The life and times of Joseph Smith, Jr., his wife Emma Hale Smith, and their children.
Frederick Granger Williams Smith
Portrait of Frederick Granger Williams Smith.
Frederick Granger William Smith, born 20 June 1836, came into the world at a most challenging time in the lives of his parents, Emma and Joseph Smith Jr. They had arrived in Kirtland, Ohio in January 1831, refugees from the state of New York, where in 1830, Joseph had founded a new church, established an all-out missionary effort to acquaint the world with the testimony that the Lord had opened the heavens and a new dispensation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was about to roll forth upon a wicked and unsuspecting world. The Smiths arrived in Kirtland as a result of the missionary labor which converted over one-hundred souls in that area to the new church variously named, Church of Christ, Church of the Latter Day Saints. By 1833, the Church had begun to build a temple, and in 1835, had adopted the official name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In March 1836, just a few weeks before Frederick G. W. Smith was born, the beautiful Kirtland Temple was dedicated amidst magnifi cent heavenly manifestations which attested to the fact that this was indeed a time when God’s voice and power was being revealed to men (and women) on earth. it was also a time when the devil’s rage was being manifest both without and within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Before young Frederick would reach the age of two, his family was forced to flee from Kirtland, and make a difficult winter trek across country, to Far West, Missouri. As a babe in arms, he was too young to know or understand the trials his parents were going through; but, as a child of three, he was able to articulate the dreadful night dreams he had, in which he told his family at breakfast that “the Missourians came and got their heads knocked off.”
At the age of eight, he suffered the loss of his beloved father, murdered with his uncle Hyrum in Carthage on June 27, 1844. At such a young age, he could little have understood the causes, but he certainly realized the grief and pain of the loss of his loved ones. That loss was magnified when his beloved uncle Samuel Smith died within a few weeks after that event; the deaths of these good men would change his life forever.
Alice Fredericka Smith.
Frederick left no written works; his memorial remains in a few comments about his character by his brothers, Joseph III and Alexander who attest to his sweet nature and his disinterest in participating in any conflicts over religion. On 13 November 1857, Frederick married Anna Marie Jones. A little over a year later, 27 November 1858, a daughter, Alice Fredericka, was born to them at Nauvoo. In 1861, his younger brother, Alexander, and his wife Elizabeth moved to the Smith farm southeast of Nauvoo. In January, 1862, when Elizabeth gave birth to her fi rst child, her health became so seriously compromised Alexander took her from the farm into Nauvoo to be nursed by his mother. Apparently, Frederick, and his wife Anna Marie, and little Alice Fredericka moved to the farm so Frederick could take care of things there.
Little information exists from which to contrive any sort of personal accounting of their lives other than that in the spring of 1862, Frederick became very ill. Instead of contacting his family to report his condition, his wife left him at the farm and went to her mother’s home. Joseph Smith III happened to stop to see his brother and family. To his great dismay, he discovered Frederick alone in the cold house, desperately ill, with no food, and no wood to make a fire. Joseph immediately took Frederick to the Mansion House to be nursed by their mother.
Emma was skilled in nursing the sick; she was well known for being able to cure the sick through the use of herbs and tender care. It was not to be this time however, and on 27 April 1862, Frederick succumbed to his illness, possibly tuberculosis. He was about two months short of his twenty-fourth birthday. Frederick’s death left the entire family in stunned sorrow. Anna Marie took her daughter away from Nauvoo; she later remarried and returned expecting and hoping for some legacy from Frederick’s share of the estate. Frederick had owned nothing of his own. His daughter grew up away from Nauvoo and never knew much of the family until she was grown. She never married; there is no living posterity.
David Hyrum Smith
Portrait of David Hyrum Smith.
The youngest of the nine children born to Emma and Joseph Smith Jr., David Hyrum, came into the world on 14 November 1844, in the Old Homestead, in Nauvoo, Illinois. Five months before his birth, his father, Joseph Smith Jr., had been killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. A frail, colicky baby, he was cherished by his widowed mother, his elder (and adopted) sister, Julia, his brothers, Joseph III, Frederick, and Alexander. He was three years old when his mother married Louis C. Bidamon. With that marriage he gained two new step-sisters, Mary Elizabeth 11, and Emma Zerelda Bidamon, 13, who, like so many other children, were welcomed by his mother, Emma, who could never stand to see a soul in need go without giving aid.
In his youth he became an accomplished artist, poet, and musician. He was at the age of about sixteen when his brother Joseph III took leadership of the Reorganization in 1860. He soon became eagerly involved in the ministry with his brother. As he matured, he became a good preacher, and always touched the hearts of any congregation with his wonderful hymns of faith and devotion to God and the cause of the restoration. Never having known his father, he penned a sad ballad entitled, “The Unknown Grave” which tells of the death of his father, his uncle Hyrum, and their sacrifice for the cause of the gospel.
Portrait of Clara Hartshorn.
David traveled west with Alexander on a mission to Utah, California, and points west, in 1869. They pursued that journey, going by wagon to Omaha, where they boarded the Union Pacific Railroad, becoming some of the earliest travelers on that road after its completion in May of 1869. They arrived in Salt Lake City on 15 July. David was excited about the opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed the western country. He and Alexander were made welcome in their cousin, John Smith’s home. They were together for an unpleasant encounter with Brigham Young and other leaders of the Church in Utah; Brigham Young refused the Smith boys use of the Tabernacle and scolded them for their activities, speaking harshly to them of their mother.
They left the meeting smarting with indignation that someone would ever speak so against their dear mother, whom they loved so deeply. They felt Brigham had misjudged her, and they would like to have corrected him, but they held their tempers and wrote home describing the incident with great indignation. In December they were in California. David suffered illness which was very debilitating but struggled to continue his missionary labors.
Alexander was called home due to his wife’s illness, so the two went home in March 1870. David was cared for by his mother and seemed to improve. On the 10 May 1870 he married the young woman who had captured his heart, Clara Hartshorn, at Sandwich, Illinois. The young couple set up housekeeping in the Mansion House, living with Emma and Pa Bidamon. On 8 March 1871, a son, Elbert Aoriul was born to Clara and David in room #10, of the old hotel wing. Things got very crowded there when Alexander and Lizzie, with their four children moved back to Nauvoo. Louis Bidamon hastened to get the Riverside Mansion ready and he and Emma moved into it.
David went to Utah In the middle of the summer of 1871, without church authorization where his harsh words were published in the Salt Lake Daily Tribune in July. He was back to Nauvoo within a few weeks and continued his travels throughout Iowa, Missouri, Illinois preaching and publishing his sermons. He became a popular and formidable speaker. He was anxious to return to Utah.
David Hyrum Smith, son of Joseph Smith, Jr.
In July 1872, he was finally called to accompany Charles Jensen on another mission back to Utah. While there he seemed to lose the sense of his religious purpose; he suffered a complete physical and emotional breakdown. During the early months of 1873, he fought to recover, but he was returned home in May in the care of Josiah Ells. Unknowing of David’s severe illness, Joseph had called him to serve in the First Presidency in April. David seemed to feel better. He and Clara set up housekeeping in Plano; but his illness overtook him, and he was never well enough to serve in that capacity due to ongoing bouts of depression and confusion. His emotional and physical breakdown was not due to his missionary labors in Utah as some mistakenly implied. From 1874 through 1876, his family struggled to care for him passing him back and forth between Plano, Lamoni, IA. When he became violent, it was decided there was nothing that could be done except to place him in the asylum for the mentally ill in Elgin, Illinois. Joseph Smith III took this sad step on 19 January 1877. David was thirtytwo.
For the rest of his life, David had times of lucid thought but it did not last. His book, Hesperis a book of Poems, published in 1875 brought a small income to his wife and child. Emma said of his condition to a friend calling it her “living trouble.” Emma, and the entire family mourned the terrible loss of their brilliant, and gifted, deeply beloved, son, brother, uncle and cousin.
David died 29 August 1904, a few months short of his sixtieth birthday.
His son Elbert married and had three sons.
Alexander Hale Smith
Portrait of Alexander Hale Smith
Alexander Hale Smith was born 2 June 1838, at Far West, Caldwell, Missouri, about six weeks after his parents made the January to March trek from Kirtland, Ohio, to the new county set up for the Mormons through the infl uence of Joseph’s friend, Alexander Doniphan. A day before his birth, Joseph Smith Jr., was surveying a new town. He returned just in time for the birth of this son whom they named Alexander, after Mr. Doniphan, and Hale, after his mother’s maiden name.
In February 1839, as an infant in his mother’s arms he crossed the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois. He was only six when his father and Uncle Hyrum were murdered by the mob at Carthage, and he was eight when he watched the departure for the west of thousands of the Saints, including many of his friends and cousins. Although he was too young to have any memory of the mobs, or the driving of his family, and their many associates, out of the State of Missouri, as an adult he developed a strong hatred for oppression of any sort; and would, as a courageous pioneer, return to Missouri, before any of the rest of his family.
Alexander grew to maturity in Nauvoo; He loved sports, especially hunting and fishing, and boating. The woman who would become Alexander’s wife, Elizabeth Agnes Kendall, born in England, May 7, 1843, (Lizzie) was a spunky little woman who had been orphaned at the age of eight. Emma was a friend of her mother, and welcomed the child into the Mansion House in about 1851. It’s unlikely that Alexander paid much attention to young Lizzie in those early years; but when romance struck, it stuck. He married his Lizzie on 23 June 1861. They made their home at the Smith farm in Sonora Township where, in January 1862, their firstborn was born; they him named Frederick Alexander. The birth was difficult and Lizzie nearly died. Alexander took her to Emma where she was nursed back to health. Frederick went to the farm to take care of things.
Portrait of Elizabeth Agnes Kendall
Alexander did not get involved when Joseph III accepted leadership in the Reorganization, in 1860. It was not until Frederick died, unexpectedly, in April 1862, that Alex began to think about religion. He anguished that his brother died without being baptized; he prayed and received a comforting message of the Spirit that Frederick’s condition was pleasant and the time would come when baptism could be secured to him. Then he gladly allowed his brother Joseph to baptize him in the Mississippi River, in May 1862. From the time of his baptism, until his death in 1909, he spent the rest of his life in the service of the RLDS Church, traveling across the country to the west six times; twice by wagon train or horseback, and four times by railroad. He was assigned the Western Slope, which included the entire area from Colorado west to California, north to Canada and South to Mexico; he established many congregations in California, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah, as well as traveling to the South Seas. He also traveled to New York City, and Boston. He labored in Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, and Kansas, preaching and overseeing priesthood leadership, and giving patriarchal blessings.
Back row: Don Alvin, Coral Cecil Rebecca, Joseph George, Emma Belle, Arthur Marion
Front row: Vida Elizabeth, Alexander Hale Smith, Elizabeth A. (Lizzie) Kendall Smith, Frederick Alexander
(Missing from this photo: Ina Inez Smith Wright, living in Australia; Eva Grace Smith Madison, who had died)
Alexander and Elizabeth lived in Nauvoo, Amboy, Nauvoo, and then Andover, Missouri, Stewartsville, Missouri, Independence, Missouri, and Lamoni, Iowa. They had nine children, all of whom lived to maturity. Alex and Lizzie were married 37 years. They adored one another. In commenting about her father’s ministry, his daughter, Emma Belle Smith Kennedy said in more than 25 years of marriage, he had not been home with his family more than ten of those years. As she lamented the lonesome situation it was for her mother, herself, and her siblings, she also felt pride in her father, though she felt it had been wrong for him to be gone so much from his family.
Like his brother Joseph, he detested the principle of polygamy and spoke out against Brigham Young while in Utah, an act which he felt brought danger to his life. His animosity to all that he perceived the Utah Mormon church to stand for was never resolved in this life.
Alexander and brother Joseph III
His good works included serving on the Board of Directors of Graceland College; he was an apostle, the patriarch to the RLDS church, and served as a counselor in the presidency. His entire heart and soul was committed to service to God, His church, and His kingdom. His testimony of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Doctrine and Covenants, resonated across the nations in sermons of faith, and the expectation of Christ’s Second Coming. He died while visiting in Nauvoo on 12 August 1909. He is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, at Lamoni, Iowa. Alexander’s extensive posterity (he had 48 grandchildren, all lived to maturity but three) can be found in almost every state in America, and Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, and Europe.
(Source: History of Alexander Hale Smith, by Vida Elizabeth Smith; Emma Belle Smith Kennedy Journal in possession of Michael A. Kennedy, Alpine, UT. Our Data Base records.)
1805 - 1819
1805 - December 23: Born in Sharon, Vermont, to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith
1807 - March to 1808 - March: Moves with family to Tunbridge, Vermont. (1-2 years old)
1808 - 1810: Moves with family to South Royalton, Vermont. (2-4 years old)
1812 - after May: Moves with family to West Lebanon, New Hampshire. (6 years old)
1812 - 1813, Winter: Suffers from typhoid fever for two weeks and has a portion of lower left leg bone removed in experimental operation. (7-8 years old)
1814 - Stays with uncle Jesse Smith in Salem, Massachusetts, in order to recover from leg operation. (8 years old)
1815 - by May: Moves with family to Norwich, Vermont. Family rents a farm but has three successive crop failures. (9 years old)
1816 - Fall: Bids farewell to his father, who leaves family to search for better living conditions in the state of New York. (10 years old)
1817 - January: Moves with family to Main Street in the village of Palmyra, New York. (11 years old)
1818 - Begins to search the scriptures because of concern about his eternal welfare. (12 years old)
1819 - April: Moves with family to a hundred-acre farm in Manchester township 1.7 miles south of Palmyra. (13 years old)
1806 - 1829
1820 - April: Visited by God the Father, Jesus Christ, and many angels in a secluded grove of trees on Smith Family Farm. (14 years old)
1823 - September 21-22: Visited by angel Moroni and informed that if faithful, he will be instrumental in bringing forth the Book of Mormon.
1826 - March 20: Charged in South Bainbridge, New York, court with being a "disorderly person." This is the first of many harassing lawsuits brought against the prophet during his lifetime. (20 years old)
1827 - January 18: Elopes with Emma Hale of Harmony, Pennsylvania, and is married by Esq. Zachariah Tarble (a justice of the peace) in South Bainbridge, New York. (21 years old)
1827 - September 22: Receives the golden plates of the Book of Mormon from angel Moroni and hides them in a hollow log in the woods.
1827 - December: Moves to Harmony, Pennsylvania, and lives on in-laws' farm. Begins copying some characters inscribed on Book of Mormon plates.
1828 - February: Sends Martin Harris with sample of Book of Mormon characters to several linguists in northeastern United States.
1828 - April 12: Begins translation of the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris volunteers to act as scribe. (22 years old)
1828 - June 15: Firstborn child dies within hours of birth.
1829 - April 7: Begins translating the Book of Mormon with Oliver Cowdery as full-time scribe.
1829 - May: Receives with Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood by the laying on of hands from John the Baptist. (23 years old)
1829 - May: Receives with Oliver Cowdery the Melchizedek Priesthood by the laying on of hands from Peter, James, and John.
1829 - June: Moves to Fayette, New York, where the Book of Mormon translation is completed in the Peter Whitmer, Sr., home.
1830 - 1839
1830 - April 6: Formally organizes the restored Church of Jesus Christ in Fayette, New York, at the home of Peter Whitmer, Sr. (24 years old)
1830 - June: Begins the inspired translation of the Bible.
1831 - April 30: Becomes the father of twins. Both die with three hours of birth.
1831 - May 9: Adopts infant twins (Joseph and Julia) from John Murdock whose wife has recently passed away.
1831 - August 3: Dedicates the site for the temple in Independence, Missouri. (25 years old)
1832 - February 16: Visions of the Father and Son, premortal events, and three degrees of post-resurrection glory.
1832 - March 24: Tarred and feathered by a mob in Hiram, Ohio. Beaten, scratched, had hair torn out, and had a tooth broken in attempted poisoning. Preaches the next day with enemies in the audience.
1832 - March 29: Adopted son (Joseph Murdock) dies from exposure suffered during the mob action of March 24.
1832 - November 6: Son Joseph Smith, III, born.
1833 - January 22-23: Organizes the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio.
1834 - May to June: Leads the Zion's Camp expedition to redeem property taken by mob in Jackson County, Missouri. (28 years old)
1836 - March 27: Dedicates the Kirtland Temple. (30 years old)
1836 - June 20: Son Frederick G. W. Smith born.
1837 - June 4: Informs Heber C. Kimball that the Lord wants him to go on the first overseas mission of the church. (31 years old)
1838 - June 2: Son Alexander H. Smith born.
1838 - November 1: Sentenced by a Missouri state militia to be shot but the assigned executioner, Alexander W. Doniphan, refuses to carry out the murderous act.
1838 - December 1: Imprisoned at Liberty Jail with several other Saints.
1839 - April 16: Allowed to escape by prison guards as he and others were being transported from Liberty Jail to Columbia, Missouri.
1839 - October to March 1840: Visits the president of the United States (Martin Van Buren) and members of Congress in an attempt to receive restitution for the Missouri persecutions but is not successful.
1840 - 1844
1840 - August 15: Publicly teaches ordinance of baptism for the dead for the first time.
1841 - February 4: Elected as lieutenant general of the Nauvoo Legion.
1841 - November 8: Dedicates the baptismal font in the basement of the Nauvoo Temple.
1842 - Jaunary 5: Opens the Red Brick Store for business in Nauvoo.
1842 - February: Takes over as managing editor of the Times and Seasons newspaper. (36 years old)
1842 - February 7: Son is stillborn.
1842 - March 15: Writes a letter containing the Articles of Faith to Chicago newspaper man John Wentworth.
1842 - March 17: Organizes Female Relief Society of the church.
1842 - May 4: Administers the first Nauvoo-era temple endowments on the upper floor of the Red Brick Store.
1842 - May 19: Elected as mayor of the city of Nauvoo.
1843 - September 28: Receives "the highest and holiest order of the priesthood" (WJS, 303-304). (37 years old)
1844 - June 18: Delivers his last public sermon. Calls out the Nauvoo Legion and declares martial law in the city for protection against mob violence.
1844 - June 25: Turns himself over to Governor Thomas Ford at Carthage, Illinois, after being charged with riot and treason. The governor promises that Joseph Smith will be protected from his enemies.
1844 - June 27: Murdered along with his brother Hyrum Smith by large, armed mob at jail in Charthage, Illinois, at approximately 5:16 p.m. (38 years old)
1844 - June 29: Funeral sermon in Nauvoo, Illinois. Coffin filled with sand bags is buried in the city cemetary while the body of the Prophet is secretly buried in the basement of the Nauvoo House.
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Sealed to Joseph
In records of early endowments in Nauvoo there is documentation that Emma received sacred ordinances from Joseph, and she administered them under Joseph’s direction to many other women. 12 One of Emma’s duties as the Prophet’s wife was to supervise the women’s part of the ordinances. Joseph and Emma were sealed for time and all eternity and received their sacred priesthood ordinances in 1843. (See D&C 132:45–46.) Joseph taught that restoration of these ordinances paved the way for all families of the earth to be together in eternity. (See Mal. 4:5, 7; D&C 132:4–7, 21–31.)
I believe it is in the context of these ordinances that we may best understand and appreciate what Emma wrote shortly before Joseph was killed: “I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side.”
Emma also wrote, “I desire the spirit of God to know and understand myself, I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting.”
Her great trial came when the prophet revealed to Emma that they would be required to live the ancient law of Abraham—plural marriage. Emma suffered deeply hurt feelings because of it. While she agreed with this doctrine at times, at other times she opposed it. Years later, Emma is purported to have denied that any such doctrine was ever introduced by her husband. In later years, Emma apparently never spoke of the sacred ordinances they had received. She would have been under covenant not to do so.
Careful and prayerful study was essential to my understanding that Joseph received true authority from the Lord and that there were those who tried to misuse authority, or take authority upon themselves in respect to this matter. In D&C 132:45, the Lord said, “For I have conferred upon you [Joseph] the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things.” On 5 October 1843, the Prophet gave instructions “to try those persons who were preaching, teaching, or practicing the doctrine of plurality of wives; for, according to the law, I hold the keys of this power in the last days; for there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom the power and its keys are conferred; and I have constantly said no man shall have but one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.” 15 This point is confirmed in the Book of Mormon, Jacob 2:27, where we read, “There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife.” But in verse 30, we read, “If I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” [Jacob 2:30]
Both the truth of scripture and the source of conflicting opinions was clear to me. I concluded that if Joseph was a prophet, and I knew that he was, then the doctrines he revealed were true and that succeeding prophets have also been given authority according to their times. Hence, I knew that in 1890, Wilford Woodruff was inspired, as prophet, seer, and revelator, to issue the Manifesto ending the practice of plural marriage in the Church. (see OD—1.)
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