Sarah Farr Smith was washing the dishes after the family’s midday meal, when she heard a firm knock at the back door of her home in Salt Lake City. When she opened the door, she saw a poor but tidy-looking gentleman standing on her porch. Although she didn’t know the man, he was very polite, and she invited him in for something to eat.
While he was eating, the man suddenly asked where Sarah’s young son George Albert was. She said that he was outside playing in the yard. The man then asked Sarah to call him into the house. Although she didn’t understand why, something told her to do what the man had asked. She went outside and found her son playing beneath a balcony of a two-story building next door.
As Sarah came back into the house with the boy, she heard a loud crash. Rushing back outside, she was horrified to see that the balcony under which he had just been playing had collapsed, sending large beams and pieces of lumber crashing down onto the toys that had been left there just moments earlier.
Sarah was very grateful and humbled for what she felt was Heavenly Father’s help in saving her son’s life. She decided then that George Albert must have an important mission to perform on earth and that God would help her watch over him.
Sarah was born October 30, 1849, just two years after her parents, Lorin Farr and Nancy Bailey Chase, had entered the Salt Lake Valley in a covered wagon. When she was just two months old, her parents were asked by President Brigham Young to help start a new settlement north of Salt Lake City. This new settlement was later known as Ogden, Utah, and Sarah’s father was its mayor for many years.
Her family didn’t have much money, but her parents worked hard to keep their children well-fed, warm, and happy. Sarah slept on a straw-filled mattress and snuggled under a buffalo robe to keep warm on cold winter nights. She went to school in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor, where she sat on a split-log seat and wrote her ABC’s with a slate pencil. She was a very obedient child and a good student and received a special award in one of her classes “for not whispering in school.”
When Sarah was old enough, she married John Henry Smith, who would later become an apostle and serve as counselor to President Joseph F. Smith. Sarah and John became the parents of eleven children, the second of whom was George Albert Smith, the eighth President of the Church.
George Albert Smith loved his mother very much, and he had an experience as a boy that taught him the importance of faith and prayer. One day while his mother was cleaning in the kitchen, she bumped the kitchen cupboard and sent it crashing down on top of her. Hearing the noise, he came running to help her. He found her unconscious on the floor underneath the cupboard and prayed to Heavenly Father with all his might that He would save her life. In return, young George Albert promised to devote his life to God’s work. His mother did recover, and he never forgot his promise to the Lord.
Sarah Farr Smith died on February 4, 1921, at the age of seventy-one. She had raised a fine family, she loved the Lord with all her heart, and she was loved by all who knew her.