- Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a church and its progress in the world, I have been induced to write this history, so as to disabuse the public mind and put all inquirers after truth into possession of the facts as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, as far as I have such facts in possession. In this history, I will present the various events in relation to this Church in truth and righteousness as they have transpired, or as they at present exist, being now the eighth year since the organization of said Church, 1838.
- I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor County, state of Vermont.
- When I was 5 years old, or thereabouts, I was attacked with the typhus fever, and at one time during my sickness, my father despaired of my life. The doctors broke the fever, after which it settled under my shoulder, and Dr. Parker called it a sprained shoulder and anointed it with bone ointment, and freely applied the hot shovel when it proved to be a swelling under the arm, which was opened and discharged freely, after which the disease removed and descended into my left leg and ankle, and terminated in a fever sore of the worst kind, and I endured the most acute suffering for a long time under the care of Doctors Smith, Stone, and Perkins of Hanover.
- At one time, eleven doctors came from Dartmouth Medical College at Hanover, New Hampshire, for the purpose of amputation. But, young as I was, I utterly refused to give my assent to the operation, but I consented to their trying an experiment by removing a large portion of the bone from my left leg, which they did, and fourteen additional pieces of bone afterwards worked out before my leg healed, during which time I was reduced so very low that my mother could carry me with ease.
- And after I began to get about, I went on crutches till I started for the state of New York, where my father had gone for the purpose of preparing a place for the removal of his family, which he effected by sending a man after us by the name of Caleb Howard, who, after he had started on the journey with my mother and family, spent the money he had received of my father, in drinking, gambling, etc. We fell in with a family by the name of Gates who were traveling west, and Howard drove me from the wagon and made me travel in my weak state through the snow 40 miles per day for several days, during which time I suffered the most excruciating weariness and pain, and all this that Mr. Howard might enjoy the society of two of Mr. Gates’ daughters, which took on the wagon where I should have rode. And thus he continued to do day after day through the journey, and when my brothers remonstrated with Mr. Howard for his treatment to me, he would knock them down with the butt of his whip.
- When we arrived at Utica, New York, Howard threw the goods out of the wagon into the street and attempted to run away with the horses and wagon, but my mother seized the horses by the reign, and calling witnesses, forbid his taking them away as they were her property.
- On our way from Utica, I was left to ride on the last sleigh in the company (the Gates family were in sleighs), but when that came up, I was knocked down by the driver — one of Gates’ sons — and left to wallow in my blood until a stranger came along, picked me up, and carried me to the town of Palmyra.
- Howard having spent all our funds, my mother was compelled to pay our landlord’s bills from Utica to Palmyra in bits of cloth, clothing, etc., the last payment being made with the drops taken from Sister Sophronia’s ears for that purpose. Although the snow was generally deep through the country during this journey, we performed the whole on wheels, except the first two days when we were accompanied by my mother’s mother, Grandmother Lydia Mack, who was injured by the upsetting of the sleigh, and not wishing to accompany her friends west, tarried by the way with her friends in Vermont, and we soon after heard of her death, supposing that she never recovered from the injury received by the overturn of the sleigh.
- My father, Joseph Smith Sr., left the state of Vermont and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) County, in the state of New York, when I was in my tenth year or thereabouts.
- In about four years after my father’s arrival at Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario, his family consisting of eleven souls — namely, my father Joseph Smith, my mother Lucy Smith (whose name previous to her marriage was Mack, daughter of Solomon Mack), my brothers Alvin (who died Nov. 19th, 1823 in the 25th year of his age), Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos, and my sisters Sophronia, Katharine, and Lucy.
- Sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country — indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division among the people, some crying, Lo here, and some, Lo there. Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist; for notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it— let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real. For a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued, priest contending against priest and convert against convert, so that all their good feelings one for another (if they ever had any) were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.
JOSEPH SMITH HISTORY
In response to the church historical record being removed by church historian John Whitmer when he left the church, this history of events in the life of Joseph Smith was first printed in the Times and Seasons, March–December 1840.
Part 1 (1805–1820)