Skip to main content

Smith, John, 1832-1911



  • Existence: 1832 - 1911


John Smith (1832-1911) was the son of Hyrum and Jerusha Barden Smith, a missionary to Denmark, and a Presiding Patriarch of the LDS Church.

John Smith, son of Hyrum and Jerusha Barden Smith, was born September 22, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio. His mother died when he was five, while his father was in Missouri. Three months later, on 24 December 1837, his father married Mary Fielding. In June 1844, John's father, Hyrum Smith, was murdered. Nineteen months later, the exodus from Nauvoo began. In February 1847, John joined Heber C. Kimball's family on their westward journey. On the westward journey, near Council Bluffs, Iowa, John assisted Col. Thomas L. Kane, who was extremely ill. He helped his family travel to Winter Quarters after arriving there himself. He and his family remained there for the winter. On his sixteenth birthday, September 22, 1848, John Smith drove five wagons into the Salt Lake Valley. In 1853, his stepmother, Mary Fielding Smith, died, leaving John to support a family of eight. He was married on December 25, 1853, to Hellen Maria Fisher, and the couple had nine children. In 1855 he was sustained as the sixth Presiding Patriarch of the Church, replacing his deceased grand-uncle. In 1862, John was called to set aside his duties as Patriarch and go to Scandinavia as a missionary. He served there until 1864. John, was strongly supported in his position as Patriarch by his half brother, Joseph F. Smith. When Joseph F. Smith became President of the Church in 1901, he requested that "strictly in accordance with the pattern the Lord has established," John, as Patriarch, should do the ordaining. As Patriarch of the Church, John pronounced over 20,000 blessings. He died at his residence in Salt Lake on November 6, 1911.

Biographical information for John Smith was taken from the collection itself; from articles found in Andrew Jenson, L.D.S. Biographical Encyclopedia. 4 volumes (Salt Lake City UT: Deseret News Press, 1901-39) [Vol. 1, pp. 52-3;183-6 and Vol. 3, p. 780]; and from Irene May Bates, "Transformation of charisma in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: a history of the office of Presiding Patriarch, 1833-1979," (Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA, 1991), pp. 212-38.

Found in 15 Collections and/or Records:

Miles Anderson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2061
Scope and Contents

This collection contains 2 diaries covering briefly related experiences and financial dealings of Anderson during the period of 1842-1856, from Nauvoo to the Utah Territory. Also includes patriarchal blessings given by Hyrum Smith and John Smith, as well as other documents and correspondence. Two diaries, family correspondence, patriarchal blessings, family land deeds, Nauvoo Legion Certificate, and War of 1812 pension certificate.

Dates: 1799-1877

John Smith correspondence, 1848-1911

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

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

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

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

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

Don C. S. Millikin and Joseph Smith letters

 File — Folder 1: [Barcode: 31197231044923]
Identifier: MSS 1012
Scope and Contents

Typed copy of two letters. Smith's letter is dated August 14, 1863 and was addressed to his cousin "John," presumably John Smith of Salt Lake City, Utah. Smith mentions the visit of two other cousins, Joseph F. Smith and Samuel H. B. Smith. Also included is a letter by Don C. S. Millikin dated August 19, 1863 and addressed to "Dear Friend and Cousin." Millikin also writes about the visit of Samuel and Joseph.

Dates: 1863 August

Monument dedication

 File — Folder 1: [Barcode: 31197230237064]
Identifier: MSS SC 266
Scope and Contents

Typewritten transcript of services conducted at the dedication of a cemetery monument in Salt Lake City, Utah, erected to the memory of John Smith, George A. Smith and John Henry Smith. Joseph F. Smith was a speaker at the services.

Dates: 1916

Patriarchal blessing of Henrietta Holladay

 File — Folder 1: [Barcode: 31197230326768]
Identifier: MSS SC 2789
Scope and Contents

Handwritten patriarchal blessing, dated 16 Dec. 1869, and was given to Henrietta Holladay. Smith tells Holladay that she will be able to receive salvation by following the teachings of the Mormon Church.

Dates: 1869

Photographs of John Smith and Gee families

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 3919
Scope and Contents This collection comes from the personal collection of Gilbert Isom, whose mother was Cleone Smith Isom, daughter of Hyrum Gibbs Smith. It includes photographs of each Presiding Patriarchs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including John Smith and Eldred Gee Smith, and various other members of the Smith family. Also included are photographs of Cleone Smith Isom's mother Martha Electa Gee Smith and other Gee family members. Notable items include pictures of John Smith and...
Dates: approximately 1880-1990

Additional filters:

Collection 10
Archival Object 5
Letters 11
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 7
Patriarchal blessings (Latter Day Saint churches) -- History 7
Missions and Missionaries 6
Illinois -- History -- 19th century 5