Joseph F. Smith, 6th President and Prophet of the LDS Church

Joseph F. Smith was the sixth prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in that position for seventeen years.

Born on November 13, 1838, to Hyrum (Joseph Smith’s brother) and Mary Fielding Smith, he experienced upheaval and hardships early in life. His father was in jail when he was born, and the rest of his family was forced from their home in Far West, Missouri, when he was only a couple of months old. Of his own birth he wrote:

The day was cold, bleak and dreary, a fit and proper anniversary of the dark and trying day of my birth; When my father and his brother were confined in a dungeon [in Richmond] for the Gospel’s sake and the saints were being driven from their homes in Missouri by a merciless mob. The bright sunshine of my soul has never thoroughly dispelled the darkening shadows cast upon it by the lowering gloom of that eventful period.
Yet the merciful hand of God and his kindliest providences have ever been extended visibly toward me, even from my childhood, and my days grow better and better thru humility and the pursuit of wisdom and happiness in the kingdom of God (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 147).

The family fled to Illinois, and for a time life was peaceful as the family lived in Nauvoo. Then in June of 1844, when Joseph F. Smith was only five years old, his father and his uncle Joseph Smith were martyred. Although he was young he said:

I saw his lifeless body together with that of my father after they were murdered in Carthage jail; and still have the most palpable remembrance of the gloom and sorrow of those dreadful days (E. Cecil McGavin, Nauvoo the Beautiful, p. 149).

In the fall of 1846 the family was again forced from their home, and Joseph F. Smith crossed the Missouri river to begin his journey with his mother across the plains to Utah. Joseph, though only seven when their journey began, was in charge of driving an ox team.

To read more about his life: MormonWiki