(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
On July 26, 1996, while working in the sealing office of the Salt Lake Temple, I was making preparations for the sealings which were to take place in the evening.
I noted that Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve was to come in at 5:30 p.m. for a sealing. This is not particularly unusual for the Brethren to come, but it was unusual that he was going to do just one child-to-parent sealing.
There was an envelope containing the information that he would use. I made the preparations, then removed the card from the envelope. I noted that a son born in 1797 in Turbridge, Orange County, Vermont was to be sealed to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack. He had never been named or sealed to his mother and father.
Brother Ballard arrived with two of his daughters and their husbands. They needed one more to complete the sealing group, and Brother Ballard invited me to sit in as a witness.
When we were seated in the sealing room, he proceeded to explain the situation. It was understood for many years that Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack had eleven children, and that the first child was a daughter. During the last several years, however, research has suggested that this child was a son. It has now been concluded that the first child born to the family was a son, and that he was born in 1797 at Turbridge, Orange County, Vermont. This son was born three years before Hyrum and eight years before Joseph Smith, Jr.
Joseph Smith, Sr., on 9 December 1834, in speaking to his family, said he had lost a son and the next son was Alvin. That would make Joseph the fourth son. Brigham Young also spoke of Joseph being the fourth son.
Consequently, Brother Ballard was able to perform this important sealing with a son-in-law and daughter representing Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack, and another son representing their firstborn. I was greatly honored to be with them. I felt this was a magnificent occasion.