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Hyrum Smith

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Hyrum Smith (February 9, 1800 – June 27, 1844) was the older brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., and a leader in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hyrum was born in Tunbridge, Vermont, to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith on February 9, 1800. Hyrum received a limited education, and established himself as a farmer. He married Jerusha Barden (1805-1837), on November 2, 1826, and had four daughters and two sons. After Jerusha's death, he married Mary Fielding in 1837, with whom he had a son, Joseph Fielding, and a daughter Martha.

Hyrum Smith, elder brother of Joseph Smith, was an unwavering support to Joseph and the early Mormon Church. He was martyred with Joseph in 1844. © Intellectual Reserve

Service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

During the translation of the Book of Mormon and the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Hyrum was Joseph Smith, Jr.'s close adviser and confidant. In June, 1829, Hyrum was baptized in Seneca Lake, New York. He was one of the Eight Witnesses examining and testifying of the reality of the Golden Plates, the original source of the Book of Mormon. When the Church was organized under New York State statutes on April 6, 1830, six men signed their names as charter members; Hyrum was the oldest at thirty. Hyrum served as presiding officer of a church branch in Colesville, New York, and was one of the first LDS preachers in the surrounding area.

As the church headquarters and membership moved west, Hyrum and his family relocated. In 1831, he established a home in Kirtland, Ohio. During his residence there, he served as foreman of the quarry providing stone for the Kirtland Temple. Between 1831 and 1833, he served proselyting missions to Missouri and Ohio. In 1834, under the direction of Church president Joseph Smith, Jr., he recruited members for a militia, Zion's Camp, and traveled with the group to the aid of the Saints in Missouri. He was appointed Second Counselor in the Church's First Presidency in November 1837. In 1838 and 1839, Hyrum, Joseph and three other church leaders suffered together for five months in Liberty Jail while waiting for trial. During this time, over 10,000 Latter-day Saints were forced to leave Missouri under terrible duress. (See Extermination Order.)

After relocating to Nauvoo, Illinois, Hyrum was ordained as Presiding Patriarch of the Church, in place of his deceased father, Joseph Smith, Sr. He also replaced Oliver Cowdery as Associate President of the Church, was sustained as Assistant President of the Church, and acted as President of the Church in Joseph's absence. At the time of his death, Hyrum Smith held the office of Associate President of the Church, standing second in authority to Joseph Smith, Jr.

"Hyrum is credited in Church history with being an astute organizer who gave ecclesiastical leadership to the emerging Church. As a person, he was considered a man without guile." (Ludlow, Editor, p. 493).

Hyrum was, perhaps, Joseph Smith, Jr.'s greatest support. Their love for each other was more than brotherly, but included a spiritual union and understanding, because of the sacrifices they made together in order to bring to pass the restoration of the gospel.

Of Hyrum, Joseph said, “I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ; and I love him with that love that is stronger than death, for I never had occasion to rebuke him, nor he me” (History of the Church, 2:338).
Throughout Hyrum’s life, he guarded his younger brother as tenderly as if the Prophet had been his own son. Joseph surely knew the value of true and faithful associates because he had trusted many who later proved to be false.
In addition to Joseph’s tribute, the Lord spoke of His love for Hyrum: “Blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:15).

"Hyrum was unwavering, even in the face of death. Following one period of great deprivation and persecution, he wrote:

I thank God that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled [the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated], and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast; and I can assure my beloved brethren that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life” (Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, p. 23). [1]

When warned of possible danger, Joseph urged Hyrum and his family to flee to Cincinnati, Ohio. Hyrum refused and, in 1844, traveled with Joseph to Carthage, Illinois, where both were charged with riot and treason. Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor and Dr. Willard Richards were held awaiting trial in a jail in Carthage. On June 27, 1844, the building was attacked by a mob of between sixty to two hundred men. While attempting to barricade the door to prevent the mob from entering, Hyrum was shot and killed. John Taylor was struck by several bullets but survived with the help of Dr. Richards. Joseph was killed by at least two shots, and fell through a second story window to the ground where he was shot again.

After the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, Doctrine and Covenants section 135 was written:

[Joseph Smith]...like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!
Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3, 6).

Descendants

Hyrum's descendants have played significant roles in the history of the church. Joseph F. Smith, his son by Mary Fielding Smith, served as president of the Church between 1901 and 1918. His grandson, Joseph Fielding Smith also served as president between 1970 and 1972. His eldest son, John Smith, served as Patriarch of the Church between 1855 and 1911, and John Smith's descendants held this post until 1979.

References

  • Allen, James B.; Leonard, Glen M. (1976). The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87747-594-6.
  • Ludlow, Daniel H., Editor. (1992). Church History, Selections from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87579-924-8.
  • O'Driscoll, Jeffrey S. (2003). Hyrum Smith: A Life of Integrity. Deseret Book Company. ISBN 1-57008-857-8.
  • M. Russell Ballard, “The Family of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 5.
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