Latter-day Saint Life

9 Women Who Knew and Bore Powerful Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith


The following is an excerpt from the book The Witness of Women: Firsthand Experiences and Testimonies from the Restoration, by Janiece Johnson and Jennifer Reeder:

Many women who knew Joseph Smith personally and interacted with him recorded their convictions of him as a prophet of God. His mother, Lucy Mack Smith, compiled his history entrenched in her own personal conversion and life experiences. Zilpha C. Williams wrote a letter to her family about her first encounter with him. Several wrote from childhood perceptions of the Prophet and his concern and love for people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Some women saw the Prophet in dreams before they ever met him. They described his physical appearance as well as their feelings as they met him. Some knew he was a prophet the moment they first saw him. For others, spending extended time with him, observing his interactions with others, and hearing him preach and teach provided a spiritual confirmation. Most recognized that something made him different from other people. One thing remains the same across time and age, space and distance: these women gained their own personal witnesses of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, and they testified in their own words.

Mary B. Noble

Mary B. Noble (1810–1851) taught school in 1833 in Avon, New York. In the spring of 1834, Joseph Smith came from Kirtland, Ohio, to her father’s home.

This was the first time I ever beheld a prophet of the Lord, and I can truly say at the first sight that I had a testimony within my bosom that he was a man chosen of God to bring forth a great work in the last days. His society I prized, his conversation was meat and drink to me. The principles that he brought forth bind the testimony that he bore of the truth of the Book of Mormon [and] made a lasting impression upon my mind. . . .

Brother Joseph and Elder Rigdon held a meeting in Geneva, which was called the Orton neighborhood, in a barn. Elder Rigdon preached, Brother Joseph bore testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon, and the work that had come forth in these last days. Never did I hear preaching sound so glorious to me as that did. I realized it was the truth of heaven, for I had a testimony of it myself.

Mary Alice Cannon Lambert

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Mary Alice Cannon Lambert (1828–1920) was the daughter of George and Ann Quayle Cannon, of Liverpool, England. She was baptized at the age of twelve, and her family arrived in Nauvoo in 1843. She wrote this account in 1905 for the Young Woman’s Journal.

I first saw Joseph Smith in the spring of 1843. When the boat in which we came up the Mississippi River reached the landing at Nauvoo, several of the leading brethren were there to meet the company of Saints that had come on it. Among those brethren was the Prophet Joseph Smith. I knew him the instant my eyes rested upon him, and at that moment I received my testimony that he was a Prophet of God, for I never had such a feeling for mortal man as thrilled my being when my eyes rested upon Joseph Smith. He was not pointed out to me. I knew him from all the other men, and, child that I was (I was only fourteen) I knew that I saw a Prophet of God.

Many, many times between the time I reached Nauvoo and his martyrdom, I heard him preach. The love the saints had for him was inexpressible. They would willingly have laid down their lives for him. If he was to talk, every task would be laid aside that they might listen to his words. He was not an ordinary man. Saints and sinners alike felt and recognized a power and influence which he carried with him. It was impossible to meet him and not be impressed by the strength of his personality and influence.

Emmeline B. Wells

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Emmeline B. Wells (1828–1921) joined the Church in Massachusetts when she was fourteen years old. The next year she married James Harris, the son of the local branch president, and the following spring, 1844, she moved with James and his family to Nauvoo, where she first encountered Joseph Smith.

As we stepped ashore the crowd advanced, and I could see one person who towered away and above all the others around him; in fact I did not see distinctly any others. His majestic bearing, so entirely different from any one I had ever seen (and I had seen many superior men) was more than a surprise. It was as if I beheld a vision; I seemed to be lifted off my feet, to be as it were walking in the air, and paying no heed whatever to those around me. I made my way through the crowd, then I saw this man whom I had noticed, because of his lofty appearance, shaking hands with all the people, men, women and children. Before I was aware of it he came to me, and when he took my hand, I was simply electrified,—thrilled through and through to the tips of my fingers, and every part of my body, as if some magic elixir had given me new life and vitality. I am sure that for a few minutes I was not conscious of motion. I think I stood still; I did not want to speak, or be spoken to. I was overwhelmed with indefinable emotion. . . .

The one thought that filled my soul was, I have seen the Prophet of God, he has taken me by the hand, and this testimony has never left me in all the “perils by the way.” It is as vivid today as ever it was. For many years, I felt it too sacred an experience even to mention. . . .

I heard him preach all his last sermons, and frequently met him and shook hands with him, and always felt in my inmost soul, he is indeed a man unlike all others.

In the Prophet Joseph Smith, I believed I recognized the great spiritual power that brought joy and comfort to the Saints; and withal he had that strong comradeship that made such a bond of brotherliness with those who were his companions in civil and military life, and in which he reached men’s souls, and appealed most forcibly to their friendship and loyalty. He possessed too the innate refinement that one finds in the born poet, or in the most highly cultivated intellectual and poetical nature; this extraordinary temperament and force combined is something of a miracle and can scarcely be accounted for except as a “heavenly mystery” of the “higher sort.” . . .

The power of God rested upon him to such a degree that on many occasions he seemed transfigured. His expression was mild and almost childlike in repose; and when addressing the people, who loved him it seemed to adoration, the glory of his countenance was beyond description. At other times the great power of his manner, more than of his voice (which was sublimely eloquent to me) seemed to shake the place on which we stood and penetrate the inmost soul of his hearers, and I am sure that then they would have laid down their lives to defend him.

Latter-day Saint women actively participated in the Restoration, and their voices and testimonies need to be included in Church history. The Witness of Women helps accomplish that. Teachers, parents, gospel scholars, and every member seeking a connection with the women of our past will relish discovering the vital role that women played in the Restoration. The Witness of Women is available at Deseret Book stores or on 

Bathsheba W. Smith

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Bathsheba W. Smith (1822–1910) became a member of the Church with most of her family in 1837 in Virginia (now West Virginia) at the age of fifteen. The first time she saw Joseph Smith was in Illinois, after he had been released from Liberty Jail.

The Prophet was a handsome man,—splendid looking, a large man, tall and fair and his hair was light. He had a very nice complexion, his eyes were blue, and his hair a golden brown and very pretty. . . .

My testimony today is, I know Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet, as well as I know anything. I know that he was just what he professed to be. . . . I have seen very many good men, but they had not the gift and blessing Joseph had. He was truly a Prophet of God.

Jane Snyder Richards

Jane Snyder Richards (1823–1912) lived with her family in Ontario, Canada, when they first heard the gospel message in 1834. Her brother Robert Snyder was the first of the family to join the Church and move to Kirtland. He returned to Canada on a mission and baptized all of his family. They moved to Nauvoo, and Jane married Franklin D. Richards in 1842.

I first saw the Prophet Joseph Smith and shook hands with him, in a dream, about eighteen months before my removal to Nauvoo. Later, at Nauvoo, from the recollections of my dream, I recognized him at first sight, while he was preaching to the people. His was one of the most engaging personalities it has ever been my good fortune to meet. . . . As Seer and Revelator he was fearless and outspoken, yet humble, never considering that he was more than the mouth-piece, through whom God spoke. As the Leader of his people he was ever active and progressive but always modest and considerate of them and their trying circumstances. Socially he was an ideal of affability and always approachable to the humblest of his acquaintances.

Margaret Pierce Young

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Margaret Pierce Young (1823–1907) was born and raised in Pennsylvania by Quaker parents. As a young girl she fell in an icy pond and took cold, developing a fever and heart trouble that made her very ill. Two Mormon missionaries in the area gave her a blessing and saved her life. The following summer, Mormon missionaries returned and the Pierce family chose to be baptized.

In January, 1840, word came that the Prophet Joseph Smith was to visit our Branch on his way from Philadelphia. . . . My Mother served a splendid supper, and then the neighbors gathered to hear the Prophet discourse. I wish that I might describe my feelings at that meeting. Though they are fresh in my memory today, I cannot fall short of expressing myself. So animated with loving kindness, so mild and gentle, yet big and powerful and majestic was the Prophet, that to me he seemed more than a man; I thought almost, that he was an Angel. We were all investigating; none of my people had yet entered the waters of baptism. However, it was a great joy to us to entertain the Prophet Joseph Smith, and hear his wonderful words of wisdom. It was 2 o’clock in the morning before we permitted him to retire. We wanted to listen to him all night.

After he had gone from the room, my mother said, “I don’t see how anyone can doubt that he is a Prophet of God. They can see it in his countenance, which is so full of intelligence.” “Yes, truly!” my Father replied, “he is a Prophet of God.”

Mary Isabella Horne

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Mary Isabella Horne (1818–1905) was born and raised in Kent, England. In 1832, her family immigrated to Canada, where they heard missionaries Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt. Mary was baptized in 1836. She wrote this testimony for her descendants before she passed away.

I first met the Prophet Joseph Smith in the fall of 1837, at my home in the town of Scarborough, Canada West. When I first shook hands with him I was thrilled through and through, and I knew that he was a Prophet of God, and that testimony has never left me, but is still strong within me, and has been a monitor to me, so that I can now bear a faithful testimony to the divinity of the mission of the Great Man of God. . . .

I testify that Joseph Smith was the greatest Prophet that ever lived on this earth, the Savior, only, excepted. There was a personal magnetism about him which drew all people who became acquainted with him, to him.

I feel greatly honored when I realize that I have had the privilege of personally entertaining this great man, of ministering to his temporal wants, of shaking hands with him, and listening to his voice. I heard him relate his first vision when the Father and Son appeared to him; also his receiving the Gold Plates from the Angel Moroni. . . . While he was relating the circumstances, the Prophet’s countenance lighted up, and so wonderful a power accompanied his words that everybody who heard them felt his influence and power, and none could doubt the truth of his narration. I know that he was true to his trust, and that the principles that he advanced and taught are true.

Latter-day Saint women actively participated in the Restoration, and their voices and testimonies need to be included in Church history. The Witness of Women helps accomplish that. Teachers, parents, gospel scholars, and every member seeking a connection with the women of our past will relish discovering the vital role that women played in the Restoration. The Witness of Women is available at Deseret Book stores or on 

Mercy Fielding Thompson

Mercy Fielding Thompson (1807–1893) was born in England and later immigrated to Canada with her brother and sister, Joseph and Mary Fielding, in 1832. In 1836 the three siblings were baptized after hearing missionary Parley P. Pratt preach. They moved to Kirtland, where Mercy married Robert Thompson, who served as a secretary to Joseph Smith.

We listened with joy and profit to the words of instruction and counsel which fell from the inspired lips of Joseph Smith, each word carrying to our hearts deeper and stronger convictions that we were listening to a mighty Prophet of God. And yet there was not the slightest appearance of ostentation or conscious power on his part; he was as free and sociable as though we had all been his own brothers and sisters, or members of one family. He was as unassuming as a child. . . .

I have seen the Prophet under a great variety of circumstances, in public, in domestic and social life and in sacred places.

I have seen him as if carried away by the power of God beyond all mortal conception, when speaking to the Saints in their public gatherings; and in less public places I have heard him explaining to the brethren and sisters the glorious principles of the gospel, as no man could, except by prophetic power.

I have seen him in the lyceum and heard him reprove the brethren for giving way to too much excitement and warmth in debate, and have listened to his clear and masterly explanations of deep and difficult questions.

To him all things seemed simple and easy to be understood, and thus he could make them plain to others as no other man could that I ever heard.

In a social gathering of the Saints at the Bowery near the site of the Temple, I saw him rejoicing with the people, perfectly sociable and without reserve, occasionally uttering jokes for their amusement and moving upon the same plane with the humblest and poorest of his friends; to him there were no strangers and by all he was known as the Prophet and a friend of humanity. . . .

I saw him by the bedside of Emma, his wife, in sickness, exhibiting all the solicitude and sympathy possible for the tenderest of hearts and the most affectionate of natures to feel. And by the deathbed of my beloved companion, I saw him stand in sorrow, reluctantly submitting to the decree of Providence, while the tears of love and sympathy freely flowed. . . .

I have been present at meetings of the Relief Society and heard him give directions and counsels to the sisters, calculated to inspire them to efforts which would lead to celestial glory and exaltation, and oh! how my heart rejoiced!

Eliza R. Snow

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Eliza R. Snow (1804–1887) grew up in Mantua, Ohio, thirty miles south of Kirtland. Originally Baptist, she and her family followed the Disciples of Christ under the direction of Sidney Rigdon. Her mother and sister joined with the Mormons before Eliza. She studied the Book of Mormon before she met Joseph. Eliza was later sealed to Joseph as a plural wife. She considered him the “choice of my heart and the crown of my life.”

In the autumn of [1829 or 1830] I heard of Joseph Smith as a Prophet to whom the Lord was speaking from the heavens; and that a sacred record containing a history of the origin of the aborigines of America, was unearthed. A Prophet of God—the voice of God revealing to man as in former dispensations, was what my soul had hungered for, but could it possibly be true—I considered it a hoax—too good to be true.

In the winter of 1830 and 31, Joseph Smith called at my father’s, and as he sat warming himself, I scrutinized his face as closely as I could without attracting his attention, and decided that his was an honest face. My adopted motto, “prove all things and hold fast that which is good,” prompted me to investigation, as incredulous as I was; and the most impressive testimonies I had ever heard were given by two of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, at the first meeting of the believers in Joseph Smith’s mission, which I attended. . .

In the spring of 1836, I taught a select school for young ladies, and boarded with the Prophet’s family. . . . I resided in the family of Joseph Smith, and taught his family school, and had ample opportunity to mark his “daily walk and conversation,” as a prophet of God; and the more I became acquainted with him, the more I appreciated him as such. His lips ever flowed with instruction and kindness; and, although very forgiving, indulgent, and affectionate in his temperament, when his Godlike intuition suggested that the welfare of his brethren, or the interests of the kingdom of God demanded it; no fear of censure—no love of approbation could prevent his severe and cutting rebuke.

Though his expansive mind grasped the great plan of salvation and solved the mystic problem of man’s destiny—though he had in his possession keys that unlocked the past and the future with its succession of eternities; in his devotions he was humble as a little child.

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Latter-day Saint women actively participated in the Restoration, and their voices and testimonies need to be included in Church history. The Witness of Women helps accomplish that. Teachers, parents, gospel scholars, and every member seeking a connection with the women of our past will relish discovering the vital role that women played in the Restoration. The Witness of Women is available at Deseret Book stores or on 


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