Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Mormon Boy's Gift

The Mormon Boy's Gift

By Chad Richardson
Published in The Ensign, July 1998, pp. 63-65. In the spring of 1853, a small but devout party of emigrants set out to cross the plains to establish a religious colony in Oregon. Although they followed the Mormon Trail much of the way, they had little goodwill for the Mormons, who, according to reports in the East, were said to be a barbaric band of religious fanatics. As the wagons neared the fork where the Utah and Oregon Trails divided, a series of disasters hit the Edmund Richardson family. As the family crossed the Platte River, their wagon overturned, nearly drowning their daughter; in addition, most of their belongings were lost or damaged. Soon after, their wagon began to fall apart, and then their oxen died. The family struggled onward by dividing what remained of their belongings among other wagons and by using their milk cow to pull their own broken-down wagon. Unfortunately, the family's problems slowed the progress of the entire group, and members of the wagon train decided they must continue on without the Richardson family or risk the safety of all. The leader of the pioneer band, a Reverend Whitworth, suggested that with care, the Richardsons might be able to survive the coming winter months among the ferocious Mormons in Utah and then continue on to Oregon to join their friends the following spring. With heavy hearts, Mary and Edmund bade farewell to their traveling companions, and the family limped south toward the Great Salt Lake. Their progress was painfully slow, and their fears of Indians were intense. Nevertheless, the family felt the hand of the Lord guiding them from the moment they turned south. On the evening of 3 August 1853, the Richardsons made camp on the west bank of the Jordan River, hoping their location would put them a safe distance from any Mormons yet provide them with safety from Indians. They had scarcely settled for the night when the approach of a rider filled them with apprehension. Their fears were calmed, however, when they discovered the rider to be a barefoot boy on a small pony. It seems the boy's mother had noticed their arrival and had sent him over with a pail of milk. The family was surprised, thinking it strange that such a gift would come from a Mormon. Shortly after, another neighbor invited the family for supper. The Richardsons worried that their hosts might be offended upon learning that they were not of their faith. Later, Mary stated it was the best meal she had ever eaten. Other invitations followed, including an offer of employment for Edmund in the local flour mill. These overtures of friendship so impressed Edmund and Mary that they accepted an invitation to attend Church services on Sunday. Edmund said that he heard the first real gospel sermon of his life in that meeting. The family was baptized two months later.
Today, thousands of descendants of this pioneer family are grateful for the trials that brought the Richardsons to the Salt Lake Valley and for that unknown woman who put her son on a pony with a pail of milk.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

William Stratton and Abigail Moore

William Stratton and Abigail Moore
by Clifford James Stratton
(Note: William Stratton is Lavona's 5th-great grandfather)

The Moore's were one of the fine old families of Windsor, Connecticut and were one of the first settlers. There is no record on William Stratton before his marriage in Windsor, but he subsequently lived in Windsor and his two sons were born there. In May, 1709, he was in the unfortunate command that set out to invade Canada during the French war. There was much sickness and suffering and many deaths among the troops and there is an entry dated October, 1709 which states that William Stratton "died aboard the vessel coming from Albany.
Book of Strattons, Volume I, Grafton Press, Genealogy, New York, New York.
Records of Harriett Russell Stratton of Chattanoogna, Tennessee,1908.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Jesse N. Smith

Jesse Nathaniel Smith (1834-1906)
by Joseph W. Smith (a Son)
The subject of this brief sketch commenced his earthly pilgrimage in Stockholm, St. Lawrence Co., New York, on Dec. 2, 1834.  He was the youngest child of his father’s second marriage, and traces his lineage thus on the paternal side: Silas Smith and Mary Aikens; Asahel Smith and Mary Duty; Samuel Smith II and Priscilla Gould; Samuel Smith and Rebecca Curtis; Robert and Mary French.  Robert came to America from England in 1638 and settled at Topsfield, Mass. in 1648.

His lineage on his mother’s side is: Nathaniel Aikens and Mary Tupper; Solomon Aikens and Dorcas Whitcomb, whose parents came from England.  Both of his grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War, and his father fought his country’s battles in the War of 1812 as captain of militia.

Asahel Smith was a somewhat visionary man.  He predicted that something would come forth in his family that would transmit his name with honor to posterity.  When near his death (in Stockholm) in 1830, he was visited at Silas’s home by his son Joseph (the Prophet’s father) and grandson Don Carlos, having with them the Book of Mormon and the tidings of the restored gospel.  He received with gladness the testimony of his son, and remarked that he had always been expecting the coming forth of the true gospel.  Asahel died a few days later, being over 86 years old.

Jesse N.’s father, Silas Smith, was baptized in the summer of 1835 by Hyrum Smith.  He was ordained first an elder, and afterwards a high priest.  Mary Duty Smith moved to Kirtland, Ohio with her son Silas and family in 1836, but died soon after, being 91 years of age.

Silas moved with his family from Kirtland in April, 1838, bound for Far West, Mo., but was turned back at Huntsville by some who were fleeing from their homes and bearing Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs’ “extermination order.”  He died on Sep. 13, 1839 at Pittsfield, Illinois, where he had been appointed president of a branch of the Church.  His widow moved to Nauvoo where she was kindly received by relatives, and where she taught school for a subsistence.  From her Jesse received teaching, not only in the rudiments of education, but also the principles of the Gospel.  He readily absorbed both.

Jesse was baptized Aug. 13, 1843 by his Uncle John Smith, who also confirmed him.  He was acknowledged as “friend” by the Prophet, who made him welcome and presented him with a copy of the Book of Mormon (first edition).  He was familiar with the stirring events of Nauvoo, played soldier with the boys in the spirit of the Nauvoo Legion, was present and heard the speech of Gov. Thomas Ford on the day of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, and saw the bodies of the Prophet and Patriarch when they were prepared for burial. 
His cousin William Smith tried hard to dissuade Mary A. Smith and her two young sons from going off in the great exodus with Brigham Young, but they all expressed their purpose of doing so.  With his mother and brother Jesse passed the summer of 1846 in Iowa across the Mississippi from Nauvoo, until they were picked up by the Church teams which came from Winter Quarters (afterward called Florence, Neb.), where they arrived Nov. 30.  In the spring he was engaged in felling trees for the stock to browse on the swelling buds, before the grass started to grow.

The family started west in Perigrine Sessions’ company of 50 wagons on June 30, 1847, and arrived in Salt Lake Valley on Sep. 25, 1847.  Although only 12 years of age, Jesse drove Uncle John Smith’s two yokes of oxen in making the arduous journey.
With his mother and brother he tried farming in what became Davis County.  Then, in the fall of 1851, they were called to go to Parowan and help build up and strengthen that locality.  It thus appears that while he was not yet 17 he was counted among the strong men.  He bore his full part of the hardships of the Indian war in 1853-54, and while on guard at Chimney Springs suffered a painful accident in the misfire of his companion’s rifle.  The accident almost cost him the sight of his right eye.  It was not entirely blind, but the sight was so dim that it was very little use to him.

In less than a year from his arrival in Parowan, Jesse became a married man.  He eventually became the husband of five good women, all of whom had great respect for him; and each of them bore him children.  He marred Emma Seraphine West, May 13, 1852 who bore him nine children.  He married Margaret Fletcher West, her sister, Jan. 27, 1856, who bore two children.  He married Janet Mauretta Johnson, Oct. 9, 1866, who bore 13 children.  He married Augusta Maria Outzen, June 3, 1869, who bore him 11 children.  He married Emma Larson, Oct. 28, 1881, who bore nine children.  He was not yet 18 years old when he married the first, and he was nearly 47 when the last wedding occurred.  And when his youngest child was born–the 44th–he was 69 years of age. 

He was essentially a Church man, although he was very active in civil positions as well.  At 16 he was ordained an elder on July 6, 1851 by John Smith in Salt Lake City.  Joseph Young ordained him a Seventy on March 12, 1854, and he became a member of the 9th Quorum.  When the Parowan Stake was organized by Brigham Young on April 23, 1855, he was ordained a high priest and became a counselor to Pres. John C. L. Smith.  After the death of Pres. Smith, the stake was reorganized by George A. Smith with William H. Dame as president and Calvin Pendleton and Jesse N. Smith as counselors.  Jesse was also appointed to preside over the high priests of the stake.

He was elected district attorney by the legislature, and officiated as clerk of Iron County.  During the winter of 1854-55 he taught school.  In August he was elected as representative to the territorial legislature.  In the winter of 1856 war broke out with the Utah Indians, and as Jesse was in Salt Lake City, Gov. Young sent word by him to abandon the smaller settlements in Southern Utah, and consolidate them in larger settlements.  He did missionary work and taught school during the following winter.  He was with the White Mountain exploring party from May 21, 1857 until the party came in.  He, with a few companions, explored the valleys at the headwaters of the Sevier and Virgin Rivers, and made a report thereof to the Church Historian.  He was elected mayor of Parowan in February, 1859, and in the spring he helped in making a settlement at Minersville in Beaver County.

There, while harvesting wheat in his field the next year, he received a letter from George A. Smith informing him that he was called on a mission to Europe, and that the company of elders would leave Salt Lake City on the 25th.  As it was Sept. 12 when he received this word, quick action was required if he were to get there on time.  Therefore he immediately set about arranging his affairs, and the following morning he started for Parowan, moving his family.  Here he turned over his business to his brother, Silas, S. And left for Salt Lake City on the 17th, where he was informed that his mission was to Scandanavia.

He was given an Elder’s Certificate, a blessing by the apostles, and left on horseback with some 50 elders going to various parts of the world.  Among them were Orson Pratt, Erastus Snow, and George Q. Cannon.  It took them 40 days to reach Florence, Neb., where they sold their ponies.  They traveled by boat and railway from there to New York.  Jesse reached Copenhagen Jan. 11, 1861, having suffered considerably from the cold during the latter part of the journey, as lack of money compelled him and his companions to travel third class.

On March 16, 1862 Pres. John Van Gott of the Scandinavian Mission announced to a conference of about 1,000 Saints that Jesse N. Smith (then age 27) had been appointed by President Young to become president of the mission.  During the next two year he revised the Swedish hymn book, with the assistance of Elder Jonas Engberg, and published a new edition.  He labored earnestly to have the missionaries and members refrain from the use of strong drink and tobacco, and assisted 1,778 members in emigrating to America.  He also paid off an indebtedness of the mission, and turned its accounts over to his successor without a deficit.
After his release he reached home Oct. 22, 1864 and found his family in extreme poverty.  It had taken everything that he possessed for their support during his absence, and it barely sufficed.  He rented some land, worked hard, and did every honorable things he could for the next four years to recuperate his fortunes.  Among other things, he assisted in organizing a cooperative store in Parowan.

He was again appointed county clerk, and also was appointed regimental adjutant of the Iron Military District.  In January 1866 he was elected probate judge for Iron County.  During that year a state of war again existed with the Utah Indians, and the Sevier River country, including all of the settlements south of Gunnison, was organized into what was known as the Piute Military District, of which he was appointed colonel.  The duty of organizing the militia was assigned to him.  During that period he was engaged in six military expeditions, furnishing his own horse, arms, and outfit, and serving without pay from any quarter. 
In 1868 he answered a second mission call, and was “set apart” in Salt Lake City to preside a second time over the Scandinavian Mission.  He attended in Liverpool a conference of the leading elders, at which he strongly advocated sending the emigrating Saints on steamships, thereby saving many lives that might be lost by being longer exposed in sailing vessels from sea-sickness, contagious disease, and other dangers of sea travel.  During the next two years 1,100 adult converts, beside children were emigrated from Scandinavia.  He filled a very good mission and started home July 15, 1870 in charge of a company of emigrants numbering nearly 600, besides nine returning elders.  It made a very successful journey, both by sea and land.  Just before reaching Salt Lake City he was met and welcomed by the First Presidency of the Church, the Presiding Bishop, and other leading citizens.  He made his report of his mission in the “old Tabernacle” on Temple Square, speaking in English and Danish.

On the invitation of President Young, Jesse and his brother Silas joined him and his party (including Army Major John Wesley Powell) on an exploring trip to the Paria region on the border of southern Utah and northern Arizona.Back home, Jesse was instrumental in organizing the Parowan Cooperative Co.  He again officiated as county clerk and as justice of the peace.

A new chapter in his career was opened when in 1878 he made a trip of exploration into Arizona with Erastus Snow, who had supervision over the Mormon settlements which were beginning in that area.  Upon his return he reported to Pres. John Taylor, and subsequently was called and set apart as president of the Eastern Arizona Stake.  He then moved his family from Parowan to the location of his new “mission” in two stages–the first in December, 1878 and the second in April, 1880.  Having been elected previously, he also served in the Utah legislature in the winter of 1880.

In Arizona he performed a distinct service in assisting to incorporate and organize irrigation companies for St. Joseph, Woodruff, Snowflake, and Taylor, and he labored enthusiastically to locate and build dams and reservoirs for the storing of flood waters.  He thus became a pioneer in the practice which has now become so popular and essential in the nation, the building of storage reservoirs.  He also assisted in organizing a grist mill and cooperative herd in Taylor and Snowflake Wards.  To provide means of subsistence for the people he, in company with John W. Young and Ammon M. Tenney, took a small railroad contract for grading near the continental divide in New Mexico.

In 1884 he was appointed on a committee of five to purchase lands in Mexico where Saints (being persecuted under the anti-polygamy statutes) could make homes.  In the discharge of this duty he labored in Mexico for nearly a year in the states of Sorona and Chihuahua.  In the spring of 1889 he was called by the First Presidency, in company with Brigham Young Jr., to go to New York City and negotiate a purchase of lands from the Aztec Land and Cattle Co., who had ordered the Mormon people to vacate their lands and would have broken up the settlements on Silver Creek and Show Low.  Through his aid the purchase was successfully made, and he, with the help of E. M. Webb, made a careful survey and platted the lands.  His survey he recorded, and it is the guide and the standard of description in the conveyance of all transfers of real estate in this locality (Snowflake).  In all his duties as president of the stake, and they were numerous, none was of greater benefit to the whole people than what he did in this connection.

In other civic duties, he was appointed probate judge by the governor of Arizona Territory, and was elected a member of the house and served in the 19th session of the legislature.  As a businessman, he helped organize and serves as president of the Arizona Cooperative Mercantile Association.

Jesse N. Smith’s life of 71 years was full of activity.  As a pioneer, a statesman, and officer in court, in field, or office, he was ever industrious, painstaking, dignified, and honorable.  He gave prestige to every activity that he undertook.  As a missionary he labored for the saving of souls.  His preaching had the ring of righteousness.  It never echoed of hypocrisy.  

The record might warrant our referring to him as a scholar and a gentleman; but probably his greatest accomplishment was in rearing a family.  Any man who has lived harmoniously and finished a life successfully with one wife has done well and is to be commended; but here we have one who goes him five times better!  He was a good disciplinarian, and with the hearty cooperation of his good wives, he reared 44 children, all but two of whom reached maturity.  They were obedient in the home and became dependable, useful citizens; not a criminal, nor an imbecile in the bunch.  In my judgment, a man’s success in life is primarily measured by the development of his family.  So, considering the great number, their character, and all, he has here a fine testimonial.

In conclusion, let me say Jesse N. Smith was true to his friends; he never betrayed a trust; and he discharged capably and faithfully every commission that was properly placed in his hands.  

[Jesse N. Smith died at his home in Snowflake, Arizona on June 5, 1906, and was buried in the Snowflake Cemetery.]
 Editor’s Note: The foregoing article was written in 1934 for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jesse N. Smith by his eldest son.

Asael and Mary Duty Smith


Written and compiled by Lavona F. Richardson
June 28, 2014

The family proclamation states that “the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.  The Book of Mormon is a story of families.  I am grateful to belong to a family who was instrumental in restoring the Gospel again upon the earth.   I share a common ancestor with Joseph Smith.   Asael and Mary Duty Smith are grandparents for many families strong in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  During their lives they worked to create a strong sense of family togetherness. 
 Asael and Mary Duty might be considered the first generation Mormon, although they did not actually join the Church.  Asael died just six months after it was organized. Mary Duty did come to Kirtland and met her prophet  grandson.  She planned to have him baptize her but died before she was able to be baptized.  She lived only for ten days after arriving in Kirtland and is buried in the cemetery next to the Kirtland Temple.  Joseph Smith’s extended family believed in the Church that Joseph Smith was an instrument in restoring and was always very supportive to their nephew and cousin.

Asael prophesied of his grandson Joseph Smith’s destiny.  Asael said, “It has been borne in upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize the world of religious faith”    Of this prophecy Joseph Smith later said, “My grandfather, Asael Smith, long ago predicted that there would be a prophet raised up in his family, and my grandmother (Mary Duty) was fully satisfied that it was fulfilled in me.  

Asael Smith was not the only American revolutionist who felt a conviction that the true church would one day be restored to the earth. In 1820, the year Asael's grandson Joseph the Prophet, received his first vision, Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, in denouncing the sectarian priests, declared, "The genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored, such as it was preached and practiced by Himself..   Very soon after His death it became muffled up in mysteries, and has been ever since kept in concealment from the vulgar eye”

 In the small township of Topsfield about twenty miles north of Boston, Massachusetts there were five generations of our Smith grandparents. (It was Asael who made the move to another state, Vermont).  While living at what is now referred to as the Smith farm site, in Topsfield, Essex, Massachusetts, on March 7, 1744   Samuel Jr. and his wife Priscilla had a son, whom they named Asael.   He was the youngest of five children.  Asael’s mother died   when he was only six months old and he was raised by a step mother.  He said that he never felt the love of a mother. 

Asael was tall of stature, his body was well proportioned and powerful and he was capable of handling with ease two ordinary men.
Asael was affiliated with the established religion in New England, the Congregationalists, but he later became skeptical of organized religion. To his thinking the teachings of established churches were not reconcilable with scripture and common sense. His belief in God and the government of his day is indicated in this quotation: “For my part, I am so willing to trust the government of the world in the hands of the Supreme Ruler of universal nature, that I do not at present wish to try to wrest it out of His hands, and I have so much confidence in His abilities to teach our senators wisdom, that I do not think it worthwhile for me to interpose, from the little stock of knowledge that He has favored me with, in the affair either one way or the other. He has conducted us through a glorious Revolution and has brought us into the promised land of peace and liberty, and I believe that He is about to bring all the world into the same beatitude in His own time and way; which, although, His ways may appear never so inconsistent to our blind reason, yet may be perfectly consistent with His designs.”

At age twenty-three he married Mary Duty of Rowley, Massachusetts. They were married in the home of Mary’s parents, Moses Duty and Mary Palmer.  Asael and Mary were blessed with eleven children: Jesse (1768); Priscilla (1769), Joseph Senior (1771)   father of Joseph Smith (1771), Asael Junior (1773), Mary (1775), Samuel (1777), Silas (1779) my grandfather. John (1781) the father of George Albert Smith, Susannah (1783, Stephen (1785), and Sarah (1789).

At great sacrifice to himself and his family, Asael moved from Derryfield, New Hampshire, back to Topsfield where he worked for five years to liquidate the debts his father had been unable to pay before his death. He said that he would not have it said that he died insolvent debtor.  Despite the fact that the economy was in a depression and that he had eleven children of his own, Asael was able to pay off his father’s debts within five years.  The fact that he also supported his stepmother throughout this time period makes his accomplishments quite remarkable. Asael paid all the debts that was against the estate and left himself almost destitute of means to support his family.   Asael worked as a cooper and a farmer in Tunb ridge and eventually purchased more land.  

Asael served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  A letter to Jacob Town, dated Jan. 14, 1766, indicated he believed America was the promised land and that the stone is now cut out, as spoken by the prophet Daniel.  In 1779 he wrote an “Address to the Family” as a sort of “last words” to them, yet he lived for another 30 years.  I am grateful to have a copy of that letter.

Asael Smith began the document saying ,”My dear selfs”  It was his intention not to have it read until after his death, but its existence became known and it was read. The following information was taken from this address, which reveals the love he had for his family.
 This letter best depicts the sentiments and characters of our grandfather.  He first addressed his wife by expressing gratitude for her kindness and faithfulness. He reminded her that if she should marry again, she remember what he had undergone as a result of having a stepmother, and told her not to estrange her husband from his own children or kindred

 He encouraged his children to trust in God and to believe in immorality of their soul. .  He affirmed that religion was necessary that God is no respecter of persons that marriage is predestined, that children should help one another, that the Constitution of the United States was of God, and that Christ had the most important role in man’s foundation.

“Trifle not in this point; the soul is immortal; you have to deal with an infinite Majesty; you go upon life and death; therefore in this point be serious. Do all to God in a serious manner; when you think of Him, speak of Him, pray to Him, or in any way, make your addresses to His great Majesty, be in good earnest.”

His closing advice was for them to be grateful for the land of liberty and remain loyal to its objectives. This reveals a man of noble character and child-like humility. His faith and trust in God, in the American Government, in the family unit, is most admirable. Such ideals and attitudes are most significant in the shaping of the personality of his children.

 M. Russell Ballard in paying tribute to his grandfather Asael Smith said, “He consistently set an example of honesty and integrity in the face of adversity. His writings reveal a deep faith in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. An unwavering concern for his fellowmen is evidenced in his strong anti-slavery beliefs. In the last message to his family, he exhorted them to ‘Search the scriptures.’ These are qualities that would serve us well to emulate.”

B. H Roberts wrote that Asael was as “man of noble independence of mind, yet of child-like humility”

In 1793 Asael was chosen as one of three Selectmen who managed Tunbridge’s town affairs.  He occasionally served as moderator and highway surveyor.  He was a man of very liberal views, with thoughts in advance of his time. He was noted for having opinions of his own, which he would not yield, to bigotry or opposition. Some of his children were baptized in the Congregational church at Topsfield, but in his own religious views he was somewhat of a Universalist, holding to the truth that in America all men should have free and equal religious liberty. . . .

Asael was somewhat gifted with the pen and did considerable writing in his day. The documents he left shows his soundness of understanding, clearness in intellect, and refinement of nature. He was affable in manner, possessing a quaint and genial humor and a fund of anecdote.  Before Asael moved to Tunbridge, he expressed his humor by listing his taxable property in a poem.  It was later recovered among the “scraps on File’ in the town archives of Topsfield, Massachusetts.

To the Selectmen of Topsfield
                                    I have two polls, the one is poor,
                                    I have three cows and want five more,
                                    I have no horse, but fifteen sheep—
                                    No more than these this year I keep;
                                    Steers that’s two years old, one pair,
                                    Two calves I have, all over hair,
                                    Three heifers two years old I own,
                                    One heifer calf that’s poorly grown.
                                    My land is acres eighty-two
                                    Which search the records, you’ll find true.
                                    And this is all I have in store—
                                    I’ll thank you if you’ll tax no more

                                                                          Asael Smith

Asael was 84 years old when in the fall of 1828 he received a letter from his son, Joseph Smith Sr. which startled the entire family.  He stated that his son Joseph had received some remarkable visions.   Asael upon receiving the letter said that “he always knew that God was going to raise up some branch of this family to be a great benefit to mankind.”  In August of 1830, Joseph Jr. and youngest son, Don Carlos, made them a visit, bringing with them some Books of Mormon.  They had not seen each other for almost twenty years, so they rejoiced in being together.   Asael read the Book of Mormon through without the aid of glasses, exclaiming “It is of God”, before he died the 31of Oct. 1830.  

Both Asael Smith and his wife Mary Duty Smith accepted in full the mission of their grandson, Joseph, and rejoiced greatly in the restoration of the Gospel before their departure from mortal life.  Asael and Mary and eight of their children were still alive when the Book of Mormon was first brought to their home. Only his oldest brother Jesse and two sisters (Mary and Susan) failed to believe.  This is not to be confused with my Silas’s son Jesse who is my grandfather and who served in various leadership roles in the church throughout his life. Their son Joseph Senior is the father of Joseph Smith and was the Patriarch of the Church, John is the father of George Albert Smith, Asael Jr. and Silas.  Their posterity today has produced many hundreds of loyal church members today that have provided lots of church leadership.  

  I have a copy of the letter that Joseph Smith wrote to my grandfather, his Uncle Silas.  

“Kirtland Mills, Ohio, September 26, 1833.
”Respected Uncle Silas: — It is with feelings of deep interest for the welfare of mankind, which fill my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of Him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works on that great day to which you and myself, in common with them, are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few, though imperfect, lines to you for your perusal. 

“I have no doubt but that you will agree with me, that men will be held accountable for the things they have done, and not for the things they have not done. Or that all the light and intelligence communicated to them from their beneficent Creator, whether it is much or little, by the same they, in justice, will be judged. And that they are required to yield obedience, and improve upon that and that only, which is given, for man is not to live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
“Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand, by anything heretofore revealed, that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures, when sought unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation?”

Another quote from Joseph Smith’s letter to his Uncle Silas, “If the saints, in the days of the apostles, were privileged to take the saints for example, and lay hold of the same promises, and attain to the same exalted privileges of knowing that their names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the Most High, will not the same faithfulness, the same purity of heart, and the faith, bring the same assurance of eternal life, and that in the same manner to the children of men now, in this age of the world

He ends his long letter by saying, “I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I may say with propriety at the beginning; we would be pleased to see you in Kirtland and more pleased to have you embrace the New Covenant. I remain.  Yours affectionately, Joseph Smith Junior.

Sometime in 1838 after this letter from Joseph to Silas the Lord gave Hyrum Smith a revelation commanding him to visit his Uncle Silas, for he was ready to be baptized. When he found him he said, “Uncle Silas…the Lord has sent me t baptize you, for the Lord has seen the integrity of your heart but knows your fears with regard to your family, but you need not suffer any anxiety about them, for if you embrace the gospel it will be the means of saving them’   Silas answered that he had no doubt of the truth of the work and the only thing that hindered him from embracing it was that he was afraid that his family would be so much opposed to it that it would ruin the peace.  However, upon receiving this message he was baptized, but thorough much tribulation, being much opposed by his neighbors as well as his own family.”

These formative influences of the home, the religion, the education, the community, the progenitors, and the friends, all helped to shape the personality and character of members of the Asael and Mary Duty Smith family. The Smiths were as family of very strong convictions.  Their father, Asael Sr., had taught them as best he could by precept and example to defend whatever their opinion to be true, testing their belief with these two means of judgment: sound reasoning and scriptures.  So those who accepted these truths did so with whole hearts. 

Both Asael Smith and his wife Mary Duty Smith accepted in full the mission of their grandson, Joseph, and rejoiced greatly in the restoration of the Gospel before their departure from mortal life.  Asael and Mary and eight of their children were still alive when the Book of Mormon was first brought to their home. Only his oldest brother Jesse and two sisters (Mary and Susan) failed to believe.  This is not to be confused with Silas’s son Jesse who is my grandfather and who served in various leadership roles in the church throughout his life.  Asael and Mary Duty Smith’s children were all stalwart supporters of their nephew and cousin who was the prophet who the Lord called to be an instrument in restoring the church again on the earth .Their son Joseph Senior is the father of Joseph Smith and was the Patriarch of the Church, John is the father of George Albert Smith, Asael Jr. and Silas.  Their posterity has produced many hundreds of loyal church members today that continue to provide lots of church leadership.   

Asael was devotedly attached to his wife, his life-long companion who was at his side through over sixty-three years of wedded life.   The latter years of his life were spent at the home of his son Silas in Stockholm, St. Lawrence County, New York where he died October 31, 1830 at the age of eighty six.  

Mary Duty Smith outlived her husband Asael by six years. In 1836  when  their grandmother, Mary Duty Smith was 95 years old, , accompanied by Elias Smith, a missionary grandson, traveled  five hundred miles to Kirtland, Ohio, to join her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who had gathered there.   Joseph Smith states in his history, “My father, three of his brothers, and their mother, met for the first time for many years.  It was as happy day, for we had long prayed to see our Grandmother and uncles in the Church.” The meeting between the grandmother and her prophet descendant and his brother was most touching; Joseph blessed her and said she was the most honored woman on earth.” She completely accepted the testimony of her grandson and fully intended to be baptized. Unfortunately, her age and health prevented this.  She died peacefully on 27 May 1836, just ten days after arriving in Kirtland.  She was firm in her faith of the gospel that her grandson was an instrument in restoring again upon the earth.

Elder M Russell Ballad in his tribute said, “Asael left a great legacy to his family and the (LDS) Church. He consistently set an example of honesty and integrity in the face of adversity. His writings reveal a deep faith in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. An unwavering concern for his fellowmen is evidenced in his strong anti-slavery beliefs. In the last message to his family, he exhorted them to "Search the scriptures." These are qualities that would serve us well to emulate."

.Both Asael Smith and his wife Mary Duty Smith accepted in full the mission of their grandson, Joseph, and rejoiced greatly in the restoration of the Gospel before their departure from mortal life.  I am grateful for the legacy that they left me and their posterity.