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Kenneth Mays
St. George, Utah, where Elder George Albert Smith dealt with a debilitating, little understood illness.

Born in Salt Lake City in 1870, George Albert Smith became the eighth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his ministry of nearly a half century, President Smith emphasized the importance of LDS Church history and its concomitant historical sites. It is fitting that the Nauvoo, Illinois, homes of his paternal great-grandfather and maternal grandmother are still extant.

Kenneth Mays
The Nauvoo, Illinois, home once owned by Winslow and Olive Farr, grandparents of President George Albert Smith.

Following a normal pioneer Utah childhood, George Albert Smith married Lucy Woodruff in 1892 in the Manti Utah Temple. Following their simultaneous service in the Southern States Mission, they enjoyed a brief honeymoon at Niagara Falls (see Merlo J. Pusey's essay in "The Presidents of the Church," edited by Leonard Arrington, page 253).

On Oct. 6, 1903, George Albert Smith was not able to get a seat for general conference. Arriving home to a scene of joyous congratulations, he learned that he had been called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Thinking it was a mistake, he sent a family member across the street to the Tabernacle where the call was indeed confirmed.

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In December 1905, Elder Smith and Lucy were invited to travel to Sharon, Vermont, for the dedication of the monument commemorating the centennial of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Just over three years later, Elder Smith suffered a debilitating nervous disorder and extreme exhaustion which plagued him for years.

At one point, he tried to regain his strength in St. George. While there, he was unable to get out of bed for a period of five months. Over time, he made a significant recovery but dealt with those symptoms off and on for the rest of his life.