WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
GEORGE A. SMITH
(pioneer and church leader)
BIOGRAPHYGeorge Albert Smith (commonly known as George A. Smith to distinguish him from his grandson of the same name) was an early leader in the Latter-day Saint movement.
Smith was born June 26, 1817 in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. He was the son of John Smith and Clarissa Lyman, and a cousin of Mormon church founder, Joseph Smith Jr.
On April 26, 1839, George A. Smith was ordained an Apostle and became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church.
Smith led a company of 118 volunteers and about 30 families to establish a colony near the Little Salt Lake in Iron County. They arrived at Centre Creek, 265 miles from Salt Lake City, on January 13, 1851. Under direction from the General Assembly of Deseret, the group organized the political entity of Iron County and elected Smith as chief justice. During the winter of 1850-51, the settlers constructed a fort enclosing homes, a meeting house, a school, and a watch tower. They named their community Parowan. Smith taught school during the first winter. He later served as a member of Utah's territorial legislature.
Around the time of Johnson's Army, Smith was sent down to visit southern Utah communities. Leaving on August 3, 1857, Smith arrived at Parowan on August 8, 1857. In addition to Parowan, Smith's tour included visits to Cedar City, Mountain Meadows, and Santa Clara. On the way back to Salt Lake City, Smith was accompanied by a party including Jacob Hamblin and several native chiefs. On August 25, 1857, Smith's group camped next to the ill-fated Fancher-Baker party, headed the opposite direction, at Corn Creek (now Kanosh).
St. George was named in honor of George A. Smith, also known as the "Potato Saint" because he urged early settlers to eat raw, unpeeled potatoes to cure scurvy. Smith did not participate in the town's settlement, but personally selected many of the pioneers that originally settled the area.
In 1868, Smith was called to replace Heber C. Kimball as First Counselor in the First Presidency under Church President, Brigham Young. Smith served in this position until his death.
Smith died on September 1, 1875.
FAMILYIn addition to his first wife Bathsheba Wilson Bigler, Smith married Lucy Smith, Nancy Clement, Sarah Ann Libby, Hannah Maria Libby, Zilpha Stark, and Susan E. West. His wives bore him twenty children, eleven of whom were still living when Smith died.
Photos on the web:
Photo collection that includes photos of George A. Smith
REFERENCESWikipedia article on George A. Smith
George A. Smith / Dan Jones Company from Iowa to Utah in 1849