Lewis A. Ramsey (1875-1941), Portrait of Joseph F. Smith, 1909, oil on canvas, 52 1/2 x 38 3/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Jensen.
On this day in 1838, Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was born in Far West, Missouri, to parents Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith. After losing his father at age six and his mother at age 13, young Joseph F. found himself quickly absorbed into church service. At age 15, he embarked on a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). He was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at age 28, serving as a counselor to President Brigham Young and each successive prophet.
Joseph F. Smith was sustained as President of the Church in October 1901. Throughout his service, he expanded the Church’s missionary and educational systems and sought to build greater awareness of church history among the members of the LDS faith. Though his formal schooling was limited, he studied diligently and was regarded as an artful orator and a doctrinal teacher. He died in November 1918, after serving for 17 years as the prophet of the LDS Church.