George Albert Smith was born in 1870, just twenty-three years after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. He became the eighth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1945, just before the end of Word War II, and served until his death in 1951. His childhood was much like that of other boys in the late 1800s. He played barefoot on the streets of Salt Lake City. He went swimming in the Jordan River. He coasted down steep, icy hills on his sled. He rode horseback, he herded cows, and, like most children, he was sometimes sick.
Normally his mother, Sarah, didn’t worry too much about his childhood sicknesses, which came and went. But once he became very sick, and she began to worry. It started with a fever that kept rising. Then he had a stomachache and headache. Finally rose-colored spots appeared on his body, so she called for the doctor.
The doctor came and examined George Albert. He told Sarah that her son had typhoid fever, a disease that sometimes killed people. He told her to keep her son in bed for three weeks and to have him drink coffee but not eat.
When the doctor left, George Albert told his mother that he didn’t want to drink coffee because it was against the Word of Wisdom. He knew that Heavenly Father had given Joseph Smith the Word of Wisdom, a revelation that teaches us to not drink coffee, tea, or alcohol. It also teaches us to eat and drink only things that are good for our bodies. He didn’t want to break the Word of Wisdom. His mother and father had taught him to always obey Heavenly Father.
Because his father, John Henry, was away serving a mission, George Albert asked his mother to send for Brother Hawks, a faithful and good member of their ward who held the priesthood. When Brother Hawks arrived, George Albert asked him for a priesthood blessing.
Brother Hawks placed his hands on the boy’s head and blessed him that he would get better. George Albert had faith that the blessing would help him recover from the typhoid fever.
When the doctor arrived the next day, he found the boy playing outside with other children. The doctor was surprised. He examined George Albert and found that he was all better. George Albert later said, “I am grateful to the Lord for my recovery. I was sure that He had healed me.”