Digging in Nauvoo by ‘archaeologists’ of many faiths

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/63851/Digging-in-Nauvoo-by-archaeologists-of-many-faiths.html

By Lucy Schouten
Church News staff writer
and Darlyn Britt Church News contributor

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013

NAUVOO, ILL.

People with varied religious backgrounds from all over the country made a “pioneer trek” to Nauvoo, Ill., to participate in the first excavation of “I Dig Nauvoo” throughout the month of June.

Teams of workers in the “I Dig Nauvoo” project scraped the earth with trowels in search of artifacts from the site of the small cabin where Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith once lived.

“It’s a wonderfully exciting time in the life of the site,” said Lachlan Mackay, great-great-great-grandson of Joseph Smith Jr. and director of historical sites for Community of Christ. “It’s been many years since we’ve had an active archaeology program in Nauvoo, so to see people excavating brings the research part of the story back to life again. I’m incredibly excited to see us working together for this common heritage.”

The “I Dig Nauvoo” project was organized by the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association and sponsored by the Community of Christ. More than 400 volunteer archaeologists including Smith family descendants, Community of Christ members, LDS missionaries and Nauvoo Pageant volunteers worked together to uncover history and build unity. Locals and visitors to Nauvoo stopped by to help, and several Boy Scouts earned their archaeology merit badges.

The “I Dig Nauvoo” volunteers documented everything they found within the assigned 10-foot squares. More than 10,000 artifacts, including household dishes and objects and window glass were washed, cataloged and preserved. The team even uncovered several lines of cut stone, which revealed a man-made structure. They are hoping to uncover more of this in the future, but they have already found two of the stone piers that pioneers often used instead of foundations.

The dig site is directly across the street from the existing cabin known as “The Homestead” where Joseph Sr. and his wife, Lucy, also lived for a time. The Homestead was a bustling place, serving at times as the unofficial headquarters of the Church, a hospital and a place for travelers to stay. Robert Smith, a Samuel Smith descendant and project host, came to believe that the second cabin was built to give Father Smith peace and quiet so he could give patriarchal blessings.

Records indicate that, as the first patriarch of the Church, Joseph Smith Sr. gave at least 32 patriarchal blessings in Nauvoo. Some of these might have been performed at the dig site residence.

Scholars believe that the same cabin was also the place where Joseph Sr. pronounced blessings upon his posterity before he died. Joseph Sr. promised the Prophet, “You shall live to finish your work.” In response, Joseph cried out, “Oh father, shall I?”

To Hyrum, Father Smith said, “You shall have a season of peace so that you shall have sufficient rest to accomplish the work which God has given you.” He promised Samuel, “By your faithfulness you have brought many into the Church. The Lord has seen your faithfulness and you are blessed but He has called you home to rest.”

Many diggers heard these stories and relished gaining new insights into both archeology and early Mormon history.

This was the first time Abby Slik, a high school senior and member of the Spring Creek 7th Ward, Springville Utah Spring Creek Stake, participated in a project like this. She and several neighbors made the 24-hour drive to Nauvoo to help dig. “My family lineage does not go back to the pioneers, but I felt close to them as I worked each day, discovering new pieces of history,” she said. “I would do this again in a heartbeat.”

Christian Moody, a young man from the Hobble Creek 11th Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek Stake, echoed her sentiments. “I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to become part of an archeological legacy,” he said. “I loved learning about the Church’s history and feeling the same spirit that the pioneers felt.”

Robert Smith, great-great-great-grandson of Samuel Smith and one of the hosts of the “I Dig Nauvoo” project, spent three weeks digging at the site. He noticed a feeling of kinship as the legacy of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith seemed to knit strangers together during their short time in Nauvoo. “I was impressed by the excitement of the volunteers whenever they found an artifact,” he said. “But more heartwarming was the fact that no matter their religious backgrounds, the participants were able to connect with Father and Mother Smith and share in the legacy of the Smith family.”

The Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association plans to organize a second dig May 26-June 27, 2014. Visitors to Nauvoo in the meantime can see the current progress at the dig site.

“I’m excited to take my family there and show them what I was a part of,” said James Johnson, a Springville, Utah, resident who called the dig an unforgettable experience. “It’s such a great feeling to be a part of restoring Nauvoo. I will never forget that experience as long as I live!”

Registration for the second dig begins Sept. 1, 2013 at www.idignauvoo.com.

lucy@deseretnews.com

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LDS apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard addresses historic gathering of Smith descendants

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865584098/LDS-apostle-Elder-M-Russell-Ballard-addresses-historic-gathering-of-Smith-descendants.html?pg=all

By Lucy Schouten
For the Deseret News

Descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith met in greater force than ever before to both renew family ties and remember history at a reunion in Salt Lake City Aug. 1-4.

Roughly 1,100 Smith descendants from Hyrum, Joseph Jr. and Samuel Smiths lines came to This Is The Place Heritage Park for the reunion.

We need to work together as a family to gather our family, said Michael Kennedy, a Joseph Smith Jr. descendant who has dedicated his life to finding his fellow Joseph Smith Jr. descendants, who are scattered worldwide.

About 200 of the Smith descendants came just to participate in Josephs Miracle Run, a 5K race on Aug. 3 that celebrated the 1813 experimental surgery that saved young Josephs leg.

This topic was further explored later that day by Roy Wirthlin, who presented some of his newly discovered research on the work of the doctor who performed the surgery, Nathan Smith.

The honored guest at the reunion was David Longcope, who is a seventh generation doctor in an unbroken line from Joseph Smiths surgeon. He and his family participated in the race and especially enjoyed Wirthlins lecture. They were presented with the family history work of Nathan Smith as a gift from the family.

While the adults learned more about the courage and love of the Smith family from Wirthlin, their children were experiencing Zions Camp. The children made swords, learned a pioneer song and tried walking on wooden crutches like Joseph Smith would have needed after his surgery.

Don Lee, a descendant of Hyrum Smith, was the proud maker of the crutches. His wife, Gwen Lee explained, It just seems like if children have a very firm foundation and know that in their blood they carry this faith in God they can have the courage to go forth and be modern pioneers.

Meanwhile, the teenagers made a small wreath with 11 red roses, one for each of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smiths children

The wreath adorned the pulpit where, that evening, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to the gathered family. Elder Ballard is a Hyrum descendant, and when he thanked the reunions organizers for their hard work, he remarked, [Organizing] the Smiths is kind of like herding cats sometimes.

He shared his testimony with the family and told them that they could best honor the legacy of the remarkable Smith family by being good missionaries.

We owe our forefathers our loyalty and our willingness to do whatever is necessary in the building up of the kingdom of God, he said.

The Smith descendants were recognized on the morning of Aug. 4 at the live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word at the Conference Center.

Other music over the weekend included a concert on the evening of Aug. 2, where Nathan Osmond, among others, performed. The emcee for the evening was Rick Macy, who has portrayed Joseph Smith Sr. in several films.

Referring to the blend of faith-based history and family time that characterized the reunion, Nathan Adams, a reunion organizer, said, Only in the Smith family do you get to do things like this.

Lucy Schouten is an Arizona native studying journalism and Middle Eastern studies at Brigham Young University. Contact her atlucy@deseretnews.com.

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Race marks bicentennial of surgery that saved Joseph Smith’s leg

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865584072/Race-marks-bicentennial-of-surgery-that-saved-Joseph-Smiths-leg.html?pg=all

By Lucy Schouten
For the Deseret News

The Josephs Miracle Run 5K race, sponsored by the Smith Foundation, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the surgery to save Joseph Smiths leg on Aug. 3, 1813

The race was held at This Is The Place Heritage Park as part of the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith reunion held Aug. 1-4. Of the roughly 500 participants in the 5K race and the childrens race immediately afterward, 300 were Smith descendants.

Francis Orton, a foundation member and race organizer, said the race was planned a year and a half in advance. When they realized that 2013 would be the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smiths boyhood surgery by renowned Dr. Nathan Smith, they saw an opportunity to publish Josephs name for good, she said.

The race proceeds and donations will go toward a $10,000 scholarship at Dartmouth Medical School, which was founded by Dr. Nathan Smith. The hope is for the race to be an annual event to create a perpetual scholarship.

Wed like to make it an annual event for at least the next few years, said Daniel Adams, a Hyrum Smith descendant and member of the foundation who helped organize the race. It took [Josephs leg] three years to heal so he could walk well again.

Adams views the surgery itself as miraculous because it was a cutting-edge operation that would not become an accepted medical practice until after World War One. The trial also developed the love and courage of the Smith family.

Hyrum would squeeze his leg and massage it for hours every day just so that he could handle the pain, Adams said, describing Josephs lengthy recovery process. This is why Joseph and Hyrum are so close, and so Hyrum will never leave Joseph, even in Carthage Jail.

One Hyrum descendant felt a special connection to the events. Ruth Whites son, Nathaniel, was born at the medical school at Yale, which Nathan Smith co-founded. Her son was born with many birth defects and now uses a wheelchair.

As soon as I heard about [the race] I felt the connection right off, she said.

White got an especially loud cheer as she crossed the 5K finish line, pushing her 10-year-old in a jogging stroller.

He was the only one who volunteered to train with me, White said with a laugh. Having him with me just made it more meaningful.

Also helping at the race were 35 missionaries who arrived at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to set up and then guide the runners. Two senior missionaries were stationed at the finish line, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve awarded each finisher a medal after the race.

Emily Birningham, 83, and Marilyn Critchlow, both Smith descendants, walked the end of the race course to make sure all the grandkids finished the race successfully. Critchlow travelled from Romania for the event, and she spoke enthusiastically about the good turn-out and the excitement of getting the family together.

This is such a great activity, Critchlow said. It was worth it [to travel from Romania] just to hear the opening prayer at a race and the bagpipes.

And to have my 25 children and grandchildren in the race, added Birningham as they neared the finish line.

Lucy Schouten is an Arizona native studying journalism and Middle Eastern studies at Brigham Young University. Contact her atlucy@deseretnews.com.

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