Joseph Smith’s Own Story of a Serious Childhood Illness

The story of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s serious childhood illness and subsequent harsh surgery by doctors upon his leg seems almost universally known by Latter-day Saints. Until recently the only source for the story has been the history written by Lucy Mack Smith, his mother. This account, of course, is a third person account dictated about thirty-five years after the actual event occurred and therefore most certainly reflects anachronistically some of those years.

Fortunately, a first person account of this same childhood experience was recorded by Joseph Smith himself, and has recently been brought to light with the reexamination of his early history. It is a shorter account and was dictated by the Prophet some seven years before his mother’s account was dictated. Joseph Smith’s account, as reproduced in this article, has apparently never before been published. These interesting passages present the Prophet’s own recollection of the event. They also give new insight into the experiences of Joseph Smith as he moved from Vermont to New York, and shows that he was not completely recovered from his illness when this significant journey took place.

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