Joseph Smith III

Birth date: November 6, 1832
Birth location: Kirtland, Lake, Ohio
Died: December 10, 1914
Death location: Independence, Jackson, Missouri

Joseph Smith III was born 6 November 1832 in Kirtland, Ohio. He traveled by wagon with his parents to Far West, Caldwell, Missouri, January to March 1838. Shortly after his sixth birthday, his father, Joseph Smith Jr., was taken to Liberty, Clay, Missouri, and unjustly held prisoner there until April 1839, when he joined his family in Quincy, Illinois where they had taken refuge from the Missouri persecutions. His early boyhood was spent in Nauvoo, the city built up in the place once called Commerce, Hancock, Illinois. He was baptized by his father in Nauvoo. On 27 June 1844, his father, and Uncle Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob while held in protective custody in the Hancock County Jail in Carthage, Illinois. Such shocking events in his young childhood and early youth left him with a lifelong hatred for injustice and oppression. He also held a deep and abiding reverence for his mother, Emma, and felt a great responsibility as protector and defender of his family name.

Marriage and Family:
Joseph III married Emmaline Griswold, in Nauvoo on March 22, 1856. The couple had five children, Emma Joseph, Evelyn Rebecca, Carrie Lucinda, Zaide Viola, and Joseph Arthur. Evelyn, and Joseph Arthur, died in infancy and are buried in the Smith family cemetery in Nauvoo. They made their home in Nauvoo and Amboy, Illinois. Heartbreak struck again when Emmeline died 25 March 1869. She is also buried in the family cemetery in Nauvoo. On 12 November 1869, he married Bertha Madison, in Sandwich, DeKalb, Illinois. Bertha had been caretaker for his children and Emmeline during her illness, so she moved easily into the position of mother to his daughters. Bertha bore him nine children during their 27 happy years together. The children were: David Carlos, Mary Audentia, Frederick Madison, Israel Alexander, Kenneth, Bertha Azuba, Hale Washington, Blossom, and Lucy Yeteve. David and Blossom died in infancy, Bertha Azuba, at the age of six, and David Carlos at age fourteen. Again tragedy struck when Bertha was injured in an accident and died 19 October 1896. They lived in Amboy, Illinois 1896-1881, and in Lamoni, Iowa.

Joseph III remarried 12 January 1898, at Waldemar, Dufferin, Ontario, Canada, to Ada Rachel Clark. They became the parents of Richard Clark, William Wallace, and Reginald Archer. They lived at Lamoni, Iowa, and Independence, Missouri. Their three boys were in their teens when their father died in 1914, and their mother died less than a year later, 20 October 1915, their Uncle Israel Alexander Smith and his wife Nina moved into the home in Independence, to see them to maturity.

Father–Grandfather–Great Grandfather:
Joseph Smith III was the father of 17 children, 11 grew to maturity. At the time he died his grandchildren numbered 27, of whom fifteen, ages 5-17 were living; he had 6 great grandchildren, age 1 month to 13 yrs. Today, (June 2009), we count in his posterity 31 grandchildren over all; 60 great grandchildren. The total descendants in our data base, is 243 (not counting spouses); 175 are living.

Public Life:
He Was A Devoted Minister of the Gospel all of his Adult Life:
Joseph III was recruited by Reorganization organizers. He at first refused then accepted the position. He served as president and prophet to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (RLDS) from 1860 to 1914, a period of 54 years. He left a legacy of intense devotion to his mother, Emma, and testified with firm conviction to the virtue and integrity of his father, insisting his father had no part in founding polygamy, which he abhorred. He outlived his brothers, Frederick, Alexander, and David Hyrum, his adopted sister, Julia, who died in 1881, and his step-father, Lewis C. Bidamon, who died in 1891.

He published his father;s inspired Translation of the Bible in December 1867. Joseph III revered education, founding Graceland College, which was one of his primary achievements. Graceland has become a university. Under the leadership of Joseph III, the Kirtland Temple was purchased and deeded to the RLDS Church; they have preserved that historical building for present and future generations.

The RLDS Church, (now Community of Christ) purchased, restored, and now maintains the Smith Homes in Nauvoo, viz., Old Homestead, Mansion House; and the Riverside Mansion (Nauvoo House) which was built by his step father in 1870. His mother Emma died there in 1879.

Images of Joseph Smith III