December 21, 2022

Video: Joseph Smith’s Birthplace

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Scripture Central

Where is the exact spot Joseph Smith was born? Where did he grow up? How did his early life and setting prepare him to become the Prophet of the Restoration? Did you know that some of Joseph’s ancestors sailed on the Mayflower and fought in the Revolutionary War? Join professor Casey Griffiths in this travel video, as he explores the early sites of the Prophet’s life.

We begin the video with Casey interviewing BYU professor Ken Alford, who explains the historical setting of Joseph Smith’s childhood. Casey then flies to Boston and explores the Freedom Trail, where you follow a brick path through the heart of Boston to see important historical sites, mainly related to the Revolutionary War. He sees where the Boston Massacre started, Paul Revere’s home, the USS Constitution, and Bunker Hill. These sites emphasize the strong spirit of freedom and religious liberty that helped shape the thinking and values of the Smith family.

We then explore Topsfield Massachusetts where five generations of Joseph’s family, on his father’s side, lived. Elder Russel M. Ballard, who is a direct descendent of Hyrum Smith, dedicated a monument here to the Smith Family. Casey also explores the locations where Joseph Smith’s mother lived and where his parents met.

At Sharon Vermont, Casey meets David McDowell, a Seminaries and Institute Coordinator over the New England area, and an expert in the early life of Joseph Smith. They visit the site where Joseph was born, which still has a stone from the original home. There’s also an impressive monument here commemorating Joseph’s birth. The main shaft is one solid piece of granite 38.5 feet tall—a foot for each year of Joseph’s life. Even today, quarry workers marvel at the striking monolith and how it was moved to this location.

David and Casey then drive southeast to Lebanon, another location where the Smith’s lived. Here, Joseph experienced one of the most horrifying events of his young life, as typhoid fever infected one of his legs.

After discussing the miracle of Joseph’s recovery, David and Casey visit one final location: Patriarch Hill. They point out that we can see the Lord’s hand leading the Smith family from place to place, until they ended up near the burial site of the Book of Mormon. Thus, while certainly hard in the moment, the hardships they endured actually led them to miraculous blessings, not only for their own family but for the entire world. Buckle up and join us as we explore these key sites of the Restoration!

Further Reading

Smith Family Ancestry

Anderson, A. Gary. Smith Family Ancestors In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 3:1361–1363. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. "Heritage of a Prophet." Ensign 1, no. 2 (1971): 15-19.

Smith, Lucy Mack. Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Liverpool: Published for O. Pratt, by S.W. Richards, 1853.

Wilson, Lynne Hilton. "Family History of Joseph Smith." In Hard Questions in Church History: Supplementary Handouts, 1-8. Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021.

Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith

Anderson, A. Gary. Smith, Joseph, Sr., Edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 3:1348–1349. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1992.

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. "Joseph Smith, Sr." New Era 3, no. 12 (1973): 34-39.

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. "Joseph Smith’s Home Environment." Ensign 1, no. 7 (1971): 57-59.

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. "Lucy Mack Smith." New Era 3, no. 12 (1973): 34-39.

Anderson, Richard Lloyd. Smith, Lucy Mack In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, 3:1355–1358. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1992.

Black, Susan Easton. "Joseph Smith Sr." In Restoration Voices: Volume 1: People of the Doctrine and Covenants. Vol. 1. Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2021.

Early Life

Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel. "The Early Years, 18​05–19.” In Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson, 1–22. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010.

Joseph’s Surgery

Jackson, Scott. A Doctor Explains Young Joseph Smith's Leg Operation!. Springville, UT: Doctrine and Covenants Central, 2021.

Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial Monument

Gates, Susa Young. "Memorial Monument Dedication." Improvement Era 9, no. 4 (1906): 308-319.

Gates, Susa Young. "Memorial Monument Dedication (Concluded)." Improvement Era 9, no. 5 (1906): 375-389.

Holzapfel, Richard Neitzel, and Paul H. Peterson. "New Photographs of Joseph F. Smith’s Centennial Memorial Trip to Vermont, 1905." BYU Studies Quarterly 39, no. 4 (2000): 107-114.

Proceedings at the Dedication of the Joseph Smith Memorial Monument at Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, December 23rd, 1905. Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1906.

Smith, George Albert. Elder George Albert Smith In 76th Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: The Deseret News, 1906.

Book of Mormon

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