I Knew Joseph

    “I Knew Joseph,” Ensign, Dec. 2004, 18

    I Knew Joseph

    The following artwork features the Prophet Joseph Smith and is accompanied by narratives from Latter-day Saints who knew him. While some accounts were written near the time of the event and others long after, they all speak of Joseph Smith’s noble character and countenance. All bear testimony that he was a prophet of God.

    Bathsheba W. Smith, wife of the Prophet’s cousin George A. Smith, wrote:

    “The Prophet was a handsome man—splendid looking, a large man, tall and fair. He had a very nice complexion. His eyes were blue, and his hair a golden brown, and very pretty.

    “My first impressions were that he was an extraordinary man, a man of great penetration; was different from any other man I ever saw; had the most heavenly countenance; was genial, affable and kind; and looked the soul of honor and integrity.

    “I know him to be what he professed to be—a true prophet of God.”1

    Joseph Took His Handkerchief from His Pocket

    Margarette and Wallace McIntire got stuck in the mud near Joseph’s store in Nauvoo. Margarette wrote: “We began to cry. … But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing” (in Andrus, 127). (Joseph Took His Handkerchief from His Pocket, by Clark Kelley Price.)

    Family Visit to Liberty Jail

    Amidst his suffering in Liberty Jail, the Prophet found joy in a visit from Emma and their son. He loved his family. Speaking of a happier time, Brother Benjamin F. Johnson wrote of a Sunday morning when he was sitting with the Prophet in the Mansion House in Nauvoo. Two of the children came to the Prophet “as just from their mother, all so nice, bright and sweet. Calling them to my attention, he said, ‘Benjamin, look at these children. How could I help loving their mother?’” (in Andrus, 88). (Family Visit to Liberty Jail, by Joseph Brickey.)

    Joseph, I Will Not Leave You

    Telling of the last free days of the Prophet and his brother Hyrum in 1844, Mercy R. Thompson wrote: “The two brothers then started to cross the river, … [but] they returned to Nauvoo. … My feelings were indescribable, and the very air seemed burdened with sorrowful forebodings” (in Andrus, 121). (Joseph, I Will Not Leave You, by Theodore Gorka.)

    Frontier Prophet

    “The Prophet was strong and active, and could build more rods of good fence in one day than most men could in two,” wrote Jesse W. Crosby, neighbor of the Prophet in Nauvoo. “His woodyard was an example of order.”
    When the Prophet’s ax was stolen, Jesse wrote, “I contrived to loan him my ax because of the unfailing habit of the Prophet to always sharpen the ax he had been using before it left his hand” (in Andrus, 143–44). (Frontier Prophet, by Nathan Andrew Pinnock.)

    Healing in Nauvoo

    “Nearly everyone was sick with intermittent or other fevers, of which many died,” wrote Brother Benjamin F. Johnson, of the malaria that struck the Saints in Nauvoo in 1839. “The Prophet, too, had a violent sickness. … A great fear began to prevail. … The Prophet now arose in great power, like a lion, … [and] shook off his own sickness. … Those being sick he commanded to be healed, which they were” (in Andrus, 91). (Healing in Nauvoo, by Gary Smith.)

    Brigham Young Listening to Joseph Smith Jr.

    “In the evening a few of the brethren came in, and we conversed together upon the things of the kingdom,” wrote Brigham Young of his first day with the Prophet in the fall of 1832. “Joseph called upon me to pray. … [Then he said] the time will come when Brother Brigham Young will preside over this Church’” (in Andrus, 34). (Brigham Young Listening to Joseph Smith Jr., by Paul Mann.)

    Christ Appears to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple

    On 3 April 1836, in the newly dedicated Kirtland Temple, Christ appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us” (D&C 110:2). Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses, said of the Prophet, “I wrote with my own pen the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God. … I beheld with my eyes and handled with my hands the gold plates from which it was transcribed” (quoted in William G. Hartley, “Pushing on to Zion,” Ensign, Aug. 2002, 18). (Christ Appears to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple, by Del Parson.)

    Organization of the Relief Society

    Of the Relief Society sisters, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, counselor in the first Relief Society presidency, wrote: “President Joseph Smith had great faith in the sisters’ labors, and ever sought to encourage them in the performance of the duties which pertained to these societies” (in Andrus, 41). (Organization of the Relief Society, by Nadine Barton.)

    Joseph, a Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

    Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner wrote: “I heard Joseph say, ‘I have rolled this kingdom off of my shoulders on to the shoulders of the Twelve and they can carry out this work and build up His kingdom. … I am tired, I have been mobbed, I have suffered so much. … I have to seal my testimony to this generation with my blood. …’
    “These words were spoken with such power that they penetrated the heart of every soul that believed on him” (in Andrus, 26). (Joseph, a Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, by Jared Barnes.)


    1. Quoted in They Knew the Prophet, comp. Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus (1974), 122.

    Prophet of the Lord, by David Lindsley