Missionary embards on ‘uphill work’

Samuel Smith, the young brother closest in age to the Prophet Joseph, was one of the early gospel stalwarts singled out to do missionary work.

The Prophet recorded in History of the Church, Vol. 1, p. 80, that Samuel was with four other brethren who, a short time after the Church was organized, went to the Prophet at Manchester, N.Y., "being anxious to know of the Lord what might be their respective duties in relation to this work."In addition to Samuel, the visitors on that April day in 1830 were Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith Sr., and Joseph Knight Sr.

Inquiring of the Lord on their behalf, the Prophet received what is now recorded as Section 23, in which Samuel was told his "calling is to exhortation, and to strengthen the church. . . . " (D&C 23:4.) That revelation, however, specified that Samuel was "not as yet called to preach before the world."

Samuel Harrison Smith, the fourth son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, was three years younger than the Prophet Joseph. According to Joseph Smith's Church History, Vol. 1, Samuel was baptized by Oliver Cowdery on May 25, 1829, just 10 days after the Prophet and Oliver were baptized. Samuel was one of the first six members of the Church, and was one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.

Samuel Smith was one of the first to be ordained to the office of elder. On June 13, 1830, Joseph Smith set him apart to travel to the East as a missionary. Samuel, then 22, took with him several copies of the Book of Mormon, which he attempted to sell along the way.

"Tracting was uphill work, then as now," Janne M. Sjodahl noted in Doctrine and Covenants Commentary. "Samuel was turned away from most of the houses he approached. At an inn the landlord evictedT him, as soon as he stated what the Book of Mormon contained, calling him a liar and ordering him out of the house. Sick at heart . . . SamuelT laid his weary head to rest under an apple tree."

Still discouraged, Samuel continued his journey the next morning, calling at the home of the Rev. John P. Greene, a Methodist minister, who agreed not only to accept a copy of the Book of Mormon but also to try to sell some copies for Samuel, with the understanding Samuel would return in about two weeks.

Greene and his wife read and were deeply impressed with the book. The copy Samuel left with him later was given to members of the Young family. Brigham Young, his brothers and some of their relatives and friends, including Heber C. Kimball, had their first direct contact with the restored gospel through that copy of the Book of Mormon.

Samuel returned from his mission at least by Sept. 26, 1830, since he was one of the speakers who addressed the second conference of the Church on that date at Fayette, N.Y.

On June 7, 1831, at Kirtland, Ohio, Samuel Smith and Reynolds Cahoon were called to "take their journey" as missionaries. (D&C 52:30.) On Oct. 25, 1831, at Orange, Ohio, Samuel was called to accompany William E. McLellin (D&C 66:8), and on Jan. 25, 1832, at Amherst, Ohio, Samuel was instructed to go with Orson Hyde "into the eastern countries. . . . " (D&C 75:13.)

Samuel remained a faithful member of the Church. He died July 30, 1844, at age 36, less than a month after his brothers Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed June 27, 1844, by a mob at Carthage, Ill.