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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.

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Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith by His Mother–Chapter 13

By Lucy Mack Smith

The Smiths move from Tunbridge to Royalton, then to Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, where they rent a farm from Solomon Mack, Lucy’s father. Births of Joseph Jr., Samuel Harrison, Ephraim, and William mentioned. First and second in a series of seven visions or dreams given to Joseph Smith Sr. First, the dream of the box, and second, the dream of the tree of life.

Summer 1803 to late summer 1812

The loss of the Tunbridge farm was a considerable trial to us, for it deprived us at once not only of the comforts and conveniences of life, but also a home of any description. After selling the farm at Tunbridge, we took our three oldest children and moved only a short distance to the town of Royalton.[1] Here we resided a few months, then moved again to Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont.[2] Here my husband rented a farm of my father, which he cultivated in the summer season and in the winter taught school. In this way my husband continued laboring for a few years, during which time our circumstances gradually improved until we found ourselves quite comfortable again.

A 38 1/2 foot granite obelisk commemorates the birth of Joseph Smith here in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont.

Here it was that my son Joseph was born, December 23, 1805, one who will act a more conscious part in this work than any other individual.

We moved thence to Tunbridge. Here we had another son, whom we named Samuel Harrison, born March 13, 1808. We lived in this place a short time, then moved to Royalton, where Ephraim was born, March 13, 1810, who died in his infancy.[3] We continued here until we had another son, born March 13, 1811, whom we called William.

About this time my husband’s mind became much excited upon the subject of religion; yet he would not subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended for the ancient order, as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his Apostles.

One night my husband retired to his bed in a very thoughtful state of mind, contemplating the situation of the Christian religion, or the confusion and discord that were extant. He soon fell into a sleep, and before waking had the following vision, which I shall relate in his own words just as he told it to me the next morning:[4]

“I seemed to be traveling in an open, barren field, and as I was traveling, I turned my eyes towards the east, the west, the north, and the south, but could see nothing save dead, fallen timber.[5] Not a vestige of life, either animal or vegetable, could be seen; besides, to render the scene still more dreary, the most deathlike silence prevailed. No sound of anything animate could be heard in all the field. I was alone in this gloomy desert, with the exception of an attendant spirit, who kept constantly by my side. Of him I inquired the meaning of what I saw, and why I was thus traveling in such a dismal place. He answered thus: ‘This field is the world which now lieth inanimate and dumb in regard to the true religion or plan of salvation, but travel on and by the wayside you will find on a certain log a box, the contents of which, if you eat thereof, will make you wise, and give unto you wisdom and understanding.’

“I carefully observed what was told me by my guide, and proceeding a short distance, I came to the box. I immediately took it up, and placed it under my left arm. Then with eagerness I raised the lid and began to taste of its contents; upon which all manner of beasts, horned cattle, and roaring animals rose up on every side in the most threatening manner possible, tearing the earth, tossing their horns, and bellowing most terrifically all around me, and they finally came so close upon me, that I was compelled to drop the box and fly for my life. Yet, in the midst of all this I was perfectly happy, though I awoke trembling.”[6]

Stones mark the original foundation of the cabin where Joseph Smith, Jr. was born on December 23, 1805.

From this time forward, my husband seemed more confirmed than ever in the opinion that there was no order or class of religionists that knew any more concerning the kingdom of God than those of the world, or such as made no profession of religion whatever.

In 1811, we moved from Royalton, Vermont, to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire.[7] Soon after arriving here, my husband received another very singular vision, which I will relate:

“I thought,” said he, “I was traveling in an open, desolate field which appeared to be very barren. As I was thus traveling, the thought suddenly came into my mind that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing before I went any farther. So I asked myself, ‘What motive can I have in traveling here, and what place can this be?’

“My guide, who was by my side as before, said, ‘This is the desolate world, but travel on.’ The road was so broad and barren that I wondered why I should travel in it, for, said I to myself, ‘Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and strait is the gate that leads to everlasting life, and few there be that go in thereat.’[8]

“Traveling a short distance further, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered, and, when I had traveled a little way in it, I beheld a beautiful stream of water which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream I could see neither the source nor yet the mouth, but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope, running along the bank of it about as high as a man could reach, and beyond me was a low but very pleasant valley in which stood a tree such as I had never seen before. It was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration. Its beautiful branches spread themselves somewhat like an umbrella, and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape much like a chestnut bur, and as white as snow, or, if possible, whiter. I gazed upon the same with considerable interest, and as I was doing so, the burs or shells commenced opening and shedding their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description.

“As I was eating, I said in my heart, ‘I cannot eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me.’ Accordingly, I went and brought my family, which consisted of a wife and seven children, and we all commenced eating and praising God for this blessing. We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.

“While thus engaged, I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in, and it appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were all filled with people, who were very finely dressed. When these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us, and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded.

“I presently turned to my guide and inquired of him the meaning of the fruit that was so delicious. He told me it was the pure love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children. I told him that we were all there. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also.’ Upon raising my eyes, I saw two small children standing some distance off. I immediately went to them and brought them to the tree, upon which they commenced eating with the rest, and we all rejoiced together.[9] The more we ate, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees and scooped it up, eating it by double handfuls.

“After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building which I saw. He replied, ‘It is Babylon, it is Babylon, and it must fall. The people in the doors and windows are the inhabitants thereof, who scorn and despise the Saints of God because of their humility.’ I soon awoke, clapping my hands together for joy.”[10]


[1] The birth date of Sophronia, oldest daughter of Joseph and Lucy Smith, was recorded in Tunbridge as May 17, 1803; Mother Smith cites it as May 18, 1803. At the time of this move from Tunbridge eight miles to Royalton, Alvin would have been five years old, Hyrum three, and Sophronia a few weeks to a few months old.

[2] The farm the Smiths rented from Solomon Mack is located on the line dividing the townships of Sharon and Royalton near the summit of old Dairy Hill about five to six miles from Royalton. The move to here could have been as early as the summer of 1803 and as late as the early winter of 1804.

[3] Ephraim lived but eleven days. Note that three of Joseph and Lucy Smith’s sons were born on the same date (March 13); namely, Samuel, Ephraim, and William.

[4] This begins a series of at least seven dreams or visions given to Joseph Smith, the father of the Prophet, between the years of 1811 and 1819. Concerning this vision or dream of her husband, Lucy states in the Preliminary Manuscript the following heading: “First Vision of Joseph Smith, Sr. Received the next month after William was born.” That would mark the date of this vision in the month of April 1811. The Lord said through the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit” (Joel 2:28-29).

[5] Hugh Nibley makes an interesting point about this part of Joseph Smith Sr.’s dream: “When the prophet’s father dreamed himself lost in ‘this field [of] the world,’ he ‘could see nothing save dead, fallen timber,’ a picture which of course faithfully recalls his own frontier background” (Lehi in the Desert. . . . [Provo, Utah: Deseret Book Co., and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988], p. 44).

[6] In one of the prophet Lehi’s visions, he was commanded to read from a book (similar to partaking of the contents of a box), and as he did so “he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. . . . And . . . his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.” (See 1 Ne. 1:8-15.)

[7] Lebanon is located about twenty-five miles southeast of Royalton, Vermont, just across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. This was the Smiths’ longest move in New England and took place likely in the late spring of 1811, sometime after the birth of William, or early summer of that same year. By the time of this move, Joseph and Lucy had six children: Alvin, thirteen; Hyrum, eleven; Sophronia, eight; Joseph, five; Samuel, three; and William, a few weeks to a few months old.

[8] See Matt. 7:13-14.

[9] It is most likely that this dream was given to Joseph Smith Sr. sometime in the summer of 1812, after the birth of Catharine (July 28, 1812). The two children that were yet to be born in the Smith family were Don Carlos (March 25, 1816) and little Lucy (July 18, 1821). It is also possible that in the vision the two children that were to be gathered in with the family were their firstborn son, who had died, and Ephraim, who lived only eleven days.

[10] Over thirty correlations exist between Joseph Smith Sr.’s dream and Lehi’s dream or vision of the tree of life found in 1 Ne. 8.