How My Life Was Preserved

  • 10 September 2015

George Albert Smith (seated third from the right) poses with fellow missionaries. 

Article Highlights

  • As a young missionary, George Albert Smith found himself with President J. Golden Kimball surrounded by a mob.
  • Though the mob fired bullets, the two men were protected just like George Albert Smith knew they would be.

“I was very calm as I lay there, experiencing one of the most horrible events of my life, but I was sure … that the Lord would protect me, and he did.” —George Albert Smith, President of the Church

In 1892 George Albert Smith was called to serve in the Southern States Mission with President J. Golden Kimball, less than a month after getting married to his wife, Lucy Emily Woodruff.

Because he was serving as a Seventy at the same time, President Kimball had to leave the mission and travel to Salt Lake City. He left the responsibilities of the mission in the hands of Elder Smith, who was the mission secretary.

President Kimball was worried to be away so long, but he did place a great deal of trust in his young secretary. He wrote in a letter to Elder Smith, “I think my discernment and intelligence, however limited it may be, enables me to value your integrity and worth, which I assure you I do.” In another letter he wrote, “Always let this one idea stand uppermost: that I appreciate your labors, zeal, and good spirit.”

The zeal and good spirit possessed by Elder Smith were never more greatly illustrated than in an experience shared with President Kimball. It took place when they were spending the night in a small log home. George Albert Smith later recalled:

“About midnight we were awakened with a terrible shouting and yelling from the outside. Foul language greeted our ears as we sat up in bed to acquaint ourselves with the circumstances. It was a bright moonlit night and we could see many people on the outside. President Kimball jumped up and started to dress. The men pounded on the door and used filthy language ordering the Mormons to come out, that they were going to shoot them. President Kimball asked me if I wasn’t going to get up and dress and I told him no, I was going to stay in bed, that I was sure the Lord would take care of us. In just a few seconds the room was filled with shots. Apparently the mob had divided itself into four groups and were shooting into the corners of the house. Splinters were flying over our heads in every direction. There were a few moments of quiet, then another volley of shots was fired and more splinters flew. I felt absolutely no terror. I was very calm as I lay there, experiencing one of the most horrible events of my life, but I was sure … that the Lord would protect me, and he did.

“Apparently the mob became discouraged and left. The next morning when we opened the door, there was a huge bundle of heavy hickory sticks such as the mob used to beat the missionaries in the South.”

Years later George Albert Smith shared this experience with his grandchildren to teach them to trust the Lord. “I want to impress on you,” he said, “that the Lord will take care of you in times of danger, if you will give him the opportunity” (“How My Life Was Preserved,” George Albert Smith Family Papers, University of Utah, box 121, scrapbook 1, pp. 43–44).