Gift Honors Surgery that Saved Joseph Smith’s Leg


This gallery contains 2 photos.

By Nancy Fontaine

Descendants of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, have created a scholarship at the Geisel School of Medicine to honor and give thanks for a pioneering surgery that Dartmouth’s Dr. Nathan Smith performed on young Joseph.

Two hundred years ago, a surgeon in rural New Hampshire saved a young boy’s leg and possibly his life. This was no ordinary treatment, however. The surgeon was Dr. Nathan Smith, founder of Dartmouth’s medical school; the child was Joseph Smith, who later founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and the surgery was far ahead of its time. Continue reading

Joseph Smith Miracle Scholarship presented to Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine

Gallery By Julie Maddox for the Church News LDS Church News Published: Tuesday, Sept. 15 2015 12:55 p.m. MDT Updated: Thursday, Sept. 24 2015 1:39 p.m. MDT To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the miracle surgery that saved Joseph Smith’s … Continue reading

Gift of Gratitude


Courtesy of Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire: Gift of Edmund Randolph Peaslee, class of 1836.

The year 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith’s life-threatening typhoid fever and the experimental and successful surgery performed by Dr. Nathan Smith, founder of Dartmouth Medical School (1811). The 1813 surgery blesses millions yet today. As a thank you, the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association is working to establish a scholarship of gratitude on behalf of Dr. Nathan Smith to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical College.

Dr. Nathan Smith was the only physician in the United States who had the skill and ability to successfully treat Joseph’s infection. His personal preparation, life’s work, timing, and placement converged to allow Dr. Smith to operate on Joseph, saving his leg and his life, fully 100 years before this life-saving surgery became accepted as standard procedure.

Dr. Smith was one of the great men of the 19th century, who worked tirelessly to improve medical education. He helped establish 4 medical institutions, including Dartmouth and Yale. At the 200th commemoration of the founding of Yale, Dr. William Henry Welch stated that Dr. Smith, “did more for the general advancement of medical and surgical practice than any of his predecessors or contemporaries in the country.”

To honor Dr. Nathan Smith, the Joseph Smith Sr. Family Association is hosting the Joseph’s Miracle run to create a scholarship endowment in behalf of Joseph. This annual scholarship will be granted to a deserving surgical student at Dartmouth, and will be a reminder of the great good that charitable contributions like Dr. Smith’s can be in the community. To join with us, or to learn more, please visit:

Participate in Joseph’s Miracle Run

Joseph's First Trial by Ken Corbett

Joseph’s First Trial by Ken Corbett

Two hundred years ago, an event happened that saved the life of a boy and changed the world. Such an event could only be viewed as a miracle.

7-year old Joseph’s leg was infected after recovering from typhoid and it was killing him. The surgeons knew they had to amputate his leg, and even then he might not survive.

His mother prevailed on the doctors to try one last, desperate chance—a risky experiment that only one doctor in America knew how to perform, and who just happened to be there, Dr. Nathan Smith.

Without any anesthetic, the surgery was horrific. But it saved his life—truly a miracle. It took three years to fully mend, but it gave Joseph the fortitude to endure the unbelievably difficult trials and challenges of the restoration. And he became a champion stick puller, wrestler and runner as well.

This is why we’re celebrating that miracle with the Joseph’s Miracle Run; to remember Joseph and the great legacy he began. Joseph’s Miracle Run is a 5K race that will be held August 3, 2013 at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We invite you to join us in supporting this remarkable event. Come run, volunteer, or lend your financial support. If you believe in miracles, if you have been changed because of this young boy, show your appreciation by supporting Joseph’s Miracle Run.

The fundraising will be used to establish an endowment at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, which was founded by Dr. Nathan Smith. This “Gift of Gratitude” will be made in the name of Joseph Smith, Jr.

Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family Association