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 of the church. 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.

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 advisor 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 shared a time in Liberty Jail while waiting for trial.

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.

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.

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'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.


  • 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.