Monday, June 24: “I found hundreds gathered before the Mansion House early in the morning;—in their midst, with head erect, towering above the rest, the Prophet stood gazing alternately on the devoted City and its much loved citizens; in suspense he listened to the entreaties of the throng, not to give himself up or he would be murdered.” –Dan Jones.
“I shall never forget the morning Joseph and Hyrum crossed the Mississippi River and started west for the Rocky Mountains, because the mob demanded them be taken to Carthage. They knew if they went to Carthage, the mob would murder them. To escape death, they started for the west. When some of their friends sent them word that they were fleeing from Nauvoo to leave the Saints to certain butchery, Joseph said ‘If my life is of no value to my friends, it is of none to myself.’ So they returned to Nauvoo.” –Mary Field Garner.
Not far from this well Joseph and Hyrum bade their Mother farewell for the last time. “My Son, my Son,” she said to Joseph, “Can you leave me without promising to return? Some forty times before have I seen you from me dragged, but never before without saying you would return; what say you now my Son?” –Lucy Mack Smith.
“Joseph stood erect like a beacon among roaring breakers,—his gigantic mind grasping still higher; the fire flashed in his eye, with hand uplifted on high he spoke ‘My friends, nay dearer still my brethren, I love you, I love the City of Nauvoo too well to save my life at your expense,—If I go not to [Carthage] they will come and act out the horrid Missouri scenes in Nauvoo;—I may prevent it, I fear not death, my work is well nigh done, keep the faith and I will die for Nauvoo.’” –Dan Jones. “You will return, won’t you Joseph? You will return?!” –Emma Hale Smith.
“So said the Prophet as he mounted his steed, and together with his brother Hyrum and some 30 or 40 more who chose to follow, they ascended the hill; when near the sacred spot—the Temple, he paused, he looked with admiration first on that, then on the City ere it receded from view in the flats below, and remarked, this is the loveliest place and the best people under the heavens, little do they know the trials that await them.” –Dan Jones.
“The Prophet knew all they wanted was to get him. He felt delicate about going, but, after some reflection, went, and Hyrum too. Upon his starting to go, he came back three times to bid his family good-bye. The last time he came back, he bid his wife and family fare-well…Then this gang of murderers got a writ against Joseph and Hyrum for treason. They were taken and put in jail….I can’t write further at present my eyes drip on the paper so.” –Nathan Beebe Cheney.
Photo taken along the original Martyrdom Trail. “In the morning…they in company with about 20 of their friends started for Carthage (I was one of the number) with fearful foreboding of the snare that was laid for to affect the death of the best man that was now upon the earth. The prophet…seemed to know or have a knowledge of the fate that awaited him. Once as we were riding along he turned to Hyrum and said, ‘Brother Hyrum, let us go back to Nauvoo and all die together,’ thus showing that he was well aware of what would befall him. But Hyrum thought best to go on.” –Isaac Haight.
“When Joseph went to Carthage to deliver himself up to the pretended requirements of the law, two or three days previous to his assassination, he said: ‘I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me—he was murdered in cold blood.'” –John Taylor.
“The last time I saw him in life he and his brother Hyrum, Brothers Taylor and Richards were on their way to Carthage on horseback. Joseph’s horse was a pacer and the other three were trotters. He rode his horse in a kingly manner. Brother Frocham and his wife and others were there. Brother Frocham’s wife, with a look of fear on her pale face, said, ‘Poor Joseph. We will never see him again,’ and rushed into the house and threw herself on the bed and wept aloud.” –Robert Crookston, Sr.
“June 24, 1844, was the last day that I saw the Prophet alive. Joseph bade farewell to the Nauvoo Legion near the Masonic Hall saying: ‘Boys, I have come to bid you good bye; I am going to leave you for a while.’ He turned in the saddle, raised his hand and added, ‘You are my boys, and I bless you in the name of Israel’s God. Be faithful and true, and you shall have your reward—farewell.’ He then set out for Carthage.” –Anson Call.
The clocks in the Carthage Jail today are set at 5:16 and 26 seconds–the exact time of the Martyrdom.
The jailer and his family lived on the first floor of this two story building. He knew Joseph and Hyrum were innocent and suggested they stay in the upstairs bedroom or safer yet, in the dungeon cell.
Late Wednesday evening, June 26, a mob gathered. “I saw a large number of men in front of the prison, and gave the alarm as they rushed up the stairs to our room door; we had taken the precaution to fortify ourselves by placing a chair, the only defense, against the door, which one of the brethren seized for a weapon, and we stood by the door awaiting their entrance; hearing us they hesitated; when the Prophet with a ‘Prophets voice’ called——out ‘Come on ye assassins we are ready for you, and would as willingly die now as at daylight.’ Hearing this they retired again, and consulted, advanced and retreated alternately, evidently failing to agree.” –Dan Jones.
After midnight and into the early morning of the 27th of June, seven brethren remained: Dan Jones, John Fullmer, Stephen Markham, John Taylor, Willard Richards, Hyrum and Joseph. The latter four would remain for the brutal murders.
“”We have had too much trouble to bring old Joe here to let him ever escape out alive, and unless you want to die with him you better leave before sundown, and you are not a d——n bit better than him for taking his part…Joe Smith shall not see the sun set this day and you will see that I can prophesy every bit as well as old Joe.” –Frank Worrell, Head of the Carthage Grays.
A mob of over 100 men, with their faces painted black, rushed the jail just after 5:00 PM on Thursday, June 27, 1844.
The Carthage Grays, the militia who was to guard the Carthage Jail, put up no resistance to the mob.
The mob rushed up these very stairs to get to where the prisoners were kept in the upstairs bedroom.
“A shower of musket balls were thrown up the stairway against the door of the prison in the second story, followed by many rapid footsteps. While Generals Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Mr. Taylor and myself, who were in the front chamber, closed the door of our room against the entry at the head of the stairs, and placed ourselves against it, there being no lock on the door, and no catch that was useable.” –Willard Richards
Most of the mob stayed outside awaiting their prey to either try to escape or to be brought down by the others.
“Inside the room they had nothing to defend themselves with except two pistols, plus two walking sticks which they used in an effort to divert the rifles. Some of the balls went off in the ceiling. When Jacob Hamblin and James W. Woods visited the room shortly after the martyrdom they counted the pockmarks of the balls that were shot through the door or doorway. There were thirty-six. According to Willard Richards, all that shooting occurred in less than two minutes. Both Hyrum and Joseph received five balls; John Taylor, four. It was a volley, an explosive volley.” –Truman G. Madsen.
“A ball was sent through the door, which hit Hyrum on the side of the nose, when he fell backwards, extended at length, without moving his feet.” –Willard Richards. The hole in the door from that ball remains to this day.
“From the holes in his vest (the day was warm, and none had their coats on but myself), pantaloons, drawers and shirt, it appears evident that a ball must have been thrown from without, through the window, which entered his back on the right side, and passing through lodged against his watch, which was in his right vest pocket, completely pulverizing the crystal and face, tearing off the hands, and mashing the whole body of the watch. At the same time the ball from the door entered his nose. As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically, ‘I’m a dead man.’ Joseph looked towards him and responded, ‘Oh, dear, Brother Hyrum!’” –Willard Richards.
John Taylor rushed to this window and either tried to draw fire from the others or escape. He received four balls including one that struck his pocket watch, saving his life, hurling him back in the room from the window.
“Joseph attempted, as the last resort, to leap the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered the right breast from without, and he fell outward, exclaiming, ‘O Lord, my God!’ As his feet went out of the window, my head went in, the balls whistling all around. He fell on his left side, a dead man.” –Willard Richards.
A ball grazed this window sill and can still be seen in the left lower part of this photograph. “27th [June, 1844] Spent the day in Boston with Brother Woodruff, who accompanied me to the railway station as I was about to take cars to Salem. In the evening, while sitting in the depot waiting, I felt a heavy depression of spirit, and so melancholy I could not converse with any degree of pleasure. Not knowing anything concerning the tragedy enacting at this time in Carthage Jail, I could not assign my reasons for my peculiar feeling.” –Brigham Young.
“A day or two previous to this circumstance I had been constrained by the Spirit to start prematurely for home, without knowing why or wherefore; and on the same afternoon I was passing on a canal boat near Utica, New York, on my way to Nauvoo. My brother, William Pratt, being then on a mission in the same state (New York), happened, providentially, to take passage on the same boat. As we conversed together on the deck, a strange and solemn awe came over me, as if the powers of hell were let loose. I was so overwhelmed with sorrow I could hardly speak.” –Parley P. Pratt.
After Joseph fell from the window, his body was propped up against this well. “Joseph attempted to jump out of the window, the mob fired him through and he fell to the ground, the mob run him through with their bayonets a number of times and fired him through a number of times after they had stuck their bayonets through him.” –Nathan Beebe Cheney
“My father [Samuel Harrison Smith], at the time of his brother’s arrest and imprisonment in Carthage Jail, determined to go to them at once, well knowing that their lives were in danger… as he…neared Carthage he met several people coming from there in great haste, among them a man and a woman in a buggy, of whom he asked what had happened, and received answer that “the two Smiths had been killed by the mob.” The terrible shock was too much for him, and for an instant he reeled in his saddle and they expected him to fall. Then as the necessity of immediate action flashed across his mind, he steadied himself, saying, “God help me! I must go to them,” and he again pressed forward.” –Mary Bailey Smith Norman.
“The mob, expecting [Samuel’s] return, and intent upon murder, were secreted in a thicket, and two men on horseback with rifles gave chase. As they emerged from the thicket, the man in the buggy gave a warning shout; my father, turning his head quickly, took in the situation at a glance, and put his horse to the utmost speed, still keeping his course straight toward Carthage. His splendid horsemanship kept him somewhat out of the range of the bullets sent after him, though one passed through the top of his hat. The chase was a long and exciting one, but he finally out-distanced them and rode into Carthage and made his way to the jail, being the first to arrive there after the tragedy.” –Mary Bailey Smith Norman. Samuel Harrison Smith died 33 days later from injuries received during this ride.
A lone horseman came riding into Carthage (likely Samuel Harrison Smith) yelling at the top of his lungs: The Mormons are coming! The Mormons are coming! To the mob this meant the Nauvoo Legion, the largest city militia in the country. The mob, fearing the worst, immediately dispersed and fled.
Of the approximately 100 men involved in the attack that killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, only nine were indicted. Four immediately fled, including a Mr. Gallagher, who, according to one witness, was the first to shoot Joseph Smith. Only five men were brought to trial: Thomas C. Sharp, publisher of the Warsaw Signal, an anti-Mormon newspaper; Levi Williams, colonel and commanding officer of the 59th Regiment of the Illinois militia; Mark Aldrich, commander of the Warsaw Independent Battalion; William N. Grover, captain of the Warsaw Rifle Company; and Jacob C. Davis, state senator and commander of the Warsaw Cadets.
Now, Lucy Mack Smith had lost six of her eight sons, and in 33 days she would lose another. When she saw her son’s bodies laid out she cried, “My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken this family?” A voice replied, “I have taken them to myself, that they might have rest.”
Now Zion mourns she mourns an earthly head: The Prophet and the Patriarch are dead! The blackest deed that men or devils know Since Calv’ry’s scene, has laid the brothers low! One in their life, and one in death they prov’d How strong their friendship how they truly lov’d; True to their mission, until death, they stood, Then seal’d their testimony with their blood. Ye Saints! be still, and know that God is just With steadfast purpose in his promise trust; Girded with sackcloth, own his mighty hand, And wait his judgments on this guilty land! –Eliza R. Snow, July 1, 1844