Facebook Twitter

Picturing history: Joseph Smith’s uncle in Tunbridge, Vermont, and the Village Store

SHARE Picturing history: Joseph Smith’s uncle in Tunbridge, Vermont, and the Village Store
merlin_8499.jpg

The Village Store in Tunbridge, Vermont, in 2001.

Kenneth Mays

Tunbridge, Vermont, has long been a site of interest to students of the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the mid-1790s, Lucy Mack, who would become the mother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, made a visit to Tunbridge to see her brother, Stephen Mack.

Stephen had several successful businesses there, including a store. Some sources say that Lucy Mack worked in that store while she was in Tunbridge. Joseph Smith Sr. also lived in the area. There is an extant store in Tunbridge located at 304 Route 110. Thousands of tourists have visited the store primarily because of its proximity to Sharon, Vermont, the birthplace of the Prophet. Some have written that there is a tradition that Joseph met his future wife, Lucy Mack, who was working in this store for her brother, Stephen.” (See “Sacred Places, Vol. 1,” edited by LaMar C. Berrett, page 120; “Church History and the Fulness of Times,” Seminaries and Institute manual, page 19.)

Joseph Sr. and Lucy were subsequently married in 1796. The Tunbridge Village Store operated continuously until 2004. In reporting the closure of the store, local news publications noted that the store was constructed in 1840, the year Joseph Smith Sr. died at Nauvoo. (See “Tunbridge Village Store Closes For First Time Since 1840” in The Herald of Randolph, published March 11, 2004, page A8; and also “Tunbridge Store Closed; Lore Might Kindle Mormon Interest,” Valley News, March 2, 2004, pages A1 and A5.) New owners purchased the store in 2010. Present owners have installed signage indicating that the store began operating in 1830, 10 years earlier than was indicated in the 2004 newspapers. Even if that date is accurate, the Prophet’s parents still could not have met in the store because they were married in 1796. Moreover, the entire Smith family left the state of Vermont in 1816.

merlin_8507.jpg

Possible site of Stephen Mack’s sawmill along the First Branch of the White River near Turnbridge, Vermont.

Kenneth Mays

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