Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Hyrum Smith Hyrum Smith

1804 - 1844

  • Born 1804 Tunbridge, Vermont
  • One of the Eight Witnesses to The Book of Mormon
  • Baptized 1829
  • Assistant President of the Church, 1834
  • Counselor in the First Presidency
  • Patriarch to the Church
  • Named Second Elder of the Church following Oliver Cowdery's disaffection
  • Associate President of the Church
  • Martyred 1844 Carthage, Illinois

     Among early Church leaders, no one stands higher than Hyrum Smith save it be The Prophet himself. Hyrum was Joseph Smith's closest confidante and advisor, the Second Elder in the Church and Patriarch to the Church. He was an Apostle. He held every right, key, power, and authority which Joseph held, and had it been the will of the Lord that Hyrum should have survived Joseph, Hyrum would have become the Presiding High Priest in the Church.

    Hyrum was born February 9, 1800 in Tunbridge, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and his wife Lucy Mack Smith. Financial woes forced the family to move to eight separate locations during Hyrum's early childhood.

    At the age of eleven Hyrum was sent to Moor's Charity School for two years. He returned home when a typhoid fever epidemic swept the school, only to find several  family members ill of the disease. His younger brother Joseph was among those who fell ill and in Joseph's case it settled into his leg and developed into osteomyelitis. Hyrum nursed his younger brother during the excruciating treatments and a bond developed between the brothers that death itself could not break. "In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated" (D&C 135:3).

    After the family moved to New York, Hyrum and the other Smith brothers helped the family finances by hiring out as farm laborers, coopers, and masons, in addition to clearing their own land for farming. On November 2, 1826, Hyrum married Jerusha Barden (1805-1837).

    When Joseph received the First Vision, Hyrum found it easy to believe his brother's reports and as his labors progressed quickly received a testimony of his work. He was called to the work himself to "assist to bring forth my work" and to preach "nothing but repentance" (D&C 11:9, 22). Even before the formal organization of the Church, he was baptized in Seneca Lake. He was one of the eight official witnesses to whom Joseph showed the Golden Plates and was privileged to touch them and hold them.

    Hyrum was one of the six men who signed their names as charter members of the new religious organization. He became the presiding officer of the Colesville Branch when missionary efforts proved fruitful in that area. In 1831 the Branch moved en masse to Kirtland, Ohio.

    Meanwhile, Joseph had received revelations concerning the establishment of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri and numbers of the Saints relocated to that area. As persecution grew, and the Saints fell under the oppression that was Missouri, a military expedition to relieve them was planned. Hyrum helped recruit members for Zion's Camp and served as Joseph Smith's chief aide in that mission.

    Back in Kirtland, building the new temple, the first erected to the glory of God in almost two millennia,  was under way.  Hyrum became the foreman of the stone quarry. In recognition of his honor and faithfulness, he was ordained an Assistant President of the Church in December 1834. In 1837 he became Second Counselor in the First Presidency with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, and with Oliver Cowdery as Associate President. In 1841, he was released as Second Counslor, being replaced by William Law, but retained the Patriarcal Office and his position as Second Elder of the Church.

    He was in Missouri in 1838 with Joseph and several others who were arrested and following a preliminary hearing in a kangaroo court were imprisoned in a dungeon beneath Liberty Jail while the politicians and mobocrats deliberated their fate. On April 16, 1839, during a change of venue, they were allowed to escape.

    They joined the residue of the Missouri Saints who had been driven from the state and had settled on a broad curve of the Mississippi River as it ran between Iowa and Illinois. Originally called Commerce, their new home was renamed Nauvoo. Here Hyrum was ordained Patriarch to the church, replacing his father who had died. This office was known by revelation to belong to the birthright line. It would remain among his descendants as long as the office remained functional.

    Hyrum and his first wife, Jerusha, had four daughters and two sons. After Jerusha's death, he married Mary Fielding in 1837, and she bore him a son and a daughter. When Joseph Smith introduced plural marriage to him, Hyrum at first opposed the idea, but when converted to the principle, he became one of its staunchest advocates.

    Hyrum was also ordained Associate President and Second Elder of the Church, replacing Oliver Cowdery who had fallen into apostasy and had been excommunicated. In this latter ordination, he received every key, every power, and every authority held by his brother Joseph. Indeed, had he survived Joseph, Hyrum would have unquestionably succeeded him.

    Such was not to be. Hyrum the faithful, remained at Joseph's side as the winds of persecution and mobocracy swirled anew. He accompanied Joseph on the fateful ride into Carthage and spilled his blood in testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.

    Smith, The History of the Church; Multiple citations. See index.
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia; Vol. 1, pp.52, 53
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism; Vol.3, See entry on.
    Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith p.20.
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, pp.155-157
    2005 Church Almanac, 56

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