The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith, III (1832-1914)

President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Edited by his daughter Mary Audentia Smith Anderson and published in The Saints' Herald, October 15, 1935 and October 22, 1935. Following is an excerpt from this account about President Smith's visit to the Salt Lake valley in the fall of 1893.

Among the many former acquaintances whom I met casually in Salt Lake City as I visited places of interest in company with Brother Reinsimar, Brother Hudson, or my cousin John Smith, was William Clayton. He gave me the impression that he had somewhat lowered his standards of life and conduct, perhaps through drink or disappointment. This impression was confirmed by the testimony of others. We only passed an ordinary greeting upon the street.

I also met Bishop Edward Hunter at whose house in Nauvoo I remember once meeting my father when he was avoiding arrest. Three or four others were with Edward Hunter when I met him on the street near the Deseret News office. When assured that I remembered him, he turned to those near, and, with a curious check in his voice, remarked -- evidently intended for my hearing:

"If we had listened to Sister Emma we wouldn't have gotten into this mess."

"Better be careful, Bishop, about what you say," remarked one standing near.

To which Bishop Hunter, with some force, replied, "I know what I am saying, sir; Sister Emma Smith was a noble, good woman, and things would have been very different for us all if she had been listened to."

I did not see Bishop Hunter after this episode.

My memorandum shows that on Sunday morning, December 10, I attended a preaching service in the seventeenth ward meeting house and heard a sermon from Elder Orson Pratt on the subject of "Zion." Of this sermon and the incidents following I have already written. I should have been pleased with a longer interview with the speaker, and a frank exchange of thoughts and impressions, but no cordiality in this respect seemed to be shown me by any of the leading men of the Mormon church at that time. I had obtained none of their public buildings in which to present my views. Several times I was asked why I did not apply for the use of the tabernacle, to which I replied that since their public buildings had been denied to other men in the ministry of our church, such denial was virtually a denial to me. Besides this, President Brigham Young had made the assertion that when I got ready to come to them on their terms and accept their ministration, I would receive a welcome, but not before or otherwise. And I certainly felt that such a time would never come!


Living at Sandy, a few miles south of Salt Lake City, was a sturdy English brother of the Reorganization, by name of William P Smith. He was water master of the district in which he lived, and his duty was to keep watch and ward over the water used for irrigation purposes on the farms and gardens of the community. He was to see that the means of water distribution, flumes and water ditches, were kept in repair and untampered with, and that no one entitled to water should use more than his proper and proportionate share. Though somewhat rough in his ways, he was considered a just man, very positive and determined, fearless and uncompromising, and unmoved by either the threats of those who did not like him or the importunities of those who were his friends.

Anxious to have my message delivered in his locality, he secured from Bishop Rawlins use of the ward house at Union Fort, for an evening's discourse. Though the night proved to be quite cold and intensely dark, the house was filled with seemingly interested hearers, the few being "Josephites," so called, and the many, "Brighamites." A number of things about the building proved of interest to me. Over the front door, on the inside, was the following stanza:

  Brigham lives,
    The kingdom grows; 
  The stone is rolling, 
    Mind your toes.

Above the windows on the west side was painted a large group of children's faces, under the words: "Our children; Utah's best crop." On the east side were frescoed pictures representing some bee-hives, and a scene in which young women were driving cows down from the mountains, the legend attached reading: "Utah: the land flowing with milk and honey."

Against the wall behind the pulpit was a full-sized bust portrait of President Young, and on either side, in smaller proportions, his counselors. This is as I remember it, though I am not absolutely sure of the identity of all. However a number of verses of significant meaning on various parts of the walls were evidently intended for the encouragement of the attendants. I was somewhat curious as to just how they might be applied to the situation presented by my appearance and presence there, and doubtless some of my hearers wondered how that jingling rhyme over the door, about Brigham being alive and commanding his people to "mind their toes," might affect me!

I was treated courteously by Bishop Rawlins and others. Though I could see evidence of strong feelings of opposition against me and the position I had taken, I was not interrupted during the service, nor did I see any disposition to be rude or to question me in an antagonistic manner. On the other hand, I tried to be considerate in my speech, called no hard names, indulged in no invective, and, I am sure, used no language which was offensive. I had considerable freedom in my discourse, the thoughts and ideas coming clearly and being easily delivered in a distinct voice.

What I tried to present was the wonderful growth of the church during the fourteen years the prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum had been its leaders, the unfortunate scattering which followed the assassination at Carthage, and the dispersion of the elements of which the church body had been composed. I asked what had become of those many communicants, which according to the statement made by Joseph Smith in the chapter he furnished I. Daniel Rupp, of Pennsylvania, for inclusion in his History of the Denominations of the United States, numbered at that time one hundred and fifty thousand.

This led to a brief discussion of the different associations which, after the death of the prophet, gathered together under the various men who laid claim to the mantle of leadership. I included in the survey the following of William Smith, James J. Strang, James Colin Brewster, Gladden Bishop, Sidney Rigdon, Alpheus Cutler, Charles B. Thompson (Baneemy), and others, not omitting Brigham Young. The reader will be able to trace the course of my thought for the purpose of that sermon.

Brother Reinsimar and I had come to the meeting with Brother William P Smith and his family in their wagon, and we planned to return with them. The night was pitch dark, but I had noted the spot where their team was tied, and began stumbling towards it, along with others. All at once, a loud voice said (evidently referring to my statement that somebody was responsible for the loss of the one hundred and thirty thousand or more who had fallen away from the faith altogether after the tragedy of 1844):

"He wants to know what became of them. I can tell him."

"Well, then, sir, you are the very man I have been looking for," I replied, "What did become of them?"

The same loud voice promptly spoke out of the darkness, "They apostatized; that's what became of them!" This sally was greeted by some laughter among the people all around the area who were gathering to their teams and vehicles, but it gave me my cue.

"Yes, indeed they did apostatize," I said, "and will you now please tell what doctrine it was that made them apostatize ?"

This question brought an increase of laughter, and several roared out, "He's got you now; answer that if you can!" But the voice in the darkness was silent, not essaying to reply, and as we drove out of hearing we heard faint echoes of chuckles.

Brother William P Smith had a son (Thomas Smith) who had secured a small farm in the valley a few miles from his father's place, which he was improving for a home. The adhesion of the family to the faith of the Reorganized church had embittered some of their neighbors, and a few days after this meeting of mine, this son, Thomas by name, was killed, being shot from ambush while he was at work on his farm. Though it might have been suspected who committed this cowardly deed, no positive clue to the murderer was found, if, indeed, any real attempt to locate him was ever made by the police authorities or the county officers.

The body was discovered and brought to his father's house, and I was called upon to preach the funeral sermon. There, in the dooryard, as best I could under the sad circumstances, I spoke to a large concourse of people. In my discourse I denounced murder and unlawful violence in no uncertain terms, though I felt under the necessity of doing so in such a way as to create sadness and regret rather than resentment. I seem to remember one inmate of Brother Smith's family which was present, a crippled Sister Wheeler--patient, kind-spirited "Aunt Lucy."

I recall that I had been somewhat surprised when I first entered Brother Smith's home to notice, hanging on the walls of the big living-room, a number of guns and pistols, primed, and loaded, ready for use in self-defense at a moment's need. He explained that he had, in the past, received various threats of violence from ill-advised persons whose enmity he had aroused and who desired to have him removed from his position with the water company. That sentiment, however, had, to some extent, passed away before my visit, though the firearms still held silent guard on the wall.

Since the General Conference of this last spring (1913), I have had an interview with Hyrum Smith, one of the sons of this Elder William P Smith. He was quite a young man at the time of the death of his brother Thomas, but remembers the incident clearly. He told me his father was still holding the office of a water master in his community.

Notes of Travel

I cannot give a more fitting close to what I have written about my visit to Utah than to reproduce from published notes of travel found in Heralds of that period as follows:

Although "unheralded and unannounced," our entry into Salt Lake City was made in a almost regal style, for there was but one other passenger over the line, and we literally had the whole train to ourselves. During the ride in from Ogden, contending emotions born of the circumstances of our life, its conditions, service, and the occasion of our present visit to these mountain fastnesses, came struggling up for recognition and prominence, and the question "How will we be received?" constantly recurred.

Everywhere were visible evidences of the thrift energy and industry of this people we were about to visit, whose faithful devotion to their leaders and what they believed were a true principles had brought them to these plains and hills. We remembered that they held many articles of faith and belief in common with us. Some were relatives, and others were acquaintances who were once friends-- were they so still? We were on an errand antagonistic to the genius of their institutions and their social bond--what could we expect from them? These thoughts and many more of a similar nature occupied us as we passed successively Farmington, Kaysville, Centerville and Wood's Cross--scattered hamlets lying to the left against the foothills, above them towering the everlasting mountains, some already whitening with the snows of early winter.

The ride of forty miles seemed short, and soon we found ourselves in the strange city of a strange people, and domiciled at the home of Brother Reinsimar. There we had leisure to think and determine our course. For a number of days we visited places and people in the city, all the while endeavoring to discover a solution or our puzzle, "What shall we do? What stand shall we take?"

Some received us cheerfully and pleasantly, among whom were our relatives--Uncle Hyrum's sons, John and Joseph Fielding Smith; Uncle Samuel's son, Samuel H. B. Smith; and a son of Cousin George A. Smith, John Henry by name. We met many who still hope for the ultimate triumph of the work of the last days, but are now at a loss which way to turn for expected progress and guidance. We met some who were cordial and friendly, but are sincerely impressed with the idea that it was a bad thing for us to be fighting against a work begun by our father and uncle. They met us frankly on this ground, and to them we grant the need of honestly and sincerity, and agreed to differ in peace. We did not ask any of our relatives to compromise themselves by exertions on our behalf, nor did they do so, though we acknowledge our indebtedness to them for kindnesses shown in accompanying us about the city, and introducing us to many of their friends and brethren A like courtesy was shown us by our own Brother P. H. Reinsimar.

We visited the temple grounds, where work was just closing up for the winter season. The walls are now twenty or more feet above the water table, and seem in a fair way of going up. We also were permitted to go through the tabernacle, being escorted by Professor Thomas, who explained its points of interest. The ceiling had been festooned earlier for some festive occasion, and the ever green boughs yet remained, making it seem like an inverted forest of miniature trees. We heard a few notes of the organ, said to be one of the finest in the world, but could only guess as to its power. We inscribed our names in the visitors' book, in which we saw the names of General U. S. Grant, General W. T. Sherman, Don Pedro, and others of similar, and less, note.

In company with Brother Robert Warnock we visited Camp Douglas, "went over Jordan" and returned. By invitation of Superintendent H. C. Kimball, of the Utah Western railroad, Cousin John Smith, wife and daughter, Brother Reinsimar and the writer, took an early morning ride over that road to Lake Point, where we breakfasted, and spent a few pleasant hours in examining the lake and its surroundings. We returned to the city by two p. m., with an excellent opinion of Mr. Kimball's kindness, courtesy and hospitality, and a better conception of what the "salt, salt sea" might be like. We were told that the water of that lake is much denser and saltier than that of ocean, it being found, by a late analysis, to contain twenty-one per centum of salt.

The particles of "sand" thrown up by the action of the waves are round and appear to be hollow. When turned into water some will float on the surface, and even those that sink show still a rounded, hollow appearance. It was suggested that they were of lime formation and probably shells of some minute living organisms, which, dying, leave their houses behind them to help fill up the lake. The waters of this lake have risen some fifteen feet, but fear of their rising high enough to submerge the city vanishes with the information that at the further extremity the land lies so low that a further rise of a few feet would send the waters over the barrier in that direction, and give them outlet across the plains to the south and west. This fact is known to the dwellers there, hence their indifference to the suppositious "drowning out" which some have feared for them.

This trip to the lake was the only courtesy of a public nature offered us during our stay, and for it our thanks are tendered to Mr. Kimball, an enterprising. energetic officer of a new railroad in a new and growing country.

On Sunday. December 3, we spoke twice in the Liberal Institute, morning and afternoon, both times to large and attentive audiences. There we met a number of the oldtime Saints, who kindly remembered us "for your father's sake. We loved him, and wish to shake hands with you because of that love." Naturally we were pleased to learn their love and regard for him was still cherished, but it was at trifle embarrassing to be made so pointedly to feel that we had no merit of our own entitling us to recognition and affection. However, a few did seem to grant even this, and so we cannot complain.

On Wednesday night we again spoke in the Institute, and on the following night in Bishop Rawlins' ward meeting house near Union Fort, privileged for which was obtained from him at the request of Brother William P Smith, our brother in charge of Union branch, of that place. The house was warmed and lighted, a very comfortable place in which to speak, and though large, was well filled with an attentive audience. Many of them at first seemed to expect us to be harsh and denunciatory, but their fears in this regard were soon banished, and a good feeling prevailed at the last.

We had a most excellent overnight visit at the home of Brother Smith, meeting the band of Saints under his charges and others from adjoining places. We hereby extend our thanks to Bishop Rawlins for the use of the meeting house in his ward, the more readily because it shows a more liberal spirit than has heretofore characterized many officials in Utah when in various places our elders have sought opportunity to present our views.

On the next day, in company with Brother Reinsimar, we returned to Salt Lake City, where we spoke again in the institute that night, which made the fourth service held there. Brother Thomas Hudson, in charge of our local branch, presided at the meetings, and on two occasions Brother Jason W. Briggs, who arrived in the city during our stay, led in prayer. We met the Saints in prayer, testimony and business meeting, in the home of Brother Joseph Clark, where their meetings have been held for some time past, and preached to them on one occasion in the same place. We found them an earnest band seeking diligently after the truth. We formed some new acquaintances which have proved most pleasant....

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