An estimated 3,200 descendants of Hyrum Smith gathered at Temple Square on 13 February to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. Some 2,300 descendants and other participants squeezed into the Assembly Hall with overflow crowds in the Tabernacle and the North Visitors’ Center.
Hyrum, loyal older brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was born on 9 February 1800. Four of the children born to Hyrum’s first wife, Jerusha Barden, survived to adulthood. After Jerusha died in childbirth, Hyrum married Mary Fielding, to whom two children were born. There are an estimated 31,000 living descendants of Hyrum Smith today. Among Hyrum’s posterity were two prophets: President Joseph F. Smith, his son, and President Joseph Fielding Smith, Hyrum’s grandson.
President Gordon B. Hinckley was among those who honored the early Church leader. “I’m not a descendant of Hyrum Smith,” he said, “But I’m a great admirer and one who loves the name of Hyrum.” Then he gave a charge to Hyrum’s posterity: “There rests upon you a tremendous and abiding responsibility to walk in the ways that Hyrum walked, with faith in the divinity of this work of the Lord, with love for this great cause, with respect for those who established it, and with resolution to do your part to strengthen it in whatever capacity you may be called to serve.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Eldred G. Smith, emeritus Patriarch to the Church—both second-great-grandsons of Hyrum Smith—also spoke. After noting that an estimated 6,000 of Hyrum’s descendants have served full-time missions, Elder Ballard said, “So upon the family of Hyrum Smith has rested a great responsibility of the carrying on of this great work.”
Elder Smith quoted from Hyrum’s patriarchal blessing: “‘The righteous shall rise up, and also thy children after thee, and say thy memory is just, that thou wert a just man and perfect in thy day.’” Certainly this gathering of thousands of his descendants was one fulfillment of that promise.
Among the items on display, courtesy of Elder Eldred Smith, were the clothes Hyrum wore when he was martyred on 27 June 1844 and Alvin Smith’s toolbox, used by the Prophet to hide the gold plates.
The meeting was conducted by Craig R. Frogley, a fourth-great-grandson of Hyrum, who noted that on 9 February 2000, a wreath had been placed by family members on the Hyrum Smith pylon in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. (Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith are buried at the family homestead in Nauvoo, Illinois.)