Joseph Smith's Life

As remembered by his daughter, Sylvia Smith McCann

Joseph Smith's family, or Grandfather Smith moved to Little Cottonwood (map; see also Union Ward) Oct. 6th 1852, mother was then four years old, Father was seven when he crossed the Plains. They grew up in Little Cottonwood, there not being many schools, they got very little education or schooling.

At an early age they were devoted to each other, and father (Joseph Smith) 18 years of age, and Mother (Sarah Owens) 15 years of age, were married in the Endowment House in 1863, and soon after came to Smithfield (map; see also Smithfield) to make a home for themselves.

At that time Smithfield consisted of shacks being built along each side of Summit Creek, a creek flowing through the center of Smithfield. The Bishop, Samuel Roskelly at that time, alloted each family a small piece of land to raise their garden on and about five acres to raise grain. They had to live close together to protect themselves against the Indians, who were very hostile at that time. The men took turns at night standing guard so if any trouble arose they could notify the rest, as the result no serious trouble arose. Only at one time, two brothers by the name of Merrill, went to the Canyon for wood, where the Cemetery now stands and the Indians attacked and killed them, scalping one of them. For some time they were not allowed to go beyond a certain point.

In 1872, Father applied for a homestead about two and one half miles west of town, what is now called North Field. He homesteaded it, living there five years and got his patent in 1878. They raised a few sheep, cows and chickens, There being no creameries, mother made and sold butter and cheese; she spun her own wool and wove clothe to make their clothes; she braided hats out of straw; and made her own lye to make her own soap, also grated her potatoes to make her starch.

When I was born (Sylvia), they were still living on the ranch. Mother almost lost her life, there was no doctor closer then Logan. Mrs. Gray was the woman doctor at the time and she told Father he would have to make a trip to Logan to get medicine in thirty minutes if he wanted to save her life. He got a horse and made the trip, I suppose he made it, for I am here and she was saved. The next year he got five acres of land in the north end of Smithfield where Alfred Wickham now lives.

Sister Mira (cemetery marker) was born three years later. Mother was always an early riser. You never found her in bed after 4 a.m. She was a good seamstress, also a good nurse. Her father, Robert Owens, died in Los Angeles, California in 1883 and Mother was notified by her father's lawyers that he had willed her his property. She was so devoted to her family she wouldn't leave them. Her brother went in her place, therefore she never got much out of it. She never held hard feelings toward him.

She always taught us children to respect and honor the leaders of the Church, to illustrate, before the Manifesto was signed President Wilford Woodruff called a day of fasting and prayer from sunup until sundown. We were all small but we all fasted (only time I was ever hungry in my life), that is why I can remember it so well.

She ruled her family with love and kindness, and was really devoted to them. She never closed her eyes in sleep until we were all in bed; we thought little of it then when we were young and gay how much our Mother worried when we children were away. We only knew she never slept when we were out at night, she just wanted to know we'd come home safe.

Our interests are different today than they were then, we had no picture shows. Once in a while a medicine man, such as the Kikapoo Indian Show, or a home dramatic and private dances at the different homes.

The men all raised sugar cane. Buddy Morehead had a mollasses mill and ground the cane into mollasses. I still remember the little brass kettle we used to get skimmins and come home and have a real candy pull, another pastime.

Then when winter came, instead of car rides, we all got into bob sleds and really enjoyed ourselves. I mention these things to let the young people of today know we didn't grieve because we didn't have the luxuries of today.

Mother never turned away anyone from her door hungry, always willing to share everything with everyone. There were plenty of tramps in those days, and Mother living on Main Street always got her share.

Father passed away three years before Mother, on March 9th 1927. The last two years of Mother's life she lived with me and my family. She was the same sweet person, always satisfied with what anyone did for her. We were listening to Conference the Sunday she passed away. My daughter, Joy, and she were watching some newborn lambs at the back door when she fell over. Joy and I carried her to the bed where she drew her last breath on March 29th 1930. The Dr. told us she never tasted death. She was faithful to the end and raised to manhood and womanhood, six girls and one boy, burying three of her first boys at birth. Names of children

According to the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Smithfield Ist Ward, Book II A - that Sylvia McCann was born July 30, 1879 at Smithfield, Cache County, Utah. She was blessed Oct. 2nd 1879 by George Barber, Baptized Aug. 2nd, 1888 by R.A. Bain and confirmed Aug. 2nd 1888 by R.A. Bain.

(Ed. Note: Sylvia McCann's account also contained this note: Father - Joseph Smith, Mother - Sarah Owens Smith. Divorced - December 17, 1933. There is no other record of this divorce. Both of them were dead by 1933.)

(Joseph Smith's cemetery marker; Sarah Owens Smith's cemetery marker)

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

E-Mail: Roland K. Smith