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This George Albert Smith was an apostle—also a cousin to the prophet Joseph Smith. See George Albert Smith (Prophet) for the prophet.
An excerpt from History of Salt Lake City, 1886, by Edward William Tullidge (p. 35–36).
- George A. Smith.
- George Albert Smith was born in the town of Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York, on the 26th day of June, 1817. It may be claimed for him that he was of purely American descent, for his American-born ancestry date back to 1666. On the maternal side he was descended from the Lymans, a family of patriotic revolutionary record; and on the paternal side he was cousin to Joseph Smith the Prophet.
- His cousin Joseph's seership was first brought to his attention in 1828, by a letter written to his grandfather by Joseph Smith, sen., in which was recounted several visions that the writer's son had received; and also in which letter was the remark: "I always knew that God was going to raise up some branch of my family to be a great benefit to mankind."
- A subsequent letter from Joseph himself, in which he declared that the sword of the Almighty hung over that generation, and could only be averted by repentance and works of righteousness, made a profound impression upon the mind of George A., and elicited from his father the declaration that "Joseph wrote like a prophet." An investigation of the Book of Mormon resulted in the conversion of his parents, and the consequent bigoted opposition of their neighbors. One of these, an influential and wealthy man offered young Smith,—if he would leave his parents and promise never to become a Mormon,—a seven years' education, without expense, and a choice of profession when his education should be complete. His answer was worthy an everlasting record: "The commandment of God requires me to honor my father and mother." He did so honor them as to fully embrace their faith, and was baptized in their presence, September 10th, 1832. Concerning events immediately following, his journal states:
- "My father sold his farm in Potsdam, and on the 21st of May, 1833, we started for Kirtland, Ohio, the second gathering place of the Saints, where we arrived on the 25th, having traveled 500 miles. We were heartily welcomed by cousin Joseph. This was the first time I had ever seen him; he conducted us to his father's house.
- "I was engaged during the summer and fall in quarrying and hauling rock for the Kirtland temple, attending masons, and performing other duties about its walls. The first two loads of rock taken to the temple ground were hauled from Standard's quarry by Harvey Stanley and myself.
- "In consequence of the persecution which raged against Joseph, and the constant threats to do him violence, it was found necessary to keep continued guard, to prevent his being assassinated. During the fall and winter I took part in this service, going two miles and a half to guard."
- Although but seventeen years of age, he was a member of the company that went up to "redeem Zion" in Jackson County, Mo. He started with "Zion's Camp," May 5th, 1834, and returned on the 4th of August, of the same year, having traveled about 2,000 miles in three months, mostly on foot.
- On the 1st of March, 1835, he was ordained a member of the first quorum of seventies, and on the 5th day of May, following, in company with Lyman Smith, started on a mission through Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. They returned in November, having traveled 1,850 miles on foot, without purse of scrip, holding numerous meetings, and making several converts.
- From this time forward his life was a series of missions, and adventures incident thereto, up to April, 1839, when he was ordained one of the Twelve apostles, on the corner-stone of the temple, at Far West.
- He was a member of the quorum of the Twelve who went on a mission to England in 1839-40, traveling and preaching in the counties of Lancaster, Chester, Stafford, Hereford, Worcester, and Gloucester, and preaching the first Mormon sermon in London.
- Soon after his return, in 1841, he was married to Miss Bethsheba W. Bigler, and after a temporary settlement in Zarahemla, Iowa, became a resident of Nauvoo. He was thereafter engaged in mission work in various States until recalled, in 1844, by the martyrdom of the Prophet.
- He was with the Twelve in their exodus from Nauvoo, and with the Pioneers in their journey from Winter Quarters to the Rocky Mountains. He planted the first potato that was put into the ground in Salt Lake Valley, and to the day of his death was permanently identified with the various projects for settling and redeeming the valleys of Deseret.
- When the Provisional government of the State of Deseret was erected, he was chosen a member of the State Senate, and at that early date presented a bill concerning the construction of a national railroad across the continent.
- In speaking of his mission to Jerusalem, which, in company with Lorenzo Snow, Albert Carrington, Feramorz Little, and others, he accomplished in 1873, it will be necessary to explain that one of the most peculiar and characteristic phases of the Mormon religion is the linking of the destiny of this modern Israel, raised up by Joseph Smith, with the destiny of ancient Israel. The Jews of course are the proper representatives of the former, the Mormons of the latter.
- As observed elsewhere, the Mormons themselves are supposed to be the literal seed of Abraham "Mixed with the Gentiles," but now "in these last days" gathered by the mysterious providence of the House of Israel into the "new and everlasting covenant."
- In 1840, Apostle Orson Hyde performed the first mission to Jerusalem, and thirty-two years later this second mission was appointed. Here is the commission:
- "SALT LAKE CITY, U. T., October 15, 1872.
- "Prest. G. A. SMITH:
- "Dear Bro:—As you are about to start on an extensive tour through Europe and Asia Minor, where you will doubtless be brought in contact with men of position and influence in society, we desire that you observe closely what openings now exist, or where they may be effected, for the introduction of the gospel into the various countries you shall visit.
- "When you go to the land of Pale tine, we wish you to dedicate and consecrate that land to the Lord, that it may be blessed with fruitfulness preparatory to the return of the Jews in fulfillment of prophecy and the accomplishment of the purposes of our Heavenly Father.
- "We pray that you may be preserved to travel in peace and safety; that you may be abundantly blessed with words of wisdom and free utterance in all your conversations pertaining to the holy gospel, dispelling prejudice and sowing seeds of righteousness among the people.
- "Brigham Young,
- "Daniel H. Wells,"
- These missionaries from the modern to the ancient Zion, visiting the President of the United States and President Thiers of France on their way, reached Palestine in March, 1873. they visited the most famous places of Bible mention, and also the places made famous by the exploits of the crusaders. The Jerusalem missionaries returned to Utah in July, 1873.
- Upon the death of Heber C. Kimball, the elevation of George A. Smith to the second place in the Mormon Church, thus made vacant, was pronounced by the people of his faith an honor worthily bestowed.
- The construction of the temple at St. George furnished the occasion for this apostle to unite with Brigham Young in the administration of ordinances in "high places," thus fitly crowning the labors of his life. On his tablet might thereafter be written, "It is finished."
- Shortly after his return from St. George he was prostrated with a sickness which finally resulted in his death, September 1st, 1875. Although, mortally considered, he has passed away, in the hearts of the Mormon people George A. Smith will never die.