She was a name in our family database, but nobody knew much about her. Family tradition said her mother and step-father took her to Chicago where she grew up and became a professional nurse. It was rumored that she had been baptized into the LDS Church[i]; it was also rumored that she had joined the RLDS Church.[ii] In a family genealogy, her cousin, Audentia Smith Anderson indicated that she was “Living, unmarried, in Independence, Missouri,” in 1929.[iii]
Initial investigation showed that much of what we had on our record was wrong. We had the year 1932 for her death, and we assumed she died in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, but research showed no death or burial record for her there. A search in ‘Find-a-Grave.com’ showed that she had died in Holden, Johnson County, Missouri, not Independence. It provided a death year but not a day. It also falsely indicated she was buried in the Holden Cemetery. We needed to find her obituary.
I contacted Community of Christ historian, Ron Romig, who responded with a few notes gleaned from their archives that were helpful. I enquired about an obituary which might tell of a funeral, who officiated, who spoke, etc. A search in the Community of Christ Archives disclosed that no obituary was ever published for Alice Fredericka, in the Saints’ Herald.[iv]
Lachlan MacKay, then director of Historical Sites for the Community of Christ, discovered the record of her burial, in Mound Grove Cemetery, Independence, [v] and provided a map showing the exact location of her grave, not far from that of Joseph Smith III’s. With this much information, the committee decided to see what would be required to get permission to mark her grave with an appropriate monument. Frances Orton, chairperson for the Advisory Committee of the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Foundation, agreed to take on the project. Permission was granted, and the memorial program was held on August 8, 2011. (See report of that event, with pictures, following the timeline and new detailed bio below this timeline and bio below).
While this new bio does not resolve all our questions, solid documentation from both LDS and RLDS Church records, and extensive review of the U.S. Census records, provides a deeper and broader timeline and bio for Alice Fredericka than we had ever imagined possible.
|1858||Born on 27 November|
|1861||Mother took her away from Nauvoo in December|
|1866 (About)||Her Mother remarried, to William Creen, perhaps in Quincy, Ill.|
|1870 and 1880 Census||Not mentioned|
|1861 until 1900 Census||Location unknown but she is living in household of her Step-father William Creen and mother, in Chicago, Cook, Illinois|
|1901||Her mother died (Find-a-grave)|
|1910||Found by John Henry Smith who notified Joseph Smith III of her location.|
|1910 Census||Chicago, Alice Fredericka Fenest, single, nurse, still in household step-father|
|1915||January, Baptized LDS; June, Baptized RLDS.|
|1917||Moved to Independence, MO with Step Father|
|1919||Step Father died in Independence|
|1920–1922 (?)||Wrote May 20th letter to Rebecca Weld, from the Independence Sanitarium|
|1930||5 February – died in Saints’ Home, Holden, Missouri. Age: 73 years, 1 month, 9 days. Buried, Mound Grove Cemetery, Independence, Missouri. No grave marker. No obituary|
In Search of our Long-lost Cousin
Alice Fredericka Smith, the only child of Frederick Granger Williams Smith and Anna (Annie) Marie Jones, was born 27 November, 1858, in Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois. Her father, Frederick, a son of the martyred prophet, Joseph Smith, born 20 June, 1836, in Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, was eight when his father was killed, in June 1844, and eleven-and-a-half when his widowed mother, Emma Hale Smith married Lewis C. Bidamon, at Nauvoo, in December 1847.[vi] Frederick grew to manhood in Nauvoo, alongside his adopted sister, Julia (Murdock) Smith, older brother, Joseph Smith 3rd, and younger brothers, Alexander Hale Smith and David Hyrum Smith. Their lives were shadowed, but not blighted by the tragedy of their father’s death, as they were tightly bonded as a family, worked hard, and became responsible young adults. Frederick, perhaps the most sensitive of the family, was noted for his gentle and cheerful nature.
Anna Marie’s parents, William and Alice (Anderson) Jones, had moved to Nauvoo anticipating working on the proposed Warsaw to Rockford Railroad which failed to come to fruition.[vii] That failure led to her parents leaving the area within a few years and may have contributed to the unfortunate events that befell Anna Marie and Frederick’s relationship.
We know nothing of Frederick and Anna’s courtship. Perhaps the couple even eloped. Anna Maria, born 7 Apr 1841, at Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio, was only 16 years of age when she married 21-year-old Frederick Granger Williams Smith, 13 September 1857, in Steuben, Jefferson, Ohio. A year later, 27 November 1858, Anna Marie gave birth to little Alice Fredericka, in Nauvoo. It was determined that Frederick should manage the Smith farm, a few miles east of Nauvoo, in Senora Township.
The couple lived at the farm until December 1861. On Christmas Day, Joseph III went out to the farm to visit his brother and see how they were doing. To his great dismay, he found Frederick alone, desperately ill, in a cold house, without water available to him, or any wood to burn. Anna had left a few days before Christmas, taking three-year-old Alice Fredericka with her, without telling anyone she was leaving. Joseph did what he could to make Frederick more comfortable, then went to fetch his mother. Joseph and his mother moved Frederick to the Mansion House in Nauvoo, where Emma could nurse him properly. Alexander and his wife, Elizabeth, who had married in May 1861, moved to the farm to take care of things there.
In spite of Emma’s nursing skill and desperate efforts, Frederick continued to waste away from a debilitating illness in his lungs. Their adopted sister, Julia, living with her husband, John Middleton, in St. Louis, Missouri, wrote loving letters begging him to get well. His younger brother, David Hyrum, then 17 years of aged, helped all he could to comfort the sick man. Frederick died 11 April 1862, only 26 years of age.
In his memoires, dictated in 1913, Joseph III expressed his feelings of disgust that “Annie” had left Frederick in such a desperate situation without letting the family know she was going. One can speculate but cannot comprehend her behavior. Perhaps she was overwhelmed with caring for a sick husband in the primitive circumstances at the Smith farm. Perhaps she intended to return but was delayed for some unknown reason.
Little Alice Fredericka was about three when her father became ill and her mother took her away. Trying to track Alice’s location in the first years after her mother left the Nauvoo area has proved almost impossible. We assumed Anna took little Alice and went to her parents—but, where were they? Unfortunately, the trail seemed to be lost because there is no census until 1870; in that census we did find that Alice’s parents were living in Pilot Grove, Illinois, which is a little less than 20 miles Northeast of Nauvoo, but Alice and her mother are not found in their home in 1870.
According to Joseph III, (Memoirs), “Annie, widow of Frederick G. W. Smith, married William John Creen, in Quincy, Illinois in about 1866,”[viii] This marriage is also noted in Anderson, Audentia Smith, Ancestry and Posterity, p. 578. William John Creen was born 1843 in Statun, Germany.[ix] So far, we have not been able to find the record of their marriage.
Joseph III noted that Anna and William Creen returned to Nauvoo at some point expecting to get some inheritance from Frederick’s estate. Joseph III suggested they check the country records, which they did. They found that Frederick had owned nothing and left nothing but debts. After that, [date not determined] William and Anna Creen eventually moved to Chicago taking little Alice Fredericka with them and did not return to Nauvoo again.
Assuming the Creens took Alice to Chicago, we looked for them there but failed to find them in the 1870 or 1880 census. The first sighting we found is in the 1900 U. S. Census, Chicago, Cook, Illinois: “Alice F. Smith, age 39,” living in the household of William J Creen, with wife. Alice’s marital status in this census is listed as ‘single,’ and her occupation is ‘nurse’. A sister-in-law, Emma Jones, [wife or widow of Anna’s brother], and her daughter, Jessie A. Jones, are also living in the household.
According to family tradition, Alice grew up and became a professional nurse. We found this confirmed as she is listed as a nurse in several census records. Since she became a professional nurse, we expected to find her name in nursing school records. We discovered that The Illinois Training School of Nursing opened in Cook County, Illinois, in 1881.[x] Thinking that Alice Fredericka, who would have been about 23 at this time, may have attended that school, we tried to check on student records. Unfortunately, the records concerning students for that school are sealed, so there is no way to verify her status there. We found that Alice’s mother Anna Creen died in Chicago, Illinois, 11 October 1901.[xi]
In the 1910 U.S. Census, we find Alice listed as “Alice F Fenest, stepdaughter, age 50,” living in the household of W J Creen, who is head of household. Alice has no occupation listed. With this change in name, we wonder about a marriage? husband? But her marriage status is listed as Single. We have not yet found any record of her marriage to Fenest, anytime between 1900 and 1910. All future census indicate that she seems to have gone back to using her Smith name. Search for her marriage to Fenest turned up nothing. The Fenest name never comes up again in regard to her.
During all the years since her mother took her away from Nauvoo, Alice Fredericka was apparently lost to the Smith family until 1910. In a letter written by Joseph Smith III, to his nephew, Elbert A. Smith, Joseph tells Elbert that John Henry Smith, a cousin from Utah, (member of the Council of Twelve, LDS Church in Utah) found her in Chicago and told him about finding her.
Independence, Mo. January 5, 1910
Dear Brother; and Nephew [Elbert A. Smith]:. . . My brother, Frederick, has a daughter in Chicago whose address I obtained from President John Henry Smith, who met her there. Her name ought to go on the clan list, and she ought to receive an invitation to attend [a family gathering]. I will try to get in touch with her with her address .. .” [xii]
As well as telling Joseph III about Alice Fredericka being in Chicago, John Henry had apparently told the LDS Church people in Chicago about her. John Henry Smith died in 1911, so did not participate in the conversion which came to Alice Fredericka several years later. LDS Church Records indicate Alice Fredericka Smith was baptized and confirmed a member of The LDS Church’ in Chicago, 6 January 1915, by A. M. Taylor, and she was confirmed the same day by G. E. Elsworth. [xiii] Her LDS membership was brief.
Cousin Elbert A. Smith found her in June 1915, and Alice Fredericka Smith was baptized into the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 12 June 1915.[xiv] See copy of clipping from the Saints Herald, Independence, MO, 6/16/1915.
In this article in the Herald, Elbert, as Senior Editor, is reporting his own actions, indicating he baptized Alice and confirmed her a member of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints during his stay in Chicago in June 1815. This was, to him a great triumph and the contents of this news article was repeated almost verbatim in “The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” Volume 7, p 71.[xv]
After her RLDS baptism, Alice, and her step-father continued to live in Chicago for a period of time. Perhaps Mr. Creen suffered ill health, or some misfortune, so Alice had to quit working and take care of him. They seemed to have fallen upon hard times, having to sell some of their furniture to provide for their necessities. David Dowker, a member of the RLDS Church in the Chicago area prevailed upon the RLDS Bishop James F. Keir, to issue her a check for $25. About 1917, Alice and Mr. Creen moved to Independence, Missouri, where he died 21 January, 1918. He was buried in Mound Grove Cemetery.
After her step-father’s death, Alice Fredericka seems to have gone back to Chicago, at least for a time. We find her living in Ward 13, Cook, (Chicago), Illinois according to the 1920 U. S. Census, taken 12 & 13 January. Here she is listed as “Alice F. Smith, age 60, single. She is living in the household of Jessie Jones, a cousin.” Also living there with her cousin, Jessie Jones. Jessie’s mother, Emma, whose last name is now, Day; also, George Curtis, a roomer. Alice’s occupation is listed as ‘nurse,’ and she is apparently employed as such at that time. We cannot determine exactly when she moved back to Independence to stay.
A typescript-copy of a hand-written letter from Alice F. to Rebecca Weld, who lived in Lamoni, Iowa, found in the Community of Christ archives, [xvi] was provided by RLDS historian Ron Romig. According to Romig this letter was written from on the letterhead of the Independence Sanitarium, Van Horn Boulevard, Independence, Missouri.[xvii] It is dated “May 20,” no year is given, but Romig guessed at the year being 1920 or 1922. We know she was in Chicago for the 1920 census, and we know that Rebecca Weld married Charles Nolan in Lamoni, IA in December 1921. Alice refers to Rebecca’s husband without naming him.
From the context of her letter it is obvious Alice Fredericka is in perilous physical condition:
My dear Cousin Rebecca: –
You will think I have forgotten all about you and your dear good letter, but that came when I was so very sick [I] could not write, so the reason of my long silence. At the time Audie was here I could sit in the wheel chair, and on nice warm days I was well wrapped, put out on porch for two or three hours, about four nights ago I had a relapse and have been desperately ill again.
I could hardly do anything for myself, my boudy [sic] so swollen and inflamed just laid on pillows, my eyes [?] in a terrible condition. Specialist ordered hot packs and lighted bulb laid on my eyes day and night for a week, the nurses had to feed me and do everything for me so you can imagine my condition. I am just able to sit up two or three hours, in a chair filled with pillows & blankets. I can just hold this pencil so I can write my hands will not close, and are drawn [to] one side. My feet swell, I have never taken one step for nine weeks, not allowed on my feet.
Dr. Harrington cannot operate on Tonsils or do anything for me, he is afraid [sic] to on account of my condition & Heart, he will have to wait until later on, so you see I have had a very serious time. I was in bed six weeks in [unreadable text] not expected to live past the time, so I have been sick in bed nearly four months, quite a poor old me. Now dear I must close, I get so tired I just could cry sometimes, but that is silly, so I laugh and put on a brave front.
I was so pleased to hear from you, and hope to receive more letters in the future. My love to your dear good Mother, best regards to husband. Now you know the reason for my long silence, please let me hear from you again very soon. With lots of love, Cousin Alice F.
Audie, who is mentioned in this letter, obviously refers to Audentia Smith Anderson, a daughter of Joseph Smith III, another cousin to Alice Fredericka. From the context of the letter, Audentia must have visited Alice at the Sanitarium. Perhaps she informed cousin Rebecca Weld of Alice’s location and circumstances. Alice’s condition must have improved, allowing her to live away from the Sanitarium. In 1929, according to the biographical information written by her cousin, Audentia Smith Anderson, at the time her book was published: “Alice Fredericka Smith was a professional nurse in Chicago for many years, is living unmarried in Independence.”[xviii]
Again, we finally find her listed as Smith, Alice F., in the 1930 Census for Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, taken April 21. This record indicates she was now 71, “widowed” and living as a “boarder” in the household of James C Stanchan, 25, and his 13-year-old daughter. It is interesting that in this census she lists herself as “widowed”. Other than the 1910 use of the surname of Fenest, which is the only indication of her having married at any time, and in the 1820 census, she was listed as Alice F. Smith, with the marital status of ‘single’. It is all very strange. Further research must be done to determine who Mr. Fenest may have been, and a marriage record needs to be found, if one exists. Regardless of anything else, there is no indication she ever had any children born to her. It is important for this fact to be established because several times we have received messages from individuals who believe they are descendants of Joseph Smith Jr., claiming that lineage supposedly from Alice Fredericka Smith. We had always believed she had never married until she turned with a different last name in that census. Once again: Alice F. had NO children.
The location of her 1930 residence at 2836 W. Lexington Ave, Independence, is of interest; it also strikes particular interest to notice that the census taker for this page was none other than, Reginald A. Smith, the youngest son of Joseph Smith III, ad Alice’s cousin. Reginald was a young man who would marry in 1931; later he become a well-respected Educator in the Independence area. We have no way of knowing whether he knew she was his cousin, or even if she knew he was her relative. [xix]
Was there a funeral for Alice Fredericka? Who officiated? Who spoke, or performed music? As stated earlier, when I enquired for an obituary in the Community of Christ Archives for this granddaughter of Joseph and Emma Smith, I was told there was never one published in the Saints’ Herald. Shocked at that discovery, I asked “Why not?” I was informed that unless the family turned one in, there would not be any.
We are left to wonder, why is it that nobody from the family took note of her passing? Many of her cousins were living in and around Independence all through the period of her suffering. Audentia was living in Independence until her own death in May 1963. Emma Smith Kennedy lived in Independence, cared a great deal for shut-ins and herself, had to go to the Sanitarium for a number of years until her death in 1960. Another cousin, Vida Smith (Yates), a copious writer and family spokesperson, had a daughter, Inez Smith Davis, who compiled a comprehensive history of the Reorganized Church, lived in Missouri as well. It is in her files in the archives we find the record that describes Alice’s RLDS Baptism. It is just hard to understand how these individuals, so dedicated to history of the Smith family and the RLDS Church, and her own cousins, missed writing an obituary for Alice Fredericka or reporting her death in the Saints’ Herald.
In retrospect, we do not know when Alice Fredericka went to the Saints’ Home in Holden and we do not know for certain the cousins did not visit her. In today’s travel, on highway 91, from Independence to Holden takes about an hour. But if we consider the times, it is possible they were simply unable to keep in close contact. It would certainly have taken considerably longer in the cars available in the 1930s, to make the 100 mile-round-trip, not to mention that in the wake of the Great Depression that lasted from October 1929-through the 1930s, it’s possible nobody had money for gasoline. As I contemplate these factors, perhaps we can understand how Alice Fredericka fell out of their notice.
In all my research I found nothing indicating that Alice Fredericka was ever reunited with her grandmother, Emma, who died in 1879. Alice would have been about 21 at that time. It would seem she was truly lost to the family until she was found in 1910, forgotten until 1915, then lost again until now (Mar 2018).
On 8 August 2011, a large group of Smith family and friends gathered in Mound Grove Cemetery for a memorial service placing of her stone monument and dedication of her grave. It was quite an emotional experience to be there. Songs were sung, prayers offered, and the hearts of dozens of Smith family members turned, in loving remembrance, toward this long-lost cousin. “Rest in peace dear little lost cousin, Alice Fredericka, we have found you at last! We will see that you are not forgotten.” [Pictures are from Kimberly Jo Smith’s collection gathered by her grandfather, Artur Marion Smith]
|At first it was believed Alice Fredericka was buried in Holden, Missouri; but there was no record of her grave in the Holden Cemetery. Then we discovered she was actually buried in Mound Grove Cemetery, Independence Missouri. Lachlan McKay, a cousin, and also director of Historical Sites for the Community of Christ, provided a map of the graves in Mound Grove. The map indicates Alice Fredericka is buried in Lot 49 space 1. Her grave was unmarked. |
In order for the Smith family to place a memorial stone on her grave, we first had to attempt to find out who owns the lot now and get permission. The records found by Lachlan MacKay indicated that at the time of her burial, the lot was owned by Thomas King. (Eva Bell King is buried in space 2 which is next to Alice’s grave). We have no idea what connection Alice may have had with the Kings.
Frances Orton, Chairman for the Joseph Smith Sr. Advisory Committee, took care of the correspondence and contract regarding permission to place the stone in Mound Grove on the lot where Alice is buried.
|Lachlan MacKay tried to locate someone from that family to obtain the needed permission but found that the contact information was not working. A contract was prepared by the Community of Christ Church, giving the Smith Family permission to have the stone placed on the lot where Alice Fredricka Smith is buried. The contract also stipulated that should representatives of the owners, (King family) request it, the Smith Family will remove the stone from that location. All this paper work was exchanged, signed by Frances Orton as chairman of the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Foundation Advisory Committee.[i]|
James Long, a descendant of Hyrum Smith, who was employed at that time at Hallmark Stone Company, of Fenton, Mo., arranged to have the granite monument made. James not only did the stone work but he drove the marker from St. Louis to Independence, Mo so it was set in place and ready for the family gathering in August.
iChrist of Latter-day Saints, headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
iiRLDS-The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now Community of Christ, headquarters in Independence, Missouri.
iiiMary Audentia Smith Anderson, Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale, published 1829, by Herald Publishing House, p. 579-580.
ivThe Saints’ Herald was the Reorganized Church New Paper.
vCommunity of Christ Archives.
viLewis C. Bidamon came to Nauvoo early in 1847, befriended Emma and helped her in many ways; when they married, he brought his own two daughters into the family and became step-father to Emma’s children.
viiLewis C Bidamon files LCB-042 ; rec’ts from Warsaw to Rockport Rail Road. This RR was to provide a way to transport passengers and goods bypass the rapids in the Mississippi River. It began about 1853 and failed by 1856.
viiiSmith, Joseph III, Memoirs,1832-1915, published by The Saints’ Herald, Independence, MO. p. 91
ixFamily Search record on William John Creen.
xGracia N. Jones, Google Search for Chicago nursing schools, 8-18-2017.
xiFind a Grave.
xiiJoseph Smith III, letter to Elbert A. Smith, 5 January 1910, Lynn smiths’ Papers, Elbert and Clara Smith Collection, P78-2, fl 56, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, MO.
xiii(German Edgar Elsworth was the Mission President of the Northern States Mission. (Record of her baptism is in the LDS Church records, Church Archives, SLC: “A Record of Baptisms and Confirmations for 1915”, Northern States Mission records, CR 3758, reel #3091, LDS Archives, Salt Lake City, UT, pages 262-263.
xivNotes from Ron Romig: Source: Southside Church, Sunday Afternoon, 13 June 1915, Inez Smith Davis Papers, P23, f89, Community of Christ Archives.
xvHistorical Note: Elbert A. Smith, had been sustained in April 1815, as counselor to President Frederick M. Smith, son and successor of the RLDS president, Joseph Smith III, who had died in December 1814. After Elbert was sustained to this position, in the RLDS first presidency, it was decided he should also maintain his position as Senior Editor of the Saints’ Herald and continue living in Lamoni, Iowa to oversee the extensive printing establishment which was still there even though the RLDS Church had moved its headquarters to Independence in 1906. The RLDS Church History notes the special meeting held in Chicago on 13 June 1915 where James F. Kier was ordained a Bishop, evidently by Elbert A. Smith.
xviA granddaughter of Joseph Smith III
xviiRomig’s dating for the letter is 1920s; he cites Rebecca Noland Weld Papers, P36, f18,Community of Christ Library.This reference is not accurate in that her name never was Rebecca Noland Weld. Rebecca Weld married Charles Nolan in December 1921. Her name was Nolan, never Noland. I saw a letter from Alice Fredericka Smith in the Graceland University library, Lamoni, Iowa, as I recall, was written on paper with the letter head of the “Saints’ Home,” Holden, Missouri. Possibly the copy Ron Romig found is a typescript copy of the same letter or perhaps a different letter. This issue needs to be further investigated to learn when the letter was actually written to Rebecca.
xviiiMary Audentia Smith Anderson, Ancestry and Posterity of Joseph Smith and Emma Hale, published 1829, by Herald Publishing House, p. 579-580
xixReginald was living in Independence until 1974. I, Gracia Jones, was privileged to meet him during the Joseph Smith Sr., family reunion we held in 1973. His pleasant personality and kindness is memorable. It never occurred to me to think he might have known Alice Fredericka.
xxWe were busy looking for living descendants at that time and had not come to question anything about her.