Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
No picture available. Sylvester Smith

abt. 1805 - ?

  • Born 1806 Berkshire Co. Massachussettes
  • Baptized 1831
  • Ordained Elder 1831
  • Ordained High Priest 1831
  • Mission from Ohio to Vermont 1832
  • Assisted in laying foundation of Kirtland Temple 1833
  • Zion's Camp 1834
  • Ordained Seventy 1835
  • First Quorum of Seventy and Presidency therof 1835-1837
  • Left Church by 1838

    Sylvester Smith was born March 25, 1806 in Berkshire County, Massachussetts, the son of Chileab Smith and wife Nancy Marshall. By trade, he became a farmer, but also is known to have carpentered and taught school. The 1830 Census lists him as a resident of Amherst, Lorain County, Ohio with a wife and a daughter under five. Ancestry,com shows him married to a Betsy Frank, but does not give a date. He first affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal sect but was taught the true Gospel and became an early convert to the Church, being baptized and ordained an Elder before June 1831. Within four months, he was ordained a High Priest on 25 October 1831 by Oliver Cowdery.

    Sylvester was appointed by revelation to preach the Gospel with Gideon Carter on 25 January 1832. (See D&C 75:34.) They traveled together from Ohio to Vermont, preaching along way, leaving the Kirtland area 5 April 1832. Sylvester returned August 1832, having baptized several converts.

    Elder Smith assisted in laying the foundation stones for the Kirtland Temple on 23 July 1833. Within a year he had answered the call to succor the oppressed saints of Zion by enlisting in Zion's Camp. However it was while on the trail with Zion's Camp that several difficulties arose as he manifested a rebellious spirit toward the Prophet. One involved some bread which Smith unrighteously tried to withhold from the common store. For this he was rebuked by Joseph Smith. The other incident is less clear but involved a dog which was with the camp and was generally making a nuisance of itself. While Joseph was preaching a sermon in which he used the dog to make a certain theological point, Sylvester loudly and repeatedly made comments injurious to the point Joseph was making, openly rebuking Joseph for his verbal kindness to the dog.

    Sometime later, after the Camp's return to Kirtland. one of the brethren brought charges against Sylvester for unchristianlike conduct toward the Prophet. The case was dismissed upon Sylvester's confession and promise to do better in the future.

    Sylvester was appointed a member of the Kirtland High Council on February 17, 1835. Then a scant eleven days later he was ordained a seventy and called to the First Quorum of Seventy and to the Presidency thereof. Notwithstanding his callings with the Seventy, he served as clerk for the High Council in August and September of 1835. He was released from the Kirtland high council on 13 January 1836. And notwithstanding the difficulties between Joseph and Sylvester, he served as an acting scribe for Joseph Smith beginning on 25 January 1836.

    At a solemn meeting held at Kirtland Jan. 22, 1836, "the heavens were opened upon Elder Sylvester Smith, and he, leaping up, exclaimed, 'The horsemen of Israel and the chariots thereof.'" During that winter Sylvester Smith studied Hebrew, together with Joseph the Prophet and others, in a class taught by Professor Seixas. Even as he had assisted in the laying of its foundation, Sylvester attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in March of 1836.

    Because he had previously been ordained a High Priest, Elder Smith was released from all association with the Seventy and invited to take his place with the High Priests on 6 April 1837. John Gaylord was chosen to fill the vacancy caused thereby in the First Council of Seventy.

    Elder Smith became a charter member of Kirtland Safety Society in January of 1837.   As financial losses mounted, Sylvester became vocally critical of the Prophet and other Church leadership. He left the Church by 1838 though we have not found records of his actual excommunication. At a later date, President Jedediah M. Grant spoke during General Conference of Sylvester Smith: "… I recollect in the upper room of the Temple in Kirtland, Ohio, when we were assembled there, a very noted man, by the name of Sylvester Smith, bore testimony of what he had seen of the Prophet of God, of angels, &c. He said he wanted to bear testimony, and continued to say, 'I have spoken by what you call the Holy Ghost; the eyes of my understanding have been touched, and I have seen convoy after convoy of angels; I have laid hands on the lame, and they have leaped like an hart; I have spoken with tongues and had the interpretation thereof; I have seen the sick healed time after time;—but let me tell you, everything I have seen and everything you have seen is the height of idiotism.' This was Sylvester Smith, after he apostatized."

    We have not discovered the details of his later life and death.


Bibliography
   Doctrine and Covenants sect.75, v.34; sect 102, v3
   History of the Church    2005 Church Almanac, p.70

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