Smith, John
b. 1781-07-16
d. 1854-05-23
John “Uncle John” Smith was the eighth of eleven children, born on 16 July 1781 in Derryfield, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. Smith is known as the early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a member of the Kirtland, Ohio high council.1 Before his conversion to mormonism, Smith was appointed as the overseer of highways in Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York in 1810, and it was not until 9 January 1832 (with his wife) that he was baptized into the Church of Latter-day Saints.2
The same day of his baptism, Smith was ordained an “elder” by Joseph Wakefield and Solomon Humphrey and a year later in June 1833 he was ordained a high priest.3 By 17 February 1834, Smith became a member of the Kirtland high council and remained as a member until his appointment as president on 21 January 1836.4 In early 1838, Smith and other mormons in Kirtland were forced by mobs to leave the city,5 he moved soon thereafter to Calwell Co., Missouri when he was appointed the president of stake -- a voluntary Mormon lay leader of a specific geographic area. Although Smith sat as an appointed president of stake throughout his career in different places throughout the United States, it was written by a friend of Smith's that he had been kicked and cuffed about and driven out […] because of his Religion.6
Smith's expulsion from various states did not disrupt his work. By 10 January 1844 he was ordained a Patriarch and from 1847-1848 he served as the leader of the Latter-day Saints in Utah.7 Until and after his death on 23 May 1854 in Salt Lake City, Smith was described as a well-educated man with an unwavering faith that he dedicated his life to.8 His faith was said to have been so strong that, prior to his baptism in 1832, he was dying of consumption until his formal baptism when he was suddenly healed.9
  • 1. John Smith, Religious Studies Center ; John Smith, The Joseph Smith Papers.
  • 2. John Smith, The Joseph Smith Papers.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Irene M. Bates, Uncle John Smith, 1781-1854: Patriarchal Bride, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 82.
  • 6. Ibid., 85.
  • 7. John Smith (Uncle of Joseph Smith).
  • 8. Bates, Uncle John Smith, 79.
  • 9. Ibid., 80.
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