George Albert Smith is generally called George A.
Smith to differentiate him from his grandson and namesake, George Albert
Smith who served as President of the Church from 1945 until his death in
George was born June 26, 1817 in Potsdam, New York, the son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman. He was raised as a Congregationalist but failed to receive spiritual edification from the sect. When his uncle, Joseph Smith,
Sr. and Cousin Don Carlos Smith left a copy of the Book of Mormon
at his father's home, George read it and had certain objections. These,
however, were answered to his satisfaction by the two missionaries. As
he criticized Congregational doctrine more strongly, the Reverend Frederick
C. Cannon "sealed him up unto damnation."
George was baptized September 10, 1832 by Joseph
Wakefield. In May of 1833, he and his parents joined the Saints in Kirtland,
Ohio. A year later, he accompanied his cousin, the Prophet Joseph
Smith, Jr. on Zion's Camp, a military expedition intended to relieve
the suffering Saints in Missouri.
In 1835, George was ordained a Seventy and set apart as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. thus becoming a General Authority.
By 1839, Thomas B.
Marsh and Orson Hyde had been removed
from the Twelve for apostasy. David W.
Patten had suffered the martyr's fate in Missouri. George A. Smith
was ordained an Apostle April 26, 1839 at Far West, Missouri by Heber C.
Kimball to bring the Quorum back up to strength.
Remaining faithful, George and his family made the
trek west and joined the Saints in the Great Basin. He was set apart as
First Counselor to President Brigham Young on October 7, 1868
after the death of Heber C. Kimball. He served as President Young's emissary many years, more particularly in colonizing southern Utah. St. George, Utah is named for him.
He was active in civic and public affairs as well as in the Church. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the territorial militia and was elected territorial senator. During the Utah War he led the saints' southern flank.
George A. Smith died September 1, 1875 in Salt Lake