Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chapter IV Samuel SMITH History Nauvoo

Samuel SMITH

The Nauvoo Years
As the ice broke up on the Mississippi, the riverboat "Amaranth" made its way upstream to Nauvoo. These Saints, still under the guidance of Lorenzo Snow, had the joyful experience of arriving at that city at the same time a special conference of Elders was closing: a conference which had been presided over by Joseph Smith himself. In Volume V of the History of the Church the Prophet commented on the April 12, 1843 date of the ship's arrival:

"Before the Elder's conference closed, the steamer "Amaranth" appeared in sight of the Temple, coming up the river, and about noon landed her passengers at the wharf opposite the old post office building, consisting of about two hundred and forty Saints from England, under the charge of Elder Lorenzo Snow, who left Liverpool last January, after a mission of nearly three years. With a large company of the brethren and sisters I was present to greet the arrival of our friends, and gave notice to the new-comers to meet at the Temple tomorrow morning at ten o'clock, to hear instructions." (p. 353).

After the "Amaranth" had proceeded up the river, a second riverboat loomed into view from the south. At five p.m. that afternoon, the "Maid of Iowa" dropped anchor at the Nauvoo landing and another 200 Saints from England came ashore. These were converts emigrating under the supervision of Elder Parley P. Pratt and Elder Levi Richards. The Prophet noted: "These had been detained at St. Louis, Alton, Chester, [Illinois] etc., through the winter, having left Liverpool last fall." The Saints did not neglect their missionary responsibilities while traveling upstream either for "Dan Jones, captain of the "Maid of Iowa" was baptized a few weeks since: he has been eleven days coming from St. Louis, being detained by ice."
The next day the Prophet met with both groups of new arrivals at 10 a.m. His remarks were aptly summarized by Willard Richards as follows:

"I most heartily congratulate you on your safe arrival in Nauvoo, and on your safe deliverance from all the dangers and difficulties that you have had to encounter on the way; but you must not think that your tribulations are ended. This day I shall not address you on doctrine, but concerning your temporal welfare." (Volume V, P. 354.)

Brother Richards then succinctly noted that the prophet gave the newcomers "good instruction" on how to acquire land and go about making their homes in Nauvoo.

Activities in Nauvoo
Shortly after their arrival in Nauvoo, Samuel and Mary Ann were blessed with another child, Samuel Lorenzo, who was born July 17, 1843. The joy they must have felt was destined to be brief though. On August 23, 1843 their only surviving child from their days in England--Mary A.--died at the age of two years three months. (NP) Though this was a terrible blow to them, they continued to be optimistic and looked to the future to bring them better experiences.

When the fifth quorum of Seventy was organized, Samuel was chosen as one of its members and set apart by Brigham Young's brother Joseph. That same year (1843) Samuel was enrolled as a second lieutenant in a rifle company of the Nauvoo Legion of which Joseph Smith was lieutenant general and chief commanding officer.

Little is known of Samuel's occupations in Nauvoo. No doubt he was able to put his skills as a mat maker to work in Nauvoo, and he must have begun his training as a surveyor during this period. Military matters took much of his time.

Daniel Smith--Samuel's father--was likewise progressing in the church and it was probably about his time that he was ordained a high priest. His health was not robust, and his age (though he was only in his early 50's) was beginning to tell on him.

In June of 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum was killed at the Carthage jail. Preparations for defense mounted. In 1845 Samuel was promoted to captain in the Nauvoo Legion and he and his troops were sent to a cluster of homes four miles south of Nauvoo known as Evans' Settlement. There, Tullidge reports, "they had to guard the people and property day and night against the incursions of a ruthless, lawless mob who were constantly watching for an opportunity to steal cattle, destroy property and take the lives of the Mormon people.'

Not only were mounting pressures from without a growing concern, but within the family circle the Smiths were experiencing increasing challenges. On September 10, 1845, Daniel William Smith died. (NP) This left his wife Sarah a widow who relied on Samuel to take care of her thenceforth, although she was an independent, spiritual woman who did all she could to pull her own weight. We are unsure of the burial place of Daniel and we cannot even be sure he was interred in Nauvoo. He may have lived in one of the outlying areas at the time of his passing. On November 20, 1845, as the Smiths were making final preparations to leave Nauvoo (almost literally at the gunpoint of the mob), Mary Ann gave birth to twin girls, Sarah Ann and Eliza Jane. These girls were a great source of both joy and concern to Samuel and Mary Ann: joy because they were a double gift from God but concern because of the savage set of circumstances into which they were born.

Persecution increased and pressure intensified.

The Saints were given the final ultimatum: leave Nauvoo or die. But Samuel and Mary Ann were reluctant to leave. They did not have enough goods to see them through the rugged trip west and also, they hated to leave their Illinois home. They also wanted to linger long enough to do their temple work in that newly completed structure. On February 2, 1846 they had their endowments but it would be fifteen more years before Mary Ann would be sealed to her husband in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City (October 19, 1861).

It was a hectic time indeed. The governor sent troops into the rapidly emptying city to give protection to the saints still there. At times the troops tried to take lingering Latter-day Saints into "protective custody" (which could mean the same kind of "protection" Joseph and Hyrum received in Carthage). Brigham Young notes in Volume VII of the History of the Church (p. 581): "A detachment of the governor's troops came into the city [of Nauvool and apprehended a man named Samuel Smith, who soon escaped." Whether this was our Samuel Smith we cannot be sure (though it likely was). But we know there was much turmoil at that time. Samuel wrote of this period:

"In the year 1846, we were driven from our homes in Nauvoo, and compelled to cross the Mississippi River on the ice. Many thousands of others suffered in the enforced exodus. We were in a destitute condition, having to fly and leave nearly all we possessed behind us." (Tullidge's Histories, p. 119)

Thus ended the Nauvoo era for the Smith family. They now turned their energy and efforts to the exodus across the plains. It would not be an easy trek for them. In fact, it would be four and one half years before they finally got to Salt Lake City.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Samuel Smith is my great-great-grandfather. His second wife Sarah Jane Ingraham is my great-great-grandmother. Their daughter Suzannah is my great-grandmother.
I am especially interested in Samuel's service in the Nauvoo Legion. I understand he was a second lieutenant and also served as one of the Prophet Joseph Smith's bodyguards. I also believe he may have been good friends with fellow bodyguard Joseph Bates Nobel. Please write to me at
Lisa Dayley