Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Albert Ricks Smith
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Albert Ricks Smith was born on 11 April 1862 in Paragonah, Iron County, Utah, to Silas Sanford Smith and Sarah Ann Ricks. Two years later his mother died in childbirth, and Albert was subsequently raised by friends of the family. At the age of eight Albert was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). In 1879 he joined his father in moving to San Juan County in the southeastern corner of Utah, and in 1882 they moved to Manassa in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. On 13 January 1886 Albert married Irene Ursulia Haskell, whom he had known in his youth, in Logan, Cache County, Utah; they were blessed with seven children, four boys and three girls.
Only nine months after his marriage, in September 1886 Albert was called to serve as a missionary for the LDS Church in the Southern States Mission. On 1 February 1887, just two months after the birth of his first son, he departed from home and journeyed to his mission field. His faith and willingness to serve God are displayed in his journal at this time: “May the Lord accept my offering and sacrifice, and teach me His will, that I may wash my robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Into His hands I commit my family and all, and implore his Divine guidance and blessing.”1 Albert labored primarily in Georgia, and on 1 October 1887 was called to be president of the Georgia Conference.
He met with much success during his mission, and through the ordinance of baptism, he brought thirty-three new members into the Church. But he also faced much opposition and persecution, reporting thankfully that he was “in the hands of mobs 6 times, but received no personal violence.”2 On one of these occasions, “a crowd of men, about 30 in number gathered outside, they having made threats that they would whip [the missionaries] if [they] tried to hold meeting.”3 However, after listening to Albert and his companions speak, the mob quieted down and afterwards thanked them for the sermon. After his honorable release on 8 March 1889 he rejoined his family in Manassa.
Upon returning home Albert assumed the positions of stake clerk and president of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association, to which he had been called prior to his mission. Professionally he engaged in ranching and farming, and also presided over the local school board. On 17 February 1892 Lorenzo Snow set Albert apart as president of the San Luis Stake, a calling which he held until his death in 1905. In this capacity he formed co-operative ventures, improved irrigation in the valley, assisted immigrants obtain land, helped establish the San Luis Stake Academy. After suffering a nervous breakdown, possibly due to “over-extending his physical forces in doing good,” Albert Ricks Smith died on 20 May 1905, just days after his forty-third birthday.4 A local newspaper upon his death published this eulogy: “He was firm in character, resolute in purpose, and charitable to a degree. Success was ever his aim. In his friendship, he was firm as a rock. The community can little afford to lose him.”5
1 Albert Ricks Smith, “Journal, 1887-1888,” p. 2. MSS SC 2097 L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Smith, “Journal, 1888-1892,” 8 March 1889. MSS SC 2097, LTPSC.
3 Smith, “Journal, 1887-1888,” 6 March 1887.
4 Carleton Q. Anderson, Betty Shawcroft, and Robert Compton, The Mormons: 100 Years in the San Luis Valley of Colorado (Albuquerque, NM: The La Jara Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), 59.
5 “Albert Ricks Smith,” p. 49. MSS SC 2097, LTPSC
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 1 December 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
Anderson, Carleton Q., Betty Shawcroft, and Robert Compton. The Mormons: 100 Years in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Albuquerque, NM: The La Jara Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982.
Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vol. 4. Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson Historical Co., 1901-1934.
Smith, Albert E. “Family History, 1963.” MSS SC 324, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Smith, Albert Ricks. “Diaries, 1887-1889.” MSS SC 2097, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.