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Book review: ‘Lot Smith’ explores adventures of Latter-day Saint pioneer and Western settler

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“Lot Smith: Mormon Pioneer and American Frontiersman” is by Carmen R. Smith and Talana S. Hooper.

Gregg Kofford Books

LOT SMITH: Mormon Pioneer and American Frontiersman,” by Carmen R. Smith and Talana S. Hooper, Greg Kofford Books, $28.95, 289 pages (nf) 

”Lot Smith: Mormon Pioneer and American Frontiersman” is the biography of, you guessed it, Lot Smith. Smith, an early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was best known for his service in the Utah War of 1857-58, participation in the Civil War and as leader of some Arizona settlements during the then-territory’s early days.

After researching the pioneer’s adventures for more than a half century, co-authors Carmen R. Smith and Talana S. Hooper tried to separate fact from fiction when examining Lot Smith’s life. In addition to being mother and daughter, Carmen Smith and Hooper are also relatives of his; Carmen Smith was married to Omer Smith, a grandson of Lot Smith. Both Carmen and Omer Smith have passed away. 

The book goes over a vast spectrum of events in Latter-day Saint history in which Smith was involved. Some events covered include his time in the Mormon Battalion and Nauvoo Legion, the rescue of the Willie and Martin handcart companies, the Utah War, Smith’s skills as a horseman, Union Army service during the Civil War, participation in the practice of polygamy, the Latter-day Saint colonization of the Arizona Territory, his establishment of the Sunset (Arizona) United Order, Smith’s service as the first Latter-day Saint stake president in Arizona, and the circumstances surrounding his death in an ambush with a member of the Navajo tribe.

”Lot Smith: Mormon Pioneer and American Frontiersman” proved to be a fascinating read, methodically detailing the life of a man who might not have been as well-known as some pioneers or frontiersmen but nevertheless played an absolutely integral role in the early church and the settlement of the Western United States. Even though the book was written by family members of the subject, they basically pulled no punches and put forward a comprehensive, not to mention readable, account.

The book contains some generally described Western-style violence but doesn’t have any swearing or sexual content. 

Ryan Curtis is a proud seventh-generation Utahn and also writes for Salt Lake Film Review. In his spare time, he enjoys doing family history research and listening to ‘70s and ‘80s music. His email is at ryancurtis4218@gmail.com.