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Jesse Nathaniel Smith collection, 1845-1970

 Series
Identifier: MSS 503 Series 1

Scope and Contents note

From the Collection: Collection contains journals, correspondence, genealogies, patriarchal blessings, certificates, an autobiography, and other papers of Jesse Nathaniel Smith, dating from 1836 to 1970. Includes information on the Smith family, and Smith's activities as a settler and community leader in Snowflake, Arizona. Smith was the president of the Scandinavian Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1862 to 1864 and an early settler in Salt Lake City and Parowan, Utah, and in Snowflake, Arizona. Blue ink has spilt on some of the documents, and a child has drawn on some of the diary pages.

Dates

  • 1845-1970

Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Jesse Nathaniel Smith Collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

From the Collection: Mormon Church leader, polygamist, pioneer, attorney, judge, legislator from Utah and Arizona. Born in New York as the youngest cousin of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Jesse Nathaniel Smith lived nearly all his life on the American frontier. He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Nauvoo on August 13, 1843. From his youth he had shared the trying experiences and persecutions of the Saints in New York, Ohio, and Missouri. At the age of eleven he crossed the Mississippi and the Great Plains in the Mormon's covered wagon exodus from Illinois. He entered the Salt Lake Valley on September 25, 1847, only to leave it again four years later when he was called by Brigham Young to help colonize Parowan, Utah. While at Parowan, he acted as a scout and surveyor for Church colony sites in souther Utah. An active bearer of the priesthood nearly all his life, he was ordained an Elder, a Seventy and a High Priest in 1851, 1854, and 1855 respectively. "Of all the Latter-day Saint causes of Smith's time none were more important than those of the gathering to Zion and the extension of the physical bounds of the Kingdom. Like many Mormons, Jesse N. Smith devoted his life to these causes." In the six decades following the exodus from Nauvoo, he "was engaged in exploring and community building in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Chihuahua," Mexico and in missionary work in Scandinavia. "More than most of his contemporaries, he played roles which cut across the full fabric of the Mormon experience. He was in the truest sense a field commander. Directing the preaching and convert migration of a proselyting mission abroad and directing the water development and home building of long-term colonizing missions in the West, he at once shared the attitudes and experiences of the church's top hierarchs, yet worked, aspired, and sacrificed with rank-and-file pioneers in opening new frontiers. Sitting thus astride the social divide between the leaders and the led, he had an extraordinarily broad range of vision." Jesse N.'s extensive church service included counselor in the Parowan Stake Presidency at age 21, missionary to Europe 1860-62, President of the Scandinavian Mission, 1862-64 and 1868-70, and President of the Eastern Arizona Stake 1879-1887, and the Snowflake Stake, 1887-1906. Like many of the Mormon leaders of his time, Jesse N. was a polygamist. His five wives, Emma, Margaret, Janet, Augusta, and Emma, bore him a total of 44 children, for which he paid the same price as many others under U. S. law. Under prosecution for violation of the Edmunds Law, he and four other brethren traveled to Mexico in 1884 to purchase land for the Church. When the persecution diminished, he returned to the United States. Jesse N. was also successful in a wide variety of secular activities. "He served as city clerk, city councilman, mayor and city magistrate of Parowan, district attorney of Iron County, Captain in the militia and a member of the Utah Territorial Legislature. As a colonizer of Arizona in 1878, he was an LDS agent in purchasing and securing the townsites, land, and water rights of Snowflake, Taylor, and Woodruff from the Aztec Land and Cattle Company. In Snowflake he was a farmer, stockman, cooperative mercantile and bank organizer, a probate judge, and member of the Arizona Territorial Legislature. Widely traveled and self-educated, he amassed a large library and became conversant in five languages." He died on June 5, 1906, at the age of 71.

Extent

1 box ((0.5 linear ft.) )

Language

English