Reunion News – January 28, 2018

  • Mark Your Calendars
  • The Family Gathered in Honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Smith Family Cemetery Dedication

Mark Your Calendars

Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Reunion

August 2-5, 2018

From LDS History Sites
  • The second home the Smith family lived in after moving to Palmyra.
  • The reconstruction is located on the site of the original.
  • The eight witnesses saw the golden plates in a grove near the log home.
  • Joseph’s first visit from Angel Moroni was here.
  • Joseph lived here at the time of the First Vision.

Two hundred years ago, the Smith Family had been driven from their home and had to relocate and rebuild in a new place. More than anyone, the Smiths knew what it meant to be homeless and refugees. We are helping build bunk beds for those down on their luck and refugees so they can sleep with more comfort, in memory of Joseph Sr. and Lucy pulling and building together in 1818.

What would you have given for our Father and Mother Smith to be able to sleep with a roof over their heads?

Today, 200 years later, we have an opportunity to help others with similar difficulty and have Joseph’s family and name known for good. In 2018, in conjunction with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association is honoring their sacrifice and endurance, by building beds for refugee families in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.

At this 200th Anniversary gathering, we will be donating and building bunk beds for refugee children.

Won’t you join us for this seminal event? With your family’s donation for a bunk bed, we can make a difference for hundreds of children, and just as our past gatherings, your good works and Joseph’s name will be broadcast to thousands.

You can learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace by watching these links:

Provo group donating beds to help others KSLcom

Watch for additional Family Association and Reunion details that will be coming soon.

Click to donate toward our service project.

The family in from of the Smith Family Cemetery during the 2016 reunion.
(Photo: Lindsey Orton)

The Family Gathered in Honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Smith Family Cemetery Dedication

August 6, 2016

You can read more about the 2016 Nauvoo Reunion activities by going to

During the program held at the cemetery, Elder Ballard said, “There is no one who has ever lived in my judgement, with the exception of the Savior, who is more entitled to rise up on the day of resurrection in a glorious and beautiful garden. I have always felt deeply that Joseph, Hyrum, Emma, and Father and Mother Smith, Samuel, Don Carlos and other family members will rejoice together on the day of resurrection. They all played important roles at an important time in our history.” Elder Ballard’s full address.

Lachlan Mackay is a member of Community of Christ Council of Twelve and a Trustee of the Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Foundation. He shared some stories about Lewis C. Bidamon and how Emma met him during the time Lewis was fighting to protect the remaining Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo.

Lach said, “Here is what I appreciate most about Lewis. He was father and parent to the children of the prophet. For David he was the only father he ever knew. Of course, Emma was pregnant when Joseph was killed and David was born 5 ½ months after his father’s death. For raising those children, I will be eternally grateful.” Read more about finally marking Lewis’ grave.

Steve & Frances Orton
Checks made out to: Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Organization
c/o Steve and Frances Orton
381 West 3700 North
Provo UT 84604


Elder M. Russell Ballard lays wreath in Nauvoo cemetery


Two apostles Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Elder Lachlan Mackay of the Community of Christ (both descendants of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith) met with more than 400 cousins in Nauvoo, Illinois, on Aug. 6 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Smith families coming together to beautify, enlarge, landscape and increase access to the Smith Family Cemetery.

Elder Mackay, a great-great-great-grandson of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Elder Ballard, a great-great-grandson of the Prophets brother Hyrum, laid wreaths on the graves of Joseph Smith Sr., Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith, Emma Hale Smith and Hyrum Smith. They were assisted by Anina Luff, Elder Mackays mother; and Katie Clayton, one of Elder Ballards granddaughters. Elder Ballard said that two of Josephs other brothers, Don Carlos Smith and Samuel Smith, are buried in the cemetery but the exact location of their graves isnt known.

During the ceremony, the family also placed a marker to honor Lewis C. Bidamon, Emmas second husband and the last to be buried in the cemetery. Elder Mackay spoke of Bidamons welcoming generosity, his humor and his caring of Emmas sons. For raising [Joseph Smith Jr.s] children I will be eternally grateful. I am just thrilled we are finally able to mark Lewis grave, Elder Mackay said.

Continue reading “Elder M. Russell Ballard lays wreath in Nauvoo cemetery”

Reunion News – May 28, 2016

All Aboard– 25th Anniversary of the Smith Family Cemetery Dedication

We have filled all of our original reserved spots on the train, but we have secured a second contractwith Amtrak. We are very excited about the number of reservations we have received. Theres still time to join us on the Train/Bus trip to Nauvoo. We willtake reservations until it fills. We have only 14more spots available.

Here are the dates for traveling by train for the family reunion:

Train seating is more spacious and more comfortable than airline seating. You will spend a night on the train each direction. Consider these tips for traveling in coachclass on the train and these tips for first-time train-travelers. Continue reading “Reunion News – May 28, 2016”

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

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

For many years, the Smith Family Nauvoo Cemetery was almost forgotten. Few graves were marked, all Smith family was gone from Nauvoo by 1879, rising waters threatened to submerge gravesites, and communication between descendants had faded.


As family and close friends were buried in the Homestead yard beginning in 1844, none of these graves were marked except by lilacs which Emma planted nearby.1 Even the location of Father and Mother Smith became lost. Caring for the yard became challenging as Joseph III, Alexander, Julia, and David Hyrum moved from Nauvoo. In 1867 Emma wrote Joseph III:

Joseph, I should like if you are willing to extend that fence so as to enclose the graves of your two little brothers. I have got twenty five dollars that no one has any right to but myself…. I feel anxious to apply that money on that graveyard, after I have done that… I think I can ask our Smith relatives to help mark Fathers and Mothers graves if no more.

Although no action took place at this time, this letter became significant many years after Emmas death. Joseph, Alexander, and Julia buried their beloved mother on May 2, 1879, and Joseph III erected a tombstone for Emma.

Lewis Bidamon was the last to be buried in the Homestead ground in 1891, and by 1900, tenants occupied the property. Four gravestones and a scraggly lilac bush were the only evidence of a graveyard.

Continue reading “Sacred Ground: The Smith Family Cemetery in Old Nauvoo, Part II”

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.

Continue reading “Sacred Ground: The Smith Family Cemetery in Old Nauvoo, Part I”