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To celebrate the study of the Doctrine & Covenants and Church History this year, Meridian is serializing The Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother.

To see the previous installment, click here.

To see all the installments, published in order, click here.

Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother—

Chapter 34
By Lucy Mack Smith

Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos set out on a mission to bring the gospel to the extended Smith family. They are well treated by all the family, save Jesse. Extract from brother John Smith’s journal. Meeting with Parley P. Pratt. Trouble in Colesville, New York. Joseph is arrested and tried before false witnesses. John Reed is led by the Spirit to defend Joseph.

Summer 1830 to fall 1830

Joseph Smith Sr. and Don Carlos set out on a mission to bring the gospel to the extended Smith family. They are well treated by all the family, save Jesse. Extract from brother John Smith’s journal. Meeting with Parley P. Pratt. Trouble in Colesville, New York. Joseph is arrested and tried before false witnesses. John Reed is led by the Spirit to defend Joseph.

Summer 1830 to fall 1830

In the summer after the Church was organized,[i] my husband set out, with Don Carlos, to visit his father, Asael Smith.[ii] After a tedious journey, they arrived at the house of John Smith, my husband’s brother.[iii] His wife, Clarissa, had never before seen my husband, but as soon as he entered, she exclaimed, “There, Mr. Smith, is your brother Joseph.”

John, turning suddenly, cried out, “Joseph, is this you?”

“It is I,” said Joseph. “Is my father still alive? I have come to see him once more before he dies.”[iv]

For a particular account of this visit, I shall give my readers an extract from brother John Smith’s journal.[v] He writes as follows:

“The next morning after brother Joseph arrived, we set out together for Stockholm to see our father, who was living at that place with our brother Silas.[vi] We arrived about dark at the house of my brother Jesse, who was absent with his wife. The children informed us that their parents were with our father, who was supposed to be dying. We hastened without delay to the house of brother Silas, and upon arriving there, were told that Father was just recovering from a severe fit, and, as it was not considered advisable to let him or Mother know that Joseph was there, we went to spend the night with brother Jesse.

Joseph Smith, Sr. and Don Carlos went through this countryside of New York on their way to bring the gospel to their extended family.

“As soon as we were settled, brothers Jesse and Joseph entered into conversation respecting their families. Joseph briefly related the history of his family, the death of Alvin, etc. He then began to speak of the discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon. At this Jesse grew very angry, and exclaimed, ‘If you say another word about that Book of Mormon, you shall not stay a minute longer in my house, and if I can’t get you out any other way, I will hew you down with my broadaxe.’

“We had always been accustomed to being treated with much harshness by our brother, but he had never carried it to so great an extent before. However, we spent the night with him, and the next morning visited our aged parents.[vii] They were overjoyed to see Joseph, for he had been absent from them so long that they had been fearful of never beholding his face again in the flesh.

“After the usual salutations, enquiries, and explanations, the subject of the Book of Mormon was introduced. Father received with gladness that which Joseph communicated; and remarked, that he had always expected that something would appear to make known the true gospel.[viii]

“In a few moments brother Jesse came in, and on hearing that the subject of our conversation was the Book of Mormon, his wrath rose as high as it did the night before. ‘My father’s mind,’ said Jesse, ‘is weak; and I will not have it corrupted with such blasphemous stuff, so just shut up your head.’[ix]

“Brother Joseph reasoned mildly with him, but to no purpose. Brother Silas then said, ‘Jesse, our brother has come to make us a visit, and I am glad to see him and am willing he should talk as he pleases in my house.’ Jesse replied in so insulting a manner and continued to talk so abusively, that Silas was under the necessity of requesting him to leave the house.

“After this, brother Joseph proceeded in conversation, and Father seemed to be pleased with every word which he said. But I must confess that I was too pious, at that time, to believe one word of it.

“I returned home the next day, leaving Joseph with my father. Soon after which Jesse came to my house and informed me that all my brothers were coming to make me a visit, ‘and as true as you live,’ said he, ‘they all believe that cursed Mormon book, every word of it, and they are setting a trap for you to make you believe it.’

“I thanked him for taking so much trouble upon himself to inform me that my brothers were coming to see me, but told him that I considered myself amply able to judge for myself in matters of religion. ‘I know,’ he replied, ‘that you are a pretty good judge of such things, but I tell you that they are as wary as the devil. And I want you to go with me and see our sister Susan and sister-in-law Fanny, and we will bar their minds against Joseph’s influence.’

“We accordingly visited them, and conversed upon the subject as we thought proper, and requested them to be at my house the next day.

John Smith readily accepted the gospel and was ever faithful. His son, George A. Smith, became a member of the Twelve Apostles.

“My brothers arrived according to previous arrangement, and Jesse, who came also, was very careful to hear every word which passed among us, and would not allow one word to be said about the Book of Mormon in his presence. They agreed that night to visit our sisters the following day, and as we were about leaving, brother Asael took me aside and said, ‘Now, John, I want you to have some conversation with Joseph, but if you do, you must cheat it out of Jesse. And if you wish, I can work the card for you.’

“I told him that I would be glad to have a talk with Joseph alone, if I could get an opportunity.

“‘Well,’ replied Asael, ‘I will take a certain number in my carriage, and Silas will take the rest, and you may bring out a horse for Joseph to ride, but when we are out of sight, take the horse back to the stable again, and keep Joseph overnight.’

“I did as Asael advised, and that evening Joseph explained to me the principles of ‘Mormonism,’ the truth of which I have never since denied.

“The next morning, we (Joseph and myself) went to our sisters, where we met our brothers. Jesse censured me very sharply for keeping Joseph overnight.

“In the evening, when we were about to separate, I agreed to take Joseph in my wagon twenty miles on his journey the next day. Jesse rode home with me that evening, leaving Joseph with our sisters. As Joseph did not expect to see Jesse again, when we were about starting, Joseph gave Jesse his hand in a pleasant, affectionate manner, and said, ‘Farewell, brother Jesse.’

“‘Farewell, Jo, forever,’ replied Jesse, in a surly tone.

“‘I am afraid,’ returned Joseph, in a kind, but solemn manner, ‘it will be forever, unless you repent.’

“This was too much for even Jesse’s obdurate heart. He melted into tears; however, he made no reply, nor ever mentioned the circumstance afterwards.[x]

“I took my brother twenty miles on his journey the next day, as I had agreed. Before he left me, he requested me to promise him that I would read a Book of Mormon, which he had given me, and even should I not believe it, that I would not condemn it; ‘for,’ said he, ‘if you do not condemn it, you shall have a testimony of its truth.’ I fulfilled my promise, and thus proved his testimony to be true.”

Recent convert Parley Parker Pratt would later be ordained as one of the original Twelve Apostles.

Just before my husband’s return, as Joseph was about commencing a discourse on Sunday morning, Parley P. Pratt came in, very much fatigued. He had heard of us at considerable distance and had traveled very fast in order to get there by meeting time, as he wished to hear what we had to say, that he might be prepared to show us our error. But when Joseph had finished his discourse, Mr. Pratt arose and expressed his hearty concurrence in every sentiment advanced. The following day he was baptized and ordained.[xi] In a few days he set off for Canaan, New York, where his brother Orson resided, whom he baptized on the nineteenth of September, 1830.

About this time Joseph’s trouble commenced at Colesville with the mob, who served a writ upon him and dragged him from the desk as he was about taking his text to preach.[xii] But as a relation of this affair is given in his history, I shall mention only one circumstance pertaining to it, for which I am dependent upon Esquire Reed, Joseph’s counsel in the case, and I shall relate it as near in his own words as my memory will admit:

“I was so busy at that time, when Mr. Smith sent for me, that it was almost impossible for me to attend the case, and never having seen Mr. Smith, I determined to decline going. But soon after coming to this conclusion, I thought I heard someone say to me, ‘You must go, and deliver the Lord’s Anointed!’ Supposing it was the man who came after me, I replied, ‘The Lord’s Anointed? What do you mean by the Lord’s Anointed?’ He was surprised at being accosted in this manner, and replied, ‘What do you mean, sir? I said nothing about the Lord’s Anointed.’ I was convinced that he told the truth, for these few words filled my mind with peculiar feelings, such as I had never before experienced; and I immediately hastened to the place of trial. Whilst I was engaged in the case, these emotions increased, and when I came to speak upon it, I was inspired with an eloquence which was altogether new to me, and which was overpowering and irresistible. I succeeded, as I expected, in obtaining the prisoner’s discharge.[xiii] This the more enraged the adverse party, and I soon discovered that Mr. Smith was liable to abuse from them, should he not make his escape. The most of them being fond of liquor, I invited them into another room to drink, and thus succeeded in attracting their attention until Mr. Smith was beyond their reach. I knew not where he went, but I was satisfied that he was out of their hands.”[xiv]

Since this circumstance occurred, until this day, Mr. Reed has been a faithful friend to Joseph, although he has never attached himself to the Church.

The wilderness area near Colesville, New York where Joseph escaped the mob. The Susquehanna River drains this valley.

After escaping the hands of the mob, Joseph traveled till daybreak the next morning, before he ventured to ask for victuals, although he had taken nothing, save a small crust of bread, for two days.[xv] About daybreak he arrived at the house of one of his wife’s sisters, where he found Emma, who had suffered great anxiety about him since his first arrest. They returned home together, and immediately afterwards Joseph received a commandment by revelation to move his family to Waterloo.

Joseph had at this time just completed a house, which he had built on a small farm that he had purchased of his father-in-law; however, he locked up his house[xvi] with his furniture in it, and repaired with Emma immediately to Manchester. About the time of his arrival at our house, Hyrum had settled up his business, for the purpose of being at liberty to do whatever the Lord required of him, and he requested Joseph to ask the Lord for a revelation concerning the matter. The answer given was that he should take a bed, his family, and what clothing he needed for them, and go straightway to Colesville, for his enemies were combining in secret chambers to take away his life. At the same time, Mr. Smith received a commandment to go forthwith to Waterloo and prepare a place for his family, as our enemies also sought his destruction in the neighborhood in which we then resided, but in Waterloo he should find favor in the eyes of the people. The next day, by ten o’clock, Hyrum was on his journey. Joseph and Emma left for Macedon, and William went away from home in another direction, on business. Samuel was absent on a third mission to Livonia, for which he had set out on the first of October, soon after the arrival of my husband and Don Carlos from their visit to father Smith. Catharine and Don Carlos were also away from home. Calvin Stoddard and his wife, Sophronia, had moved several miles distant some time previous. This left no one but Mr. Smith, myself, and our little girl, Lucy, at home.



[i] This was the summer of 1830.

[ii] Asael and Mary Duty Smith had eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, Jesse (1768-1853), Priscilla (1769-1867), Joseph (1771-1840), Asael (1773-1848), Mary (1775-1844), Samuel (1777-1830), Silas (1779-1839), John (1781-1854), Susan (1783-1849), Stephen (1785-1802), and Sarah (1789-1824).

[iii] Most of the Smiths were at this time living in the area of Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York, about two hundred miles from Fayette. Joseph Smith’s father, Asael Smith, accepted the message of the restored gospel but died shortly after the visit (October 31, 1830). Of the thirteen members of Joseph’s family, seven accepted it, three died before they had the opportunity, and three rejected it (see Bushman, Beginnings, p. 198). Jesse Smith was always violently opposed to organized religion and made no pretense about that in his family.

[iv] At this point the Early Notebook states:[“[Joseph] then preached a beautiful sermon” (Early Notebook, p. 15). Asael was eighty-six years old. He read the Book of Mormon all the way through without the aid of glasses (which he took as a miracle) and died in a few short months.

[v] John Smith, it will be remembered, was Joseph Smith Sr.’s younger brother. John was the first of the extended Smith family to join the Church (1832), and remained ever true to the gospel.

[vi] Silas Smith was a younger brother of Joseph Smith Sr., accepted the gospel, and was faithful until his death in 1839.

[vii] Joseph Smith Sr.’s eighty-seven-year-old mother, Mary Duty Smith, readily accepted the gospel, moved with the Saints to Kirtland, Ohio, and died there when she was ninety-two.

[viii] Asael Smith told his grandson, George A. Smith, “that he always knew that God was going to raise up some branch of his family to be a great benefit to mankind” (George A. Smith, “Memoirs,” p. 2, Brigham Young University Special Collections, Provo, Utah). George A. Smith also stated, “My grandfather, Asahel Smith, heard of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and he said it was true, for he knew that something would turn up in his family that would revolutionize the world” (in JD 5:102).

[ix] The Early Notebook states, “so just shut up your heart” (Early Notebook, p. 18).

[x] Mother Smith’s Early Notebook states: “This lowered even the almost invulnerable Jesse Smith and he wept like a child all the while we were riding four miles” (Early Notebook, p. 23).

[xi] Parley P. Pratt recounted his story: “I accordingly visited the village of Palmyra, and inquired for the residence of Mr. Joseph Smith. I found it some two or three miles from the village. As I approached the house at the close of the day I overtook a man who was driving some cows, and inquired of him for Mr. Joseph Smith, the translator of the “Book of Mormon.” He informed me that he now resided in Pennsylvania; some one hundred miles distant. I inquired for his father, or for any of the family. He told me that his father had gone a journey; but that his residence was a small house just before me; and, said he, I am his brother. It was Mr. Hyrum Smith. I informed him of the interest I felt in the Book, and of my desire to learn more about it. He welcomed me to his house, and we spent the night together; for neither of us felt disposed to sleep. We conversed most of the night, during which I unfolded to him much of my experience in my search after truth, and my success so far; together with that which I felt was lacking, viz: a commissioned priesthood, or apostleship to minister in the ordinances of God.

“He also unfolded to me the particulars of the discovery of the Book; its translation; the rise of the Church of Latter-day Saints, and the commission of his brother Joseph, and others, by revelation and the ministering of angels, by which the apostleship and authority had been again restored to the earth. After duly weighing the whole matter in my mind I saw clearly that these things were true; and that myself and the whole world were without baptism, and without the ministry and ordinances of God; and that the whole world had been in this condition since the days that inspiration and revelation ceased-in short, that this was a new dispensation or commission, in fulfilment of prophecy, and for the restoration of Israel, and to prepare the way before the second coming of the Lord.”

As Parley left the next morning, Hyrum gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Later that day, Parley read of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, and realized that the book had preserved the gospel message in its purity. He recalled: “This discovery greatly enlarged my heart, and filled my soul with joy and gladness. I esteemed the Book, or the information contained in it, more than all the riches of the world. Yes; I verily believe that I would not at that time have exchanged the knowledge I then possessed, for a legal title to all the beautiful farms, houses, villages and property which passed in review before me, on my journey through one of the most flourishing settlements of western New York.” (Pratt, Autobiography, pp. 20, 22.)

[xii] These actions of the mob and the trials took place starting the last two days of June and the first days of July, 1830 (see Bushman, Beginnings, pp. 160-62, 240).

[xiii] Joseph recorded: “Mr. Davidson and Mr. Reed followed in my behalf. They held forth in its true colors the nature of the prosecution, the malignancy of intention, and apparent disposition to persecute their client rather than to afford him justice. They took up the different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution and, having showed their utter futility and misapplication, then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each in his turn thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such scrutinizing enquiry. In fact, these men (although not regular lawyers) were upon this occasion able to put to silence their opponents-and convince the court that I was innocent. They spoke like men inspired of God, whilst the lawyers who were arrayed against me trembled under the sound of their voice, and quailed before them like criminals before a bar of justice.” (Papers, p. 257.)

[xiv] Joseph had been taken to South Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York, tried, acquitted, and then immediately taken to Broome County on another warrant. An abusive constable had taken him into custody to hold him until the following trial. Joseph recorded: “He [the constable] then took me to a tavern, and gathered in a number of men who used every means to abuse, ridicule, and insult me. They spit upon me, pointed their fingers at me, saying to me, ‘Prophesy, prophesy,’ and in many other ways did they insult me. I applied for something to eat. The constable ordered me some crusts of bread and some water, which was the only fare I that night received.” (Papers, p. 255.)

[xv] The Colesville mob had designed to tar and feather Joseph the first time he was arrested and were in cahoots with the constable. Joseph recorded: “The constable informed me soon after he had arrested me that the plan of those who had got out this warrant was to get me into the hands of the mob who were now lying in ambush for me, but that he was determined to save me from them, as he had found me to be a different kind of person from what had been represented to him. We had a wagon to travel in and soon found that he had told me the truth in this matter, for not far from Mr. Knight’s house the wagon was surrounded by the mob, who seemed only to await some signal from the constable, but to their great disappointment, he gave the horse the whip and drove me out of their reach. However, whilst we were driving pretty quickly along, one of our wheels came off, which left us very nearly once more in their power, as they were in close pursuit; however, we managed to get the wheel on again, and once more left them behind.” (Papers, p. 252.)

[xvi] Joseph and Emma had been living in this place since December 1827. Joseph officially secured title for the property on August 25, 1830, for two hundred dollars. He later sold the property to Joseph McKune, a neighbor, on June 8, 1833, for three hundred dollars. Joseph and Emma did not live in the home after early 1831. (See Porter, “Origins,” pp. 133-34.)