Men with Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage Jail

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Joseph and Hyrum Smith were not alone on the day they were murdered by a mob of 200 men at Carthage Jail. The presence of John Taylor and Willard Richards is well known. Other men were with them during the last hours of their lives.

A few other men accused of riot for the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press accompanied Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith to Carthage, Illinois. On Monday, June 24, 1844, they stayed at Artois Hamilton’s hotel in Carthage.[1]

In the late afternoon of the next day, Joseph, Hyrum, and the fourteen other men charged with riot were released on bail of $500 per person. However, Joseph and Hyrum were charged with treason against the state and were forced to remain in Carthage. That evening they were taken to Carthage Jail. They were not alone, however; Willard Richards, John Taylor, John S. Fullmer, John P. Greene (city marshal), Dan Jones, Stephen Markham, Dr. Southwick, Lorenzo D. Wasson (Emma’s nephew), and Gilbert Belnap joined them.

In the evening, John Fullmer, John Taylor, Stephen Markham, Dan Jones, and Willard Richards each opted to stay the night with Joseph and Hyrum to protect them and keep them company. Fullmer had a pistol, which he gave to Joseph.

On the morning of June 27, Cyrus Wheelock came to visit Joseph. He had a pass from the governor instructing the jailors to let him pass unmolested. He also had a small pistol, which he was able to smuggle to Joseph Smith. Smith took Wheelock's gun and gave Fullmer's gun to his brother Hyrum. Stephen Markham also had a sturdy walking stick he called the “rascal beater.”

Three men—Fullmer, Markham, and Jones—each left the jail on June 27 on an errand and were not allowed to return.

  • Joseph sent Fullmer to Nauvoo to assist in obtaining witnesses for a treason hearing scheduled for June 29. Fullmer obtained a change of clothes so that he could be dressed properly when attending the hearing. When he returned to the jail later that day, he was refused admission by the guards and, as a result, missed the mob's attack on the jailhouse.[2]
  • Stephen Markham left to obtain a pipe and tobacco to relieve Willard Richards’ stomach pains.[3] When he returned, the mob would not let him back inside. Instead, they forced him onto his horse at the point of bayonets, stabbing his legs until his shoes were filled with blood. Gathering around him, they escorted him out of town, threatening to kill him if he returned.[4]
  • Joseph asked Dan Jones to deliver a letter on his behalf to Orville H. Browning in Quincy, Illinois, requesting that Browning act as the Smiths' lawyer in their upcoming trial. As Jones departed the jail on horseback, bullets were fired at him, but none struck him. In his haste and panic, Jones took the wrong road to Quincy and became lost. It was later learned that a mob had been waiting to intercept him on the correct road to Quincy. When Jones finally reached Quincy later in the afternoon, he learned that Joseph and Hyrum Smith had been killed by a mob at the jail.[5]
  • Willard Richards was not injured in the rush of the mob, but John Taylor was struck in the leg by a musket ball. His body went numb and he crashed against the windowsill, smashing his pocket watch at sixteen minutes past five o’clock. He dragged himself across the floor and rolled under the bed as the mob fired again and again. A ball ripped into his hip, tearing away a chunk of flesh. Two more balls struck his wrist and the bone just above his knee. After the death of Joseph and Hyrum, Willard took John Taylor into the jail dungeon to hide him from the mob. Willard Richards, a doctor, was able to help care for Taylor’s wounds and he recuperated at Hamilton's hotel. “Over a year prior to the attack, Joseph Smith had told Richards that ‘the time would come that the balls would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but that there should not be a hole in his garment.[6]

On June 27, 1844, while still living in Plymouth, Samuel Smith learned that his brothers Joseph and Hyrum, who were in Carthage Jail with John Taylor and Willard Richards, were in danger. Samuel headed toward Carthage with a 14-year-old boy driving a wagon. On the way they met a mob, which attacked when they learned Samuel was Joseph Smith’s brother. The boy headed to Carthage with the wagon, and Samuel escaped into the woods “after severe fatigue, and much danger.”

He made his way home and “acquired a horse noted for its speed.” His six-year-old daughter, Mary, remembers this moment: “My father came into the house in much excitement, and said … ‘I think I can break through the mob and get to Carthage’ and immediately he mounted the horse and was gone.”
As he neared the town, a man and woman escaping in a buggy told him his brothers had been killed. Samuel rode on at great speed. Some of the mob, expecting his return, had hidden in a thicket. They chased Samuel, shooting at him. A bullet passed through the top of his hat, but Samuel, an excellent horseman, outran them.
Samuel was the first Latter-day Saint to arrive at the jail, but by then Joseph and Hyrum were already dead. The violence was over, the mob had retreated, and Samuel had a piercing pain in his side.
Samuel helped Willard Richards take the two bodies and the severely wounded John Taylor to a nearby hotel owned by Artois Hamilton. That night Willard wrote a letter to Emma telling her that Joseph and Hyrum were dead. Samuel’s signature appears alongside that of Willard Richards and John Taylor.
The next day, Samuel, Willard, and Artois took the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum in two wagons to the Mansion House in Nauvoo. Samuel drove the wagon carrying the body of his brother Joseph. A guard of eight men accompanied them.
After Lucy viewed the bodies, Samuel said, “Mother, I have had a dreadful distress in my side ever since I was chased by the mob.”

He died on July 30, thirty-four days after Joseph and Hyrum.[7]

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