First wife of Jesse N. Smith was born January 3, 1836, in Benton County, Tennessee. Her parents were Samuel Walker West and Margaret Cooper. They embraced the gospel in early days and migrated with their family from Tennessee to Nauvoo, in 1842. The West family suffered much persecution and hardship for the gospel’s sake. They came to Utah with the general exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo. In 1851 they were called by Brigham Young to help establish the settlement of Parowan, Utah.
In common with other pioneer girls Emma very early in life learned to cook, to sew, to knit and darn socks, to card and spin the wool, weave cloth, make candles and other duties of a housekeeper. She measured up in every way to young Jesse N.. Smith’s ideal of a suitable companion for time and eternity. They were married May 13, 1852. Though they were young in years they were mature in experience and understanding and were well pared to establish a true Latter-day Saint home., This couple truly happy ever after” in peace and love for 54 years until the husband away and she died four years later on October 15, 1910.
Emma stood faithfully by her husband bearing him nine children, four sons and five daughters. She also reared the two children of her sister Margaret who died while Jesse N., was on his first mission to Scandinavia. With meagre resources Emma struggled and sacrificed to support herself and children during the six years her husband was away on foreign missions., He was also away from home many months on military duty protecting the southern Utah settlements from marauding Indians. Emma’s heart was big enough to always help the needy.
During trying years while her husband was in Scandinavia she helped care for motherless children of her brother-in-law, Capt. Silas S. Smith. About the time that Jesse N. and family were getting comfortably situated at Parowan they were called to go to Snowflake, Arizona and help build up another pioneer settlement. They answered the call in 1879 and Emma and her husband spent the rest of their lives at Snowflake helping to transform the desert into a fruitful field.
When Jesse N. Smith was counseled by President Young to enter into polygamy he talked the matter over with his wife Emma and she gave her full consent. It must be said to her everlasting credit that she always treated her husband’s other wives as sisters and with consideration and kindness. She was a woman of great faith and spirituality. She was president of the Snowflake Stake Relief Society for many years.
A few years before his death Jesse N. told his wife Emma that her youngest son, Samuel Francis, would stand in his place as Stake President so it was no surprise to her when her son Samuel was sustained as the new Stake President in February, 1907.
(By Robert J. Smith, a grandson)