OUR PIONEER HERITAGE
In the fall of 1847 a group
of Mormon pioneers entered the Wasatch Mountains near the Great Salt
Lake. I, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, was a member of this company, twelve
years old at the time of our arrival. Upon approaching the panorama of
the Great Salt Lake, we gave gratitude to the Lord for having reached
the Promised Valley.
I journeyed across the plains
with my widowed Mother and older brother, Silas. My father and younger
brother had died the year before from persecution and exposure, as
suffered by the Saints. We traveled with my Uncle John Smith’s company. I
was given the responsibility of teamster, a large undertaking for one
so young. Our arrival in the Valley marked the end of a thousand mile
trek by ox team and covered wagon. During the long journey I witnessed
great examples of faith, courage and endurance, displayed by this sturdy
band of pioneers who braved the desert wastes and Indian persecutions
in that historic trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Rocky Mountains.
Certainly, this unceasing faith in God enabled these noble souls to
complete this march under most unusual circumstances.
born on December 2, 1834, at Stockholm, New York, to humble, upright
parents, Silas and Mary Aikens Smith. My father was an uncle to the
Prophet Joseph Smith. Because of my parents’ conversion to the Gospel,
we did not remain long in the place of my birth.
years of my young life in Nauvoo. It was my privilege and blessing to
know the Prophet and hear his glorious testimony. At the age of eight, I
sat on his knee and received a Book of Mormon from him with an
inscription in it. This I ever cherished.
I was scarcely ten
years of age when the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, were martyred in
Carthage. A vivid remembrance of this tragedy remained with me
throughout my life. I could never forget the feeling of sorrow as I
viewed the bodies of these great men of God, united in death as they had
always been in life.
Shortly after reaching the Valley, I
witnessed the miracle of the gulls and the Providence of the Lord in
sending the gulls from the lake to devour crop-destroying crickets, thus
saving all from starvation.
In June, 1851, my brother and I and
our families were sent by President Brigham Young to establish a home
in Parowan, Iron County, and to help in settlement development. While
living there I enjoyed taking part in civic affairs and politics,
serving as County Clerk and Mayor, and in the Territorial Legislature.
1859 I was called to the Scandinavian Mission. Reluctantly, I left my
two young families, yet knowing that it was the Lord’s will, I was
obedient to his call. After returning for a few years, I was called
again, this time to serve as President of the Danish Mission. Hundreds
of converts were desirous of immigrating to Zion. A company in which I
was in charge, over one thousand souls came.
having been called by President John Taylor to serve as President of the
Eastern Arizona Stake of Zion, I began a new journey to Snowflake,
Arizona. My third wife, Janet, and five daughters accompanied me on this
first trip to Snowflake. Though many hardships were endured, we
prevailed to establish our home there. Later, other family members
joined us. After the Eastern Arizona Stake was
divided, I was called to serve as President of the Snowflake Stake,
which calling lasted over thirty years.
With a strong belief
in the principle and divinity of plural marriage, revealed to the
Prophet Joseph Smith, I obediently chose five wives. These devoted
wives, Emma, Margaret, Janet, Augusta and Emma Larson, and forty-four
children, gave me great joy and strength. I have devoted my life to the
up building of the Lord’s Kingdom, with a desire to be a blessing to my
family and my fellowmen, thereby, bringing honor and glory to my