Samuel Harrison Smith

Samuel Smith First Missionary

Samuel Harrison Smith

June 1830.  Mendon, New York.  It was in the evening when Phineas, a circuit preacher was on his way home. He stopped at the Tomlinson Inn there in Mendon for dinner. While he was eating and talking with the family, a roughly dressed stranger, a young man, came up to him holding out a book. “There is a book, sir, I wish you to read.”

Phineas hesitated a moment and then said, “Pray, sir, what book have you?”

“The Book of Mormon,” said the young man, “or, as it is called by some, the Golden Bible.”

“Ah, then it purports to be a revelation,” Phineas replied.

“Yes,” said he, “It is a revelation from God.”

Phineas then took the book. It was new, and at the young man’s direction turned to the back of it and read the testimony of the witnesses. When he finished reading and looked up, the young man said, “If you will read this book with a prayerful heart and ask God to give you a witness you will know of the truth of this work.”

“What is your name,” Phineas asked.

“My name is Samuel Harrison Smith.”

“Ah,” said Phineas, “you are one of the witnesses.” “Yes,” said he, “I know the book to be a revelation from God, translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and that my brother, Joseph Smith, Jun., is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator.”

Skeptical at first, Phineas agreed to read the book, considering it his duty to prove all things and hold fast that which is good. He read it twice over the next two weeks. Not only did he not find errors, he was converted. He then lent it to his father who read it and declared it to be “the greatest work… he had ever seen.”  Phineas then gave it to his sister, who read it and declared it to be “a revelation.” And so it went down through the family, each in turn believing it to be a new revelation from God. From that one book came Phineas his father, his sister, and all his brothers, including Brigham Young—the second President of the Church, and the family of Heber C. Kimball. That small group of believers soon numbered 60 people and formed the Mendon Branch.

Samuel was called and set apart as a missionary just days after the Church was organized. With no training and armed with only a sure testimony and a knapsack full of books he went out and though he endured much and baptized no one, he changed the world forever. By small and simple things are great things still brought to pass.

10 thoughts on “Samuel Harrison Smith”

  1. Yes, the 1830’s. I’m wondering where Mendon is in relation to Oneida as I’m sure my relatives had heard of Joe Smith’s Golden Bible too in the early days in that area. My family then left the United States bound for government grant lands in Caledon area of Ontario, Canada. They were part of the Boston Mills branch of 1836 in Caledon 10 short minutes away from where the Toronto Temple stands today. My 3 times great grandfather John Standing (an early member of the church) is buried at the Boston Mills Cemetery where the branch of the Church used to be located.
    I am the 2 times great niece of James and Mary Standing. James, was the 21st
    senior president of the quorum of 70. James and Mary’s son Joseph was martyred by a mob in Georgia while serving his second mission with Elder Rudger Clawson. I would love to see some history documented by you concerning my relatives. My Uncle James was especially close to Hyrum and John Taylor. There is a great Canadian Legacy here. Thanks Elizabeth Gow

    1. As I recall, Mendon is less than 25 miles from Palmyra. I know the story of Joseph Standing, the martyr. Perhaps we will cover some of the stories of your ancestors. Thanks for the comment

    1. I know the Book of Mormon to be true source of Reveled Knowledge from God the Etenal Father. It will give you Divine Guidance in your life. You can depend on it to receive His Spirit to be near you at all times.

  2. I love the History of the Saints series! I watch almost every week.
    Today I discovered I can read these stories online. What a wonderful resource!

  3. I just discovered this site and just love it. I have watched and rewatched History of the Saints and served in the CHL twice when your crew would come in but I love these short stories. It is through the stories of others we learn about ourselves and others who serve as our mentors though we may be generations apart.

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