Lucy Mack Smith’s “oversensitive” pride & extravagant house building (pg. 33-35)

Latter-day Answers Forums Rough Stone Rolling (Critique) Lucy Mack Smith’s “oversensitive” pride & extravagant house building (pg. 33-35)

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    • #1192 Reply

      According to Rough Stone Rolling:

      lucy-mack-smith-pride-cabin-extravagant-home-insulted“Lucy took pride in the Smiths’ accomplishments since they arrived in Palmyra ‘destitute of friends, house, or employment.’ . . . But the first draft of her Biographical Sketches told about a humiliation she left out of the final version.

      A friend of mine having invited several of her associates to take tea with her one afternoon sent an urgeant request for me also to call on her with the rest the lady’s invited were some wealthy merchants wives and the minister’s lady we spend the time quite pleasantly each seeming to enjoy those reciprocal feelings which renders the society of our friends delightful to us–when tea was served up we were passing some good-natured remarks upon each other when one lady observed Well I declare Mrs [Smith] ought not to live in that log house of her’s any longer she deserved a better fate and I say she must have a new house.  so she should says another for she is so kind to every one She ought to have the best of every thing.

      “Perhaps oversensitive, Lucy took the ladies’ solicitude badly.  She was insulted by the suggestion that the Smiths’ cabin was a cause for shame. . . . Lucy pretended to be indifferent to the comments about her house, but they stung.  The next entry in her account described plans to build a new frame house.” (Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling [New York: Knopf, 2005], 33-35)

    • #1235 Reply
      Bradley Young

      Rough Stone Rolling attempts to show that Lucy Smith was motivated by external opinion and selfish pride. Not only are Mrs. Smith’s words interpreted incorrectly but the author ignores the theme and tone of humility that runs throughout her Biographical Sketches . He speaks of her as, “(taking) pride in the Smith’s accomplishments”, but she actually was expressing gratitude to God for blessings. Consider, for example, this quote from pg. 71 of her final version.

      “…we had a snug log-house, neatly furnished, and the means of living comfortably. It was now only two years since we entered Palmyra almost destitute of money, property, or acquaintance. The hand of friendship was extended on every side, and we blessed God, with our whole heart, “for his mercy which endureth forever.”

      Mrs. Smith cared only to live comfortably and quietly on what the family could earn. This desire is clearly demonstrated by her response, “…I now find myself comfortably situated…we owe no man, we never distressed any man…”

      Another thing that is ignored by the author is the custom of the time to start out with a rough log cabin and then build something nicer. He ignores, as a matter of fact, the real motivation for building a larger home. I have been to the re-constructed Smith farm and the original log cabin is tiny! It is extremely dark and we know that the men of the Smith family were quite tall which means that they would have been required to stoop in order to get around. The following is a quote from an article documenting the archaeological work before the cabin was re-constructed.

      “Elder B. H. Roberts suggests that young Joseph Smith’s room was situated in the garret of this log house. (See A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:71.) If so, the space must have been very cramped. If the cabin measured twenty by thirty feet or so, and the garret was divided into two rooms, the actual useful area (taking into account the low areas next to the walls) would have been about twelve by twelve feet. The center height may have been four to six feet. The room might have contained a bed, a stand with a wash basin and pitcher, and perhaps a chair. Heating might have come from the fireplace chimney, or an iron stove. The room likely served as a sleeping space only. In any case, the setting was very humble.

      Doesn’t it show a lot about Lucy Smith’s true moral character that we find her thanking God profusely for such a humble home?

      The Smith family was large both in size and stature. Moving to a larger home must have been something of a dream come true for them and yet we see Mrs. Smith’s humility as she states in Biographical Sketches that the reason for planning a new home was to build a home, “more comfortable for persons in advanced life.”

      Biological Sketches pg. 71-72 (
      Archaeological Work at the Smith Log House (

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