Smith Home, Norwich, Vermont

Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

The year following Joseph Smith’s leg operation in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, his family moved to a home in Norwich, Vermont. The Smith family resided here for about three years (1814-1816). To this point, young Joseph had spent most of his life in Vermont. The Norwich home would be the Smith family’s last place of residence in Vermont before moving to the region of Palmyra, New York.

Early view of the Smith Norwich, Vermont home. Photo (1908) by George Edward Anderson.
Early view of the Smith Norwich, Vermont home. Photo (1908) by George Edward Anderson.

Tradition holds that they rented this home from a man known as Squire Constant Murdock. Young Joseph spent much of his time here on crutches as his leg healed. His brother, Don Carlos, was born here. While here, the Smith family experienced three successive years of crop failure during their years there. The year of 1816 became known as the “year without a summer” of the year “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death” because of snow and unusually cold weather during the summer months.Because of that and financial devastation from medical bills, they finally concluded to move west several hundred miles, finally settling in western New York in the area of Palmyra.

Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Local citizens were required to assist families who were struggling financially as the Smiths were. Not wanting to provide such assistance, the locals “warned them out of town,” as it were. Joseph Sr. left on his own to find a more promising place to farm and raise his family. Mother Smith followed later bringing the children with her. Before doing so, she was forced to sell most of their belongings to pay creditors. The family reunited with Father Smith in Palmyra, New York sometime in 1816.

Map & Directions

In Sacred Places, Vol. 1, Larry E. Dahl gives directions to the site of the Smith family home in Norwich, Vermont: “Start at the Town Square, of Norwich Village Green, with its white church, go due north on Main Street for 3/4 mile, then turn NW (left) onto Turnpike Road. Go 2 3/4 miles to where the road intersects with Upper Turnpike Road. The large, two-story home of Squire Murdock is on the the north side of the road (Upper Turnpike) that turns east, or right, and goes in front of the home.” The home is not open for tours.

Ownership Status

The Smith Norwich, VT home is privately owned and not open for tours. The privacy of the owners should be respected. Interested persons should respectfully view the home from the outside and not bother the occupants of the home for any reason.

Photos

The Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
The Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Smith family home, Norwich, Vermont. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Readings

Larry E. Dahl, in LaMar C. Berrett, ed., Sacred Places, Vol. 1, 94-96.