About the Collection
Edwin Hezekiah Smart
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Edwin Hezekiah Smart was born on 26 May 1874 in Provo, Utah County, Utah, to Hezekiah Bayliss Smart and Elizabeth Windsor. As a youth he attended the local public schools and then entered Brigham Young Academy in Provo. He enrolled in the academic department of this institution and received his diploma in 1897.
Shortly after graduating, Edwin was called to fulfill a mission to Samoa for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). He arrived in Apia, Samoa, on 15 August 1897 and began his missionary labors on the island of Upolu. Upon reaching Samoa after the long sea voyage he remarked, “It is only those who are privileged to go to the nations of the earth, with humility, and the welfare of humanity at heart, to preach the everlasting gospel, that can sense the feelings that well up in the heart at the sight of their field of labor.”1 Here he became heavily involved in the school operated by the Church, teaching English and other subjects to the native children. Edwin labored unceasingly as both teacher and preacher, succeeding in converting many natives to the LDS Church and developing his students’ intellectual capacities. One of his pupils, Nellie, excelled to the point that she accompanied Edwin to Utah in order to further pursue her education.
An important event in Edwin’s mission occurred on 22 October 1900 when he and three others were called to devote all of their time to the work of translating the Book of Mormon into Samoan. He reported: “The call came almost as a thunder clap from a clear sky…[and] I…feel humble in undertaking such a work, but hope thru fasting and prayer to gain the spirit of translation from God.”2 The missionaries divided the Book of Mormon into four sections and Edwin, beginning with the 29th chapter of Alma, translated the 156 pages through the end of Helaman by 11 March 1901. The rest of his mission was spent revising his own work and the work of the other three. Just prior to his journey home in early July, after receiving his official release, he recorded feeling “happy and thankful to my Heavenly Father that I have been so favored and blessed while laboring here.”3
Soon after returning from his mission Edwin married Henrietta Love Neff on 25 June 1902 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their happy marriage produced five children, one girl and four boys. Edwin furthered his education by attending the University of California and Cornell University. He then found employment as a professor at Brigham Young University (BYU), where, by 1920, he was head of the animal husbandry and agricultural department. He also helped establish the museum of natural history at BYU and was “regarded as one of the strongest members of the faculty, both by his associates and by the students.”4
In the Church organization he served as a member of the Provo 4th Ward bishopric, and then as a high councilman for the Provo Stake. After a short battle with meningitis, Edwin Hezekiah Smart died in Provo on 20 May 1920 at the age of forty-five. He was eulogized in the BYU student newspaper as “the embodiment of high resolve, of noble purpose, of consecrated devotion and of affectionate service.”5
1 Edwin H. Smart, “Journal, 1897-1898,” 5 August 1897. MSS 1797, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young Univeristy.
2 Smart, “Journal, 1900-1901,” 8 November 1900. MSS 1797, LTPSC.
3 Smart, “Journal, 1901,” 5 July 1901. MSS 1797, LTPSC.
4 Provo Herald, “Prof. E. H. Smart is Laid to Rest,” 24 May 1920.
5 White and Blue, “Prof. E. H. Smart,” 28 May 1920.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 23 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm.
Carter, Kate B., ed. Our Pioneer Heritage. Vol. 19. Salt Lake City: Daughter of Utah Pioneers, 1958.
Provo Herald. “Prof. E. H. Smart is Laid to Rest.” 24 May 1920.
Smart, Edwin H. “Journals, 1897-1901.” MSS SC 1608, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
White and Blue. “Prof. E. H. Smart.” 28 May 1920.