Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nathan Smith


Nathan Smith (d. 1909) Birth: 1 March 1835 in Bury, Lancashire, England

Death: 20 January 1909 in Smithfield, Utah, USA

Nathan Smith was the first child of William P. Smith (22 January 1810-12 November 1893) and Mary Grimshaw (15 March 1812-14 November 1856).


When he was seven years old, his parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the family set said for America. While traveling on a river boat on the Mississippi River, Nathan’s sister Maria died and had to be buried on an island in the middle of the river. This deeply disturbed young Nathan.

While in Nauvoo, Nathan interacted in the unfolding story of the Saints. He worked as a water carrier, rehydrating men who were working on the Nauvoo Temple, and often saw the Prophet Joseph Smith. Nathan even witnessed the “Miracle of the Quail” and helped gather the birds to be eaten when no other food was available.

Census for William Smith & Mary Grimshaw 1850 (Part 1)

Here we see a piece of the 1850 United States Census from Iowa showing Nathan as a 15 year old and his mother, Mary and father, William (the rest of his siblings are on a the next page of the census).

Once the family reached Utah, Nathan, being a strong, young man worked to keep the settlers safe from enemies from the United States and Native Americans. It was his job to guard the pony express, ensuring that the Saints in Utah received their mail.

In 1861, Nathan met Jane Sant, who fell in love with him almost immediately. On 3 October 1862, after a brief courtship, the two were married in the Salt Lake City Endowment House.

The two had twelve children together: William Smith, Mary Smith, Eliza Jane Smith (died as a child), Nathan Smith, Margaret Smith, John Sant Smith (died as a child), Thomas Smith, George Albert Smith, Alice Smith, Maria Smith, Harriet Ann Smith and Sarah Smith.

Census for Nathan Smith & Jane Sant 1870

Here we see the beginnings of the family in the 1870 United States Territorial Census from Cache County, Utah. At that point in time, the family had only four children (William, Mary, Eliza and Nathan) aged seven years down to seven months.

In 1871, the family moved to Idaho where they and their children exercised their musical talents for gatherings of all sorts. I find this particularly interesting seeing as a gathering with my mother’s side of the family is not complete until a number of songs have been sung and instruments have been played.

Nathan was always described as a dependable, loyal man of cheery disposition. He never swore and was always kind. He was also incredibly devoted to God and the Church.

Later in his life, Nathan moved back to Utah while his wife and adult children remained in Idaho. It is not entirely known why this was done.

Census for Nathan Smith 1900

Above is a portion of the 1900 United States Census from Cache County, Utah, where Nathan appears alone. Nine years before his death. Although Jane has not yes died at this point in time, Nathan has been listed as a widow, possibly to avoid explaining the lack of his wife’s presence.

Nathan Smith's Grave

Nathan died of pneumonia in Smithfield on 20 January 1909. He and Jane are buried in the Smithfield Cemetery.

Death Certificate of Nathan Smith Sr

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