John Smith, or “Uncle John” as he was affectionately known by the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held the title of Presiding Patriarch following the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage, Illinois, until his death in 1854. Being one of the first relatives of the Prophet Joseph Smith to join the movement, John dedicated his life to his faith. He held many positions within the early Church in addition to Presiding Patriarch such as Assistant Counselor to the Prophet in the First Presidency, high councilman in Kirtland, mission companion to Joseph Smith Sr., Stake President at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Chairman of the Missouri Removal Committee, Stake President of Zarahemla, Iowa, Branch President of Ramus/Macedonia, Illinois, Stake President of Nauvoo, Stake President of Winter Quarters, senior member of the Council of Fifty, and the first Stake President in Salt Lake City.
This biography chronicles John Smith’s life, from his New England heritage to his conversion in Potsdam New York. It details his struggles as he moved across the United States in search of freedom to practice his religion with his wife, Clarissa, and three children, George A., John Lyman and Caroline. Persecution drove him from New York to Ohio, MIssouri to Illinois, Iowa to the Rocky Mountains, living in places familiar to many historians of Mormonism’s beginnings: Kirtland, Adam-ondi-Ahman, Zarahemls, Nauvoo, Winter Quarters, Salt Lake City. John witnessed as mobs burned the Saints’ homes, stole their property, and issued an act of total extermination. Following a short period of peace in Nauvoo, John traveled to the Salt Lake Valley on one of the greatest western migrations in modern history. While other Smiths stayed behind in Illinois, John followed Brigham Young to find rest in Utah. Having spent nearly ten years researching and writing about John Smith’s life using many private sources and others not readily available, the author brings to life a story of one of the most integral and oft forgotten members of the early Mormon movement.
Information about the Author:
A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Jeremy C. Schwendiman is the 4th great-grandson of John Smith through John’s oldest son George A. Smith. Mr. Schwendiman is an attorney by profession and licensed to practice law in the States of Utah, North Dakota, and Texas. He received a degree in History from Brigham Young University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wyoming College of Law. Mr. Schwendiman has held many positions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints including as a full-time missionary for the Church in the Croatia, Zagreb Mission, a Sunday School teacher, elder’s quorum president and ward clerk. He currently resides in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, Joanna, and three sons, Joseph, Luke Lyman, and Ryker.
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