Don Carlos Smith was the youngest brother of Joseph Smith, the first prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of this church are sometimes nicknamed Mormons.

Don Carlos was born March 25, 1816, in Norwich, Windsor, Vermont to Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. On June 9, 1830, the Mormons held a conference in Fayette, which was followed by a baptismal service. Don Carlos was among those baptized that day. He received the priesthood at age fourteen.

Quote by Henry B. Eyring, "We need strength beyond ourselves to keep the commandments in whatever circumstances life brings."Don Carlos was six feet four inches, very powerful looking, and very kind and charitable. Many felt he was much like his more famous brother, Joseph, in personality.

Don Carlos Smith married Agnes Moulton Coolbrith on July 30,1835, at Kirtland. He became a high priest on January 15, 1836. That same year he became the president of the high priests quorum. He also oversaw the Elders’ Journal.

Mormon Missionary

In 1838, Don Carlos served a mission in Tennessee and Kentucky, although his primary goal was to raise money to buy out the mobbers who were persecuting the Mormons in Daviess County. Unfortunately, before he could return, they had driven his family out of the area. The mobs burnt down the house, leaving the family homeless in the middle of winter.

Don Carlos served a number of missions in his short life, including one with his father to the Asael Smith family in St. Lawrence County, New York, in 1830. He served several missions in Pennsylvania and New York and one in Virginia.

In 1839, he began working on plans to print the Times and Seasons in Nauvoo and the first issue was released in November of that year. He noted that since the world was flooded with literary and religious trash, it was important for the church to distribute truth.

Don Carlos Smith Community Service

When the Mormons were forced out of Missouri, Don Carlos and his family left at different times. Joseph and Hyrum were in jail indicted on spurious charges, a common practice designed to undo the church. Don Carlos led a large group of people to safety despite the dire winter storms that nearly killed them during the exodus.

The last year of his life found him serving in a range of very important positions. In January of 1841, he was again called as president of the high priests quorum and that same year was elected to the city council. He was appointed a regent of University of Nauvoo and also appointed brigadier general in Nauvoo Legion.  He had helped to administer priesthood blessings to those who were ill during an attack of malaria in the city. During this time, however, he wrote that he saw many miracles occur.

Don Carlos died August 7, 1841, at the age of 25 from a respiratory illness with symptoms similar to those of pneumonia.


Richard Lloyd Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Brothers: Nauvoo and After, Ensign, September 1979.

Smith, Don Carlos (JS’s brother), Joseph Smith Papers

Every Person in the Doctrine and Covenants by Lynn F. Price, Cedar Fort, 2007

About Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.

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