A Young Folks' History of the Church
Presidency Of Joseph F. Smith
The First Presidency of the Church was reorganized for the sixth time October 17, 1901.
Joseph F. Smith was chosen president, and he selected for his counselors, John R. Winder
and Anthon H. Lund. At a special conference held in Salt Lake City November 10, 1901,
this presidency was sustained by the vote of the Church.
From his boyhood President Smith has been an active, earnest member of the Church
over which he now presides. His father was Hyrum Smith the Patriarch, brother to the
Prophet Joseph. You will remember how these two brothers were so closely together in
the beginning of the Church, and how they were both killed in Carthage jail.
Joseph was thus left fatherless when he was a boy six years old. As a boy he had not the
privilege of going every day to school or of playing peacefully in the door-yard of his
home. Mobs drove them out of Missouri, and then out of Nauvoo. They had little peace.
Two years after his father had been killed, Joseph's mother, with her family, had to leave
her home, along with the Saints, and undertake the long westward journey. Although
Joseph was only eight years old at the time, he successfully drove a team of oxen for
three hundred miles over the rolling prairies of Iowa. This was not an easy task for the
boy, for the road was often steep or muddy, and many older drivers had breakdowns on
In chapter 27 of this history you are told of the Saints stopping for a time at Winter
Quarters, getting ready to move westward. Joseph and his mother were with them. Most
of his time was spent in herding his mother's cattle. And he was a good herdboy, too. He
saw to it that none of them was lost. There were Indians in that country then, and often
they would steal cattle and horses. One day Joseph had a narrow escape. It happened this
Joseph and another boy had driven their cattle to the herd-grounds, and they were having
a good time on their horses which they rode. Suddenly, they heard the whoop of Indians.
On looking up, they saw a band of about thirty savages riding toward them. They were
naked, their bodies daubed with clay and their hair and faces painted! Joseph's first
thought was not about himself, but about his cattle. If the Indians should drive off his
cattle, the family would not be able to go to the Valley next spring. So, off he rode to try
to save his stock, the Indians coming in the same direction. They whooped and yelled so
that the cattle ran off in great fright. Then the Indians singled out Joseph, for they wanted
his horse, which was a good one and could run. The chase was now on in earnest. Joseph
turned. Some of the Indians followed, while others slacked to head him off. Soon he was
between two parties of Indians. After a time they closed in on him. One of the Indians
took him by the arm, and another by the leg, and lifted him from his horse, letting him
fall to the ground. The horses jumped over him, but did not hurt him. The Indians rode
off with the horse, but did not get the cattle.
This is only one of the many thrilling incidents in the life of President Smith as a boy.
When his mother was ready to move West, Joseph drove two yoke of oxen hitched to a
heavily loaded wagon across the plains, a distance of one thousand miles. He drove into
Salt Lake City September 23, 1848.
In those early days, even the boys had to work hard to help make a living in the new
country. Joseph again herded cattle, besides doing work on the farm and in the canyon.