Kimberly Jo Smith’s Journey Discovering Joseph, Emma and Herself

Living Descendants of Joseph Smith Visit His Birthplace

Joseph Smith’s descendants visit his birthplace after joining the church Christ restored through him.

In the stillness of the budding spring of Sharon, Vermont, Kimberly Jo Smith  stood in the quiet forest for the first time, looking down on the remaining moss-covered foundation stones of the home where her great-great grandfather was born. Standing at Joseph Smith’s birthplace last May, she completed the circle of her family’s story.

After Joseph’s death his children all chose paths outside of the Church, leaving their children and grandchildren in various places and various faiths. In Kimberly’s generation some of them started to come back.

When Kimberly was twelve years old she first learned of Joseph and Emma, beginning a twenty-four year journey into the Church that Joseph restored.

Kimberly now travels the country speaking and singing to share her story. A fireside event for the Montpelier, VT Stake finally brought her to the beginning. The place where Joseph first stepped onto the scene of mortality, setting a new course for their family’s story and for the world.

When visiting places from her ancestors’ lives, Kimberly feels a special connection with them. Of her experience in Sharon, Vermont she said,

When I walk where my ancestors walked, I can feel them beside me, I can feel experiences that they’ve had… When I walked those grounds, especially where Lucy Mack grew up, it was very, very tender. It’s almost like you walk through their lives with them.

On my own visit to Sharon, I imagined Lucy in that simple log home holding her two day old son on Christmas day. Certainly her thoughts were on Mary holding her own tiny son in a small stable in Bethlehem. I imagine she pondered what was in Mary’s heart and wondered how she felt to be the mother of the Savior.

Lucy’s life paralleled Mary’s more than she could have imagined that cold December day. Her son was called by Mary’s Son to restore His Church, and she too watched her son die at the hands of an angry mob for teaching God’s word, while only in his thirties. I suspect December 23, in the midst of the Christmas season, was always a special, contemplative day for Lucy.

Like her third great grandmother, Kimberly also celebrates Joseph’s birthday in quiet contemplation. As a gift, she hands over the threads of bitterness and hatred which ran through the Smith family for generations, threads which she spent years untangling. And each year she has a personal talk with Joseph, reflecting on his life and thanking him for things he taught and did.

Kimberly Jo Smith Discovers Joseph and Emma

Joseph and Emma
Kimberly saw these portraits in her Grandmother’s cabin sending her on a journey for the truth.

Like Joseph, Kimberly’s life took a course she never could have imagined as a child. But the Lord had a plan, and He set things in motion when she was twelve years old on a visit to her grandmother’s cabin in Ava, Missouri.

The old log cabin, nestled in the hills of 30 acres of lush Ozark mountain land, had hardwood floors, a cast iron claw foot bathtub, and a collection of salt and pepper shakers from around the world. But the details went unnoticed on this occasion.

Upon arriving at the cabin, Kimberly entered through the wooden door and turned left into the sitting room. She rested on the couch and leaned her head on the soft cushions. Then she looked up.

Against the flowered wallpaper she saw two portraits which she never noticed before. That moment changed the course of her life. She says,

“It is hard to describe the feeling I had at that moment except to say that for a brief period it seemed as if time stood still…  I felt as if there was no one else on earth except me and those two portraits.
My attention was first drawn to the man in the portrait which hung on the left; the familiarity was deep and instant… eyes that seemed to hold stories in their backdrop hues of gray and piercing blue; knowledge in a face so fair, a history that spoke volumes which reached out and embraced me in unknown depths.
I felt a longing to get close to this man.  I was drawn to know who he was, when and where he lived, and why his portrait was in Grandma’s house.  What did it have to do with me? …
Tears began to stream down my face as I looked to the portrait beside the man and searched the face of a lovely woman.  She seemed to convey a noble bearing, with raven black hair, eyes large and round, their color a beautiful dark brown.  Again feelings of admiration and sadness rose in me, so much so that I could not bear to look any longer and went to find my Grandmother.”

Her grandmother told her that the portraits were of Kimberly’s great-great grandparents, Joseph and Emma Smith and that Joseph established the ‘true’ church, by which she meant the Church of Christ Temple Lot.

Kimberly did not understand what that meant; she only knew that an intense love for these people filled her, along with a compelling desire to find out everything she could about them.

Surrounded by Her Father’s Family

Smith Cabin; Ava, Missouri
Kimberly’s family moved into her Grandmother’s cabin after she discovered Joseph and Emma there.

Kimberly’s family moved into that log cabin not long after their visit, which put her in the middle of her Smith family.

One day, Kimberly brought her clothes in from the line and as she lifted a shirt she saw a copperhead snake coiled underneath. This sneaky creature crawled into the laundry unnoticed and Kimberly carried him inside.

That  snake perfectly symbolizes the bitterness which crept into the Smith family and which they carried through the generations. These were the feelings and beliefs to which Kimberly was exposed at this period of her life as the ideas of her father’s family and the teachings of The Church of Christ Temple Lot surrounded her.

Kimberly’s  religious experience up to that point consisted of simple Southern gospel teaching from her mother: the need for unconditional Christ-like love and for following the Holy Ghost, no matter what. But the teachings from her father’s family had a different feel, filled with bitterness which Kimberly said “didn’t feel natural,” a brewing animosity for the LDS Church. These bitter teachings sounded through the generations instilling a sense of hatred and a rigid perception of the LDS Church:

  • Brigham Young organized the murder of Joseph, Hyrum and Samuel Smith.
  • He wanted to take control of the Church.
  • A corrupt band of Brighamites followed him to the West, and
  • If any of the Smiths ever went to Utah they would be killed.

Understandably, these barbaric Mormons terrified Kimberly. And yet, something about those teachings didn’t feel right. When Kimberly sought answers about Joseph and Emma from her father and his family, they spoke of him respectfully but as a fallen prophet, often with crisp tones denoting negativity.

Kimberly yearned to find the peace and love she felt when she saw their portraits, and so she stopped asking and kept her desires silently kindling in her heart.

Searching For Her Ancestors

Kimberly searched for anything about her ancestors, including things written about them and by them.

As Kimberly began having children of her own, her desire to know her ancestors and understand her true heritage became unquenchable. She needed to know the truth about Joseph and Emma as well as those who came before. A rich heritage was waiting to be discovered and Kimberly determined to find it.

As a teenager she came across a book in her father’s office called Joseph Smith and His Progenitors written by Lucy Mack Smith. She flipped through a few pages of Lucy’s early life before being shooed out of the office by her father. Being caught up in teenage life, she forgot about it for several years. As she began seriously searching for her ancestors as an adult, Kimberly asked her father for the book. It was gone, likely lost it in one of their many moves.

Not knowing what else to do, Kimberly headed to the small Douglas County Library. The library had many books filled with names of early American immigrants, but the only names Kimberly knew were Joseph and Emma’s. She needed somewhere to research and find the names and stories of earlier ancestors. Kimberly knew the young, blonde librarian from her teenage years spent in that library. She was a withdrawn woman, but she had the answers Kimberly needed.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) they were not the answers she wanted.  Among suggested places for genealogical research, the librarian mentioned the family history center which was part of an LDS church—a Mormon church! In Kimberly’s words, the librarian might as well have pierced her with a knife. The Mormons were bent on killing her! She would not turn herself over to them.

But the Spirit reasoned with her. It was more important to get the information no matter where it came from. And so ultimately she decided to go, hoping to get what she wanted without telling them she was a Smith.

At the Family History Center

Kimberly arrived at the family history center, determined to find the names of her ancestors quietly and without being noticed. She told the sister missionary who greeted her that she did not need any help, and sat down at a computer.

Within five minutes she realized that she did, in fact, need help. Rather than admitting her confusion, Kimberly prepared to make a stealthy exit. But just as she stood to flee, the sister missionary’s husband sat next to her and offered his assistance.

He asked for the furthest name she knew so he could show her how to take the name through the program. Kimberly froze. Her father taught that the most important rule in dealing with Mormons is to never tell them who you are. But she wanted this information!

After silently deliberating, Kimberly decided to take a chance. Smith was a common enough name, after all. But then the missionary wanted the given name. “Maybe he won’t notice,” she thought as she said “Joseph.”

He gave no response and Kimberly thought she fooled him. “Birthdate?” he asked. Easy. “December 23, 1805.” And then he stopped. His eyes lit up and he asked,

Would that be the Prophet Joseph?

The man called his wife over to introduce her to Joseph Smith’s great-great granddaughter. The sister responded, “That must be so special!” And for the first time in fifteen years Kimberly felt the same deep love for Joseph and Emma that poured through her as a twelve year old girl in her grandmother’s sitting room.

The missionary couple excitedly asked Kimberly questions about Joseph and Emma and the Smith family, but she had no answers. She felt lost, like she didn’t know herself. And so her desire to find her heritage became stronger. She resolved to learn where she came from, and thus who she was.

Setting Out To See Her Ancestors’ Lives in Nauvoo

Kimberly began to visit the places her ancestors lived including the Homestead house in Nauvoo.

Kimberly felt this discovery could only happen in the places of her ancestors’ experiences. So she set out for Nauvoo.

As she took in sites, sounds and feelings of her ancestors’ lives, Kimberly wondered why her family never spoke of this place. She felt that a marvelous secret had been hidden from her all of her life. She writes,

Upon entering the Homestead everything took root in my heart.  As my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I looked up and breathed in sharply.  It was one of those moments that people identify with déjà vu.  I felt as if I had been there before. I struggled with the emotions coursing through me, realizing it was more.  It was as if I was having a memory that was not my own.  As I breathed, thoughts and feelings about Joseph and Emma filled my heart.  Tears fell down my face and I lagged behind the others so that I might absorb as much as possible.

Kimberly couldn’t get enough of Nauvoo. For several years she made an annual trek from Ava to Nauvoo, gathering information and insight into her forebears’ lives. With each trip she fell more in love with Nauvoo and more in love with Joseph and Emma.

The Osmonds Move to Missouri

The Osmonds embraced Kimberly and gave her a safe place to learn the truth about the Mormons.

During that time the Osmonds moved their family theater to Branson, Missouri, a town just 50 miles from Ava. Kimberly passed the theater’s neon sign proclaiming the latest shows each time she took her young children to Silver Dollar City theme park. She even stopped once to peek inside.

Like every girl of her generation, Kimberly grew up with the certainty that she would marry Donny Osmond. She spent hours beside her bunk bed learning to harmonize with “One Bad Apple” and “Puppy Love” as her sister’s parakeet perched itself on the needle of the record player.

For six years she dreamed of attending a show, but she never did. Then one day she got a phone call at her small engine business, telling her that she won the Bids for Bargains radio show. When she went to the radio station to pick up her prize, she opened the envelope to find tickets for the Osmonds’ Christmas show.

Dressed for the season in jeans and a sweater, Kimberly entered the theater that “felt like home” marvelously decorated as a Christmas from yesteryear. She settled into her plush navy blue seat in the middle of the theater and enjoyed an incredible production of music and ice skating.

Then Merrill took the stage alone. As he sang the first notes of “How Great Thou Art” the same overwhelming feeling returned to Kimberly as when she saw the portraits of Joseph and Emma for the first time.

The Spirit moved her to get to know this man, speaking very specific instructions into her heart: introduce yourself to Merrill and tell him your relationship to Joseph Smith. The teachings of her mother ran through Kimberly’s mind and she resolved to follow the Spirit. So, being a very practical woman, she went to the gift shop during intermission and bought a postcard for all of the brothers to sign.

Unbeknownst to Kimberly, Merrill Osmond had a dream prior to the show. Joseph Smith appeared to him in a large room. A curtain hid a section of the room. Joseph walked to the curtain and pulled it back, revealing a sea of miserable faces. He then pleaded with Merrill,

This is my posterity; please help them.

 The Osmonds came out after the show, as usual, and greeted their guests like family. But the conversation with Kimberly went beyond the normal greeting. She told Merrill, “I’ve seen your website and read your statement of beliefs and your love for Joseph Smith. I just wanted to let you know that he is my great-great grandfather.”

The Conversion of Joseph Smith’s Great-great Granddaughter

As Kimberly learned of her ancestors and the gospel, the Smith’s story came back into the Church.

Rushing to catch a plane to Utah for the holidays, Merrill said, “Oh, I need to talk to you!” and wrote Kimberly’s name and number on the back of a receipt. The holidays came and went. Weeks went by and Kimberly didn’t hear anything from Merrill. That might have been the end of the story, but her mother taught her, 

When the Spirit works on you it is your responsibility to follow and to find out why because the Spirit is trying to lead you somewhere.

And so she took responsibility and she called the Osmonds’ manager at their Branson theater.

Merrill lost the receipt, so Kimberly’s phone called thrilled him. And her instant connection with the Osmond family thrilled her. She finally found a safe place to ask questions and sort out her feelings about the Mormons.

Within a few months, discussions with the Osmonds turned into discussions with the sister missionaries. After the third discussion she knew she had to be baptized.

A Unique Mission

Like Joseph, Kimberly is a disturber and annoyer of Satan’s kingdom.

Upon reflection of his own life, Joseph Smith said,

 It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?

Kimberly’s story echoes this statement.

  • She is one of few direct descendants of Joseph and Emma to join The Church.
  • She works tirelessly, and with great success, to bring unity and love to the Smith family and all families.
  • She and her son travel the country teaching and singing about Joseph and Emma, and the importance of forgiveness and the power of the Atonement.

She performs a special work in God’s kingdom and the adversary seems to be aware, and set on hindering, this unique mission. In fact, Kimberly’s mission nearly ended before it began.

Her mother had high risk pregnancies and nearly died giving birth to Kimberly’s older sister. Doctors counseled her to not have any more children. When she became pregnant with Kimberly, they pleaded with her to abort. Despite the fervency of her doctors’ urging, she could not imagine harming an unborn child and chose to risk her own life instead. Thus Kimberly entered mortality.

Satan Tried to Stop Her From Embracing the Gospel

Baptism of Kimberly Jo Smith
With faith greater than her fears and doubts, Kimberly was baptized by Merrill Osmond in 1998.

After Kimberly committed to be baptized, Satan bombarded her with fears and doubts.

  • What about everything her family taught her to believe about the Mormons?
  • How would they react?
  • She still couldn’t accept Brigham Young.
  • Her father told her that joining any other church was denying the Holy Ghost, an unpardonable sin.

And yet, it was in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that she discovered a fullness of the Holy Ghost. Through all of these competing thoughts and emotions Kimberly’s faith conquered her doubts, and she was baptized and confirmed by Merrill Osmond on the morning of June 7, 1998.

Kimberly describes Satan’s failed attempts to derail her faith in these words,

“Even though those emotions were swirling within me there was the trust I had toward the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Knowing that the Spirit never lies to us has always given me the confidence to move forward in any situation, even though I may be afraid, because the Holy Ghost knows all, and we know very little…

I remember there being a shift when I started to go down into the water. That was my leap of faith right there, that very moment of going down into the water. As I came back up I felt the fear and doubt pulled from me and it was replaced by a confirming witness that I had done what was right.

I wish I had a picture of after the baptism, for I am sure I looked much different, for the fear and doubts were washed away and it was like seeing the sun through a window I had just cleaned thirty-six years of dirt off of.

No matter what lay ahead after that moment I knew I had the strength to get through it and I was not as afraid because I knew I was where I belonged.”

Satan Tried to Stop Her From Untangling the Smith Family

Descendants of Joseph and Emma come together for family reunions.  Image from

After “meeting” Joseph and Emma through their portraits and getting to know them through study and travel, Kimberly felt that they gave her a charge to untangle the threads of bitterness and hatred that had become as much a part of her family as the musical talent and jolliness that are inherent in the Smith line.

Kimberly said of this journey,

“It gave me a good idea of the tools the adversary uses destroy a family, but also the far reaching effects of the atonement to pull a family back together. We need to forgive the past and the present because we can’t carry that baggage and do what we need to do.”

As she dug up the roots of anger and enmity, she replanted unity and love.

Kimberly shared her convictions with her son and daughter. Her son Bryan was baptized in 1999 and her daughter Leah in 2000. She invited her mother to travel to firesides with her and her children, and after six years of doing so, she too was baptized 2006.

Her mother’s membership in the Church brings the missionaries into their home frequently. Kimberly says of her father, “He is not ready to join the Church, but the hate has been removed and replaced with a sense of love for the members of the Church and missionaries. That’s what we have to turn around; the Lord takes care of the rest.”

Kimberly also sows seeds of goodwill and understanding among her extended family. She served as an ambassador in the Joseph Smith Jr. and Emma Hale Smith Historical Society and works to bring cousins together at family reunions. These reunions are held at historic sites for the Smith family, such as Kirtland, Palmyra, Independence and Nauvoo.

Just as Kimberly discovered herself in the places of her ancestors, the family gathers where they can see their history, ask questions, and find out who they are. As they do so, the bitterness between those in different churches dissipates and now as they sit on blankets together they are just a family having a family picnic and getting to know each other with love.

But this mission of unity was impossible while Kimberly held a deep seated hatred of her own, the hatred she harbored since childhood for Brigham Young.

Forgiving Brigham Young

Kimberly knelt at Brigham’s grave, apologizing and forgiving.

Kimberly’s first week in Relief Society, a woman handed her a manual with Brigham Young’s picture on the front. So she slipped from the room and walked out of the church building, throwing the manual in the trash on her way out.

Satan used this animosity to undermine Kimberly’s ability to fully embrace the gospel and to fulfill her mission of unity and love. And so the Lord sent a special missionary to help Kimberly let go.

Two days before a trip to Utah to attend the temple for the first time, Kimberly gave this missionary and his companion a ride home from a zone conference. The missionary asked Kimberly if she planned to learn about Brigham Young while she was in Utah.

She says, “I felt a surge of bitterness race through me.  Tightening my grip on the steering wheel, I replied that I would not have time . . . The atmosphere within the car grew very quiet and there was a shift of emotion.”

The Elder was quiet for a long time and Kimberly knew the Spirit was working in him and that she must listen. He first bore his testimony of the Savior and the Spirit filled the car. Then he bore his testimony of Joseph Smith and Kimberly relaxed. Finally, he bore his testimony of Brigham Young. He concluded just as they approached a stoplight. Kimberly remembers,

“When I hit the brakes something washed over me and all of the hatred I had ever felt toward Brigham Young was taken from me.  It was so sudden it took my breath away.  I believed in and had witnessed the healing power of the pure love of Christ, but this was the first time I ever experienced it myself.

I told the Elder there was an empty space where all of the hatred had been and that I would learn all I could about Brigham Young.”

True to her promise, Kimberly toured Temple Square and then she walked the block up the hill to Brigham Young’s grave. In that lovely park, tucked back between apartment buildings with a view of the Salt Lake Temple, Kimberly knelt at Brigham’s grave.

She poured out her tears and her heart as she apologized for generations of hatred. And she forgave him too because things were said and done on both sides that caused hurt. During her time with Brigham, Kimberly knew that all had been made right on the other side of the veil and there was no need to carry hurt feelings any longer on this side.

And then, with a heart made light, she went forward to help her family find the same forgiveness and healing.

Sharing the Message

Kimberly shares her story at nearly 100 events each year.

The message is not reserved for the Smith family alone. Kimberly shares her story freely, teaching her discovery of Joseph and Emma along with the importance of following the Holy Ghost, the healing and unity that comes through the Atonement, and the need to forgive and let go.

Kimberly published her story last year in her book, Rising Hills and Sinking Valleys, and she presents and sings with her son at firesides, concerts, family home evenings, and family reunions across the country.

In fact, it was at one of her family home evening events that I first met Kimberly. Her story of discovering her great-great grandparents intrigued me and I felt as though I truly discovered them right along with her. I always loved and admired Emma, but as I listened to Kimberly speak and sing that night, I finally understood her too.

As I watched images of Emma’s joys and hardships on the screen while listening to Kimberly sing the words, “How many tears did she cry as the willow tree swayed?” my feelings for Emma went so much deeper than the outward reverence and admiration I always felt. Kimberly shared with me a sacred glimpse at the heart of a truly elect lady and gave me the gift of understanding. She then shared some of her own sacred moments.

We were gathered in an apartment social room, just half a block from Brigham Young’s grave and as we traveled there together in our minds, we all realized the need to let go of some things in our lives and truly embrace the Atonement. Seasoned members of the church filled the room that night, many of whom had two, three, or four decades more life experience than Kimberly, but her message and her music touched, instructed and inspired each one.

Satan Tried to Stop Her From Sharing Her Story

Kimberly and her son speak and sing across the country, sharing the Smith’s musical talent.

The gifts of speaking and music are traits that have carried through the Smith family from the time of Joseph’s great speeches and Emma’s compilation of hymns. Kimberly clearly received these gifts to share this message in this way, and so Satan tried to silence her.

As a child, Kimberly loved performing with her father at Bluegrass parties, but when she was nine years old a neighbor severely abused her. This event shattered Kimberly’s confidence and self esteem. She withdrew to her bedroom and she stopped singing. Kimberly thought she was ugly and stupid, and she swore she would never perform or speak publicly again.

Even through high school she chose to fail assignments rather than doing oral reports. Her sense of self worth was so shattered, she could not even look people in the eyes. Looking back on the experience Kimberly says,

The adversary knows what our mission is in life. Look at where he tries to shut us down. The two things I excel at to help people.

But the Lord’s efforts to heal us are always more powerful than the adversary’s efforts to break us.

God Had a Plan

Kimberly spent hours listening to the Osmond’s album, The Plan, glimpsing the plan of salvation.

During that dark time, Kimberly spent a lot of time listening to music in her bedroom. When she was about eleven years old, the Osmonds released their album, The Plan.  For the first time, Kimberly heard messages of the plan of salvation.

She felt an enlightening and comforting presence, returning a glimmer of her destroyed self esteem. And that was enough for the Spirit to work with.

Nearly thirty years later, Kimberly’s cousin Gracia Jones (the first direct descendant of Joseph and Emma to stay in the Church) asked Kimberly to bear her testimony at a fireside she presented in Ephraim, Utah. Kimberly still held many of the lingering feelings that caused her nine year old self to feel, and wish to be, invisible, but Kimberly knew the Spirit was impressing her to say yes.

In fact, as Kimberly stood to bear her testimony that night in an Ephraim, Utah chapel, she felt that she would someday do the same thing Gracia did. She shook off the feeling, thinking that she had nothing to offer. And she certainly didn’t have the confidence to offer it. But the Lord is persistent in helping us achieve the mission he has designed for us.

One year later when Kimberly was visiting Utah again, a friend asked Kimberly to share her story at another fireside. After that Kimberly says,

“I knew from that point I would be speaking on a regular basis and I had an understanding that it all had very little to do with me, but everything in the world to do with the Lord and healing hearts through His love.”

And that is exactly what she does, nearly one hundred times a year.

Now She is Anxious to Bless the World

Kimberly’s life of integrity teaches us the kind of people Joseph and Emma were.

Joseph Smith once said,

“A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. This has been your [the Twelve in England] feeling, and caused you to forego the pleasures of home, that you might be a blessing to others, who are candidates for [eternal life], but strangers to truth; and for so doing, I pray that heaven’s choicest blessings may rest upon you.”

This sentiment encapsulates why Kimberly gives her life to travel the country, anxious to bless the whole human race.

Satan tries to derail her journey at every turn, but Kimberly consistently and faithfully follows the Holy Ghost. Beyond her bloodline and her research, her very life teaches us the kind of people Joseph and Emma were.

I imagine as she has her birthday talk with Joseph, he also thanks her for the life of integrity she is living, dedicated to healing his family and teaching the truth. She does not just honor him on this day; her life is a tribute to the truth for which he lived and died.

Your Story

When did you first “meet” Joseph Smith? How do you know he is a prophet?


To schedule an event, Kimberly can be contacted through email, [email protected] 

Lisa believes in seeking after everything in life that is virtuous, lovely or of good report. She loves volunteering, participating in community groups, traveling, reading, trying new foods, and being outside. She is a former high school math teacher, but worked in the history, religion and political science departments while earning her degree and later took to writing and editing. She also studied in Hawaii, Paris and Jerusalem before she met her husband in a skiing class. They now live in Minnesota with their three awesome kids. Lisa believes that true joy comes from loving life and living loved—by Christ, yourself and others.
  • Tammy

    I so love this story. I could read/hear it over and over. I had the privilege of meeting Kim and her son when they were out west (Utah) a few years ago and shared the story and her testimony with us in a Relief Society meeting and at my daughter home for an FHE. Kim is truly a remarkable lady. I love her and so appreciate her beautiful testimony.

    I was just looking for you Kim in hopes you could join us for another meeting. I see that you live in Missouri now. May you be blessed in all you do!


  • Cathi Bond

    Love your story! I feel a definite kinship and connection with you! We would love to have you speak to us at the Council Bluffs, Iowa Stake Center sometime! We were privileged to get to know and love Bob Smith after he was baptized! I am sure you must know him, since you know Gracia Jones. I have a friend from our ward in Nebraska who met you in Nauvoo a couple of summers ago. Maybe you could email me and we could talk.

    • We would love to come to Council Bluffs and yes, I know Bob well! My email is included in the article, let me know when you’d like us to come and we will be there. We live in Chillicothe, MO now, so not too far 🙂

  • lady_liberty

    I have a few questions: about your extended family members… Have any of them joined the church?

    Have any of you met with any of Brigham Young’s family members?

    Were the teachings about hiding your identity from members of the LDS church common practice in the church you grew up in or was that a family “thing”. Did members of the church community you grew up in know of your relation to Joseph Smith?

    • Several cousins have joined, though not many from my grandfather’s line. I believe there are over 200 members now. That would include direct descendants who have converted, their wives and children. I am well acquainted with many descendants of Brigham Young and love them dearly.
      Not telling anyone we were descendants was more of a family thing, though most people in the Temple Lot Church knew we were.

  • I’m sitting here on a saturday afternoon reading the articles accompanying this article. First, my brother- in -law is quoted in the Rome Italy temple article. Next I am reading about the bombing in Belgium and the testimonies of the missionaries. Now I am overwhelmed with the feeling of connection with those that have gone on before us. For 45 years and counting we have been trying to find my 4th great grandfather who was with Joseph from zion’s camp on. Due to the persecution, he lost his wife, family, home and property in Missouri. He married again and both members of that marriage died after giving birth to 2 children. Those children came across the plains as little boys. Finally, we have connected him to his father, a revolutionary war soldier. It has been a process, amazing to watch, as information has been revealed over the last couple of years. As I have tried to learn all I could this past year about Joseph and the early years of the church, my heart is humbled by their strength. They were true to the Lord and what he had asked them to do. Brenda, you are doing such an important thing to help people know not only these noble people but that cause that they gave their life for.

  • W. Susan Goforth Dawson

    As a person who is related to so many of the Founding Fathers of the Church, I have a testimony of the truth through the Holy Spirit also. I am the only member in my family, the youngest of 14, born in Virginia where I did not know any LDS. BUT, I was so different from those around me, I knew that I had to find the true church. I knew that the teaching of the gospel that I was hearing was false, it is a long story about how I finally discovered the truth. But I know that it was God’s plan for me to find it, I have always been interested in genealogy from the age of five. Through this love of ancestors, the work has been done for thousands and I can’t wait to meet them again, I know that my promise to them was, I will find the true gospel and I will take your names to the temple, it is my life’s work, I know that Joseph is a prophet of God, I know that this is his true church on earth. I am delighted that you have been blessed with the knowledge of truth.

    • Thank you Susan,
      We all have our journeys, don’t we? And it is the journey where we discover who we are and why we are here. God bless!

  • Karen Bird

    Loved reading your story; I will have to get your book now. What a beautiful conversion. I know Emma, toward the end of her life, told Oliver Cowdery she still knew that Joseph was a prophet of God. But she was opposed to polygamy and didn’t want her family to practice it. Two of her sons went to Utah as missionaries of the Reorganized church and learned more about Joseph. The deep love between Emma and Joseph was ever enduring and a great example to us. Because of the persecution of the saints and Joseph, Emma told her children not to let people know their ties to Joseph or they would be persecuted, seeking protection for them. I’ll always love and admire both Emma and Joseph! God bless you for your endurance and desire to know the truth! I would love to hear you speak if you’re ever in the SL City area.

  • Cal

    Loved your story…when n if your in Pa. Please come n visit.(Lebanon)

    • Cal, we will be coming that way in the next couple of years. You can contact me at [email protected] Let’s keep in touch about it, send me an email so i have your contact info

  • Consuelo

    You are amazing…Merrill was touched by the prophet himself in a dream!
    Loved your story, I’m a convert as well, Latin descendant and first LDS generation.
    Please come visit Hillsboro Stake in Oregon, I would be thrilled to meet you.
    Consuelo De Lima

  • Kendall Davie

    A well-written and very moving account. Thank you.
    Many of the descendants of Joseph and Hyrum are reported to live here in Australia.

  • george hoy

    just read your story and all the comments loved every word and feeling that came,,,keep on serving….i live in ca, about 20 miles north of San diego in san marcos part of escondido stake…hope to see you someday out here…thanks so much!!!!

  • Calvin Hoggard

    I read this article about Kimberly with great interest. My great-great grandfather was Silas Smith, Joseph Smith’s cousin. His father, Joseph’s uncle, was also named Silas. A document recently called to my attention (via the LDS Church) from the Joseph Smith papers was a letter from Joseph to his uncle Silas explaining why new revelation from God should be expected. I think this letter contributed to Silas’s conversion to the LDS Church. It is interesting that despite the feelings of the immediate descendants of Joseph not to go to Utah that Joseph’s cousin, Silas, and his family did go and played a leadership role in some settlements there under Brigham Young’s direction.

    Kimberly’s story touches my heart as she is a distant cousin and shares the feelings and curiosities I have regarding my Smith Family heritage. I hope to meet Kimberly and the other Smiths someday if any make it up to the Seattle area where I live.

    • Suzanne Williams

      Like the gentleman who posted above, Silas Smith is also my great- great- great grandfather, who was the uncle to Joseph Smith Jr. This article was fascinating to me, and I loved hearing the conversion story and conviction of this wonderful descendant of Joseph and Emma. Her determination and sacrifice and willingness to follow the Spirit was such an inspiration to me. Thank you for the wonderful, in-depth article.

    • VaLynne Stoddard

      I know you wrote this about 18 months ago. But I am just now seeing the article. My 3rd great grandfather was Silas Smith Sr., brother to Joseph Smith Senior. I descend from Silas’s youngest son Jesse Nathaniel Smith. I live in Southwest Wyoming about 120 miles from Salt Lake, a few years ago Kimberly came to our home town and spoke at our Empty Nesters Family Home Evening group. She and her son stayed the night with us. It was fun getting to know her.

  • CC

    Maybe I read through the article too quickly, but I do not remember reading where Kimberly comes from (for example, Joseph and Emma, then who is her great grandfather or grandmother? Her Grandfather/mother? Is her Father or Mother a descendant? Etc…) What’s your direct line to the Prophet Kimberly? Just wondering…

    Great article and thanks!

    • Lisa Teixeira

      Kimberly is a direct descendant of Joseph and Emma. Her father is Joseph Fredrick Smith; his father is Arthur Marion Smith; and his father is Alexander Hale Smith who is Joseph and Emma’s son.

  • Mark Cyluck “A’tsv’sdi”

    Kimberly/Bryan Very nice to see something else about all of you. Story still the same but a little different from the time you spoke to the LDS Cherokee Family in the mountains of Utah. I tried a few times to reach “Elder” Bryan when he was in Vancouver,Canada on his mission. I was very movedby your conversion stories. I am very grateful for your time with us and to be at your naming ceremonies. I’m glad that things have progressed for all of you and the “success” you are having in bringing home Joseph’s family back to the flock.
    Tohido Oginali

    • Mark,
      Thank you so much. That was a treasured moment we spent with you all!

  • Richard

    Thank you for this wonderful article I am again reminded of Kimberly’s testimony and inspiring perspective of her families estrangement from the church. My wife, Michelle, and I were able to host Kimberly and Bryan in our home during their visit to Sharon Vermont last year, and stayed up late into the night as they shared their love and testimonies with us after the fireside. At a very early age I obtained my own testimony of Joseph Smith the Prophet, which grew because of the faithful teachings of my family, primary, Sunday school, and seminary teachers in Idaho. I just instantly believed the story of the First Vision, and everything that followed. My gratitude and love for Joseph and Emma has grown leaps and bounds while raising my children near and at the birth place of the Prophet. I have felt that I have been in the presence of Joseph Smith a few times and once both Joseph and Emma during a play titled “From Vermont to Carthage”. The impact of the gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed to the Prophet and his successors has made my life the happy life that it is, and provided a marvelous vision of the next estate.

  • Jk

    So pure…so true. I love the way The Lord works in all our lives to bring us to a greater knowledge and truth. Indeed you have given me an even greater insight of the way The Lord works through his diciples here on earth. Thanks for your testimony and your sweet story!

  • Audrey McCaslin

    My husband and I enjoyed your search ans story. The Holy Ghost is a great guide and the Atonement is wonderful

  • brenda

    hi Kimberly

    I love your story….thank you for sharing. I spoke with you once over the phone with Eddie LeBaron, Merrill’s friend from California. I’m sure you donot remember me but just thought I would comment on here. I hope to meet you one day and see you preform. I hope this coming year you make it out to southern California.

  • Sis. Elso

    The LDS Church is TRUE!! Thanks from the bottom of my heart for sharing your history! I have often contemplated the lives of Joseph & Emma’s posterity. My gr-grandfather was baptized by the great Prophet when 8 in Nauvoo. He kept a little “day book” of some events and wrote that he often heard the Prophet and Hyrum preach. He with his family viewed the slain brothers after the martyrdom. They came to Utah with the Saints. The rest of my ancestors came from England and Denmark (many buried @ sea) and all were called to help settle the Bear Lake Valley in Idaho. Another gr-grandfather’s sister was/is the 2nd wife of Geo.Osmond. These wonderful people gave their all for the Gospel’s sake. I can never express enough gratitude to them or to the Prophet Joseph & Emma for the peace & joy my family enjoys through Christ’s Atonement for all mankind.
    Sorry that I got carried away in my comments, but my main reason for writing is to
    THANK YOU and to get a schedule of any speaking assignments you have in Utah, 2015. Would you pls email me?

    • Hi,
      Yes, send me your email and j will let you know when we’ll be in Utah next!

  • Cherie Warr

    My husband and I heard Kimberly speak when we were serving as missionaries at Martin’s Cove four or five years ago. It was wonderful. Her son is an average looking young man but when he stood to speak to the group it was mesmerizing. It was as if Joseph himself was speaking to us. I will never forget the feeling we had watching and listening to him.

    • Jackie Warr Wynder

      Cherie, did I meet you a few years ago in Nauvoo with your husband, Gary?
      I am his second cousin. The memory is so fresh and I want to stay connected
      to that side of the family. I came across Kimberly’s story today and have been
      touched by it. What a blessing for you to serve back there:).

  • Kendall Davie

    This article, with its marvellous content, and so beautifully written, has really touched me. It includes valuable insights of many types. I found it excruciatingly exciting to read. Thank you very much. By the way, a large proportion of Joseph and Emma’s known descendants are reported to be living here in Australia. They are friendly. Maybe Kimberly will get to meet them some day. Also we have descendants of Hyrum.

  • Thank you all for so many wonderful comments. You can visit our website at for information or email me at [email protected] Many have been asking about fees, this is a mission to us and we do not charge for the fireside itself but if available we do ask for help with gas expense.

  • KiwiAllDay

    What a wonderful read. Thank you, Kimberly, for sharing your journey of discovery of your very special heritage; a story of faith, trials, struggle, forgiveness, and amazing experiences which have led you to where you are today, inspiring and helping others to know and love your ancestors, the Prophet Joseph and his devoted wife, Emma.

    Thank you also to Lisa Teixeira for bringing this wonderful story to us.

    Any chance of a visit Downunder? Perhaps Sister Sheri Dew is looking for a presenter for their next “Time Out For Women” tour of Australia and New Zealand? Just saying! 🙂

  • Any chance of her visiting Texas?

    • We would love to come to Texas! Send me your email and I will keep you posted!

  • Dave McGrath

    What an interesting article! I heard lots about “Joseph and Emma.” Is Kimberly aware of the academic research and new transparency published on LDS Topics around Emma’s “30-40” other sister-wives through their common husband Prophet Joseph Smith – and could she comment? What a great opportunity to fulfill the prophecy in the hymn “… they shall know Brother Joseph again!”

    • Dave,
      Yes I am aware of the articles and history. In private settings I do not mind talking about topics such as this or you could email me if you like, but I refrain from delving into it in open forums as it is sensitive to some. As a whole I choose to focus on the here and now and why we are here today; what we must do to carry things forward. I think the adversary likes to keep us tangled and confused about specifics of the past that we were not even alive to witness. Don’t get me wrong though, I love history and the discussion thereof 🙂 My whole focus is on the healing power of the Atonement and spreading the word that it is possible to overcome issues of the past or heal from abuse, that it is possible to unite your family and find balance in a chaotic world, whether that world is the whole world itself or ones own personal environment. Please feel free to email me and thanks for commenting.

      • Lynelle

        Perfectly said Kimberly. Thank you. By the way, we’re distant cousins through the Smith, Mack, and Hale lines. Although I’m only a 3rd generation Mormon myself. Thank you for sharing your story and for your testimony of the Atonement. Their is great power filled with blessings in the Atonement for everyone that chooses to embrace it.

  • Debbie

    As a convert myself, I have experienced the joy of family history work. finding relatives, and making discoveries I never thought would be possible. I cannot begin to imagine how wonderful it must be to discover the truth of her history, after all she has been led to believe. And to enjoy the great influence of the Holy Ghost guiding her hand, and learning so much about the Gospel in this endeavor. What great blessings! I am grateful for her willingness to share and influence others with her story.

  • Stacie

    First, thank you Lisa for this amazing article. Second, THANK YOU Kimberly for your strength and perseverance over the years. I really needed this reminding of the struggles in every one life and that it can be only 1 person to make a difference. The comment/thought of everything working itself out on the other side of the veil just hit me. Again, thanks to both of you for putting this out there, it has helped me more than you know.

  • Kimberly, no sabes como me ha emocionado tu historia. Vendrás algún día al Perú? Si lo haces me avisas, y me gustaría que visites el barrio donde soy obispo.
    Un fuerte abrazo desde Lima

    • Translation?

      • K. L.H.

        Kimberly, you don’t know how your story has excited me. Will you someday come to the Peru? If you do let me know, and I’d like to visit the neighborhood where I am Bishop. A big hug from Lima.

  • Emmanuel Belleza

    Hi, I came across this article and was moved by Kimberly Jo Smith’s journey. This could not have come at a better time with all the negative media about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am from the Philippines and will be visiting the US in April 2015. I would love to attend one of her events. Will the schedule be published? Thank you very much.

  • Thank you do much for sharing your story I have come to love and admire your great great grandfather and grandmother even more the example you have shown have potrayed the lives they both lived. Thank you so much

  • Debi heyn

    I recently returned from a 2 year mission in the NYRM serving with my husband at the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center and the other historical sites there. We were privileged to hear from Kim and her son and it was a very inspiring site meeting. I wish everyone could hear it. Afterward we got to spend private time talking and I treasured her diligence in her search for her roots. We should all do so and be as diligent about it. I hope to run into her again soon. Thank you Kim!

  • I’m so happy to see this article on here! I’ve been so blessed to have gotten to know you and Brian. Remember our door is always open to you, whenever you need a place to chill, etc. Love your cuz! Heather. PS. I just loved the book. One of my most cherished possessions. Here’s to a wonderful 2015!!

  • Where will Kimberly Jo Smith be speaking and singing in 2015? I want to hear her story from her.

    • You can email me and I’ll send you a schedule. So far we will be in several places in Utah, California, Illinois, and on the East coast as well.

      • Ruth

        HI, Kimberly!
        Thank you for sharing you life with us.
        I love reading this! How strong the Holy Spirit is in this beautiful story of yours in finding your beloved grandparents and the Church! I am stuggling with giving up my hardships and grudges unto the Lord. Reading your story has opened my heart and my eyes. Tears I can not hold back flow through. My eleven year old son read this outloud so we could all hear. Emotion has filled us all with such joy from the Holy Spirit in tesitfying what has taken place in your life is true and again that Joseph Smith Jr. is a prophet of God and the Churhc of Jesus Christ is His Church and Jesus Christ Lives on still for each and every one of us. I hope we see you in Denver soon, I belong to the Denver Mt. View Ward. Much love, Sister Ruth Wood.

  • Wow, just wow. Thank you so much for sharing that incredible, deep, detailed story. So many witnesses by the Spirit of truths and goodness and right.

  • Gail

    I first ‘met’ Joseph when I was about 10, not a member, but attending Primary in Kanab, Utah. We sang, “Oh how lovely was the morning,” and for some reason it reached me. After that I read the Old Testament, every word, before I turned 13. Without anybody to ‘interpret’ the Bible for me, I learned that prophets, servants of God, are never, ever perfect people. We should follow their counsel, yes, and we should repent as they do, but the Only example we should follow is the example of Christ. This has helped me a lot as critics of Joseph, critics of Pres. Hinckley and Pres. Monson, have shared views of the lives of the modern prophets.

  • Great article. Thanks for sharing this amazing story!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!