A Prophet’s Life: The Cradle—Sharon, Vermont

Sharon, Vermont, could rightly be called the cradle of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it was here that Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23, 1805. The fifth child of Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Jr. was nurtured and loved as he developed gradually into his role as the Prophet of “the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10).

Joseph Sr. and Lucy both descended from New England families. They moved several times between 1796 and 1816 within Vermont and New Hampshire, where 10 of their 11 children were born.

In West Lebanon, New Hampshire, a typhoid fever epidemic struck. Seven-year-old Joseph Jr. (far right) was left with a serious infection in his left leg. Amputation seemed the only answer after two surgeries failed, but Lucy insisted the doctors try again. The third surgery involved breaking off part of the bone with forceps. Joseph endured great pain, but the surgery succeeded.

After three years of crop failures, the Smith family moved to Palmyra, New York, in 1816. The few lingering evidences of the Smith family’s time in Sharon, Vermont, include a stone bridge built by family members (right inset) and the hearthstone from the original cabin (above inset).

On the centennial anniversary of the Prophet’s birth, President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) dedicated the memorial cottage (left inset), which was used as a visitors’ center, and a granite obelisk (background). The obelisk is 38 1/2 feet high (11.7 m)—one foot for each year of the Prophet’s life.

[photos] Background: Photograph by Welden C. Andersen; left inset: photograph may not be copied; above inset: photograph by Welden C. Andersen

[illustrations] Above: Detail from Brother Joseph, by David Lindsley; right: Joseph Smith as a Boy, by Theodore S. Gorka