Question: Alvin Smith is mentioned in D&C 137:5. What was the reason the Prophet Joseph marveled about seeing his deceased brother Alvin in the celestial kingdom of God?
Answer: Alvin was born 11 February 1798 in Vermont, the oldest son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. In 1816 when Lucy was trying to move her family from Vermont to Palmyra, New York, Alvin assisted his mother, as father Smith had gone on ahead to prepare a place for them. When the teamster they had hired tried to steal their team, Alvin was able to alert his mother and prevent the loss of their property.
Alvin was a hard worker, and worked outside the home at a young age to assist his father in the purpose of obtaining some land for the family. He never faltered in the work that needed to be done despite any hardship or fatigue.
Alvin was in the field with his brother, Joseph, when Joseph appeared to be ill, and father Joseph instructed him to return to the house. That evening the family conversed of the heavenly visitation to young Joseph. When Alvin observed how fatigued his brother was becoming, he kindly remarked, “Now brother, let us go to bed, and rise early in the morning, in order to finish our day’s work at an hour before sunset, then, if mother will get our suppers early, we will have a fine long evening, and we will all sit down for the purpose of listening to you.” This was the beginning of many evenings in which the Smith family would gather to listen to young Joseph.
Alvin was anxious to see “his father and mother once more comfortable and happy.” He would say, “I am going to have a nice, pleasant room for father and mother to sit in, and everything arranged for their comfort, and they shall not work any more as they have done.”
By November 1823, Alvin had partially completed a nice comfortable house for his parents across the street from their log cabin. Unfortunately, on the fifteenth of November, at about ten o’clock in the morning, Alvin became very ill with bilious colic. The physician who came gave Alvin a heavy dose of calomel, which lodged in his stomach. By the third day of his illness, Alvin was convinced the medicine would take his life. He called his brother Joseph to him, and said, “I am now going to die, the distress which I suffer, and the feelings that I have, tell me my time is very short. I want you to be a good boy, and do everything that lies in your power to obtain the Record. Be faithful in receiving instruction, and in keeping every commandment that is given you.”
Alvin died on 19 November 1823. His young brother Joseph said he had “pangs of sorrow that swelled my youthful bosom and almost burst my tender heart.”
On 21 January 1836 in the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph had a vision of his brother, who had died more than twelve years before: “I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof... I saw...my brother Alvin, that has long since slept; and marveled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.”
On 22 August 1842 the Prophet expressed his admiration and love for his brother Alvin: “He was the oldest and noblest of my father’s family. He was one of the noblest of the sons of men...in him there was no guile...and when he died, the angel of the Lord visited him in his last moments.”
Alvin is buried in the General John Swift Memorial Cemetery in Palmyra, New York.
Source: Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black