Question: On Christmas time of 1905 (111 yeas ago today), where was Pres. Joseph F. Smith and why?
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“A Memorial to Joseph Smith in Vermont”
Joseph F. Smith was ordained and set apart as President of the Church on October 17, early in 1905. At the request of President Joseph F. Smith and members of the first presidency, Junius F. Wells visited the farm once belonging to Solomon Mack. This farm was in the townships of Sharon and Royalton, in Windsor County, Vermont. Solomon was the grandfather of Joseph Smith, Jr. and it was on his homestead atop Dairy Hill that the Prophet was born to Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith on Monday, December 23, 1805.
Through township records, interviews, and available historical sources, he was successful in purchasing the property and was authorized by the brethren to build a memorial cottage on the site of the original home. It was likewise agreed that he would commission the erection of a thirty eight and one half foot granite shaft with appropriate inscriptions to be dedicated and unveiled at that location on December 23, 1905, the 100th anniversary of the Prophet’s birth.
Elder Wells completed his arduous task, the memorial shaft, still standing today, weighs forty tons and was set in place with great difficulty. A special road had to be built from the railroad to the site of the monument, and a specially constructed wagon transported the shaft to its resting place.
President Joseph F. Smith and the centennial memorial party were greeted as they arrived at South Royalton, Vermont on December 22 (111 years ago today!). The group of thirty persons was comprised of Smith family members, general authorities, and other invited guests. During the services held the following day, December 23, in the Joseph Smith Memorial cottage, President Joseph F. Smith dedicated the home, the polished shaft of Vermont granite, and all appurtenances.
The opening words of President Smith’s dedicatory prayer read, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy most holy name. We thy servants and handmaidens representing the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints have gathered here to dedicate this monument to the memory of thy servant Joseph Smith, the great Prophet and Seer of the 19th century, who was born into the world near this
spot on the 23rd day of December 1805, one hundred years ago.”
President Smith and certain members of his party spent Christmas Eve in transit to Boston by way of the railroad. On Christmas Day, the Smith family members drove to Topsfield and Boxford, Massachusetts and there visited the home sites of Joseph Smith’s ancestors, including that of Joseph Smith, Sr. At the Pine Grove Cemetery in Topsfield, they paid homage to certain of these honorable men who had preserved the “watched bloodline” of the Lord’s servant Joseph Smith the prophet. The party then returned to Boston and boarded the night train for the West via Palmyra, New York and Kirtland, Ohio where they stopped to tour Church Historic sites. They visited the old Smith farm and the Hill Cumorah, where Joseph had been directed to the golden plates. There they sang and held a testimony meeting. The guests presented Pres. Smith with a gold watch to remind him of the loved ones whose lives had begun there. He became so emotional that he could barely speak. He managed to say, “My heart is like that of a child. It is easily touched, especially with love. I can much easier weep for joy than for sorrow.”
For President Smith, it was a Christmas filled with the rich remembrance of family; of sites related to the Restoration of the gospel; and of gratitude for his father, Hyrum Smith, who had been taken from him at such a young age, and for his uncle, the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Larry C Porter, Remembering Christmas Past, BYU Studies 40, no 3, p. 103-104
Laura Willes, Christmas with the Prophets, p. 66-67.