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Picturing history: Topsfield, Massachusetts, home of Joseph Smith’s ancestors

The Prophet Joseph Smith’s ancestors lived in Topsfield, which is about 30 miles north of Boston

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Street sign for Joseph Smith Lane in Topsfield, Massachusetts, the home of Joseph Smith’s ancestors.

Kenneth Mays

About 30 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, is the small village of Topsfield. Five generations of Joseph Smith’s paternal ancestors lived there or in nearby areas. Born in Kirton, Lincolnshire, England, Robert Smith, a boy of 12 or 13, arrived in Boston. He eventually married Mary French and settled in the area where Boxford Township meets Topsfield. His son Samuel I was father to Samuel II, who had a son named Asael. He was the father of Joseph Smith Sr., father of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

A farmhouse in Topsfield, no longer extant, was built and occupied by four generations of Smiths. An old photo of the home still exists. A newer home (1876) is now situated where the Old Smith Farmhouse once stood. A historical plaque interpreting the site is mounted on a stone at the front of the property (see “Sacred Places Vol. 1,” by A. Gary Anderson, et al., edited by LaMar C. Berrett, pages 32-33).

Nearby is the Congregational Church of Topsfield. Several ancestors of the Prophet were baptized in an earlier church building on that site. In the Pine Grove Cemetery at Topsfield stands a marker honoring some of the Smiths in the Prophet’s line who lived there.

In the Pine Grove Cemetery at Topsfield stands a marker, erected in 1873 by George A. Smith, a counselor to President Brigham Young, honoring some of the Smiths in the Prophet’s line who are buried there. A further marker honoring the ancestors of the Prophet Joseph who lived in Topsfield will be dedicated next summer.

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Historical plaque at Old Smith Farmhouse site, Topsfield, Massachusetts.

Kenneth Mays

Kenneth Mays is a board member of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and a retired instructor in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Department of Seminaries and Institutes.