Joseph F. Smith, a Man at Age Eight


(Adapted from The Illustrated Story of President Joseph F. Smith, by Della Mae Rasmussen, pages 12–15, Presidents of the Church, Institutes of Religion of the Church Educational System student manual, page 149, and Joseph F. Smith: Patriarch and Preacher, Prophet of God, by Francis M. Gibbons, pages 18, 27–29.)

Joseph F. Smith, a Man at Age Eight

After his father, Hyrum, and his Uncle Joseph were killed at Carthage Jail, Joseph F. Smith had to help his mother bring their family to the Salt Lake Valley.

Joseph’s mother, Mary Fielding Smith: Joseph, you are only eight years old, but I must depend on you. You must be a man when you are hardly a boy.

Joseph F.: I’ll help as much as I can, Mother.

Along the journey, young Joseph chopped wood, picked berries, carried water, and took care of the family’s animals.

But his main responsibility was driving the oxen.

He felt especially sad when his ox teams were thirsty and tired.

Joseph F.: I’m sorry, Thom. I know it’s too hot for you.

The journey was hard, and life didn’t become easier once they reached the Salt Lake Valley.

Joseph’s mother: It looks like we’ll have to spend the winter in our covered wagon, children. But God will protect us.

Joseph admired the faith and courage of his mother.

Even though the family had barely enough to live on, Mary Fielding Smith insisted they pay a full tithe.

Joseph’s mother: Choose the nicest potatoes to bring to the tithing office, Joseph. The Lord’s share must be the best pick of the crop.

Joseph must have remembered his mother’s faith when he received his call to preach the gospel in Hawaii. He was only fifteen years old, had no money to take with him, and didn’t even know the language.

He served faithfully in Hawaii and on several other Church assignments before becoming the sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many people learned the gospel because of the faith and hard work of President Joseph F. Smith.

If you’d like to learn more about President Smith, do the “President Joseph F. Smith Crossword” on page 26.