EmmaHaleSmith
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SMITH, Silas

SMITH, Silas[1, 2, 3, 4]

Male 1779 - 1839  (59 years)  Submit Photo / DocumentSubmit Photo / Document

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  • Name SMITH, Silas 
    Born 1 Oct 1779  Derryfield, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 13 Sep 1839  Pittsfield, Pike, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried 14 Sep 1839  Pittsfield, Pike, Illinois, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    WAC 3 Mar 1877  [7
    _TAG Reviewed on FS 
    Headstones Submit Headstone Photo Submit Headstone Photo 
    Person ID I19166  Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack Smith | Joseph Sr.
    Last Modified 10 Feb 2020 

    Father SMITH, Asael ,   b. 7 Mar 1744, Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 31 Oct 1830, Stockholm, St. Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 86 years) 
    Mother DUTY, Mary Elizabeth ,   b. 11 Oct 1743, Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 May 1836, Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 92 years) 
    Married 12 Feb 1767  Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Notes 
    • ~SEALING_SPOUSE: Also shown as SealSp 25 Aug 1897
    Family ID F7774  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 STEVENS, Ruth ,   b. 1780, Royalton, Windsor, Vermont, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Mar 1826, Stockholm, St. Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 46 years) 
    Married 29 Jan 1806  Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6, 8, 9
    Notes 
    • ~SEALING_SPOUSE: Also shown as SealSp 5 Oct 1870
    Children 
     1. SMITH, Charles ,   b. 11 Nov 1806, Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 May 1809, Stockholm, St Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 2 years)
     2. SMITH, Charity ,   b. 1 Apr 1808, Royalton, Windsor, Vermont Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 2 Jun 1888, Stockholm, St Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)
     3. SMITH, Curtis Stevens ,   b. 29 Oct 1809, Tunbridge, Orange, Vermont, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Sep 1861, Stockholm, St Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years)
     4. SMITH, Samuel ,   b. 3 Oct 1811, Royalton, Windsor, Vermont Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Mar 1826  (Age 14 years)
     5. SMITH, Stephen ,   b. 8 Jan 1815, Royalton, Windsor, Vermont Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Feb 1891  (Age 76 years)
     6. SMITH, Susan ,   b. 19 Oct 1817, Derryfield, Hillsborough, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Nov 1846  (Age 29 years)
     7. SMITH, Ashael ,   b. 12 Oct 1819, Derryfield, Hillsborough, New Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 15 May 1834  (Age 14 years)
    Last Modified 6 Oct 2020 
    Family ID F5801  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 AIKEN, Mary ,   b. 13 Aug 1797, Barnard, Windsor, Vermont, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Apr 1877, Parowan, Iron, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 4 Mar 1828  Stockholm, St. Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  [10, 11
    Notes 
    • ~SEALING_SPOUSE: Also shown as SealSp 4 May 1877, SGEOR.
    Children 
     1. SMITH, Silas Sanford Jr. ,   b. 20 Oct 1830, Stockholm, St. Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Oct 1910, Layton, Davis, Utah, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years)
     2. SMITH, John Aikens ,   b. 6 Jul 1832, Barnet, Caledonia, Vermont Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 Nov 1838, Louisiana, Pike, Missouri, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 6 years)
     3. SMITH, Jesse Nathaniel Sr.   Additional Information on SMITH, Jesse Nathaniel Sr. - I39243,   b. 2 Dec 1834, Stockholm, St Lawrence, New York, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Jun 1906, Snowflake, Navajo, Arizona, United States Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 71 years)
    Last Modified 6 Oct 2020 
    Family ID F5800  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1 Oct 1779 - Derryfield, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 29 Jan 1806 - Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    AMBROSE SHURTZ
    dist.jpg?ctx=ArtCtxPublic
    As a young man
    Silas Smith's Burial Site with his Great Grandson
    Silas Smith's Burial Site with his Great Grandson
    Silas Smith
    Silas Smith
    https://sg30p0.familysearch.org/service/records/storage/das-mem/patron/v2/TH-210-37478-53-12/dist.jpg?ctx=ArtCtxPublic
    https://sg30p0.familysearch.org/service/records/storage/das-mem/patron/v2/TH-210-37478-53-12/dist.jpg?ctx=ArtCtxPublic

  • Notes 
    • BIOGRAPHY: “Silas’ father, Asahel Smith was a somewhat visionary man. He predicted that something would come forth in his family that would transmit his name with honor to posterity. When near his death (in Stockholm, New York in 1830, he was visited at Silas’ home by his son Joseph (the Prophet’s father) and grandson Don Carlos, having with them the Book of Mormon and
      the tidings of the restored gospel. He received with gladness the testimony of his son, and remarked that he had always been expecting the coming forth of the true gospel. Asahel died a few days later, being over 86 years old.”
      “Jesse N’s father, Silas Smith, was baptized in the summer of 1835 by Hyrum Smith. He was ordained first an elder, and afterwards a high priest. Mary Duty Smith (Silas' mother) moved to Kirtland, Ohio with her son Silas and family in 1836, but died soon after, being 93 years of age.”
      “Silas moved with his family from Kirtland in April, 1838, bound for Far West, MO, but was turned back at Huntsville by some who were fleeing from their homes and bearing Gov. Lilburn W. Bogg’s ‘exterminating order.’ He died on Sep. 13, 1839 in Pittsfield, IL, where he had been appointed president of a branch of the church. His widow (Mary Aikens Smith) moved to Nauvoo where she was kindly received by relatives, and where she taught school for subsistence.”
      The family of Jesse N. Smith 1834-1978 pg 1 (Jesse Nathaniel Smith and His Wives by Joseph W. Smith (his son)

      I am induced to commence my autobiography, that facts and incidents which I deem interesting and important may be placed within the reach of my children.

      Although my father [Silas Smith] had received the testimony of his brother Joseph [Smith, Senior] concerning the Latter-day work, and of his nephew William Smith, yet he was slow about yielding obedience to the Gospel, owing to the determined opposition of his brother Jesse, of my mother, and of his older children. Meanwhile my uncle Asahel Smith with all his family, who also lived at Stockholm [NY], had gathered with the Church at Kirtland, Ohio. They did not emigrate till the spring of 1836. My uncle John Smith and family who lived at Potsdam, 15 miles from Stockholm, emigrated the spring of 1833.

      My father received a letter from the Prophet Joseph, which I here transcribe:
      Kirtland Mills, Ohio, Sept. 26, 1835.
      Respected Uncle Silas:
      It is with feelings of deep interest for the welfare of mankind which fill my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of Him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works in the great day to which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
      I have no doubt but you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things they have, and not for the things they have not, or that all the light and intelligence communicated to them from their beneficent Creator, whether it is much or little, by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience to, and improve upon that, and that only, which is given, for man is not to live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.

      Seeing that the Lord has never given them to understand by anything heretofore revealed, that He has ceased to speak, forever, to His creatures, when sought
      Black and white portrait of Silas Smith.unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again, in these last days, for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion, that I should say for the salvation of His creatures in these last days, since we have already in our possessions a vast volume of His word, which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham, or it was not required of him to leave the land of his nativity, and seek an inheritance in a strange country upon the word spoken to Noah, but, for himself he obtained promises from the hand of the Lord, and walked in that perfection that he was called, “the friend of God.” Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope alone on the promises made to his Father Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven, by the direct voice of the Lord to him.

      If one man can live upon the revelations to another, might I not with propriety ask, why the necessity then, of the Lord’s speaking to Isaac as he did, as is recorded in the 26th chapter of Genesis? For the Lord there repeats, or rather, promises again to perform the oath which he had previously sworn to Abraham, and why this repetition to Isaac? Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham? Was not Isaac Abraham’s son, and could he not place implicit confidence in the veracity of his father as being a man of God?
      Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man, and different from men in these last days, consequently the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different, as he was different from man in this age. I admit that he was a peculiar man, and was not only peculiarly blessed, but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man, or all the difference between him and men in this age, is, that he was more Holy and more perfect before God, and came to him with a purer heart, and more faith than men in this day.

      The same might be said of Jacob’s history, “Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise, after he had made it once to Abraham, and renewed it to Isaac? Why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his father? When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to Moses? The promise or word to Abraham was, that his seed should serve in bondage, and be afflicted 400 years, and after that they should come out with great substance. Why did they not rely on this promise, and when they had remained in Egypt, in bondage 400 years, come out without waiting for further revelations, but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out?”

      Paul said to his Hebrew brethren, that God might more abundantly show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel; He confirmed it by an oath. He also exhorts them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
      Quote by Dallin H. Oaks, "The intensity of our desire to share the gospel is a great indicator of the extent of our personal conversion."Notwithstanding, we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have an an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail, yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on until they, as well as those who then inherited the promises, might have the assurance of their salvation confirmed to them, by an oath from the mouth of Him who could not lie; for that seemed to be the example anciently, and Paul holds it out to his Hebrew brethren as an object attainable in his day. And why not? I admit by reading the scriptures of truth, the saints, in the day of Paul, could learn, beyond the power of contradiction, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had the promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation; but they could by walking in the footsteps and continuing in the faith of their fathers, obtain, for themselves an oath for confirmation that they were meant to be partakers of the inheritance, with the saints in light.

      If the saints in the days of the apostles were privileged to take the Ancients for examples, and lay hold of the same promises, and attain to the same exalted privilege of knowing that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the Most High, will not the same faithfulness, the same purity of heart, and the same faith, bring the same assurance of eternal life, and that in the same manner, to the children of men now in this age of the world? I have no doubt that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in ancient days, were saved in the Kingdom of God; neither do I doubt but that they held converse and communion with Him while they were in the flesh, as Paul said to his Corinthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed Himself to above five hundred saints at one time after His resurrection.

      Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see Him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch walked with God and by faith was translated. I may believe that Noah was a perfect man in his generation and also walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with the holy angels, and heard the voice of his Maker, that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained the blessing. I may believe that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses. I may believe that the Saints saw the Lord and conversed with Him face to face after His resurrection. I may believe that the Hebrew church came to Mount Zion, and unto the city of the Living God the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into eternity, and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant. But will all this purchase an assurance for me, and waft me to the regions of eternal day, and seat me down in the presence of the King of Kings with my garments spotless, pure and white? Or must I not rather obtain for myself by my own faith and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as He ever did to theirs, if I come to Him in the manner they did? Or, is He a respecter of persons?

      So I must close this subject for want of time, and I may with propriety say at the beginning—We would be glad to see you in Kirtland, we would be glad to see you embrace the New Covenant and be one with us. We sometimes think you are now one with us in heart.

      I remain yours affectionately,
      To Silas Smith. Joseph Smith, Jun.

      My father was baptized in 1835 by Hyrum Smith, and in the spring of 1836 emigrated to Kirtland, Ohio; my mother had not yet joined the Church, but took with her a certificate of membership from the Presbyterian Church, and a recommend from the same.

      Jesse N. Smith, Journal of Jesse N. Smith 1834-1906

      After her arrival in Kirtland, Mary Aikens Smith attended the Presbyterian Church. Jesse N. Smith and his two older brothers were with their mother the last time she attended the Presbyterian Church. “The sermon was not inspiring and was continually insulting of the Mormons [then] gathering in Kirtland.” Finally, Jesse, just a little tot learning to talk, turned to his mother and said, “Get your dumbelly (meaning umbrella) and let’s go!” She did just that and soon after was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by her nephew Hyrum Smith on July 18, 1837.

      Janis Smith Pryor, A Children’s Storybook of Jesse N. Smith, published by the family organization for the children of Jesse N. Smith


      Joseph Smith, Sr.
      RICHARD LLOYD ANDERSON
      Honor thy father and mother is a strict requirement of many cultures. The youth who learns its meaning prepares for rich wisdom, seeking the best from all generations that preceded him. Joseph Smith sought wisdom of God (following James 1:4–5), but long before that he sought wisdom of religious teachers and particularly his parents. As Nephi did in the Book of Mormon, Joseph opens his earliest personal history by observing that he was born “of goodly parents, who spared no pains to instruct me in the Christian religion.” 1 This and many other clues show that the Prophet grounded his life on the moral foundations of his parents. If one would know Joseph, Jr., he must understand the personality of Joseph, Sr.

      In turn, Joseph Smith, Sr., is fully understood only against the background of his father. One could reach back indefinitely, as the New England lady who could not name her famous ancestors but reported that they had been descending for centuries. But continuing personal characteristics are realities in families. On an exterior level Joseph Smith, Sr., learned the trade of his father. Asael Smith is repeatedly named a cooper (a barrel maker) in New England deeds. That illuminates the life of Joseph Smith, Sr., when the son earned money coopering in the county prison after legal harassment upon refusing to deny the Book of Mormon. There are other personal continuities from father to son here, for handing down his best qualities was an open goal of the father of Joseph Smith, Sr.

      The name of Asael Smith connotes honesty and responsibility. He in turn was the son of Samuel Smith, an influential man in Topsfield, Massachusetts, who exercised local leadership through the Revolutionary War. Samuel’s oldest son (another Samuel) had priority of inheritance of his father’s land, so Asael, the second son, learned a trade and purchased a farm in Derryfield (now Manchester), New Hampshire. There he was town clerk for seven years, and his handwriting can be easily seen in the microfilm of his town record book, which includes the personal notations of the births of most of his children. Asael faced crossroads at the death of his father, taking the path of personal sacrifice. Everyone ultimately faces such crossroads, and many apparent sacrifices are disguised opportunities for personal development through serving others. In Asael’s case, his brother came from Massachusetts to explain that the obligations against his father’s estate exceeded the assets, so he recommended settling the debts on a percentage basis. But Asael said simply that he would not allow his father’s name to go down as that of an insolvent debtor. So he and his brother exchanged farms, and Asael moved to Topsfield to attempt the impossible. The postwar depression decreed minimal profits on farming, but for seven years he applied his total resources to supporting his large family and reducing the debts of his father. Finally he sold the land to satisfy every creditor, and moved to Vermont with just about $100, enough to buy timbered land there and start over in a log cabin.

      Through industry Asael and his oldest sons, one of whom was Joseph Smith, Sr., gained reasonable property in Vermont. But he considered his most valuable asset the wisdom of a well-spent life, and he gave this possession in equal shares to his wife and children—and all descendants after them. In 1799 Asael Smith penned “a few words of advice” to his family, an articulate 11-page document encouraging his family to follow his faith in God and in Christ by living as “scripture and sound reason” would dictate. 2 His common sense stopped at giving superfluous advice on marriage, believing that “God hath created the persons for each other, and that nature will find its own.” Yet he stated simply what was central in his life. Speaking to his own sons and daughters about their children, he emphasized: “Make it your chiefest work to bring them up in the ways of virtue, that they may be useful in their generation.” Such a concern is intense within every sincere parent. Mormons belong to a church of millions actively handing down the best values of their ancestors by teaching virtue to new generations. Out of such a process came the founder of their faith.

      The father of Joseph Smith, Sr., gave advice that reminds everyone of the importance of family gatherings. Talking of “yourselves within yourselves,” he expressed a “last request and charge” that his children would share “an undivided bond of love.” Asael felt strongly about the need of family association:

      “Visit as you may each other. Comfort, counsel, relieve, succor, help and admonish one another. And while your mother lives, meet her if possible once every year. When she is dead, pitch on some other place … [I]f you cannot meet, send to and hear from each other yearly and oftener if you can. And when you have neither father nor mother left, be so many fathers and mothers to each other, so you shall understand the blessing mentioned in the 133 Psalm.” [Ps. 133]

      Asael Smith’s scripture could well be the theme of any family association: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

      The life of Joseph Smith, Sr., may be sketched through questions designed to bring him close. First, what did he look like? We have no known photographs or contemporary paintings. Bill Whitaker’s accompanying painting goes far to capture the personality of Joseph Smith, Sr., which combines power with sweet humility. But the artist’s use of family models only approximates appearance. Yet we can envision the first Joseph Smith through descriptions of those who knew him. William Henry Bigler reported: “He was like his son the Prophet, large but not fat, rather tall and big-boned and heavy muscled.” 3 His grandson Joseph, III, implies that the first Joseph was taller than his Prophet-son: “In stature he had no superior in the family. Not one of his sons excelled him in physical appearance.” 4 Thus the description of the official history is confirmed—a man of 200 pounds, six feet two in height, “very straight and remarkably well proportioned.” 5

      How did the senior Joseph make a living? The scope of his activities is very interesting: he was a farmer; he kept store; he ventured into the importing business; he taught school some winters; he had a cooper shop in New York where he sold other things. In the 1820 census there are three males in the Joseph Smith family: two of them are listed in agriculture and one in manufacturing. Joseph Smith, Sr., undoubtedly was running the cooper shop, manufacturing brooms and barrels. In New York the Smiths contracted for 100 acres of heavy timberland and made it into a farm. They had a sugar operation; Lucy Smith says (in an unpublished manuscript) that they harvested 1,000 pounds of sugar every spring. But wheat was their main crop. Of course, they burned the felled trees and sold the ash as potash. Some of their neighbors later said that they were lazy, but that is the wrong adjective. That just doesn’t fit the facts. William said that if you had wanted to find his brother Joseph, you couldn’t even talk to him unless you walked around and watched him while he rolled logs. So Joseph Smith, Sr., established industry as the environment of his sons.

      What was the personality of Joseph Smith, Sr.? Heber C. Kimball said, “Father Smith was one of the most cheerful men I ever saw.” 6 That means something, coming from a man well-known for his humor. Other contemporaries commented on his modesty and great faith. Look at Paul in the New Testament. This man could say that he was not worthy even to be called an apostle because he persecuted the church of God. (1 Cor. 15:9–10.) And if you placed a period and closed the book then, you would assume that Paul disqualified himself from further activity. But if you finish the thought, it says, “but I labored more abundantly than they all.” And there you have Joseph Smith, Sr. In addressing his family in Kirtland, he said that his inadequacies had caused him grief. But one must finish the thought: “The Lord has often visited me in visions and in dreams.” 7 And that is a powerful statement, for his wife’s history describes seven of his dreams that were prophetic. There is no doubt that his family had the gift of spirituality.

      What were the religious convictions of Joseph Smith, Sr.? They follow a sequence. He was first a seeker. He believed the Bible but not the theologies of his day. Like Asael Smith he was a universalist. William Smith said about Joseph Smith, Sr.: “My Father’s religious habits [were] strictly pious and moral.” William then described his father’s faith in the “universal restoration doctrine,” meaning that all men would be raised to salvation, not just a few: this “brought him into contact with the advocates of the doctrine of endless misery. The belief in the ultimate and final redemption of all mankind to heaven and happiness brought down upon my father … opprobrium.” 8 But that didn’t matter to him because he stood for the love of God even if it brought the hate of man upon him. There is something very appealing in that. Some who heard him were deeply impressed with the senior Joseph’s conviction that all men could progress indefinitely. In 1860 Brigham Young recalled that Joseph Smith, Sr., the Patriarch, would typically say after giving a blessing: “If I have not promised blessings enough on your head and stated enough in the blessing I have given you, sit down and write every good thing you can think of and … your neighbor can think of, and put all into your blessing—and I will sign it, and promise the whole to you, if you will only live for it.” 9 There is a man with unlimited faith in everyone.

      What did he lack in his days when he believed that God would save all men? He lacked the knowledge of how. His wife related his final dream before the organization of the Church. A messenger came to him and said, “I … have always found you strictly honest in all your dealings. Your measures are always heaped … [T]here is but one thing which you lack in order to secure your salvation.” 10 And Joseph, Sr., passionately sought this information in the dream. The messenger agreed to write it down. But suddenly the dream closed. And that was just before the Prophet received his visions, as Lucy Smith related the sequence. As we have seen, Joseph Smith, Sr., looked back to this period to say that “the Lord has often visited me in visions and in dreams.” He had intimations of the coming restoration of the gospel.

      What is the record of Church service of Joseph Smith, Sr.? When he accepted the restored gospel, he found himself. Although previously skeptical of all organized religion, he believed at once in his son’s visions. He physically protected the Prophet during the translation of the plates and became a witness of the Book of Mormon after seeing and handling the plates. He then brought people into the Church as a missionary to the northeastern United States and to his family. In 1833 he was called as Patriarch to the Church. There were other offices: member of the first high council in 1834 and even counselor in the First Presidency for a short time in 1836. But Mormon diaries show that his greatest impact on his fellow Church members was through the blessings given as Patriarch. Many of those blessings were prophetic for Church members who came west. A young college student who attended blessing meetings in Kirtland, Ohio, was Lorenzo Snow, then a nonmember and later president of the Church. His sister, Eliza R. Snow, had induced him to come from Oberlin College to study with the competent Hebrew instructor employed by the Church for the missionaries. She had hoped that he would be exposed to Mormonism while studying Hebrew, and it was Joseph Smith, Sr., who impressed him most toward conversion. For Lorenzo felt his strong inspiration and discerned the appropriateness of instruction given to different people. In recalling his first impressions, Lorenzo Snow later said: “I looked at Father Smith and silently asked myself the question: Can that man be a deceiver? His every appearance answered in the negative. … I had never seen age so prepossessing.” 11 His strong convictions attracted strong men to the Church. The most influential Smith of the second generation in Utah was George A., cousin of the Prophet and counselor to Brigham Young. His Uncle Joseph, the Patriarch, visited northern New York to meet initial ridicule of the Book of Mormon even from his family, most of whom were later converted. George A. Smith, then a bright and brash teenager, began to read the Book of Mormon but with the purpose of gathering devastating objections against it. The sequel was not as he expected. In his own words: “On the return of my Uncle Joseph, I undertook to argue with him upon the subject, but he so successfully removed my objections and enlightened my mind, that I have never since ceased to advocate its divine authority.” 12 Other converts left records that show the unquestionable sincerity and deep convictions of Joseph Smith, Sr. His total loyalty to the restored church is itself a strong argument for the authenticity of the prophetic mission of his son.

      This last issue makes a final question most significant. What was the home environment produced by Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith? Obviously the moral training of the Prophet came in the home of his parents, and his own integrity must be assessed in the light of his response to their early teachings. Reliable children generally come from homes of healthy love without weak permissiveness. Unquestionably the love of family ran deep in Joseph Smith, Sr. A simple illustration of him as “a tender husband and father.” 13 Yet there was the discipline of hard work in the home combined with personal respect for differences. Joseph Smith’s brother William gave solid insights into the religious leadership of Joseph Smith, Sr.: “We always had family prayer since I can remember.” He described his father’s reaching for his glasses as the signal for prayer: “And if we did not notice it, mother would say, ‘William,’ or whoever was the negligent one, ‘get ready for prayer.’” 14 The father led out in daily devotions, and the mother actively supported him. Joseph Smith, Sr., exercised quiet but firm initiative as the head of his household. The home of such parents is a valuable tool in assessing the sincerity of the young prophet who saw visions. It was the unpublicized integrity of Joseph Smith, Sr., that greatly influenced the career of Joseph Smith, Jr. No one can rightly deny that his family sought righteousness and the will of God. Through Joseph Smith, Jr., such a birthright has come to be a blessing far beyond his family.

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      Notes

      1. Joseph Smith, 1832 manuscript history, also cit. Dean Jessee, “Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” BYU Studies, vol. 9 (Spring, 1969), p. 279. The evidently accidentally-left “ing” on the word “instruct” is editorially deleted.
      2. This and all following Asael Smith quotations are found in photographic facsimile and transcription in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Joseph Smith’s New England Heritage (Salt Lake City, 1971).
      3. Memoir, typescript.
      4. Joseph Smith, III, Family Association Remarks, Journal of History, vol. 1 (1908), p. 41.
      5. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 4, (Salt Lake City, 1966), p. 191, a description probably written by George A. Smith.
      6. Citations for this and other undocumented quotations are found in Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s Home Environment,” Ensign, July 1971, pp. 57–59.
      7. Cit., Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Smiths Who Handled the Plates,” Improvement Era, August 1969, p. 30. Smith (Liverpool, 1853), p. 74. “Husband” instead of “companion” is the manuscript reading.
      8. See n. 6.
      9. Journal of Discourses vol. 8 (Liverpool 1861), p. 197.
      10. Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith.
      11. Lorenzo Snow, “Journal,” cit. Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biograpny and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City, 1884), p. 10.
      12. Autobiography of George A. Smith, Deseret News, Aug. 11, 1858.
      13. Lucy Smith, p. 70.
      14. See n. 6.

  • Sources 
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