6 places the Prophet Joseph Smith spent Christmas

Joseph Smith Jr. was 2 days old on his first Christmas. His family, including parents Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, and older siblings Alvin, Hyrum and Sophronia, were living in Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, on property Lucy’s father, Solomon Mack, owned after an economic downturn.

“Here it was that my son Joseph was born, December 23, 1805, one who will act a more conscious part in this work than any other individual,” Lucy Mack Smith wrote in “History of Joseph Smith by his Mother.” 

The Smith family moved there in 1804 and lived in the frame home with a central chimney on Dairy Hill until the winter of 1807-08. On the 100th anniversary of Joseph’s birth, in 1905, at 50-foot monument and site was dedicated by his nephew, Church President Joseph F. Smith. 

Where Joseph Smith was on other Christmases can be pieced together through his writings and other records.

Here’s a look at five other Christmases in his life. (Please note that this list is not all inclusive. The spelling, capitalization and punctuation in the quotes have been updated.) 

1832: Newel K. Whitney store, Kirtland, Ohio

The translation or revelation room in the Whitney store is presumably where Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants 87 on Christmas Day.
The translation or revelation room in the Whitney store is presumably where Joseph Smith received Doctrine and Covenants 87 on Christmas Day. Credit: Kenneth Mays

Kirtland, Ohio, was a gathering place for the Saints from 1831 to 1838. Joseph and Emma Smith and their young family lived in Newel K. Whitney’s store for about 18 months.

The revelations he received here include 16 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. One of the upstairs rooms was known as the revelation room. 

On Dec. 25, 1832, he received what is now Section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which prophesied about the Civil War. 

1835: Home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. in Kirtland, Ohio

The home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. in Kirtland, Ohio is where Joseph Smith spent Christmas 1835 with his family.
The home of Joseph Smith Sr. and Joseph Smith Jr. in Kirtland, Ohio is where Joseph Smith spent Christmas 1835 with his family. Credit: Kenneth Mays

Joseph and Emma moved out of the Whitney store in 1834. They bought a home closer to the Kirtland Temple. 

He recorded and is available in “Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Vol. 1: 1832-1839: “Friday 25th. At home all this day and enjoyed myself with my family it being Christmas day the only time I have had this privilege so satisfactorily for a long time.”

1838: Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri

Reconstructed cutaway of the Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith and others spent Christmas 1838.
Reconstructed cutaway of the Liberty Jail, where Joseph Smith and others spent Christmas 1838. Credit: Kenneth Mays

By Dec. 1, 1838, Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae were in a jail in Liberty, Missouri.

On Dec. 16, 1838, he wrote a letter to the Saints that’s published in see “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

“May grace, mercy, and the peace of God be and abide with you; and notwithstanding all your sufferings, we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare, day and night. We believe that that God who seeth us in this solitary place, will hear our prayers, and reward you openly.”

On Christmas, Joseph and the other prisoners were visited by Howard Evert, a Disciple preacher, Thomas D. and Patricia C. Cottle note in “Liberty Jail and the Legacy of Joseph.”

1842: Hiram and Sarah Kimball’s home, Nauvoo, Illinois

The Hiram and Sarah Kimball home in Nauvoo, Illinois, is where Joseph, Emma and other couples spent Christmas 1842.
The Hiram and Sarah Kimball home in Nauvoo, Illinois, is where Joseph, Emma and other couples spent Christmas 1842. Credit: Kenneth Mays

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started moving to Nauvoo, Illinois, in late 1839. Sarah Granger Kimball was one of the women who helped establish the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo in March 1842. 

One of Joseph’s histories records for that year: “Saturday 25 being Christmas, … Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, and their Wives, and Willard Richards spent the evening at Hiram Kimballs.”

1843: Mansion House, Nauvoo, Illinois

The Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois, is decorated for the Christmas season in 2004.
The Mansion House in Nauvoo, Illinois, is decorated for the Christmas season in 2004. Credit: Kenneth Mays

Joseph Smith’s family moved into the Mansion House at Nauvoo, Illinois, in August 1843.

Christmas that year found Joseph and Emma hosting a large dinner group in that home. “History of the Church” notes: “At two o’clock, about fifty couples sat down at my table to dine. … spent the evening in music, dancing, &c., in a most cheerful and friendly manner” (see Vol. VI, page 134). 

It was “during the festivities, a man with his hair long and falling over his shoulder” came in. Joseph didn’t recognize him at first, but it was Orrin Porter Rockwell, who had become Joseph’s protector.

More information about Joseph Smith’s Christmases and sources for this article include:

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.