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King Follett Sermon Transcription

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Below is an exact transcription of the King Follett Sermon given by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
The president having arrived; the choir sung a hymn. Elder A[masa] Lyman offered a prayer. The president then arose and called the attention of the congregation upon the subjects which were contemplated in the fore part of the conference. As the wind blows very hard, it will be hardly possible for me to make you all hear unless there is profound attention. It is of the greatest importance, and the most solemn of any that can occupy our attention, and that is, the subject of the dead; on the decease of our brother [King] Follett, who was crushed to death in a well, I have been requested to speak by his friends and relatives, and inasmuch as there are a great many in this congregation who live in this city, as well as elsewhere, and who have lost friends, I feel disposed to speak on the subject in general, and offer you my ideas so far as I have ability, and so far as I shall be inspired by the Holy Spirit to dwell on this subject.
I want your prayers and faith, the instruction of Almighty God and the gift of the Holy Ghost, that I may set forth things that are true, that can easily be comprehended, and shall carry the testimony to your hearts; pray that the Lord may strengthen my lungs, stay the winds and let the prayers of the saints to heaven appear, that it may enter into the ear of the Lord of Sabaoth; for the effectual prayers of righteous men availeth much, and I verily believe that your prayers shall be heard before I enter into the investigation fully of the subject that is laying before me.

Character of God
Before entering fully into the investigation, I wish to pave the way: I will make a few preliminaries, in order that you may understand the subject when I come to it. I do not calculate to please your ears with superfluity of words or oratory, or with much learning; but I calculate to edify you with the simple truths from heaven. In the first place, I wish to go back to the beginning of creation; there is the starting point, in order to be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes, decrees, &c. of the great Eloheim, that sits in yonder heavens, it is necessary for us to have an understanding of God himself in the beginning. If we start right, it is easy to go right all the time; but if we start wrong, it is a hard matter to get right. There are a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. They do not comprehend any thing, that which is past, or that which is to come; and consequently, but little above the brute beast. If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink, sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same thing; it eats, drinks, sleeps, knows nothing more; yet knows as much as we, unless WE are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God.
Religoius Freedom
I want to go back to the beginning, and so lift your minds into a more lofty sphere, a more exalted understanding; that what the human mind generally understands. I want to ask this congregation, every man, woman and child, to answer the question in their own heart, what kind of a being is God? ask yourselves. I again repeat the question, what kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? have any of you seen him, heard him, communed with him? Here is the question that will peradventure from this time henceforth, occupy your attention. The apostle says this is eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ, who he has sent. If any man enquire what kind of a being is God, if he will search diligently his own heart, if the declaration of the apostle be true, he will realize that he has not eternal life, there can be eternal life on no other principle. My first object is, to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and if I should be the man to comprehend God, and explain or convey the principles to your hearts so that the spirit seals it upon you, let every man and woman henceforth put their hand on their mouth and never say any thing against the man of God again; but if I fail, it becomes my duty to renounce all my pretensions to revelations, inspirations, &c., and if all are pretensions to God, they will all be as bad off as I am at any rate. There is not a man but would breathe out an

anathema, if they knew I was a false prophet; and some would feel authorized to take away my life. If any man is authorized to take away my life, who says I am a false teacher; then upon the same principle am I authorized to take away the life of every false teacher, and where would be the end of blood, and who would not be the sufferer. But no man is authorized to take away life in consequence of their religion; which all laws and governments ought to tolerate, right or wrong. If I show verily, that I have the truth of God, and show that ninety-nine out of a hundred are false teachers while they pretend to hold the keys of God, and to kill them because they are false teachers, it would deluge the whole world with blood. I want you all to know God, to be familiar with him, and if I can bring you to him, all persecutions against me will cease; you will know that I am his servant, for I speak as one having authority.— What sort of a being was God in the beginning? Open your ears and hear all ye ends of the earth; for I am going to prove it to you by the Bible, and am going to tell you the designs of God to the human race, and why he interferes with the affairs of man.

God and Exalted Man
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves, that is the great secret. If the vail was rent to-day, and the great God, who holds this world in its orbit, and upholds all things by his power; if you were to see him to-day, you would see him in all the person, image and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion and image of God; Adam received instruction, walked, talked and conversed with him, as one man talkes and communes with another.

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for the consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary they should understand the character and being of God, for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are the simple and first principles of the gospel, to know for a certainty the character of God, that we may converse with him as one man with another, and that God himself; the Father of us all dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible. I wish I had the trump of an arch angel, I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever; what did Jesus say? (mark it elder [Sidney] Rigdon;) Jesus said, as the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power; to do what? why what the Father did, that answer is obvious; in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again.
Jesus what are you going to do? To lay down my life, as my Father did, and take it up again.— If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible; the scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom, all the combined powers of earth and hell together, to refute it. Here then is eternal life, to know the only wise and true God. You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves; to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done; by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as doth those who sit enthroned in everlasting power; and I want you to know that God in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, is not trifling with you or me; it is the first principles of consolation. How consoling to the mourner, when they are called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child or dear relative, to know, that although the earthly tabernacle shall be dissolved, that they shall rise in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer or die any more, but they shall be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
What is it? to inherit the same glory, the same power and the same exaltation, until you ascend the throne of eternal power the same as those who are gone before. What did Jesus do? why I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father, so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory, so that Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before; it is plain beyond disputation, and you thus learn some of the first principles of the gospel, about which so much hath been said. When you climb a ladder, you must begin at the bottom and go on until you learn the last principle; it will be a great while before you have learned the last. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it is a great thing to learn salvation beyong the grave. I suppose I am not allowed to go into an investigation of any thing that is not contained in the Bible, and I think there are so many wise men here, who would put me to death for treason; so I shall turn commentator to-day; I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible, Berosheit. I want to analyze the word; baith, in, by, through, in, and every thing else. Rosh, the head. Sheit, gramatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. A man, a Jew without any authority, thought it too bad to begin to talk abut the head. It read first, ‘The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods,’ that is the true meaning of the words. Baurau, signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. No man can learn you more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council. I will simplify it in the English language. Oh ye lawyers! ye doctors! who have persecuted me; I want to let you know that the Holy Ghost knows something as well as you do. The head God called together the Gods, and set in grand council. The grand counsellors sat in yonder heavens, and contemplated the creation of the worlds that were created at that time.
When I say doctors and lawyers, I mean the doctors and lawyers of the scripture. I have done so hitherto, to let the lawyers flutter, and every body laugh at them. Some learned doctor might take a notion to say, the scriptures say thus and so, and are not to be altered, and I am going to show you an error. I have an old book of the New Testament in the Hebrew, Latin, German and Greek. I have been reading the German and find it to be the most correct, and it corresponds nearest to the revelations I have given for the last fourteen years. It tells about Jachoboy the son of Zebedee; it means Jacob; in the English New Testament it is James.— Now if Jacob had the keys, you might talk about James through all eternity, and never get the keys.
In the 21st verse of the 4th chapter Mathew, it gives the word Jacob instead of James. How can we escape the damnation of hell except reveal to us; men bind us with chains; Latin says Jachabod mean Jacob;—Hebrew says it means Jacob; Greek says Jacob; German says Jacob. I thank God I have got this book, and thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world, but I have got the oldest book in my heart. I have all the four testaments, come here ye learned men, and read if you can. I should not have introduced this testimony were it not to back up the word Rosh, the head, Father of the Gods. I should not have brought it up only to show that I am right. When we begin to learn in this way, we begin to learn the only true God, and what kind of a being we have got to worship. When we know how to come to him, begins to unfold the heavens to us and tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us. Now I ask all the learned men who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation say, that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing, and the reason is they are unlearned; they account it blasphemy to contradict the idea, they will call you a fool. — I know more than all the world put together, and the Holy Ghost within me comprehends more than all the world, and I will associate with it. The word create came from the word baurau; it does not mean so; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos; chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time he had. The pure principles of element, are principles that can never be destroyed. They may be organized and re-organized; but not destroyed.

I have another subject to dwell upon and it is impossible for me to say much, but I shall just touch upon them; for time will not permit me to say all; so I must come to the resurrection of the dead, the soul, the mind of man, the immortal spirit. All men say God created it in the beginning. The very idea lessens man in my estimation; I do not believe the doctrine, I know better. Hear it all ye ends of the world, for God has told me so. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through, if you dont believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble—we say that God himself is a self existing God; who told you so? it is correct enough but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? (refers to the old Bible,) how does it read in the Hebrew? It dont say so in the Hebrew, it says God made man out of the earth, and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.

The mind of man is as immortal as God himself. I know that my testimony is true, hence when I talk to these mourners; what have they lost, they are only separated from their bodies for a short season; their spirits existed co-equal with God, and they now exist in a place where they converse together, the same as we do on the earth. Is it logic to say that a spirit is immortal, and yet have a beginning? Because if a spirit have a beginning it will have an end; good logic. I want to reason more on the spirit of man, for I am dwelling on the body of man, on the subject of the dead. I take my ring from my finger and liken it unto the mind of man, the immortal spirit, because it has no beginning. Suppose you cut it in two; but as the Lord lives there would be an end.— All the fools, learned and wise men, from the beginning of creation, who say that man had a beginning, proves that he must have an end and then the doctrine of annihilation would be true. But, if I am right I might with boldness proclaim from the house tops, that God never did have power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself: intelligence exists upon a self existent principle, it is a spirit from age to age, and there is no creation about it. All the spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement. The first principles of man are self existent with God; that God himself finds himself in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was greater, and because he saw proper to institute laws, whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself, that they might have one glory upon another, in all that knowledge, power, and glory, &c., in order to save the world of spirits. I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life, that are given to me, I know you taste it and I know you believe it. You say honey is sweet and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life; I know it is good, and when I tell you of these things, that were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive it as sweet, and I rejoice more and more.

I want to talk more of the relation of man to God. I will open your eyes in relation to your dead; all things whatsoever God of his infinite wisdom has seen proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract and independent of affinity of this mortal tabernacle; but are revealed to us as if we had no bodies at all, and those revelations which wil[l] save our dead will save our bodies; and God reveals them to us in view of no eternal dissolution of the body; hence the responsibility, the awful responsibility, that rests upon us in relation to our dead: for all the spirits who have not obeyed the gospel in the flesh, must either obey the gospel or be damned.
Solemn thought, dreadful thought. Is there nothing to be done; no salvation for our fathers and friends who have died and not obeyed the decrees of the Son of Man? Would to God that I had forty days and nights to tell you all, I would let you know that I am not a fallen prophet. What kind of characters are those who can be saved although their bodies are decaying in the grave? When his commandments teach us, it is in view of eternity. The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us, is to seek after our dead. — The apostle says, they without us cannot be made perfect. Now I will speak of them:—I say to you Paul, you cannot be perfect without us: it is necessary that those who are gone before, and those who come after us should have salvation in common with us, and thus hath God made it obligatory to man. Hence God said he should send Elijah, &c.; I have a declaration to make as to the provisions which God hath made to suit the conditions of man; made from before the foundation of the world, What has Jesus said? All sins and all blasphemies, every transgression, except one, that man can be guilty of, there is a salvation for him either in this world, or the world to come. Hence God hath made a provision, that every spirit in the eternal world can be ferreted out and saved, unless he has commited that unpardonable sin, which can not be remitted to him. That God has wrought out a salvation for all men, unless they have committed a certain sin. Every man who has got a friend in in the eternal world can save him unless he has committed the unpardonable sin, and so you can see how far you can be a savior. A man can not commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, and there is a way possible for escape. Knowledge saves a man, and in the world of spirits a man cannot be exalted but by knowledge; so long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. A man is his own tormenter, and is his own condemner: hence the saying they shall go into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. The torment of the mind of man is as exsquisite as a lake burning with fire and brimstone—so is the torment of man. I know the scriptures; I understand them. I said no man can commit the unpardonable sin after the dissolution of the body, but they must do it in this world: hence the salvation of Jesus Christ was wrought out for all men in order to triumph over the devil: for if it did not catch him in one place, it would in another, for he stood up as a Savior.
The contention in heaven was, Jesus said there would be certain souls that would not be saved, and the devil said he could save them all; the grand council gave in for Jesus Christ: so the devil rebelled against God and fell, and all who put up their heads for him. All sins shall be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost: after a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost there is no repentance for him, he has got to say that the sun does not shine, while he sees it, he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens were open to him, and from that time they begin to be enemies, like many of the apostates of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. When a man begins to be an enemy, he hunts me. They seek to kill me; they thirst for my blood; they never cease. He has the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life: the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot bring them to repentance. Awful is the consequence. I advise all of you to be careful what you do, you may by and by find out that you have been deceived. Stay yourselves, do not give way. You may find out that some one has laid a snare for you. Be cautious; await! when you find a spirit that wants bloodshed, murder, the same is not of God, but is of the devil. Out of the abundance of the heart man speaketh. The man that tells you words of life, is the man that can save you. I warn you against all evil characters, who sin against the Holy Ghost, for there is no redemption for them in this world, or in the world to come.

I can enter into the mysteries; I can enter largely into the eternal worlds: for Jesus said, in my father’s house there are many mansions, &c. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, &c. We have reason to have the greatest hope and consolations for our dead, for we have aided them in the first principles; for we have seen them walk in our midst, and seen them sink asleep in the arms of Jesus. And hence is the glory of the sun. You mourners have occasion to rejoice; (speaking of the death of Elder King Follett,) for your husband is gone to wait until the resurrection; and your expectations and hope are far above what man can conceive: for why has God revealed it to us? I am authorised to say by the authority of the Holy Ghost, that you have no occasion to fear, for he is gone to the home of the just. Don’t mourn: don’t weep. I know it by the testimony of the Holy Ghost that is within me. Rejoice O Israel! your friends shall triumph gloriously, while their murderers shall welter for ages. I say this for the benefit of strangers. I have a father, brothers, and friends who are gone to a world of spirits. They are only absent for a moment; they are in the spirit, and when we depart we shall hail our mothers, fathers, friends, and all whom we love .— There will be no fear of mobs, &c., but all will be an eternity of felicity. Mothers you shall have your children, for they shall have eternal life; for their debt is paid, there is no damnation awaits them, for they are in the spirit. — As the child dies, so shall it rise from the dead and be forever living in the learning of God, it shall be the child, the same as it was before it died out of your arms. Children dwell and exercise power in the same form as they laid them down. The baptism of water without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it is of no use: they are necessary. He must be born of water and the spirit in order to get into the kingdom of God.

In the German, the text bears me out the same as the revelations which I have given for the last fourteen years. I have the testimony to put in their teeth; my testimony has been true all the time. You will find it in the declaration of John the Baptist, (reads from the German), John says I baptize you with water, but when Jesus comes, who has the power, he shall administer the baptism of fire, and the Holy Ghost. Great God! where is now all the sectarian world! and if this testimony is true, they are all damned as clearly as anathema can do it. I know the text is true. I call upon all you Germans, who know that it is true, to say aye, (loud shouts of aye.)
Alexander Campbell, how are you going to save them with water alone? for John said his baptism was nothing without the baptism of Jesus Christ. There is one God, one Father, one Jesus, one hope of our calling, one baptism—all these three baptisms only make one. I have the truth and am at the defiance of the world to contradict me, if they can. I have now preached a little Latin, a little Hebrew, Greek and German, and I have fulfilled all. — I am not so big a fool as many have taken me to be. The Germans know that I read the German correct.

Hear it all ye ends of the earth—all ye sinners, repent! repent! turn to God, for your religion wont save you, and you will be damned; I do not say how long; but those who sin against the Holy Ghost cannot be forgiven in this world, or in the world to come; they shall die the second death; as they concoct scenes of bloodshed in this world so they shall rise to that resurrection, which is as the lake of fire and brimstone: some shall rise to the everlasting burning of God, and some shall rise to the damnation of their own filthliness—as exquisite as the lake of fire and brimstone.

I have intended my remarks to all; both rich and poor, bond and free, great and small. I have no enmity against any man. I love you all. I am your best friend, and if persons miss their mark, it is their own fault. If I reprove a man and he hates me, he is a fool, for I love all men, especially these my brethren and sisters. I rejoice in bearing the testimony of my aged friends. You never knew my heart; no man knows my history; I cannot tell it. I shall never undertake it; if I had not experienced what I have, I should not have known it myself. I never did harm any man since I have been born in the world. My voice is always for peace, I cannot lie down until all my work is finished. I never think any evil, nor any thing to the harm of my fellow man. — When I am called at the trump of the ark-angel, and weighed in the balance you will all know me then. I add no more. God bless you all. Amen.
A Tribute to Emma Hale Smith – Fireside with Gracia
Details
Last Updated: 11 November 2017
Presented over the Internet on June 4, 2017 for a large congregation of Latter-day Saint in the Sumare Stake Center, in the San Paolo Area, Brazil, South America. (Translated by Marcelo Bighetti.)
(a note of explanation)

Gracia and Ivor Jones on Video Screen Speaking in Brazil
In January and February 2017, I was approached by Marcelo Bighetti, a young man in Brazil, who had been moved by my article about Emma Hale Smith in Ensign magazine August 1992. He asked if I would be willing to do A Tribute to Emma Hale Smith, for LDS members in Brazil. I was intrigued by the request, and said I would very much like to do it. This led to what would be an amazing five months of intense preparation. Writing and rewriting the talk, then editing it to the length that could fit into the limited time, for it had to be spoken line upon line in English and line upon line translated into Portuguese. Marcelo wanted to use the song “Emma” and I wanted to use the song, “Tenderly, Tenderly,” which my mother, Lorena Horner Normandeau had written. I sent him the handwritten manuscript of that song and he found young people to perform these songs. He obtained permission from Jason Deere to use his song, “Emma,” from the Nashville Tribute to Joseph Smith. Marcelo accompanied on the piano for that song, and his wife, Adriana, accompanied for Tenderly. Many hours of practice ensued, and the end result was really amazing. During our weeks and months of preparation we had to consider many issues we might never have thought of. Words we use all the time turn out to be unheard-of in another culture. We exchanged many meaningful thoughts about what word might best convey a certain point in a meaningful manner. Another issue was, we wondered if the Internet would hold up long enough-it ended up taking nearly two hours. Often, during our preparation, we lost Internet connection! We went forward with faith. On the evening of the program we set up our chairs in our living room, under some pictures of Emma and Joseph. I had to be able to read my text from my laptop computer, which was also connected to the TV screen, so we could see the audience in Brazil; at the same time, they could see us, through the video camera on the laptop, yes!, while we sat in our own home in St. George, UT. The connection was made through a system used for such face to face meetings. It worked well except that the speaker on my computer would not pick up my voice! What to do? The tech men solved that by having me use my cell phone as a mic! It was awkward for me to have to hold it the entire time. Aside from that small obstacle, it all worked. It seems miraculous, to this day. The Internet did stay connected, not only through the entire presentation, but even long enough afterward for members of the congregation to have their pictures taken with our image still on their screen. They signaled their love and appreciation to us with their smiles, tears, and hand-signed expression of love! What an amazing experience! Ivor and I hope it is meaningful to you and you enjoy reading this tribute. Sincerely, Gracia N. Jones.
Here is the text of the tribute presented by Gracia:
When our friend Marcelo Bighetti asked us to participate in this program, A Tribute to Emma Hale Smith, over the Internet, it seemed like an impossible thing–But, here we are, face to face with all of you, the Brazilian members of three stakes—Americana, Hortolandia and Sumare.[1]
This is our very first time speaking to Brazil. We greet you all: Boa Nuite!
We are happy to honor Emma and to bear testimony to the divine mission she shared with her husband, the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I feel it is an honor to be a great-great grand-daughter of Joseph and Emma and a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
People often ask me, “How is it you’re a convert, when your own Great-Great Grandfather was the founder of the Mormon Church?”
The answer to this question is my story, and the story of the my great-great grandparents, but mostly it is about Emma; and we will talk a lot about her tonight. But first I will explain my lineage.
Joseph and Emma’s third surviving son, Alexander Hale Smith, married Elizabeth Kendall in 1861. They had nine children, the youngest was my grandmother, Coral.
My grandparents, Louis Hurst and Coral Smith Horner, moved from southern Iowa, to northwestern Montana in 1932. My Mother, Lorena, the youngest of their four children, was still in High School.
After she finished High School, she married Rupert Normandeau, a member of the Flathead Indian Tribe, in December 1934. I am the second of their four children. As a child growing up on our dairy farm in northwestern Montana,[2] I did not know anything about the Smith connection until my 8th year of schooling.
I brought home my American History book. My mother noticed a reference to Joseph Smith in that book. It was then, Mother informed me that Joseph Smith was my great-great grandfather.
She said, “Don’t you ever tell anybody.” Her tone of voice was such that I knew it was not a thing she wanted to talk about.
I didn’t think much of it, until a few years later, our family moved to a community in eastern Montana.[3] I was entering my last year of High School, and I needed money. I found a job as a baby-sitter.
My mother knew my employer,[4] and she admonished me sternly, “Don’t you tell her you are related to Joseph Smith, she will think you should be a Mormon.”
Never having heard the word Mormon, I wondered, ‘What in the world is a ‘Mormon?’
I wondered, ‘What was the matter with Joseph Smith?’ My mother’s attitude made me reluctant to ask.
To set the stage for what was about to unfold in my life, I need to explain that a few weeks before I came to that job as baby-sitter and household helper to a young Mormon mother of two, two young men had come to town and rented the basement rooms of her home.
I became aware of these young men as I frequently saw them coming or going out the basement door, but after working there for several weeks, I had not yet met them face to face.
One day, my employer asked me to sit down and visit with her for a few minutes; she said she had a wonderful story she wanted to tell me. She told me of a young man by the name of Joseph Smith, who had wondered which of all the many churches in the world he should join in order to receive salvation. While reading in the Bible he found the scripture which said “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. . . and if he would ask, God would answer.”[5]
She said, “Joseph did pray to God, and he received a remarkable vision in which both God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to him. He was told that he would be called upon to do a great work for the Lord, in the world.
She said Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Bible. To say she had my attention is a great understatement!
I was so much overcome by the story that I exclaimed, “Joseph Smith is my great-great grandfather!”
My employer was amazed! Really? How is that?
I explained that my mother had said Joseph Smith was my grandmother’s grandfather, and she said I was not to tell anyone!
A few days later my employer called me on the phone and asked if I could come over after school. She said, “The Missionaries would like to give you a gift.”
I thought, Missionaries? Mmm, what is that? Then I remembered those two young men I had seen. They were REALLY good looking, and I was 17 years old, and very interested in boys at that time of my life. Of course, I said I would be there.
Upon entering the house, I was introduced to the very nice and handsome missionaries, Elder Richins, and Elder Waldron. Within a few moments Elder Waldron pulled out a little black book and handed it to me, saying, “This is The Book of Mormon. It was translated by the gift and power of God, by your great-great grandfather, and it is true.”
As I took the book into my hands, I was filled with an overwhelming feeling that seemed to burn throughout my whole body. In my mind echoed the words, “It is TRUE! It is REALLY, REALLY TRUE.”
The missionaries explained they had some lessons to teach, but since I was under 18, I needed permission from my parents. When I asked for that permission, my parents were very upset. They were filled with prejudice about the Mormons.
As I read the Book of Mormon I became more and more anxious to receive the lessons. I continued to plead with my parents for the permission I needed, and finally they consented, but with the warning,
“Don’t get too involved with those people.”
Even before I received the lessons I felt it was all true. But after we finished, I KNEW it, and I wanted to be baptized.
When I asked for permission to be baptized, my father said, “Not under my roof.”[6]
I had to wait almost six months until I turned 18 and could leave home. I was baptized on March 17th, 1956 in Great Falls, Montana.
That was over 60 years ago, and the witness of truth that came into me at that time has never left me. I have never regretted my decision to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints. I love it with all my heart.

Jadzia Bigheti, Lorena Lucas, & Elissabete Tessarin
Not long after my baptism, I came to realize that people in the Church considered it a great honor for me to be a descendant of Joseph the Prophet. However, many seemed to have a very disrespectful attitude towards Emma. Since I knew nothing about Joseph Smith, or Emma, I didn’t know how to handle these attitudes.
I came to realize that I needed to understand Emma. Why didn’t she go west with the Church? Why did the family dread to tell anyone they were related to Joseph Smith?
In 1972, I became involved with helping organize the Joseph Smith Sr., family reunions.[7] This brought me into contact with many descendants of Joseph’s brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, and his sister, Katharine.[8]
Some of the descendants of Joseph and Emma were there as well.
That first reunion brought me to Nauvoo, where, I learned details I never had known before. For the first time, Joseph and Emma became real people to me.
I learned that Emma was 21 when she married 20-year-old Joseph Smith on January 18th, 1827. During their seventeen-year marriage, she was his devoted wife and companion, until his untimely death at the hands of a murderous mob, on June 27th 1844.
She bore the prophet 9 children,[9] and they adopted two others; sadly, driven by persecution from place to place, they buried 6 of their infant children in three different states. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois.
When her husband was killed, she was left, a pregnant widow, at age 40, with four children; an adopted daughter, Julia, 12, a son, Joseph Smith the Third, 11, Frederick, 8, and Alexander, who was only 6. Five months later she gave birth to her last child, David Hyrum, on November 14th 1844.
When the mob killed Joseph and his brother Hyrum, they felt confident that would put an end to Mormonism—and they determined to see that all the followers of Joseph were driven out of the country.
Ironically, these activities by the enemies served to cause the Church to move to the mountain west, as Joseph Smith had prophesied. Under direction of Brigham Young, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah,[10] and from there it would expand the missionary work into all parts of the world.
They built temples and continued to promote the principles the Prophet Joseph had established of Baptism for the dead, marriage for time and all eternity, and the eternal nature of families.
When the Church went West, Emma chose to remain in Illinois. After all she had suffered, she seemed to have lost the ability to trust anyone.
She refused the efforts made to help her go west.
When mobs attacked Nauvoo, in 1846,[11] she and her children had to flee, for a time, but they returned in February 1847.
She remarried, in December, 1847, to Lewis C. Bidamon. This marriage provided her with protection she needed in the rough town Nauvoo had become.
She took care of Joseph’s invalid mother much of the time until her death in May 1856.
Emma raised her children without the benefit of the Church. Fearful of having them drawn into that profession that she felt had cost their father his life, she did not encourage them toward any particular religion; she did however, teach them to pray, and to love the Lord.
As young adults, lacking any real understanding of the fulness of the gospel restored by their Father, they were recruited by men who had rejected Brigham Young’s leadership.
In 1860, Joseph Smith the third, accepted leadership of the Reorganization[12] which became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). His brothers, Alexander and David also joined with him. They all vigorously opposed the Church in Utah.
Eventually, Emma’s sons, Alexander Hale Smith and David Hyrum Smith went to Utah, attempting to persuade the Latter-day Saints there to abandon the Church and follow them as rightful leaders. These activities brought about great conflict and contention on both sides.
In the generations to follow, the posterity of the Prophet and Emma became scattered across the world—many having no more understanding of their heritage than a fearful conviction that they must never let anyone know they are descended from Joseph Smith, and must never have anything to do with those Utah MORMONS.
Within the Latter-day Saint community in the west, Emma would be sharply criticized for her choice to remain behind and not follow the Prophet, Brigham Young. For this, she would bear a stigma upon her name which would last over 100 years.
I was the first of the Prophet’s family to come into the church and stay, the first to receive a patriarchal blessing, and the first to receive temple ordinances.
In my patriarchal blessing, I was told, “It is not by chance that you have accepted the gospel in its fullness, but that you might fulfill a beautiful mission.”
It took a lot of years and searching before I came to understand what that mission was to be. I pondered and prayed for guidance of what had to be done to change the attitude against Emma, and also, to change the attitude of the family against the LDS Church.
After much fasting and prayer, I was given several dreams and spiritual experiences which showed me that it would be my mission to search out and find as many of the scattered Smith family descendants as I could. I must somehow help them understand the wonderful heritage that should be theirs as descendants of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
After much tribulation in my life, fortunately, in 1983, the Lord gave me a wonderful husband who wanted to share this mission with me. With his help, I have spent my life speaking and writing to bring to light the truths I have discovered regarding Emma’s contributions to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this dispensation.
We have worn out our lives finding and contacting the Smith descendants for 34 years. I love Ivor more than I can ever express, for his selfless service to me, and to the Smith family.
He is known as “Ivor the driver.” We have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, visiting the living family members all over the United States and Canada; we even went to England and Australia.
As we met the extended family members we discovered that in almost every branch of the family there was the same thread of fear that had been instilled in my mother, “Don’t ever tell anyone you are related to Joseph Smith.”
Discovering how much persecution the entire family had endured, I understood that it was fear, not shame, that imbedded that feeling, generation after generation.
We have held many family reunions, bringing hundreds of the scattered family members together, where they have established deep bonds of family love which has largely dispelled the old prejudice that once separated us.
Twenty-three years after my baptism, my mother, Lorena Normandeau was baptized in 1979. Her conversion was a direct result of her attending the family reunions where she came to know of her heritage.
While in Nauvoo, visiting the homes that had once belonged to Joseph and Emma, she felt the Spirit of their Sacred mission.
After one of the reunions, my mother, Lorena, wrote a beautiful song, “Tenderly, Tenderly,” which was her testimony of Emma and Joseph’s love for one another and their companionship in his mission to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Tonight, this song was beautifully performed by two young people named Thiago and Lorena. Can that name, Lorena, be a coincidence?
When Marcelo introduced Lorena, whom he had chosen to sing my mother’s song, he didn’t know my mother’s name was Lorena as well. For sure this was an inspired choice.
In 1986, my mother became the first of sixteen of Emma and Joseph’s descendants to serve a full-time mission for the LDS Church.
One of my grandsons, Elder Allen Denning, is serving 2016-2018, in Pima, AZ., as a Youth Service Missionary.
There are now more than 200 living descendants on the LDS Church Records.
With the help of many good people, both from the LDS academic and historical community, and even some scholars in the Reorganized Church, (which is now the Community of Christ), we have been able to uncover much of the mystery that had shrouded Emma’s story.
I wrote the article, “Finding the Testimony of My Great-Great Grandmother, Emma Hale Smith,” which was published in the Ensign Magazine, August 1992.
I am excited to tell you that this article has been translated into Portuguese and is going to be available online.
It’s the first time my article has been translated in another language.
You will be able to download a PDF file at the Emma Tribute Facebook Event. Any question about this procedure talk to Marcelo Bighetti. To read the article online go to LDS.org, Ensign Magazine, August 1992.
Since that article was published in the Ensign Magazine, events have just kept tumbling forth to open the minds of everyone who can be reached, to let them know the real heart of Emma Hale Smith and lay to rest the falsehoods that had clouded her reputation.
When I taught classes at BYU Education Weeks from 2000 to 2011, my titles for talks spanned dozens of subjects.
Two examples are “An Unequivocal Testimony of Joseph Smith as a Prophet of God” and “Remembering Emma”, in which I showed clearly that she did not found the Reorganized Church.
Ivor, and I, along with other family members participated in helping put together the movie, “Emma Smith, My Story,” released in 2008, it was filmed at BYU Motions Picture Studios in Provo, Utah.[13]
After spending so many years of my life in this labor of love, of finding the descendants and helping organize reunions, coming to this time of tribute to Emma Hale Smith seems like a dream come true.

Jadzia Bigheti singing “Emma”
Doing this tribute actually seems to me to be fulfillment of a prayer offered by Elder Boyd K. Packer, at the commemoration of Joseph Smith’s 200th birthday, held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on the 23 December, 2005.
I transcribed Elder Packer’s moving prayer from the video, I will quote a part:
“We remember . . . in this commemoration of Joseph Smith the Prophet, his wife Emma Hale Smith, Elect Lady, his sweetheart, wife, and mother of his children. We pray that her memory will likewise be blessed.” Unquote.
Several wonderful musicians have helped promote Emma’s memory:
For instance, we owe many thanks to Jason Deere, who wrote the lyrics and music for the song, “Emma,” which is on the album, “A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet Joseph Smith”.
This song highlights Emma’s life-long trials in a manner that touches the heart and emotions. Stirred by these feelings, we make a connection with Emma, not as a long-ago personage of history, but as a living breathing woman with whom we can relate and sympathize.
When it is sung at the end of this program listen to the last lines of this song convey the idea that Emma, even somewhere in Eternity, may still feel a sting of rejection regarding how people may view her:
‘And I’m sure your heart breaks, when some people still say “Somewhere down the line you lost your faith.”
I appreciate that this new empathy for Emma has opened minds and hearts to generously embrace her in a new way so as to raise a strong desire to defend her. It feels good to hear her defended and appreciated rather than demeaned. However, I would like for us to understand that sympathy for her trials does not satisfy all that is required to understand the full significance of Emma’s role as companion with the Prophet Joseph in many important events pertaining to the blessings we enjoy in the gospel today.
Put very simply, she believed in him! She believed him when he told her of his First Vision, a face to face communication, in 1820, with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
She believed him when he told her of the visitations he received from an Angel, who showed him a sacred record which he would be expected to bring forth and publish to the world in due time.
She was his first scribe when he began to translate the record that would become The Book of Mormon, a scripture that stands as a second witness, with the Holy Bible, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God;
and she was also a scribe for him during part of his Inspired translation of the Bible which restores many plain and precious words that were lost from the scriptures over the centuries.
She carried the manuscript to safety out of Missouri, and kept it safe until the time came for it to come forth.
She was present when the Church was founded In Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830; she was baptized in Colesville, Broome County, New York, the 28th of June 1830.
Emma fulfilled every duty given her by the Lord in the July 1830 revelation in which she was titled ‘An Elect Lady’ and was specifically commanded to be a comfort and support to her husband in all his trials and afflictions.
Emma stands as a witness to the divine origin of the Book of Mormon—her testimony is that of a witness who ‘having not seen the plates, yet she believed’.
Not long before her death, over 35 years after Joseph’s death, she testified: “I believe the Book of Mormon to be of divine authenticity, I have no doubt about it.” [14] She also testified that “Joseph was exactly what he said he was, A prophet of God.”[15]
A major contribution by Emma is the hymnal containing 90 hymns, which she compiled for the Church. This hymnal was published in time to be used in the Kirtland Temple dedicatory services in March 1836. Many hymns selected by her are still in our current hymnal.
Emma was the first of eighteen women, who, over the next 175 years, would be called to serve as president of the Church’s first organization for women, The Relief Society. This organization, founded in Nauvoo, in 1842, began with only a few women; it is now one of the largest women’s organizations in the world. It continues the same theme: Unity, Charity, and Service.
One of the major purposes the Prophet Joseph had in founding the Relief Society, after the pattern of the priesthood of God, besides taking care of the poor and needy, was to prepare the women to be ready to receive temple ordinances, which were to be made available to them. Joseph and Emma had been sealed for time and eternity 28 May 1843.[16] Because the temple was not finished, this took place in their log home.
One of the least known aspects of Emma’s contributions, is that she was Joseph’s partner in the restoration of Sacred Ordinances available to us in the temples today. On 28 September 1843, upstairs in the newly finished Mansion House, Emma was the first woman to receive initiatory ordinances, which were administered to her by Joseph. That evening Joseph and Emma were the first couple in this dispensation to receive the Fulness of the Priesthood ordinance,[17] opening the door to all, who will meet the requirements, to likewise receive, in due time. This sacred event was essential in the completion of Joseph’s restoration work on the earth that he could not have accomplished without Emma.
Following this great event, by Joseph’s assignment, Emma administered the ordinances to other women. Documentation of this fact was discovered, written in code, in Heber C. Kimball’s diary, indicating that Emma administered the initiatory ordinances to his wife Vilate Kimball, and ‘many other women.’[18] During the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph, at least 24 couples received the Fulness of the Priesthood ordinance.[19] After his death, the brethren worked feverishly to finish the temple, and from December 1845 to February 8th, 1846, when the Church began its exodus to the west, about 6,000 Saints had received their endowments.
Without Joseph there, Emma did not participate, but the legacy was sure, established so that the power of the devil could never hinder. The foundation was laid for the great day to come when temples will dot the land. We are now beginning to see that day!
It may surprise people to realize that some of the important present-day blessings, actually depend upon what has been deemed Emma’s greatest failing—that of staying in Nauvoo after the exodus of 1846. Had Emma not remained behind when the main body of the Church left Illinois, all of the Smith homes in Nauvoo, would have long since been destroyed. Because the family held onto these homes, and the Reorganized Church, now The Community of Christ, has obtained and preserved them, they remain standing today. This applies also to the Kirtland temple, in Ohio.
Many thousands of people visit these buildings yearly; they walk where Joseph and Emma walked, finding renewed appreciation for the Prophet Joseph, and for Emma, in hearing the Restoration story retold. My mother being one.
One amazing monument now standing in Nauvoo, is the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple.
Emma faced years of persecution and sacrificed all comforts and luxuries of this world to stand by the side of her prophet husband, while he lived. At his death, she was inconsolable. Upon hearing her anguished weeping, Brother Greene exclaimed, “Oh, Sister Emma, God bless you!”
Then he uttered a long and fervent prayer for her peace, protection and resignation. To this, Emma cried out, “Oh God, why am I a widow and my children orphans? Thou knowest I have always trusted in thy law.”
Brother Greene said, “your trials shall be as a crown unto you.”
Quickly, she answered, “My husband was my crown; for him and for my children I have suffered the loss of all things; and why O God, am I thus deserted, and my bosom torn with this ten-fold sorrow.”[20]
What is meant by this saying, “My husband was my crown?”
The revelation given her in 1830 gives us a hint, in verses 14 & 15, “let thy soul delight in thy husband and the glory that shall come upon him. Keep all my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness though shalt receive.”
When Joseph was leaving for Carthage, she asked him to give her a blessing. He said he didn’t have time to give her a blessing before he left but she should write the desires of her heart and he would sign it when he returned. She wrote the blessing, but of course, he never returned to sign it.
Among the many poignant desires of her heart, Emma wrote,
“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.”
A question often asked, or hinted at, by those who wonder if Emma forfeited her blessings by failing to go west finds an answer in the heart of all who understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ and recognize the magnitude of service rendered to all mankind, by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his beloved companion, Emma.
Her patriarchal blessing, given in 1834, promised her, “Thou shalt see many days, yea, the Lord will spare thee till thou art satisfied, for thou shalt see thy Redeemer. Thy heart shall rejoice in the great work of the Lord, and no one shall take thy rejoicing from thee.”
I believe that surely, as stated in Section 25, a crown of righteousness will be Emma’s, which is to say, Exaltation and Eternal Life.

In closing, one final story:

Marcelo Bighetti Conducts Fireside in Brazil
Emma passed away on April 30, 1879, a few months short of her 75th birthday. According to her son, Alexander,[21] the family was gathered in the room where she was suffering her last hours.
Her son, David was not there due to his hospitalization for mental illness; her son Frederick had died many years before. Her husband, Lewis was there, and her adopted daughter, Julia, along with Alexander and his brother, Joseph.
Alexander said Emma raised up in bed, reached out her hand and said, “Joseph, Joseph!”
Alexander sprang to her side; putting his arm behind her to support her. Before anyone could move, she sank back on his arm and was gone. He laid her gently on the pillow.
As they were talking after, they wondered at her calling out like that.
The nurse who had attended her for weeks told them that a short time before this Emma told her of a dream she had. She said Joseph came to her and said, “Emma, put on your bonnet and shawl, and come with me.”
Emma said it seemed right, and so she did as he said. He took her into a beautiful mansion. In one of the rooms she saw a babe in a cradle.
Recognizing him as her baby, Don Carlos, who had died when only 14 months old, she said she snatched him to her bosom, then turned to Joseph, and asked, “Joseph, where are the rest of my children?”
Joseph smiled at her and said, “Be patient, Emma, and you shall have all of your children.” Then she saw, standing by his side, a personage of light, even the Lord Jesus Christ.
Alexander, in his old age, speaking of his mother’s dream, and recalling what he had read of his father’s teachings, wondered, “Does this mean that Families will be together in the hereafter? I don’t know, but it fills me with a grand hope.’
How blessed we are to live in a time when the fullness of the priesthood blessings is not just a ‘grand hope,’ but the precious testimony of every primary child, mother, father, sister and brother in the gospel today.
I am grateful for those young men who gave up two years of their lives to serve a mission in Montana, and gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon and bore that testimony that fires my soul to this day. I testify, The Book of Mormon is true! It was translated by the gift and power of God by my great-great Grandfather, and it is REALLY TRUE.
I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.
And I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us–watch over us. And, I believe sincerely that Emma and Joseph have been with us in the preparation of this event, and that they watch over and care about all the people of this Dispensation.
There is no doubt in my mind that Emma was an extraordinary woman
whose unique contributions were vital to the success of the Prophet Joseph Smith and essential to establishing the foundation for the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
My husband, Ivor Jones, will now share some thoughts and bear his testimony.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
What a great honor and privilege for us to be able to speak to you and bear testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith, and his beloved wife, Emma.
At a time when his life was in great danger, the Prophet Joseph was forced to hide out a distance from Nauvoo; Emma, at great peril, went with a few loyal friends, to visit him.
Later, he wrote his feelings about Emma in a book where he kept sacred records. Quote:
“How glorious were my feelings when I met that faithful and friendly band. . .on the island at the mouth of the slough, between Zarahemla and Nauvoo; what unspeakable delight and what transports of joy swelled my bosom, when I took by the hand . . . . my beloved Emma—she that was my wife, even the wife of my youth, and the choice of my heart.
Many were the reverberations of my mind when I contemplated for a moment the many scenes we had been called to pass through, the fatigues and the toils, the sorrows and sacrificings,
and joys and consolations, from time to time, which had strewed our path and crowned our board.
Oh, what a commingling of thought filled my mind for the moment,
again, she is here, even in the seventh trouble—undaunted, firm and unwavering—unchangeable, affectionate Emma!”[22]
Unquote.
In his mentioning ‘the seventh trouble,’ the prophet seems to be comparing the trials they had to endure, with the process of refining gold which requires a series of chemical baths combined with intense heat, to get pure gold out of rocks.
The hymn, which was sung at the beginning of this program, How Firm a Foundation, which Emma included in her hymnal, verses 4 and 5, indicate that the troubles we encounter in life will serve to refine our souls, as pure gold.
Now, I would like to bear my testimony to you this day. I know that our Father in Heaven and His only begotten son, Jesus Christ know and love each of us; they know us by our first name, even as they called “Joseph” by his first name.
I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church upon the face of the earth.
I testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that he translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and it is true.
I testify that Brigham Young, and all the brethren who have led the Church since Joseph, were and are prophets, seers, and revelators in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I leave this testimony with you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thank you for coming.

[1] Americana, Hortolandia, Sumera stakes are in the San Paulo Area in Brazil.
[2] Our Dairy Farm was located six miles northwest of Ronan, Montana.
[3] It was in 1955 we moved to Conrad, Montana.
[4] My employer’s name was Dee Lederer.
[5] James 1:5.
[6] My father was not being harsh, he was just concerned that I was being misled.
[7] I was contacted early in 1972 by Buddy Youngreen, a young man who wanted to do a dramatic play on the life of Joseph and Emma. He went searching for anyone who could give him authentic Smith family information and learned that the Smith descendants were scattered into many parts of the country. He had the idea that a reunion of descendants of the Joseph Smith Sr., could be an important event for the family members. He asked me if I would help organize this event. I did, along with many other people—it was a great success. The reunion continues, and is held biannually. For information see web page: www. josephsmithsr.org
[8] Joseph Smith’s siblings: Alvin, no posterity; Hyrum, many thousands of descendants; Sophronia, has no living posterity; Joseph Jr., we have found 1600 descendants so far; Samuel, have found many descendants; Katharine Smith Salisbury, we have found many descendants; Don Carlos, currently, we have no contact with any descendants; Lucy Smith Milliken, we have found several living descendants.
[9] Emma and Joseph’s children: Alvin-1823 infant, New York; Thaddeus & Louisa b-d 1831, Hiram, Ohio; Joseph III, 1832-1915; Alexander Hale, 1838-1909; Don Carlos, 1840-1841, Illinois; David Hyrum, 1844-1904; adopted twins: Joseph Murdock, 1831-1832; and Julia Murdock, 1831-1880.
[10] Brigham Young was president of the Quorum of the Twelve; 9 of the Quorum Twelve went west: Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, George A. Smith. (Lyman Wight went to Texas and built a colony of his own; two others, John E. Page, & William Smith chose to remain and so were dropped from the Quorum and replaced by Amasa M. Lyman & Ezra T. Benson).
[11] The battle of Nauvoo began on September 12, 1846. Emma and her family boarded a riverboat, the Toby, and went upriver to Fulton, Illinois where they stayed until February 1847.
[12] Joseph Smith III was sustained as President of the High Priesthood of the [RLDS] Church April 1860; of this he wrote this comment: “In taking the head of the Mormon Church I am running counter to the opinions of many people; but believing that ‘there is a destiny which shapes our ends,’ I am contented to let those who are astonished and opposed to such a measure, stand the test of time and an opportunity for reflection, satisfied that investigation will result in my favor.” “History of the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints,” Vol. 3, p 274-275, Herald House, Independence, Missouri, 1973.
[13] “Emma Smith, My Story,” movie produced by The Joseph Smith Jr. & Emma Hale Smith Historical Society, Inc., Filmed at BYU Motion Picture Studios, directed by Gary Cook, who also wrote the script. Movie is available: www.josephsmithjr.org.
[14] Emma Hale Smith’s Last Testimony, History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol 3, p. 356-360, Herald House, Independence, Missouri, 1973
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ehat, Andrew F., “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question” p. Thesis 1981, Brigham Young University.
[17] Ibid. p. 76.
[18] Kimball, Heber C., “On the Potter’s Wheel, The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball,” edited by Stanley B. Kimball, Signature Books, in association with Smith Research Associates, Salt Lake City, 1987.
[19] Andrew F. Ehat, Telephone interview with Gracia N. Jones May 2017.
[20] McGavin, Cecil, “Nauvoo the Beautiful” Bookcraft Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972, p. p. 144.
[21] Smith, Alexander Hale, Sermon in Bottineau, South Dakota, reprinted in Zion’s Ensign, 31 Dec. 1903, Independence, Missouri. See also Gracia N. Jones, Finding the Testimony of my Great-Great Grandmother, Emma Hale Smith, Ensign Magazine, August 1992.
[22] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd Edition, The Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, Vol. 5, p. 107.
Long Lost Cousin Found: A New Timeline and Bio for Alice Fredericka Smith
Details
Last Updated: 19 March 2018

Preview
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.

Timeline
Year
Events
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.
Memorium
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.

Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning: Sun 26 Mar 1820?
Details
Last Updated: 31 March 2017
Dating the First Vision
Two researchers working independently have come up with evidence pointing toward a date for the First Vision. Detailed weather reports coupled with maple sugar production cycles point to the compelling possibility.

What was the date
of the First Vision?
[Editor’s Note: John P. Pratt, who recently proposed the Sun 26 Mar 1820 date for the First Vision based on evidence from the Enoch calendar, was not aware of these results for either the March weather of 1820, nor that maple sugar production might be a factor in determining the date. In fact, Pratt’s article had already been reprinted as part of his new book Divine Calendars before he received any word of this corroborating evidence from John C. Lefgren. The research being reported in this article was done entirely by John C. Lefgren; Pratt’s only contribution was to aid him in writing up the results.]
What is the most important date in Church history? There have been days on which some very important visitors have come. John the Baptist, as well as Peter, James and John all came to restore the priesthood. The Savior, Moses, Elias and Elijah all came on the same Easter Sunday in 1836 to restore important priesthood keys, and that day has been shown to have important calendrical significance.[1] But there was one day on which Heavenly Father himself appeared to man in the latter-days. Has there been a more important day in LDS Church history than the day of the First Vision?
In the October 1998 General Conference President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. It was the parting of the curtain to open this, the dispensation of the fulness of times. Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life.[2]
The First Vision is fundamental to our religion, but what was the date on which it occurred? All that we have known about the date is that it “was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring” of 1820 (JSH 1:14). It has been assumed that this brief description could only be used to narrow down the date to have been within the period of late March to early April, with a Sunday being the most likely day on which a farm boy would have been able to actually go to the woods to pray.[3]

The First Vision
Two months ago Meridian Magazine published an article by Dr. John P. Pratt which stated that evidence from the Enoch calendar implied that by far the most likely date for the First Vision was Sunday, March 26, 1820.[4] When I (John C. Lefgren) learned of his proposed date, my interest in this problem was immediately rekindled. Two decades ago, about the time my book April Sixth[5] was published, it occurred to me that the First Vision might have happened on April 6, 1820. Knowing that the vision had been on a beautiful day, I sought weather records to verify whether that date was at least a candidate. To my delight I found that detailed weather records had been kept only eighty miles from Palmyra, but to my disappointment I found it had snowed the night before April 6, and had been cloudy and freezing weather all that day. I did not pursue the study further. Thus, when I recently learned of Pratt’s proposed date in March, I immediately sent to the National Archives for the microfilms of the weather journal, which resulted in the results published here.
Let us now attempt to identify the precise day of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s First Vision. My approach is divided into two parts. First, let us make a selection of all plausible days in early spring which are identified from original 1820 weather records. Second, from the set of possible days, let us consider maple sugar production, which leads to identifying Sunday, March 26, 1820, as by far the most likely day for the First Vision to have occurred.

March 1820 Weather
Early Spring Weather, 1820
According to Joseph Smith’s account, there are five conditions which relate to the time of the First Vision: (1) “On the morning of”, (2) “a beautiful”, (3) “clear day”, (4) “early in the spring” (5) “of eighteen hundred and twenty” (JSH 1:14). Using these conditions, I offer the following criteria for selecting a set of possible days from an 1820 weather diary which would satisfy his statement. Here are the selection criteria:
“Morning” is a time after sunrise and before midday. This means that I will examine weather conditions which are reported for the morning.
“Beautiful” is an indication of a moderate temperature and no strong wind. I propose to look for mornings when the temperature is higher than 40° Fahrenheit with no strong wind.
“Clear” relates to the sky. In the mornings of the possible days there are no clouds, no snow, no sleet, and no rain.
“Spring” in North America is March, April, and May. For my examination, I propose that “in early spring” means a time which is after March 1st and before April 15th.
“Of eighteen hundred and twenty” means a day in the year 1820.

Weather at Sackets Harbor is similar to that of Palmyra
My research begins at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. In the early part of the nineteenth century, Sackets Harbor, New York, was a shipbuilding center for the United States Navy. During the war of 1812 this place played an important role in defending the northern border of the United States from British invasion. Sackets Harbor was once the location for one third of the country’s Army and one quarter of its Navy.
In 1820 Dr. W. Wheaton was an officer and surgeon who was stationed with the United States Second Infantry at Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor. He was located on a bay where the Black River flows into Lake Ontario, about eighty miles from Palmyra. Sackets Harbor and Palmyra are generally in the same weather system which is influenced and homogenized by Lake Ontario (see map).
At the time of Dr. Wheaton’s assignment, the U.S. Surgeon General required medical officers to keep weather diaries. At Madison Barracks in 1820 Dr. Wheaton observed and recorded temperatures and weather conditions for each day at 7:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. At the end of each month he filed his weather reports to the Office of the Surgeon General, Washington, D.C.
In 1953 the United States Weather Bureau collected climatological records and asked the National Archives and Records Administration to microfilm weather diaries. As a part of this effort, Dr. Wheaton’s original 1820 weather diaries from Madison Barracks were included.[6] This record is the source to determine daily weather conditions and to select a set of possible days for the First Vision. The record is included in full in the notes at the end of this article,[7] with the column for the temperatures and morning weather shown in the accompanying reproductions of the microfilm image. The weather for early spring is summarized in Figure 1, which shows the 7 a.m. temperatures as well as whether the weather was clear (yellow) or cloudy/rainy/snowy (grey).

Figure 1. 1820 Early Spring Weather
March in 1820 came in like a lion. During the first two weeks of March there were five snow days for a total accumulation of 23 inches. During these two weeks there were only three of forty-two temperature readings above freezing. It seems appropriate to exclude the first half of March from any consideration for the First Vision. There was an increase in the average temperature during the third week of March with daily readings above freezing. Nevertheless, the weather was mostly cloudy and at no time in the early morning was the temperature above freezing. Beginning on March 22 there is a break in the weather with rising temperatures. Friday March 24 the weather is clear and the morning temperature is above 40°. This day is the first day in the set of possible days for the First Vision. Saturday March 25 is also clear and warm and is the second day in the set of possible days. Sunday morning March 26 is clear with a temperature of 56°, the highest of any day that early spring. This day is the last of three consecutive clear days and is included in the set of possible days. The 2 p.m. temperature for both March 25 and 26 was 64°, so they were both “beautiful days” that might stand out in young Joseph’s memory has having been unusually pleasant. Monday morning March 27 the weather becomes cloudy and the temperature begins to drop. During the last four days of March average temperature readings decline and during the first week of April there is snow, sleet and rain. On Thursday April 13 the ice breaks up on Lake Ontario and by Saturday April 15 the weather is clear with morning readings above forty degrees. This day is too late in the spring to be included in the set of possible days.
Now let us turn to a brief overview of how maple syrup is produced, which will indicate that the first two of those days would most likely have been long, arduous work days producing maple syrup. Moreover, that same cycle indicates that there would have been no more sap to gather nor process on Sunday, March 26, leaving it the sole and ideal candidate to have been the date of the First Vision.
Maple Sugar Production
“…we commenced making maple sugar of which we averaged one thousand pounds per year.”
— Lucy Mack Smith
The Smith family produced maple sugar which was an important source of their food, as well as a commodity which was traded for other foods and services. Maple sugar was about the only source of sugar at that time; cane sugar was rare and expensive. By the late 1800’s, cane sugar became much less expensive and replaced maple sugar for most purposes.

Sugar Maple Leaf
Lucy Mack Smith wrote of her years in Palmyra, “In the spring after we moved onto the farm we commenced making maple sugar of which we averaged one thousand pounds per year.”[8] That’s a lot of sugar, and it was all produced during a few weeks of spring. It was not a hobby or casual endeavor for them, it was an important source of sustenance which engaged their full time effort for brief periods entirely governed by the weather. Let’s review the production of maple sugar to understand why two of the three possible days for the First Vision would have been heavy work days.

Sugar Maple Tree
The harvesting of maple sugar is extremely temperature dependent. Maple sugar comes only from the northeast of North America and is part of our early history. The English settlers learned maple syrup and sugar production from the Native Americans.[9] The harvest of maple sugar occurs in the early spring. For hundreds of years farmers in New England have tapped millions of trees and have observed that the flow of maple sap is governed by a cycle of freezing and thawing temperatures. In recent years scientists have developed a theory to explain a mechanism by which sap runs. Their investigation includes the measurement of negative and positive pressures in the tree’s sapwood. When the temperature is below freezing the cells have a negative pressure relative to the atmosphere. The negative pressure causes water in the ground to move into the roots. The incoming water becomes sap as enzymes in the roots convert starch into sugar. When the temperature rises above freezing the cells develop positive pressure which causes the sap to rise up the tree. Over this cycle the pressures in the sapwood fluctuate from a low of twenty pounds to a high of forty-five pounds per square inch. Thus, negative pressure brings water into the root system and positive pressure pushes sap up the tree.
In an effort to understand the pump effect of a maple tree’s negative and positive pressures, scientists measure the dissolution rate of carbon dioxide. When temperatures are below freezing, carbon dioxide has a high dissolution and causes negative pressure. When temperatures are above freezing the dissolution rate falls releasing gas into the sap which produces positive pressure. Sometimes the release of carbon dioxide is so quick that the sap becomes a carbonated “spring tonic”. (It is pressurized carbon dioxide which is used to carbonate soft drinks.) This cycle of freezing and thawing temperatures is required for the sap to continue its flow. If temperatures stay above freezing for more than thirty hours, positive pressures fall as the sapwood literally runs out of gas. When this happens farmers are happy to take a break.

Boiling down sap to make maple sugar.
Sugar makers in 1820 gathered maple sap in wooden buckets. They boiled the sap in a series of iron kettles which hung over an open fire. At one end, where the fire was highest, water boiled off. As the sap thickened into syrup they ladled it into the second kettle, where the fire was lower, and added fresh sap to the first kettle. In this way, they removed the water without burning the sugar. In the last kettle they stirred liquid sugar until it crystallized and then poured it into wooden molds to form blocks. The early settlers considered maple sugar a wonder of the New World.

Some maple syrup producers still use the old ways.

April 1820 Weather
To produce one thousand pounds of maple sugar, as Lucy Smith recorded, the Smith Family in 1820 tapped more than 500 trees, collected 60,000 pounds of sap, and boiled off water by burning 10,000 pounds of wood. From Figure 1 it is possible to determine that the family’s sugaring would have started in earnest on Saturday, March 18, and continued until Saturday, March 25. Because sap can go sour like milk, the family has to make sugar while the sap runs. All the members of the Smith Family would have been fully involved with sugar production. Even if the sap ran for only a few hours, the boiling fire could burn for as much as twenty hours. Each family member understood that the spring harvest of maple sugar was a vital source of food and no other activity was as important. By Saturday noon March 25 at the latest, the temperature readings would have been above freezing for more than thirty hours and the maple sap had stopped running. The boiling fires would have had to be fed for the rest of that day to finish the process. By Saturday night, every one would have been exhausted. Thus, Sunday would have been a rest day even if it had not been the weekly Sabbath day.
In preparation for the final draft of this article and to independently verify that scenario, on October 5, 2002 I traveled to the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Vermont. On that day I arranged to meet John and Shirley Pease as well as Bruce Johnson. These people come from families who have been involved in maple sugaring for as many as seven generations. They have first-hand experience with the effects temperature and weather have on sugar production. Each spring for the last fifty years these New Englanders have “sugared” and they know the intense effort required to collect and to boil sap. I presented to them copies of the March and April 1820 weather diaries and I asked them to describe what the Smith Family would have done to make one thousand pounds of maple sugar. Their review of the weather diaries identified the first “run” as beginning on Sunday, March 5. They estimated that the “run” lasted one day and produced less than one fourth of the season’s sugar. The second “run” started on Monday, March 13, and lasted for two or three days. This “run” produced more than one fourth of the season’s sugar. It was clear to them that the big “run” started on Saturday, March 18 and with sap running through Friday, March 24. They said that during this “run” the Smith Family would have kept boiling fires for twenty-four hours a day, through Saturday, and that they would have produced about half of the season’s sugar. They also said that some members of the family would have worked as much as twenty hours per day as they tried to keep pace with the flow of the sap, so that it would not go sour. They claimed that no other harvest or agricultural activity is as intense and demanding as maple sugaring. Thus they verified the conclusion in detail.
One note from one of Joseph’s several accounts of the First Vision implies that he had indeed been cutting timber on the day prior. The editor of the Pittsburg Gazette visited Nauvoo in 1843 and interviewed the Prophet. His rendition of what the Prophet said included the following:
“I immediately went out into the woods where my father had a clearing, and went to the stump where I had stuck my axe when I had quit work, and I kneeled down, and prayed, saying, O Lord, what Church shall I join?”[10]
If that account is accurate, then it would seem to be both an indication that the axe had been left there on the previous day, and that he had been clearing trees with it. Those trees would have been used as the firewood needed to boil down the sugar.
Conclusion
Combining all of this evidence, there were three days of early spring on which the weather qualified as being possible for the First Vision. On the first two of them the Smith family would almost certainly have been totally occupied in producing maple sugar. On the third of those days, there would have been no more work to do in producing maple sugar, and it would have been a day of rest. That day coincided with Sunday, the weekly Sabbath. Thus it is one day which is indicated as being far more likely than any other for the First Vision. It must have been on the morning of Sunday, March 26, 1820, that Joseph Smith reached out to God and the glorious response changed the course of history. The brief statement that the marvelous event occurred “on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring” of 1820 was enough to pinpoint the very day it occurred.
Notes
Pratt, J.P. “Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah’s Return,” Ensign 15, No. 7 (July, 1985), pp. 55-64.
Hinckley, Gordon B., “What Are People Asking About Us?” Ensign (Nov. 1998), p. 71.
Enders, Donald L., “The Sacred Grove,” Ensign, Apr. 1990, p. 15.
Pratt, John P. Enoch Calendar: Another Witness of the Restoration,” Meridian Magazine (5 Aug 2002).
Lefgren, John C., April Sixth (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980).
Microfilm T907-358, New York Reel No. 1-152.
The following table is taken from Dr. Wheaton’s weather diary. Each numbered line represents a day. Temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit for 7:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. are in the columns labeled 7, 2, 6. The “Morning” and “Evening” columns are short statements about sky’s condition and the direction of the wind. The last column is for “General Remarks.”
March
7
2
6
Morning
Evening
General Remarks
Wed
1
25
31
37
Cloudy – N
Cloudy – W

Thu
2
10
15
21
Clear – W
Clear – W

Fri
3
18
16
23
Cloudy – N
Snowing – SW

Sat
4
23
25
31
Clear – NW
Clear – W
Some Snow last night – 3 inches
Sun
5
39
40
40
Cloudy – S
Cloudy – S

Mon
6
20
21
12
Snowing – N
Cloudy – W
Snow last night – 6 inches
Tue
7
7
16
17
Cloudy – W
Snowing – N

Wed
8
9
14
14
Snowing – N
Snowing – N
Heavy fall of snow – 16 inches
Thu
9
16
22
20
Snowing – N
Hail – N

Fri
10
24
26
29
Clear – N
Clear – W
Snow continues until this morning
Sat
11
22
28
23
Clear – N
Clear – N

Sun
12
12
29
27
Clear – N
Cloudy – N

Mon
13
31
37
34
Cloudy – N
Cloudy – NW

Tue
14
35
39
35
Snowing – NE
Snowing – N
This night high winds with snow
Wed
15
30
36
34
Clear – NW
Cloudy – WNW

Thu
16
30
35
32
Cloudy – WNW
Cloudy – NW

Fri
17
26
34
32
Cloudy – NE
Clear – NW

Sat
18
38
42
38
Cloudy – N
Clear – WNW

Sun
19
32
43
48
Cloudy – NE
Clear – SW
Last night high winds from S and SW
Mon
20
48
46
40
Cloudy – SW
Snowing – NE
Last night high winds from NW
Tue
21
36
40
41
Cloudy – SW
Clear – NW

Wed
22
30
32
34
Cloudy – S
Clear – NW

Thu
23
40
46
44
Cloudy – NNE
Clear – SW
Pleasant night with moon light
Fri
24
44
50
49
Clear – NE
Clear – SW

Sat
25
54
64
50
Clear – SSW
Clear – S

Sun
26
56
64
64
Clear – SSW
Clear – SW

Mon
27
55
44
42
Cloudy – W
Clear – W&NW high
High winds this night from W & NW
Tue
28
42
45
40
Clear – W
Clear – NW

Wed
29
31
34
36
Clear – W
Cloudy –

Thu
30
22
26
25
Clear – NW
Clear

Fri
31
30
34
34
Snowing – NW
Snowing – NE

April
7
2
6
Morning
Evening
General Remarks
Sat
1
31
32
30
Clear – NW 5
Cloudy – NW
High winds
Sun
2
30
32
23
Clear – NNW
Cloudy – NW

Mon
3
22
32
30
Clear – NE
Clear – WSW
High winds from W and NW
Tue
4
30
40
40
Clear – NE
Clear – WSW

Wed
5
40
49
49
Cloudy – ESE 6
Cloudy – SSE
Snow and rain this evening
Thu
6
32
33
36
Cloudy – NE
Cloudy – W

Fri
7
38
39
36
Cloudy – SE
Snowing – ENE
Snow and sleet this evening
Sat
8
36
33
38
Cloudy – ENE
Cloudy – W

Sun
9
32
40
38
Clear – NE
Clear – W

Mon
10
36
38
37
Clear .. NW
Clear – NW
High winds
Tue
11
36
38
37
Clear – WSW 6
Clear – SW High
Pleasant evenings
Wed
12
48
52
56
Cloudy – SW
Clear – SW High

Thu
13
40
44
44
Clear – W
Clear – SW High
This day the ice in the lake is broken up
Fri
14
42
48
46
Clear – N
Clear – SSW Pleasant

Sat
15
40
58
57
Clear – N
Clear – W
Fine pleasant evening
Coray, Martha J., “Biographical Sketches of the Mack Family and Autobiography of Lucy Mack Smith,” c. 1845, LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah, as quoted in footnote 2 of Enders’ article referenced above in footnote 3.
One current reference on the internet for Native American maple sugar production methods is at http://www.kstrom.net/isk/food/maple.html.
Backman, Milton V., Jr., Joseph Smith’s First Vision (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971, Appendix G, quoting the editor of the Pittsburg Gazette in an account published in the New York Spectator, Sept. 23, 1843.
How Did Joseph Smith Celebrate Christmas
In Memory of Major Lewis Crum Bidamon – 1806 – 1891
What Happened to Joseph and Emma Smith’s Children?
Joseph and Emma Share a Common Heritage
Subcategories
Joseph Smith Jr.
Emma Hale Smith
Children of Joseph and Emma
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