As a direct descendant of Hyrum Smith, and former Patriarch to the Church, Elder Eldred G. Smith gave a family perspective of the Restoration, particularly as he displayed artifacts at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Mormon History Symposium.
One such artifact was a wooden tool chest said to have contained the gold plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon."Joseph had been told at the first visit of Moroni to him to provide himself with a chest with a lock and key for the plates," said Elder Smith, now an emeritus General Authority. "When he went to the Hill Cumorah again to receive further instructions, Moroni reminded him again to provide himself with a chest with a lock and key. The fourth year, after five visits to the hill, he still didn't have a chest."
Elder Smith said that after Joseph Smith received the plates from the angel, he hid them in a nearby grove of trees about three miles from his home because there was nowhere at home to put the plates to keep them out of sight. He then arranged to borrow a chest temporarily from his married brother, Hyrum, until cash could be obtained to pay a cabinet maker to make a chest.
The chest had originally been Alvin Smith's toolbox, Elder Smith said. "Alvin died just a few months after Moroni's first visit. He was in the process of building a better home for his parents and family, and when he was dying, he turned over to Hyrum the responsibility of finishing the construction of that home. With the assignment went the toolbox, or what we would call in those days the lap desk. It contained the architectural tools, the drawing tools, drawings and so forth."
The chest was carried across the plains by Mary Fielding in a covered wagon, Elder Smith said. "John Smith used it on the farm, and my father
Hyrum Gibbs SmithT is given credit for having salvaged it from the barn."
He pointed out that Alvin's name, carved in the edge, is still visible.
Events when Joseph went to retrieve the plates from the grove showed the truth of Moroni's promise that if he did his part, he would be able to retain the plates until they had been translated, Elder Smith said.
"Joseph found the record intact and started out through the grove of trees. A man jumped up and hit him with a gun. Joseph turned and knocked him down. A second man approached him and Joseph knocked him down. Then a third man surprised him and received the same treatment. Joseph then outran them to the fence of the property, where he stepped down out of sight to catch his breath before going into the house."
Elder Smith said that according to the description of the plates - about 7 by 8 inches in width and length - they would have occupied about one-fourth of the tool chest he displayed. The chest also would have contained the Urim and Thummim, used to translate the record.
Also displayed by Elder Smith was the clothing worn by Hyrum Smith at the time of the martyrdom. He said artist Ted Gorka, who painted a portrait of Joseph and Hyrum, copied the clothing for Hyrum and painted clothing for Joseph in a style to match it. A statue at Carthage, Ill., by sculptor D. J. Bawden was based on the Gorka painting, which hangs in the Church Administration Building.