Mary Fielding Smith
July 2011

“Mary Fielding Smith,” Ensign, July 2011, 73

Great Lives Remembered

Mary Fielding Smith

Mary Fielding Smith, a faithful Latter-day Saint woman, was left with several young children while her husband was in Liberty Jail during the winter of 1838–39. Mobs raided her home, and her son was nearly killed as a result of the attack. As the wife of Hyrum Smith, Mary was left a widow when her husband was assassinated at Carthage Jail on June 27, 1844. She and Emma Smith endured many trials along with their husbands, Hyrum and Joseph Smith. Today, Mary is admired as one of the most stalwart pioneers of the early Church.

Mary married Hyrum Smith on December 24, 1837. Hyrum’s first wife, Jerusha, had died in childbirth, and Mary cared for Hyrum’s small children as her own. Hyrum and Mary also had two children together, including Joseph F. Smith, who later became the sixth President of the Church.

When the Saints left Nauvoo for the Salt Lake Valley after Joseph and Hyrum were martyred, Mary resolved to make the journey. She and her family were assigned to a traveling group, and the captain told her that she would be a burden to others and shouldn’t attempt the difficult journey. Mary responded, “I will beat you to the valley and will ask no help from you either.”1 The trek proved difficult, but she arrived with her family in Salt Lake on September 23, 1848, a day ahead of the captain who had doubted her.

Mary Fielding Smith remained faithful to the end of her life. She paid tithing, even in her poverty. When someone inappropriately suggested she not contribute a tenth of the potatoes she had grown that year, she responded, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? … I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it.”2 She established a farm in the Salt Lake Valley and taught her children the gospel. President Joseph F. Smith later said, “She taught me honor, and virtue, and truth, and integrity to the kingdom of God, and she taught me not only by precept but by example.”3


  1. See Don Cecil Corbett, Mary Fielding Smith: Daughter of Britain (1966), 228.

  2. Mary Fielding Smith, quoted by Joseph F. Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 48.

  3. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 36.

Top: Mary Fielding Smith crossing the plains.

Above: Joseph F. Smith with family members at Mary Fielding Smith’s Salt Lake City home, about 1910.