Continued from this previous post.
As I began perusing Joseph F. Smith’s other mission journals—he served ten “missions” during his lifetime, and kept extensive records of a number of them—I stumbled across what appeared to be an account of the Dream of Manhood, found in Joseph F.’s record of his first British mission (1860 to 1863). After Joseph F. went to bed on the night of 12 January 1862, he “had a most glorious dream”:
I saw Uncle Joseph, Father, Brigham Heber and the Twelve, all dressed in their Robes of White, and they seemed to have an additional Robe of pure white, without a seam, coming down to their feet, and around the edge was a broad strip of pure white fur, like down, dotted here and there with beautiful spots–which gave a richness to them beyond description. Uncle Joseph Scolded me for being late, but I had been to bathe, and I felt I was clean. And his every word was life and Joy, tho’ spoken in reproff. Uncle and Father blessed a child, taking it in their arms. I took the child from Uncle Joseph to return it to its mother, and the backs of my hands tuched his bosom, which sent a thrill to my very heart that I cannot describe, nor ever shall forget. The perfect order, the extream Joy and happiness that I saw and felt, is past my power of expression. I can only write the words–the Joy and bliss can only be felt.
This appears to be the actual Dream of Manhood—and yet it appears in Joseph F.’s journal over three years after the end of his Hawaiian mission, when Joseph F. was on the other side of the world and in completely different circumstances than those he recounted in 1918. (Indeed, the greatest trial he seemed to be enduring at the time he recorded the dream, was a head cold).
So why did Joseph F. Smith remember the Dream of Manhood occurring in Hawaii? The answer seems simple, although it is at times a very frustrating problem for historians—the problem of memory. It is likely that Joseph F. Smith meshed together the trials of his youthful missions—he certainly had opportunity to reflect on these trials, enduring many more in his declining years—and he also remembered having been “given” comforting dreams at certain times of trials past. But at a distance of fifty-five or sixty years, not having looked over his journals in years (if not decades, with his own death half a year away), it is certainly explainable, if not excusable, that Joseph F. remembered the dream occurring in another time and place than it really did.
Of course, there is also the problem of the degree of detail that Joseph F. remembered. In his journal account, he mentions nothing of his own mother, Mary Fielding Smith. Yet the 1918 telling of the dream mentions her as being the mother of the child. The later version expands greatly on Joseph F.’s desire to feel the reality of his uncle, the Prophet Joseph, as well as making more of the process of bathing and cleansing himself prior to coming into the presence of Joseph and the other leading brethren. In fact, the only element of the dream that is recorded in greater detail in the 1862 journal account is the description of the leading brethren’s clothing. Did Joseph F. Smith really remember more detail than he recorded—and that for 56 years? It seems plausible that he simply imagined or projected additional details that gelled with the original dream. And that does not necessarily make for a bad thing—he certainly found comfort in the memory of the dream, and many, many Church members have found inspiration from its remembered details.
Joseph F. was without doubt a storyteller, and prone to embellishment. One story he often shared was that of his youthful “fight” with Native American cattle-rustlers at Winter Quarters. As Joseph and another boy were herding the cattle one day, they were surprised by a band of Natives on horseback. Painted and fierce-looking, it was apparent that they were out for the cattle. Joseph F.’s companion immediately ran for help, leaving Joseph to try to herd the cattle back towards the settlement alone. After some quick equestrian maneuvering on Joseph F.’s part, and aided by the thundering hooves of the Natives’ horses, the cattle began to stampede toward safety. Joseph F. was cut off by several Natives before he could get away—in fact, as he told it, two rode up on either side of him, grabbed an arm and a leg, and lifted Joseph F. right off his horse. They threw him down in the dust and rode off, the boy’s mount in tow. Joseph was fearful for the cattle and joined several men in searching for them. After a fruitless afternoon of looking for his family’s livestock, he was rejoiced to return to the settlement and find them already corralled, having been returned by a boy who had left Joseph and his companion earlier in the day to gather hazelnuts.
Several different versions of this story appeared in manuscripts and publications throughout Joseph F.’s lifetime. His “Recollections,” published in the Juvenile Instructor, make it sound like there were a dozen, total, in two groups; an autobiographical Journal, prepared as a draft of the “Recollections,” makes it appear that there were at least a dozen, and probably more; his “Boyhood Recollections” put the amount at “two posses of Indians numbering, twenty-five or thirty each, possibly.” As the last telling was written forty-five years after the first two, the embellishment is understandable. He probably fancied himself quite the Indian fighter at the ripe old age of eight or nine. Whatever the true number, he shared the story often. One of his granddaughters recalled with fondness the times “When Grandpapa would tell us of his experience as a herd boy, when …they were attacked by the Indians, and the horse Grandpapa was riding was stolen. Grandpapa would hold out the palm of his hand and point with his finger to show where the cattle were, where the Indians came from, and where they went and where they boys were.”
Perhaps Joseph F. Smith simply embellished the story of the Dream of Manhood—if not through sharing it with others, as he did with his Indian-fighter story, then perhaps in occasionally dwelling on it through the passage of time. While it seems obvious that the dream actually occurred in 1862, in Britain, Joseph F. Smith somehow constructed the memory of it taking place during his first Hawaiian mission. Whenever it happened, wherever it happened, Joseph F. remembered—and believed—that God was watching out for him as a young missionary struggling in the squalor of rural Hawaii.
Please share your insights on this story. I am no expert in memory theory, and I’m sure some of you can add additional perspective from that house of history.
Oh, and a teaser for a future post: “Was Joseph F. Smith really ‘dyed-in-the-wool,’ or merely ‘true blue’?”
 Depending on your definition of mission, Joseph F. served three missions to Hawaii, three to Britain, two to Washington, D.C. (as a lobbyist), and also completed a brief Church history-gathering mission to the Eastern states in 1878 and a “peace-keeping” mission to raucous Provo, Utah in 1868-69. See Nathaniel R. Ricks, “Joseph F. Smith: Prophetic Leader, Man of God,” (unpublished essay, Education in Zion Exhibit Files, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 2005), 75 (Appendix 5). Copy in my possession.
 Joseph F. Smith Journal, 13 Jan. 1862.
 The morning after the dream he purchased some cough lozenges. See Ibid.
 Joseph F. Smith, “Recollections,” Juvenile Instructor, vol. 6 (1871): 63; Joseph F. Smith, Journal, entry dated 13 Nov. 1838 [autobiographical manuscript], in Selected Collections; Joseph F. Smith, “Boyhood Recollections of President Joseph F. Smith,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, vol. 7 (1916): 60. See also Joseph F. Smith, “A Noble Woman’s Experience,” Heroines of Mormondom (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor’s Office, 1884).
 Ellen Miller Thiriot in “Some Recollections of Grandfather Joseph F. Smith,” 8, prepared by the Joseph F. Smith Family Association, available on the Internet at
http://www.josephfsmith.org/sites/default/files/recollections.pdf; viewed 9 Aug. 2012.