The Brotherhood of Joseph and Hyrum

“In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” (D&C 135)

Hyrum Smith, older brother of Joseph by five years was always supportive and loving to the prophet. We can learn a lot from their relationship full of love, and I’ve long admired how they loved and treated each other.

Sister Smith wrote of Joseph getting sick with Typhus fever at age seven:

“His leg soon began to swell and he continued to suffer the greatest agony for the space of two weeks. Hyrum, who was rather remarkable for his tenderness and sympathy, now desired that he might take my place. As he was a good, trusty boy, we let him do so, and, in order to make the task as easy as possible, we laid Joseph upon a low bed and Hyrum sat beside him, almost day and night for some considerable length of time, holding the affeted part of his leg in his hands and pressing it between them, so that his afflicted brother might be enabled to endure the pain.”

Joseph said of Hyrum, “I could pray in my heart that all my brethren were like unto my beloved brother Hyrum, who possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of a Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ; and I love him with that love that is stronger than death, for I never had occasion to rebuke him, nor he me.” (History of the Church, 2:338)

When I was visiting Liberty Jail we were taught of who was imprisoned there with Joseph, and I thought to myself, “Of course Hyrum was there.” They were united brothers and I truly love their bond. They were always there for each other.

Elder M. Russell Ballard once said, “Hyrum Smith, older brother, friend, and mentor to the Prophet, showed absolute, unequivocal love, loyalty, and allegiance to the Lord and to his younger brother, Joseph. Their brotherhood may be unsurpassed…Throughout Hyrum’s life, he guarded his younger brother as tenderly as if the Prophet had been his own son.”

I want my relationships with my siblings to be like this. I want my future children to love and respect each other like Joseph and Hyrum did. They both sealed their testimonies with their blood and they were not divided in life nor separated in death (D&C 135).

Heber J. Grant on Hyrum:

“There is no better example of an older brother’s love than that exhibited in the life of Hyrum Smith for the Prophet Joseph Smith…They were as united and as affectionate and as loving as mortal men could be…There never was one particle of…jealousy…in the heart of Hyrum Smith. No mortal man could have been more loyal, more true, more faithful in life or in death than was Hyrum Smith to the Prophet of the Living God.”

Elder James E. Faust on Hyrum: “He was ever a source of strength and comfort to his brother, whether in Church service or in the Liberty Jail. As persecutions came and Joseph fled the mob at Nauvoo in 1844, Hyrum went with him. As they stood on the bank of the river, contemplating whether to return, Joseph turned to Hyrum and said, “You are the oldest, what shall we do?”

“Let us go back and give ourselves up and see the thing out,” Hyrum replied.

They returned to Nauvoo and were taken to Carthage, where they died as martyrs within minutes of one another. Hyrum had been faithful to his trust even to the laying down of his life”

How do we learn from them? How can we teach about them?

  1. As you study Joseph & Hyrum’s relationship (read the articles from the links), make a list of the qualities they had for each other. They were supportive to each other, kind, never jealous…etc.
  2. Have students (or you!) compare Joseph and Hyrum’s bond to Nephi with Laman and Lemuel. Though Joseph was the younger brother, Hyrum was fully by his side. Laman and Lemuel, on the other hand, are notorious for murmuring and even said, “let us slay…our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.” (1 Nephi 16:37)
  3. Write down your feelings about these brothers. Then make goals. What changes do you want to make in your relationships to become more like them in character? How can you work so that your kids/future kids have a bond like them? How do you plan on teaching or emulating the qualities these Smith brothers possessed?

Racing to Save

In June 2013 I was able to go to Nauvoo. As we drove away from Carthage, our tour guide shared this story with us:

We aren’t totally sure who yelled, “the Mormons are coming” after Joseph and Hyrum Smith were shot and killed in Carthage; the call that made the mob leave, but it might have been Samuel Smith.

Samuel, younger brother of Joseph and Hyrum, saw Governor Ford with Emma and sensed things weren’t right. He raced to Carthage and was chased and injured in the night.

When he got to Carthage he saw Willard Richards helping injured John Taylor into the other room. Samuel took them to Huntington hotel, then a doctor came.

{this is what gets me crying}

Lucy Mack Smith really lost three sons at Carthage. How? Because Samuel Smith died afterwards likely from the wounds he received racing to save his brothers.  

“Samuel was the first Latter-day Saint to arrive at the jail,but by then Joseph and Hyrum were already dead. The violence was over, the mob had retreated, and Samuel had a piercing pain in his side.”

“After Lucy viewed the bodies, Samuel said, “Mother, I have had a dreadful distress in my side ever since I was chased by the mob.” 



“On July 30, just 34 days after Joseph and Hyrum died, Samuel died.”

This story shows me the power of their family bonds and the love they must’ve felt for each other. I can imagine Samuel in my head racing on horseback through the woods because he wants to be there for his brothers and save them. I can see him going so fast with his jaw clenched because he is so determined.