Joseph Fielding Smith, born November 13, 1838, was the first child of Hyrum and Mary Fielding Smith. When Mary Fielding married Hyrum Smith, he was the widowed father of five children.
Mary willingly took responsibility for the children and, in addition to Joseph, gave birth to a daughter. Hyrum, older brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, died on June 27, 1844. Joseph was fatherless at age six.
Mary and the family arrived in Salt Lake City in 1848. In 1852, however, Mary died, leaving Joseph an orphan at age thirteen.
The family were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and at age fifteen he was called on a mission (reportedly the youngest Mormon missionary.)
On April 24, 1854, Joseph was ordained an elder. He also received his endowment that day, in special rooms dedicated for that purpose on the upper floor of the Council House in Salt Lake City.
He was set apart for his mission by Elder Parley P Pratt, who promised him that “by the gift of God as well as by study,” he would learn the Hawaiian language.
Joseph was one of twenty-one missionaries called to Hawaiʻi. They included two of his cousins, Silas Smith and Silas S Smith.
Most of the group left Salt Lake City on May 27, 1854, headed for southern California. They were joined by the last member, Silas S. Smith, in Parowan.
By early September, Joseph, his two cousins, and six other missionaries had raised enough money to book passage to Hawaii on a clipper ship, the Vaquero, which left San Francisco harbor September 8, 1854. The other missionaries left at various later times. They sailed into Honolulu harbor on September 27.
He was assigned to work on the Islands known as Molokai and Maui. However, as he left Honolulu he became seriously ill and remained so for the first month. Mary J Hammond nursed him back to health. He was then assigned to the Kula district of Maui.
A hundred days after his arrival in Honolulu he was able to conduct a meeting, open it with prayer, and give a talk in the native tongue; his fluency increased rapidly.
One of Joseph’s various responsibilities was to work with the native Elders in raising money to obtain a boat for the mission. Eventually the funds collected enabled them to build a sloop out of timbers from the mountains of Oahu.
Intend for use as transportation between the islands, it was named Lanai, after the island that had been designated as a gathering place for the Hawaiian Saints.
It was used for a while, but it soon became clear that it was a liability rather than an asset because of the expenses involved in maintaining it. The sloop was sold in June, 1856.
In July 1855, Joseph, still sixteen years old, was assigned to preside over the Church on Maui, succeeding Francis A Hammond. That same month a group of Saints arrived from Australia. They were on their way to the United States, but their ship was leaking so badly that they had to stop for repairs. When they found that it could not be repaired they had to remain in Hawaii.
In April, 1856, Joseph was transferred to the big island of Hawaii, and assigned to preside over the Hilo conference. He was transferred to preside over the Kohala conference, also on Hawaii, six months later. After another six months he was assigned to preside over the Church on the island of Molokai.
While serving on Molokai, Joseph again became desperately ill, this time with a fever that lasted for nearly three months. He was taken under the wing of a young Hawaiian couple, who took him into their home and did all they possibly could to help him recover.
In 1857, Joseph was nursed back to health by Ma Manuhii. He tells her that she will “live to see the day when a temple will be built in Hawaiʻi.”
Like his uncle, Joseph Smith (the first President,) Joseph F Smith became President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the latter was the 6th President.)
Then, a famous and tender story tells about what happened many years later when, as President of the Church, Joseph F Smith returned to Hawaiʻi.
When they landed at the wharf in Honolulu, people were out in great numbers with their wreaths or Leis, beautiful flowers of every variety and hue. The Royal Hawaiian band welcomed them.
“In the midst of all the celebrating, a poor blind woman was led to the prophet. She was calling, ‘Iosepa, Iosepa.’”
“Instantly, he ran to her and clasped her in his arms, hugging and kissing her – saying, “Mama, Mama, my dear old mama.” (Persons) (Lots of information here is from Nauvoo Times and Allen.)