Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Birthplace of Joseph Smith

This is mainly for my mother who wanted to know all about the Northeastern Church history tour Richard and I went on this past summer. We began in Boston and ended in Ohio visiting every early Church History site you know about and many you have never heard of before. It was life-changing and remarkable is so many ways. Hope you enjoy!

Previous Posts:
Who Were Joseph Smith's Ancestors
Religion Prior to the First Vision
The next stop on our tour was Sharon, Vermont: the birthplace of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This was one of the most spiritual places on our whole tour. This was a very special place where you could definitely feel the spirit of this family here.

[Side note: I was slightly emotional this day anyway as while we were on the bus driving to this site, our missionary daughter who had been in the MTC, called us from the airport on her way to her mission.]

I was overwhelmed in my thoughts and feelings as I began mentally putting together and realizing in such a profound way how Joseph truly was a prophet of God--called and foreordained for a great mission and purpose. He was second only to Christ in greatness. The more you learn, the more this becomes apparent.

In the birthplace visitor's center there is a spirit there. As I walked in and saw the portraits of Lucy Mack and Joseph Sr.   I felt I was amongst them looking into their faces. I felt like a welcome visitor in their home.
I loved this beautiful painting of young Joseph Smith's surgery which is displayed there. It shows so much: A mother traumatized, heart-broken, and helpless through what had to happen to her 7 year old boy; a young boy acting in courage and wisdom, the father sitting there ready, and the surgeons standing by waiting to perform the procedure. The doctors faces even show some signs of in trepidation. Joseph, concerned for his mother, shows such courage and faith.  Most of us are very familiar with this story. If you are not, here is a quick version of it:

*Typhoid fever attacked the Smith family in the year 1812.  Each one in the family took their turn, except the parents who were spared.  Sophronia, the sister just older than Joseph almost died. She lay sick for 3 months and the doctors all but gave up on her recovering. It was the faith and tender care of her mother that helped her to live through this ordeal. Hyrum had it for 2 weeks, as well as Alvin, and Joseph.  After it seemed that Joseph had recovered--one day he screamed out in pain with his shoulder. Then the pain "shot like lightening" into his lower leg.  Doctors came to see what they could do for months.  Finally they decided that amputation was the only cure to save his life. Lucy Mack Smith begged or demanded that the doctors try something else.  So they decided to cut into the bone of his leg and remove the diseased bone tissue. 

“The principal surgeon, after a moment’s conversation, ordered cords to be brought to bind Joseph fast to the bedstead, but Joseph objected. When the doctor insisted that he must be confined, Joseph said decidedly, ‘No, Doctor. I will not be bound. I can bear the process better unconfined.’

“‘Then,’ said the doctor, ‘will you take some wine? You must take something, or you can never endure the severe operation to which you must be subjected.’

“‘No,’ answered the boy, ‘I will not touch one particle of liquor, nor will I be tied down, but I will tell you what I will do. I will have my father sit on the bed close by me, and then I will do whatever is necessary to be done in order to have the bone taken out. But, Mother, I want you to leave the room. I know that you cannot endure to see me suffer so. Father can bear it. But you have carried me so much and watched over me so long, you are almost worn out.’ Then, looking up into my face, his eyes swimming with tears, he said beseechingly, ‘Now, Mother, promise me you will not stay, will you? The Lord will help me. I shall get through with it, so do leave me and go a way off, till they get through with it.’ . . .

“The surgeons began operating by boring into the bone of his leg, first on one side of the affected part, then on the other side, after which they broke it loose with a pair of forceps or pincers. Thus, they took away nine large pieces of the bone. When they broke off the first piece, he screamed so loud with the pain of his leg that I could not forbear running to him, but as soon as I entered the room, he cried out, ‘Oh, Mother! Go back! Go back! I do not want you to come in. I will tough it out, if you will go’” (Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 74–75).

His recovery was slow, but young Joseph’s leg eventually healed, leaving him with only an occasional slight limp.

It is hard to imagine this experience from Joseph Smith's life. He was seven years old. SEVEN. I have a 7 year old. While I was there I imagined our daughter going through an experience like Joseph did. Seven year olds are so tender and so innocent about everything. My 7 year old is very sensitive to her feelings getting hurt. She cries if you just "mention" the word blood on her, even if she doesn't see or feel anything. My 7 year old is anxious to be independent, but still needs her parents love and nurturing.
Joseph here, reminds me of the Savior at the temple. They were both extremely young for the wisdom and maturity they exemplified. Joseph had the wisdom and strength of an adult. And the doctors respected him as such With the maturity and calmness far beyond his years, he asked his mother to leave because he knew she couldn't bare to watch such a horrible scene. He depended upon his father to hold him through the pain and agony of the procedure. INCREDIBLE. This experience alone shows that Joseph was no ordinary boy. Although I have heard this story numerous times, this was a very touching part of our tour.

Another tender mercy miracle of the story is the surgeon. He was the only surgeon in the United States who know how to do that type of bone surgery. He was 5 generations ahead of his time! That type of surgery was not performed on the general public until World War I. It is the exact same procedure used today except the tools are more advanced. 

*This makes me think of God's Hand of tender mercies in my life.  He sees the whole picture for each of our lives and places us where we need to be when we need to be there. 

Some other interesting things at this site

The doorstep to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith's cabin. They lived on some property of her father Solomon Mack. 

The Joseph Smith Memorial monument  is 38 1/2 feet tall- one foot for every year of Joseph's life.  It was built in 1905! Think of it!  With the tools they had available as well as horse and buggy for transportation, miracles, faith, prayers, and hard work  happened to erect this monument and put it into place.  You can read more about that {here}  Joseph F. Smith dedicated it on December 23, 1905-the 100 year anniversary of the prophet's birth.

In the Joseph Smith birthplace visitors center there was a great bronze statue of Joseph Smith which was created with the request of President Hinckley for Joseph's 200 birthday celebration. It was beautiful and to life-scale. President Hinckley said this is exactly what Joseph looked like. I found great comfort in this as there are a lot of funny, awkward pictures of Joseph. I like to think of him as very handsome which this statue emulates.