Lot Smith papers, 1857-1962  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Smith, Lot, 1830-1892
Lot Smith papers
1857-1962 (inclusive)
1 linear feet
Collection Number
MS 0004
The Lot Smith papers (1857-1962) contain correspondence relating to Church matters, Smith's family, military orders. There are also government documents and records of the Mormon Church High Council in Tuba City, Arizona, Utah Territory, and Little Colorado Settlements in Arizona.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Lot Smith (1830-1892) was a Mormon pioneer and frontiersman. Born in 1830 on 15 May 1830 in Williamstown, Oswego County, New York, he became a close friend of Orrin Porter Rockwell and was known as "The Horseman" for his exceptional skill on horseback as well as for his help in rounding up wild mustangs on Utah's Antelope Island. At sixteen, Smith joined the Mormon Battalion and served on the journey through the southwest to San Diego, where the group was mustered out of service. He then came back across the mountains to the Great Salt Lake, where he became a military leader in the Nauvoo Legion in Utah. Smith practiced plural marriage and had eight wives (Lydia McBride, Jane Walker, Julian P. Smith, Laura Burdick, Alice Ann Richards, Alice Bough, Mary Garns, and Diantha Mortensen) and fifty-two children.

In 1857 the President and U.S. Senate attempted to establish a non-Mormon government in Utah and sent Albert Johnson to replace Brigham Young as governor. Smith was sent on a special mission by Brigham Young, who hoped to delay the arrival of the new governor until he could receive additional information from Washington, D.C. Smith led a group of Legion rangers east across Wyoming along a stretch where the California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails merge. Eventually he found the Union wagon train and destroyed several wagons. However, it only slightly delayed the U.S. forces from reaching their destination and removing Young from office.

Smith was asked to help the development of the Mormon settlement of Tuba City, Arizona. Local Navajo Indians used the area for grazing and farming, and the settlers initially understood that the Navajo had first choice to the water and land resources. Although relations with the Navajo were initially cooperative, the growing number of settlers in the Tuba City area began to cause conflict. When Smith arrived in the settlement, he fenced in his land in violation of the agreement between the Navajos and settlers. One day a herd of sheep broke his fence and started to graze. Smith came by and saw the sheep, became angry and tried to chase them away but failed to do so. Frustrated, he went home and returned with a pistol. During this time, the Navajo family who owned the herd began to gather their animals. When Smith returned, he killed several sheep and wounded others. He also shot at a Navajo woman and her daughter to scare them. The Navajo husband, angered at finding his sheep dead and family threatened, shot and killed several of Smith's cows. Smith then fired at the Navajo. The brother of the Navajo man returned fired, mortally wounding Lot Smith. Smith managed to return home and, about six hours later, died on the 21 June 1892.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The first group of letters and personal documents are concerned with the activity of Lot Smith as a military leader in the Utah War, 1857, and the Nauvoo Legion, Utah Territorial Militia, during the Civil War.

The second group begins with a mission call from Brigham Young to lead a company of people to the Little Colorado River in northern Arizona, and to establish Mormon settlements in that area. Also, there are letters from Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff over the next few years, which give counsel and direction for President Smith and his bishops in establishing and administering to the settlements, and in the directing of their personal lives.

The third group of materials consists of photocopies of magazine and newspaper articles about Lot Smith, one being a short biography. It also includes some other related miscellaneous items.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 Military consequence correspondence 1857-1866
1 2 Smith mission call and Smith Company correspondence 1869-1876
1 3 Brigham Young correspondence 1877
1 4 John Taylor and First Presidency correspondence 1878-1879
1 5 Wilford Woodruff and First Presidency correspondence 1880
1 6 Woodruff, Young, Cannon, and Smith correspondence 1881-1882
1 7 Wilford Woodruff correspondence 1883-1884
1 8 Personal, lost animal, and enlistment correspondence 1886-1888
1 9 Miscellaneous
1 10 Personal documents, military and state, and tithing receipts
1 11 Lot Smith internment papers 1916
1 12 Articles concerning Lot Smith 1937-1962
1 13 High Council meeting minutes 1889

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Mormon Church--Arizona
  • Utah Expedition, 1857-1858
  • Corporate Names :
  • Nauvoo Legion
  • Geographical Names :
  • Arizona--Colonization
  • Little Colorado River (N.M. and Ariz.)--Colonization
  • Moenkopi (Ariz.)
  • Saint Johns (Ariz.)