Question: Who was Joshua Smith (1788-1845) and what awful thing happened to him?
Answer: Joshua Smith was born in Nobleborough, Kennebeck (now Lincoln) County, Maine, on February 13th, 1788. He was the son of Stephen and Miriam, and the eldest of four pair of twins, all who lived to be men except one.
Joshua married Sarah Baldwin about 1819. Sarah was born May 15, 1794, to Samuel Baldwin and Mehitable Kingsley. Joshua and Sarah had three children, all who died at birth. When William Davidson Gibbons wife, Mary Hoover, gave birth to a pair of twins in 1825, and died soon after, William decided to give one of the twins, Andrew, to Joshua and Sarah Smith—-who had no living children, and one twin to another family. William had four other young children to care for, and saw no way he could care for the new baby twins.
In 1836, Joshua and Sarah learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they were baptized at Kirtland by John Smith. When Joshua and Sarah joined the Church in 1836, Andrew was eleven. Andrew was baptized on his fifteenth birthday on 12 March 1840.
Joshua and Sarah left Kirtland due to the persecution there and moved to Missouri. After enduring persecution there as well, Joshua and Sarah made their way to Nauvoo. Joshua received a patriarchal blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith Sr. Joshua and Sarah were members of the Nauvoo 4th ward, and Joshua served as an alternate high councilman.
On November 5, 1845, Joshua was poisoned by the militia while at Carthage where he was summoned to attend court as part of the continuing conflict between members of the Church in Nauvoo and their neighbors. There doesn’t seem to be a specific record as to why Joshua was summoned to court, but apparently, by order of Major Warren, “every man entering the town of Carthage should be searched for arms.” The militia searched him and found a knife in his possession and arrested him. While under arrest, Joshua was given a meal, which contained some type of poison. At a post mortem examination by doctors, this suspicion of poison was confirmed. Brigham Young said of him that “he was a good man and his name will be registered among those who wear a martyr's crown.” Joshua was second counselor to Samuel Williams, president of the elders' quorum, at the time of his death and is believed buried somewhere in Nauvoo.
Joshua’s wife, Sarah, received her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on 5 December 1845. Andrew was twenty when Joshua was killed. Andrew had married on January 5, 1845 just ten months before Joshua was killed. Andrew, and his wife, Rizpah Jane Knight, were endowed in the Nauvoo Temple a year later on January 5, 1846.
In June 1848, at age 54, Sarah went on to Utah in the Brigham Young Company with her sister Eliza Baldwin Pace, and her children. Eliza’s husband had died in Nauvoo in October 1845. “Eliza’s widowed sister, Sarah Baldwin Smith also joined them....When they arrived in Salt Lake in August 1848, they quickly moved to the Sessions Settlement, now Bountiful, Davis, Utah. They spent the first winter in a cave in a hill...” (Eliza’s story) Sarah is not with her sister’s family in the 1850 census of Utah, so she may died before that time.
Story of Joshua and Sarah’s foster son, Andrew Smith Gibbons
Andrew Smith Gibbons was born March 12, 1825, in Union Station, Licking, Ohio, to William and Mary Hoover Gibbons. His mother died giving birth to twin boys, Andrew and Richard, and the father already having four young children to care for, gave the baby boys to two other families to care for. Andrew was given to Joshua and Sarah Smith to raise. He added the middle name of “Smith” to his name in honor of the parents who raised him, Joshua and Sarah Smith. Because of this good couple, Andrew became a faithful member of the Church.
On January 5, 1845 Andrew married Rizpah Knight, a daughter of Bishop Vinson Knight, in Nauvoo. Their first three children were born at Council Bluffs, Iowa, the first one in December 1846. Andrew (age 22) was part of Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847. Shortly after arriving in the Valley, he went back to Winter Quarters to get his family. Andrew (age 27) returned to the Great Salt Lake Valley together with his wife and three children in 1852 in the Robert Wimmer Company.
Andrew located in Bountiful, Davis county, and later moved to Lehi, Utah County. In 1854, he was called to Iron county to strengthen the settlements which were being made there at that time. Here he became identified with the Indian mission, then in charge of Jacob Hamblin. In 1858, in company with ten other men, he visited the Pueblo Indian villages, east of the Colorado river.
In the spring of 1861 Andrew moved to St. George, where he was elected sheriff of Washington county. In 1865 he was called to the Muddy (now in Nevada) by Apostle Erastus Snow, to locate and mediate between the whites and the Indians. In 1868 he represented Piute county, Arizona, in the Arizona legislature, which met at Tucson. This necessitated a very long and dangerous journey through a country infested with hostile Indians. At the breaking up of the settlements on the Muddy, Andrew moved to Glendale, Kane county, Utah, from which point he made several trips of exploration with Jacob Hamblin and James S. Brown into Arizona and New Mexico, looking to the colonization of Saints in those territories.
In 1880 Andrew moved to St. Johns, Arizona, where he passed through the trying scenes connected with the settlement of that place. At the time of his death, which occurred at St. Johns, February 9, 1886, he was a member of the High Council of the Eastern Arizona Stake of Zion.
He died, as he had lived, a faithful Latter-day Saint in St. Johns and is buried in the St. Johns Cemetery.
Source: FamilySearch.org, Joshua Smith, Martyr for God and the Gospel, Joshua Smith Died— Poisoned by Carthage Militia; Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Record for Andrew Smith Gibbons; LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 2, p 194, familysearch.org; Eliza Baldwin Pace, Pioneer Women Of Faith And Fortitude (Sarah’s sister); Mormon Overland Travel; Juvenile Instructor 7, p. 70.