John Henry Smith was born 18 September 1848 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States to George Albert Smith (1817-1875) and Sarah Ann Libby (1818-1851) and died 13 October 1911 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States of pulmonary hemorrhage. He married Sarah Farr (1849-1921) 20 October 1866 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. He married Josephine Groesbeck (1857-1948) 4 April 1877 in St. George, Washington County, Utah, United States.

John Henry Smith was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was a prominent politician in Utah and played an important role in the transition from Utah as a territory to a state of the United States.

LDS Church Service

From 1867 until 1869 Smith served as a counselor in the bishopric of the Provo 4th Ward, which at that time covered all Provo north of Center Street and east of 1st East. In 1874 and 1875, Smith served as a missionary in Europe. He spent most of this mission in England, particularly in and around the city of Birmingham. From 1875 to 1880, Smith was the bishop of the Salt Lake 17th Ward.

In October 1880, LDS Church president John Taylor called Smith to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On October 27 of that year, he was ordained an apostle by Wilford Woodruff, who at that time was the quorum president. Smith served in that capacity until the death of First Presidency member John R. Winder in 1910; he was then asked by church president Joseph F. Smith to take Winder's place as a member of the First Presidency. John Henry Smith served in this capacity until his death the next year.

Political Contributions

Smith was a prominent Republican in Utah politics. In 1882, he was elected a member of the Utah Territorial Legislature. Smith was unanimously elected by the 107 delegates to be the Chair of the Utah Constitutional Convention that was held between March 4 and May 8, 1895. The result of the Convention was a draft Constitution for the proposed State of Utah, which was accepted by the United States Congress in 1896 when Utah officially became a state of the United States.

Marriage and Family

Born in Carbunca, Iowa, Smith was the son of Sarah Ann Libby and LDS Church apostle and First Presidency member, George A. Smith. He came west to Utah in a company co-lead by his father in 1849, arriving in Salt Lake City on October 27, 1849. His mother died in 1851.

Smith practiced plural marriage and was the father of 19 children. One of his sons was George Albert Smith (1870-1951), who became an LDS apostle and served as the church's 8th president. Smith and George Albert Smith are the only father and son pair to have been members of the Quorum of the Twelve at the same time, serving together from 1903 to 1910. Smith was also the father of Nicholas G. Smith.

Smith's first wife, Sarah Farr, was the daughter of Lorin Farr, who was mayor of Ogden, Utah. Smith's second wife, Josephine Groesbeck, spent 1888 until 1896 in exile in Manassa, Colorado, to avoid being called as a witness in a criminal unlawful cohabitation trial against Smith.[2]


Offspring of John Henry Smith and Sarah Farr (1849-1921)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Henery Smith (1868-1868)
George Albert Smith (1870-1951) 4 April 1870 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States 4 April 1951 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States Lucy Emily Woodruff (1869-1937)
Lorin Farr Smith (1872-1872)
Don Carlos Smith (1874-1927)
Ezra Chase Smith (1876-1951)
Charles Warren Smith (1879-1879)
Winslow Farr Smith (1881-1966)
Nathaniel Libby Smith (1883-1935)
Nancy Clarabell Smith (1886-1961)
Tirzah Priscille Smith (1888-1951)
Elsie Louise Smith (1891-1956)

Offspring of John Henry Smith and Josephine Groesbeck (1857-1948)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Sarah Ann Smith (1878-1938)
Nicholas Groesbeck Smith (1881-1945) 20 June 1881 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States 27 October 1945 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States Florence Gay (1886-1970)
Joseph Harmon Smith (1884-1942)
Lucy Smith (1887-1900)
Elizabeth Smith (1890-1973)
Glen Groesbeck Smith (1893-1970)
Arzella Smith (1895-1969)
Josephine Smith (1898-1973)



Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General