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What happened to the children of Joseph and Emma Smith?

Among the many hardships faced by Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma, one of the worst, particularly for Emma, was losing too many of her precious children. Just five of her 11 children existed past the age of two and her only biological daughter died before she was born. Emma stayed in Nauvoo to raise her surviving children afte7r her husband was killed in 1844 and the majority of the Saints moved to the west. Let find out what happened to each of the Smith children and where the surviving ones ended up in their adult years.

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Alvin Smith

As the first of many tragic deaths, the first baby of Joseph and Emma was born and died in Harmony, Pennsylvania on June 15, 1828, during the time the 116 pages given to Martin Harris were lost. The baby was called Alvin according to the family Bible, possibly after the elder brother of Joseph Smith who died just before Joseph was given the gold plates. But the headstone merely states “In Memory of An Infant Son of Joseph and Emma Smith.”

Thadeus and Louisa Smith

These twins, born on April 30, 1831, in Kirtland, Ohio lived for only three hours and were given the names Thadeus and Louisa in the family Bible.

A set of twins born to Latter-day Saints John and Julia Murdock the same day were adopted by the Smiths shortly after, as Julia Murdock died after giving birth to them.

Joseph Murdock Smith

One of the twins adopted by Emma and Joseph Smith Jr., little Joseph died when he was 11 months old. His death was likely the result of a combination of measles and exposure to the cold air when a mob attacked the Prophet Joseph at the John Johnson farm in Hiram, Ohio.

Julia Murdock Smith

Once they were nine days old, Julia and her twin brother, Isaac, were adopted by Isaac and Emma, after their mother had died giving birth to them and their father could not care for them. Although her brother did not survive the first year of his life, Julia lived 49 years.She was 13 when her adopted father, the Prophet Joseph, was killed in Carthage Jail and she was left with her mother, grandmother (Lucy Mack Smith), and siblings in deserted Nauvoo.

She married Elisha Dixon somewhere between the age of 17 and 18, against the wishes of her family. She soon moved with him to Texas, where he died a few years later in a steamer ship accident. After his death, she returned to live with her mother, Emma, in Nauvoo. It was there she met and married John J. Middleton in 1856. During her marriage to Middleton, she joined the Catholic Church, of which her new husband was a devout member. They eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri. After 20 years in what came to be a very difficult marriage, Julia officially separated from Middleton and moved back to Nauvoo to live with and take care of her ailing mother.

After her mother’s death in 1879, Julia went to live with her brother, Alexander, for a time and later with some of her friends, the Moffitt family. While living with the Moffitts, she died of breast cancer in September 1880, leaving no posterity.

Joseph Smith III

The namesake of his father, Joseph Smith III was born on November 6, 1832, in Kirtland. He was baptized at age 11, about seven months before his father was killed. He married Emmeline Griswold on October 22 and had five children with her during their 13 years of marriage.

A strong opponent of polygamy, he served as president and prophet of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (now the Community of Christ), from 1860 until 1914.

After his first wife died, Joseph III married Bertha Madison in 1869. She died in October 1896, leaving him nine more children. He met and married Ada Rachel Clark two years later in January 1898 in Ontario, Canada. They eventually moved back to Missouri and had three children together.

Joseph III died at age 82 on December 10, 1914, and has a large posterity.

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