Joseph Smith gården i Nauvoo. Profeten og hans familie levede her fra 1839 til 1843

The Prophets early life

Joseph Smith Junior was born on the 23rd December, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, USA, as the fifth child of Joseph Smith Senior (1771-1848) and Lucy Mack (1775-1856). Joseph Smith Senior and Lucy Mack had eleven children. Only nine of them lived long enough to grow old. Six of the surviving children were boys and three of them were girls: Alvin, Hyrum, Sophronia, Joseph, Samuel Harrison, William, Katharine, Don Carlos, and Lucy.

When Joseph was about ten years old poverty forced the Smith family to move, first to New Hampshire in 1811, and later to Palmyra, New York in 1816. Joseph Smith Senior and Lucy Mack were humble and quiet people, who earned their living through hard farming work. Lucy Mack once said that Joseph Smith Junior, was an ordinary boy, who worked hard, and often had deep thoughts about the welfare of his immortal soul, but that he was, however, not inclined to much reading. He was especially interested in finding out which of the different churches in the Palmyra area that was the right church.

Joseph Smith's courage - a Typhoid Epidemic
While Joseph lived in Lebanon, New Hampshire in 1811, he got typhoid fever, as did many others. This epidimic was the reason that more than 3000 people died in the New Hampshire area. Joseph's fever disappeared but Joseph suffered from a serious infection in his bone marrow. His brother, Hyrum, was at his side for weeks, holding Josephs swollen legs - to ease the pressure - until they were finally able to get a doctor to look at him. The local surgeon examined his leg and decided that it had to be amputated, but Joseph's mother wouldn't accept that. Instead another doctor, Nathan Smith from Darmouth Medical College, examined Joseph. The new doctor said that he would try to rescue his leg by using a new method. This method was, however, very painful as it meant that part of the infected bone had to be removed.

At that time Joseph Smith, only seven years old, told his mother to leave while the operation was performed. The doctor brought a rope to tie him with, but Joseph said that he could handle the operation without being tied. The only existing form of anaesthesia at that time was cognac which Joseph, however, refused. Instead he asked his father to hold him during the operation. Joseph endured the operation with great courage, but he lost a lot of blood, and for some time after the operation he had to use crutches.

Josephs parents send him to his uncle for a while. The uncle lived in Salem Massachusetts. They hoped that the fresh air at the sea would help him recover faster. Thereafter the Smith family moved to Norwich, Vermont, but after three years of unsuccessful harvest, they decided to move to Palmyra in New York.

Joseph Smith's family and religion
Josephs family were religious, but didn't join any certain church. They worried a lot about the welfare of their souls, read the Bible together regularly and prayed together as well. This had an impact on the young Joseph Smith. He later said that he often looked at the stars and pondered over God and his own salvation.

At that time there was a religious revival in their area, and Joseph attended many different meetings. He was especially interested in finding out which of the churches in the Palmyra area was right, but as he were a young unexperienced boy, and as the different churches interpreted the scriptures very differently, he felt worried and was called up to serious reflection on the matter.

He later explained the following about this period of his life:

"During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was bright and who was wrong.

.. While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads:

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." ( James 1:5 )

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." ( Joseph Smith - History, 1:8, 11-12 )

For more information on what happened when Joseph asked God in faith, please see The First Vision.

Book of Mormon

Pres. Lorenzo Snow (1814 - 1901):
"We testify to the whole world that we know, by divine revelation, even through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that he revealed himself to Joseph Smith as personally as he did to his apostles anciently, after he arose from the tomb, and that he made known unto him these heavenly truths by which alone mankind can be saved."
( Deseret News, 31 Jan. 1877, 834 )