Joseph Smith, Sr.
Joseph Smith, Sr., was the father of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Sr. was a hard-working individual who was supportive of his son from the time he had his first vision. He served in many Church leadership positions, including Church Patriarch. Joseph Sr. died following the Saints' expulsion from Missouri and was considered a martyr for the cause.
Joseph Smith, Sr., was born in Topsfield, Massachusetts, July 12, 1771, the third of eleven children born to Asael and Mary Duty Smith. As a young man, he moved with his parents to Tunbridge, Vermont, where he met Lucy Mack. They were married January 24, 1796, in Tunbridge. In the years after their marriage, Joseph Sr. and Lucy tried their hands at several different ventures which did not work out. They suffered financially, moving from place to place in Vermont and New Hampshire. The Smiths finally moved to Palmyra, New York, in 1816. The Smiths purchased a 100-acre farm in Manchester, New York, soon after their arrival, but lost it in 1825 when they were unable to make the final yearly payment of $100. After they lost their farm, the Smiths again became tenant farmers.
In 1829 a revelation to Joseph Smith, Jr., called his father to participate in the "marvelous work" about to be accomplished, and soon thereafter, Joseph Sr. became one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon and saw and held the gold plates. He was present when the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, and was baptized on the same day. He was ordained the first patriarch to the Church in 1833 and in that office gave blessings of comfort and inspiration throughout the remainder of his life.
Joseph, Sr., and Lucy moved with the Church from New York to Ohio, Missouri, and finally Nauvoo, Illinois. They operated a farm in Kirtland, Ohio, and a boardinghouse in Far West, Missouri. In 1839, they assisted hundreds of Saints fleeing from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois.
During the Missouri persecutions in the fall of 1838, Joseph Sr. became ill. It was under these conditions that he made the forced exodus from Missouri to Illinois in 1839. Due to conditions in Nauvoo, he fared no better and finally died on September 14, 1840. Before his death, he called his children to his bedside to give them final blessings. He assured his son Joseph that he would live to finish his work. In his final moments before his death, Joseph Sr. said he saw Alvin, a son who had died nearly seventeen years earlier.