1830. In 1833 he said he had completed his “translation of the Bible,” but periodically made additional changes until his death. In March, 1842, he published the Book of Abraham—”a translation of some ancient Records, that have fallen into our hands, from the catacombs of Egypt.” He had worked on this translation since 1835, also developing “an alphabet to the Book of Abraham,” and arranging “a grammar of the Egyptian language as practiced by the ancients.”
Although the Prophet translated “through the Gift and Power of God,” he also acquired rudimentary reading skills in Hebrew, Latin, and German.
During the nearly seven years that he lived in Ohio, Joseph Smith organized the First Presidency (1832), prepared an “inspired version” of the Bible (1833), organized the first high council (1834), led Zion’s Camp to [p.291]Missouri (1834), conducted the School of the Prophets (1834), and dedicated the Kirtland Temple (1835).
While living with the John Johnson family in Hiram, Ohio, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were beaten, tarred, and feathered. A “doctor” intent on emasculating the two lost heart when he saw their naked bodies stretched out on the ground. But a vial of acid forced into the Prophet’s mouth injured a tooth and his palate, causing a whistle in his speech. Joseph also had a permanent limp from a childhood operation for osteo-myelitis, a complication of typhoid fever.
First President of the Church
1830. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, each designated as “an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of this church,” organized the “church of Christ” on April 6, 1830 (Book of Commandments 24:1-4). Joseph became “President of the High Priesthood” on January 25, 1832. The first First Presidency, which included counselors Sidney Rigdon and Jesse Gause, was organized in March, 1832.
1831. June: Joseph Smith first visited Missouri with Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, and others. There the temple site was revealed (D&C 57) and the Colesville, New York, Branch began the Mormon settlement of Jackson County.
1838. January 12: Following the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph and Sidney Rigdon fled to Far West, Missouri. They were arrested there in October on charges of “treason, murder, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing.” They spent the following six months in the Richmond and Liberty jails, “within the walls, grates, and screeking of iron doors, of a lonesome, dark, dirty prison.”
Joseph had forty-eight lawsuits brought against him during his lifetime. He prevailed in forty-seven. The sole exception was an 1826 indictment for fraudulent “glass looking” brought by Peter G. Bridgeman. Fraser’s Magazine [p.292]of February, 1873, claimed Smith was convicted of a misdemeanor in the case. George A. Smith may have been referring to this case when he told a Salt Lake City congregation in 1855 that Joseph Smith “was never found guilty but once.”
1840s. During the Prophet’s five years in Illinois, he served as trustee-in-trust for the Church, receiving, managing, and conveying Church property; married several plural wives; edited the Times and Seasons (1842); received a Master Mason Degree “on sight” from Illinois Grand Master Abraham Jonas (1842); organized the Relief Society (1842); organized the Council of Fifty (1842); instituted the full endowment ceremony in the second story of his “red brick store” (1842); became mayor of Nauvoo (1842); dictated the revelation on plural marriage (1843); and became a U.S. presidential candidate: “When I get hold of the Eastern papers, and see how popular I am, I am afraid myself that I shall be elected” (1844).
[p.293 photo: no caption]
[p.292]“Strong and Active”
Joseph Smith was six feet tall and weighed two hundred pounds. Parley P. Pratt described him as “tall and well built, strong and active, of light complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very little beard, and of an expression peculiar to himself, on which the eye naturally rested with interest and was never weary of beholding. His countenance was ever mild, affable, beaming with intelligence and benevolence; mingled with a look of interest and an unconscious smile, or cheerfulness, and entirely free from all restraint or affectation of gravity; and there was something connected with the serene and steady penetrating glance of his eye, as if he would penetrate the deepest abyss of the human heart, gaze into eternity, penetrate the heavens and comprehend all worlds.”
Aroet Hale, a Nauvoo acquaintance, wrote, “Joseph was always goodnatured and full of fun. I have seen him [p.293]sit down on the carpet in his office in the Mansion and pull sticks with the Nauvoo Police. … The Prophet would … pull the stoutest man up with one hand.”
1844. During his last days the Prophet reported a revelation which instructed him to leave Nauvoo and promised his [p.294]life would be preserved. He planned a trip to Washington, D.C., to seek federal aid for the Saints. But nervous followers in Nauvoo accused him of cowardice, begging him to return to Nauvoo from his haven across the Mississippi. Despite the revelation, he returned, declaring shortly before his death, “I have heard to [sic] the brethren, & gone to Carthage contrary to the council of the spirit & I am now no more than another man.”
Submitting to arrest for ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, Joseph Smith was incarcerated in Carthage Jail. On the morning of June 27, he wrote Emma, “I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends.”
He was shot to death that evening, at the age of thirty-nine, by a mob which stormed the jail.
Two years before his death, Joseph had built a family tomb near the Nauvoo Temple. He wanted the tomb to be called the tomb of Joseph, a descendant of Jacob. “And when I die,” he said, “let me be gathered to the tomb of my Father.” Emma, fearful the bodies would be disinterred by enemies, secretly buried the brothers in the unfinished basement of the Nauvoo House. They were later moved across the street behind the Smith family homestead.
Brodie, Fawn M. No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet. 2nd ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971.
Conkling, Christopher. A Joseph Smith Chronology,. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1979.
Hill, Donna. Joseph Smith: The First Mormon. Garden City: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1977.
History of the Church, 2:170; 6:116, 244, 366, 605; 7:107.
Journal of Discourses, 2:213.
Matthews, Robert J. Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975.
Millennial Star, 26:834.
[p.434]Pratt, Parley P., Jr., ed. Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1966.
Quinn, D. Michael. “The Council of Fifty and Its Members: 1844 to 1945.” Brigham Young University Studies 20 (Winter 1980):163-197.
_____. “Joseph Smith III’s 1844 Blessing and the Mormons of Utah.” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 1 (1981):12-27.
_____. “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles.” Brigham Young University Studies 19 (Fall 1978):79-105.
Saints’ Herald, 26:289.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Aroet L. Hale Journal.
______. Joseph Smith, Jr., Papers.
1838. November 13: Born Joseph Fielding Smith at Far West, Missouri, to Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding. He was a stepson of Heber C. Kimball, nephew of Joseph Smith, and half-brother of Church Patriarch John Smith.
Joseph F. Smith married Levira Annette Clark Smith April 5, 1859, and later Julina Lambson, niece of George A. Smith (1866); Sarah Ellen Richards, daughter of Willard Richards (1868); Edna Lambson (1871); Alice Ann Kimball, daughter of Heber C. Kimball (1883); and Mary Taylor Schwartz, niece of John Taylor (1884). He had forty-eight children, including five adopted children.
His father was in the Richmond, Missouri, jail when Joseph F. was born. As a mob ransacked their Far West home looking for papers, a mattress was thrown over the infant and he nearly suffocated. Young Joseph was not seen by his father until several months later, when Hyrum was transferred to Liberty Jail.
1844. June 27: When Joseph F. was five years old, he heard a man knock on his mother’s window and announce that his father had been killed. Memories of his grieving mother’s moans remained with him throughout his life.
1848. When he was nine, Joseph F. drove a team of oxen from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving in September. From 1846 to 1854 he was a “teamster, herd boy, plowboy, irrigator, harvester, with ‘scythe or cradle,’ operator of a fanning mill, logger, and ‘general roustabout’— and always penniless.”
Orphaned in 1852, Joseph F. was persuaded by his surrogate father, George A. Smith, to attend school in Sugarhouse. When the teacher tried to “put the strap” to Joseph F.’s younger sister, the hot-tempered youth intervened. The teacher turned on Joseph F., but “instead of him whipping me, I licked him good and plenty.”
1854. Expelled from school, Joseph F. was sent on a mission to the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii) at fifteen years of age. The [p.297]mission had been opened in 1850 and under George Q. Cannon had experienced phenomenal growth.
Smith, who remained in Hawaii for four years, learned the language in three months. Receiving no support from home, he lived in poverty with the natives. For weeks the missionaries had little to eat, and for a while Smith and his companion had only one suit of clothes between them; one stayed home while the other wore the suit to meetings.
Joseph F. Smith served three missions to England (1860-1863, and, as president of the European Mission, 1874-1875 and 1877), a second mission to Hawaii (1864), and a historical research mission to the Eastern States with Orson Pratt (1878).
Husband and Father
1858. Returning from Hawaii, Joseph F. served briefly in the militia called out to oppose the federal Expeditionary Force. He courted his sixteen-year-old cousin, Levira Annette Clark Smith, daughter of Samuel Smith. “I am aware that our acquaintance has been short,” he wrote. “To you, I do not know how pleasant. But allow me to say that since I saw you first, the admiration and respect I first conceived for you have daily grown, till they have changed to something stronger and more fervent.” They were married April 5, 1859. He served briefly on the Salt Lake Stake High Council, then left on a mission to England in April, 1860.
Joseph F. was absent on missions nearly five of their first six years of married life. He wrote often, sometimes bouyantly: “Wake up snakes! and come to Judgment! for Mormonism is destined to rule the warts!” sometimes good-naturedly: “What would you think of me for a rational sensible ‘Lord’ and husband if my every sentence was “‘Sugar, Honey, Cherub, Duckey, Darling, Precious, and Bewildering Beauty.’ Bah! Soft-soap, vinegar, crab- apple, and sauerkraut.”
But his letters failed to console his depressed, childless, impoverished wife. The news that he had adopted a four-year-old boy without consulting her did little to improve their relationship. By the time he returned in the [p.298]fall of 1863, she was suffering from a nervous breakdown. Joseph F. remained with her constantly for six weeks, occasionally restraining her physically.
In January, 1864, he left on another mission to Hawaii. Levira sought medical treatment in San Francisco, where relatives cared for her. When Joseph returned in November, they fought often.
1866. May 5: After a brief acquaintance, Joseph F. Smith married seventeen-year-old Julina Lambson, who had been living with her uncle George A. Smith while Joseph F. worked for him in the Church historian’s office.
1867. June 10: Levira and Julina apparently got along well personally, but Levira ultimately could not accept plural marriage. After a separation of eight months she obtained permission from Brigham Young to have their marriage dissolved. Levira asked Joseph F.’s permission to keep one letter and picture of him: “They will awaken saddest, sweetest, memories of the past tho the life history of one of earth’s poor daughters had been burned to ashes. And why? Because one of earth’s brave and noble sons could not appreciate or stoop to the musings of a gentle girlish heart.”
In 1868 Levira obtained a divorce in California, charging that her husband had “been guilty of the crime of Adultery with several different women.” Joseph F. Smith was the last divorced president of the Church.
He did not hesitate to scold his wives or children for violating his standards. After one Christmas, he wrote to his wife Edna, accusing her of being extravagant with the children’s girls. She fired back his letter with a post-scripted note: “How kind, how loving! This is from your heart and it has sunk deep in mine. But it is cruel and unjust. How can I be so horribly extravagant on $25 per month?”
Hugh B. Brown recalled Joseph F. Smith as “a very rugged man who had been raised in the school of hard knocks. … In some ways Joseph F. Smith seemed to me to be the man that I would like to have for my father, but I know if I had, that his severe discipline would have been hard on me.” But Joseph Fielding Smith recalled his father as “the most tenderhearted man I ever knew.”
[p.299]Counselor to Four Prophets
1866. July 1: Following the regular Sunday prayer circle of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, Brigham Young suddenly said, “Hold on. Shall I do as I feel led? I always feel well to do as the spirit constrains me. It is my mind to ordain bro. Joseph F. Smith to the Apostleship, and to be one of my Councilors.”
Though an apostle, Joseph F. Smith was not admitted to the Quorum of the Twelve until 1867, replacing Amasa Lyman. Knowledge of the secret ordination was kept even from Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young’s first counselor—and Joseph F. Smith’s stepfather.
Joseph F. Smith served in the First Presidency for thirty-eight years, longer than any other man. He was counselor to Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.
Between 1884 and 1891 President Smith spent five years in exile to escape arrest for polygamy. Most of the time was spent in Hawaii. To his wife Sarah he wrote, “I cannot see the use of mothers with whole flocks of little helpless children being driven about the country for fear of a mob of deputy marshals. If they call on you, my darling, to go before the Grand inquisition or court—I want you, and I mean it too, to tell the God damned fiends that you are my wife now and forever, and they may help themselves.”
1867. January 25: Admitted to the Council of Fifty.
Joseph F. Smith served as Salt Lake City councilman (1866-84), Provo City councilman (1868-69), Utah territorial legislator (1865-74, 1880-82), and member of the Utah Constitutional Convention (1882). According to the 1882 Edmunds Act he should have been disqualified from holding public office because of his plural marriages, but he continued to maintain a low profile as Salt Lake City councilman for two more years.
[p.300]Although most Utah Mormons in the 1860s were sympathetic to the Democratic Party, Joseph F. Smith voted for Republican Abraham Lincoln in 1864. When the Church disbanded its People’s Party in 1891 and urged the Saints to join either of the two national parties, Smith declared himself a Republican. For the next twenty-eight years he ardently defended Republican causes and candidates, put administrative hobbles on Democratic general authorities, and urged Latter-day Saints to vote straight Republican.
Sixth President of the Church
1901. October 17: Set apart as president of the Church, with John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund as counselors.
Joseph F. Smith was the first president born in the Church, the only president, excepting Joseph Smith, not previously sustained as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and the only president to have a son who also became president of the Church.
In addition to serving as Church president, he also became general superintendent of the Deseret Sunday School Union, a position he held until his death. Church auxiliaries under his leadership established the Improvement Era, the Children’s Friend, and the Relief Society Magazine.
Thanks largely to the efforts of his predecessor, Lorenzo Snow, the Church’s heavy financial debts were paid by 1906. The new solvency paved the way for an expanded Church building program including construction of the Church Administration Building and Hawaii and Alberta temples. Historic sites were purchased, including Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Vermont, the Smith home and Sacred Grove near Palmyra, New York, the Carthage Jail in Illinois, and twenty-five acres near the temple site in Independence, Missouri.
1904. March: President Smith became the first Church president to appear before the U.S. Senate when he was subpoenaed to testify at the Reed Smoot hearings. [p.301]Although he had apparently sanctioned and even performed plural marriages after the 1890 Manifesto, Joseph F. Smith accepted responsibility only for his personal violations of Church and legal decrees against polygamous cohabitation since 1890. He denied authorizing, performing, or even knowing about any plural marriages contracted after 1890.
April 6: President Smith issued an edict commonly called the “Second Manifesto,” which defined the Wilford Woodruff Manifesto as having abolished plural marriage worldwide, not just in countries where it was illegal. Excommunication proceedings were initiated several years later, under the auspices of the Quorum of the Twelve, against Latter-day Saints who had entered polygamy after 1904, but Joseph F. Smith firmly resisted Reed Smoot’s persistent urgings to prosecute those who had entered the system prior to 1904.
1911. April 11: Replying to Senator Reed Smoot’s urgent appeal for an official statement on post-Manifesto polygamy, President Smith wired: “If the President inquire about new polygamy, tell him the truth, tell him that Prest. Cannon was the first to conceive the idea that the Church could consistently countenance polygamy beyond confines of the republic where there was no law against it, and consequently he authorized the solemnization of plural marriages in Mexico and Canada after manifesto of 1890, and the men occupying presiding positions who became polygamists since the manifesto married in good faith under those circumstances. This being the case could we consistently be expected to humiliate them by releasing them?”
1918. October: Six weeks before his death, Joseph F. Smith experienced a “vision on salvation of the dead and visit of the Savior to the Spirit World,” which was added to the Pearl of Great Price in 1976 and became section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants in 1981.
1918. November 19: Died of pneumonia at 175 East South Temple in Salt Lake City. Due to the dangers of public gatherings during the national influenza epidemic, no public funeral was held. Buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
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Arrington, Leonard J.; Esplin, Ron; and Rigby, Christine. “Joseph F. Smith: From Impulsive Young Man to Patriarchal Prophet.” Address presented at the Joseph Smith Family Reunion, 1975.
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Jorgensen, Victor W., and Hardy, B. Carmon. “The Taylor-Cowley Affair and the Watershed of Mormon History.” Utah Historical Quarterly 48 (Winter 1980):4-36.
Nibley, Preston. The Presidents of the Church. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1971.
Quinn, D. Michael. “Organizational Development and Social Origins of the Mormon Hierarchy, 1832-1932: A Prosopographical Study.” Master’s thesis, University of Utah, 1973.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Hyrum Smith Papers.
____. Joseph F. Smith Papers.
Salt Lake City, Utah. University of Utah. J. Willard Marriott Library. Joseph Fielding Smith Family Papers.
San Francisco, California. Fourth District Court, Case 14685, Levira A. Smith vs. Joseph F. Smith.
Smith, Joseph F. “Christmas and New Year.” Improvement Era, January 1919, pp. 266-267.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Life of Joseph F. Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1938.
1876. July 19: Born Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., in Salt Lake City to Julina Lambson and future Church President Joseph F. Smith. He was the grand-nephew of Joseph Smith, grandson of Church Patriarch Hyrum Smith, nephew of Church Patriarch John Smith, brother of Apostle Hyrum Mack Smith, and father-in-law of Apostle Bruce R. McConkie.
Until his father’s death Joseph Fielding signed his name, “Joseph F. Smith, Jr.”; after Joseph F.’s death, he signed, “Joseph Fielding Smith.”
In 1898 he married Louie E. Shurtliff. Eight months after her death in 1908, he married Ethel G. Reynolds. Eight months after her death in 1938, he married Jessie Ella Evans. He was the father of eleven children.
Historian and Scriptorian
1901. Following a two-year mission to Great Britain, he became a clerk in the Church historian’s office. He was to work in various capacities in this office, including assistant Church historian (1906) and historian (1921), for the next sixty-nine years.
In 1908 he became director and librarian of the Church Genealogical Society, and in 1934 was named president of the organization.
“From the time I first could read,” he recalled, “I have received more pleasure and greater satisfaction out of the study of the scriptures, and reading of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the work that has been accomplished for the salvation of men, than from anything else in all the world.”
He wrote twenty-five books, including Blood Atonement and Plural Marriage, Essentials in Church History,Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (three volumes), Answers to Gospel Questions (five volumes), and Man: His Origin and Destiny.
1910. Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by his father, President Joseph F. Smith, after the death of John R. Winder. The calling fulfilled an 1896 patriarchal blessing: “It is thy privilege to live to a good old age and the will of the Lord that you should become a mighty man in Israel. … It shall be thy duty to sit in counsel with thy brethren and to preside among the people.”
In 1945 he was called as president of the Salt Lake Temple, and in 1951, at the age of seventy-four, became president of the Quorum. In 1965, at the age of eighty-nine, he was named a counselor to David O. McKay in the First Presidency.
Advocate of Righteousness
President Smith often spoke and wrote fervently against the evils which Church members should avoid: “We should be on guard always to resist Satan’s advances. He will appear to us in the person of a friend or a relative in whom we have confidence. He has power to place in our minds and whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.”
He was often viewed as a “stern and unbending judge of righteousness,” as suggested by his views on capital punishment: “There is a growing notion in the world today that it is adding a crime to a crime to take the life of those who deliberately murder. … There are sins which cannot be forgiven, except by the guilty person paying a price by the shedding of his blood. Capital punishment was to benefit the guilty to obtain a better resurrection when the sin had been one unto death.”
Despite a stern public manner, his family remember him as a loving husband and father. His wife Ethel, mother of nine of his eleven children, wrote, “I have often thought that when he is gone people will say, ‘He is a very good man, sincere, orthodox, etc.’ They will speak of him as the public knows him; but the man I know is a kind, loving husband and father whose greatest ambition in life is to make his family happy, entirely forgetful of self in his [p.306]efforts to do this. He is the man that lulls to sleep the fretful child, who tells bedtime stories to the little ones, who is never too tired or too busy to sit up late at night or to get up early in the morning to help the older children solve perplexing school problems. When illness comes, the man I know watches tenderly over the afflicted one and waits upon him. It is their father for whom they cry, feeling his presence a panacea that gives courage to the sufferer, his voice that remonstrates with them gently when they do err, until it becomes their happiness to do the thing that will make him happy.”
Joseph Fielding Smith refused to waste time, and instilled the same discipline in his children. His son remembered, “Somehow it seemed immoral to lie in bed after six. Of course, I only tried it once. Father saw to that.”
Physical punishment was not his method of discipline. His children remember him putting both hands on their shoulders, looking down into their eyes, and saying, “I wish my kiddies would be good.”
President Smith’s low-key humor delighted those who knew him well. Scolded by one of his sisters for never taking a day off, he quipped, “All my days are off.” The [p.307]sister advised, “Now I want you to go home and take a nap. George Albert Smith, Stephen L. Richards, and J. Reuben Clark always did, so you can too.” “Yes,” President Smith replied, “and where are they today? All dead!”
Relating a boyhood incident when his father had purchased a fine riding horse from George Q. Cannon, President Smith said, “She was so smart she learned how to unlock one kind of corral fastener after another that I contrived, until Father said to me, half humorously, that Juney seemed to be smarter than I was. So Father himself fastened her in with a strap and buckle. As he did so, the mare eyed him coolly; and, as soon as our backs were turned, she set to work with her teeth until she actually undid the buckle and followed us out, somewhat to my delight. I could not refrain from suggesting to Father that I was not the only one whose head compared unfavorably with the mare’s.”
Joseph Fielding Smith often took his sons to the Deseret Gymnasium, where, “with one hand—either hand, he gave us our choice—behind him he would beat the socks off us playing handball.” He also enjoyed flying, a privilege of his position as honorary brigadier general of the Utah National Guard.
Tenth President of the Church
1970. At the age of ninety-four Joseph Fielding Smith became the oldest man ever set apart as president of the Church. He succeeded David O. McKay and selected Harold B. Lee and N. Eldon Tanner as counselors. President Smith and his father, Joseph F. Smith, are the only father and son to become presidents of the Church.
[p.306 photo: Joseph Fielding Smieth and wife Jessie]
[p.307]During his administration the Improvement Era, Relief Society Magazine, and Children’s Friend, all of which had been initiated during his father’s administration, were replaced by the Ensign, the Friend, and the New Era (1970). He directed the Church’s first area general conference (Manchester, England, 1971), reorganized the Church Educational System, and formed the Health Services Department. In 1972 he dedicated the Provo and Ogden temples.
[p.308]During his life he delivered more than 125 general conference talks, and participated in over five thousand stake conferences. He loved music, often singing duets with his opera star wife, Jessie. He wrote the lyrics to several songs, including “The Best Is Not Too Good for Me,” “Come, Come, My Brother, Wake! … “Does the Journey Seem Long?” and “We are Watchmen of the Tower of Zion.”
1972. July 2: Died in Salt Lake City two weeks short of his ninety-sixth birthday; buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Conference Reports, April 1930.
Heslop, J. M., and Van Orden, Dell R. Joseph Fielding Smith: A Prophet Among the People. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1971.
Hinckley, Bryant S. “Joseph Fielding Smith.” Improvement Era, June 1932.
McConkie, Joseph F. True and Faithful. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971.
Nibley, Preston. The Presidents of the Church. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1971.
[p.435]Smith, Joseph Fielding, Jr., and Stewart, John J. The Life of Joseph Fielding Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1972.
West, Emerson R. Profiles of the Presidents. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1973.
1776. July 8: Born in Gilsum, New Hampshire. In 1796 she married Joseph Smith; they had eleven children: Alvin (1798-1823), Hyrum (1800-1844), Sophronia (1803-?), Joseph (1805-1844), Samuel Harrison (1808-1844), Ephraim (1810-1810), William (1811-1894), Catherine (1812-1900), Don Carlos (1816-1841), and Lucy (1824-1882). Their first child, an unnamed daughter, died shortly after birth in 1797.
Lucy Smith was the matriarch of a Church patriarchy. Her son Joseph published the Book of Mormon and became the Church’s founding Prophet in 1830. Her husband, Joseph, Sr., one of the Eight Witnesses, became Church patriarch in 1833 and assistant president in 1834. Hyrum, one of the Eight Witnesses, became assistant president in 1834, second counselor in 1837, Church patriarch in 1840, and associate president in 1841. Samuel H.—another of the Eight Witnesses—became a member of the Church’s first high council in 1834, William became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1835, and Don Carlos became president of the central high priests quorum of the Church in 1836.
Near death from consumption during adolescence, she promised to serve God if her life were spared, then heard a voice proclaim, “Let your heart be comforted; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Recovering rapidly, she sought out a “minister who was willing to baptize me, and leave me free in regard to joining any religious denomination, I stepped forward and yielded obedience to this ordinance; after which I continued to read the Bible as formerly.”
1803. Shortly after opening a store in Randolph, Vermont, the Smiths lost everything in a ginseng root venture. They drifted from Randolph to Royalton, to Sharon, to Tunbridge, and back to Royalton.
[p.311]1811. The family moved to Lebanon, New Hampshire, where several of the children contracted typhus. Sophronia nearly died. Complications threatened young Joseph’s leg; an operation—without anesthesia—left him with a permanent limp.
1816. Three consecutive crop failures forced the Smiths from Vermont. Joseph, Sr., went ahead to Palmyra, New York; Lucy and the eight children arrived later—with “barely two cents in cash.” In Palmyra she earned money painting oilcloth coverings for tables and stands.
1823. November 19: Alvin, the eldest son, died of a physician’s overdose of calomel. Shortly thereafter the family lost their farm.
1830. April 6: Lucy was baptized the day the Church was organized. One year later she led a company of eighty Saints down the Erie Canal to Kirtland, Ohio. After nearly seven years in Kirtland, the Smiths moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, then to Nauvoo, Illinois.
In Nauvoo her house was often filled with needy Saints. “Many of the sick owed the preservation of their lives to her motherly care, attention and skill in nursing them, which she did without pecuniary consideration and the extent of which can only be appreciated by those who are personally acquainted with the dreadful scenes of sickness and distress, in consequence of the Missouri expulsion.”
1840. September 14: Shortly before he died, Joseph, Sr., said, “Mother, do you not know, that you are one of the most singular women in the world… ? You have brought up all my children, and could always comfort them when I [p.312]could not. We have often wished that we might both die at the same time, but you must not desire to die when I do, for you must stay to comfort the children when I am gone. Do not mourn, but try to be comforted. Your last days shall be your best days.” Within four years Lucy Smith also lost four sons—Don Carlos, Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel.
After her husband died, Lucy moved into the Mansion House with Joseph and Emma. To provide income, a small museum was established under her care in a lower room. Josiah Quincy, one-time mayor of Boston, wrote of an 1844 tour of the mansion with Joseph Smith, who introduced Mother Smith: “This is my mother, gentlemen. The curiosities we shall see belong to her. They were purchased with her own money at the cost of six thousand dollars.” After disclosing four mummies, Joseph closed the cabinet with, “Gentlemen, those who see these curiosities generally pay my mother a quarter of a dollar.”
Lucy Mack Smith received her endowment in 1843, and participated in the Holy Order prayer circle in 1843-44. After the deaths of Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel in 1844, she briefly urged that her last surviving son, William, be named Church president. But in October, 1845, she publicly endorsed Brigham Young, and participated in the opening of the Nauvoo Temple two months later.
Mother Smith did not go west, choosing instead to remain in Nauvoo with her family. She felt wronged by Church trustees-in-trust Almon W. Babbitt, Joseph L. Heywood, and John S. Fullmer, who refused her Church financial assistance because of her allegiance to her ex-apostle son, William: “You restrict my conscience,” she wrote them, “put limits to my affections, threaten me with poverty, if I do not drive my children from my doors because they resent insultance and abuse that has been heaped upon them without measure.”
1845. Lucy wrote Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and his Progenitors for Many Generations, with the assistance of Howard and Martha Coray. It was published in England by Orson Pratt in 1853 and came under immediate attack from the First Presidency, who declared it “utterly unreliable as a history, as it contains many falsehoods.” They recommended that “every one in the Church, male and female, if they have such a book … dispose of it so that it will never be read by any person again.”
In retrospect, the errors in the book seem less glaring than the criticism suggests. Mother Smith did, however, treat her excommunicated son William favorably. “He is my son,” she told Church agents, “and he has rights. As to the Twelve you say they have rights, but who shall decide between them. Are you the judge?”
Lucy Smith lived in Nauvoo with daughter Lucy Milliken until the last two years of her life, when she moved into the Nauvoo home of daughter-in-law Emma Smith Bidamon.
1856. May 5: Died in Nauvoo at age seventy-nine. She remained active to the end, reading the smallest print without glasses. Buried near her husband behind the Smith family homestead in Nauvoo.
Barrett, Ivan J. Heroines of the Church. Provo, Utah: Extension Publications Division of Continuing Education, Brigham Young University, 1966.
Bergera, Gary James. “The Orson Pratt-Brigham Young Controversy: Conflict within the Quorums, 1853 to 1868.” Dialogue 13 (Summer 1980):7-49.
Clark, James R., ed. Messages of the First Presidency of the Church. 6 vols. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956-1975.
History of the Church, 7:471, 519.
Quinn, D. Michael. “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles.” Brigham Young University Studies 19 (Fall 1978):79-105.
_____. “The Mormon Succession Crisis of 1844.” Brigham Young University Studies 16 (Winter 1976):187-233.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Brigham Young Papers.
Smith, Lucy Mack. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Liverpool/London: Published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards, 1853.
1862. January 10: Born in Salt Lake City to Anna Kristina Morrison and Mayor Abraham Owen Smoot. In 1872 the Smoots moved to Provo.
1876. At fourteen, he was one of the original twenty-nine students to enroll in the Brigham Young Academy. During summer vacations, he worked in the Church-owned Provo Woolen Mills, which were superintended by his father. After graduation Reed worked in the Provo Cooperative Institution, the first Church co-op organized by Brigham Young. The seventeen-year-old boy started on the bottom rung of the ladder, sacking fruit, sorting potatoes, and doing odd jobs. Eighteen months later he became superintendent.
1884. Called by President John Taylor to superintend the Provo Woolen Mills. September 17: Married Alpha M. Eldredge, daughter of Horace S. Eldredge, a member of the First Council of Seventy. She died in 1928, and he married Alice Taylor Sheets in 1930. He was the father of six children.
Smoot’s 1880 mission call was rescinded because of his responsibilities with the Provo Co-op. His 1884 call was rescinded when he became superintendent of Provo Woolen Mills.
1890. After five years as second counselor in Provo’s Utah Stake, he was called on a mission to Liverpool, England, where he worked in the mission office under President Brigham Young, Jr. He returned to Provo in 1891 to resume management of the woolen mills when his father was taken seriously ill.
Smoot eventually managed Provo Lumber Manufacturing and Building, served as president of Provo Commercial [p.316]and Savings Bank and vice-president of Grant Central Mining, and was a director of Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad.
1900. April 8: Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by Lorenzo Snow after the death of Franklin D. Richards.
United States Senator
Smoot’s first political appointment was as director of the Utah Territorial Insane Asylum in Provo (1884). After 1890 the First Presidency encouraged only Republican general authorities to seek political office. Democrats Moses Thatcher and B. H. Roberts were censored in 1896 for not clearing their political plans with Church leaders.
1901. November 8: The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve considered Republican Smoot’s desire to run for the U.S. Senate. According to Anthon H. Lund, “Bro [Lorenzo] Snow said he hoped to live to see us send an apostle there.” But advised by President McKinley, Mark Hannah, and Archbishop Ireland that “it would not be wise to let a Mormon go to the senate this year,” the Twelve and First Presidency decided to postpone Smoot’s bid.
1902. With the approval of the First Presidency and Twelve, Smoot announced his candidacy for the Senate. Immediately the Salt Lake Ministerial Association objected that an apostle in Congress would violate the principle of separation of church and state.
1903. Smoot was the choice of an overwhelming majority of voters, but by the time he reached Washington a national campaign had formed against him. The Senate Committee on Privileges spent more than thirty months investigating charges that he belonged to a “self-perpetuating fifteen- member ruling body that controlled Utah’s elections and economy… [which was] secretly continuing to preach [p.317]and permit plural marriages” and that he had taken “a secret pledge of disloyalty to the American government.”
After obtaining nearly four thousand pages of testimony from witnesses including President Joseph F. Smith and several apostles, the committee recommended Smoot’s expulsion. But the full Senate, influenced by President Roosevelt, refused the recommendation: Smoot retained his seat.
During his thirty years in the Senate, Smoot came to be recognized as “the most influential figure in Utah’s political history.” A hard-working conservative, with “little political glamour,” he was “no orator. He shunned the peccadilloes of his fellows; he staged no rebellions; he coined no phrases, he offered no intriguing new ideas. He merely worked without stint or respite and continued to win elections.”
1908. Smoot won a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee—the “watchdog of the Treasury”—serving as its chairman during the Depression.
1909. Prohibition was the burning issue in Utah. Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, and David O. McKay urged Utah communities to eliminate liquor. Smoot, who supported the local option, helped defeat statewide prohibition. As the only apostle opposing prohibition, he was strongly criticized by constituents.
Smoot complained that Heber J. Grant had publicly referred to him as “his royal nibs.” The Senator vehemently declared that no man “ever saw me take a drink of liquor in a saloon or anywhere else,” and offered to resign his apostleship. President Joseph F. Smith soothed Smoot’s feelings, assuring him “that his personal course was understood and approved, but would not be publicly supported.” President Smith advised Smoot to “be patient and understanding with his more rabid brethren.”
1919. Despite the support of the First Presidency and nearly all of the Twelve for the League of Nations, Smoot remained loyal to the Republican opposition. An unabashed partisan, Smoot declared, “I am for the Republican ticket wherever put up, whether in Provo, Salt Lake, Montana or anywhere. Whenever my advice is asked [p.318]I always advise Republicans to stand by their entire ticket.”
He attained national prominence in 1930 by co-sponsoring the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, imposing record high duties on imported raw materials, including sugar. The Church was the largest stockholder in the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, and many Utah farmers depended on the sugar beet crop.
Republican President Taft declared Smoot “the most valuable man in the U.S. Senate.” Republican President Hoover said that Reed Smoot “had acquired a knowledge of the working of the United States government unparalleled by any other man in the country.”
Utah Democratic party chief James H. Moyle said, “I would not praise him for what he has done. I have followed up the praise and all the publicity regarding him and find that it comes from the selfish interests. Mr. Smoot has worked and is working, and has been and is for, the wealthy interests.”
1932. A Democratic landslide swept Smoot from office by a plurality of 30,843 votes. Deeply hurt, he wrote, “Everywhere I go people ask me, ‘What is the matter of Utah?’ They can’t understand the election results and nearly all remark that Utah will never again hold the position in our country that she does at the present time.”
Before he joined the Quorum of the Twelve, Reed Smoot was widely considered to be a lackluster Saint, whose call to a stake presidency was due more to his administrative ability than to his religious devotion. He was loyal to his Mormon heritage and accepted his apostolic calling with resignation, but seemed embarrassed by much in Mormonism. Defending his dual role as Senator and apostle, he startled many Mormons by testifying that he had always been a semi-active Latter-day Saint, that he did not care much for the temple endowment, and that he ignored First Presidency instructions on political matters.
Even after the Senate certified his election, Smoot remained aloof from Church activity, aside from brief [p.319]vacations in Utah. As the presiding authority in Washington, D.C., Apostle Smoot attended only evening sacrament meetings, working and relaxing during the day. It was not until his political defeat in 1932 that he devoted his full energies to his apostleship.
1941. February 9: The seventy-nine-year-old “apostle of economy” died in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was buried in the Provo City Cemetery.
Allen, James B. “The Great Protectionist, Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah.” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (Fall 1977):325-345.
_____. “Personal Faith and Public Policy: Some Timely Observations on the League of Nations Controversy in Utah.” Brigham Young University Studies 14 (Autumn 1973):77-98.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saints’ Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Company, 1901-1936.
Merrill, Milton R. “Reed Smoot: Apostle in Politics.” Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1951.
_____. Reed Smoot: Utah Politician. Logan, Utah: Utah State Agricultural College Monograph Series, 1953.
Pardoe, T. Earl. The Sons of Brigham. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1969.
Provo, Utah. Brigham Young University. Harold B. Lee Library. Reed Smoot Journals.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Anthon H. Lund Journal.
Shipps, Jan. “The Public Image of Reed Smoot: 1902-1932.” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (Fall 1977):380-400.
1804. January 21: Born Eliza Roxcy Snow in Becket, Massachusetts. The family later moved to Ohio. She was the older sister of future apostle Lorenzo Snow and a distant cousin of Erastus Snow.
1828. Eliza joined the Campbellites after studying with Sidney Rigdon and Walter Scott in Ohio.
1835. The night after her baptism as a Latter-day Saint, “as I was reflecting on the wonderful events transpiring around me, I felt an indescribable, tangible sensation … commencing at my head and enveloping my person and passing off at my feet, producing inexpressible happiness. Immediately following, I saw a beautiful candle with an unusual long, bright blaze directly over my feet. I sought to know the interpretation, and received the following, ‘The lamp of intelligence shall be lighted over your path.'”
Eliza Snow taught Joseph Smith’s children and boarded with the family in Kirtland and Nauvoo.
1838. When the Snow family moved to Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Missouri, the thirty-one-year-old teacher became friends with Zina Diantha Huntington (later Young). The two exercised the gift of tongues jointly throughout their lives—one would speak in tongues, the other interpret.
From Missouri through Nauvoo, the trek west, and well into the Utah period, Eliza R. Snow met often with other Mormon women to speak in tongues, bless each other, sing, and prophesy.
Many of Eliza’s prophecies did not come to pass. People she promised would see the redemption of Jackson County did not. People she prophesied would see the Savior’s face in the Independence Temple died. But Heber J. Grant related that when he was a young boy, she and Zina D. H. Young testified he would become an [p.322]apostle. Mary Ann Chadwick Hull was promised by Eliza that her unborn child would reach womanhood: the girl lived to the age of twenty.
Nauvoo Ladies Society
1842. March: Eliza R. Snow drew up the constitution for a benevolent society of women which met at Sarah Kimball’s home in Nauvoo. When they presented the plan to Joseph Smith, he told them that the Lord had something better for them under the organization of the priesthood. The Relief Society was formed the next week, and Eliza Snow was elected secretary.
Plural Wife to Prophets
1842. June 29: Eliza R. Snow became a plural wife of Joseph Smith, whom she described as “the choice of my heart, the crown of my life.” “The Prophet Joseph had taught me the principle of plural, or celestial marriage, and I was married to him for time and eternity. In consequence of the ignorance of most of the Saints, as well as the people of the world, on this subject, it was not mentioned only privately between the few whose minds were enlightened on the subject.”
1844. After the Prophet’s death, she became a plural wife of Brigham Young. Their relationship appears to have been platonic, she serving as a counselor, he as a provider. She always referred to him with nineteenth-century formality as “President Young”; he called her “Sister Snow.”
Brigham Young did not always heed Eliza’s counsel. On one occasion he gave his older daughters colorful sashes. When Phoebe Young laid her sash out on the bed while dressing for a dance, the ribbon disappeared. Confronted by President Young, Eliza replied, “I felt that you wouldn’t approve of anything so frivolous for your girls so I put it away.”
“Sister Eliza,” said her husband, “I gave the girls those ribbons, and I am judge of what is right and wrong for my girls to wear. Phoebe is to have her sash.”
1845. Called as Nauvoo Temple recorder by Brigham Young. In Salt Lake she directed the women’s section of the Endowment House on Temple Square.
Eliza R. Snow and other Mormon women often administered to sick women and children. Elmina A. Shepard Taylor recorded in her journal: “Being quite debilitated and sick from the effect of my heart, Sisters Eliza, Horne, Margaret Young, and B. Smith laid their hands on my head and Sister Snow blessed me and rebuked the disease and I was much improved from that very time.”
Their authority was confirmed by President Joseph F. Smith in 1914: “Women may indeed administer with consecrated oil, confirming rather than sealing the blessing, making no mention of authority. They may also continue the practice of washing and anointing women who are about to give birth.”
[p.324 photo: Board of Directors of the Deseret Hospital. Standing, L-R: Dr. Ellis R. Shipp, Bathsheba W. Smith, Elizabeth Howard, Dr. Romania Pratt Penrose. Center Row: Phebe Woodruff, Mary Isabella Horne, Eliza R. Snow, Zina D. H. Young, Marinda Hyde. Front Row: Jane Richards, Emmeline B. Wells]
[p.323]Relief Society “Presidentess”
1867. Called as the second president of the Church Relief Society. For the next twenty years she was, in effect, a counselor to Brigham Young on matters pertaining to women, often being introduced as “Presidentess.”
1869. Established the “Young Ladies’ Retrenchment Association” under Brigham Young’s supervision.
1872. Founded the Woman’s Exponent on suggestion of her niece, Louisa Greene.
1878. Organized the Primary Association at the suggestion of Aurelia Rogers.
1881. President of the board of directors of the Deseret Hospital Association.
Unlike many Mormon women of her time, Eliza R. Snow was not a feminist. Though she supported women’s right to vote, she did not play an active role in the suffrage movement. She believed that God’s order required “submission on the part of women.”
[p.324]She argued, “The Lord has placed the means in our hands, in the Gospel, whereby we can regain our lost position. But how? Can it be done by rising, as women are doing in the world, to clamor for our rights? No. … It was through disobedience that woman came into her present position, and it is only by honoring God in all the institutions he has revealed to us, that we can come out from under that curse, regain the position originally occupied by Eve, and attain to a fulness of exaltation in the presence of God.”
Eliza R. Snow wrote from a very early age. She published ten books, including two volumes of poetry which many [p.325]modern literary critics consider “superficial, maudlin, trite, and unimaginative.” To nineteenth-century Mormons, however, she was “Zion’s Poetess,” “Utah’s First Lady of Letters,” the respected author of such beloved Mormon hymns as “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” “Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses,” “Behold the Great Redeemer Die,” and “O, My Father,” which she wrote in Nauvoo after Joseph Smith’s death.
1887. December 5: Died at the Lion House in Salt Lake City; buried in Brigham Young’s private cemetery one block east of the Lion House. Shortly before her death, she penned her epitaph:
In friendship’s mem’ry let me live:
I know no selfish wish beside—
I ask no more; yet, O forgive
This impulse of instinctive pride.
The silent pulse of memory
That beats to the unuttered tone
Of tenderness, is more to me
Than the insignia of a stone.
Barrett, Ivan J. Heroines of the Church. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Extension Publications Division of Continuing Education, 1966.
Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach. “The Eliza Enigma: The Life and Legend of Eliza R. Snow.” Sister Saints. Edited by Vicky Burgess-Olson. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1978.
Clark, James R. Messages of the First Presidency. 6 vols. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1964-1974.
Life and Labors of Eliza R. Snow Smith, Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888.
[p.436]”Miss E. R. Snow’s Address to the Female Relief Societies of Weber County.” Millennial Star, 12 September 1871, p. 578.
Newell, Linda King. “A Gift Given, A Gift Taken: Washing, Anointing, and Blessing the Sick Among Mormon Women.” Sunstone 6 (September-October 1981):16-25.
Woman’s Exponent, August 1886, p. 37.
1818. November 9: Born Erastus Fairbanks Snow in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont. He was a distant cousin to Lorenzo and Eliza R. Snow. He was father-in-law to Apostles Anthony W. Ivins and Moses Thatcher, and to President Spencer W. Kimball’s maternal grandfather, Bishop Edwin D. Woolley.
He married Artimesia Beaman (or Beman), sister of Joseph Smith’s first plural wife, in 1837, and later married Minerva White (1844), Elizabeth Rebecca Ashby (1847), and Julia Josephine Spencer (1856). He fathered thirty-five children.
1832. Converted by Orson Pratt and Lyman Johnson, Erastus was baptized by his brother William. Two years later, at sixteen, Erastus and his uncle James Snow served a brief mission in Ohio.
1835. Ordained a seventy during the Kirtland School of Prophets, and endowed in the Kirtland Temple with 360 others: “Then we all, like as did Israel when they surrounded Jericho, with one united voice gave shout of Hosannah, Hosannah, Hosannah to God and the Lamb; Amen, Amen, Amen. When this was done the Holy Ghost was shed forth upon us; some received visions of the Judgments that were to be poured out upon this generation; some spoke in tongues, some interpreted; others prophesied; others saw Zion in her glory, and the angels came and worshipped with us, and some saw them, yea, even twelve legions of them, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof.”
Snow served missions in Pennsylvania (1836)—”I left Kirtland on foot and alone with a small valise containing a few Church works and a pair of socks, with five cents in my pocket”; Ohio (1837); Pennsylvania-Maryland (1836)—a crowd “combined against me to abuse me and after disturbing the meeting considerably, lay in wait for me as I was going home with one of the brethren about a quarter of a mile, and besmeared me with rotten eggs”; Penn-[p.328]sylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts (1841); and Denmark (1849), where he opened Scandanavia to missionary work.
1847. A member of the Council of Fifty, Snow went to Utah with the pioneer company. En route, Brigham Young chided him for failing to prevent company cattle from mixing with a buffalo herd: “It is a regular built dressing which I got from him this morning. … In attempting to exonerate myself from blame, I drew from him a severer chastisement; it is the first I have had since I have been in this Church, which is nearly fifteen years, and I hope it may last me fifteen years to come.”
July 21: Erastus Snow and Orson Pratt became the first Mormons to enter the Salt Lake Valley. “We involuntarily, both at the same instant, uttered a shout of joy at finding it to be the very place of our Destination and the Broad Bosom of the Salt Lake spreading itself before us.”
1849. February 12: Snow’s ordination filled the Quorum of the Twelve for the first time since Joseph Smith’s death. Heber J. Grant, who served in the Quorum with him, declared, “My ideal of an apostle was Erastus Snow. When I was called to be an apostle, I prayed that the same spirit of self-sacrifice might inspire me.”
Utah’s Iron Works
1852. Returning from a mission to Denmark, Snow stopped in England to organize and raise capital for Utah’s Deseret Iron Company. Plagued by poor coal, low grade iron ore, and the lack of railroad transportation, the southern Utah industry soon failed.
1854. Called to preside over the Saints in Saint Louis and to establish a Church periodical. In its November 22 prospectus the Luminary promised “Science, Religion, General Intelligence and news of the day. … To those who delight in the filth and slander of the age, whose natural cravings are only satisfied with those upheavings and excitements of society which terminate in blood, to all such appetites the Luminary will furnish no provender.”
Having endured his long absences without complaint, Snow’s first wife, Artimesia, wrote in 1855, “I … hope all will be well with you while absent from us, but I can hardly reconcile myself to the thought of your staying two years and a half. The time looks long very long. But if even this would suffice for a few years that you might be permitted to stay at home and take a little rest and enjoy each others society I would reconcile myself to that. But I have about made up my mind that nothing will suffice but go go til you get so old that you cannot go any longer. … As it seems to be my lot to almost always live alone I will try to be content therewith.” Artimesia died while he was on an exploring mission to Arizona in 1882.
1861. When the Civil War cut off the North’s supply of cotton, Brigham Young called Erastus Snow and Orson Pratt to preside over a “Cotton Mission” in the Rio Virgin and Santa Clara Valleys of southern Utah. The two apostles did not work well together.
According to Orson Pratt, Jr., “My father had not been down here long, when he found that there was a secret influence working against him. … The person would not come out like a man against him, but would keep himself in the dark and work against him like a snake in the grass. … He would even meet my wife in the dark and try to make her divide against me, by saying to her that ‘Your husband is not in the right way, he is in the dark.’ … I will tell you who it was. The individual is Erastus Snow.”
Snow presided over the Dixie Mission until his death twenty-seven years later.
1882. John Taylor called Snow to locate sites on both sides of the Mexican border where colonies could be established to conceal Mormon polygamists on the underground. Three years later he helped purchase Mexican land on which the Mormon colonies were built.
“The Late Erastus Snow”
Despite his busy schedule, Snow never pleaded the “excuse that he must hurry or he would be late for meeting; he listened patiently, then made his comments. … All this made him late for most of his meetings, whether business, civic, or church, and so earned the sobriquet, ‘the late Erastus Snow,’ which he carried all his life.”
This habit caused difficulties between him and the punctual Brigham Young. When a carriage accident delayed Snow’s arrival at a meeting in Cedar City, “Brigham Young was much annoyed, no doubt charging his tardiness to failure to start soon enough on the journey. ‘Erastus,’ he said crossly, ‘get up and preach the people to sleep.’ Apostle John Henry Smith, who was there, stated that Apostle Snow arose and ‘without reference to President Young’s unkind remark or his trouble with the buggy, delivered one of the most wonderful sermons he had ever heard in his life.'”
Elder Snow bore President Young’s tongue-lashings without complaint. But his son Edward H. Snow recalled that once in Saint George, his father checked his “rising resentment by walking the floor all night long, repeating to himself the scripture, ‘Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth.'”
Snow’s absentmindedness was so thorough that “he often removed meat or bread from the plate of the person seated on either side of him at the table, entirely unconscious … that he wasn’t helping himself from the main platter.”
1888. May 27: Died at sixty-nine of Bright’s disease (uremic poisoning) at his 217 Canyon Road home in Salt Lake City. Despite his desire to be buried in the red soil of Saint George, he was interred in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Larson, Andrew Karl. Erastus Snow: The Life of a Missionary and Pioneer for the Early Mormon Church. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1971.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Erastus Snow Journal.
Snow, Bess. “History of Levi and Lucina Streeter Snow Family.” Unpublished manuscript of Erastus Snow Family Organization.
1814. April 3: Born in Mantua, Ohio, a younger brother to Eliza R. Snow, and a distant cousin to future apostle Erastus Snow.
At age 30, married Harriet Amelia Squires and Charlotte Squires on the same day in October, 1844. He also simultaneously married Hannah and Mary Ann Goddard in 1845. Later wives were Sarah Ann Prichard (1845), Eleanor Houtz (1848), Caroline Horton (1853), Mary Elizabeth Houtz (1857), Phoebe Amelia Woodruff (1859), and Sarah Minnie Jenson (1871). His wife Hannah left him shortly after their marriage in 1845, though she did not divorce him until 1852. He had forty-two children.
As a youth Lorenzo was often “hid up with his book.” He was so fascinated by military tactics that his sister Eliza made him a military uniform: “My brother took as much pride [in it], if not of military pride, of self-satisfaction, as ever Napoleon.”
1831. At seventeen, Lorenzo heard Joseph Smith preach in Hiram, Ohio, and concluded that he “could hardly be a false prophet.” His mother and sister Leonora were baptized, but Lorenzo had no interest in Mormonism until after his first term at Oberlin College (Snow was the first Church president to attend college), when his recently-baptized sister Eliza urged him to come to Kirtland and study Hebrew under Joshua Seixas. Her real motive was to bring Lorenzo into contact with the Prophet. The strategy worked; Lorenzo was baptized in June, 1836.
1837. Sent alone on a local mission to Ohio, the first night he knocked on eight doors before finding lodging.
When Lorenzo spoke at a public meeting three days later, a man in the audience advised, “Now Elder Snow, I am a much older man than you. You are a young man, just [p.334]starting out, I see, to be a minister. I want to give you a little counsel. If you continue to talk as loud as you talked tonight, in six months you will be taken to the cemetery.” He “baptized a few, very few.”
He later served missions to Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri (1838); to England, where he presented a Book of Mormon to Queen Victoria (1840); and to Italy, where he translated the Book of Mormon into Italian and opened missionary work in Switzerland (1849). In 1864 he accompanied Joseph F. Smith and Ezra T. Benson to the Sandwich Isles (Hawaii), where he nearly drowned in a boating mishap.
While in England he felt inspired to compose the famous couplet, “As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become.” When he presented the idea to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, the Prophet confirmed it as true.
1838. In Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Missouri, “I took my gun with the intention of indulging in a little amusement in hunting turkeys. … It never occurred to my mind that it was wrong—that indulging in ‘what was sport to me was death to them’; that in shooting turkeys, squirrels, etc., I was taking life that I could not give; therefore I indulged in the murderous sport without the least compunction of conscience. …
“While moving slowly forward in pursuit of something to kill, my mind was arrested with the reflection on the nature of my pursuit—that of amusing myself by giving pain and death to harmless, innocent creatures that perhaps had as much right to life and enjoyment as myself. I realized that such indulgence was without any justification, and feeling condemned, I laid my gun on my shoulder, returned home, and from that time to this have felt no inclination for that murderous amusement.”
1849. February 12: Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Willard Richards.
[p.335]Founder of the Polysophical Society
1852. Lorenzo Snow organized the Polysophical Society at his Salt Lake home on 3rd East and South Temple: “Brother Lorenzo Snow has a select party which meets at his Hall once a week, to continue through the winter; social improvement and to cultivate a taste for literature and refinement the object. The Presidency and Twelve are honorary members, and seem to take pleasure in meeting with us. The New Alphabet [Deseret Alphabet] is there introduced under the supervision of Brother Watt, and diagrams designed to call forth the ability of Professor [Orson] Pratt.”
[p.337 photo not captioned]
[p.335]Patron Saint of Brigham City
1853. Called to relocate with fifty families to Brigham City, Utah. There he organized the Brigham City Mercantile and Manufacturing Association—perhaps the most successful United Order in the Church. The cooperative operated a woolen mill, a blacksmith shop, sawmills, and a tannery, manufacturing shoes, hats, cheese, wagons, and tin products. 1875 production was valued at $260,000.
1873. April 8: Sustained as a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency.
1885. November 20: Returning from a mission among Indian tribes in the Northwest, Snow was arrested for unlawful cohabitation. After a trial and unsuccessful appeals, the seventy-two-year-old leader was taken to the Utah Territorial Penitentiary on March 12, 1886.
Two Ogden physicians successfully petitioned that “in consideration of the advanced age of the bearer, Lorenzo Snow, and also of his unusually delicate condition, we the undersigned, take the liberty of stating that [p.336]we fear his health would be seriously jeopardized by depriving him of his hair and beard, as he has worn the latter 16 years on this account.” He was released on February 8, 1887, having served nine months.
“The Dead Shall Rise at Thy Bidding”
1891. An 1838 patriarchal blessing pronounced by Joseph Smith, Sr., had promised, “Thou shalt hav e… power to rend the [veil] and see Jesus Christ. … The dead shall rise and come forth at thy bidding. … Thou shalt have long life Thou shalt have long life … yet not be old; age shall not come upon thee.”
According to Brigham City’s young Ella Jensen, “On Sunday the first of March, 1891, I was taken severely ill with the scarlet fever, and suffered very much for a week. … I then bade my dear ones good-bye, and my spirit left my body. … I heard Apostle Lorenzo Snow administer to me, telling me that I must come back, as I had some work to do on the earth yet. I was loath to leave the heavenly place, but told my friends that I must leave them. … But for a long time afterwards I had a great desire to go back to the place of heavenly rest, where I dwelt so short a time.”
Witness of Christ
1898. September 2: Lorenzo Snow, who had been president of the Quorum of the Twelve for nine years and president of the Salt Lake Temple for five, was informed of the death of President Wilford Woodruff. He immediately went to the Salt Lake Temple, donned his robes, and began a long session of prayer in the Holy of Holies.
A granddaughter later related his account: “It was right here that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff. … He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though he stood on a plate of solid gold. … I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told [p.337]you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior, here in the temple, and talked with him face to face.”
Fifth President of the Church
1898. At the age of eighty-four, Lorenzo Snow became the fifth president of the Church, with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as counselors.
President Snow’s administration broadened the work of the general authorities. He felt that the brethren were spending too much time on local matters, and advised them “by the appointment of the Almighty … to look after the interests of the world.”
President Snow is perhaps best known for his success in relieving the Church’s heavy indebtedness. His 1899 retrenchment stopped borrowing for investments, consolidated debts in a million-dollar bond issue, sold controlling interest in many operations, and launched a major reemphasis on tithing. Though he did not live to see the Church debt-free, he was responsible for the financial undertakings which ultimately restored Church solvency.
[p.338]A South Carolina visitor, Reverend Prentis, described President Snow in 1898: “I had expected to find intellect, intellectuality, benevolence, dignity, composure and strength depicted upon the face of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; but when I was introduced to President Lorenzo Snow for a second I was startled to see the holiest face but one I had ever been privileged to look upon. His face was a poem of peace, his presence a benediction of peace. In the tranquil depths of his eyes were the ‘home of silent prayer’ and the abode of spiritual strength.”
1901. October 10: Last Church president to know Joseph Smith personally, Lorenzo Snow died of pneumonia at age eighty-seven in the Beehive House in Salt Lake City. Buried in the Brigham City Cemetery.
Arrington, Leonard J. Great Basin Kingdom. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1958.
Barrett, Ivan J. Heroines of the Church. Provo: Brigham Young University Extension Publications Division of Continuing Education, 1966.
Deseret News, 15 December 1899, 20 July 1901.
Improvement Era, June 1919.
Jenson, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Company, 1901-1936.
Romney, Thomas C. The Life of Lorenzo Snow. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1955.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Lorenzo Snow Diary. Smith, Eliza R. S.
1829. Born Fanny Warn in Saint Heliers, Jersey—an island in the English Channel. In 1843 she joined the Baptist church, and became the governess of a British family in France. She taught English and embroidery in a Saint Brieux school until forced to resign because she refused to convert to Catholicism.
She married T. B. H. Stenhouse February 6, 1850; they had ten children.
1849. At nineteen, Fanny returned to England and found that her family had joined the Mormon church. Two weeks later she was converted by her future husband, T. B. H. Stenhouse.
1850. Soon after their marriage, Elder Stenhouse was called as the first English missionary to Italy, with Lorenzo Snow as his companion. Three years later, Fanny finally rejoined her husband in Switzerland. His request for a release from his mission was granted in 1854.
1855. Arriving in New York on New Year’s Eve, T. B. H. Stenhouse found work in the offices of The Mormon; he later joined the staff of the New York Herald. The Stenhouses lived in New York for two years before emigrating to Salt Lake by handcart.
1860. In Salt Lake City Fanny Stenhouse acted in occasional theater productions and established herself as “Milliner, Dress and Cloak Maker, First House West of the Tabernacle.”
Opponent of Plural Marriage
1862. T.B.H. asked, “Are you not satisfied that it is right for me to take another wife?” Fanny replied, “I have never yet really doubted that the revelation was from God for I cannot believe that any man would be so blasphemous [p.341]and wicked as to set forth such a revelation in God’s name, unless he received it as he said he did. If it is from God, of course you are right to obey it; but if I were to consult my own feelings I would never consent to live in Polygamy. I would rather risk salvation.”
T. B. H. married Belinda Pratt, daughter of Parley P. Pratt, and was sealed the same day to Fanny’s deceased friend, Carrie Grant, daughter of Salt Lake City Mayor Jedediah M. Grant and sister of Heber J. Grant.
“Had I been able to consider the whole affair as an outrage upon humanity in general, and an insult to my sex in particular, I should have replied with scorn and defiance,” Fanny later wrote. “Had I implicitly believed in the divinity of the Revelation, I should have bowed my head in meek submission. But I did neither of these. The feelings of my heart naturally led me to hate with a most perfect hatred the very mention of the word Polygamy, while at the same time I still believed, or tried to make myself believe, that the Revelation was from God, and must therefore be obeyed.”
Fanny never felt the same about the Church again: “To doubt one doctrine was to doubt all, and I soon felt that my religion was rapidly crumbling away before my eyes, and that I was losing confidence in everything and everybody. I was like a ship at sea without a compass, not knowing where to go or what to do.”
1868. T. B. H. Stenhouse, considered the “founder of Utah journalism,” moved his Salt Lake Telegraph to Ogden on advice of Brigham Young. When the paper failed, so did Stenhouse’s faith: “I gave evidence of my obedience, and it brought ruin, as I expected. Henceforth I will follow the best experience of my life.”
A year later, he was disfellowshipped for “failure to attend the School of Prophets.” Commenting on Brigham Young’s role in the proceeding, T. B. H. mused, “What will he not do next? To submit would be to acknowledge him absolute, and myself a slave. There is but one alternative now—slavery or freedom. Cost me what it may, I will be free.”
[p.342]Stenhouse wrote his bishop that he had “no faith in Brigham’s claim to an Infallible Priesthood, and that he considered that he ought to be cut off from the Church.” Fanny added a postscript: “I wish to share my husband’s fate.” T. B. H. was excommunicated shortly after divorcing his plural wife Belinda November 25, 1869. Church action against Fanny was not taken until October 5, 1874, two years after she wrote her first expose’ of Mormonism.
The Stenhouses, resolving to “walk into the jaws of death,” joined William S. Godbe’s “New Movement.” She wrote, “Little did I imagine at that period … that I should ever have the boldness, either with tongue or pen, to plead the cause of the Women of Utah. But, impelled by those unseen influences which shape our destinies, I took my stand with the ‘heretics’; and, as it happened, my own was the first woman’s name enrolled in their cause.”
1872. Fanny Stenhouse published A Lady’s Life Among the Mormons—A Record of Personal Experience as One of the Wives of a Mormon Elder. She followed this up in 1874 with “Tell It All”: The Story of a Life’s Experience in Mormonism. The first exposé was popular, but never matched the popularity of “Tell It All, “which included an introductory preface by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Assaulted one evening in Salt Lake City by a group of unknown men, the Stenhouses moved to San Francisco, where T. B. H. served as West Coast correspondent for the New York Herald. He died of jaundice in 1882 at the age of fifty-eight, and was buried in San Francisco.
Fanny Stenhouse eventually moved near her children in Los Angeles. She was blinded in an accident ten years before her death in 1904. Buried in Los Angeles.
Bushman, Claudia V., ed. Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Emmeline Press Limited, 1976.
Deseret News, 8 August 1860.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. Journal History, 3 September 1873.
Stenhouse, Fanny. An Englishwoman in Utah: The Story of A Life’s Experience in Mormonism. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1880.
_____. Exposé of Polygamy in Utah: A Lady’s Life Among the Mormons. New York: American News Company, 1872.
_____. Tell It All: The Story of a Life’s Experience in Mormonism. Hartford: A. D. Worthington & Co., 1874.