|About the Book|
This history of the Prophet Joseph Smith, originally entitled, The History of Mother Smith, by Herself, was written at the dictation of Lucy Smith, mother of the Prophet, by Mrs. Martha Jane Knowlton Coray who acted as her amanuensis. It was takenMoreThis history of the Prophet Joseph Smith, originally entitled, The History of Mother Smith, by Herself, was written at the dictation of Lucy Smith, mother of the Prophet, by Mrs. Martha Jane Knowlton Coray who acted as her amanuensis. It was taken from the words of Mother Smith and dictated from memory mostly, but she also made use of such historical memoranda of the events related as were within her reach. Of the original manuscript one copy was taken which was left with Lucy Smith, while the original was retained by the writer. This original, Mrs. Coray held in her possession until her arrival in Utah, when she subsequently deposited a copy of it with President Brigham Young. Lucy Smith died near Nauvoo, May 5, 1855- but years prior to this date, some of her effects were left in the hands of her son, William Smith, among them being the manuscript copy of this history. From William (who was the last surviving brother of the Prophet, and whose death occurred at Osterdock, Clayton county, Iowa, November 13, 1893,) the document fell (surreptitiously it is declared by George A. Smith) into the hands of Isaac Sheen, who was at one time a member of the Church, in Michigan. When, in September, 1852, Apostle Orson Pratt went on a mission to England, he called on Mr. Sheen on his way East, and, being shown the manuscript copy, he purchased it for a certain sum of money, took it to Liverpool with him, where, without revision and without the consent or knowledge of President Young or any of the Twelve, it was published under his direction, in 1853. It was afterwards discovered that the book contained errors, occasioned by its not being carefully compared with historical data. Some of the statements in the preface written by Elder Pratt were also in error- one especially that the book was mostly written in the lifetime of the Prophet, and that he had read it with approval, was incorrect, since it was written in 1845, the year following his martyrdom. For these reasons, and others mostly of a financial character, it was disapproved by President Young, on August 23, 1865, and the edition was suppressed or destroyed. While some statements contained in the work were considered somewhat overdrawn,—a circumstance easily accounted for when we remember the age of Mother Smith, the losses she had sustained in the death of a husband and four sons, and the consequent lapses of her memory,—its many merits were fully recognized by the authorities, many of whom were greatly disappointed at the necessity of issuing the order to temporarily suppress its further circulation.