Many Latter Day Saints believed that a son of Joseph Smith Jr. should be the successor to the church presidency. Several prominent leaders asserted that a patriarchal blessing given to the eldest son, Joseph Smith III, designated the boy to succeed his father. However, at the time of his father's death, Joseph III was only 11 years old.
As a result, many leaders arose who either argued against lineal succession or suggested that the Church would have to wait for Joseph Smith III to mature. The largest group, led by Brigham Young, were proponents of a system whereby the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles would succeed to the Church Presidency. This system of Apostolic succession continues in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Other Latter Day Saints living in the Midwest continued to support lineal succession and in 1860, they invited Joseph Smith III to become President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is known today as the Community of Christ. This Church continued to appoint Presidents who were patrilineal descendants of Joseph Smith Jr. until 1996, when President Wallace B. Smith (a great-grandson of Mormonism's founder) designated W. Grant McMurray (who was not a descendant) as his successor. Abandonment outside of lineal succession was a factor that caused a recent schism and foundation of several new Latter Day Saint churches, including the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which accepted Frederick Niels Larsen, a grandson of Frederick M. Smith through his daughter Lois, as its Prophet-President.
After William's death, Joseph Smith III reinstituted the office of Presiding Patriarch, calling his brother Alexander Hale Smith to fill the office. Thereafter the office of Presiding Patriarch in the RLDS church remained within the Smith family and was passed by lineal succession until 1958. In that year, Church President W. Wallace Smith ended the tradition by calling Roy Cheville to be Presiding Patriarch. Today, Presiding Patriarchs of what is now the Community of Christ church are known as "Presiding Evangelists."
After William Smith was excommunicated by Brigham Young, "Uncle" John Smith (brother of Joseph Smith, Sr.) was called by Young to be Presiding Patriarch of the LDS Church. This group was the largest faction of Latter Day Saints and soon after relocated to the Salt Lake Valley in what is now Utah. After the death of Uncle John Smith, another John Smith became Presiding Patriarch of the LDS church in Utah. This John Smith was the son of Hyrum and Jerusha Smith. Thereafter, the majority of the Presiding Patriarchs of the LDS Church were descendants of Hyrum, in keeping with the tradition of lineal succession. The LDS Church ceased to sustain Presiding Patriarchs in its hierarchy after 1979.