The Life and Times Of Annie Smith

Annie Smith was born on March 16, 1828, to Samuel and Rebekah Smith in West Wilton, New Hampshire. She was the only daughter in the family and had three brothers, one of whom was Uriah Smith. When she was 10 years old she was converted and joined the Baptist church but left to accept the Advent Message in 1844.

After the Great Disappointment, Annie found herself floundering spiritually and left home to attend the Charlestown Female Seminary in Massachusetts. She spent six terms there engaged in a liberal arts degree and taking classes in French and oil painting. She was an incredibly gifted writer and poet and regularly contributed to the Ladies’ Wreath and other literary publications.

Around 1851 Joseph Bates visited Rebekah Smith in West Wilton and Rebekah asked him to pay Annie a visit while he was in Boston. She then wrote to Annie urging her to attend a meeting being held in the home of Elizabeth Temple which Bates was scheduled to attend. Annie dragged her feet, not really wanting to go but pressed to go out of a sense of duty to her mother.

The night before both Bates and Annie had the same dream. They dreamed of a meeting in which only one seat was vacant right by the door and Annie arrived late. The next day Annie arrived late for the meeting and found a vacant seat right by the door. Bates recognized her from his dream and as he recounted what he had seen Annie was deeply moved by the entire incident, recognizing the hand of providence at work.

Bates then proceeded to present the message of the heavenly sanctuary to Annie as an explanation for the disappointment of 1844. He also talked to her about the Sabbath. It was a spiritual turning point for Annie. Within a month of the encounter, she wrote a poem for the Review and Herald titled “Fear not little flock” which was published in September 1851.

The Review and Beyond

James White recognized her talent and invited her to join the staff of the fledgling Adventist publishing house. The offer was far from lucrative with James White only offering her room and board in exchange for her services but Annie snapped up the opportunity eagerly. She worked for a short time at Saratoga Springs, New York before moving with the Whites to Rochester. She was the leading early Seventh-Day Adventist hymn writer and many of her hymns are found in the current edition of the Seventh-Day Adventist Hymnal.

Sometime after the arrival of Nathaniel and Anna White in Rochester, Annie contracted Tuberculosis, most likely from exposure to the siblings. The illness progressed rapidly and James White paid $75 for her to receive medical treatment but it did little good. In November 1854 Annie returned home to West Wilton and with Uriah’s help she worked on her book of poems “Home Here and Home in Heaven.” It was completed 10 days before she died and published the same year at the Review office.

Annie Smith fell asleep in Jesus in July 1855. She left behind a legacy of earnest, self-sacrificing service to the cause she was devoted to and the God she loved. In her last poem, composed just before she died, she wrote;

 

“Oh, shed not a tear over the spot where I sleep;

For the living and not the dead ye may weep

Why mourn for the weary who sweetly repose

Free in the grave from life burdens and woes?

 

What was it that buoyed her spirits up? T’was this alone, the blessed hope.

 

Further Reading and Citations

  • Maxwell, C.M. (1976) – Tell It To The World – The Story of Seventh-Day Adventists
  • Collins, N.J. (2005) – Heartwarming Stories of Adventist Pioneers (Book 1)
  • Burt, M.D. (2011) – Adventist Pioneer Places (New York and New England)

Recommended Listening 

  • Pathways of The Pioneers (1998) – Volume 9, Episode 6 – Founding the Good Old Review
  • Pathways of The Pioneers (1998) – Volume 10, Episode 1 – Move To Rochester
  • Pathways of The Pioneers (1998) – Volume 10, Episode 2 – Sickness and Death In Rochester