From the Archives: Heber J. Grant to Julina Lambson Smith, January 29, 1918

By January 29, 2015

A few weeks ago, I began to scan and catalog notes from previous research projects. One of my notes from a project on the development of the notion of the post-mortal spirit world caught my eye. It is a telegram sent from Heber J. Grant to Edna Lambson Smith, the wife of President Joseph F. Smith, in the wake of her son, Hyrum Mack Smith’s, death. I thought this note was a lovely expression of affection and empathy from Grant and don’t really have anything to do with it, research-wise. I figured I would post it here and see if it inspired somebody else. At any rate, it’s been exactly 97 years since the telegram was sent, and presumably, received.


Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 29, 1918

Sister Edna L. Smith


My Dear Sister Smith:

It is 2 a.m. and I have been awake for an hour, and during this time my thoughts have been with President Smith, yourself, Sister Ida, and her family, and I have most earnestly supplicated our Father to bless and comfort you all in this time of deep sorrow.

Coming home from California on the train I wrote a letter of sympathy to Ida and sent her a copy of a letter to my brother-in-law and his wife and copies of a hymn and a poem. I sent these hoping and praying that there might be some words of comfort for her in them and for her dear ones.

With the prayer that you, too, may be blessed and comforted by reading Sister Woodmansee’s hymn and “The Changed Cross,” also of the Lord’s goodness to me, I am sending you copies of the hymn, the poem and the letter to Brother and Sister Winters.

I am sending you copies of the books, “A Heap o’ Livin,,”[1] and “The Prince of Peace,”[2] in loving remembrance of your dearly departed son, and my beloved associate and fellow apostle.

My Bryan’s[3] beautifully expressed words on immortality are inspired and comforting.

Hyrum in every deed lived a life of “True Nobility,” as so beautifully expressed by Mr. Guest in his little book of poems.

From the bottom of my heart I pray God’s choicest blessings to attend you in this time of deep sorrow.

With love for you and yours, I am,

Your affectionate brother,



Edna L SmithHJG

[1] By Edward A. Guest

[2] By William Jennings Bryan

[3] William Jennings Bryan.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Lovely. And quite the telegram, length wise!

    Comment by Saskia — January 29, 2015 @ 1:20 am

  2. Thanks, Joey.

    Comment by David G. — January 29, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  3. Thanks for this, yes, inspiring telegram. To me, the opening phrase says it all: “It is 2 a.m. . . .”

    Comment by Hunter — January 29, 2015 @ 5:26 pm

  4. Thanks Joey. It seems he had a similar letter published a year and a half later in the Improvement Era:

    Of particular note is his willingness (and surprise) to publish his personal letter to the Smith family. He also cites two additional Woodmansee poems (?Providence is Over All? and ?Uphold the RIght?).

    Comment by Tod R. — January 31, 2015 @ 7:36 am

  5. That he who knows me best should choose for me

    Comment by Quandmeme — February 2, 2015 @ 5:54 am

  6. Hebert J. Grant was a real treasure. His letters and stories are invariably a great read. Thanks for sharing this one.

    Ever since doing work on the history of the Latter-day Saints in World War I Germany, I’ve respected Hyrum Mack Smith, someone we don’t otherwise ever hear much about, and wonder how the 20th-century church would have been different if he hadn’t died. But of course if he hadn’t died, we probably wouldn’t have the 138th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, so there’s not much to be gained through the speculation.

    Comment by Amy T — February 3, 2015 @ 7:49 am


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