Following his first mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Hawaii, Joseph F. Smith returned to the Utah Territory in 1858. With the coming of federal troops, he was assigned to patrol the area between Echo Canyon, Utah, and Fort Bridger, Wyoming.
In 1860, he left on a mission to Great Britain. He stopped en route at Nauvoo, Illinois, where he visited with his aunt, Emma Smith, widow of the Prophet Joseph Smith. She marvelled at how much he looked like his father, Hyrum.
Years later, in 1878, Elders Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt visited David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Whitmer powerfully reaffirmed his testimony but declined to sell the printer’s copy of the Book of Mormon to them.
In the mid-1880s, President Smith spent several years at the LDS Church plantation on Oahu, Hawaii. He was called home in 1887 and, as a counselor to President John Taylor, President Smith visited the prophet at the home of Thomas F. Roueche in Kaysville, Utah. President Taylor passed away a week later on July 25, 1887. Following the administrations of Presidents Woodford Woodruff and Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith became president of the LDS Church.
In that capacity from 1901 to 1918, he authorized the purchase of a number of historical sites including the birthplace of Joseph Smith at Sharon, Vermont; the Smith farm at Manchester, New York; and the former county jail at Carthage, Illinois, which had become a private residence. Carthage Jail was the site where President Smith’s father, Patriarch Hyrum Smith, was killed in 1844.
While visiting Hawaii in 1915, President Smith dedicated a site for the Laie Hawaii Temple. He passed away in 1918, a year before that temple was completed.