the Vermont trip conducted by George Albert Smith.
Congrats to 6th Day drawing winner, Cecily Jenkins, who won a set of Christmas cards depicting the Nauvoo Mansion house at Christmas!
Pres. George Albert Smith (a member of the 12 at the time) was asked to take care of all logistics for a trip to Vermont marking the 100th anniversary of Prophet Joseph Smith’s birth where a monument was to be unveiled. See the entire story below.
“Elder Smith received an unusual and rewarding assignment. He and Lucy were invited by the president of the Church to accompany a group from Salt Lake City to Windsor County, Vermont, where a monument honoring Joseph Smith was to be unveiled and dedicated on December 23, 1905, the hundredth anniversary of the Prophet’s birth. The party consisted of Church leaders and their companions, including the other members of the Smith family who were General Authorities. Since George Albert was the junior member of the clan in length of service, he was appointed to supervise all physical arrangements before and during the trip.
His task was simplified by chartering several Pullman cars, which avoided the inconvenience of checking and transferring baggage. His main duty, therefore, was to see that the pantry on board was well stocked with provisions and to oversee the work of two porters, Seth Young and Bud Price, who had been assigned by the railroad to prepare and serve the meals and to take care of the other personal needs of the passengers.
The train left the Salt Lake City depot on December 19 for the three-day transcontinental trip. En route, the party followed a relaxed routine. Singing, visiting, sight-seeing, and religious discussions were interspersed with checker playing, President Joseph F. Smith’s favorite diversion.
On December 22, the party arrived at South Royalton, where it found a typical white and frigid Vermont winter. Horse-drawn sleighs took the travelers to nearby Tunbridge, where they were able to check the town records for genealogical data about the Smith and Mack families before attending an evening reception at the quaint Tunbridge hotel. Here they were welcomed by civic officials and assorted residents who were curious to meet the leaders of the Church whose founder had bestowed such vicarious fame on their community. For months they had watched with interest as the 38 1/2-foot granite shaft had been put in place on the old Solomon Mack farm. It marked the site where Joseph Smith was born a hundred years before, and its height was symbolic of his short but action-filled life span of 38 1/2 years.
Early on December 23, the visitors, whose breathing etched miniature clouds on the icy air, loaded into sleighs to be driven to the farm site. There, in brief services, the monument, standing stark and tall against the rock-ribbed Vermont hills, was dedicated in memory of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In returning home, the party stopped in Massachusetts so the Smith clan could trace and savor their family roots. At Topsfield, they visited the ancestral home of Asael Smith, the father of Joseph Smith, Sr., and Uncle John. At the town cemetery, they paid homage at the gravesite of Robert Smith, the first member of the clan to reach American soil. There they also found a monument erected in 1873 to the memory of Robert Smith and the first and second Samuel Smith. What unexpected distinction had come to the progeny of these three who bore such an undistinguished name!
From Massachusetts the chartered train traveled to Palmyra, New York, where the passengers visited the farm once owned by Joseph Smith, Sr., whose son and namesake had received the remarkable vision that opened the drama of the Restoration. A meeting was later held at the nearby Hill Cumorah, where President Joseph F. Smith offered a prayer of gratitude and benediction. Contacts made during this visit with Avery Chapman, the owner of the Joseph Smith, Sr., farm, and Pliny T. Sexton, the owner of the Hill Cumorah, culminated eventually in the Church’s purchase of both of these historic properties. George Albert Smith would later play a key role in these acquisitions.
The last stop on the traveler’s itinerary was at Kirtland, Ohio, where they visited the temple and the homes of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Four days later, on December 31, as they sped across the plains of Nebraska, the travelers held a service aboard the chartered train. Each member of the party bore testimony about the reality and goodness of God and the joys of the trip then coming to an end. Following this meeting, “a resolution was passed,” wrote George Albert in his diary, “thanking me for my care in looking after the party. It was signed by every member of the party.” Elder Smith’s official duties ended the following day when, after seeing that his friends were safely off the train with their luggage he tipped the porters thirty dollars each for their attentive service.”
Taken from: Francis M. Gibbons, George Albert Smith: Kind and Caring Christian, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 51 – 52.