Hyrum Smith

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Hyrum Smith
Hyrum Smith ca 1880-1920.png
Assistant President of the Church
January 24, 1841 (1841-01-24) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Called by Joseph Smith
Latter Day Saint Apostle
January 24, 1841 (1841-01-24) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Called by Joseph Smith
Reason Excommunication of Oliver Cowdery[1]
at end of term
No apostles ordained
2nd Presiding Patriarch
September 14, 1840 (1840-09-14) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Called by Joseph Smith
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
November 7, 1837 (1837-11-07) – January 24, 1841 (1841-01-24)
Called by Joseph Smith
End reason Called as Assistant President of the Church
Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
September 3, 1837 (1837-09-03) – November 7, 1837 (1837-11-07)
Called by Joseph Smith
End reason Called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Personal details
Born (1800-02-09)February 9, 1800
Tunbridge, Vermont, United States
Died June 27, 1844(1844-06-27) (aged 44)
Carthage, Illinois, United States
Resting place Smith Family Cemetery
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Spouse(s) Jerusha Barden
Mary F. Smith
Mercy F. Thompson
Children 8
Parents Joseph Smith, Sr.
Lucy Mack Smith

Hyrum Smith (February 9, 1800 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the original church of the Latter Day Saint movement. He was the older brother of the movement's founder, Joseph Smith.

Early life

Hyrum was born in Tunbridge, Vermont, the second son of Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. Smith received a limited education, and established himself as a farmer.

Smith attended Dartmouth College in his teens. This may have been one of the factors behind Dr. Nathan Smith treating Smith's brother Joseph's leg.[2]

Church service

During the translation of the Book of Mormon and the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Smith was a close advisor and confidant to his brother Joseph. In June 1829, Smith was baptized in Seneca Lake, New York. He was one of the Eight Witnesses who examined and testified of the reality of the golden plates, the source of the Book of Mormon. When the Church of Christ[3] was organized on April 6, 1830, six men signed their names as charter members; at the age of thirty, Hyrum Smith was the oldest of the six. Smith served as presiding officer of a church branch in Colesville, New York and was one of the first Latter Day Saint missionaries in the surrounding area.

Grave of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith

As the church headquarters and membership moved west, Smith 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 Joseph Smith, he recruited members for a militia, Zion's Camp, and traveled with the group to the aid of the Latter Day 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 jail cell in Liberty, Missouri while awaiting trial.

After relocating to Nauvoo, Illinois, Smith became Presiding Patriarch of the Church, a position first held by his father, Joseph Smith, Sr. He also replaced Oliver Cowdery as Assistant President of the Church; in this capacity, Smith acted as President of the Church in Joseph's absence and was designated to be Joseph's successor if he were killed or incapacitated. Although Hyrum Smith was never explicitly ordained to the priesthood office of apostle, "his appointment as assistant president may have included such authority".[4]

When warned of possible danger, Joseph urged Smith and his family to flee to Cincinnati, Ohio. Smith refused and, in 1844, traveled with Joseph to Carthage, Illinois, where both were charged with riot and treason. Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor and 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 and two hundred men. While attempting to barricade the door to prevent the mob from entering, Smith was shot in the face and exclaimed, "I am a dead man," as he died.[5] Taylor was struck by several bullets but survived with the help of Richards. Joseph was hit by at least two shots, exclaimed "O Lord, My God,"[5] and fell through a second-story window to the ground where he was shot again.

Because of his position as Assistant President of the Church, it is likely that Smith would have succeeded Joseph and become the next president of the church had he outlived his brother.

Statue of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois

Wives and children

On 2 November 1826, in Manchester, New York, he married Jerusha Barden (1805–1837). They had six children together.

  • Lovina Smith (16 September 1827 – 8 October 1876)
  • Mary Smith (27 June 1829 – 29 May 1832)
  • John Smith (22 September 1832 – 6 November 1911)
  • Hyrum Smith (27 April 1834 – 21 September 1841)
  • Jerusha Smith (13 January 1836 – 27 June 1912)
  • Sarah Smith (2 October 1837 – 6 November 1876)

On 24 December 1837, in Kirtland, Ohio, he married Mary Fielding Smith (1801–1852). They had two children.

  • Joseph F. Smith (13 November 1838 – 19 November 1918)
  • Martha Ann Smith (14 May 1841 – 19 October 1923)

In August 1843, he married two plural wives: Mercy Fielding Thompson, widow of Robert B. Thompson and sister to Hyrum's wife Mary; and Catherine Phillips.[6]


Smith's descendants have played significant roles in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Joseph F. Smith, his son by Mary Fielding Smith, served as president of the LDS Church between 1901 and 1918. His grandson, Joseph Fielding Smith also served as president of the church between 1970 and 1972. His eldest son, John Smith, served as Presiding Patriarch of the church between 1855 and 1911, and John Smith's descendants held this post from 1912 to 1932 and from 1942 to 1979, when the office was effectively discontinued and the incumbent, Eldred G. Smith, was given the title patriarch emeritus. M. Russell Ballard, a current member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, is also a direct descendant of Smith.

In 1918, Smith's descendants erected a monument to him in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also


  1. Cowdery was excommunicated on April 12, 1838. Smith was ordained an apostle and replaced Cowdery as Assistant President of the Church almost three years later.
  2. KJZZ Joseph Smith Papers interview with Leroy Wirthlin and Ron Esplin[full citation needed]
  3. In 1838, the church was renamed the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints".
  4. Gary James Bergera, "Hyrum Smith" in W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall (eds.), Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara, California, ABC-Clio, 2010) pp. 182–84 at 183.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Doctrine and Covenants section 135.
  6. Newell, Linda King; Valeen Tippetts Avery (1994). Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith (2nd ed.). Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 142. ISBN 0-252-06291-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links

Media related to Hyrum Smith at Wikimedia Commons

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints titles
Preceded by
Joseph Smith, Sr.
Presiding Patriarch
September 14, 1840 (1840-09-14) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
Succeeded by
William Smith
Preceded by
Oliver Cowdery
Assistant President of the Church
January 24, 1841 (1841-01-24) – June 27, 1844 (1844-06-27)
With: Possibly John C. Bennett
April 8, 1841 (1841-04-08) – May 25, 1842 (1842-05-25)
Position discontinued
Church of the Latter Day Saints titles
Later renamed: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (1838)
Preceded by
Frederick G. Williams
 Second Counselor in the First Presidency 
November 7, 1937 (1937-11-07) – January 24, 1841 (1841-01-24)
Succeeded by
William Law
First Assistant Counselor in the First Presidency
September 3, 1837 (1837-09-03)–November 7, 1837 (1837-11-07)
With: Oliver Cowdery
John Smith
Joseph Smith, Sr.
Succeeded by
Oliver Cowdery
Joseph Smith, Sr.
John Smith