SMITH, Arthur Marion - I24
Arthur Marion Smith, A Wise and Gentle Soul
Written by Sheri Bennett on Friday, 05 March 2010 13:18
Arthur Marion Smith was the grandson of Joseph Smith Jr., and Emma Hale. Joseph Smith restored Christ’s Church upon the earth. He was called by God to be a prophet in the latter days. As a descendant of Joseph Smith, Arthur’s life was so intertwined with religion it cannot be examined without a basic understanding of the three major churches that came from Joseph Smith’s restoration.
Joseph Smith worked to establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. After his death by martyrdom, confusion reigned. Several men came forward claiming the right to lead the church. The body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it was called at the time determined the authority rested with the quorum of the twelve apostles. Because of extreme persecution and under the direction of the quorum, they left Nauvoo, Illinois. Through this grand exodus, saints sought refuge out west and established their headquarters in Utah. Brigham Young later became the prophet of the Church. Some members did not go west. Emma Hale Smith, the prophet Joseph’s widow, was among those who stayed in Nauvoo. There were also Saints living in out-lying areas who remained at home without leaders to guide them.
These small branches of members in the outlying areas sought guidance on how to proceed. Through what they felt was inspiration, they established the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS). After many years, they persuaded Joseph Smith III to be the prophet of their church. The Reorganized Church resolved that the successor of Joseph Smith Jr., as the Presiding High Priest in the Melchisedec Priesthood, must be the seed of Joseph Smith Junior. The RLDS accepted the idea of lineal priesthood with the office of President of the Church being handed down from father to son. Joseph Smith III was opposed to the doctrine of polygamy and denied that his father, Joseph Smith Jr., ever practiced it. His strong opposition to this doctrine prevented reconciliation with the body of the LDS headquartered in Utah.
A third body was the Church of Christ, which used the name given to the original church when it was first organized 6 April 1830. It is also called the Temple Lot Church because it holds the deed to the plot of land where Joseph Smith stood to dedicate a temple site in Independence, Missouri. The Church of Christ-Temple Lot accepts the restoration, the Book of Mormon, and the original Book of Commandments. It does not accept the later revelations given to Joseph Smith printed in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.
Arthur’s life was impacted by each of these churches. He belonged to two of them, the RLDS, and the Church of Christ-Temple Lot, during different times of his life, and he rejected the Utah Mormon LDS faith completely. Arthur lived most of his life in Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota except for a couple attempts at homesteading. Arthur had many different mission assignments throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe as an apostle for the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. Arthur’s life story is so wrapped up with his church service that, although he loved his family, in this paper the family is overshadowed by his religious participation. Therefore although Arthur was married twice, his wives’ life stories will be only briefly shared in this paper.
To piece together Arthur’s life, I relied heavily on three sources. Two of these sources, Autobiographical Sketch, and Testimony, were written by Arthur himself and found in his papers after his death. They consist of loose typewritten papers with corrections made by hand in ink most likely by Arthur after reading through what he had written. The Autobiographical Sketch addresses Arthur’s birth and heritage. It seems that Arthur never completed this project. The Testimony was begun two different times. One iteration appears to be a first draft; Arthur signed the second one indicating he was finished. Arthur wrote these later in life from his heart and memory so although they are first person accounts, we must consider how memories sometimes tend to become distorted through time.
His son, Kenneth J. Smith, wrote the third source, “A Tribute to The Wise and Gentle Spirit of Apostle Arthur M. Smith,” after Arthur’s death. Kenneth recalls fond memories of his father and gives a loving tribute. After a person passes away, they often gain esteem in the eyes of those who loved them. These three sources shed light on Arthur’s life they do not, however, address some of the issues and problems that surely arose in his family regarding some of his decisions. They do give a personal insight to what mattered most to Arthur.
I would like to thank Gracia N. Jones who inspired me to write about Arthur. She shared her thoughts and her files with me. Her mentoring is greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank Joseph F. Smith, Arthur’s youngest son, for sharing his memories of his father. I am indebted to Kim Davis, Arthur’s granddaughter, who sent me a copy of the tribute to Arthur by Kenneth Smith. Kim also shared her memories of her grandparents and helped me contact her father, Joseph F. Smith. Without the help of these three individuals, this paper would not have the enriching details of Arthur’s personality or life.
Arthur Marion Smith often joked he was the only baby who arrived in this world by “Special Delivery.” He was born on the 8 February 1880 in Colfax, Harrison County, Missouri to Alexander Hale and Elizabeth Agnes Kendall Smith, in a post office. In an autobiographical sketch, Arthur revealed his sense of humor when he said he did not remember much about the occasion of his birth. However, his trusted mother told him about it many times. His birthplace was about five miles south of Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa, which later became the headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at this time. (See appendix I) Arthur’s mother, Elizabeth, was the Post Mistress and the Post Office was located in the front room of the Smith farmhouse. This room also served as his mother’s bedroom where she gave birth to baby Arthur. So, Arthur claims as his distinctive birthplace, the Post Office of Colfax, Missouri.
When he was about seven or eight years old, the wife of the first editor of the Latter Day Saints Herald, Isaac Sheen, came to his house and told him her version of his birth. She recalled there was a bad snowstorm the night of his birth. Mrs. Sheen and her husband had “quite a time” keeping newborn Arthur warm. Arthur goes on to say that as far as he knew, the Sheens were the only ones who seemed to have noticed he had just come into the world, since they were the only ones who paid any attention to him.
Arthur’s father, Alexander Hale Smith, was a missionary for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Therefore, he was away from home serving a mission at the time of Arthur’s birth.
Arthur continued his life sketch by expressing gratitude for his humble birth and pride in the heritage left to him by his forefathers. “A heritage,” he says, “of courageous service to their fellowman.” His father, Alexander Hale Smith was the third son of the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Mormon Church, and Emma Hale. Alexander was born 2 June 1838 at Far West, Missouri, where the Mormon saints endured much persecution. While Alexander was still an infant, his father, Joseph Smith Jr., was thrown in jail. Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an \"Extermination Order” on 27 October 1838, which demanded that members of the Mormon Church leave the state of Missouri or be killed. Alexander’s mother, Emma, fled Missouri with her children, braving the winter chill of February 1839. She carried little Frederick and baby Alexander in her arms while Joseph III and Julia clung to her skirts. They crossed the wide frozen Mississippi river on foot and “found protection from mobs and menacing foes on the friendly shores of Illinois.” Joseph was reunited with his family in April. They settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, where Alexander spent his boyhood years.
Arthur’s mother, Elizabeth Agnes Kendall, came from Ulverston, Lancester, England and immigrated to Nauvoo with her widowed mother and her brother, John, and her sister, Isabella. They came on the ship, Metoka, with a large group of convert saints. Family tradition says that, bad storms drove the ship back for many days. When they reached New York, they were not allowed to enter the port because cholera had broken out onboard. They were kept out in the harbor until the captain grew tired of waiting. He lifted anchor and sailed down the Atlantic coast, entered the Gulf of Mexico, and landed in New Orleans 23 October 1843. From here this “dauntless band of Saints” sailed up the Mississippi River and finally arrived in Nauvoo.
After the martyrdom of Arthur’s grandfather, the prophet Joseph Smith, persecution grew stronger in Nauvoo. The Saints were again forced to leave their homes and the beautiful city they had built. There were some who did not go, including Arthur’s parents. “Thus,” Arthur said, “among the wreckage and ruin of this once beautiful City, my Mother and my Father grew to maturity.” He continued, noting they were, “Tutored and schooled by the thrice-told tales, and legends of a glorious day that had ended in heartbreak and sorrow. This was the environment that had its influence on the lives of my parents; what then would be the heritage of their children?”
Arthur believed, Alexander requested a release from full-time mission service in 1877, feeling his increasing family responsibilities were a burden for the Church. He worked his farm to provide for his family and continued to serve in the Church when he could. Arthur was four months old when the census taker stopped by their farmhouse. He was the youngest of eight children, four boys and four girls. The oldest, Frederick A., was 18. Three of the children ages seven to eleven were attending school. Most likely the three older children were helping with the farm. It was in 1877 that Alexander’s brother David Hyrum Smith was committed to an insane asylum where he stayed until his death 30 years later. This sad situation was not talked about in Arthur’s family.
In 1881 when Arthur was about one year old, his family moved to Independence, Jackson, Missouri. His father felt part-time church service was not enough and was given Missouri and surrounding states as his assignment. The family’s move would allow them to be with Alexander more. They had a little house on South Spring Street a half a block off Lexington. The resources for travel were meager. Alexander would be gone many months at a time. Because of that, the few memories Arthur had of his father were clear and vivid in his mind. Arthur remembers him coming home and leaving for the mission field. Even though his father was absent, Arthur wrote in his testimony that his mind was full of the knowledge and nature of his father’s work and his relationship to God. He had a deep and lasting respect for his father and any man who went forth to serve the Master.
One of these few precious memories was when some kind of malady came to Independence. Arthur, his brother Joseph, who was two and a half years older and his younger sister, Coral, born in Independence in 1882, were all stricken with this illness. Arthur awakened one night to the sound of his mother’s voice saying, “No, I will not give her up!” Arthur heard a man reply, “I tell you lay her back in the bed. She is gone, I can do no more for her.” His mother replied that she would not let her go. Arthur turned to look where his mother sat. He saw the doctor pick up his little black satchel, put on his hat, and walk out, leaving them in silence. The quiet was broken when Arthur heard his mother softly praying. He could not hear her prayer. But then he heard her say, “Alex, oh Alex, why don’t you come?” Almost as if in answer to her cry, his father opened the door and came into the room along with Joseph Luff. They placed oil on the head of Arthur’s younger sister and laid their hands upon her head. A sobbing cry came from the baby sister the Doctor had said was gone. When his father came to Arthur’s bedside, Arthur told him, “If you will do that to me, I will not be sick.” So they also gave him a blessing. The next day Arthur was allowed to get out of bed and play on the floor. His baby sister survived the illness. This experience contributed to Arthur’s faith in God.
When Arthur was six years old, he began the thrilling new adventure of attending school in Independence, Missouri. On the playground, a bigger boy called him a “Mormon.” Even though Arthur had heard that name before, he never heard it used in a disgraceful way. But he recognized the insulting tone the boy used. The boy again called Arthur, “Mormon” and Arthur “resented it with all of his might.” Older boys stopped the fight that ensued but Arthur did go home with “a bloody nose and a wounded heart.”
At home Arthur learned the story of the Book of Mormon. He was also taught there was a stigma of shame placed upon it and that the “task had fallen on the children of Joseph Smith, to free his name from what the family felt was the stain of polygamy.” From then on, Arthur forever resented being called a Mormon.
Life on the Iowa Border
Arthur’s parents had moved their family back to the farm near Andover, Missouri by 1886. In an effort to allow Alexander more time with his family, his assignment was changed to the Northern states. Arthur explained his boyhood was similar to any other lad his age raised in a Latter-day Saint home. Except, as mentioned previously, Alexander Hale Smith was often away on RLDS Church business leaving the care of the farm to Elizabeth and the children.20 Therefore, it was his mother and older sisters who gave him much of his early religious training. They told him many times about the Restoration and its early history.
One event that stood out enough in Arthur’s mind to record in his testimony was when he went with his brother, Frederick A., to the April 1888 Conference of the RLDS church. It was held in the basement of the Brick Church in Lamoni, Iowa. The boys sat by their father in a prayer and testimony meeting. A white man and an Indian, both wearing buckskin coats, sat down beside them. After a few people stood and testified, a man in the northeast corner of the room stood up and began speaking in tongues. Arthur was more interested in watching the Indian, fascinated by his clothing and the mere fact he was an Indian, than listening to the speaker. Suddenly, Arthur realized the Indian was leaning forward in his seat listening intently. Another man sitting on the south side of the room gave an interpretation. Arthur did not remember anything that was spoken, but realized after the meeting the significance of what had happened when he saw the Indian speak to the man who had spoken in tongues. The man did not understand the Indian. The Indian then switched to English and told them the language spoken was of the Indian tongue and the interpretation was correct. At the close of this April 1888 conference, Arthur was “duly” baptized into the RLDS Church, in the muddy railroad pond, just east of the Brick Church.
Arthur had a good relationship but not a close association with his uncle, Joseph Smith III, who was the prophet of the RLDS church. Perhaps Arthur’s feelings for Joseph echo the citizens of Lamoni who called him, “Brother Joseph,” or “Joseph the Beloved.” Joseph III loved children and showered them with attention. He had a soft pleasing voice and was kind and fatherly to all the children. Once, while some of the younger boys were playing ball on the playground, he went over and asked them if they had yet learned to throw a curve ball like the older boys. He talked with the boys of the skill and practice needed to learn this valued skill, ending by telling them the important thing was, how “nine fellows play the game.” This example shows that the influence of the RLDS church permeated every part of life in Lamoni even the playground.
In 1890, Arthur’s father, Alexander was ordained president of the Quorum of the Twelve by his brother Joseph Smith III. Arthur’s family moved to a home in Lamoni, Fayette Township, Decatur, Iowa in 1891 so his father could be closer to Church headquarters.24 The Smith’s religious background followed them everywhere, even into their sports. When years later, Frederick M. Smith, Arthur’s cousin, came to bat in a baseball game with a team from an adjoining town, the opposing team yelled; “Now we shall see what a Mormon prophet can do.” Fred’s hit brought home enough runs to win the game.
When Arthur was about twelve years old, a friend of the family and Elder in the RLDS Church visited the Smiths. This friend prophesied to Arthur’s mother, Elizabeth, that one day Arthur would preach the gospel. This really bothered Arthur because he had seen the “suffering and privation” of his mother and family. Arthur resolved he would not be found in a situation like his father’s, but at the same time, he realized if God wanted him to go, he must go. He decided he would have to know for sure it was God’s will. Arthur felt this decision influenced his life. As he grew to adulthood, many urged him to “take up the ministry.” But Arthur held to the decision he had made with God at twelve years old.
Arthur recorded that he had a happy boyhood life on the Iowa/Missouri border. He was well read but lived a simple lifestyle. He did not seek high class, but was a country boy, an adventurer like his father. Nothing disturbed the even flow of life until he was sixteen years old when he went to work for Charles A. Wicks, a local farmer, along with several other boys about the same age. They were hired to hoe weeds out of Mr. Wicks’ popcorn field. At lunchtime, Arthur and another boy sat down under an apple tree to eat their lunch. Mr. Wicks joined them and began talking to them about the history of the Church. Neither boy knew much about the history except a few basic things like its organization and the persecutions during its first few years. Mr. Wicks’ story disturbed the boys a great deal as he explained to them many mistakes had been made. He told them the leaders of the Church committed many wrongs. One was changing the revelations given to the church in the beginning. Mr. Wicks gave each boy a pamphlet called the “Book of Commandments.” He told them it contained the original Commandments given to the Church before they were changed when printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. Arthur was bothered by these ideas and took the pamphlet home to question his father about it. Arthur said he had, “unbounded faith in his [father’s] wisdom and knowledge concerning all matters.”
When Arthur showed his father the pamphlet, Alexander did not seem surprised and explained some history to Arthur. Alexander told him the Church printing press was destroyed in Independence in 1833. The type was thrown into the street. The unfinished pages of the Book of Commandments were thrown into the street and most were destroyed. However, someone ran into the street and gathered up some of the loose pages, and a few books from these pages. Later, many mistakes were discovered in this printing, therefore, the Church did not use it. In 1835 the Doctrine and Covenants was printed in its place. This experience remained with Arthur and laid the framework for doctrinal decisions in later years.
Alexander Hale Smith, Presiding Patriarch for the RLDS Church, gave Arthur his patriarchal blessing 18 September 1898 at a conference in Centralia, Kansas. Arthur was eighteen years old. This experience was special because the patriarch was Arthur’s father. His fatherly desires and concerns for Arthur are evident in this beautiful blessing. He mentioned doubts that sometimes entered Arthur’s mind about the work and his calling in the work, and his disposition to murmur and rebel against the providences in his life. He told Arthur, in spite of this, there was a desire in his heart to serve God. He encouraged Arthur to serve faithfully so at the end of his life, his name would be added to the roll of the faithful ones who testified for Jesus.
In 1900, Arthur was 20 years old. He was living at home with his parents and 17- year-old sister, Coral, in Lamoni, Iowa. For several years Arthur worked as a bookbinder in the Reorganized Church bookbindery, the Herald Publishing House. Arthur’s father, Alexander H. Smith at 62 years old was serving as the first Presiding Patriarch for the RLDS church. The census shows he and his wife of 39 years, Elizabeth, who was 56, owned their home. Coral, Arthur’s younger sister attended school in Lamoni at Graceland, run by The RLDS Church.
It was during these years, that Arthur met Miss Estella Almira Danielson (Stella) who was born on 7 Mar 1884 in Miller, La Salle, Illinois to Martin Danielson and Julia Hayer. Stella’s family moved from La Salle, Illinois to Lamoni, Iowa where Martin Danielson worked as a farm manager. He and his wife, Julia, owned their farm. Stella lived with her parents, older brother, and two younger sisters. In Lamoni, Stella attended school and grew into a lovely young woman.
On 15 Jun 1904, Alexander H. Smith, in Lamoni, Decatur County, Iowa, married Arthur Marion Smith and Estella Almira Danielson. Over the next twelve years they had six children, each lived to adulthood. They and their birthdates and places are:
|Verl Marion||21 Apr 1905||Lamoni, Decatur, Iowa|
|Karl Kendall||5 Mar 1907||Lamoni, Decatur, Iowa|
|Alexander Martin||7 Feb 1909||Wray, Yuma, Colorado|
|Kenneth Julian||7 Mar 1911||Brush, Yuma, Colorado|
|Elizabeth Marie||21 Aug 1914||Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri|
|Arthur Granger||18 Mar 1916||Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri|
Arthur and Stella lived in Lamoni, Iowa for several years while Arthur became an accomplished bookbinder. Politically, Arthur belonged to the Republican Party. Their two oldest children, Verl and Karl, were born in Lamoni. In 1908, seeking adventure and the promise of land, Arthur and his family left Lamoni to establish a homestead claim in Colorado. On 12 August 1909, while they were staking out their claim in the wild, Arthur’s father died. (Alexander had gone to Nauvoo for a visit where he fell sick. He died in his childhood home, the Mansion house, which he owned.) Arthur and Stella braved the cold in a sod house on the prairie where their next two children, Alexander and Kenneth were born. Arthur, possibly with the help of a neighbor, was Stella’s only attendant at these births. Arthur farmed his claim during the short growing season of Colorado. Home life with four small children in cramped primitive quarters was taxing, and Stella fell ill with consumption.
Return to Civilization
Arthur and his family gave up the homestead in 1914 and migrated to 309 S. Lawndale, Kansas City, Missouri where the family fortunes began to improve. Arthur worked as a streetcar conductor but he was not listed in the Kansas City Directory from that time period. In Kansas City, Stella gave birth to their first daughter, Elizabeth, after which her health declined rapidly. The family decided to send her to warm sunny California to visit her relatives hoping she would improve. A statement by Kenneth Julian, Arthur’s fourth child, about his mother’s trip reveals the family’s sparse circumstances:
Here (Kansas City) mother’s health began to wane somewhat and it was decided to send her to California to visit with her relatives. Being real young, I remember very little about it except a childish whim, requesting them to send me all the crusts from the bread that I coveted so much. I was four and my sister two so, if my memory serves me correctly, we both accompanied Mother on her California trip.
When Stella and her two little children returned to Kansas City, Arthur Granger Smith their youngest child was born. Stella’s health continued to worsen and at 7:10 a.m. on 23 June 1916 she passed away in the Independence Sanitarium in Independence, Jackson, Missouri. She was 32 years 3 months and 14 days old. She died of tuberculosis peritonitis, which she contracted in Brush Colorado at the homestead claim. She had the disease for two years. Her last pregnancy also contributed to her death. Stella was cared for in the Independence Sanitarium for 6 days before she died. Arthur, her husband, was the informant on the death certificate. Stella was buried in Togo, Iowa on 25 June 1916. She left six children; the youngest was only three months old.
This was a terrible blow on the family especially the young children. They suffered tragically from their great loss. An excerpt from the Lamoni newspaper described the situation: “The heart of the whole world feels the shadow when the mother of little children falls into a last sleep. It seems like this loss lies outside the accepted verdict that all must die…a tragedy, a mistake of destiny.” Stella’s death left a deep and abiding mark on her children’s young lives. Kenneth, Arthur’s son, shared that from this sad loss came his first childhood understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
For, a while lying upon my bed in my grandmother’s house in the middle of the night, my pillow soaked with my tears, there came to me in the darkness one with the gentle touch of a mother and the low sweet voice of a father. Arthur told me the story of the “Glories” and assured me that mother was surely in Paradise and would attain the highest glory God had for man. That story and the inflection of that voice has never left me for over sixty years. Arthur was indeed a loving gentle character destined to be both father and mother to me for many years, through many trying experiences of life.
Arthur and his four oldest boys “set up housekeeping” in Lamoni with his mother, Elizabeth. She helped with the boys. The two youngest children, two-year-old Elizabeth (named for her paternal grandmother), and three-month-old Arthur Granger, also relocated to Lamoni where they lived with their maternal Grandmother, Julia Danielson, and their aunt, Vera. During this time, Arthur instilled in his boys a great love of nature and its beauty. Kenneth recorded that the boys considered their father their friend and pal; Arthur took them on many fishing and hunting excursions.
There were few automobiles in Lamoni at this time and no pavement except a short piece of laid brick in the town square. Most of the streets resembled cow paths with grass growing between two strips of bare dirt. In the business section of town each merchant had a hitching post for the convenience of his customers. When the city council decreed that these hitching posts would have to be moved, the merchants protested, believing business and even the entire town would be ruined. Arthur’s livelihood was one of the solutions for this sensitive issue. He bought and ran a livery barn with stables. When farmers would come into town to do their shopping or visiting, they would keep their horses and buggies in Arthur’s stables. Arthur also sold hay, which he stored in a vast hayloft. His son Kenneth had many fond memories of this livery stable. He was especially fond of the old Airedale dog that guarded the barn and kept customers in order. He recalled one experience in particular:
Lamoni was governed strictly according to the dictates of the teachings of the Church [Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints] which prohibited strong drink and tobacco being sold within the town limits and enforced it. I was a small lad and alone in the barn as father [Arthur] had gone down town on an errand. A customer came in on horseback to leave his horse and he had been drinking. The old dog would not let him off his horse until I got a strap off a buggy and got astraddle the dog’s back trying to hold him. The old dog, being used to this dragged me across the barn floor after the man. He had his horse in the stall. The dog chased him clear to the back of the barn and half way up the ladder to the hayloft where the customer had to stay until father came back and locked the dog up in the office.
While living in Lamoni, Arthur’s family attended the RLDS church services in the old brick church. This church is no longer standing. The five older children were baptized in Lamoni, perhaps in the same small pond their father, Arthur, was baptized in as a child. In those days, whenever an event, such as an Ice Cream Social, was held in the community, most people participated. The church park was one of the favorite gathering spots. Fourth of July celebrations included a hammer-throwing contest. Ball games, track meets, and spelling matches were some of the popular activities for the young people. They also had a band. Surely, Arthur’s children enjoyed the community and youth activities that revolved around the church although they did not play sports.
Arthur was ordained to the office of a priest in the RLDS Church in April 1914 by Elbert A. Smith, Fredric A. Smith, and Heman C. Smith. After Arthur’s mother, Elizabeth passed away 6 June 1919, Arthur moved to Des Moines, Iowa. (Searches in the Des Moines City Directory in 1919-1925 did not have a listing for Arthur.) He worked at his old trade as a bookbinder to support his family. He and the four oldest boys set up bachelors quarters. Through his association with the RLDS Church in Des Moines, Arthur met a very lovely lady with his same last name, Minnie Catherine Smith.
She was born 20 May 1894 in Charlestown, Clarke, Indiana to James Henry Smith and Catherine Cobb in Charleston, Indiana. She died on 30 Jan 1988 in Ava, Douglas, Missouri. Minnie had a difficult childhood, her father, James, was an alcoholic. When he would come home in the evenings, her mother, Catherine, would go out into the woods and hide until he passed out because he could be abusive when he was drunk. After he passed out, one of the children would go and get their mother and tell her it was safe to come in. Family tradition says that Minnie was raised in the Campbellite faith. When she and Arthur converted to the- Temple Lot, her family basically disowned her. Kim Davis, her granddaughter, said Minnie was very opinionated, but softhearted. She was very talented in quilting, knitting, and crafts of that sort. She was a direct but compassionate person and she loved roses and irises as shown by this photograph of Minnie in her twenties owned by her granddaughter, Kim Davis.
On 21 May 1922, Arthur age 42 years married Minnie, age 29, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Minnie was Arthur’s devoted companion for the rest of his life. Arthur’s fourth son, Kenneth reported that the four boys were overjoyed and loved Minnie as their mother. The family was complete with Arthur’s children at home for a short time until his oldest son, Verl, left to join the United States Navy. Over the next thirteen years, Arthur and Minnie had five more children together, bringing the total for Arthur to eleven. These five children and their birth dates and places are:
|Georgia May||22 Feb 1923||Des Moines, Polk, Iowa|
|Alta Lorraine||10 Oct 1924||Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota|
|Myrle Lee||14 Sep 1925||Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota|
|Barbara Jean||3 May 1929||Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota|
|Joseph Frederick||3 Jan 1935||Ava, Douglas, Missouri|
Second Homesteading Adventure
After the birth of Arthur’s seventh child, Georgia May, Arthur’s sense of adventure rekindled his interest in staking out a claim for a homestead. Arthur took three of his sons and went to northeastern Canada where land was being offered. The Smith men packed their camping gear in the family’s Model T Ford automobile and were off to stake a claim. Perhaps to protect his second wife from the risks of the wilderness, Minnie did not go with them. She took baby Georgia May to stay with her family in Indiana while the boys staked the claim, which was rich in oil deposits. When they arrived in Winnipeg, Canada, Arthur was informed he had to be a Canadian citizen under the British flag to participate in the homestead project. Relations between the U.S. and Canada were strained at this time, so Arthur decided he didn’t want to end up in a situation where brothers might have to fight against brothers. So he turned the Model T around and headed back to the United States. Although finances were running low, Arthur stopped in Bemidji, Minnesota, where along with Leon Gould’s family, he and his sons tried their hand at northern game fishing. The two families did not realize at the time they would later work together in the affairs of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot.
Arthur’s resources were running out, so he headed to the Twin Cities to look for a job. When he and his sons arrived in Minneapolis, they pitched their tent in the city’s tourist camp on the south edge of town. They stayed the allotted time in the camp and had to vacate. So they pulled out and re-entered the camp in a new spot. Adventure ran high as the Smith’s ran low on supplies and resources. By chance, Arthur met an old friend from Lamoni on the street who helped them obtain the necessary assistance to tide them over until Arthur could find work.
Arthur took a short extension course from the University of Minnesota and qualified for a position as an instructor with the school board of Minneapolis. He taught his trade of bookbinding at the Vocational High School. Minnie and baby Georgia May rejoined the family in Minneapolis. Arthur’s eight and ninth children, Alta Lorraine and Merle Lee were born in Minneapolis. Searches in the Minneapolis City directory show 20 Arthur Smiths living in Minneapolis during this time period. None of them are listed with the occupation of bookbinder.
Transfer of Membership to the Church of Christ-Temple Lot
Arthur and his family were active in the RLDS church in Minneapolis until the conference of 1925. Arthur’s cousin, Fred M. Smith, who became president of the RLDS Church in 1914 after his father, Joseph Smith III’s death, introduced a policy called, “Supreme Directional Control.” This caused confusion and alarm dividing the church. Daniel McGregor, a former missionary for the RLDS church, became a member of The-Temple Lot. McGregor was a staunch defender of the gospel he felt was once delivered to the Saints. McGregor came to Minneapolis and requested to use the RLDS church building for a meeting. In the early 1900s, these two churches enjoyed a “working harmony agreement.” Therefore, when the Reorganized church refused to let McGregor hold his meeting in their building, many of the RLDS saints who helped build the church, rose up in protest at the manner in which Daniel McGregor’s request was handled. They arranged to hear Brother McGregor at a meeting in one of their homes.
As a result of this meeting, the Minneapolis Local of the Church of Christ- Temple Lot was organized on 26 March 1926. Frederick Green was the Presiding Elder of this Local which included three elders, one teacher, and twelve members. Membership soon grew to 27 members including two convert baptisms. Meetings were held down the street from the Reorganized Church building at George Spargo’s home. Arthur M. Smith’s interest in the Local of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot grew and he began taking an active part in its growth and development. He had his membership officially transferred to the Church of Christ-Temple Lot, on 1 July 1926 while Frederick Green was still acting as the Presiding Elder. The history of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot from the church’s official website, states; “In the 1920s, principally because of the doctrine of \"supreme directional control\" introduced by the presidency of the RLDS Church, many became spiritually depressed and found a haven in the Church of Christ.”
Arthur was not alone in his choice to transfer his membership from the Reorganized Church to the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. Of his living siblings, his sister Vida, who wrote much of the RLDS church history and her second husband, Jim Yates, transferred their membership also. But Frederick A. Smith, Arthur’s older brother, who later became patriarch for the RLDS Church, and Emma Belle, Arthur’s sister, remained staunch RLDS. Ina lived in Australia and was not affected very much. Coral lived out West and did not take sides in the family controversy.55 According to Arthur’s youngest son, Joseph F. Smith, the family was disappointed but not bitter. However, Minnie’s family turned against her after this decision.
The Church of Christ-Temple Lot does not recognize a first presidency like the RLDS and LDS churches do. The authority to lead the Church of Christ-Temple Lot lies with the quorum of the twelve apostles even when there are not twelve apostles. Their website explains that the “working harmony agreement” between the two churches was broken off. The Church of Christ-Temple Lot favored the Book of Commandments while the Reorganized Latter Day Saints Church favored the Doctrine and Covenant regarding the same revelations. While renewed efforts have been made, there is no longer much communication on an institutional level.
The Church of Christ-Temple Lot is a remnant of the Restoration. When the body of the Saints went west under the direction of Brigham Young, saints living in outlying areas of Nauvoo were left behind. John E. Page, a disaffected apostle, met with the branches left behind, in the home of Granville Hedrick in November 1862 and ordained five apostles. Hedrick was made the presiding leader of this group; therefore, it is sometimes called the “Hedrickite Church.” The Church of Christ-Temple Lot rejected the doctrine of lineal descent in the presidency and was never a part of the RLDS Church. William A. Sheldon, a Church of Christ-Temple Lot apostle, made a chart comparing the beliefs and practices for the Church of Christ-Temple Lot, LDS church, and the RLDS church. He was rather selective in what he chose to list. This chart and an additional one by the author are found in the appendix.
Apostle for the Church of Christ-Temple Lot/Raising a Family
Daniel MacGregor, who formed the Minneapolis Local of the Church of Christ- Temple Lot called and ordained Arthur to the Melchizedek Priesthood 17 January 1927. Arthur was elected to serve as the Presiding Elder of the Minneapolis Local. Arthur attended that Church’s general Conference in April 1927 where he was ordained as an apostle. He moved his family to Independence, Missouri sometime in 1929 or 1930 where he served fulltime in his church.57 This was at the beginning of the Great Depression. Arthur’s steady work in the ministry of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot meant financial resources were limited.
The census record for 1930 shows Arthur and his family living in Hamilton, Caldwell, Missouri. Arthur was 50 years old and Minnie was 36. A new daughter, Barbara Jean, Arthur’s tenth child was eleven months old at the time. Barbara had been born in South Dakota. This family was on the move. Minnie had the three little girls, Lorraine, 5, Merle, 3 and baby Barbara Jean home with her while the two older children Arthur Granger age 14, and Georgia May age 7, attended school.58
Arthur spent much of his time traveling with his various missionary assignments for the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. These assignments included the northwestern state territory in 1936, which Arthur found particularly satisfying because he felt he was traversing much of the ground and territory his father traveled for the Reorganized Church many years ago. Arthur’s missionary assignments were:
|Montana, North and South Dakota, and Western Canada||1928-1929|
|Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska||1930-1932|
|Central and Southern States||1933-1934|
|Northern States Mission||1935-1936|
|Michigan and Eastern Canada||1937|
|Michigan, Eastern Canada, New York with Eastern States||1938-1941|
|Missouri, and the general church office||1942|
|Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska||1948-1951|
|Northeastern States and Eastern Canada||1952|
|Northeastern and Europe||1953-1955|
|Central States and Europe||1957-1959|
|Northeastern and Eastern States||1960-1962|
At the 1930 conference, Arthur was put in charge of the business administration in the Church general office. He was placed under bond in order to receive and disburse all of the funds that came into the Church general office. He also became the assistant editor of Zion’s Advocate, the Church paper. His travels took him, and a Brother Flint and his family, to Minneapolis in August of 1932. They stayed with fellow saints, George and Agnes Spargo, while they were there. Edna Flint, a teenager at the time, remembers everyone singing around the piano for, “many happy hours.” She recorded that Arthur, “had a beautiful tenor voice.” Edna would later meet and marry Arthur’s son, Kenneth Smith. An article about the birth of Kenneth Julian and Edna’s son Alexander can be found in the appendix.
In 1933-1934 Arthur moved his family to a farm near Ava, Missouri. Arthur’s youngest child, Joseph Frederick Smith was born in Ava, in 1935. Life for Minnie was difficult with her husband, Arthur being gone often. She was living in the “boonies” trying to run the farm with the children’s help. They raised pigs and Jersey cows. She and the children milked the cows and sold the milk. They got by the best they could while Arthur was away. The economy was very unsettled during this post-depression time, especially for farmers. They were “dirt-poor” and it was rough. Although once they moved to the farm they had the essentials. There was conflict with some of the stepchildren and when they were old enough they moved away. Arthur’s three oldest boys married during 1934-1935. The farm was a refuge for Arthur, but living conditions were primitive for his family. They did not have electricity on the farm until the 1950s when their youngest son, Joseph was in high school.
Conflict and Changes
In 1939, Germany invaded Poland starting World War II, while in Independence, Missouri, an internal conflict was developing in the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. The council of the Twelve Apostles took full charge of the affairs of the office of the Church in 1942 because of maladministration of the financial affairs of the Lord’s Storehouse. Arthur was given the assignment of directing the general office of the Church and activities in the state of Missouri. This was a trying time for Arthur because of the confusion and distress caused by those who were involved in the misuse of funds. On top of the struggle he was facing, he was given more responsibility in the Lord’s work as he was called to be the secretary of the Council of Twelve. He retained these secretarial duties until 1956.
Confusion and contention continued in the Church concerning the business administration in the general office. In open defiance to the orders of the conference, two members of the Council of the Twelve rebelled. With all of this turmoil, Arthur took a job in an automobile factory in Detroit, Michigan. (The Detroit City Directory does not list Arthur.) He was absent from General Conference for the first time in 1943. He submitted his resignation to the conference of 1943 although records indicate he was kept in the council on an inactive basis. Later in the year, the Council of the Twelve announced they had postponed conferences because of world conditions. Conferences did not resume until 6 April 1945. An example of the assignments Apostle Arthur M. Smith received from the Church of Christ-Temple Lot can be found in the appendix. The letter demonstrates how the ministers of the Church relied upon the hospitality and generosity of the saints. This system often created hardships for the family back at home.
In the fall of 1943, Arthur made a contribution to the war effort. The Army Services Forces, Northwest Service Command, Big Delta Area, Fairbanks District, Fairbanks, Alaska, he was employed by the Division Engineer. He worked on the construction of the Alaskan Highway. Payroll statements show the long hours Arthur put in at this job. He worked 96 regular hours in one two week period with 71 ½ overtime hours added to that. Needless to say the family did not accompany him to Alaska. Arthur was paid $1.50 (equal to $31.66 in 2006) an hour and time and a half for overtime. Arthur’s great love of nature and desire for adventure were satisfied in the mountainous country of Northwest Alberta, Canada and Alaska.
Back Home, Back in Church Service
Arthur returned home in 1945 to serve once again as an Apostle; however, circumstance in World War II inhibited travel. So he ministered as the situation permitted. In 1948-1949 some of his friends and associates began to “drop by the wayside.” Two of his fellow apostles, C.E. Bozarth and R.M. Maloney left the Council of the Twelve.
Joseph, Arthur’s youngest child, told his children about a family vacation he went on when he was a teenager. They went to Indiana for a family reunion with Minnie’s side of the family. It was the first time Joseph ever saw his mother\'s side of the family. He recalled they were distant to Minnie. Joseph said his Mother told him to pack a suitcase of clothes but instead he took a small bundle of clothes and packed the suitcase full of fireworks. He was big on fireworks, always throwing firecrackers behind people to scare them! When Minnie saw what Joseph had packed she made him pack his clothes in the suitcase instead. He still managed to find room for a few of the fireworks. Joseph was a prankster; the kids at school would pay him a quarter to eat a grasshopper. If there were girls nearby he would let the legs wiggle out of his mouth to make them squeal.
The Smith family enjoyed picnics, fishing, camping and singing together. The children did not play sports. Discipline in the home according to Arthur’s youngest son, Joseph, was “unstable, strict, and stern.” When the children misbehaved, they were spanked with a razor strap, or a peach tree limb. Arthur’s children were raised in the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. His older set of children did not remain active in that faith but the younger set did. The Church of Christ-Temple Lot provided instruction for the young people. The Church expected them to learn and obey God’s commandments. Dances were not allowed; they could attend movies but never on Sunday.
Other family vacations seemed to be combined with the work of the ministry Arthur was called to do. A paragraph from a letter to Apostle William A. Sheldon about church business revealed how this was done.
I met Yates down in New Mexico, and he asked me to attend the Phoenix Reunion, as he was on his way to Ucaten [sic], I promised him I would. Since Phoenix is only a little over 300 miles from my boy Carl Smith’s home in California. We have come over to spend Christmas with him and his Family [sic] and our daughter Beth and her family who live up near San Francisco, since I haven’t seem either of them for seven years, we hope to enjoy Christmas very much.
Arthur and Minnie visited two of their children that Christmas along with ministering to the saints all along the way. The next paragraph in the same letter showed that Arthur was always a missionary at heart even with his children-in-law.
We arrived here all right, but it has been raining out here in this so-called dry California desert, and it is about drounded [sic] out; But we enjoyed the drive across the desert, and the orange and grape fruit [sic] groves. And the date palms also. Have plenty of work to do, but now can’t say how it will be here as my daughter-in-law is a strong Catholic, had a good talk last night do[n’t] know how it went as yet…
While holding meetings in the northwestern territory, a youth asked Apostle Arthur M. Smith for administration. The lad was affected by an unknown malady leaving his hand almost useless. Arthur administered to the young boy and left. Sometime later, Arthur returned to the area and to his surprise, the youth came forward and showed his hand was almost normal in use.
Another time, Arthur was called upon to administer to member Dollie Anderson. She was seriously injured in an automobile accident 1 June 1930 in Texas. Her pelvic bone was fractured in three places. Her left leg was broken at the hip and twisted around until the knee almost turned backwards. Her right hip was fractured in three places. She had a punctured bladder and other internal injuries. Because of these internal injuries, peritonitis set in. On Wednesday afternoon the 4th of July, the doctors gave Dollie eight hours to live. They declared there was nothing more to be done for Dollie. That evening about 9:30 p.m. Apostles Arthur M. Smith and James Yates administered to her. She began to improve rapidly and her organs began to function properly for the first time in four days. Later, a second set of x-rays revealed only the pelvic bone, which had been completely severed, was broken and already healing. No bones needed setting, no casts were used, only the left leg needed to be pulled around into place. A month later on August 5th 1930, she visited the Temple Lot Church in a wheel chair with her father’s assistance. The doctor had told her she would be unable to move for at least eight months. Forty-nine years later, she was still doing fine.
Arthur himself was the recipient of administration when in the fall of 1950, Arthur’s appendix burst. This was the only major illness of his adult life according to his son Kenneth Julian. Kenneth was attending services on the Temple Lot in Independence Missouri, when he received notice that his father was in the hospital in Springfield Missouri 170 miles away. Kenneth, Arthur’s son who was also serving as an apostle in the-Temple Lot explained that because his father was now in his early 70s, he was quite alarmed. Kenneth immediately ran out the door. He didn’t even go home for a change of clothing. A Brother Nicolas Denham hurried to help, offering to drive Kenneth to Springfield. As the two men reached their car, a Sister Melvina Ritchison “came flying out with her coat and declared she was going along.” They quickly accepted her kindness since Sister Ritchison was a registered nurse.
The weather was cold and the roads slick making the drive that dreary night difficult. Many cars slid off the road on every side of them as they drove the 170 miles to Springfield. When they arrived, Arthur was suffering from post-operative conditions. Taking off her coat, Sister Ritchison took charge of Arthur’s care easing his misery. Kenneth and Brother Denham administered to him. When Arthur was able to talk, he told them, “I know I was at the other side and the gate had swung open.” Sister Ritchison replied firmly, “Yes, Brother Smith, but we came along and kicked it shut!”
Arthur’s recovery was slow, but Sister Ritchison stayed with him “tending to his every need with Christian love and tenderness.” A letter from Apostle Arthur in 1951 thanked the Saints for their kindness and their prayers during his illness. He hoped to be well enough to attend the April conference in 1951.
Arthur’s ministry took him next to South Wales. There on 20 December 1953, he organized a new Local of the Temple Lot church near Gilfoch, Goch, South Wales. Elder Silvanious Mason was the pastor and George Allen served as the assistant pastor. Mary Buck was the secretary-treasurer and Ivey Mason was the pianist. Since Arthur’s youngest child, Joseph, was now an adult of eighteen, Minnie, Arthur’s wife sometimes accompanied him on his trips. This trip to Wales was her favorite. She enjoyed it thoroughly, and the Welsh converts loved her and Arthur. A farewell tea they gave on 10 January 1954 displayed Arthur and Minnie’s success in Wales. The tea was well attended and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The saints in Wales sent a direct appeal to the conference in April of 1954 asking that Arthur and Minnie return. The conference agreed to this request and the secretary of the conference sent a letter to Wales with the news. Sister Buck, the secretary-treasurer of this small Local replied in a letter, “We will be waiting with a cup of Welch tea.” It was difficult to obtain passage to Wales by boat because of heavy tourist travel. So Arthur and Minnie decided to travel for the first time by plane. They arrived back in Gilfoch, Goch, Wales on 11 July 1954 to meet briefly with the saints in that local.
Upon their return to the United States, Arthur labored in the northeastern states, and at the same time oversaw the European Mission. Time and resources prevented his and Minnie’s return to Wales. Glowing reports from that part of their field kept them informed on the growth and development. These reports also included remarks of appreciation for Minnie Smith’s assistance to the work.
Arthur continued in various assignments as an apostle for the Church of Christ- Temple Lot for the rest of his life. In April 1962 Arthur had another opportunity to administer to the sick. His own son Alexander M. Smith of Ava, Missouri went to conference even though he didn’t feel well. When the conference ended, Alexander returned home to his farm in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. He progressively became more and more ill and was taken to the doctor in Ava, a very small town. The doctor took blood samples and checked them under a microscope. This showed the red corpuscles had almost disappeared indicating leukemia.
Alexander, Arthur’s son, was hospitalized in Mansfield, Missouri a town about 15 miles north of Ava. He was diagnosed with leukemia and given a transfusion of nine pints of blood. His body swelled up until Alexander could hardly move with an adverse reaction to the transfusion. Alexander called in his legal advisor and made legal provisions concerning his property as he prepared to die.
Arthur’s great love for his children was revealed when he refused to believe that one of them, Alexander, was dying. He drove to the hospital every day and administered to his son. Alexander was then transferred 177 miles from Mansfield, Missouri to a state hospital for cancer located in Columbia, Missouri. The state hospital admitted him as a patient in the last stages of leukemia. Arthur continued to visit Alexander often and administer to him. Alexander was in the hospital for some time until a doctor from another state came in and checked his record. This out-of-state doctor asked Alexander what he was in the hospital for. He informed Alexander he did not have leukemia, but was suffering and extreme case of post-flu symptoms. Alexander was discharged and sent home.
Later Alexander was walking down the street in Ava, Missouri and the local doctor who had first diagnosed his leukemia stopped him. The doctor asked him what he was doing there. He then went on to say he could take any doctor in the country into his office and show them Alexander’s files proving without a shadow of doubt that he had leukemia in the last stages. The Smith family maintained this was a healing unheard of by modern science. This was a healing miracle by his father, Apostle Arthur M. Smith.
After hearing Arthur bear his testimony in a prayer service, a fellow member of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot encouraged Arthur to write this testimony for the Advocate. The Advocate was the church newspaper and copies went to most members. Arthur promised this good brother he would follow his request even though he felt reluctant. He was hesitant to take up the space in the paper with his own experiences, which seemed of little interest to himself, let alone to others. But being a man of his word, Arthur followed through with the request. In doing so, Arthur discovered an inner desire to leave his testimony explaining why he was a member of the Church of Christ- Temple Lot, rather than following the “natural trend of his father’s family” that were members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Arthur began one draft of his testimony like Nephi began the Book of Mormon. “I was born of goodly parentage.” His father, Alexander Hale Smith, was a missionary for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for all of Arthur’s life, even at his birth. Therefore, he was away from home most of the Arthur’s childhood years. However, little Arthur knew his father was serving God and respected him for it. Arthur recorded he did not know when he himself became converted to the gospel. He wondered if it was more of a matter of absorption than conversion since he grew up in a family where Church work and the Gospel were the constant and predominating objectives. He learned much of the gospel just by listening to the conversations between the older members of his family. He also learned about the gospel by listening to the conversations of visitors who came to speak to his parents. His mother was also a defender of the faith. She had been raised in Nauvoo and told Arthur of the difficult times of the saints in that “City beautiful.” Much of what Arthur learned about the Church was from listening eagerly to the “thrice told tales” of the history his parents had lived through.
Arthur was grateful for this “living historical background” which he felt was helpful when his faith was later tried so forcefully it was almost destroyed. Arthur told how as a young boy, he had spiritual experiences but was also subject to trial and temptation. At times he strayed from the “straight and narrow way.” He was convinced he would not want to repeat his youth, “Lest I should make even greater mistakes and errors than what was done.” He was grateful he could trust God who judges by the heart not as men judge. Arthur was convinced of God’s merciful understanding of the many trials and temptations that surround his children and the influence in their lives.
Arthur believed his testimony in God began when he was very young during the experience when his father returned home and healed him and his younger sister. As he grew older, the sorrows, griefs, and disappointments of life nearly bore him down. Acquaintances who were more educated than he, tried to convince him God did not exist. His childhood faith was severely tested until he asked himself as the wife of Job did when she said, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die!” At this time, the memory of his first manifestation of God’s spirit and power when his father blessed him as a boy, kept him steadfast until this struggle passed.
Arthur also felt his testimony was greatly impacted by the incident when he was a teenager hired to hoe weeds in a cornfield. The visit he had during lunch with Charles A. Wicks, the man who hired him and gave him the small pamphlet he called the “Book of Commandments,” was of significant importance to him when he decided later to leave the RLDS Church and become a member of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot.
Arthur continued his testimony with the statement, “It has been said of history, it is cruel, it has no favorites, neither does it know mercy.” As Arthur attempted to sift through the fabrication of falsehoods and misrepresentations that surrounded the Restoration, the facts may have seemed harsh. In the next sentence, he wrote of the need to be charitable with those who made the history and have long ago gone to their rest. Arthur believed judgment, “rested with a just God who knoweth all things.”
Arthur next testified of the first vision of his grandfather, Joseph Smith Jr., when he went into the woods near his home to pray and ask God which church he should join. In this vision, God and Jesus Christ told Joseph not to join any of the churches, as the truth was no longer upon the earth. Joseph told those around him about his vision. The people were startled because this was contrary to the preaching and teaching of the Ministers of those times. Arthur continued with an explanation of apostasy and the reformation. Joseph was called as a prophet by God to restore the original church.
Arthur quoted a statement by Elbert A. Smith found in Testimonies of the Restoration. “Obedient to the instructions of the Lord and Master, six young men organized the church. They were without experience in church building and there was no church of Jesus Christ in its organic form and having the old scriptural doctrine and spiritual gifts. Revelations [sic] 19:10 says the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophesy.” Arthur believed that his grandfather Joseph Smith restored Christ’s church upon the earth and was called by God to be a prophet in these latter days.
A publication of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot explained that Joseph Smith organized the Church of Christ on 6 April 1830 at the Peter Whitmer farm in New York. In August of 1831, Joseph and six other men dedicated a 63 acre parcel of land in Independence, Jackson, Missouri. A portion of this land was dedicated where they planned to build a “Temple of the Lord.” The saints of the Restoration, Mormons, were driven from the State of Missouri before this was accomplished. The publication was written to show that The Church of Christ-Temple Lot holds the deed to the spot where Joseph stood to dedicate this parcel of land. A chapel stands on their portion of the parcel. Interestingly, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ, built what they call a temple on another portion of this land. Their church headquarters and an Auditorium are located here too. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also owns much of this parcel of land and has a visitor center and chapel on their portion.
The next part of Arthur’s testimony is a page of history about the Church of Christ-Temple Lot found in the appendix. This history explains the basis of the Church of Christ-Temple Lot. It is important to understand this history to understand why Arthur left the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to become a member of Temple Lot Church.
The Church of Christ-Temple Lot, “looks forward to the day when Latter Day Saints shall resolve their doctrinal differences, and return to the primitive teachings of the Church as restored on 6 April 1830, that they may assist in building the House of the Lord upon this consecrated Spot.” A pamphlet about the Temple Lot Deed shows a picture of the stone marker, which was laid, by Joseph Smith and seven companions 3 August 1831. This stone was found forty feet west of the northeast corner of the Temple foundation 18 May 1929. The purpose of writing this pamphlet was to settle the question of ownership of the Temple Lot or Spot where the stone marker was found.
This pamphlet explains the feeling in the Smith family regarding their responsibility in carrying on the restoration. It also shows a desire to unite the different factions of the Restoration into one effort:
Since that time to this, throughout all the changing years, throughout all their suffering and loss, often broken in spirit and body, the descendants of these same earnest men, their children and grandchildren and those who have joined with them, have looked forward to that time when in deed and truth, God’s work, would begin in earnest, and this “Temple” of the Lord be built. And although division and separation has scattered those who should be united in the effort to accomplish this work, still in every division, we find the steadfast faith and belief that this Temple shall yet be built. Thus the “Spot” dedicated by these men over one hundred and twenty years ago, is still of vital interest to believers in the great Restoration.
An interview by Earl Pingree Tanner Sr. with two grandsons of the Prophet Joseph Smith gives an interesting perspective of the three main restoration churches. On 9 March 1954, Mr. Tanner visited Israel Smith, the President of the RLDS church, who became president after the death of his brother, Fred M. Smith, in 1946. During the visit in President Smith’s office, they spoke of the prophet Joseph Smith and of some church history sites, including the Kirtland temple. President Israel Smith (Arthur’s cousin) introduced Mr. Tanner to his counselors Wallace Smith (a half brother who became President after Israel’s death in 1958) and F. Henry Edwards. President Smith carefully explained that his father remarried after his mother had died and did not practice polygamy. After visiting for about 30 minutes, they walked outside where Mr. Tanner looked across to the temple lot owned by the Church of Christ-Temple Lot, sometimes called Hedrickite, after Granville Hedrick who had led the group to Independence. He asked about that church and was told they did not have a president, only a quorum of twelve apostles.
Mr. Tanner and his wife went to the Hedrickite church and were introduced to Apostle Arthur M. Smith. Mr. Tanner explained he just had a nice visit with Arthur’s cousin and expressed his high regard for the prophet Joseph Smith. Arthur replied that his grandfather wasn’t perfect, only Christ was perfect, but in spite of his imperfections, Joseph Smith was one of the greatest men to live on the earth except the Savior. The conversation moved to temples. Arthur asked Mr. Tanner why the LDS church did not take over the Kirtland temple, explaining that the RLDS church did not have a deed to the Kirtland Temple. Mr. Tanner replied the LDS church would not be interested in claiming the Kirtland temple. He recorded that Arthur “seemed interested in the thought of our church [LDS] having it [Kirtland Temple] rather than the present occupants [RLDS].”
The conversation continued as Mr. Tanner asked Apostle Arthur Smith if the LDS church did buy the Kirtland temple, would the Church of Christ-Temple Lot sell the lot they were standing on? Arthur looked Earl Pingree Tanner straight in the eye and said, “You could have this lot for a postage stamp if we knew you had a revelation saying it should be yours and we had one assuring us yours was correct and from the Lord.” This conversation exemplified how Arthur felt about the Temple Lot and his role in preserving this sacred place until prophecy could be fulfilled. In fact, the Church of Christ-Temple Lot tried to build a temple on this spot in 1930-1932. Plans were drawn up, the lot excavated, and the foundation begun. However, without adequate funds, the project was put on hold, and later the city had them fill it in because it was a hazard.
Early in 1965, Arthur returned home to Ava, Missouri from a missionary trip to rest before the next general conference. He went into the woods to cut wood for his home and for his daughter and her family. After he finished chopping wood, he returned back to the house when he noticed his stock had gotten out of the fence. He went and rounded them up and put them back into the pens. He again returned to the house and sat down by the fireplace he had built with his own hands. Arthur asked his daughter-in-law, Sue Smith, who was standing in the kitchen, “Ask Mom if she has any coffee on the stove. That was just like a week’s work.” When Sue returned with the coffee, she found him slumped in the chair. Arthur’s “wise and gentle spirit,” had taken flight. Arthur’s death came as a terrible shock to Minnie and the family.
Arthur Marion Smith died 7 March 1965 in his humble farm home. He was 87 years 27 days old. He had a full life. His experiences had taken him across the entire United States, to the North Pole, Alaska, the British Isles, and Europe. He died as he always told his children he wanted to, with his shoes on. He actively served and worked until the very end of his life. Although his family mourned his loss, they found comfort in the thought expressed by his older son, “What greater blessing could a man have than to labor his whole life through and travel extensively and come home and pass away in his own chair by his own fireplace.”
Fellow Apostle T.J. Jordan wrote how he felt when he received the phone call telling him that his friend and fellow-apostle, Arthur M. Smith, had passed away that morning:
After hanging up the telephone, I sat down in an easy chair in the living room. While sitting there in such deep sorrow and such a great loss, I was only concerned about my personal loss and the great loss of the church. No other thought had entered my mind, when I suddenly felt a glow of the warmth of the Spirit of God, which seemed to fill my whole being. Suddenly, I was acquainted with the fact, ‘Say unto my people that my servant, Apostle Arthur M. Smith, who had been called home from his labors, is now resting in the Paradise of God awaiting the morning of the first resurrection when he will be raised to enter into his duties and carry on his labors throughout the thousand years reign and then enter into the more fruitful life eternal.”
After Arthur’s death, Minnie lived with her adult children. She died in a similar manner as Arthur. She was living with her oldest daughter, Georgia. Before bed one evening, Minnie sat in a chair working on a needlepoint project. Georgia went to bed and when she awoke in the morning, she found Minnie had passed away. She was still in her chair as peaceful as if she had nodded off. Kim Davis, Minnie’s granddaughter, who was living nearby, has a vivid memory of waking suddenly from a deep sleep that night and speaking Minnie’s name knowing something had happened.
Arthur Marion Smith was born into a religious legacy. He carried on that legacy, laboring all of his adult days to carry the message of the restoration as he saw it, to the world. He followed in his father’s footsteps as an apostle even though he did so in a different denomination. Arthur craved spiritual unity and wanted to see the RLDS, LDS and Church of Christ-Temple Lot unite. He and his family made many sacrifices in order for Arthur to serve as they felt the Lord called him to do. His example influenced his children who grew up loyal to the family legacy even if they may not have entirely understood the meaning. His youngest son, Joseph Frederick Smith is an elder in the Church of Christ-Temple Lot striving to carry on his father’s vision of unity. Arthur was sincere in his beliefs and efforts to carry on his part of the Smith legacy.
Appendix 1: Maps of Iowa and Missouri
Appendix 2: Certificate of Appointment...
Certificate of Appointment and Letter of Assignment
Apostle A.M. Smith Ava, Missouri (Also Big Delta Camp- Fairbanks Alaska)
This is to certify to you and to all whom it may concern, that at the late conference of the Church of Christ, (Temple Lot), held at Independence, Missouri April 6 to 14 1943, you were appointed as an ordained minister of the gospel, to engage in missionary work and other church activities in the following State, Provinces and Countries, to-wit: State of Missouri and General Church Office until the next conference, to preach therein the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and administer in the ordinances thereof agreeable to the laws and regulations of said church, and according to the authority conferred upon you and by your appointment to said field of labor, as certified in this letter and in harmony with the Articles of Faith and Practice of said Church of Christ.
And furthermore, the church having confidence in you, does commend you to the hospitality and care of its members where you may labor, and to their ministrations and aid, as well as to that of all others who love truth and righteousness, accordingly as they may be able and willing to thus minister to you. We also commend you to the officers, managers and agents of railway lines, steamship companies and other transportation systems for such courtesies, permits or lessened rates as they may be able, consistent with their rules, regulations or powers to grant to minister of the Gospel.
Hoping that by wise and upright conduct and conversation you will merit the trust and confidence of all these, as well as of the Church, I hereby affix my signature as the secretary of the council of twelve Apostles, who have the missionary supervision and general watch care of all the churches,” which compose this Church of Christ (Temple Lot), with headquarters at Independence, Missouri.
Arthur M. Smith Secretary for the Council of the Twelve Forest E. Maley Gen\'l Church Secretary Seal
Appendix 3: Belief Comparison Charts
|Doctrine||C of C||LDS||RLDS|
|12 Apostles at the head||Yes||No||No|
|A prophet at the head||No||Yes||Yes|
|Church name as of 1830||Yes||No||No|
|Book of Mormon||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Book of Commandments||*||No||No|
|Doctrine and Covenants||*||Yes||Yes|
|Pearl of Great Price||No||Yes||No|
|Baptism for the dead||No||Yes||No|
|Man to become a God||No||Yes||No|
|God, once a man||No||Yes||No|
|Temple in Zion (Independence, Missouri)||Yes||Yes||Yes|
*Sheldon states: Joseph Smith gave many revelations, but not all were divine. All revelation must be in harmony with the Bible and Book of Mormon, the only safe standards. See Isaiah 8:20 and Ezekiel 37:19—only two “sticks” or “books” of scripture.
**Utah D&C provides for plural marriages, but the practice was since declared illegal by President Woodruff. The Church of Christ is a remnant of the original church of 1830, being neither disorganized nor reorganized. Its priesthood may be traced back, intact to Joseph Smith and the angel. Early church innovations were accepted for a time, but we later repudiated them, reverting to the scriptural pattern in organization and doctrine. As the Bible and Book of Mormon were said to contain the fullness of the gospel, fullness will admit of no new doctrine nor priesthood office. See D&C, Utah ed. 42:12,59; RLDS ed. 42:5,16.
Other doctrines and practices that should be compared between these three churches are included in the following chart by the author:
|Doctrine||C of C||LDS||RLDS|
|Word of Wisdom||Yes||Yes||No|
|Gift of the Holy Ghost by priesthood||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Anointing the Sick||Yes||Yes||Yes|
It should be noted that the RLDS church is currently known as the Community of Christ Church; its membership numbers 250,000. The Church of Christ (Temple Lot) has a world-wide membership of about 8000. The LDS church has a membership in excess of 13 million.
Appendix 4: Statement of History of the Church of Christ
Whereas, History reveals to us that the Saints of Woodford County, Illinois in harmony with instructions given to Granville Hedrick by revelation in 1864, did leave their homes in Illinois, and come to Independence, Missouri, with the express purpose of purchasing and obtaining the property now known as the Temple Lots, for the purpose of holding the same for the building of the Temple, for which purpose this property was dedicated and set apart, by the prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and others who were with them on 3 August 1831.
And whereas; These Saints were faithful in this trust and did buy and obtain possession and control of this property, and have maintained this ownership and control through the years up to the present date; and, whereas the Church of Christ by Conference action in 1926 did again affirm the purpose for which these lots, known as the Temple Lots, were purchased, and held; ‘That Independence, Missouri, is the headquarters of the Church, and the place of the gathering of the saints of these latter days. That a temple will be build at this place, on the sacred Temple Lots, according to the revelation. Said Temple Lots which are the property of the Church of Christ are held as the site of the future Temple, and for no other purpose. (See Conference Minutes of September 1926)
Therefore, Be it resolved that we do reaffirm the position of the Church of Christ, relative to the purpose for which these lots, known as the Temple Lots, were purchased and held. Which is ‘Said Temple Lots which are the property of the Church of Christ are held as the site of the future Temple, and for no other purpose. Wherefore, we the Church of Christ pledge ourselves to see that the sacred trust placed upon them by the revelation of 1864 and 1867 which was so faithfully discharged during their lives, shall be continued and that we shall defend and hold said property for the purpose for which they were purchase and dedicated and for no other purpose.