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Smith, Joseph, III, 1832-1914

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1832 - 1914

Biography

Joseph Smith III (1832-1914) was the eldest surviving son of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and Emma Hale Smith. He was the first Prophet-President of what became known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church), now called the Community of Christ.

Joseph Smith III was born on November 6, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio, to Joseph and Emma Hale Smith. He moved with his parents to Far West, Missouri, in 1838, then to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839 while his father was imprisoned. While in Nauvoo, Joseph III became a general of the junior Nauvoo militia.

After his father's death at Carthage (Illinois) Jail in June 1844, the majority of church members chose to follow Brigham Young and the Twelve Apostles, who left Nauvoo in 1846. Due to a strained relationship with Young and the Apostles, the Smiths and some other families chose to recognize James J. Strang as church president and remained in Nauvoo.

Joseph III began to study and eventually practiced law. In 1856, he married Emmeline Griswold and they had five children. After Emmeline died of probable tuberculosis, he married their housekeeper, Bertha Madison, on November 12, 1869, with whom he had seven children. Bertha Madison Smith died from injuries sustained in a carriage accident in 1895. On January 12, 1898 Joseph Smith III wed Ada Rachel Clark of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and they had three sons.

By the early 1850s the midwestern Latter Day Saints who had followed Strang until he started practicing polygamy began to call for the need to establish a reorganization of the Church, and many believed Joseph III should be its head. Smith would not take on this mantle until he felt inspired to do so, which occurred at a conference in Amboy, Illinois on April 6, 1860, where, at age 28, he was sustained as president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church). During his time as president, Joseph III sought to distinguish the RLDS Church from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, particularly in his opposition to the doctrine and practice of plural marriage and other teachings from his father's later years in Nauvoo.

Joseph III moved from Nauvoo to Plano, Illinois, in 1866 where he took over editorship of "The Saint's Herald," and Plano became the headquarters of the RLDS Church. In 1881 he moved to Lamoni, Iowa, which then became the new headquarters for the church. In Smith's final years, members of the church began to move to Independence, Missouri, and Joseph III moved there in 1906, where he entered a state of semi-retirement. His son, Frederick, remained in Lamoni and took over active leadership of the church.

Joseph Smith III died on December 10, 1914, in Independence, Missouri.

Found in 26 Collections and/or Records:

Lewis C. Bidamon and Joseph Smith III legal documents

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS SC 357
Scope and Contents

Documents concerning eleven legal cases involving either Bidamon or Joseph Smith III.

Dates: 1849-1860

E. C. Emmons letter

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 1010
Scope and Contents

Typed copy of a letter dated April 7, 1861 and addressed to "Dear Parents." Emmons mentions "Brother Joseph's Mission" and states "our love to Bro. Joseph" perhaps meaning he had some connection with Joseph Smith, III,the president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Dates: 1861 April 7

Enoch B. Tripp journals, 1854-1908

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2032 Series 1
Scope and Contents

Contains 18 journals kepts by Enoch B. Tripp, dated 1854 to 1908.

Dates: 1854-1908

Enoch B. Tripp personal papers, 1841-1906

 Series
Identifier: MSS 2032 Series 2
Scope and Contents

Contains correspondence, writings, and other personal documents such as a license, a certificate, and blessings. Dated 1841 to 1906.

Dates: 1841-1906

Hancock County (Ill.) legal instruments

 File — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS SC 1272
Scope and Contents

Legal instruments from Hancock County, Illinois. The items are from court cases involving Joseph Smith III.

Dates: Date not identified

John Smith correspondence, 1848-1911

 Series
Identifier: Vault MSS 803 Series 2
Scope and Contents

Contains letters to and from Smith from family members and acquaintances, including his aunt Emma Smith Bidamon, his wife Hellen, his sons Alvin and Hyrum, his step brother Joseph F. Smith, and his cousin Joseph Smith III. Also includes some letters from LDS Church Presidents, including John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff. Dated 1848-1911.

Dates: 1848-1911

John Smith letters received, 1848-1911

 Sub-Series
Identifier: Vault MSS 803 Series 2 Sub-Series 2
Scope and Contents

Letters written to John Smith from family members and acquaintances, including Alexander Hale Smith, Hyrum F. Smith, Hyrum Gibbs Smith, George A. Smith, Hellen Smith, Joseph Smith III, Joseph F. Smith, Samuel H. B. Smith, John Taylor, Charles Lowell Walker, Orson F. Whitney, and Wilford Woodruff. Dated 1848-1911.

Dates: 1848-1911

John Smith letters sent, 1854-1911

 Sub-Series
Identifier: Vault MSS 803 Series 2 Sub-Series 1
Scope and Contents

Letters written by John Smith and sent to family members and other acquaintances, including his wife, Hellen, sons Alvin and Hyrum F., cousin Joseph Smith III, and step-brother Joseph F. Smith. Dated 1954-1911.

Dates: 1854-1911

John Smith mission papers, 1862-1864

 Series
Identifier: Vault MSS 803 Series 1
Scope and Contents

Contains papers related to Smith's mission to Denmark for the LDS Church from 1862-1864. Includes four diaries, three of which are originals and one of which is a photocopy and transcription. Also includes his mission blessing, papers related to daily mission activities, a provision list for Danish Saints on the "Monarch of the Seas," a record of priesthood ordinations, a Danish grammar book, and letters to his wife, Hellen, and children. Dated 1862-1864.

Dates: 1862-1864

John Smith personal papers, 1852-1962

 Series
Identifier: Vault MSS 803 Series 3
Scope and Contents

Contains papers related to Smith's personal and family life, genealogical information, business interests, and his role as Presiding Patriarch of the LDS Church. Includes patriarchal blessings given to him, as well as those he gave to others. Also includes tithing receipts, legal documents, documents regarding stock held by Smith, commendations for Smith, miscellaneous correspondence, documents related to Joseph Smith III, and articles regarding John Smith. Dated 1852-1962.

Dates: 1852-1962

Additional filters:

Type
Collection 17
Archival Record 9
 
Subject
Letters 18
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 12
Missions and Missionaries 9
Diaries 5
Illinois -- History -- 19th century 5
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Material Types 5
Mormon missionaries -- Denmark -- History -- 19th century 5
Patriarchal blessings (Mormon Church) -- History 5
San Francisco (Calif.) -- History -- 19th century 5
Utah -- History -- 19th century 5
Wyoming -- History -- 19th century 5
Correspondence 4
Nauvoo (Ill.) -- History 4
Maine -- History 3
Mormon missionaries -- Maine 3
Polygamy -- Religious aspects -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 3
Religion 3
Salt Lake City (Utah) -- History 3
Civil Procedure and Courts 2
Hancock County (Ill.) -- History 2
Home and Family 2
Legal instruments 2
Newspapers 2
Politics, Government, and Law 2
Protestantism 2
Social Life and Customs 2
Affidavits 1
Articles 1
Awards 1
Baptism for the dead 1
Bonds 1
Certificates 1
Church Government 1
Church records and registers 1
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.) 1
Declarations 1
Essays 1
Families -- California -- Lower Lake -- History 1
Financial records 1
Insanity (Law) -- Illinois -- History -- Sources 1
Law -- Illinois -- History 1
Laws 1
Legal documents -- Illinois -- Hancock County 1
Letterpress copybooks 1
Licenses 1
Local histories 1
Lower Lake (Calif.) -- History -- Sources 1
Marriage -- California -- Lower Lake -- History 1
Missouri -- History -- 19th century 1
Mormon Church -- History -- 19th century 1
Mormon Church -- Missions -- Denmark -- History 1
Mormon Church -- Missions -- East (U.S.) -- History 1
Mormon youth -- History -- Sources 1
Mormons -- Correspondence 1
Mormons -- Illinois -- Nauvoo -- History 1
Mormons -- New Hampshire -- History -- Reference sources 1
Mormons -- Ohio -- History -- Reference sources 1
Mormons -- Utah -- Salt Lake City -- Correspondence 1
New Hampshire -- History -- Reference sources 1
Notes 1
Ohio -- History -- Reference sources 1
Pariarchs (Mormon theology) 1
Patriarchal blessings (Mormon Church) 1
Photocopies 1
Poetry 1
Presidents -- Succession 1
Transcripts 1
Utah -- Politics and government 1
Writs 1
Youth Auxiliaries 1
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