Martha Ann Smith

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Martha Ann Smith

Birthplace: Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
Death: Died in Provo, Utah, Utah, USA
Cause of death: Senility and Bronchitis
Place of Burial: Provo, Utah, Utah, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Hyrum Smith and Mary Smith
Wife of William Jasper Harris Smoot
Mother of William Jasper Harris, Jr; Joseph Albert Harris, Sr.; Hyrum Smith Harris; Mary Emily Corbett; Franklin Hill Harris and 9 others
Sister of Joseph F. Smith, President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Half sister of Lovina Smith Walker; John Smith; Jerusha Smith Pierce; Hyrum Smith; Mary Smith and 1 other

Managed by: Susan
Last Updated:

About Martha Ann Smith

The above photo of Martha Ann Smith was found on There is another photo of Martha under the Media Tab above, which is from Find A, and shows her when she was much younger, perhaps on her wedding day. Martha was born May 14, 1841, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, the daughter of Hyrum Smith (1800-1844) and Mary Fielding (1801-1852). The following information is "A Brief Overview of the Life of Martha Ann Smith Harris" from a book written by David M. Whitchurch: "Joseph F. Smith's Letters to His Sister, Martha Ann Smith Harris (1854-1916)".......

Martha Ann Smith was born May 14, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois. Although we have less recorded history of her than we do for her better-known brother, she must have endured many of the same hardships of living at Winter Quarters, crossing the plains, and settling in Salt Lake city. After the death of her mother in 1852, Martha Ann and Joseph F. moved in with a close family friend, Hannah Grinnells. Hannah died a little more than a year later. Martha Ann then moved in with her mother's sister, Mercy Fielding Thompson. It appears from Joseph and Martha Ann's letters that martha Ann also lived part of the time with Hyrum Smith and Jerusha Barden's son, John.

Fifteen year old Martha Ann married William Jasper Harris on April 21, 1857. Heber C. Kimball performed the marriage. Just two days later, her husband left on a mission to the British Isles. While he was away, Martha Ann moved in with her mother-in-law, Emily Harris Smoot, the plural wife of Bishop Abraham O. Smoot. William returned early in 1858 because of concerns over Johnston's army.

During the early summer of 1859, tragedy hit the Harris home. Lightning struck William while he was plowing a field in Salt Lake City. Besides being badly burned, he was caught in the reins and dragged unconscious by the runaway horses. Martha Ann nursed him back to health as best she could, but William never fully recovered. Eight years after this accident, Martha Ann and William moved to Provo with their five children. While in Provo, they added six more children to their family.

The Harrises struggled financially much of their lives. William worked at a variety of jobs, including that of a bodyguard of Brigham Young, a freighter, a policeman, and a miner. Martha Ann frequently supplemented the family income by sewing buckskin gloves and temple clothes. William Jasper Harris died on April 24, 1909, after being hit by a team of horses. Martha Ann remained widowed until her death on October 19, 1923 at the age of 83.


William Jasper Harris was the son of Zachariah and Emily Hill Harris. He and Martha Ann Smith Harris had the following children: William Jasper, Joseph Albert, Hyrum Smith, Mary Emily, Franklin Hill, Lucy S., John Fielding, Mercy A., Zina Christine, Martha Artemissa, and Sarah Lovina Harris.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Pleasant Grove, Utah, Martha and William were listed with some of their children as follows: William, 44, Martha A., 40, William J., 21, Hyrum, 15, Mary E., 14, Franklin H., 12, Lucy S., 10, John F., 7, Mercy A., 6, Zina C., 4, and Martha Artemissa, 11 months old. William was working as a farmer

By the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Provo, their family was listed as follows: William, 63, Martha A., 59, Mary Emily, 26, and Martha Artemissa, 20. William and Martha had been married for 42 years, had given birth to eleven children, all of whom were still living. William was working as a gardener, Mary Emily was working as a saleswoman and Martha Artemissa was doing housework.

Living two doors down was Mrs. Hagar Startup Singleton, a 55-year old divorcee, and her children Minnie A. Startup, 28, Harry W. Startup, 25, and Alberta Singleton, 13. Hagar was being supported by the county, her daughter, Minnie, was working as a saleswoman at the family owned candy store, and Harry was working as the proprietor of the candy store. A few years later, William and Martha Ann Harris' daughter, Martha Artemissa, would marry Harry W. Startup.

Martha died October 19, 1923, in Provo, Utah, from senility and bronchitis. She was buried in the Provo City Cemetery, along with her husband, William, who had passed away 14 years earlier in 1909. They were both buried at Block 8, Lot 97 in the cemetery.


The following is an Introduction to the October 17, 1854, letter written by Joseph F. Smith to his sister Martha Ann, from the above mentioned book:

Joseph F. Smith, in company with other missionaries, left Salt Lake City for the Pacific Islands on May 27, 1854. Stopping in San Bernardino and San Francisco, he and the other missionaries worked to earn money needed to further their journey. In early September, he and eight other missionaries set sail for the Hawaiian Islands, arriving in Honolulu on September 27, 1854. Upon their arrival, Joseph F. was assigned to labor on the islands of Molokai and Maui (the address from his 1854 letters suggests he may also have been assigned to the island of Lanai). Joseph F. spent a good part of his first month in Hawaii recovering from a serious illness. The following letter was likely the first one he wrote to Martha Ann since leaving Salt Lake City. Not quite sixteen years old, Joseph F. included a small lock of his blonde hair to help his sister remember him. The simplicity of the letter exposes his youth and lack of formal education; yet the tone expresses love and concern of an older brother for his dear sister.

The primary goals that guided the transcription of the Joseph F. Smith and Martha Ann Smith Harris letter collection were readability and accuracy. Transcriptions for each letter retain the original spelling, capitalization, punctuation, superscripts, underlined words and strike throughs when ever possible. The transcribers have done as little editing as possible, although modern rules were followed when questionable punctuation occurred. Empty square brackets [] are used to represent a hole, tear or otherwise missing portion of a letter. Broken words that begin one line and finish on the next or words that end a line with a portion of the word written above or below it have been joined to read as a single word. New paragraphs have been indented regardless of the page justification on the original letter. All other anomalies have been marked with a backward slash mark (\) and a note of explanation. For sake of readability, the information provided in the address block, such as date and place written, h ave been standardized with a left-justified margin.

"Lani \ Mauwi, October 17th, 1854: My dear Sister it is with plesure and with very peculiar feeling that I take my peen in hand to write a fuw lines to you. which I know that you will exept it with the gratest of plesure and you must not get angery with me because I that I did not write to you before this time and this is what I call quite a present I came across this invelope which this letter is sent to you in. Martha Ann, take good cair of this letter when you cut it. remember who sent it to you. I want you to write to me when you get so as you can for letter if nothing elce. you must remember your prars day and night share ever you are or what ever sircumstances you may be placed in. I want you to [ ] at home the gr [ ] part of the tim [ ] your books diligently so that I may find a well lirned girl when I git home in order to lirn your book you must stop in the house and go to school and stop running about keep your self jest as still and composed as you can se if you cannot bete eneyboddy in the famely me espeshely for you have ha a better [ ] than I have had. exept of this [ ] as a tokun of rememberance and take good cair of it untill I come back and then let me se it. take good cair of the duks and se that they do not go hungery and take notice of my council and you will be blest. give my love and best respects to all of the folks and exept the same to your self I remain your affectionate brother Joseph Smith may the lord bless you all."

Over the decades, Joseph F.'s improvement in spelling, penmanship, and expression of thought exemplify much of the counsel he gives to Martha Ann. This recently discovered letter collection brings to light an exceptional man devoted to the Lord who desires to bless the life of his family through kindness, loving advice, and brotherly encouragement--certainly, the hallmarks of a prophet.

NOTE: There is a copy of the letter shown in this book, with the note below: Joseph F. Smith letter to his sister Martha Ann Smith (later Harris), October 17, 1854, pages one and four. A corner portion of pages three and four are missing. Also shown is the envelope and a lock of Joseph's hair. The letter was written just two weeks short of his sixteenth birthday. The letter is part of a collection of 167 letters written by Joseph to his sister between 1854 and 1916. The collection also includes 44 letters written by Martha to Joseph. The collection was donated by Carole Call King (a great-granddaughter of Martha) to the LDS Church Archives.


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Martha Ann Smith's Timeline

May 14, 1841
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
January 26, 1846
Age 4
June 11, 1856
Age 15
August 4, 1859
Age 18
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
August 4, 1859
Age 18
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
August 19, 1861
Age 20
Provo, Utah County, Utah, United States
August 15, 1863
Age 22
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
March 1864
Age 22
Utah, USA
October 23, 1865
Age 24
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States