About the Collection
Abraham Owen Smoot, Jr.
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Abraham Owen Smoot, Jr. was born on 11 March 1856 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Abraham Owen Smoot and Diana Tanner Eldredge. When Abraham was eleven years old his family moved to Provo, Utah County, Utah, where his father was serving as town mayor and stake president of the Utah Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a youth Abraham attended Brigham Young Academy under the tutelage of Karl G. Maeser, and was among the first to graduate from that institution. At the age of seventeen Abraham and his friend, William Paxman, started their own business, the Paxman & Smoot Lumber Company.
At the age of nineteen Abraham was called to serve a mission to Great Britain for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Abraham’s desire to obediently fulfill his calling and enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost are displayed in his writings from this period: “It is my happy experience that when an Elder in Israel is striving to live his religion and discharge every duty to the glory of God that in his conversations with the Saints things which he never before drempt [sic] of are suggested to his mind, which the Spirit beareth [sic] witness it is revelation from God.” 1 After arriving in England, Abraham was assigned to the London Conference and served as its unofficial clerk and secretary. His friend from home, William Paxman, presided over the conference, and the two worked together as companions for much of their missions.
After returning from Great Britain, Abraham married Electa Bullock, also from Provo, in Salt Lake City on 30 October 1878; they were blessed with six children, two sons and four daughters. He returned to the lumber business and managed the newly-formed Smoot Lumber Company until 1896. During this time he also served as county assessor for eight years and as a representative to the upper house of the territorial legislature for one term. Tragically, Electa died in 1887 at the young age of twenty-eight; Abraham remarried in 1893 to Zina A. Huntington, who bore him one daughter.
After Utah gained its statehood, Abraham was elected to the state house of representatives for one term and to the state senate for two terms. In this latter position he occupied the post of floor leader for the Democratic Party, and initiated new legislation on inheritance, railroads, and other issues. He also at various times served as Provo City councilman, secretary of the Territorial Insane Asylum, United States commissioner, and trustee for the State Agricultural College. Ecclesiastically, he held the callings of home missionary and high councilman for the Utah Stake. On 22 May 1911, Abraham Owen Smoot, Jr. suddenly passed away from uremic poisoning after a throat operation in the local hospital. Upon his death the Provo newspaper eulogized, “All of his acts, both public and private, were characterized by the highest degree of honor and integrity.” 2
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 3 March 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
The Provo Herald. “A. O. Smoot Passes Away.” 23 May 1911.
Smoot, Abraham Owen (1856–1911). “Missionary Journal, 1876–1877.” MSS SC 2896, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Warrum, Noble. Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical. Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1919.