John Smith, son of Hyrum Smith

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John Smith, son of Hyrum and Jerusha Smith, served as Patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1855 to his death in 1911.

John was born on September 22, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio. His mother died when he was five years old. A few months later his father married Mary Fielding Smith. His father was martyred when John was almost 12 years old. In February 1847, he started west with Heber C. Kimball’s family. At the time he did not know where the people were going, but he supposed to California. “This company crossed the Mississippi river on a ferryboat, and encamped on Sugar creek, about nine miles out. After two or three days, boy-like, he got homesick and went back to see his folks. During his stay at home, which was only for a few days, the river froze over, and he crossed back on skates, and joined the company.”[1]

In about August of 1847, his company moved to Winter Quarters and soon after he learned that his father’s family were on the trek toward them, so he and Almon W. Babbitt traveled back almost 150 miles to meet them. When they arrived back at Winter Quarters, John built a log house for the family for the winter and worked for the family; he was but 15 years old. He traveled to the Salt Lake Valley with his stepmother, two sisters, and stepbrother [Joseph F. Smith]] and stepsister Martha in the 1848 Heber C. Kimball company. He later traveled back to lead two companies of pioneers to Utah.

In Utah in the spring of 1850, he was enrolled in a company of horsemen called the Battalion of Life Guards and helped stand guard to protect the settlements from marauding Indians.

His stepmother died in September 1852 and he was left to provide for his family. In December 1853, he married Helen Maria Fisher and they eventually had nine children.

On February 18, 1855, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Jedediah M. Grant, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Lorenzo Snow ordained him to the office of Patriarch.

In December 1905, he accompanied Church president Joseph F. Smith and his party to Vermont, taking part in the service when the monument in honor of the Prophet Joseph Smith was dedicated December 23, 1905.

Patriarch Smith died at his home in Salt Lake City, November 6, 1911.

(For an article on John Smith, the brother of Joseph Smith, Sr., who also served as Church Patriarch, see John Smith).