Asael Smith 1744-1830 / Mary Duty 1743-1836
John Smith 1781-1854 / Clarissa Lyman 1790-1854
George Albert Smith 1817-1875 / Sarah Ann Libby 1818-1851
Glenn Groesbeck and Christine Johnson Smith History, 31 pages, e-mail me for this history
Complete histories for George Albert Smith and John Henry Smith can be found in "Builders of the Kingdom" by Merlo J. Pusey.
John Smith, "the Patriarch," 1781-1854 and wife Clarissa Lyman 1790-1854
George Albert Smith, 1817-1875
John Henry Smith 1848-1911
Glenn Groesbeck Smith 1893-1970 and Christine Johnson 1893-1988
SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES OF PRESIDENT JOHN HENRY SMITH
(Taken from the Improvement Era, Vol XV, Nov 1911)
Born at Carbunca, near Kanesville, now Council Bluffs,Pottawama [sic] County, Iowa, September 18, 1848.
Reached Salt lake City with his father's family October 27, 1849.
Baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, September 18, 1856, by his father.
Received a patriarchal blessing January 18, 1852, by Patriarch John Smith, which became the guiding star of his subsequent life.
Received his schooling at Provo and Salt Lake City, obtaining a moderately good education for the times.
Miraculously escaped drowning June 8, 1862, in Provo River, while crossing in a small boat which capsized.
Married Sarah Farr, daughter of Lorin Farr, October 20, 1866.
Was chosen as counsellor [sic] to Bishop W. A. Follett of Provo, 4th ward, in the summer of 1867.
With Benson, Farr and West, he aided in the completion of two hundred miles of Central Pacific Railway, prior to the entrance of the road, in 1869.
Was assistant clerk of the House of Representatives of the Territorial Legislature, of 1872, acting in that capacity also in the Constitutional Convention.
Filled a mission to Europe, leaving Ogden, June 29, 1874, reaching New York, July 4, and Liverpool, July 26. He labored in the Birmingham Conference most of the time, and subsequently visited most of the conferences in Great Britain. In 1875, with President Joseph F. Smith, visited Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and France. He was called home in July, 1875, to the sick-bed of his father, George Albert Smith, who died September 1, 1875; and from that time was in the employ of the Utah Central Railway for several years.
On November 22, 1876, was ordained a High Priest and Bishop by President Brigham Young, and set apart to preside over the 17th ward, Salt Lake City.
On February 18, 1876, he was elected a member of the City Council from the 3rd precinct, serving as a councilman six years altogether.
In April 1877, he married Josephine Groesbeck. He was ordained an apostle, October 27, 1880, by President Wilford Woodruff.
In October 1882, he was sent to preside over the European mission, being absent from home two years and five months, and travelled extensively in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, visiting also the Isle of Man, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. On his return he labored incessantly among the stakes of Zion, organizing and instructing the Saints. In March 1895, he was chosen president of the Constitutional Convention which formed the constitution under which Utah was admitted as a state to the Union, January 1896.
In 1899 he made a tour of the Southern States Mission.
For several sessions he attended as a delegate the Irrigation and Trans Mississippi Congresses; in 1900, visiting Houston, Texas, and later making a trip to Mexico.
He was sustained April 6, and set apart as second counsellor [sic] in the First Presidency, April 7, 1910.
In the course of his ministry he visited every stake of Zion, and many of them several times over.
He died October 13, 1911. "He was beloved, beloved by all." Funeral services were held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, October 17, 1911, and he lies buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
On October 16, 1911, Ex-governor Alvah Adams of Colorado paid a splendid tribute to John Henry Smith and Brigham Young in the session of the Dry Farming Congress at Colorado Springs.
In Memoriam, John Henry Smith
Another son hath joined the caravan,
Gone by the threshold with a noiseless tread;
His crown of years is settled on his head;
The heaven's gain, we lose a noble man.
Those eyes, that through an outer dross could see
The spark of good that hidden lies within,
Are closed upon a world of toil and sin,
To see the light of immortality.
His voice, that gripped the heart unto his own,
E'en by the power of its subtle thrill,
To nameless sorrowing souls is hushed and still,
To awake an echo in that better home.
A beacon light is gone out, in the earth;
Though happily this brief span is not the end;
We know we'll meet our genial, loyal friend
There in the sphere of our primeval birth.
Louis W. Larson
ASAEL SMITH AND MARY DUTY
Asael Smith and Mary Duty were the grandparents of the Prophet, Joseph Smith. Asael Smith had refused to join any church “because he could not reconcile their teachings with the scriptures and his reason.” Asael once prophesied the following: “It has been borne in upon my soul that one of my descendants will promulgate a work to revolutionize the world of religious faith” (Essentials In Church History, p25). Likewise, Joseph’s maternal grandfather, Solomon Mack, had experienced a conversion soon before his death, in which he said he saw a bright light and heard someone call his name.
While a child Asael had his neck burned which contracted the cords of his neck on one side and rendered them stiff. His crooked neck has been sometimes used to indicate that his mind might have been affected. In response, B. H. Roberts said, “As to the ‘distortion’ of Asael’s mind, two documents of his exist which reflect the quality of his mind so clearly, that the reader will need no other evidence to establish the soundness of his understanding, the clearness of his intellect, or the refinement of his nature, than their perusal.
Asael Smith was married Mary Duty and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was from Topsfield, Mass., and was the fourth generation of Smiths in the town. His father, Samuel, had received all the honors the town could bestow. He was repeatedly chosen assessor, selectman, town clerk, representative to the General Court (the Massachusetts name for the legislature), and delegate to the Provincial Congress. Most important, he was chosen twenty times as moderator of the town meeting, a position reserved for one who commanded universal respect.The couple would eventually have eleven children. Their second son, Joseph (Sr.) was born at the Smith farm on July 12, 1771.
Asael showed strength of character as he was more willing to endure serious hardships than let his father’s debts go unpaid on his death. “When the barter economy of New England caught Samuel Smith, Father Smith’s grandfather, by surprise and he died insolvent, Father Smith’s father, Asael, said, ‘I am not willing that my father, who has done so much business, should have it said of him that he died insolvent.’ Thus Asael, who had been too sick to do any but small clerical tasks for three years, and while burdened with the responsibilities of a large and growing family, concluded, in his own words, ‘Notwithstanding all my embarrassments, I will undertake to settle my father’s estate and save his name from going down to posterity as an insolvent debtor.’”
Unable at one time in the family home of Topsfield, Massachusetts to pay the debts on the family farm, Asael sold the farm, liquidated the debts, and migrated in 1791 first to Ipswich, then to Tunbridge, Vermont, where he purchased enough land to provide for his sons. They lived in Ipswich for about 6 months. They then moved to Tunbridge, Vermont where their son Joseph Sr. later met his future bride, Lucy Mack.
Asael was able to establish himself well in Tunbridge. “By the time the third son, Asael, Jr., married in 1802, the Smiths had a 300-400-acre compound of adjoining farms. . . . Beginning in 1793 he was frequently elected one of three selectmen to manage town affairs, and occasionally served as moderator and highway surveyor.”
Concerning Asael Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded, “ My grandfather, Asael Smith, long ago predicted that there would be a prophet raised up in his family” (History of the Church 2:443). After Asael had read the Book of Mormon, Joseph further stated that Asael “declared that I was the very Prophet that he had long known would come in his family” (HC 2:443). Asael was first shown the Book of Mormon when his son Joseph Sr. and grandson Don Carlos visited family members who were living in St. Lawrence County, New York. Asael accepted the gospel but was too weak to be baptized. He died just a few months after his son’s visit on October 30, 1830. His widow, Mary, traveled to Kirtland in 1836 to visit her extended family. She had also accepted the gospel and planned to have the Prophet baptize her. Unfortunately, she passed away just ten days after her arrival, at the age of 93.
Their son, Joseph Smith, father of the Prophet, was also concerned with religion. His wife, Lucy Mack, wrote that in 1811, in Tunbridge, Vermont, “my husband’s mind became much excited upon the subject of religion; yet he would not subscribe to any particular system of faith, but contended for the ancient order, as established by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Apostles” (History of Joseph Smith, pg46). She also wrote that about this time her husband had a dream or vision and then said: “From this forward, my husband seemed more confirmed than ever in the opinion that there was no order or class of religionists that knew any more concerning the Kingdom of God than those of the world, or such as made no profession of religion whatever” (History of Joseph Smith, p48). Presumably the teachings and beliefs of his father had helped him in formulating his own religious convictions.
Asael held deeply personal convictions about God. ‘Put your whole trust solely in him,’ he counseled his wife: ‘He never did nor never will forsake any that trusted in him.’ To his children he stressed daily reverence: 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. Trifle not with his name nor with his attributes, nor call him to witness to anything but is absolute truth.”
After Asael’s oldest children were married, Asael wrote his family a letter of counsel in the form of a will. “Asael devoted about one-fifth of this ‘will’ to scriptural proof that no salvation comes through selfrighteousness, but that ‘sinners must be saved by the righteousness of Christ alone.’”
The Prophet’s grandfather, Asael Smith, supposed the newly framed Constitution of the United States to be ``the stone cut out of the mountain without hands,’‘ and directed his children to hold it as a precious jewel. Though deeply religious, the Prophet’s ancestors did not particularly conform to the conventional religious systems of New England. Many of the Prophet’s ancestors believed there had been a universal apostasy which required a universal restoration. Grandfather Asael “had a habit of reading and writing about gospel themes - the Restoration in particular.’‘ He predicted “there would be a prophet raised up in his family’‘ who would do a work that would “revolutionize the world.’‘ (HC 2:443; Journal of Discourses 5:102.)
Mary Duty. From a family of courageous Revolutionary solders, Mary Duty distinguished herself in rearing eleven children. She was an example of industry to her family, for John remembered his mother as `a first rate dairy woman.’ Her family had superior care or health for its time, since all children lived to maturity. Certain other patterns appear in this group. Educational exposure was marginal in New Hampshire and Vermont, but native intelligence is plain. The eldest, Jesse, took his father’s place in Tunbridge as a civic leader, holding most offices, including selectman and town clerk.
LETTER FROM ASAEL SMITH TO MR. JACOB TOWN.
TUNBRIDGE. Jan. 14th, 1796.
Respected Sir:–Having a favorable opportunity, altho’ on very short notice, I with joy and gratitude embrace it returning herewith my most hearty thanks for your respect shown in your favor of the 30th of November, by Mr. Willis, which I view as a singular specimen of friendship, which has very little been practiced by any of my friends in Topsfield, although often requested.
My family are all through the goodness of the Divine Benediction in a tolerable good state of health and desire to be remembered to you and to all inquiring friends
I have set me up a new house since Mr. Willis was here and expect to remove into it next spring, and begin again on an entire new farm, and my son Joseph will live on the old farm (if this that has been but four years occupied can be called old) and carry it on at the halves which half I hope will nearly furnish my family with food whilst I with my four youngest sons shall endeavor to bring to another farm etc.
As to news, I have nothing as I know of, worth noticing, except that grain has taken a sudden rise amongst us about one-third.
As to the Jacobin party, they are not very numerous here, or if they are, they are pretty still; there are some in this state, viz., in Bennington, who like other children crying for a rattle, have blared out against their rulers, in hopes to wrest from them, if possible, what they esteem the plaything of power and trust. But they have been pretty well whipped and have become tolerably quiet again, and I am in hopes if they live to to arrive to the years of discretion, when the empire of reason shall take place, that they will then become good members of society, notwithstanding their noisy, nucious behavior in their childhood, for which they were either capable of hearing or giving any reason.
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, what I do not think it worth while 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, altho His ways may appear never so inconsistent to our blind reason, yet may be perfectly consistent with His designs. And I believe that the stone is now cut out of the mountain without hands, spoken of by Daniel, and has smitten the image upon his feet, by which the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, (viz.) all the monarchial and ecclesiastical tyranny will be broken to pieces and become as the chaff of the summer threshing floor, the wind shall carry them all away, that there shall be no place found for them.
Give my best regards to your parents and tell them that I have taken up with the eleventh commandment that the negro taught to the minister, which was thus–
The minister asked the negro how many commandments there were, his answer was “Eleben, sir.” “Aye,” replied the other, “what is the eleventh? That is one I never heard of.” “The eleventh commandment, sir, is mind your own business.”
So I choose to do and give myself but little concern about what passes in the political world
Give my best regards to Dr. Meriam, Mr. Willis, Joseph Dorman and Mr. Cree, and tell Mr. Cree I thank him for his respects and hope he will accept of mine. Write to me as often and as large as you can and oblige your sincere friend and well-wisher.
(Signed) ASAEL SMITH
Mr. Jacob Town, Jun.
The following appears on the back of the first page of the letter, being evidently of the nature of a postscript–
Give my hearty thanks to Mr Charles Rogers for his respects shown in writing me a few lines, and tell him that I should a wrote to him now, had I had time, but now waive it for the present, as I have considerable part of what I intended to a writ to you.
If I should live and do well I expect to come to Topsfield myself next winter, which if I do I shall come and pay you a visit. Farewell.
Tell Mr. Joseph Cree that if he will come here and set up his trade, I will warrant him as much work as he can do and good pay.
In the margin of the second page of the letter appears the following–
I expect my son Joseph will be married in a few days.
Clarissa Lyman was born in Lebanon, New Hampshire, on the 27th of June 1790. She was the daughter of Richard Lyman and Philomelia Loomis. Her parents had four sons and seven daughters, after her father’s death in 1802, she moved to Brooklyn, Vermont, where she was reared in the home of an uncle, Reverend Elijah Lyman. She remained here until her marriage to John Smith on September 11, 1815, shortly after which they moved to Potsdam, New York, where her first child, a daughter was born the 9th of May 1816 and died the same day.
When Joseph Smith, Sr. visited his relatives, she was the first member of the Smith family to read the Book of Mormon through, and the first to be baptized, in September 1831. She was the mother of four children, an infant, George A., Caroline Smith Callister, and John Lyman Smith. At the time of her death, the Deseret News paid her this tribute: “She was a firm believer in the influence of the everlasting Gospel. She possessed a heart full of benevolence and kindness to all; she bore her long severe illness without complaint or murmur. She would frequently exclaim when friends came to her bedside: Bless the Lord! Oh my Soul.” She died February 14, 1854 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was sixty years of age at the time of her death.
When Clarissa died John was restless and longed to be with her, so it isn’t surprising that only three months later he passed on at the age of seventy-three.
History written by Bruce Blanchard, February 2010.