5 Inspiring Memories of the Prophet Joseph Smith

As the founding prophet and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, Jr. is a fascinating historical figure. I have often thought that if I could go back in time and meet any person in modern history, I would love to have the chance to look into the eyes of the Prophet Joseph Smith and hear him preach one of his magnificent sermons. Although he died as a martyr before he reached his 40th birthday, Joseph Smith's influence on faith and religion is unparalleled among figures in American history. What began as a group of six people in a small home in upstate New York when the church was officially organized on April 6, 1830, has grown into a vibrant, worldwide, Christ-centered faith with a membership over 15 million.

Below are five brief accounts from eyewitnesses, including young children, who met or associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith during his lifetime. Each recollection describes an element of Joseph Smith’s character or personality, and each attests to the goodness of the man Mormons revere as a divinely called prophet through whom God restored the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in modern times. 

"In a social gathering of the Saints at the Bowery near the site of the temple, I saw him rejoicing with the people, perfectly sociable and without reserve, occasionally uttering jokes for their amusement, and moving upon the same plane with the humblest and poorest of his friends; to him there were no strangers and by all he was known as the Prophet and a friend of humanity…I saw him by the bedside of Emma, his wife, in sickness, exhibiting all the solicitude and sympathy possible for the tenderest of hearts and the most affectionate of natures to feel. And by the deathbed of my beloved companion, I saw him stand in sorrow, reluctantly submitting to the decree of Providence, while the tears of love and sympathy freely flowed."
Mercy Rachel Thompson, "Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith," Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 13 (1 July 1892): 398-99.

"I very frequently went with my father from where we lived eight miles to Nauvoo to meeting and back home the same day on foot to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Patriarch Hyrum and others preach with great power. I was then fourteen years old, but I was very anxious to go to meeting and listen to what the servants of the Lord had to say. On one occasion when I went with my father to Nauvoo to meeting on April 6, [1844]...in the grove not far from the Temple, a very large congregation was gathered, having come a long way on foot. I with a few other boys climbed up on some boards behind the stand that was temporary so that I could hear every word that was said. I was sitting close behind the Prophet Joseph Smith so that I nearly touched his clothes. I had not been long in the church...and took particular notice of his manner of dress and action. I remember that he had on a light colored linen coat with a small hole in each elbow of his coat sleeve. I remember thinking that he was not a proud man and that his very noble experience inspired me with great confidence and faith that he was a great Prophet of the Lord."
Goudy E. Hogan. "History of Goudy Hogan, from Diary in his own Hand," typescript copy, BYU Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah.

"Another time my older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph's brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, childlike, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing. Was it any wonder that I loved that great, good and noble man of God? As I grew older I felt to honor and love him, for his mission to earth in restoring the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Margaret M. Burgess, "Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith," Juvenile Instructor 27, no. 2 (15 January 1892): 66-67.

"In the year 1842, I was moving with my parents from Indiana to Nauvoo, Illinois, and one bright sunny day as we came within three miles of that city we met a buggy with two men in it. The buggy turned out of the road and stopped. My father was driving our team, and he stopped the horses. The man in the buggy asked if we were moving to Nauvoo. Father replied that we were. The gentleman in the buggy said, 'No doubt you have heard of Joseph Smith the Prophet.' Mother then answered, 'We have come five hundred miles to see him.' 'I am that man,' replied the person in the buggy who acted as spokesman, and then called us all up to the side of the buggy and shook hands with us, and gave father some instructions about where to go to purchase some land, and to settle near the city. But one thing I remember was, when the Prophet took hold of my hand and said to me, 'May God bless you, my little man,' I felt a thrill through my whole body like a current of electricity, and I can say that the recollections of my feelings on that occasion have followed me through life, and when dangers on sea and land threatened my destruction, I have thought of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and all perils have been removed from me."
Amasa Potter, "A Reminiscence of the Prophet Joseph Smith," Juvenile Instructor 29, no. 4 (15 February 1894): 131-32.

"I have seen him on the playground with 'the boys,' as he called them, ball playing, wrestling, jumping, and helping to roll up logs on buildings for the widows. I have seen him in public and in private talking with the Saints on various occasions, so kind, so charitable, a prophet in very deed, so noble in appearance. He loved the Saints. He was willing to suffer for them and die if necessary. Old members of the Church never tire of talking of Joseph, what he said and did. May his memory be fresh in their minds forever and with the children of the Saints."

James W. Phippen, "Joseph Smith, the Prophet," Young Woman's Journal 17, no. 12 (December 1906): 540.

For additional information about the Prophet Joseph Smith, please visit http://www.mormon.org/beliefs/joseph-smith.

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