Sylvester Smith (Latter Day Saints)
|First Seven Presidents of the Seventy|
|March 1, 1835– April 6, 1837|
|Called by||Joseph Smith|
|End reason||Honorably released because he had already been ordained a high priest|
March 28, 1806|
Tyringham, Massachusetts, United States
February 22, 1880 (aged 73)|
Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
Smith was born in Tyringham, Massachusetts. He was a farmer, teacher, and carpenter by trade. He was baptized into the Church of Christ some time before May 1831. Oliver Cowdery ordained him a high priest on October 25, 1831. During 1832, he served as a traveling missionary on a journey from Ohio to Vermont.
Smith was a member of Zion's Camp in 1834, where in the words of Heber C. Kimball he displayed "refractory feelings." During Zion's Camp he was blamed for "confrontations with Joseph Smith (to whom he was no relation), insubordination, threatening Joseph's dog, arguing with him, and refusing to share bread." Upon the return of Zion's Camp to Kirtland, Ohio, Smith's complaints against Joseph Smith resulted in the only time in church history that the Common Council of the Church has been convened to try a President of the Church. The Council, which was presided over by Bishop Newel K. Whitney, determined that Joseph Smith had "acted in every respect in an honorable and proper manner with all monies and properties entrusted to his charge." In September 1834, Sylvester Smith reconciled with the high council and was dropped from the council without protesting.
On February 14, 1835, Smith attended the meeting where the inaugural Quorum of the Twelve was called, and three days later he was appointed to the Kirtland High Council. Later that month he was ordained a Seventy, and named as one of the inaugural presidents of the Seventies the next day. He continued to serve on the Kirtland High Council, from which he was released in early 1836.
Smith remained very active in the Latter Day Saint community for the next two years. In 1836, he briefly acted as scribe for Joseph Smith. In Kirtland he attended the Hebrew School, the School of the Prophets, the solemn assembly in January 1836, and the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. He was a member of the Kirtland Safety Society when it was formed in 1837. Perhaps because of disputed preeminence between High Priests and Seventies, five of the seven presidents of the Seventy previously ordained as High Priests, including Smith, were released and returned to the High Priests quorum in April 1837. George A. Smith later reported that by 1837 Sylvester was numbered among the dissenters from Joseph Smith and the church. By 1838, Smith had left the church. At this time, many Latter Day Saints had left Kirtland, leaving Smith behind in the city until 1853, when he sold his land and moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. There he was a lawyer and bought and sold real estate. In the 1850s and 1860s, he was the county school fund commissioner and justice of the peace. Smith died in Council Bluffs at the age of 73.
- Jenson 1901; "First Council of the Seventy". Church Almanac. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Morning News. 2008. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-59038-900-3.
- The birth on March 28, 1806 at Tyringham, Massachusetts, is according to Jessee, Ashurst-McGee & Jensen 2008, p. 441, from research done for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, a large collaboration which can be considered the latest scholarship. However, earlier published sources have widely differed from these details.
Birth Date: According to Quinn 1994 and Ancestry.com (Kenney), Smith was born on March 25, 1806. The birthdate is stated as sometime in 1805 by Black 1997, Cook 1981, Jessee 1989, Jessee 1992, and Jessee 2002. Hedges 2000 claims he was born on October 15, 1805. Birthplace: Smith was born at Becket, Massachusetts, according to Ancestry.com (Kenney); Suffolk, New York (possibly New Suffolk, New York?), according to Hedges 2000; and Connecticut according to Jessee 1989, Jessee 1992 and Jessee 2002. Quinn 1994 states that the birthplace was Tyringham, Massachusetts.
Death: No source has published a known death place or date except Jessee, Ashurst-McGee & Jensen 2008, p. 441 (February 22, 1880, at Council Bluffs, Iowa).
- (Quinn 1994)
- "Biographical Registers - S". BYU Studies. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- "Extract from the Journal of Elder Heber C. Kimball". Times and Seasons. 6, no. 1 (January 15, 1845): 771–773.
- Kirtland High Council Minutes (December 1832–November 1837). Selected Collections, 1:19. Original, LDS Church Archives, MS 3432, 63-73.
- Joseph Fielding Smith (1953). Church History and Modern Revelation (Salt Lake City, Utah: Council of the Twelve Apostles) 2:21.
- History of the Church 2:143.
- Kirtland High Council Minutes (December 1832–November 1837). Selected Collections, 1:19. Original, LDS Church Archives, MS 3432, 74–76.
- (Roberts 1904, p. 204)
- Forty years later Joseph Young remembered this meeting was in November 1835, but he wrote that Joseph Smith made this decision to avoid a controversy over whether Seventies or High Priests were superior.
Some of the High Priests and a number of the Seventies introduced a question, as to which is the greatest among them, the Seventies or the High Priests. ... After [a council] was assembled he asked the newly organized quorum if any of their number had been ordained to the High Priest's office, previous to their ordination as Seventies. It was not ascertained how many from the Seventies' quorums had previously been ordained High Priests; five out of the seven Presidents however, acknowledged that they were High Priests before they were ordained Seventies. These were Hazen Aldrich, Leonard Rich, Zebedee Coltrin, Lyman Sherman and Sylvester Smith. Accordingly, the Prophet invited them to take their places in the High Priests' quorum again, which was complied with, thus leaving Joseph Young and Levi W. Hancock in the council. He thought that this was the best way to settle the difficulty and remove all feelings, without deciding the question as to which was the greatest.
Young, Joseph (1878). History of the Organization of the Seventies. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 2009-11-09.
- See Jenson 1901. At a solemn assembly on April 6, 1837, Joseph Smith explained that "Seventies are to be taken from the quorum of Elders, and are not to be High Priests", and so five of the seven presidents of the Seventies who were High Priests were released and returned to the high priests quorum. B. H. Roberts wrote that the presidency of the Seventies had improperly begun requiring those ordained as Seventies first be ordained High Priests. (Roberts 1904, pp. 475–477)
- Smith, George A., Salt Lake City Tabernacle, Jan. 10, 1858, Journal of Discourses, 7:111–116.
- (Jessee, Ashurst-McGee & Jensen 2008)
- Black, Susan Easton (1997), "Sylvester Smith", Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, ISBN 1-57008-292-8.
- Cook, Lyndon W. (1981), The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants, Provo, Utah: Seventy's Mission Bookstore. Entry for Sylvester Smith online at "Biographical Registers - S". BYU Studies. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- Hedges, Andrew H. (2000), "Smith, Sylvester", in Arnold K. Garr; Donald Q. Cannon; Richard O. Cowan, Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 1-57345-822-8.
- Jenson, Andrew (1901), "SMITH, Sylvester", Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 1, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Andrew Jenson History Company, p. 191.
- Jessee, Dean C. (1989), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 0-87579-199-9. Entry for Sylvester Smith online at "Biographical Registers - S". BYU Studies. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- Jessee, Dean C. (1992), The Papers of Joseph Smith, Vol. 2: Journal, 1832-1842, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, ISBN 0-87579-545-5. Entry for Sylvester Smith online at "Biographical Registers - S". BYU Studies. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- Jessee, Dean C. (2002), "Biographical Register", The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book and Brigham Young University Press, ISBN 1-57345-787-6, archived from the original on 2008-11-20.
- Jessee, Dean C.; Ashurst-McGee, Mark; Jensen, Richard L. (2008), "Biographical Directory", Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839, The Joseph Smith Papers, Salt Lake City: Church Historian's Press, ISBN 1-57008-849-7.
- Kenney, Scott G., "Sylvester Smith (1805–18??)", Saints Without Halos, retrieved 2009-11-06.
- Quinn, D. Michael (1994), The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, p. 592, ISBN 1-56085-056-6. Biographical details for Sylvester Smith from this volume are cited online by Kenney.
- Roberts, B. H. (1904), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Volume II, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints External link in