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Family foundations: Early homes of the 17 Church presidents


The birthplaces and childhood homes of the presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints range from England to Idaho and Vermont to Utah. Some locations have markers noting birthplaces, while other homes have been replaced by other structures. 

Here’s a look at the early homes and home sites of presidents of the Church. (Sources include biographical information from the “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” manuals on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, BYU’s Religious Studies Center, the Church News archives and the “Picturing history” (formerly “Portraits of the Past”) series by Kenneth Mays on Deseret.com)

1. Joseph Smith

The birthplace monument to the Prophet Joseph Smith, at Sharon, Vermont, shown in 2005. The birth home was situated about where the clump of trees is at the far left. He was born Dec. 23, 1805.

The birthplace monument to the Prophet Joseph Smith, at Sharon, Vermont, shown in 2005. The birth home was situated about where the clump of trees is at the far left. He was born Dec. 23, 1805.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Joseph Smith Jr. was born Dec. 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, the fifth of 11 children of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, on property owned by Solomon Mack, her father. 

His family moved several times during his childhood, including to Royalton, Vermont, New Hampshire, back to Vermont, and then to New York, as they faced economic difficulties. 

In Lebanon, New Hampshire, it was during a typhoid epidemic that young Joseph’s leg was infected. Parts of the bone were removed in an experimental operation that saved the 7-year-old’s leg.

The reconstructed Smith log home in Palmyra, New York, is shown in 2009. It’s where Joseph lived at the time of the First Vision and first Moroni visit.

The reconstructed Smith log home in Palmyra, New York, is shown in 2009. It’s where Joseph lived at the time of the First Vision and first Moroni visit.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

The family moved to Norwich, Vermont, before moving to western New York in 1816. By 1819, the family had earned enough money to put a down payment on a farm near Palmyra, in modern Manchester Township, and they built a log home on the property. Later, Joseph’s older brother Alvin started work on a frame home not far from the log home. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Smith” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith”; “The Early Years, 1805-19,” in “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer” on rsc.byu.edu; and Mays’ “Portraits of the past: Monument at Sharon,” “Portraits of the past: Villages in Vermont,” “Picturing history: West Lebanon, New Hampshire,” “Portraits of the past: Arriving in Palmyra,” “Portraits of the past: Palmyra, N.Y.,” “Portraits of the past: Smiths’ log home,” “Portraits of the past: Smith farm” and “Portraits of the past: Smith’s frame home in Manchesteron Deseret.com.)

2. Brigham Young

This is the James Pine home, Port Byron, New York, where Brigham Young lived for about four years and is shown in 2015. His first child, Elizabeth, was born here. It has been purchased by a member of the Church who is working out a way to restore it to the point that a couple could live there as hosts

This is the James Pine home, Port Byron, New York, where Brigham Young lived for about four years and is shown in 2015. His first child, Elizabeth, was born here. It has been purchased by a member of the Church who is working out a way to restore it to the point that a couple could live there as hosts

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Brigham Young was born on June 1, 1801, in Whitingham, Vermont, less than 100 miles from Sharon, and was the ninth of John and Abigail “Nabby” Young’s 11 children. The family moved to Sherburne, New York, in 1802 and then would move every few years. When he was 14, Brigham began work as an apprentice to learn carpentry and other skills. By the time he was 16, he began to support himself. When he moved to Port Byron, New York, to find work, he met Miriam Works and they married on Oct. 5, 1824. His father had settled in Mendon, New York, and Brigham and Miriam moved there in 1828. It was in Mendon, New York, where Brigham Young was baptized. 

(See “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young”; “Brigham Young —The Early Years, By Elder S. Dilworth Young, Liahona, June 1989”; and Mays’ “Picturing history: Birthplace and early sites of President Brigham Young in Vermont, New York“; “Picturing history: Whitingham, Windham County, Vermont“; “Picturing history: Brigham Young home“; and “Picturing history: John Young home, Mendon, New York.”)

3. John Taylor

John Taylor’s childhood home in Hale, Cumbria, England, is shown in 2018.

John Taylor’s childhood home in Hale, Cumbria, England, is shown in 2018.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

John Taylor was born on Nov. 1, 1808, in Milnthorpe, Westmoreland, England, to James Taylor and Agnes Taylor. He was christened in St. Peter’s Church, the Church of England’s parish church at Heversham. The family moved to Liverpool in 1814 for five years and moved back to Westmoreland in the village of Hale. He attended grammar school in Beetham. At 16, he had joined the Methodist Church and served as a lay preacher. He and his wife later joined the Church in 1836 in Canada.

(See “The Life and Ministry of John Taylor” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor”; “John Taylor: Prophets of the Restoration”; and Mays’ “Picturing history: President John Taylor sites — childhood in England.”)

4. Wilford Woodruff

This plaque identifies the approximate birth site of Wilford Woodruff at Farmington, now Avon, Connecticut. It’s shown in 2006.

This plaque identifies the approximate birth site of Wilford Woodruff at Farmington, now Avon, Connecticut. It’s shown in 2006.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

On March 1, 1807, Wilford Woodruff was born in Farmington, Connecticut, the third son of Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson Woodruff. His mother died of spotted fever when he was 15 months old. His father remarried about three years later and added six more children to the family. Young Wilford went to school, worked on his family’s farm and father’s sawmill, and enjoyed fishing. By 1833, he was living in Richland, Oswego County, New York, with his brother, Azmon, and sister-in-law, Elizabeth, when missionaries came through the area. He was baptized on Dec. 31, 1833, in Grindstone Creek

(See “The Life and Ministry of Wilford Woodruff” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff”; and Mays’ “Picturing history: President Wilford Woodruff sites — ancestry and birth,”Picturing history: President Wilford Woodruff sites — conversion and early LDS Church membership” and “Picturing history: Wilford Woodruff baptismal site.”)

5. Lorenzo Snow

The home of Oliver and Rosetta Snow in Mantua, Ohio, where Lorenzo Snow was born in 1814. He was their fifth child. The two-story section of the home at the left is a later addition. The home is shown here in 2009.

The home of Oliver and Rosetta Snow in Mantua, Ohio, where Lorenzo Snow was born in 1814. He was their fifth child. The two-story section of the home at the left is a later addition. The home is shown here in 2009.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Lorenzo Snow was the first son and fifth child of Oliver and Rosetta Leonora Pettibone Snow when he was born on April 3, 1814, in Mantua, Ohio, which was one of the westernmost settlements at the time. One of his older sisters is Eliza Roxcy Snow. The family, which included seven children, worshipped at a nearby Campbellite church. He worked on his family’s farm and attended Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, about 60 miles west of Mantua. It was on a journey to Oberlin when Lorenzo met the missionaries. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Lorenzo Snow” and “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow” and “Picturing history: President Lorenzo Snow — sites of his birth, childhood, conversion.”) 

6. Joseph F. Smith

The home of Mary Fielding Smith in Salt Lake City is shown in 2006. It’s where Joseph F. Smith lived as a boy.

The home of Mary Fielding Smith in Salt Lake City is shown in 2006. It’s where Joseph F. Smith lived as a boy.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Joseph F. Smith was born on Nov. 13, 1838, in Far West, Missouri, to Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith. Church members were under an extermination order and Hyrum was under arrest and would spend that winter in Liberty Jail. After Hyrum Smith was killed with his brother Joseph Smith in 1844, the family went west. They settled in the Millcreek area of the Salt Lake Valley and were able to construct a two-room adobe home before Mary Fielding Smith died in 1852. When Joseph F. Smith was 15, he served a mission in the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii. 

(See “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith” in “The Ministry of Joseph F. Smith”; “Joseph F. Smith: Prophets of the Restoration” and “Picturing history: President Joseph F. Smith sites — early years in Missouri, Nauvoo and going west.”)

7. Heber J. Grant

The birth home of Heber J. Grant, which was on Salt Lake City Main Street.

The birth home of Heber J. Grant, which was on Salt Lake City Main Street.

Credit: Church History Library

The first president of the Church born in Utah, Heber Jeddy Grant was born on Nov. 22, 1856, to Jedediah Morgan Grant and Rachel Ridgeway Ivins Grant. His father, a counselor in the First Presidency to President Brigham Young, died nine days after young Heber was born. As a widow, his mother worked as a seamstress and took in boarders. When he was 15, he worked as a bookkeeper in an insurance office and also earned money after hours by writing cards and invitations and making maps. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Heber J. Grant” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant”; and  “Picturing history: President Heber J. Grant — sites in and around Salt Lake City.”)

8. George Albert Smith

The boyhood home of George Albert Smith would have been at the far left of the Family History Library, shown here in 2021, near the corner of West Temple and South Temple streets in downtown Salt Lake City.

The boyhood home of George Albert Smith would have been at the far left of the Family History Library, shown here in 2021, near the corner of West Temple and South Temple streets in downtown Salt Lake City.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

George Albert Smith was born April 4, 1870, in Salt Lake City to John Henry and Sarah Farr Smith. His father, John Henry Smith, later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. His grandfather George A. Smith was a cousin to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, an Apostle and a counselor to President Brigham Young. His great-grandfather John Smith was a patriarch to the Church and brother of Joseph Smith Sr. He attended Brigham Young Academy when he was 12, and at 13 years old he started working at ZCMI.

(See “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith” in “The Life and Ministry of George Albert Smith”; George Albert Smith in “Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation”; and Picturing history: President George Albert Smith — sites in Illinois, Vermont, Canada and Utah.)

9. David O. McKay

David O. McKay’s boyhood home in Huntsville, Utah, shown in 2009.

David O. McKay’s boyhood home in Huntsville, Utah, shown in 2009.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

David Oman McKay was born on Sept. 8, 1873, in Huntsville, Utah, the third of six children born to David McKay, of Scotland, and Jennette Eveline Evans McKay, of Wales. His older sisters died in 1880 within days of each other. And about a year later, when he was 7 years old, his father received a mission call to Scotland. When he returned home, David McKay was called as bishop. When he was a deacon, David O. McKay was called to serve as his quorum president. After finishing schooling in Huntsville, he attended Weber Stake Academy in Ogden for two years.

(See “The Life and Ministry of David O. McKay” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay” and “Picturing history: President David O. McKay sites — early life and mission to Great Britain.”)

10. Joseph Fielding Smith

Joseph Fielding Smith’s childhood home was between what is now West High School and the West High Seminary building.

Joseph Fielding Smith’s childhood home was between what is now West High School and the West High Seminary building.

Credit: Church History Library

Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. was born on July 19, 1876, to Joseph F. and Julina Lambson Smith in Salt Lake City. His father was a counselor in the First Presidency when Joseph was born. The family owned a farm in Taylorsville, Utah, and he and his brothers worked on the farm. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. was also responsible for keeping up with his school studies. His mother was a midwife and he would drive her with a horse and buggy. When he was a teenager, he worked at ZCMI. On April 6, 1893, he attended the first dedicatory session of the Salt Lake Temple. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Joseph Fielding Smith” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith”; and “Picturing history: President Joseph Fielding Smith sites — marriage, temples, church history and missions.”)

11. Harold B. Lee

A historical monument in Clifton, Idaho, where Harold B. Lee was born on March 28, 1899. There are about a half-dozen extant homes where President Lee lived as a married adult, but nothing from his boyhood days.

A historical monument in Clifton, Idaho, where Harold B. Lee was born on March 28, 1899. There are about a half-dozen extant homes where President Lee lived as a married adult, but nothing from his boyhood days.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Harold Bingham Lee was born in Clifton, Idaho, on March 28, 1899, to Samuel and Louisa Bingham Lee, and was the second of six children. “We had everything money could not buy,” he later said. His childhood was filled with church, school, family and chores. He attended the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston, and Albion State Normal School in Albion, Idaho, where he earned his teaching certificate. 

(See “The Ministry of Harold B. Lee” and “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee” and “Picturing history: President Harold B. Lee sites — childhood to missionary service.”) 

12. Spencer W. Kimball

The boyhood home of Spencer W. Kimball in Thatcher, Arizona, shown in 2007.

The boyhood home of Spencer W. Kimball in Thatcher, Arizona, shown in 2007.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Spencer Woolley Kimball was born on March 28, 1895, in Salt Lake City to Andrew and Olive Woolley Kimball and was the sixth of 11 children. When he was 3 years old, his father was called to be president of the St. Joseph Stake in The Gila Valley, Arizona. The family moved to Thatcher, Arizona, where they had a farm. When he was 11, his mother died. (His father later remarried.) He attended high school at the Gila Academy and learned to play the piano by ear. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Spencer W. Kimball” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball” and “Picturing history: President Spencer W. Kimball sites — ancestors in Illinois, childhood in Utah, Arizona.”)

13. Ezra Taft Benson

The Benson farm in Whitney, Idaho, shown in 2013, is where Ezra Taft Benson was born Aug. 4, 1899. The present-day barn is right and the home is on the far left.

The Benson farm in Whitney, Idaho, shown in 2013, is where Ezra Taft Benson was born Aug. 4, 1899. The present-day barn is right and the home is on the far left.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Ezra Taft Benson was born on Aug. 4, 1899, in Whitney, Idaho, and the oldest of 11 children born to George Taft Benson Jr. and Sarah Dunkley Benson. He grew up on the family’s farm and went by the nickname of “T.” When Ezra was 12, his father was called to serve a mission and Ezra took on many of the responsibilities of running the farm. He also attended the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston.

(See “The Life and Ministry of Ezra Taft Benson” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson”; and “Picturing history: President Ezra Taft Benson sites — childhood and schooling in Idaho.”)

14. Howard W. Hunter

Howard W. Hunter was born on Nov. 14, 1907, in Boise, Idaho. He lived in this home on 11th Street as a boy. It’s in the same area as the Sherman Street home.

Howard W. Hunter was born on Nov. 14, 1907, in Boise, Idaho. He lived in this home on 11th Street as a boy. It’s in the same area as the Sherman Street home.

Credit: Provided by Kenneth Mays

Howard William Hunter was born on Nov. 14, 1907, in Boise, Idaho, the oldest of two children born to John William “Will” Hunter and Nellie Rasmussen Hunter. Although his father wasn’t a member of the Church, his mother was active and raised her children in the gospel. Howard was 12 years old and his sister, Dorothy, was 10 when their father gave permission for them to be baptized. He was ordained a deacon and could pass the sacrament. He had learned to play several instruments and at 16 formed a music group called Hunter’s Croonaders. 

(See “The Life and Ministry of Howard W. Hunter” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter”; “Prophets of the Restoration: Howard W. Hunter”; and Picturing history: President Howard W. Hunter sites — life, ministry and an experience in the Mesa Arizona Temple.”)

15. Gordon B. Hinckley

The childhood home of Gordon B. Hinckley in Salt Lake City. He was born on June 23, 1910. The home is shown in 2010.

The childhood home of Gordon B. Hinckley in Salt Lake City. He was born on June 23, 1910. The home is shown in 2010.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, to Bryant Stringham and Ada Bitner Hinckley in Salt Lake City. Bryant and his first wife, Christine, had eight children, and he married Ada Bitner after Christine’s death. Four more children followed after Gordon.

After a bout of whooping cough when he was 2 years old, the doctor told Ada Hinckley the best remedy was clear country air. The family bought a five-acre farm in East Millcreek. 

At 12, he went to a stake priesthood meeting with his father where his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith grew. He graduated from high school in 1928 and attended the University of Utah. After graduation, he was called to serve in the European Mission and his first area was in Preston, England.

(See “The Life and Ministry of Gordon B. Hinckley” in “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley” and “Picturing history: President Gordon B. Hinckley sites — childhood in Utah and mission in England.”)

16. Thomas S. Monson

Construction in 2021 on the block where Thomas S. Monson’s childhood home was on 500 South in Salt Lake City.

Construction in 2021 on the block where Thomas S. Monson’s childhood home was on 500 South in Salt Lake City.

Credit: Kenneth Mays

Thomas Spencer Monson was born on Aug. 21, 1927, and was the first son and second child of G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson. The family grew to include six children. He grew up on the west side of Salt Lake City, in a home near 500 South and 200 West, not far from railroad tracks, and on the same block as many of his mother’s relatives. In general conference, he told stories of being the rowdy child his Primary teacher asked to help others be reverent and giving part of a prized Christmas train to another boy who didn’t have any gifts. He was fascinated by pigeons and began raising them, along with other animals. 

(See “Prophets and Apostles: Thomas S. Monson”; “President Thomas S. Monson: Prophet and Friend”; and “Part 1: Thomas S. Monson Learned Compassion in His Youth.”)

17. Russell M. Nelson

Russell M. Nelson and his family moved to this home in the East Liberty Park area of Salt Lake City when he was 7 years old.

Russell M. Nelson and his family moved to this home in the East Liberty Park area of Salt Lake City when he was 7 years old.

Credit: Provided by the Nelson family

Russell Marion Nelson was born on Sept. 9, 1924, in Salt Lake City, and was the second of four children to Marion C. and Edna Anderson Nelson. At the time his parents were living southeast of Liberty Park; when he was 7 years old the family moved to another home in the East Liberty Park area. 

During his younger years, while his parents weren’t active in the Church, they did send him to Sunday School. He continued to attend church and with the ministering efforts of his bishop and teachers, he and his three siblings were baptized when he was 16 years old.

(See “A sneak peek into Sheri Dew’s new book, ’Insights from a Prophet’s Life,’” and “Prophet, physician, husband and father: A look at the life of President Nelson” on TheChurchNews.com)

Kenneth Mays, a retired instructor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Department of Seminaries and Institutes, contributed to this article. His image collection is available at catalog.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Correction: An earlier version of this article noted that David O. McKay’s older sisters died in 1850. They died in 1880.

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