The Mysteries of Joseph Smith Jr.
Ten Things You Didn’t Know About the Prophet Joseph Smith and His Family
1. Entrepreneurial Grandfather
Joseph Smith’s grandfather Solomon Mack was an avid entrepreneur who ran a coasting trade between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, taught the art of making saltpeter for gunpowder, carted military bags during the French and Indian War, managed over a thousand acres of land, and owned a schooner (a large sailing ship with several masts).
2. Meeting His Grandmother
Joseph met his ninety-two-year-old grandmother Mary Duty Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, after she expressed her desire to be baptized. Of her, he said, “She was the most honored woman on Earth.” Mary told Lucy, “I am going to have your Joseph [Jr.] baptize me, and my Joseph [the patriarch] bless me.” Though she passed away before her wish was fulfilled, the Lord has promised, “All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.”
3. The $1,000 Wedding Gift
When Lucy married Joseph Smith Sr. in 1796, she received $1,000 (over $14,000 in today’s time) as a wedding present from two of her brothers, but rather than spending it, she saved the money as a cash reserve for unexpected emergencies in the future. Unfortunately, the emergency came in 1803 when Joseph Smith Sr. was cheated out of his profits from a large investment made in the plant ginseng and had to give up the family farm in addition to Lucy’s wedding present to pay off debt from their store.
4. Typhoid Fever and Death
The same typhoid fever that killed 6,400 people in the Connecticut Valley and led to little Joseph’s infamous leg surgery also brought his sister Sophronia close to death. Ninety days of illness left the girl limp and motionless, but after offering a final prayer of hope and love, Lucy held the child in her arms and paced the floor until, miraculously, the child began to sob and breathe again.
5. Juvenile Debate Club
Young Joseph was part of a juvenile debate club in Palmyra that discussed questions of morality, politics, and even the existence of God. In response to the question of a Supreme being, Joseph declared that the magnificent beauty of this created universe proclaims the undeniable existence of a loving Heavenly Father.
6. Seeking Treasure
In 1825, Joseph and his father went to work for a man named Josiah Stowell who believed he had found a Spanish silver mine in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Jr. had developed a reputation for helping people find lost property and hidden things through the use of a peculiar stone. When Stowell caught news of this, he recruited the Smiths and offered them two-elevenths of the treasure they were to find.
7. Eloping and Forgiveness
Joseph and Emma originally met when he boarded at the Hales’ home during the earlier treasure expeditions with Stowell. Emma’s father refused to let the two marry, but after they eloped, Joseph and Emma returned to get her things, and Joseph promised that he had quit treasure-seeking and intended to work hard for the family. Isaac Hale was contented and even offered to let the new couple live on the Hale property.
8. Smitten Thrice Before Reviling
The early saints received much persecution, and in an effort to defend his people, Joseph organized what would become known as Zion’s Camp. However, as the military group was forming, a revelation was received informing the saints that they were to bear even physical persecution. Armed defense was justifiable only after they were smitten three times.
9. First Woman to Receive the Endowment
Emma received her endowment from the Prophet Joseph Smith in September of 1843, becoming the first woman to receive the ordinance. She was then asked to officiate for other women and did so until just before the saints left Nauvoo.
10. Presidential Candidacy
After being denied help by both major candidates in the 1844 presidential election, Joseph decided to run for president. Approximately 350 men volunteered to go around the country campaigning for him, and even before that, Joseph wrote, “When I look into the Eastern papers and see how popular I am, I am afraid I shall be president.” He was one of the only two men ever shot running for president, the other being Robert F. Kennedy.
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Bushman, Richard Lyman., and Jed Woodworth. Joseph Smith: rough stone rolling. New York: Vintage , 2007. Print.
Lloyd, R. Scott. “Scholar Discusses Joseph Smith’s 1844 Presidential Election Campaign.” Church News and Events. N.p., 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 July 2017.
Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York, NY: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1999. Print.