Chronology of Events in William P Smith Family

Compiled by Becky S. Porter (descended through Nathan Smith, son of William and Mary)

(using the Gregorian calendar as calculated by computer)




William spent his childhood there with parents. He was taught about medicine and herbal usage by his father. It was said that his adolescence was rough and wild. He liked to fight and gamble and be with his friends. He was a large young man and strong.

MET: Mary Grimshaw (Ann in Alice Smith Done's history, and Rebecca Mary in Susan Easton Black's file). Mary was BORN Tuesday 15 Mar 1814 in Shadsworth, Lancashire, England a daughter of Jonathon Grimshaw and Ann or Nancy Lazenby/Lazen/Lisonbee. Her parents did not approve of her suitor and so expelled her from their home when plans of marriage were told.

MARRIED: Friday, 23 May 1834 at St. Peter, Bolton-le-Moors, Lancashire, England after banns had been given.

BAPTISED: Wednesday 30 September 1840 and from then prepared to leave England and go to Zion with other members and friends in their area or branch.


Preparations were made and the family was ready to go. Alice was only a few weeks old when they set sail on Sunday 4 Sept 1842. Different ships are mentioned and research has yet to be done on that part. One history mentions the ship "New York" which sailed in Aug 1842, another mentions the ship "The Great Western" (which record needs to yet be found and could have also been the name of the riverboat taken on the Mississippi trip). Alice Smith Done states that they were on the Ocean for 6 weeks and 3 days, while others say 7 weeks. If the first time period were true they would have reached New York on the 18 October, if the latter were true they would have reached New York on Sunday 23 October. From there the most common course for the emigrants to travel and the most economical was down the Eastern Coastline around the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi to Nauvoo. Some histories say the family stayed in New York for a year to earn money and recoup and that little Maria had died during this part of the journey. However, Alice Smith Done and Nathan Smith states that Maria was sick for 2 days and died on the boat on Friday 9 Dec 1842 at the age of 2 years, 5 months and was buried on an island in the middle of the river. There had been another grave prepared for someone else who had died also. Nathan Smith (who was 7 years old at the time) remembers that she was buried on an island in the middle of the river and that he had nightmares afterwards because he knew that the river would rise or change its course and would wash the little body away.

Alice also states that the family continued on to "Ke-aKirk" (actually Keokuk, Iowa (map) which is located just south of Nauvoo on the Mississippi) where they stopped and her father, William, found work as a butcher to earn money for the remainder of the journey.

History books also note that the Mississippi freezes over during the winter months and transportation is closed down for a season until the spring when boats can again travel the river.

This left Nathan who was 7 yrs, and Alice was 4 months.

By March of 1843 the river was again opened to traffic and we know that the family of four reached Nauvoo by the first of April. We have a record of land being purchased by William of 20 acres outside of the Nauvoo city limits Section 25 on the 17th of April 1843 (his neighbor happens to be Joseph Griffiths). A book about Nauvoo states that during the spring of 1843 thousands of emigrants arrived who had been waiting in towns from New Orleans all the way to Keokuk.

William purchased land near to other emigrants from England, some whose names appear near each other throughout this whole time period on boat registrations, land purchases, branch memberships, even Union Ward records. Joseph Griffiths, who bought land in Nauvoo next to William, also settled in Union when they reached the Salt Lake Valley (map).

They would have been residing in the Mound Branch in Nauvoo.

William worked on the Temple while Nathan carried water. He also worked on improving his land. Cattle and sheep were herded in large numbers from the east to the Mississippi through this area, perhaps giving William an idea for future business dealings when he reached Utah and Idaho. Work on the Temple was a tithe-labor project which helped the emigrants greatly because their food and clothing were donated to them. Land could also be purchased for little more than their labor.

They knew the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family personally. They were probably met at the docks when they arrived and shook the Prophet's hand since he usually was available to greet the Saints as they arrived in the city. Arrangements were made to disperse the Saints to different areas of the settlement and to aid and direct them to a place to stay until they could get things arranged and organized. Whenever there were a number of Saints who were destitute, they were assigned someone to look after them and their needs were taken care of. Nathan remembers seeing the Prophet and the Nauvoo Legion in parades and in their dress uniforms often telling his grandchildren of seeing the Prophet on his magnificent black horse.

One history states that Mary worked for Emma in her home and helped with the laundry. A story was written in the Children's Friend Dec 1990 by Nancy B. Fuller, a great great granddaughter of Mary and William, called "The Girl Who Washed The Prophet's Clothes." In talking to Nancy she wrote the story in a way to get it published in the Friend so it isn't quite accurate in some details.

We know what history states happened in Carthage on 27 June 1844 and we know also the traumatic experiences that followed. Mob violence became unbearable. The family kept farming, and working doing what needed to be done. The Saints were told about the plans to leave Nauvoo in the future and that they should prepare to go. And still emigrants kept coming by the thousands into Nauvoo. Houses were continued to be built, trees were still planted, improvements were still being made.

William was ordained 19 Jan 1845 by Henry Jacobs in Nauvoo, which is recorded in the 70's records and is at the Salt Lake Geneological Library on file.

JOSEPH: was born Thursday 17 Apr 1845 in Nauvoo (cemetery marker).

Nathan was 10 years old. Alice was 3 years old.

The city continued to grow - It was hard to keep up with homes to be built. It didn't look like a city whose inhabitants were preparing to leave.

By fall of 1845 wagons were being built more than homes because the saints had been forewarned about the move West which would take place in the spring.

Great persecutions were taking place at this time. Divisions and murmurings were happening also and the people were making the choices of where they were going to stand when the time came. The Smith family was right in the middle of all of these things. They had seen the martyred bodies of their Prophet and Patriarch, they had heard all the debates and conferences where speeches were made. They had to prayerfully decide where they stood and whom they were going to follow.

As the persecutions became worse and the mobs could tell that the Mormons were preparing to leave the area they proceeded to harass the outlying farms and settlements, burning and looting as they went. This mob violence forced a lot of the saints in the outlying areas to move into the city of Nauvoo for protection and they needed to do so because everything they may have owned had been burned and pillaged. This might have happened to William and his family, we don't know for sure. He was assigned later to do business for the church in Nauvoo.

Work went forward on the Temple and men worked long hours trying to complete it before it had to be vacated. Endowments were possible at this time, however, sealings could not yet take place. Brigham Young had told all the people to receive their endowments in the Holy Temple of the Lord before they were forced to leave it behind. He told them they knew not whether or not they would survive to see another temple built and needed this blessing of protection to travel with them. So work went forth at a furiously fast pace until the temple was completed to the point that endowments and baptisms could take place. (An interesting story was told to us by a lady in Nauvoo who ran the bed and breakfast house that Kent and I stayed in during our visit there in September 1991. She said that her great grandfather needed to be baptized, except he was not going to be baptized as a Mormon. He belonged to another church there in Nauvoo and they didn't have a meeting house to be baptized in. So the Priest or Father, who was a good friend of Joseph Smith's told the Prophet of the problem, The Prophet Joseph told them to bring the boy up to the temple and baptize him there in the font. So they did. Baptisms were taking place in the Temple before the martyrdom.)

William and Mary were endowed in the Nauvoo Temple 2 Feb 1846 as recorded in the records at the Geneological Library in Salt Lake. Sealings for living couples took place in the Nauvoo Temple from 9 Jan 1846 to 7 Feb 1846, so it is curious that a sealing record does not exist for William and Mary at this time. Perhaps they were sealed on this same day, perhaps not. Nevertheless, they were sealed in 1863 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake. February 2, 1846 was the same day that two thousand persons were ready to go and that the first wagons moved toward the river to cross the Mississippi. On February 21, 1846 weather is noted as being "snow, wind, flows breaking up making treacherous crossings."

All during the spring and summer the wagons departed. William's family didn't have the means to buy their supplies in order to go with the first exodus. They were part of the 'poor' who had been left behind. Brigham Young did assign William to be on the committee to dispose of Church property as efficiently and profitably as possible. There were also many other church members who had not left with the first movement. Everyone tried to do the best they could and to continue to get ready and prepared to be able to catch up to the main contingency.

On March 1, 1846 the weather was "19 degrees outside and fair."

During the ensuing months, Brigham Young and other brethren traveled back and forth across the Mississippi to aid in the preparations to leave the City. "By mid-May 1400 wagons and 12,000 persons had crossed the river. But hundreds and perhaps thousands yet remained."

On June 13th a hostile force of 400 tried to attack the city but were repelled.

During this time Brigham Young and the forward group of Saints were traveling over Iowa territory, planting crops, organizing settlements such as Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah.

On August 4th the search for a place to winter took on earnestness.

In September the forward group reached the Winter Quarters area (map). It had taken 8 months. There had been much confusion and trouble in traveling. Companies got separated, people wouldn't move out as fast as they needed to. They took months to go only about 2 1/2 miles each day on an average. Men were not used to such travel and operating wagons. Some turned back to Nauvoo.

Many came from other directions and joined with the companies.

On September 9th Brigham Young prepared to send 12 teams to Nauvoo to bring the poor and others still remaining there to the main group. On September 10th the committee chose the site for the city called Winter Quarters.

Then on September 17th, another force attacked the city of Nauvoo at the head of Mulholland Street with a cannon. This time they succeeded in making a breach in the barricades and went on a violent spree looting and demolishing everything. It had indeed turned into a battle. The Saints immediately began leaving the city. They crossed the river and camped at Montrose.

On September 23rd a rainstorm hit at about noon. Torrents of rain fell running under tents and through wagon covers. Everything was drenched. Several babies were born during the day and night. Many were ill and fevered, crammed into one tent to keep dry and warm. Some found cover under wagons and bushes. This rain lasted for several days making life extremely miserable. This is the time that the Lord sent the Miracle of the Quail to feed His people. We are told that the William Smith family were there and witnessed this event, but the family actually stayed in Nauvoo for another year.

In trying to sort through this fact and how the family came to be back in Nauvoo for the birth of another child, I was stuck, until I came across an old Daughter's of the Pioneers lesson manual written in March 1964. In it is a history about a pioneer family who were expelled from Nauvoo in a destitute condition and who witnessed the Quail Miracle also. She writes, "Some of the Saints continued their journey to the West, but we were in too destitute circumstances to travel across the plains, so we went with some other families of Saints down the Mississippi River to where it was narrow where we forded the stream to Nickerson Island. This was a small island in the Mississippi River. There were a few log huts on the island which were used by the men in the summertime to live while cutting timber." (These islands have been covered up by the rising river). The mob saw their condition and with softened hearts told them they could return to Nauvoo. Perhaps this is what happened, perhaps not, but the family stayed in Nauvoo another year. When the governing body of the saints had left the city, the mob was satisfied and for the most part persecution stopped for those who remained. Brigham Young's 12 teams soon came to help the beleaguered families.

By October 1846 Nauvoo was a virtual ghost town. Visitors to the area record it as such in their writings.

Mary and one or two children had been suffering from malaria or 'fever' (as the pioneers called it) and couldn't leave. The mob had hired William to clean out the "poisoned" wells for the new inhabitants of the city. They thought the Mormons had poisoned all the wells when they left. Many deaths occurred during this time from malaria. The "Nauvoo Neighbor" a community newspaper listed many deaths of children and elderly especially during this year.

One day the mob came to the home and warned the family to leave immediately. They saw Mary and the children ill to extreme in the cabin and relented and told them they could stay for a few more days but Alice states that they were told to be gone by the following Monday.

The mob came back on Monday to see if they were gone, but the mother was still ill and couldn't go. Thirteen armed men came into the house and searched for weapons. William had seen them coming and guessing what they would do had passed the guns out through the chinking in the back of the house to Nathan who hid them in the cornfield.

After finding no weapons the mob left them in peace to get well and to finish their preparations.

The next recorded event occurred on Sunday 10 Oct 1847 when MARY ANN was born in Nauvoo.

The family finally left on Saturday 16 Oct 1847 when the baby was only 6 days old. Mob violence and threats probably forced the family to leave at this time as well as wanting to be with the other saints. The mother and baby had not had sufficient time to recover and left under very poor and meager circumstances, a wagon with no cover when the weather was very wet and cold.

On November 28th the first snow came which was very cold and caused a rapid icing of the Mississippi River.

The family passed through Garden Grove and Mount Pisgah on their journey where they replenished their food supplies. By December they had reached the area near Winter Quarters called Ferryville or Ferry (map). William was called to stay and be branch President with councilors Clark and Harris. The family stayed here from 1847 to 1852. They ran a ferryboat and became reasonably comfortable. They were able to purchase cattle and wagons and horses during this time for the trek West. Nathan helped his father with the Ferry. Indians lived in this area also, and they raised corn and other crops for their use. Mention is made of several forts and Indian encampments in the area in a booklet about "Winter Quarters Revisited", but no mention of Ferryville is made.

Here WILLIAM was born on Sunday 17 Feb 1850 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattomie County, Iowa.

Then HYRUM (picture) was born on Tuesday 15 June 1852 also in Council Bluffs.

Council Bluffs is a beautiful area of rolling hills and lots of green farmland. (At least on the Eastern side of the river). I can understand why the family loved it here. I cannot understand however, the desire to work on the river. The Missouri River is also wide and fast moving, very frightening to me. The Church has done a wonderful job in establishing a Visitor's Center there and a beautifully kept Pioneer Cemetery on a hill overlooking the area known as Winter Quarters and the Missouri River (map).

When Hyrum was 6 weeks old (about the middle of August) the family left Ferryville with Captain Wheelock's Company, They were divided into a company of 50 families until the Platte river then into companies of 10s (map of the Pioneer Trail).

Nathan was 17, a strong young man who liked to dress in buckskins and had become a "frontiersman". He must have learned the art of tanning while here because later he made many things such as making and braiding his own whips out of leather.

Alice was 10. Joseph was 7. Mary Ann was 5.

William was 19 months.

Hyrum was 6 weeks.

Cholera broke out among the wagon train and Nathan contracted it. He said that it was only through his mother's tea and doctoring that he survived.

The family decided to leave the Wheelock company and joined the Captain MacCray (McGray) Company. Nathan's history states that they reached the Salt Lake Valley Wednesday 6 October 1852 having been on the plains 7 weeks.

By October 16, 1852, a Saturday, the family moved to Little Cottonwood 12 miles south of Salt Lake to a community later know as Union Fort (map; see also Union Ward).

Eva Leyland, a descendant of Hyrum Smith, son of William, states that the family built a log home along the Little Cottonwood creek and that William planted Maple trees that he had brought with him across the plains. Some of those trees were still standing in the 1990's. (Now, January 1996, most of the land has been covered by asphalt and shopping malls as well as a high school there on Fort Union Blvd. At one time William owned a lot a property there.)

Little WILLIAM died at Union on Tuesday 22 Feb 1853 aged 3 years.

THOMAS: was born Friday 7 April 1854 in Union.

Picture of Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith at age 21

JOHN: was born in October 1856 in Union.

MARY, THE MOTHER, was good to help her neighbors when they ever had a time of need. She acted as midwife to many. Although she had a baby only a few weeks old she still went to help one cold wet night. The winter of 1856 was one of the worst experienced since the Saint's arrival in the Valley (History of Salt Lake). Mary came home one night after helping a neighbor during a storm and tried to put the horse away. The gate or post hit Mary across the chest. It injured her in such a way that she became very ill with congestion and passed away on 14 Nov 1856, a Friday at the age of 42 years leaving a family of 7 living children. William was 46 years of age (cemetery marker).

Two days before she died she received her Patriarchal Blessing. We hope that she was able to understand what was being said because it is a beautiful blessing to her and to her family. A copy of it is in my possession.

Nathan was 21: Out and around the valley working, riding the mail route, freighting, aiding the emigrants still coming across the plains, making several trips a year back and forth from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley. His history is written and in my possession.

Alice was 14: Taking a lot of the responsibility of the children upon her shoulders with her mother's death. Her history is written and in my possession.

Joseph was 11: Helping his father on the farm and feeling the absence of his mother in the home.

Mary Ann was 9. Took over the housekeeping when Alice wasn't there.

Hyrum was 4: We can only imagine his heartache. His history is in my possession.

Thomas was 2: I am still searching to find his history.

John was only a month old.

The story is told about this baby's death and the appearance of his mother, Mary, to carry him Home. He died 20 Jan 1857 in the morning as foretold.

NATHAN: Aided in the Canyon when Johnston's Army threatened the peace in the Valley. In the spring of 1860 moved to Smithfield and lived there in the Fort (map). He married JANE SANT (cemetery marker; photograph) whom he had met earlier on one of his times across the plains and they were married 3 Oct 1861. Nathan was 26 and Jane was 15. They lived in Smithfield until 1871 when they moved to Idaho to Banida Flats, near Preston (map). He freighted to Montana, they ran a boarding house for railroad workers when they were there, and also ran herds of cattle and sheep for his father, William, in Gentile Valley.

William P was made First Counselor in the Union bishopric in 1862 and served in this capacity for about 5 years or until 1867. He was also the first watermaster of Union where he served almost the rest of his life. This appointment made him some friends and a lot of enemies. His descendents also kept the job.

ALICE: stayed with father and brothers and sisters until 9 Sept 1858 when she married George Done at 16 years of age. She later moved to Smithfield on 17 June 1860 where she raised her family and passed away there.

JOSEPH: married Sarah Owens (cemetery marker) 8 Feb 1863 when 18 years old. He moved to Smithfield also and died there 8 Mar 1928 at 83 years.

William married Anna Bengston 12 Dec 1863 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake. They had 3 children and were divorced. Their sealing was later canceled in 1867. The same day they were married Anna stood as proxy for Mary while she was sealed to William.

Between 1863 and 1867 William became dissatisfied with the Mormon Church and disassociated himself from it. Whatever the reason may be we do not know, several have been given, we know only that he continued to believe in the truths of the gospel and the Book of Mormon. He became associated with the Reorganized Church and was in contact with Joseph Smith III whom he had seen in Nauvoo. William was excommunicated 21 Apr 1867 and Anna left him soon afterwards with their children (the third being born several months afterwards). Reinstated by baptism 26 May 1969.

William met and married Sarah Pidd Griffiths (picture), widow of Joseph Griffiths who owned land by him in Nauvoo and lived near him in Union, 26 Nov 1867 at Fort Douglas. Their histories are in my possession (History of Sarah Pidd Griffiths Smith and In the Early Days of the lives of William P Smith and Sarah Pidd Griffiths). William was 57 and Sarah was about 15 years younger. Twins were born to them in 1868, Isaac dying at three days and Sarah living to be about 8 years old (1875) (cemetery marker). Sarah had a daughter by Joseph Griffiths, and she was a young teenager when her mother married again. This daughter, Lucy, later married William's son, Hyrum (family picture),

MARY ANN; married George Stoll/Stahl 20 Mar 1866 aged 19 years and moved to Burnt Fork, Wyoming (map).

HYRUM & THOMAS stayed and helped William on the farm until their marriages.

SARAH: daughter of William P and Sarah died in 1875 and is buried in Union cemetery, as is her twin brother, Isaac.

HYRUM: married Lucy Ann Griffiths 21 May 1876. They lived in Union all their lives.

THOMAS: married Emily Cope 24 Feb 1873 in Salt Lake City at the age of 19. They lived in Union and Burntfork, Wyoming for a while. In 1885 he was murdered, shot in the back by a man named King who was jealous of his strength and wanted his ax. Joseph Smith III was in Utah at this time and spoke at the funeral in Union. He also mentioned the incident in his memoirs. Thomas left a young wife and family. He was 31 years old when he was killed.

William and Sarah continued to live in Union. They wove cloth together and Sarah was an excellent seamstress. They had endured many hardships and tragedies in their lives, both losing children and loved ones. They stayed close to Hyrum and Lucy and Thomas and Emily. They stayed active in the Reorganized Church there with William being the President of the branch. They have been said to have taken a trip back to Missouri at some time.

William died 12 Nov 1893 in Union and was buried there with his scriptures (cemetery marker). He always believed in the truths of the gospel and taught his family that. He was 83 years old.

Sarah lived with Lucy or near to her for the remainder of her life.

(There is a lot of other information that I haven't mentioned here that can be found in life histories written about them by their descendants. I have copies of them in my possession.)

NATHAN: died 20 Jan 1909 in Smithfield at the home of his sister, Alice Smith Done just short of his 74th birthday. He had separated from his wife of many years. His log cabin is still standing in Banida, near Preston (1996).

MARY ANN: Is recorded as dying 30 Nov 1915, but she is mentioned as a living relative in 1919 at Alice's funeral. She is buried in Burntfork, Wyoming.

HYRUM: died 17 Aug 1916 in Union and is buried in the Murray City Cemetery. Age 64.

ALICE: died 27 Sept 1919 in Smithfield age 77 and is buried in Smithfield.

JOSEPH: died 8 Mar 1928 in Smithfield the oldest surviving child at the age of 83.

I am trying to locate histories and family members of Joseph's, Mary Ann's, and Thomas's families. Further information will be added as it becomes available.

Genealogy Collection provided by:
Becky S. Porter, 2493 S. Hulls Crossing, Preston, Idaho 83263

E-Mail: Roland K. Smith