Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch.

I love Hyrum Smith, I served my mission in Vermont and walked the hills were he was raised. We often extol Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other early Prophets for their works and mission. But Hyrum is arguably the 2nd most important man of the restoration. Hyrum’s legacy may not be well known, but Joseph counseled us to learn it and follow it. For it is a legacy of selfless service to God. Hyrum’s life is the perfect example of devoted discipleship.

“Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the Book of the Law of the Lord, for those who come after thee to look upon, that they may pattern after thy works.”
Joseph Smith (August 11, 1842)

"Hyrum, thy name shall be written in the Book of the Law of the Lord, for those who come after thee to look upon, that they may pattern after thy works.” Joseph Smith

 

Understanding an extremely brief bio will help will help in explaining all the Hyrum did for the restoration.

Hyrum was born in Tunbridge Vermont on February 9th, 1800. He was the second oldest, after Alvin. In 1826 at the age of 26, Hyrum married Jerusha Barden, who passed away 11 years later, in 1837. Later that same year Hyrum married Mary Fielding Smith, the mother of the future Prophet Joseph F Smith.  Hyrum held many roles including Elder, Witness, Patriarch, Brevet Major General in the Nauvoo Legion and Assistant Prophet. On June 27th, 1844 he assumed the title of ma mob assassinated Hyrum and Joseph at Carthage. (Source)

With that basic understanding, here are 5 things you did not know about Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch.

1st. Hyrum was one of the first converts to the church.

 

Hyrum believed Joseph from the first time he told his family about the First vision. Less than a month after the Aaronic Priesthood was restored, by John the Baptist on May 15th, 1829, Hyrum was baptized. Hyrum was one of the first Baptism performed in this dispensation. For some reference. Hyrum was baptized a month before the translation of the Book of Mormon finished on July 1st, 1829. His father, Joseph Smith Sr. was not baptized until April 1830 almost 10 months after Hyrum. Hyrum was also one of the 6 men who signed the church charter on April 6th, 1830. Of Hyrum’s faith in the Lord, Elder Ballard has taught.

“Hyrum had a believing heart; he did not have to see everything Joseph saw. For him, hearing the truth from Joseph’s lips and feeling the spiritual promptings whispering that it was true were enough.”
M. Russell Ballard (Hyrum Smith:“Firm As the Pillars of Heaven” Oct 1995)

"Hyrum had a believing heart; he did not have to see everything Joseph saw. For him, hearing the truth from Joseph’s lips and feeling the spiritual promptings whispering that it was true were enough." M. Russell Ballard

2nd. Hyrum was always eager to build up the Kingdom.

 

Hyrum was always eager to share the gospel. He asked Joseph for the Lord’s guidance on the matter, and the Lord’s reply is recorded as D&C 11. Where Hyrum is told to wait till the Book of Mormon’s translation was finished (D&C 11:21-22). The moment the Book of Mormon’s translation was finished Hyrum diligently shared the gospel. He taught and baptized many of the church’s first converts. His efforts led to the creation of the Colesville Branch. In 1831 he moved to Kirtland and from 1831-1833 he served three church missions. Parley P. Pratt joined the church because of Hyrum’s Missionary efforts. Parley P. Pratt then served a mission, converting John Taylor and Mary Fielding, Hyrum’s future wife.

When Joseph announced that the Lord wanted the Saints to build a temple in Kirtland Hyrum went out to the plot and started clearing the weeds that day. Two days later Hyrum and Reynolds Cahoon started digging the foundation. Hyrum was always eager to obey and serve in the kingdom. All told Hyrum held various callings and served 6 church missions.

“No mortal man who ever lived in this Church desired more to do good than did Hyrum Smith”
Heber J. Grant (In Conference Report, Oct. 1920, p. 84.)

"No mortal man who ever lived in this Church desired more to do good than did Hyrum Smith" Heber J. Grant
Hyrum Smith by Del Parson, used with permission.

 

3rd. Hyrum’s faithful descendants have carried the Kingdom forward.

When Brigham Young led the Saints to Utah, Emma and Joseph’s children stayed in Nauvoo. It was not until 1956 Gracia Jones was baptized into the LDS. As the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph and Emma, she was the first of descendant of Joseph and Emma Smith to join the church and not apostatize. (source)

In contrast, Mary Fielding Smith the wife of Hyrum led her family across the great plains while her son Joseph F. Smith who was only 9 drove one of the wagons to Utah. (source)

Because of the courage of Mary Fielding Smith, Hyrum has a rich legacy of descendants who have carried on the kingdom. Including two Prophets, his son Joseph F. Smith, and his grandson Joseph Fielding Smith. And two Apostles, Hyrum’s grandson Hyrum M. Smith and Hyrum M. Smith’s grandson M. Russell Ballard (great-great-grandson to Hyrum). Four of the six church patriarchs have also been descendants of Hyrum, including the late Elder Eldred G. Smith. It is also estimated that 6,000 of Hyrum’s descendants have served full-time missions. (source)

 

“upon the family of Hyrum Smith has rested a great responsibility of the carrying on of this great work.”
M. Russell Ballard (Ensign June 2000)

"upon the family of Hyrum Smith has rested a great responsibility of the carrying on of this great work.” M. Russell Ballard

4th. Hyrum jointly held the keys of this dispensation with Joseph.

 

Of all the details least understood about Hyrum, is his role within the Church. Besides being one of the Eight Witnesses, he was a member of the Bishopric in Ohio, he was part of the first high council, he was called as the First Presidency, in conjunction with D&C 124:94-95 on January 25th, 1841 Joseph Smith ordained Hyrum an Apostle and as the Assistant President of the Church. To explain his role I refer to President Joseph Fielding  Smith’s explanation.

“The Prophet Joseph Smith conferred upon Hyrum Smith all the keys, authority and gifts of the priesthood which he, the Prophet, held, and which were formerly held by Oliver Cowdery. The Lord also revealed to Hyrum Smith all that was necessary to make him completely and to the full degree, a witness with his brother Joseph, as a prophet, seer, revelator and president of the Church, and to stand through all time and eternity at the head of this dispensation with his brother Joseph, a witness for Jesus Christ . . . Thus, we see, Hyrum Smith became a president of the Church with Joseph Smith”
Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:218–19)

This is one of the least talked about aspects of the restoration. I did not learn this until I was studying Hyrum’s life for this article. But it makes so much sense! Also, it puts the martyrdom in proper perspective!

“The sealing of the testimony through the shedding of blood would not have been complete in the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith alone; it required the death of Hyrum Smith who jointly held the keys of this dispensation.”
Joseph Fielding Smith (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:218–19)
see also D&C 136:39; Hebrews 9:16–17).

"The sealing of the testimony through the shedding of blood would not have been complete in the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith alone; it required the death of Hyrum Smith who jointly held the keys of this dispensation.” Joseph Fielding Smith

5th. It was Hyrum clarified “hot drinks” as tea and coffee.

 

When the revelation now known as the Word of Wisdom was first given the saints were told to abstain from Alcohol, Tobacco and “hot drinks.” What the Lord meant by “hot drinks” became an issue of contention. It was Hyrum Smith who settled the matter once and for all on June 1st, 1841. Hyrum who at the time was the Assistant President of the Church said:

“And again, ‘hot drinks are not for the body, or belly;’ there are many who wonder what this can mean; whether it refers to tea, or coffee, or not. I say it does refer to tea, and coffee.”
Hyrum Smith (“The Word of Wisdom,” Times and Seasons, 1 June 1842, p. 800.)

Joseph later confirmed Hyrum’s words when he said: “Tea and coffee … are what the Lord meant when He said ‘hot drinks.’” (In Joel H. Johnson, Voice from the Mountains [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1881], p. 12.)

BONUS! Enjoy some of the amazing quotes about Hyrum I found while studying for this article!

Hyrum, a noble example.

“If ever there was an exemplary, honest, and virtuous man, an embodiment of all that is noble in the human form, Hyrum Smith was its representative.”
John Taylor (Witness to the Martyrdom, 95.)

“If ever there was an exemplary, honest, and virtuous man, an embodiment of all that is noble in the human form, Hyrum Smith was its representative.” John Taylor

The Lord called and qualified Hyrum to be Prophet with Joseph.

“And thus, according to promise, the Lord opened to the vision of Hyrum Smith and showed to him those things which were necessary to qualify him for this exalted position, and upon him were conferred by Joseph Smith all the keys and authorities by which he, Hyrum Smith, was able to act in concert with his younger brother as a prophet, seer and revelator, and president of the Church, ‘as well as my servant Joseph.’”
Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith (Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Apr. 1932, pp. 51–52.)

Hyrum, loyal and true.

“No mortal man could have been more loyal, more true, more faithful in life or in death than was Hyrum Smith to the Prophet of the living God.”
Heber J. Grant (“Hyrum Smith and His Distinguished Posterity,” Improvement Era, Aug. 1918, 854–55.)

"No mortal man could have been more loyal, more true, more faithful in life or in death than was Hyrum Smith to the Prophet of the living God." Heber J. Grant

The Lord’s view on Hyrum.

“blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart”
D&C 124:15

He took care of Joseph.

“Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh, may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul!”
Joseph Smith (August 11, 1842)

"Hyrum, what a faithful heart you have got! Oh, may the Eternal Jehovah crown eternal blessings upon your head, as a reward for the care you have had for my soul!" Joseph Smith

Hyrum’s faith.

“Faith to believe was the source of Hyrum’s spiritual strength and is the source of the spiritual strength of faithful members of the Church then and today.”
M. Russell Ballard (Hyrum Smith:“Firm As the Pillars of Heaven” Oct 1995)

 

"Faith to believe was the source of Hyrum’s spiritual strength and is the source of the spiritual strength of faithful members of the Church then and today." M. Russell Ballard

Hyrum the peacemaker.

‘if Hyrum could not make peace between two who had fallen out, the angels themselves might not hope to accomplish the task.”
Joseph Smith (J. P. Widtsoe Osborne, “Hyrum Smith, Patriarch,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Apr. 1911, p. 56.)

'if Hyrum could not make peace between two who had fallen out, the angels themselves might not hope to accomplish the task." Joseph Smith

Hyrum, a man of meekness and humility.

“I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb and the integrity of a Job, and in short the meekness and humility of Christ, and I love him with that love that is stronger than death.”
Joseph Smith ( Journal, 1835–1836, Dec. 18, 1835)

“I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb and the integrity of a Job, and in short the meekness and humility of Christ, and I love him with that love that is stronger than death.”

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “5 Things You Did Not Know About Hyrum Smith The Patriarch.

  1. What do you know about any children from his first wife, Jerusha Barden? We’re there any? Did they follow the body of the church to the GSL Valley?

    1. Yes! his oldest son, third child by Jerusha, John Smith became Church Patriarch and lived until 1911. His grandson Hyrum G Smith became the next, and eventually, his son Eldred G. Smith became the final Church Patriarch, he died in 2013.
      (Not to be confused with “Uncle John” the brother of Joseph Smith Sr).

      I am not sure about the other children. But if I recall correctly I believe they came west also.

  2. Very insightful…thank you for sharing your thoughts on Hiram. What a great man. A sacrament meeting talk I think would be appropriate on Hiram.

  3. I first went to temple square a little over a year ago and I LOVED the two statues of Joseph and Hyrum. Thanks for the roundup on him!

  4. Excellent article….and very motivating and inspiring of the example of Hyrum. Thanks!

  5. For the most part, the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, IL didn’t accept Hyrum Smith as co-prophet, seer, and revelator (D&C 124: 91-96); could this be one of several reasons the Lord allowed the enemies of the Latter-day Saints (both internal and external) to force them out of Nauvoo, IL?

    1. I am not sure, and I don’t think there is any way to know. And if I have learned one lesson in studying the Gospel, it is that rarely does good come from speculating.

  6. The comment that Hyrum was baptized before Joseph is partially incorrect. Joseph and Oliver Cowdery were baptized at the time of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist. That baptism was for the purpose of receiving authority. He was baptized again after the formal organization of the Church, for admission into Church membership. If I am incorrect in my recollection, please feel free to correct me.

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