‘My dear sister’: Joseph F. Smith’s letters to Martha Ann Smith subject of lecture



By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

Carole Call King may not have realized the treasure she inherited when her father, Anson B. Call Jr. died in 1993, but some time later, when she opened a box bearing the words “letters to mother,” she found a historian’s bonanza.

Inside, were “nearly a hundred original letters written by Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church,” said Richard Neitzel Holzapfel Oct. 9 in the latest offering of the Men and Women of Faith Lecture Series sponsored by the Church History Library and held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Continue reading

170th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith



By Ben Tullis
For the Deseret News

On June 27, 1844, a mob of between 100 and 200 armed men, their faces painted black to hide their identities, marched to the Carthage city jail.

A few minutes after 5 p.m. in an upstairs room in the jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, John Taylor and Willard Richards heard shots outside and footsteps scrambling up the stairs. The men rushed to the door to keep the assailants from entering the room.

One of the attackers shot a bullet through the door, which struck Hyrum in the face. Hyrum fell to the ground, crying, “I am a dead man!” (see “Church History in the Fulness of Times,” Chapter 22). Continue reading

‘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.”

— dhusar@whig.com/221-3379


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 orhost@idignauvoo.com.

Mary Fielding Smith’s life highlighted in lecture


By R. Scott Lloyd
LDS Church News

Mary Fielding Smith, widow of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s brother, Hyrum, lived a full and difficult life, but one of faith, emulated by an illustrious posterity that has included two Church presidents.

Her life was highlighted April 10 in the latest offering of the monthly Men and Women of Faith Lecture Series sponsored by the Church History Library and held at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Audrey M. Godfrey, a historian and author on Utah history subjects, delivered the lecture.

Born in England, the sixth child in a family of 10, Mary immigrated to Canada in 1834, joining her siblings Mercy and Joseph.

There, they heard the restored gospel preached by Parley P. Pratt and were baptized, later gathering with the Latter-day Saints to Kirtland, Ohio.

“Mary found friendship and board with Vilate Kimball, wife of Heber C. Kimball, who was … serving in England, and they became lifelong friends,” Sister Godfrey recounted.

“During the summer and fall of 1837, Mary experienced many trials and hardships as well as anxiety and loneliness. She missed her sister [who was sent back to Canada with her husband on a mission]. There was apostasy in Kirtland, and she became nostalgic for her life in England.”

She found solace in the scriptures and was faithful in the Church.

“Her letters are filled with the proceedings of Church meetings,” Sister Godfrey said. “She in essence took minutes at the proceedings and declared over and over her religious fervor.” Others wanting to know what was preached came to Mary, who would check her notes.

This was an era of letter writing, which was something of an art form, one that Mary practiced with a flair. Her letters “were lengthy, full of news and expressions of her faith,” the speaker said.

At age 36, having declined earlier offers for marriage in England, Mary now faced no prospects. But when Hyrum Smith’s wife Jerusha died in 1837, Joseph suggested he marry his friend, Mary Fielding.

“With some reluctance, she told Hyrum, ‘I will set a proxy for your wife … and I will be sealed to you for eternity myself, for I never had any other husband. I love you, and I do not want to be separated from you nor be forever alone in the world to come,’ ” Sister Godfrey related.

They were married on Dec. 24, 1837.

“He needed a wife who was religious, a faithful Church member and one who would teach his children as she had taught others,” Sister Godfrey said of Hyrum. “And here was Mary who had lived the single life for many years agreeing to instant motherhood.”

In 1838, when Mary was pregnant with their first child, Hyrum and Mary moved with other Church members to Far West, Mo. Hyrum spent much time visiting Saints in the various settlements in Missouri while Mary cared for the family and her home. But difficulties with mobs arose.

“By Oct. 30, with Mary due to deliver soon and members of the family ill, Missouri militia men came for Hyrum,” Sister Godfrey said. “He pleaded with them to allow him to stay and care for his loved ones. Without caring about anything but arresting Hyrum, they did so.”

Hyrum spent five and a half months in jail at Liberty, Mo., with Joseph Smith and others.

“Hyrum’s father sent word to his son that the baby was born and asked what name should be given,” Sister Godfrey said. “Hyrum responded that at 8 days old, the child should be blessed and given the name of Joseph after his brother and Fielding after Mary’s brother Joseph.”

When the baby was 11 weeks old, he and his mother were placed in a wagon with quilts to warm him, and they traveled to Liberty Jail. Their few hours together in the jail solidified the love of Hyrum and Mary for each other “as they looked upon their firstborn child together,” she said.

While Mary was in Liberty, the evacuation of the Saints from Missouri under threat of extermination ordered by the governor began. By 1839, the Church members had settled and founded Nauvoo, Ill.

There, a construction of a temple was begun.

“Mary and Mercy wished to start a drive to raise money for the construction. So in December 1843, they composed a letter inviting the British sisters to participate, and the two continents began a sort of competition.”

A sum of $2,000 was eventually contributed for the temple fund.

But threats from mobs beset the Saints generally and Joseph and Hyrum in particular. Events leading eventually to their martyrdom at the jail in Carthage, Ill., were set in motion.

“During the early morning hours, [Mary’s daughter] Martha Ann sick with measles watched her mother walk the floor. Finally a knock came on the window and a Brother Grant told Mary that Hyrum had been killed. In disbelief, she calmly responded, ‘It cannot be.’ But as she let him into the house, she fell back against the bureau and was placed in a chair.”

Later, when she saw him, she clasped his head and turned his face to her. “Finally her sorrow burst out as she wailed, ‘Oh Hyrum! Hyrum! Have they shot you. Are you dead?’ ”

With her children and stepchildren, Mary journeyed with the Saints to the Salt Lake Valley. On the last leg of the journey the company leader did not think she could make the journey, but she told him she would not ask for help. As it turned out, 16-year-old John, her son, drove their five wagons hitched together into the valley before the wagon master himself arrived.

In the valley, Mary and her children built a home in Salt Lake City on what today is known as Mill Creek.

“The last two years of her life were a time of joy,” Sister Godfrey said. “The beauty of the world that had eluded her during the trek west surrounded her and provided peace. She joyfully moved into a home she and the children had built themselves. She demonstrated her faith in the gospel and commitment to its teachings joyfully.”

In addition to Joseph F. Smith and his son, Joseph Fielding Smith, both of whom became Church presidents, Mary’s posterity includes Florence Smith Jacobsen, YWMIA president from 1961 to 1972 and Church curator for many historic building restorations; and step-son, John Smith, Patriarch to the Church from 1855 to 1911, Sister Godfrey noted.


Jerusha Barden Smith Obituary

(Kirtland, Ohio ; Far West, Mo.) (1837)
Subject: Church periodicals
Publisher: Kirtland, Ohio Far West, Mo. Thomas B. Marsh

Obituary published in the Elders Journal, October 1837 edition, Volume 1, No. 1, Kirtland Ohio, p 16.

Died, in this place on the 13th Inst, after an illness of about ten days, Mrs. Jerusha T. Smith, the wife of Hyrum Smith. She has left five small children together with numerous relatives to mourn her loss, a loss which is severely felt, by all.
Our Sister was beloved and highly esteemed by every lover of truth and virtue; but she has been taken from us in an untimely, or rather an unexpected hour, as her companion was from home perhaps near one thousand miles at the time of her decease, and was deprived of the privilege of witnessing her exit from a world of sorrow and perplexity, to the paradise of God.
But, Alas! she is gone home! yes, (using her own language to one of her tender offsprings when on her dying bed,) ”Tell your father when he comes that the Lord has taken your mother home, and left you for him to take care of”
She had her senses until the last, and fell asleep, leaving this assurance behind as a reward for leaving all that was dear for the sake of a risen Savior, and enduring in faith on his name to the end, that she should have a part in the first resurrection, and come forth and inherit the mansion that is prepared for the faithful, and receive the welcome plaudit “Come ye blest of my Father inherit that kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.”