A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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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 the way.

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 way:

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.How, then, did the boy get his education? Crossing the plains, when they were resting in the tent or by the camp fire, Joseph's mother taught him to read the Bible, and from that day to this, he has been reading good books. You see, he started early in the reading of the best books, and that means a lot. Joseph's mother was a very good and wise woman, and he says that much of his success in life is due to her teachings, and the fact that he heeded her counsels.

When Joseph was fourteen years old his mother died. When he was fifteen he went on a mission to the Hawaiian Islands. He worked a number of months in California to earn money to pay his passage to the Islands. He was greatly blessed on this mission.

This small history cannot tell you of the many missions President Smith has filled since that first one. Many times he has been back to the Hawaiian Islands, and many times to the States and to Europe. Every boy and girl ought to read the detailed story of President Smith's life. President Smith is still with us. Most of the Sunday School boys and girls have seen him and heard him speak. He is a great and good man. He is the prophet of the Lord to us. Let us be thankful that we live in a day when we can have such men with us to show us by the example of their lives how to be good boys and girls, good men and women.

President John R. Winder was born at Biddenden near London, England, December 11, 1821. He joined the Church when he was a young man and emigrated to Utah in 1853, since which time he took an active and leading part in Church matters. In the year 1877 he was chosen to be the second counselor to Presiding Bishop Wm. B. Preston, which position he held until he was called to the First Presidency. When the Salt Lake Temple was nearing completion, he was given special charge of the work, and at the dedication of the Temple he became the first assistant to President Snow. He died March 27, 1910. He lived to a good old age, active and strong to the last. He claimed that this was due to his having obeyed the laws of God, especially those contained in the Word of Wisdom.

President Anthon H. Lund came from Denmark. He was born in the city of Aalborg in that far-away country May 14, 1844. Many interesting stories are told of him as a boy- preacher of the gospel in his native land. When he was called upon to give his first report at conference he was lifted upon a table that he might be better seen and heard. He came to Utah when eighteen years old, and settled in Sanpete county. He was made an Apostle in 1889. He has filled a number of foreign missions, and at one time he presided over the European mission. He has also been president of the Manti Temple.

At the death of President Winder, President Lund was chosen First Counselor to President Smith, and Elder John Henry Smith, one of the quorum of the Twelve, was called to be the Second Counselor. He was born at Carbunca, near Council Bluffs, Iowa, September 18, 1848. His father was George A. Smith, at one time Counselor to President Brigham Young. He came to Utah in early days, and filled many missions at home and abroad. He died Oct. 13, 1911. President Smith, during his life, became known and well- beloved far and near. He was always kind and cheerful, and he had a way with him which won the hearts of all who came to know him.

Elder Charles W. Penrose, of the Council of the Twelve, was chosen to succeed John Henry Smith in the First Presidency, December 7, 1911. President Penrose was born February 4, 1832, at Camberwell, London, England. When he was four years old he could read the Bible. At eighteen he joined the Church, and being so well versed in the scriptures he was soon called on a mission. For ten years he traveled about his native landpreaching the gospel, healing many of the sick and organizing branches of the Church. He suffered from hardships and persecution, but he kept right on until he was released, when he emigrated to Utah. Since then President Penrose has filled many missions. He is a clear, forceful speaker, and he has written much on doctrinal subjects. He was for many years editor of the Deseret News. He wrote a number of our best songs. He was called and ordained to be an apostle and set apart as one of the Twelve, July 7, 1904. He presided over the European Mission from December, 1906, to June, 1910.

In January, 1903, Reed Smoot was elected Senator to represent Utah in the Congress of the United States at Washington. As he is a leading official in the Church, some anti- "Mormons" objected to his retaining the office to which he was elected. They sent a protest to the Senate, and that body appointed a committee to investigate the charges made. President Smith and many of the brethren were summoned to Washington to give their testimony. All of this led to much agitation and misrepresentation against the Church. Senator Smoot retained his seat.

During recent years the Church has been growing both at home and abroad. Property is being acquired in many parts of the world, and mission houses are being erected. Carthage Jail, in Illinois, the farm containing the birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and a large part of the Temple grounds at Independence, Missouri, have been purchased by the Church.

In the year 1905 a monument of polished granite was erected and a comfortable and commodious cottage was built on the site of the Prophet's birth, on the farm purchased by the Church, in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont. The monument is 50 feet and 10 inches high and weighs nearly 100 tons. The shaft is 38-3/4 feet long, each foot corresponding to one year of the Prophet's life. The cottage is built around the original hearthstone of the old Smith home. On December 23rd, 1905—the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Prophet—this cottage and monument were dedicated by President Joseph F. Smith, who, with a number of the leading brethren of the Church and a few Saints, had gone to Vermont for that purpose. The monument contains a written description of the Prophet's testimony and stands as a silent witness of the great work he was called upon by the Lord to perform.

For many years past, the Saints had been making settlements in Mexico, and establishing themselves there in good homes. In the year 1912 the disturbances in the country broke out into civil war, and because of the dangers attendant on the fighting between various factions, most of the Latter-day Saints had to leave the country and their possessions and come to the United States.

Two new Temples are now being erected, one in Alberta, Canada, and another at Laie, on the island of Oahu, Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands. Work on the Canadian Temple was begun in 1913, and the one at Hawaii was commenced in the summer of 1915. The building of these Temples indicate that the great work for the dead is being energetically carried out by the Church.

In the summer of 1914, the great European war broke out, which has caused the death and crippling of millions, and brought misery untold to the nations engaged in it. Very likely this war is the greatest the world has ever known. Nearly all our missionaries have had to be withdrawn from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and France, and very few have been left in Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries. We sympathize with all these nations, and can only hope that the Lord will make it possible,after the war, that the missionaries will be better able to reach the people with the gospel of peace and salvation.

At this writing (December, 1916) there are seventy-three stakes of Zion in the Church, and over eight hundred wards. The quorums of the Priesthood have been more thoroughly organized, and have regular courses of study in their classes. The helping organizations of the Church, such as the Sunday Schools, the Mutual Improvement Associations, and others are doing a splendid work. The Church has recently completed a beautiful Church office building in Salt Lake City. The first and second floors of this building are occupied by the First Presidency and other Church officials. The third floor is devoted to the Historian's work, and the large collection of books and Church records. The fourth floor is used by the Genealogical Society, an organization whose purpose is to help people with their records, and gather a library of genealogical books, which will help them do the work in the Temples for their dead.

Here ends our history for the present. The little tree (mentioned in Chapter I) planted by God and nurtured by his servants, has in the space of eighty-six years grown to a large, beautiful tree, whose branches, as it were, protect thousands of people, and whose fruit nourishes a multitude. The enemy has striven hard to uproot and destroy it, but every effort has only made it cling more firmly to the nourishing earth.

The Church is growing in strength and power to save the human family. That is its mission. It will never be overcome, or left to other people. "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing," said the Prophet Joseph, "persecution may rage; mobs may combine; armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independently till it has penetrated every continent; visited every clime, swept every country; and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

And now let all the boys and girls who read this book remember what the Lord expects of them. He must have men and women to carry on the great work begun so nobly and so well. If He is to use you, you must make your lives worthy; you must grow in wisdom and power and faith and goodness; be pure and strong in mind and body; be studious, earnest, prayerful, noble, and brave to do the right; then God will be pleased to use you, and you yourselves will become makers of a glorious future history.

Topics.1. President Joseph F. Smith. 2. John R. Winder. 3. Anthon H. Lund. 4. John Henry Smith. 5. Charles W. Penrose. 6. The trouble in Mexico. 7. The great war in Europe. 8. Progress of the Church.

Questions and Review.1. Who was President Joseph F. Smith's father? 2. Describe some of his boyhood surroundings. 3. Tell about his adventure with the Indians. 4. How did he cross the plains? 5. Tell of his missions. 6. How long has he been President of the Church? 7. How many of you have seen him and heard him speak? 8. Name President Smith's counselors. 9. Tell something about each of them. 10. What historical places has the Church purchased and improved? 11. Why have the Saints had to leave Mexico? 12. Review the great European war. 13. What might be the outcome of this war? 14. Where are new temples being built? 15. How many stakes and wards are there now in the Church 16. What did the Prophet Joseph Smith say about the future of the Church?