October 15, 2023

Emma Smith's Legacy of Kindness in Nauvoo Illinois

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The lives of Joseph and Emma Smith seem to have gone in hyper speed while Joseph Smith, the prophet, was alive. There were amazing, earth changing revelations, city building, book publication, gospel prophesies restored and so much more. While the foundation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was being given from God, both Joseph and Emma were trying to make a safe place for their family and the newly converted Saints. Emma found a talent in caring for the needy and the sick. She used her talents often for members of the community, and helping in her husbands prophetic calling.

Emma Smith's 'Open Home'

Throughout most of her married life, Emma did not have a home of her own. With the Church in its infancy, the first prophet and his family had to relay on the kindness of others throughout much of their lives together. Nauvoo was finally different for the couple. They had a home! This must have been such a joy to Emma and her family to finally have a place they could call their own.

With this home Emma had the space to be the person to welcome others. Emma now could returned the kindness shown to her, in others time of need. Emma warmly welcomed orphans and homeless and sick into her home. Emma and Joseph would provide lodging and often work for those in need. Joseph Smith III remembered how his mother created an "open home" for those in need.

Joseph Smith III said "Our house was a convenient place of gathering and was always more or less crowded with those who came from a distance and those employed in household affairs."

Malaria Outbreak

Emma Smith was right in the middle of the Malaria Outbreak when the Saints first moved to Nauvoo. Many from all around were infected with Malaria from the swampy marshland of Nauvoo. Emma rode with Joseph on horseback throughout the settlement; together the couple visited the sick, anointing and blessing those in need.

Joseph and Emma brought many to their home. Joseph III helped his mother nurse the sick in their yard. Emma instructed her son to carry a small bucket and get cold water for the patients. Emma nursed the Whitney's, the Huntingtons, and her in-laws, the Smith family and others.

Lucy Mack Smith recalled "I was taken very sick and brought nigh unto death. . . for five nights Emma never left me, but stood at my bedside all the night long, at the end of which time she was overcome with fatigue and taken sick herself."

Whitney Family Caring for Smith's in Kirtland

Newel and his wife Elizabeth Ann welcomed Joseph and Emma into their home in Kirtland Ohio, when the young couple was in need. Joseph and Emma lived with the Whitney's for several weeks when they first moved to Kirtland. Years later, in Nauvoo, it was Joseph and Emma who had a home and the Whitney's were without a home. Joseph and Emma took the Whitney Family into their home.

The Whitney's had lost all their possessions upon leaving Ohio, arrived in Nauvoo and became sick with Malaria. Joseph Smith visited with the family in 1840, saw their condition and brought them to the Smith Homestead.

Elizabeth Whitney recalled a conversation she had with the prophet Joseph Smith saying:

"One day while coming out of the house into the yard the remembrance of a prophecy Joseph Smith had made to me, while living in out house in Kirtland, flashed through my mind like electric shock. . . It was this: that even as we had done by him, in opening our doors to him and his family when he was without a home; even so should we in the future be received by him into his house."

Emma's Healing Talent

In December of 1835, Samuel Brannan, a new convert to the Church, came to the home of Emma and Joseph with a swollen arm from a bruise on his elbow. Emma prepared "a poultice of herbs." Emma was talented in making herbal remedies.

Joseph recognized Emmas talent of alleviating the pain of others and said this "Sister Emma is ever ready to alleviate the distress of the afflicted. . . through the blessings of God."

After the death of Joseph Smith, Emma continued to help heal people through herbs. Her children, grandchildren, and neighbors often came to Emma for herbal remedies.

Emma's granddaughter, Emma Smith McCallum remembered: "Every body knew Mother Bidamon's salves for cuts-bruises-fever-rheumatism-for every kind of ache and pain."

More Posts on Emma Smith

Best Books on Emma Smith

History of Emma Smith’s Hymn Book

Emma Smith Interview on the Authenticity of The Book of Mormon

Joseph and Emma’s Twins in Kirtland Ohio

Get to know Emma Hale Smith

Emma Smith Homeless in Kirtland


"First, the life and faith of Emma Smith" by Jennifer Reeder Ch. 7

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