Walking in their Shoes

By Steve & Frances Orton and Joy Ercanbrack

“Walking in their Shoes” was designated as the theme for the 2014 Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Reunion. The family gained a deeper respect for our ancestors who lived in the Independence, Missouri area as we toured Far West, Adam-ondi-Ahman, and the sacred Liberty Jail. We learned that God does not abandon us, just as he did not abandon Joseph and Hyrum when they were unjustly imprisoned in the Liberty Jail. Truth does prevail and the mercies of God will be revealed.

The opening meeting was held in the beautiful Community of Christ Stone Church on Thursday, July 31. Dan Larsen welcomed the family to the Kansas City area. Lach Mackay read a welcome letter to the family from Cousin Wallace B. Smith who was recovering from surgery. Steve and Frances Orton presented a history of past reunions and family events and discussed how this reunions activities would go. Reports were given by Bob Smith from Samuel’s family and the iDig project. Phillip Beem discussed the family website and passed on information from Michael Kennedy. Daniel Adams shared the hopes and interests of upcoming events the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association are working on.

The highlight of the evening was hear the memories of Anina Mackay Luff as she reflected on the early reunions and said as she looked in the eyes of newly discovered cousins, she could see the eyes of her family. To end Thursday night’s meeting Joy Ercanbrack introduced our theme of “Walking in their Shoes” and then honored those family members who attended the 1973 Independence Reunion.

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Walking in their Shoes

By Steve & Frances Orton and Joy Ercanbrack

We extend a heartfelt thank you to the many family members who went the extra mile to help make the 2014 Reunion such a great success! Please log on to the website to see pictures and read the full account of the reunion.

The family gained a deeper respect for our ancestors who lived in the Independence, Missouri area as we toured Far West, Adamondi-Ahman, and the sacred Liberty Jail. We learned that God does not abandon us, just as he did not abandon Joseph and Hyrum when they were unjustly imprisoned in the Liberty Jail. Truth does prevail and the mercies of God will be revealed.

The family met in the beautiful Community of Christ Stone Church and received gracious welcomes and family news, history, website, iDig info and news of upcoming events. Lach Mackay read a welcome letter to the family from Cousin Wallace B. Smith who was recovering from surgery.

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Smith Family in the News and in Story

IDigNauvoo is in the news! Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bk9_EqEhFtQ

This year IdigNauvoo volunteers are working at both the Joseph Sr. Homestead and the Samuel H. Smith home site.

Significant events at the IdigNauvoo site include the restoration of the stone steps on the east side of the Joseph Smith Sr. homestead, discovery of an 1835 half dime, and a bone bead that is 2000 years old. Recent finds have led archaeologist Paul DeBarthe to question whether the Smith homestead could have been an 1805 trading post.

The Dig is looking for participants and volunteer host couples.Learn more about the iDigNauvoo archaeological project by visiting their website www.idignauvoo.legacyshare.org.

Watch lectures on Mary Fielding Smith and “Letters from Joseph F Smith to his Sister Martha Ann” at this online site:

See Reunion.JosephSmithSr.org to read Lachlan Mackay’s Stories About Joseph III from the Reunion. See http://reunion.josephsmithsr.org

Joseph’s Miracle Run Scholarship Presentation to Dartmouth

Many Smith family members contributed to the Sons of the Utah Pioneer tribute to Hyrum Smith. Cost is $5 per magazine. To purchase, visit www.sup1847.com or call 801.484.4441.

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Joseph Smith Sr. Genealogical Website


Take advantage of the Joseph Smith Sr. Genealogical Website’s many features! It can help you & us keep accurate information and extend that information more readily to your family and extended family. It can also help those who are related to many of the  family’s thousands of ancestors.

This site contains Joseph Sr and Lucy Mack Smith’s ancestry and posterity and Emma Hale Smith’s ancestry and posterity. To view the posterity information of the living, you must be a direct descendant and register on the website. That information will then be available to you.

All family branches are connected into the same database which provides statistical information, biographies, media images, geo locations synchronized with google maps, world history timelines and much more.

Please login to check your family for accuracy and contact us for any errors. We would appreciate any submissions of family stories, pictures, histories, etc.

Clicking any of the buttons takes you directly to the genealogical information of that branch of the family:

  1. Joseph – ancestors of Joseph Smith Sr.
  2. Lucy – ancestors of Lucy Mack Smith
  3. Any of the children – descendants of that branch of the family

Be sure to register on the site to take advantage of all the genealogical features. There is no cost to use this site. The Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society website is also interconnected with the genealogical information on this web site.


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Sacred Ground: The Smith Family Cemetery in Old Nauvoo, Part I

By Julie Maddox, Joseph Sr & Lucy Mack Smith Family Association Newsletter Editor

“The place where a man is buried is sacred to me.” Joseph Smith Jr.

I feel the full emotion of that statement, sitting here on the wooden bench in the Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo. Resting in the shade, I can see things just as Anina Luff has described them, and “watch white butterflies dance above the blue salvia,” especially picturesque at dusk as the sun sets on the Mississippi River.

Summer of 1991 found Anina MacKay Luff, great great-granddaughter of Joseph and Emma, and her son Lachlan MacKay, driving from Independence, MO, to the Family Cemetery at sunset. “The Mississippi River,” she said, “was mystical, beautiful.” Anina and her brother Daniel Larsen and their families were a significant part of preparations for the Aug. 4, 1991 formal cemetery dedication. They wanted a “beautiful serene place where people can sit and dream and ponder connections with loved ones passed on.” And each year since they have come to beautify and plant flowers in this sacred spot.

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Defending the Faith: Did Book of Mormon witnesses simply see the golden plates with their ‘spiritual eyes’?


By Daniel Peterson , For the Deseret News
Published: Saturday, May 23 2015 2:27 p.m. MDT

I continually encounter the confident declaration that the witnesses to the Book of Mormon didn’t really see or touch anything at all and didn’t actually claim to have seen or touched anything. They only “saw” the plates with their “spiritual eyes,” I’m assured, and “spiritual eyes,” to them, meant “in their imaginations.”

I responded to this assertion in a column published five years ago (see “Book of Mormon witness testimonies” published May 25, 2010). However, since the claim continues to be made, and given the fundamental importance of this issue, I address it yet again, in somewhat different fashion.

I’ll leave aside the question of whether it’s even remotely plausible that the witnesses sacrificed so very much for something they recognized as merely imaginary. Let’s look at their explicit verbal testimonies. Several of the 11 official witnesses were obviously confronted during their lifetimes with accusations that they had merely hallucinated, and they repeatedly rejected such proposed explanations.

In fact, David Whitmer, one of the initial Three Witnesses, could easily have been addressing today’s skeptics when he declared “I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!”

It’s difficult to imagine how he could have been any clearer.

In this column, though, I’ll focus on the experience of the Eight Witnesses, which seems to have included no explicitly supernatural elements but, rather, to have been a wholly matter-of-fact event.

In late 1839, Hyrum Smith wrote an account for the Times and Seasons newspaper covering, among other things, his four months of hungry and cold imprisonment in Missouri’s Liberty Jail, under recurring threats of execution, while his family and fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were being driven from their homes during the wintertime:

“I thank God,” he told the Saints, “that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to. … I can assure my beloved brethren that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life.”

One might dismiss this declaration of willingness to die for his testimony as an empty boast, mere retrospective bravado, were it not for the fact that, less than five years later in Illinois, fully understanding the risk, he did in fact go voluntarily to Carthage Jail. There, with his prophet-brother, he died as a martyr — which, in ancient Greek, means “witness” — in a hail of bullets.

The accounts left behind by the Eight Witnesses are replete not only with claims to have “seen and hefted” the plates, to have turned their individual leaves and examined their engravings, but also with estimates of their weight, descriptions of their physical form and the rings that bound them, and reports of their approximate dimensions as well.

Wilhelm Poulson’s 1878 interview with John Whitmer provides an excellent summary:

“I — Did you handle the plates with your hands? He — I did so!

“I — Then they were a material substance? He — Yes, as material as anything can be.

“I — They were heavy to lift? He — Yes, and you know gold is a heavy metal, they were very heavy.

“I — How big were the leaves? He — So far as I can recollect, 8 by 6 or 7 inches.

“I — Were the leaves thick? He — Yes, just so thick, that characters could be engraven on both sides.

“I — How were the leaves joined together? He — In three rings, each one in the shape of a D with the straight line towards the centre. …

“I — Did you see them covered with a cloth? He — No. He handed them uncovered into our hands, and we turned the leaves sufficient to satisfy us.”

William Smith, who knew the Eight Witnesses well — his father and two of his brothers were among them — explained “they not only saw with their eyes but handled with their hands the said record.” Daniel Tyler heard Samuel Smith testify that “He knew his brother Joseph had the plates, for the prophet had shown them to him, and he had handled them and seen the engravings thereon.”

Those who seek to dismiss the testimony of the Eight Witnesses must, on the whole, flatly brush aside what they actually, and very forcefully, said.

For further evidence and analysis on this topic, see Richard Lloyd Anderson’s 2005 article “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses” online at publications.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu.

Daniel Peterson teaches Arabic studies, founded BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, directs MormonScholarsTestify.org, chairs mormoninterpreter.com, blogs daily at patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson, and speaks only for himself.

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