Join the Hyrum Smith Family Association


Becoming a member is completely free, with no obligations. You need to provide your name, how you are related to Hyrum Smith, and a request to become a member of this organization. Thereafter you will participate in the periodic election of the Board of Trustees, and will also vote on projects to be considered by the Association / Corporation. You will be kept current, by email, on the activities of the Association.

To become a member, click on the Join the Family Association link and fill out the registration profile.

Please encourage other family members to join.

Thank you,

E. Gary Smith

Richard Neitzel Holzapfel Lecture

October 9, 2014

“My Dear Sister”: Joseph F. Smith’s Letters to His Sister, Martha Ann Smith Harris, 1854–1916
by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel

As a 15-year-old missionary on an island in the Pacific, thousands of miles away from his home in Utah, Joseph F. Smith began writing letters to his sister, Martha Ann Smith Harris. During the next six decades, he wrote to her often, sharing insights into his life, dreams, struggles, and work as a missionary, father, and Church leader.

The lectures are held in the Assembly Hall at 7:00 p.m. Validated parking is available at the Conference Center. As you enter the Conference Center parking, inform the attendant that you are going to a lecture and ask for a parking token to use when you exit.

Vote for Members of the Board of Trustees

Candidate Information

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 17/06/2014 12:00:00
end_date 30/06/2014 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Please choose new board members. (Select 2 names.)

Archaeologists seek site of Joseph Smith Sr’s home

By The Associated Press

NAUVOO, Ill. (AP) — An archaeological dig is underway in a tiny western Illinois community for the possible location of a home built for the one-time patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Searchers for the one-time dwelling of Joseph Smith Sr. and wife Lucy Mack — parents of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church — have uncovered what appears to be a structural support for the house that research indicates was a double log cabin, the Quincy Herald-Whig reported.

They’ve also found a small house key, along with thousands of bits of pottery, window glass, metal and buttons.

Those discoveries by volunteers over the past three years suggest that the site being sought is just south of the historic Joseph and Emma Smith Mansion House in 1,100-resident Nauvoo in Hancock County.

“This is a special spot,” Bob Smith, a descendant, told the newspaper of the possible location of Joseph Smith Sr.’s home where archaeologists have unearthed a breezeway that Joseph Smith Jr. once linked with that of his father. “We found walkway all along here. You can see remnants.”

“To discover, preserve and share. That’s what we’re about,” Smith added of the search for the former digs of the elder Smith, who died in 1840. “Religion doesn’t matter.”

As part of the archaeological team headed by Paul DeBarthe, whose digging around Nauvoo dates to 1971, recent Utah State University graduate Michelle Murri called the work “a perfect opportunity to visit (Nauvoo) and get some professional experience.”

“It’s taught me a lot about the history of Nauvoo and my own family history, and it’s also taught me a lot of skills that I can use in my further archaeology jobs,” said Murri, of LeVerkin, Utah.

“Any time you can touch something, it just makes you more aware of history,” added Synthia DeBarthe, another longtime volunteer. “It gets into your heart and your soul, and you never forget it.”


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig,

Candidates for Board of Trustees of Hyrum Smith Family Association

You will have the opportunity to vote for 2 of the following candidates. Voting will begin on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

Jennifer Bruggeman

My name is Jennifer Bruggeman.  I am a descendant of Hyrum Smith through his oldest daughter Lovina.  I live in Toquerville, UT. I have 5 children and my youngest is 8 months.

You asked me to write a few lines about my bio and my interest in the Hyrum Smith Organization.  Here are a few thoughts… I have been a data steward for the Joseph Smith Sr and Lucy Mack Family Organization for many years now.  I find the work fulfilling and a joy to be a part of.  I haven’t attended any of the meetings , but with things like Skype and other internet resources, I have been able to attend. I am capable of using the computer.  I have access to ancestral quest and feel that I am proficient in basic things and can find my way around pretty well. I am the family history consultant in my ward, so new.familysearch and family tree are familiar to me.

Perhaps the other more important reason, is the love I have for the Hyrum Smith family.  I found out about 10 years ago, that I was a direct descendant, and it has changed my life.  In just a few short years, I have researched and documented  all of my maternal and paternal grandparents, clear back to the 1500’s.  I have ensured that temple work has been completed, and have obtained photographs and life stories of each of them.  My purpose now I feel, is to share this information with all of the members of my family.  I believe that our children and grandchildren need to know how important this is and how important they are,  so that the legacy can continue.

I would like to help in any way I can.  If not the board, then certainly in any capacity that you find appropriate.  Thank you for your consideration.

Emily Hoehne

My name is Emily Cannon Hoehne. I am the fourth great-granddaughter of Hyrum Smith and daughter of Christian & Corenna Cannon. After growing up in Blackfoot, Idaho, I moved to Provo, Utah, where I graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and found my sweetheart, Joseph Hoehne. I am currently a web developer and avid family historian.

To date, our family interacts on a very short basis. As a member of the Hyrum Smith Family Association board, I would like to utilize social media resources (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, our family website) to help family members meet and interact with each other on a daily basis and have an avenue to share family stories. The family stories could be gathered and distributed in the family newsletter and website frequently. We are currently connected as a family on, but we need opportunity to interact. Connecting and building relationships with each other using social media resources can help us fulfill our grandmother Lucy’s dream of no empty chairs.

Don H. Lee

If elected to the board I would focus on collecting and publishing the stories of Hyrum’s children.  I have recently published a book on Jerusha Barden (Jerusha, Hyrum’s First Second Love) published through and am currently working on a book about Lovina & Lorin.  The stories of the other children should not be lost but should be well documented and preserved.

I have been a life member of the Sons of Utah Pioneers for over 13 years and have served on the board of the Ogden Pioneer Chapter for nine years.  During that time I served as the Chapter President.   I am currently an Area Vice President for the SUP and a member of the National Board.  Additionally I am also an associate editor of the SUP Trail Marker Newsletter.

I worked at Thiokol for over 33 years as a Scientific Computer Programmer (rocket scientist) and retired from there in 2001.  I worked on the design of the Space Shuttle boosters and other motors.

These family organizations are vital to the preservation of our heritage.  I would appreciate the opportunity to serve on the board.

Claudia Sanborn

My name is Claudia Sanborn related to John Smith Patriarch. He is my 3rd great grandfather. As you see D J Bowden finished the bust of John Smith which I had been begging him to do for years. I’m so excited about it and will be available to purchase at the reunion in July. As you see I do what I say I’ll do. Soon as I finish my book on my last 22 years as a nurse I will write a book on John Smith. I love the Smiths and as a Relief Society teacher I talk about them every chance I get. I’ve been a Director of Nursing and many leadership positions. I feel I could really be an asset on the board of directors if you elect me. I’ll see you at the reunion! Sincerely Claudia Sanborn Hi this is claudia sanborn I would love to be on the board. I ran but was not elected last year. I got the bust of john done by d j. He is going to get me 8 more if u want one. I’m going to take them to the reunion with me and first come first serve.  Hope they’ll consider me on the board. I could help a lot.

Dwayne A. Vance

Dwayne A. Vance.  4th great-grandson of Hyrum Smith (grandson of Eldred G. Smith), currently residing in Millcreek, Utah..  I am a lawyer with experience organizing and working with various non-profit organizations.  I love the stories about the Joseph Smith family, and I have written a full-length musical play about the Smith family that includes 11 original songs.  I would welcome an opportunity to serve as a director of the Hyrum Smith Family Association.


‘You found the key to Grandma’s house': Archaeological dig searches for Joseph Smith home

Posted: Jun 14, 2014 3:35 PM MDT
Updated: Jun 14, 2014 10:27 PM MDT

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

NAUVOO, Ill. — Michelle Murri held a key to history in the palm of her hand.

The small house key, carefully teased from the soil, could open doors to an even better understanding of Nauvoo’s past.

An archaeological dig is underway to find the location of the home built for Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife Lucy Mack in Nauvoo. Recent discoveries led to a possible site just south of the Joseph and Emma Smith Mansion House.

“You found the key to Grandma’s house,” Bob Smith, the dig site host and a great-great-great-grandson of Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, said. “Working on the site, holding something they might have held before, making that connection is a positive thing.”

Volunteers are discovering what appears to be a pier support, a structural support for the house, which research says was a double log cabin.

“Young Joseph talks about having a breezeway between the two structures and a roof over the whole area which was used for storage,” Smith said. “We found walkway all along here. You can see remnants.”

It’s history both for Nauvoo and for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Joseph Smith Sr. was the patriarch of the church. This is the house where he gave his patriarchal blessings to his kids,” Smith said. “This is a special spot.”

It’s special for Murri, a volunteer from LeVerkin, Utah, who just graduated from Utah State University.

“I’ve never been to Nauvoo. This was a perfect opportunity to visit and get some professional experience,” she said. “It’s taught me a lot about the history of Nauvoo and my own family history, and it’s also taught me a lot of skills that I can use in my further archaeology jobs.”

Archaeologist Paul DeBarthe heads a team of volunteers carefully digging into the past, screening buckets of soil and preserving their finds from bits of pottery to window glass, metal and buttons.

“Fundamentally, what we have here is a site that in the last three years has produced 10,000 pieces,” DeBarthe said.

“Anytime you can touch something, it just makes you more aware of history,” said longtime volunteer Synthia DeBarthe, whose husband Thomas is a cousin to Paul DeBarthe. “It gets into your heart and your soul, and you never forget it.”

The Joseph Smith Historic Site along with the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association, the Hyrum Smith Family Association, the Joseph Smith Jr. Historical Society and the Samuel H. Smith Foundation sponsor the digs.

The work brings together Smith, a Mormon, with DeBarthe, a member of the Community of Christ, along with volunteers of many faiths.

“To discover, preserve and share. That’s what we’re about,” Smith said. “Religion doesn’t matter.”

DeBarthe has done archeological work in Nauvoo since 1971. Most of the work was done from 1975 to 1984, then resumed three years ago when Smith and DeBarthe met.

“We’ve got enough Smith family sites to keep us busy for 10 years,” Smith said.

Among the finds are projectile points dating back 10,000 years to the age of the hairy mammoths, more points used by bison hunters 6,000 years ago, pottery from the Early Woodland period and a burial site from the Middle Woodland period some 2,000 years ago not far from the Smith’s own family plots.

“People come here to pilgrimage to the Joseph Smith burial site and home site. Mormons in particular come for about five years of Mormon history, 1839-1844,” he said. “For us to come looking for five years of history and find 10,000 years is really gratifying.”

Replacing the wooden steps at the Mansion House with historically-accurate stone steps led to even more pieces of the past.

Volunteer Rebecca Esplin found a piece of what DeBarthe said was cord-marked, grit-tempered pottery. Working at the site was a perfect fit for Esplin, who just graduated from Utah State University.

“I’ve always loved Nauvoo, and I like historical archaeology as well,” she said. “Finding things makes it a lot more exciting than just digging and not finding anything.”

Pieces from the archaeological digs near the Mansion House come into the lab in the basement of the Red Brick Store in Nauvoo for classifying, authenticating and tabulating. From there, Synthia DeBarthe’s job is to “try to put things back together again.”

She carefully glues together pieces, including a butter churn one day last week, adding masking tape for support until they dry.

“What we’re interested in doing is putting together enough pieces so we can create a museum over in the visitor center for people to get an idea of the times and how they lived here in Nauvoo,” she said.

Synthia DeBarthe says she gets everything from stone to bone to glass, nails, ceramics and stoneware. The finds tell about early family life in Nauvoo.

“They had a lot of things,” she said. They weren’t poor, but they weren’t rich. It appears they were comfortable.”

Work done three years ago tried to explore the legend that the Smith homestead was built in 1805 as a trading post.

“We found 5,000-year-old stuff, 2,000-year-old stuff, but we didn’t find very much attributed to a trading post in 1800,” DeBarthe said. “In the meantime, across the street, we’re finding some possible trade beads. Where was the trading post? That’s one question we’d like to answer.”



Volunteers can spend an hour, a day or a week at the archeological dig sites in Nauvoo. Work continues through Friday, June 27. More information is available by contacting dig site hosts Bob and Becky Smith at 801-471-7253