Remembering the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Published: Thursday, Dec. 23 2010 5:30 a.m. MST

A doctrinal dissertation by Larry C. Porter published by BYU contains an interesting footnote about the birth of Joseph, although the source is ambiguous. The title of the dissertation is "A Study of the Origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816-1831."

The footnote reads, "I, John D. Springs, M.D., have told a family story concerning Dr. Joseph Denison of South Royalton, Vermont, who delivered Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saints. The story was told my mother by her aunt, Mrs. Louise Elder, who had cleared out the house of Mr. Denison after the death of him and his family. The report was bound in his account books of delivering a son for old Joe Smith. Under a later date he had put a note on the same entry saying, 'If I had known how he was going to turn out I'd have smothered the little cuss.'"

Christmas

What was Joseph's first Christmas like two days later?

There were no trees or decorations, no Santa and no gifts, Enders said. Those traditions didn't come until later.

"The Smith family was descended from Puritan stock, and Puritans did not celebrate Christmas," Enders said. "Christmas celebrations at that time basically meant attending meetings where there was preaching, not play or activities. Ministers preached about the birth of Christ, his life and mission. Those were solemn days, maybe something of a Christmas feast, but not much beyond."

The monument

One hundred years from the day of the Prophet's birth, President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the LDS Church and nephew of Joseph Smith, dedicated the monument that stands atop Dairy Hill today. The monument is made of granite carved from the Green Mountains of Vermont. The Solomon Mack farm was purchased by Junius F. Wells in 1905. Wells oversaw the construction of the 18-ton monument and a memorial cottage.

On the 200th anniversary of the Prophet's birth, then-LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed church members around the world from the hallowed site.

"Two hundred years ago, on this very day, in this very place, there was born a child who was prophetically named Joseph after the name of his father," he said. "He became the prophet, seer and revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gave his life in testimony of the truth. … We are here on this significant anniversary, in the very place of his birth, we pay tribute and honor. We give praise and reverence. We give thanks to the God of heaven for his appointed prophet in this the dispensation of the fullness of times."

e-mail: ttoone@desnews.com

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