45 years ago today - Oct 21, 1977

[Michael Quinn]
... I went to the home of [LDS Presiding] Patriarch Eldred G. Smith at the invitation of his son Gary. Gary invited me there so that I could begin a study of the Presiding Patriarch from the perspective of the patriarch. I stayed with these two men in one of the most absorbing and fascinating meetings I have ever been in. It lasted from 10 p.m. Friday until 1 a.m. Saturday morning. Patriarch Smith showed me his "relics" of Hyrum Smith ... During the hours of our meeting, Eldred G. Smith disclosed many fascinating and disturbing things concerning his deprivation of the patriarchal office from the death of his father [Hyrum G. Smith] in 1932 until his appointment in 1947. After nearly 10 years without a Presiding Patriarch of the Smith line, when the Quorum of 12 and Heber J. Grant had been at an impasse over whom to appoint (the Quorum wanting Eldred G. Smith & Heber J. Grant wanting a descendant of Joseph F. Smith), Heber J. Grant called Eldred into his office. He told him that Joseph F. Smith, the grandson of his namesake, was going to be appointed Presiding Patriarch at this conference [in 1942]. Eldred was of course deeply disappointed … President Grant responded: "Because I want you to know why I will never appoint a descendant of John Smith as Patriarch. I hate the man who would brazenly disobey the Word of Wisdom!"

When Eldred asked Pres. Grant if it was necessary to punish him for the actions of his great-grandfather John Smith who had died when Eldred was too young to really know him, President Grant replied: "Yes. No descendant of John Smith will be appointed Patriarch to the Church as long as I live." … Eldred also commented on the extent to which his activities have been curtailed in respect to the activities of his father as Presiding Patriarch. … …

As I left at 1 a.m., Patriarch Smith put his arm around my shoulder and then shook my hand. He said that I should come to his office or home to obtain the other information I wanted for the project his son had asked me to begin. His last words that I remember were: "I am glad that you could spend this time with us, so that you could see that our bark is worse than our bite."

I left the home, carrying with me xerox copies of the Hyrum Smith holographs, the John Smith journals, and the Hyrum G. Smith notebooks. It was certainly the most extraordinary meeting I have ever had with a General Authority of the LDS Church.

[From Quinn's 1988 memoir:] The Patriarch [also] showed me what he described as a "cabalistic" document that had been "passed down" from Joseph Sr. to Hyrum, and from Hyrum's widow to each eldest son in turn. Eldred Smith asked what I thought of it.

Staring at this gold-colored parchment, inscribed with numerous symbols and words in various languages, I said it was "certainly unusual." I didn't have a clue what any of it meant, and no idea why Joseph Smith Sr. had possessed something so strange in the early nineteenth century. I wasn't ignorant of Cabala as a medieval Jewish system of occult knowledge. I remembered a brief discussion of it in James A. Michener's historical novel, The Source, but had long-since forgotten what the Encyclopaedia Britannica said about it. Still, I had absolutely no interest in such an arcane topic, and quickly asked Patriarch Smith to show me the journal of his ancestor Hyrum. THAT was evidence I could understand and interpret immediately. I was so tunnel-visioned at this time that I didn't even think of the talk that LDS Institute director Reed C. Durham Jr. had given three years earlier [at the 1974 annual conference of the Mormon History Association]. I'd carefully read a typescript of his emphasis on Joseph Smith's connection to the occult through a "Jupiter Talisman." There were dots to connect, but I didn't see them while looking at the golden parchment or remembering it vaguely for years after tonight. Some non-Mormon scholars would have recognized the Joseph Smith Family's artifact as a "lamen" of ritual magic. However, I was unaware of ANY context for the strange item that Eldred Smith had shown to me tonight, and my daily journal didn't even mention something that seemed so unimportant. … In eight years, I would no longer be indifferent to the artifact Eldred Smith showed me tonight. Its existence and inscriptions became keys for my understanding the participation of Joseph Sr. and Jr. in the occult activity of the treasure-quest during the early 1820s.

[From the diaries and memoirs of D. Michael Quinn, in 'On Writing Mormon History, 1972-95,' edited by Joseph Geisner, Signature Books, 2020]

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