PHILOMELIA 
SMITH 
LAKE
 (1794-1873) 

 

 


This sketch prepared by Samantha T. Brimhall Foley appeared in "The Women's Exponent" in 1910:

In among the many noble women who embraced the Gospel in the early days of the Church was Philomelia Smith, daughter of Parker Smith and Sarah (Sally) Loomis, she being their sixth child and born in Brookfield, Prince County, Vermont, 13 April 1794. At the age of twelve she was bereaved of her mother and left to the care of her grandmother, Sarah Huntington Loomis who, although crippled with age, sat in her armchair and gave her daughter's children the benefit of her wise counsel in domestic training, and also her deep religious conviction, which was a natural result of all those who were favored by a rich flow of Puritan blood in their veins. Many of those splendid principles are embodied in the following verses which have been handed down to posterity by the poor lame Grandmother as she addressed herself to Philomelia who was bereaved of a little brother.

Your little brother is dead and gone;
We all must die before 'tis long.
And when you think he young did die
Say, In the grave I soon may lie.

And may you early learn to know
Good children's souls to God do go;
At last their bodies sure will rise
To dwell with him above the skies.


She also wrote the following acrostic for Philomelia:
"Your poor, lame grandmother has made and written this for you, and you must have it rolled on a round stick and keep it a long time to remember me by."

Pretty girls should always mind
How they talk and spend their time,
If they strive with all their might,
Learn to spin, sew, read, and write;
Obey their parents and they'll see
Most glad they surely then will be.
Even brother must be kind,
Love sisters, too, and always mind
And never quarrel, so repine.
Some little girls are so pretty
Many would call them very witty.
If they are proud they soon will know
That shame is lurking there below,
Hence friends will turn, they'll find it so.

Thus trained to love God and home, Philomelia was capable of taking upon herself the duties of a wife and mother. At the age of eighteen years she married Ira Smith, [2 January 1812] and with him become the mother of five children, viz. Lymon, James Harvey, Elizabeth, Boardman, Josiah William, and Esther.

Ira Smith died in the 36th year of his age. Philomelia then became the wife of James Lake [8 September 1823] and with him again the mother of ten children: Sabra, William Bailey, Barnabus, Clara, Jane, Lydia Ann, Moroni, Samantha, George, and Sarah Amanda. She was a wise and loving mother and was noted for the neatness and order of her home. She was adept in all home manufacture. She knew the art of spinning, and of dyeing the most beautiful colors, and in the weaving of many kinds of cloth, she also excelled. Her fame as a maker of the best flavored butter and cheese was known wherever her name was heard.

Her children partook of her meek and docile, yet lofty and noble nature and when the Gospel came to them in Upper Canada, she with her husband and family were some of the first ones to embrace it. Philomelia was baptized 31 December 1832.

Brigham Young took the gospel to them and they were baptized by Eleazer Miller. Their house was always a welcome place for the Elders traveling in Canada. Brigham Young making their home his home for a year or more.

They gathered with the Saints in Kirtland and shared all the hardships of early days. James Lake with an ox team and assisted by his sons, handled the first cornerstone to the Kirtland Temple and helped to lay it in its place, at the beginning of temple-building in this dispensation.

Philomelia Smith Lake received a Patriarchal blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sr. the father of Prophet Joseph Smith, in which he called her "Beloved of the Lord" which name was most appropriate, for she not only was beloved by the Lord but by all who knew her. She was tall and graceful, with broad forehead and full dark brown eyes, her dark brown hair was silken and luxuriant and the noble name of mother was appropriate to her in its most dignified meaning. Her husband was appointed captain of fifty and was successful in arriving in the Valley in the fall of 1850. They settled four miles north of Ogden City on a farm. James Lake was ordained a patriarch and many of the saints of Weber County were comforted through the blessing they received at his hands.

He was a member of the high council and with his wife enjoyed the honor and esteem of all who knew them, while almost worshipped by a numerous posterity, members of which can be found in nearly every settlement of the states and from Canada to Mexico. I have often thought of the life career of my Grandmother and have led to exclaim:

"If every soul were of such worth,
Nearer would heaven be to earth."


--Samantha T. Brimhall-Foley

Philomelia Smith Lake died on 20 March 1873 in Oxford, Oneida County, Idaho.

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