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The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his Brother... by Dan Jones

BYU Studies, vol

BYU Studies, vol. 24 (1984)

The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and His Brother Hyrum

by Dan Jones

Introduction by Ronald D. Dennis

While operating his steamboat, The Maid of Iowa, up and down the Mississippi River during 1842, Captain Dan Jones first heard of the Mormons through the accusations of editor Thomas Sharp and others. Incredulous that the Mormons could be guilty of all the evil attributed to them, Jones eventually sought some missionaries of this new religion in order to gain firsthand information concerning their beliefs and practices. After several late-night conversations, he perceived that he "was almost a full-fledged Mormon already." The prospect of converting to Mormonism, however, left him apprehensive as he contemplated the erosion of his popularity and the lucrative livelihood he had from his steamboat.

Unable, however, to refuse the precepts of Mormonism, Jones become an adept and was baptized in the icy waters of the Mississippi in 19 January 1843. He had not yet met the Prophet Joseph Smith but had the opportunity about three months later when he transported a group of English converts to Nauvoo in April.

Dan Jones was totally captivated by the charismatic Joseph from their first meeting and remained faithful to their friendship through the Martyrdom and to his own death in 1862 in Provo, Utah.

Dan Jones accompanied Joseph and Hyrum to Carthage and was with them in the jail during their last night in mortality. On that occasion the Prophet uttered his final prophecy; he declared that Jones would live through the events in Carthage and return to his native Wales and fulfill the mission to which he had been called earlier.

Three times during the next thirty-six hours Dan Jones had narrow escapes from death. Just hours before the mob fired into the jail cell Jones was given a latter to take to Orville H. Browning in Quincy. The letter was a request for Browning's services in representing Joseph and Hyrum at their trial, but it was interpreted by mob members as an appeal to the Nauvoo Legion to come to the rescue. Taking advantage of the mob's momentary indecision, Jones mounted his horse and rode off in a hail of bullets. He inadvertently took the wrong road on his way to Nauvoo (where he was to take the night boat to Quincy) and thus avoided a group intent on killing him. The next day after going to Quincy and learning of the Martyrdom, Jones hid on a steamboat owned by a friend. Suspecting that Jones was there, some of the mob who had a gallows prepared for him came on board to seize him. Hiding under a mattress, Jones avoided death for a third time.

Dan Jones fulfilled Joseph Smith's prophecy within just a few month after the Martyrdom by returning to his native Wales and serving a four-year mission among his compatriots. He broke through the barriers of opposition by use of the printing press and produced numerous pamphlets, a monthly periodical and a 288-page scriptural commentary in support of Mormonism. When he arrived in Wales in early 1845, there were about two hundred fifty Welsh converts. And when he left Wales in February of 1849, there were nearly four thousand Welshmen who called themselves Mormons. Much of this astounding growth can be attributed to the Welsh publications which Jones wrote and which his non-Mormon brother, John Jones, printed on his press at Rhyd-y-bont, Carmarthenshire.

Among the publications was a small book of 104 pages entitled History of the Latter-day Saints, from their establishment in the year 1823 until the time that three hundred thousand of them were exiled from America because of their religion, in the year 1846. A mosaic whose component parts originated from several different sources, the history was advertised as being just off the press in July 1847. Over thirty percent of the book was written by Jones and was based on his personal experience after converting to Mormonism four years earlier. Part of Jones's original portion is his account of the Martyrdom, one of the first published accounts by one who was with Joseph and Hyrum Smith at Carthage. Because Dan Jones's Welsh report of the Martyrdom has remained untranslated until now, it has been unavailable to the majority of those interested in Church history.

Two renditions of Dan Jones's report of the Martyrdom are presented here. The first selection is the translation from Welsh of "The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and His Brother Hyrum!" The second report was written by Jones nine years after his Welsh rendition. It is a letter to Thomas Bullock in 1855 and contains a few more details than the earlier account.


The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith and His Brother, Hyrum!

[The following account was published in Welsh in July 1847 by Capt. Dan Jones as chapter twenty-one of his Hanes Saint y Dyddiau Diweddaf, o'u sefydliad yn y flwyddyn 1823, hyd yr amser yr alltudiwyd tri chan mil o honynt o'r America oherwydd eu crefydd, yn flwyddyn 1846. (History of the Latter-day Saints, from their establishment in the year 1823, until the time that three hundred thousand of them were exiled from America because of their religion, in the year 1846), 73-83.]

There was some clan of hypocritical rascals in Nauvoo who were accused of thefts, making bad money and the like; but proofs of their guilt could not be found for a time, which caused Joseph Smith to make known that he would give a $500 reward to anyone who could bring sufficient proofs against them to enable him to put an end to their misdeeds. Some of them were nominal members of the Church, and sufficient witnesses were obtained to excommunicate eight or ten of those supposed to be guilty. Joseph Smith's diligence and determination caused the city to be cleansed completely from such rascals and also caused their curses to be poured out upon him. They would frequently attack him cruelly and threaten his life so that he had to keep a watch around his house at night. In April 1844 some of these avengers gathered at Joseph Smith's house, and I heard them reproving and maligning him cruelly and unreasonably with severe threats, admitting that it was only out of his opposition to them and because he had excommunicated them. In spite of everything, he did not return their threats; rather he reasoned kindly with them, exhorting them to leave their wicked ways.

A few days later an accusation was brought against one of their party named A. Spencer by his natural brother that he was guilty of cruelty to his mother and his helpless family. His party defended him against the civil officials from coming to a hearing until they were overcome, and he was brought to the courthouse. Joseph Smith was there, and one of the party, by the name of Foster, rushed toward him with a loaded revolver; and when he was within a foot from his breast and about to shoot, J. Smith saved his life by grabbing the revolver and taking it from him; there were others who threatened to shoot him; these men were so jealous of him at that time that they threw rocks at him in the crowd! In spite of it all, he did not seek revenge; rather the guilty party was fined for his accused transgressions, and some of his party were allowed to bear the expense.

After that the malice of this party increased more and more, and soon they bought a press and put it into operation in Nauvoo under a public admission that their aim was revenge on Joseph Smith and the other inhabitants who were prey for their jealousy. They knew by then from experience how great the influence of the press was to stimulatepersecution against the Saints; and this was the way they expected to succeed in stirring up the people from far away to riot and to take their vengeance on Nauvoo. They published a newspaper by the name of the Nauvoo Expositor, which was owned and edited by this group only; and it contained the most disgraceful stories and the most shameful and injurious slanders they could imagine, not only about Joseph Smith but also about some of the best-known inhabitants and merchants of the city, men and women. A verdict was brought against them, and a large fine of compensation was assessed against them by the law of the land; but it did not do any good, for they had anticipated that by giving their property to someone else so that they could not be apprehended.

At least the city court took the matter under advisement; and after a detailed and thorough examination of the laws of the land to see what they could do with the press, it was first understood by lawyers of other places that the printing license which the state had granted gave the City Council (which contained twelve honorable gentlemen of the city, hardly any of them Saints) to determine what constituted a nuisance and how such should be dealt with. As a consequence, the Mayor of the city gave an order to the chief of police, who took about forty policemen, and they took the press from the building to the street and broke it to pieces. That night it happened that some of the party were going away through the country, and they took this opportunity to say that "Joseph Smith was against freedom of the press," something considered a great wrong in that country. They also said that their office and everything was burned by the Mormons, urging everyone to join with them for revenge. They were caught in their deceit that night. Some of their party were left there for the purpose of trying to set fire to the building themselves to magnify the offense, but their deception came to light when the police discovered the fire in time and put it out before it succeeded in burning the office; and the others, taking for granted the success of their partners, prophesied it for a fact. Then this wicked party left the city and set about to excite the country, some who knew no better, and many of them who did not wish to know.

A warrant was obtained from one Smith, a justice of Carthage, against Joseph Smith and his brother and against the entire City Council, summoning them before him to defend themselves in the face of the accusation of destroying the press. In the meantime Joseph Smith was informed that a trap was being set to get him to Carthage, and that he would not leave there alive, and that through such a warrant they could take him there, and that the summons of the other persons was falsified just to get him there. And the informant said that justice who had signed the warrant was to sitin judgment, and that he was one of the main instigators of the trap with the owners of the press. After this man had rectified to this under oath, his testimony was written down, and Joseph Smith sent it by messenger to the governor of the state (who lived in Springfield, over three hundred miles from Nauvoo) asking for his protection and a fair trial.

Soon after this the country sheriff from Carthage came with the warrant. I was standing by Joseph Smith's side when he came. He demanded that he go without delay to Carthage! Joseph Smith read in the warrant about the freedom which was granted to all men, i.e., "to appear before the magistrate who had issued it or the one closest by." But this freedom was denied to Joseph Smith. Then J. Smith informed the sheriff that he was willing to go with him to some other magistrate. "No," said he with an atrocious oath, "you must come to Carthage without delay, and you cannot go to any other place." This proved the reality of the trap, and Joseph Smith refused to go to Carthage, as the laws of self-defense instructed him and any other man to refrain from going to the slaughter until it was necessary. At that the sheriff summoned him and the others before Judge Wells, where after an inquiry they were proven innocent.

The sheriff returned and said that Joseph Smith had refused to obey the law of the land, which was a nice, useful excuse for them to send messengers through the country in the name of the sheriff to force the number they wanted to gather as a "Posse Comitatus" to assist him in carrying out his function and bring Joseph Smith to Carthage; and great was the excitement they caused throughout the country. The avengers of the Saints boasted that they were invested with civil authority and used every trick, together with forging the name of the captains of the militia, and even the name of the governor of the state.

Also that man Sharp, whom we have mentioned before, published summonsed calling the entire militia to gather at Carthage or Warsaw to mobilize against Joe Smith, etc. Within a few days he boasted that they had 7,000 armed men ready for the attack on Nauvoo! Yes, he set the day and the hour, together with the manner of the attack, and many threats which were shameful to the country, such as they would kill everyone in Nauvoo, and they would burn the city if they did not get Joseph Smith, etc. These threats caused the Nauvoo militia to gather together to defend the city, and again messengers were sent to the governor of the state to report the state of affairs and to request his instructions as to how to proceed. But the messengers of the rioters had gone first and had already influenced the governor to believe their false portrayals; and instead of examining both sides he visited Carthage, the main gathering place of the opposition. And there he found several thousand who had assembled and were feasting on the cattle, the sheep and the pigs which they had stolen from the Saints, and getting drunk on the liquor which their leaders had prepared to get them ready to shed innocent blood.

Governor Ford listened to their accusations together with their threats (for they did not hesitate to threaten him to his face that he would have the same fate if he stood in the way of their determination to get "Joe Smith"). And on 22 June 1844 he sent the same sheriff with the same warrant accompanied by a strong escort to Nauvoo to fetch those who were accused. It was nighttime when they arrived, and they received a big welcome from Joseph Smith and food for themselves and their horses. He promised to return with them the next morning of they would wait, fearing that he would be killed on the way by the mobbers; but they would not wait and returned saying that he had refused to come and that they had barely escaped with their lives from the city!

At the same time Joseph Smith sent word to inform the governor of the truth, but the latter had believed the mobbers more and more by then; and the messengers were thrown in jail in Carthage as spies. Others went, but the same thing happened. Others went on Sunday, June 23rd, and they assured the governor that Joseph Smith and the others would come there Monday morning if he would swear that they would get a trial before being killed, which he very fairly promised. Monday morning, according to his promise, J. Smith and his brother and about twenty of us, including the City Council, went toward Carthage.

And even though J. Smith could have saved himself from their clutches in many ways; yes, even though hundreds gathered around him begging him with tears on their cheeks, out of fondness for him, not to go to the slaughter--for almost everyone including himself believed that would not come back alive--he went. And I shall never forget that scene when he stood in the middle, and looking around him, then at the city its inhabitants who were so dear to him, he said, "if I do not go there, the result will be the destruction of this city and its inhabitants; and I cannot think of my dear brothers and sisters and their children suffering the scenes of Missouri again in Nauvoo; it is better for your brother, Joseph, to die for his brothers and sisters, for I am willing to die for them. My work is finished; the Lord has heard my prayers and has promised that we shall have rest from such cruelties before long, and so do not prevent me with your tears from going to bliss." And after embracing his little children who were clinging to his clothes and after bidding a tender farewell to his wife whom he loved greatly, also in tears, and after giving the last comfort to his aged, saintly mother, he addressed the entire crowd with great effect, exhorting them to be faithful in the way and with the religion which he had taught them. And in that way he could greet them before long out of reach of mobs and every oppression, and he was sealing his testimony to that with his blood; and if he had a thousand lives it would be worth them all.

After this wondrous and heartrending scene which tongue cannot tell nor can pen record, we left his house on horses, but totally disarmed except for a few of us who had pistol in our pockets. When we were on higher ground where the temple was and a host was following to catch the last glimpse of him, he stood and looked back on the city for a moment in great solemnity, and then he said. "Oh, city, once the most blessed, but now the most pitiful in sadness. This is the kindest and most godly people and most beloved by Heaven of all the world. Oh, if only they knew what awaits them." But he restrained himself and after looking over it again, we proceeded on toward Carthage.

On the way we met some of the messengers who had gone there Saturday night, and some who had been released from prison that morning. They described the rioters in an unruly and bloodthirsty state. When within four miles of Carthage, we met a large company of armed men alongside us totally unexpectedly. And when they saw us, they formed to attack. At that, Joseph Smith halted his horse in the middle of the road, and he addressed us cheerfully and fearlessly, exhorting us, "Dear Brethren, you cannot come with me any further; retreat for your lives and let them pour out all their vengeance upon my head; I shall suffer it, for I am going like a lamb to the slaughter with a conscience void of offense toward God and men."

And at this he was surrounded by the soldiers (as we understood them to be) with their swords bared, and the Captain ordered him to surrender. Then his soldiers, as if they had won the battle of Waterloo, shouted three cheers for their victory. J. Smith addressed them briefly and succinctly, and he showed to them that he had never been an enemy to them, nor had he ever disobeyed any of the laws, and as proof of their wrong idea about him he was now on his way voluntarily, unobliged, into the midst of them who thirsted after his blood. And he said, "I would ask one favor from you if you are Americans; do not deny me! If you have any humanity in you and honor or human feelings, do not deny this my last request! This big favor is that you defend my life so that I shall have a fair trial before the court of my country. I do not fear the consequence, be it even the most horrible death, as much as I fear dying with a blemish on my character, or for the world to disgrace the religion which I profess. Will you promise this?" he asked publicly.

Their Captain answered immediately (i.e., Dunn; he and his army had come from MacDonough County and were totally ignorant before this of Joseph Smith), "If this is the Joe Smith whose evils we have heard so much about, I am completely disappointed. We have heard all lies, boys, and I know that this is a good man no matter who he is, and I (said he with a great oath) an determined to defend him until he has a fair trial though it should cost me my own life." And his whole army agreed to the same thing through "three cheers for Joe Smith," even louder than before! After this, Dunn showed a latter from Governor Ford ordering the people of Nauvoo to give up all their arms to him; and though it was a cruel and foolish request, yet the Saints obeyed and gave up quietly the only defense which they had for their lives in answer to the request of the governor, who at the request of the rioters had facilitated their murderous intentions. It is strange that the governor would do this without disarming the attackers if he was not of the same heart and mind as they!

We turned back to Nauvoo; all the arms and cannons were gathered together. And in the afternoon we set off again toward Carthage where we arrived alive by midnight, even though the mobbers had tried to kill Joseph Smith in spite of the soldiers. We took lodging at the Hamilton Hotel, and the next morning we met with Governor Ford. He promised protection and justice to the prisoners. At the wish of the armies, Captain Deming went with J. and H. Smith before them; for there were hardly any of them who had ever seen them before, nor did they know anything about them except for the stories of the rioters. Because they considered that too much respect for the prisoners, it caused a great tumult amidst the army of the Carthage Grays. Their leader was Captain Smith (i.e., the judge who had issued the warrant, and he along with his army were the chief rioters). At last, through being threatened with imprisonment by the rest of the armies, the Carthage Grays calmed down.

In the afternoon an inquiry was held in the Hamilton Hotel, for it was too dangerous for the prisoners to appear in the courthouse. Because of the rage of the rioters, they chose to post bail for their appearance in the quarter session rather than go to the inquiry. Bail was posted and the City Council was allowed to return home; but the blood thirsty traitors had prepared another jail for J. and H. Smith by putting two of their number, by the names of H.O. Norton and A. Spencer (because of the latter there was the aforementioned tumult at the courthouse), to swear a warrant against them for treason against the state. At this the sheriff wished to transfer them to prison immediately, without an inquiry or anything; but the tumult along the streets was such that they refused to go without an escort to defend them.

And after dark the Carthage Gray came to the hotel and defended them as far as the jail in the midst of threats, oaths and swearing. The prisoners asked some of us to follow them to the jail "in order have our company," they said; but we knew before then that it was so that we could be proven witnesses of their words, their comportment and their character. To death we would follow them, and I am grateful for having such an honor. Woe unto us except we surely make the proper use of it.

We were all locked together in a dungeon which was about ten feet square; and there we spent the first night of our imprisonment in pleasant conversation about "the secret of godliness"; and such happiness possessed them when they foretold that both of them were about to finish their race and go to their joy. I had never seen them so cheerful and so heavenly minded, nor had I ever before thought that Carthage Jail was the gate of paradise.

The next morning we were all moved to an upstairs room of the jailer's house, to which the stairs led from the front door; this upper room had a very poor door without a lock or even a latch that would shut; it also had three large windows through which whoever wanted could shoot to every corner of the room through one or the other of them. We understood that the excitement among the mobs was because they had thrown the men into without any kind of inquiry, even though the judge had committed perjury by signing on their mittimus that there would be; and so they could not get out of jail whenever they wanted without the permission of the jailer. The latter, on seeing that they were eager to kill the prisoners and that many were hiding in the hummocks with their rifles ready to shoot as soon as they came out of the door, denied them permission.

Again and again the sheriff came to request them under the guise of going to the courthouse for trial, and the jailer refused to let them out unless one or two of the leaders of the mob could be obtained to walk arm in arm with the prisoners, for he considered that a stronger escort than the Carthage Grays and the lot; and like this they went about half a mile to the courthouse amidst such shouts and threats of the drunks, and curses of some who thirsted after their blood, until we imagined that it was not unlike that cruel scene on Calvary, and we heard words quite similar to those which were tauntingly said there, such as, "Now, old Joe (some said in his face), if you are a prophet, how did you come to the jail like this?" Another answered, "Oh, if Joe were a prophet, he would soon call for a legion of angels, and we would all be killed, and he would escape." Yes, some foolish observations like these filled his ears along the way to the courthouse where their professed enemy was again sitting in judgment on them, and his hostile partners were witnesses and lawyers against them. Only by earnest pleading by the prisoners' lawyers, i.e., Mr. Reid from Fort Madison and Mr. Woods from Burlington, was a postponement of the trial for the next day obtained, so that the witnesses who lived twenty miles away could be brought there. At last this was granted and the prisoners were taken back to the jail.

The magistrate refrained from signing the subpoenas to examine the witnesses for the defense, although he knew that no one else there could do that, until he thought that is was too late. the jail was watched by eight or ten of Captain Dunn's escort, and these were the least prejudiced of any; and due to the efforts of the prisoners and the rest of us in preaching to them, they believed our testimony to the point of confessing that the accusations made by the mobbers were lies for the purpose of getting revenge on J. Smith. Not infrequently they were heard persuading this one and that one to return to their homes and not to join with the mobs to persecute any further. After that, other guards came to whom we would preach the same way. Occasionally, some of them would be so vengeful they would not allow Joseph Smith to speak, while at the same time they would listen to the others.

About twelve o'clock that night we lay down in the following way to sleep: Hyrum Smith and Dr. Willard Richards in the bed; Joseph Smith on one side of me and John Taylor on the other; Colonel Markham and another brother next to him were lying on the mattresses on the floor; and that is all there were of us. We expected nothing less than an attack on us nearly every hour; in spite of that the only defense that we could make was to put a chair against the door in such a way that it would fall if the door were opened. I had not fallen into a deep sleep when I heard the sound of heavy footsteps of an army coming toward us. I got up and spied through the window where by the light of the stars I saw soldiery at the door! I observed what they said; but they were whispering so secretively that I could understand hardly anything but this: "How many shall go in?" When I heard that, I awoke by brethren; but there was no need to tell them why, for the sound of the feet rushing up to our door signified that it was time to beware. We stood by the door to attack the first to open it, and we clearly heard them breathing on the other side. There was tomblike silence for a minute or two, awaiting a shower of bullets perhaps in our midst; and then J. Smith asked bravely and loudly who was there and what did they want? He invited them in as we were ready to receive them, and it made no difference to him whether he died at that time or at daylight, etc. At that they stole down quietly; and from then to daylight they consulted near our windows what they would do. At times they decided to rush in on us, but before reaching the door, perhaps the other party would hold them back; and thus they continued until the assassin's terror, the morning light, scattered all of them except for about eight of the Carthage Grays who stayed there as guards.

In the morning I went at the request of J. Smith to the lower door to inquire what was the purpose of the confusion in the sergeant of the guards, who answered me with horrible curses, saying that the prisoners would never come our alive, that I would see before night that he was a better prophet than Joe Smith, and that I was not a bit better than, nor was anyone else who supported him. At this, I reminded the gentleman who and what he was, that Governor Ford under the oath of the state had promised protection to the prisoners and had put their lives in his hands, and that I would inform the governor of his threats, all of which infuriated him greatly. I went to the Hamilton Hotel and revealed the whole thing before Governor Ford; I reminded him of his promise to defend the prisoners and requested that he put some others to guard them in place of the Carthage Gray, who were thirsting after their blood. But all was in vain; he suggested that there was no danger at all. After that, I went into the midst of the large crowd of mobbers and heard their publicly proclaimed decision to make a sham discharge until Governor Ford left, after which they would return. They were determined to kill "Joe Smith" even if they had to tear down the jail.

After hearing such a verdict being sealed on the innocent with three cheers from the crowd, I returned and related everything to Governor Ford; but yet he did not consider it worth his attention! I went hurriedly to inform the prisoners things, but the guard did not let me back in. The prisoners earnestly beseeched them to let me in, saying that the governor had granted permission for that (which he had promised when he visited the jail the day before); but all was in vain. For the third time I returned to the governor describing their danger and requested a pass from him to re-enter; he refused this also, even though I followed after him until he was on his horse to start with the escort toward Nauvoo; but he did order Captain Deming to give me a pass for Willard Richards as a scribe to the prisoners and to no one else.

The governor went away at about eleven o'clock, leaving eight of the Carthage Grays to guard the jail and about sixty others in the town to guard the area with them. And after that their purposes become clear; the people would come back to the town in hosts booing and threatening, and not only threatening but preparing for the bloody slaughter. I was the only Mormon in their midst and great were their threats toward me; they gathered around me in crowds, and they would frequently throw a rock at me because I dared to defend the prisoners and dared them to allow them to have a trial next day by the law of their country according to the right of every man; and I reproached them that the prisoners had surrendered to them on promise of that, and they were now in their possession, and if they could prove them guilty I would agree with their verdict with all my heart, etc.

While I was pleading like this, one of their chief leaders admitted they could not be proven guilty and the law of the land could not reach them, "but power and balls will." At that, one of the guards came to inform me that Joe Smith was asking for me. Even though the guards did not allow me to go into the jail nor for J. Smith to come out, yet they permitted Willard Richards to come, to whom I informed everything which I understood of the designs of the mobs to kill them before nightfall. He told me that I was in more danger outside, and he placed a letter in my hand with the request of Joseph Smith that I take it to Quincy (about sixty miles away) and return as soon as I could.

News of the letter went throughout the mob like the wings of the breeze, and some claimed that it was orders for the Nauvoo Legion to come there to save the prisoners, and others claimed some other things. When I was requesting my horse to be readied, some swore that I would not go from there alive if I did not give the letter to them; but they could not agree about this, which was just as well for me, for I was determined to die rather than release it from my hand. Then they divided into two or three groups: one group wanted to chase me from there immediately, letter and all; another group threatened that I would not reach Nauvoo alive, and at that I saw several of them with rifles in their hands run across the fields to the nearby woods through which the road to Nauvoo passed. Although I understood their purpose, yet I did not see how I could be delivered; but some way would come, I doubted not a bit.

While they were quarrelling amongst themselves, my horse was readied nearby, and I saw my chance. And it was no time after I reached the saddle before the horse and I were out of their sight in the midst of a cloud of dust with bullets whistling through the air everywhere except where they were aiming. Before I had time to think about the road before me, with which I was almost totally unacquainted, I found myself in the prairie galloping toward Warsaw instead of on the road to Nauvoo. I understood my mistake after having a look at the countryside around me, and I crossed the prairies to the right road. After that I understood that by the horse's mistake my life had been saved from those who were watching for me in the woods; and also on the other side I understood that I had been between two fires, for if I had gone a mile further without turning from the Warsaw road I would have no doubt been killed by about three hundred of the most cruel of all the mobocrats who were coming along the road to Carthage and who killed the prisoners no more than two hours after that!

But I proceeded forth, passing Governor Ford and his escort, and I reached Nauvoo before the setting of the sun. There I waited for a steamboat to go toward Quincy. While I was waiting at Nauvoo, the governor arrived, and I heard his address to a large crowd of people. Its contents were not directed to or worthy of anyone except the rioters. He told with relish the baseless tales of the mobs, as if he believed them to be true, and then he said within hearing of the wives, children, and dear friends of those godly men, who were being assassinated at that very moment, and he threatened aloud, "A severe atonement must be made." The officials of the governor were heard urging him to hasten from there, assuring him that the deed (that is, the assassination) was sure of having been accomplished by then, and that is the reason he and his soldiers hurried from Nauvoo as soon as they could instead of staying until the next day as he had promised to do. It is unlikely that there was so much sadness in any city in the world as there was reigning over Nauvoo at that time. Any messenger who might come was awaited eagerly, and yet dreaded lest they hear that which they feared so much: but no messenger at all returned that night from Carthage.

About midnight at a steamboat came down the river, and I went on board toward Quincy (forty miles from there) and before daylight the boat called at Warsaw on its way, and great was the tumult which was there! It was announced with great delight to the passengers on the boat that "Joe and his brother, Hyrum, had been killed at Carthage Jail." Oh, how sweet was this news to their chops! That old "Sharp" again had already published an extra with great haste accusing the Mormons of having gone to Carthage to save the prisoners and that the guards in carrying out their duty had shot J. and H. Smith lest they escape, when in fact, I was the last Mormon to have been in Carthage and had been driven out as if at bayonet point! Yes, when in fact it was that very man, Sharp, who was leading those who killed the prisoners, boasting "that he had put one bullet through old Joe." And when his fingers were still dripping with innocent blood he proclaimed to the world that it was the Saints who had done it and invited all from everywhere to gather to defend Warsaw, that the Mormons had burned Carthage to ashes and killed its inhabitants, Governor Ford and all, and that they expected them to burn Warsaw at any minute! Yes, he published this in his paper and sent messengers to the other countries to call the militia to defend them when in fact he knew that he was in no danger whatsoever from the Saints.

And when I was there I heard his party admit and praise the cunningness of Sharp's trick to get people there; and that their objective was to "attack the city of Nauvoo and kill or expel the 'd-m-d Mormons.'" This false story about the massacre of J. and H. Smith flew across the world, and we do not think that the truth had even yet been determined. An example in that of all the publications of that man, Sharp, and his party against the Saints. I was so impulsive as to contradict them on the bank from what I knew, and had the boat not been alongside to jump onto they would have killed me for what I said. After reaching Quincy I saw that the messengers of Sharp had arrived and had stirred up the entire city to the point that they were expecting the Mormons to come there and kill them too, and the militia was hurriedly preparing to go to save Warsaw, as they supposed.

When I got the opportunity with the people together, I opposed those lying messengers to their faces, and then the people saw that they were not in danger and that not one of the Mormons had even lifted his hand against any one of them and had no such intention. Then everyone returned to his business, and I went with the other steamboat toward Nauvoo, where I arrived by eight o'clock the next morning.

Oh, the sorrowful scene to be seen in Nauvoo that day! There has never been nor will there ever be anything like it; everyone sad along the street, all the shops closed and every business forgotten. Onward I quickened my pace until I reached the house of the late Joseph Smith. I pushed my way through the sorrowful crowd until I reached the room where his body and that of his brother had been placed (for they had been brought from Carthage the previous day). There they lay in their coffins side by side, majestic men as they suffered side by side from prison for years, and they labored together, shoulder to shoulder, to build the kingdom of Immanuel; eternal love bound them steadfastly to each other and to their God until death; and now, my eyes beheld the blood of the two godly martyrs mingling in one pool in the middle of the floor, their elderly mother, godly and sorrowful, on her knees in the midst of the blood between the two, a hand on each one of her sons who lay in gore, her heart nearly broken by the excruciating agony and the indescribable grief. At the head of the deceased sat the dear wife of each one and around their father stood four of Joseph's little children and six of Hyrum's children crying out intermittently, "My dear father." "And my dear father, too," another would say, with no reply except the echo from the walls, "Oh, my father." And from the hearts of the mothers, "My husband killed," and the grey-haired mother groaning pitifully, "Oh, my sons, my sons."

Each in his turn, the thousands made their way forward, sad and desirous of having the last look at their dear brethren whose solemn counsels and heavenly teachings had been music in their ears, lighting their paths and bringing joy to their hearts on numerous occasions. On the streets around it was almost the stillness of the grave which reigned, but all, the noble as well as the humble, with crystal tears streaming down their cheeks. Even the sun and the elements had stilled as if in surprise, and all nature looked at the unended madness of man toward some of the best on the earth in any age or part of it. I shall ever remember my feelings at the time. Now I saw the two wisest and most virtuous men on the earth without any doubt, whom I had seen just awhile before preaching tenderly from between the iron bars of their jail the gospel of peace to those who wanted to kill them; the two stood like two reeds in the midst of the storm as witnesses of Jesus, despite the jealous fury of the press, of the pulpits, and of the mobs of the age; and just like the reed they straightened up their heads after every breeze and scorned worldly profit and fame; steadfast they clung to their objective until they had finished their work; and like their elder brother and their Leader before them they did not love their lives unto death, nor did they refuse to face knowingly the slaughter; rather they leaped onto the bloody altar which they saw waiting for them in Carthage" so they could have a better resurrection." But what pen can describe that scene and the feelings of thousands of mourners? The only comfort that kept them from sinking under the oppression and the loss was knowing that a day of swift reckoning would come also before long and that he who has the correct scales in his hand perceives the whole and will . . . But I restrain myself. It is easier for the reader to imagine this scene than it is for me to portray it and its results.

The two were buried secretly by one another's side, for there was a reward of several thousand dollars already offered by their enemies for their heads! But to return to Carthage with the story from where I escaped at about three o'clock on the afternoon of the 27th. The portrayal which follows will show clearly the attack on the jail and the situation of the place; it was written by one of the four who were there at the time, that is, Dr. Willard Richards.

The Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

[The following account is taken from a letter written by Dan Jones to Thomas Bullock, 20 January 1855. The original spelling and punctuation of the letter, written in English, have been retained. The letter is being used courtesy of the LDS Church Historical Department.]

June 12, 1844--While Joseph Smith was standing by the side of his brother Hyrum, along with several other friends on the portico of the Mansion House, Nauvoo, awaiting the remains of my little son, 3 1/2 years of age, who had died there to be brought out to be buried, and when he was about stepping into a carriage he was accosted by the Sheriff of Hancock County with a writ to appear before a Magistrate, Smith, in Carthage, charged with destroying the Press of the "Nauvoo Expositor;" he expostulated in vain for the privilege of paying the last debt of honor to the remains of the sacred dead. A few days previously depositions were taken by Mr. Smith, of men from Carthage, who deposed that a band of men residing at Carthage had colleagues with some of the owners of the above Press to decoy him to Carthage with the intention of assassinating him. Those affidavits were sent to Gov. Ford with a request for protection, which failing to arrive in time of need, advantage was taken of the writ where it allows to appear before the issuer "or any other Magistrate in the County," by demanding a trial before Justice D.H. Wells, where he was honorably acquitted. In a few days however another Sheriff was sent with another warrant for the same offence, demanding him to go to Carthage; but the duty of self preservation, with the entreaties of many friends delayed his going, and expresses were sent to the Governor who, upon hearing of the assemblage of several thousand of the mob at Carthage repaired there, and was prevailed upon by the mob, as he himself subsequently admitted in public, to send a possee Committattus to bring Mr. Smith to Carthage who, arriving at his house Saturday evening were respectfully received and entertained at Mr. Smith's own table, with the best that the place afforded, as was also their horses fed. Having heard that he would be waylaid and shot in the dark if he went out that night Mr. Smith requested the possee to stay with him until morning, but they returned to the mob, and excited them by fabulous tales of hairs breadth escapes, &c.

Sunday 23--Another possee demanded him and tendered Governor Ford's "honour" as pledge for his safety; but Mr. Smith sent to inform him that he would come out next day, and remained with his bro. Hyrum and others in Council. The assembled thousands at the Grove, alike was the fair city of Nauvoo on that solemn day enwrapped in sable robes of despair--all felt as if their much loved Prophet was already beyond the vail; nor could the hiding folds of night's dark cloak cheer their throbbing hearts with a beam of hope; but the pensive morrows sun saw a City bathed in tears, and after a night as sleepless to the devoted Saints below as it was to those sleepless on high recording their prayers and sealing up the "vials."

Monday 24th--Eventfull day! 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; a few, tho' enough, brave hearted men proposed to escort him where he would find the protection denied him by the "Christians" among the red "pagans" of the West:--others, up north would have him go, while a fearless Tar, inured to other climes, whose heart was a Malstrom of fury, proffered him a safe passage on a Steam Boat, then ready by, to whither he would; a smile of approbation lit up the Seer's countenance,--his lively boys hanging on to his skirts urged on the suite and cryed "Father, O Father don't go to Carthage they will kill you."--a volley of arguments more powerfull yet from the streaming eyes of her he loved best, and whose embrace was hard to sever; nor least impressive were the pleadings of his doting Mother whose grey ringlets honored a head weather-beaten by the persecutions of near twice ten years, "My Son, my Son, 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? He 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 them 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. 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. While on the prairie we met some messengers previously sent to Carthage who had but just been liberated from prison. When within 4 miles of Carthage we met a company of horseman commanded by Captain Dunn; when they hove in sight Mr. Smith halted his "major" (steed) in the midst of the road and said "brethren you have come far enough; do notfurther expose your lives, stand aloof, let all their vengeance be wreaked upon my head, I am going like a lamb to the slaughter with a conscience void of offence. At this time Mr. Wood, his Counsell, rode in front of the Company to know their intentions and soon returned with an order from the Governor for all the State arms which were Nauvoo. When signal of acceptance was given they advanced and Mr. Smith addressed them after endorsing the order, declaring his innocence of the charges preferred against him and demanded of them as an American Citizen to defend his life until he should have an investigation, to which Capt. Dunn reply'd that he would protect him at the risk of his own life, then turning to his men asked "What say you, boys, will you stand by me to see Mr. Smith have justice?" The response was by three cheers; and we all returned to Nauvoo, got all the arms, and in the evening the Company returned and arrived at Carthage late at night failing to get a horse I remained in the City.

25th-Documents of importance for the trial being in Mrs. Smith's possession, by request I took them out to Carthage and arrived during the trial of Mr. Smith and the City Council and in time to give in my evidence, which was admitted to be not the least important in their favour. There I heard Wilson Law, in endeavoring to get a warrant against Mr. Smith for Treason, declare that in preaching from Daniel II, 44, Smith had said that the kingdom referred to therein was already set up, and that he (Mr. Smith) was the King over it! Wonder if Daniel himself was not most treasonable for predicting it? The defendants having given bail to appear at the quarter sessions were released and returned to Nauvoo; but before Mr. Smith could leave I went down stairs in Hamiltons Hotel where I overheard the leaders of the mob say that they did not expect to prove anything against him, but that they had eighteen accusations against him, and that as one failed they would try another to detail him there. One of them, by the name of Jackson, reply'd when I told them to desist from their cruel persecutions that they had worked too hard to get old Joe to Carthage to let him get out of it alive, and pointing to his pistols said, "The balls are in there that will decide his case." I repaired upstairs and informed Mr. Smith what threats I had heard, when he informed me "They are going to take me to prison without a guard; you will not leave me will you?" to which I reply'd that I had come to die with him the rather. He took me aside into the front room and asked "Have you anything with you?" One little bulldog I reply'd, and this switch, pointing to a black hickory club in my hand, the which parryed the rifles of the assassins in prison by Mr. Taylor. Let me have the first said he, which was no sooner said than safely deposited where I wished a dozen more to be. Now the rush of heavy treads up the stairs drew out attention and the stentorian voice of an officer demanding the prisoners, when Dr. Willard Richards met him in the door which was actually too narrow for any but himself to pass. Mr. Reid, their Counsell, also Mr. Taylor, Hyrum Smith, Judge Phelps, Col. Markam and all remonstrated against such an unnecessary exposition of the defendant lives until they desisted. It was then that Justice Smith made out a mittimus, and the "Carthage Grays" escorted them to prison. Being dark, Mr. Smith asked me to get inside somehow, and Col. Markam on one side, with a hickory club, while I was on the other, outside the guard, I parry'd off the guns and bayonets of the drunken rabble who tried to break the ranks to stab them; the prison doors being open before a light was produced I rushed between the guard and the door and forced my way into the farthest cells unhindered, followed by the defendants and the above named, except Judge Phelps, who remained (I think) at Hamiltons; Mr. Reid also, but some few other bretheren were with us with whom I was not personally acquainted until then; but it will be a long time ere I forget

The first night in Carthage cells with the Prophet and the Patriarch!

Amusing conversation on various interesting topics engaged us till late; after prayer, which made Carthage prison into the gate of heaven for awhile, we lay promiscuously on the floor, the last words spoken were, by the Prophet,--"For the most intelligent dream tonight bretheren;" and the first words spoken next morning were by him also enquiring for the same. None, save one were told which was listened to by all as follows--"Portrayed before my mind was Gov. Ford and troops on their way across the prairie to Nauvoo, the prisoners had plead in vain to return with him, although promised by him to go; with a letter of importance I saw myself driven from Carthage, galloping through the masses of medley soldiers, half Indians and semi barbarians, I hurried across the prairie, had gone downon a boat from Nauvoo towards Quincy, but landed at Warsaw awoke, in midst of powder, smoke, death, and carnage." The Prophet reply'd it was ominous of future events not did he believe the Governor would ever take him to Nauvoo alive.

After breakfast we were removed to an upstairs room the entrance to which was up a flight of stairs from the front prison door, which was guarded by soldiers, by alternate four hours; the door was of pine, common batton, without bolts, lock, or even a latch that would shut; on the south side were two large windows, and one on the East, a tier of cells lead from the North, while the entrance was at the N. West corner. Its furniture consisted of a bedstead, chair or two, and some mattresses.

During the forenoon we were visited by Judge Phelps, J.P .Green, J.S. Fullmore, and C. H. Wheelock, the last I think brought a revolver in his boot, and left it with the prisoners when he retired; most of my forenoon's work consisted in hewing, with my penknife, a wharped door to get it on the latch, and in preparing to fortify against a night attack, in which Col. Markam was also industrious. The Prophet appeared extremely anxious by his injunction to the messengers who left for Nauvoo, among whom were Dr. Brenhisel, I think, to send out testimonies to exonerate his brother Hyrum. A portion of us were alternately preaching to the guards, at which the Prophet, Patriarch and all took turns and several were relieved before their time was out because they admitted they were proselyted to the belief of the innocency of the prisoners, which rendered them incompetent of guarding! Frequently they admitted they had been imposed upon by the tales of the mobs, and more than once was it heard "Let us go home boys for I will not fight against these men." Hyrum showed an ardent devotion to the Prophet, every way encourageing him to believe that the Lord for His Church's sake would release him to their service, while Joseph reply'd, "Could my brother Hyrum be but liberated it would not matter so much about me; poor Rigdon, I am glad he has gone to Pittsburgh out of the way, were he to preside, in less than five years he would lead the Church to destruction." He entertained us much by the recital of two dreams the which he had received not long before, one in which he saw himself pitched into a dry well by Wm. and Wilson Law who had previously tied his hands behind him; while struggling to get up and near the top he discovered Wilson tackled by a ferocious wild beast in an adjoining wood, crying for his help while nearer to him still was William with outstretched tongue; blue in the face, and the green poison forced out of his mouth by the coiling of a huge serpent around his body, relaxing its embrace occasionally and thereby enabling him to cry aloud "Oh brother Joseph come and save me or I die." To which he reply'd as he had done to a similiar request from his brother Wilson, "I cannot, for you have tied my hands behind me." Ere long however his guide finding him there released and comforted the Prophet while the others met the just retribution of their demerit.

Another time he had seen himself on a lee shore in a heavy storm saving a ship from wrecking by wadeing through the foaming surf and leading her out to the open sea; again the reckless mariners on board rushed into dangerous breakers in despite of his commands from on shore to them to beat off to sea. Again he stemmed the raging seas, now and anon overwhelmed in the foam, with a mighty effort he sprang to the surface, the raging elements hushed at his command, and as on a sea of glass he marched with the patriarch by his side until in the offing he recognized his brother Samuel, light as a fairy, skipping o'er the main;--but the sequel forgotten by me may be remembered by others; the interpretation he gave, I believe, was the stranding of the great ship "Uncle Sam" owing to rejecting a safe Pilot. Their walking on the tranquil ocean donated their triumphs beyond the vail, Samuel's sudden exit after his bretheren solves the only mystery which the Prophet did not unravel, but sure it is that he gave frequent intimations that he would soon gain his liberty, and soar on high beyond the "rage of mobs and angry strife."

Governor Ford and the prisoners Counsell visited them, and at the close of a lengthy appeal from the Prophet, in which he denied the charges preferred against him, and plead for the protection of his life from mob violence until he could prove himself so, which appeared to make but little impression upon His Excellency beyond a verbal promise that he should have justice, and that his friends present, agreeably to his request should visit him, His Excellency promised to take them with him to Nauvoo, which promise he afterwards recalled through fear of the mobs. Dr. Richards was busily engaged writing as dictated by the Prophet. Elder Taylor amused him by singing &c.

About the middle of the afternoon the Sheriff came to take the prisoners to the Courthouse to be tried, Followed by drunken mobs armed and threatening; an altercation ensued between him and the Prison Keeper, because, as was proved by the mittimus to the latter that the prisoners having been placed with him for "safe keeping," were not under the jurisdiction of the former; whereupon the former rushed upstairs and threatened to enforce obedience had not the latter ordered him off his premises until he produced authority to enter. The bretheren named remonstrated with the parties to await the decision of the Counsel who were not present but sent for. In the meantime Mr. Smith seeing the mob gathering and assuming a threatening aspect concluded it best to go with them then, and putting on his hat, followed by allowed by all of us, walked boldly into their midst, politely locked arms with the worst mobocrat he could see, whereas Hyrum paterned after him by clenching the next worse one, followed by Elders Richards and Taylor escorted by a guard, but the mobocrats side was the best protection from the levelled rifles of the surrounding bush hiders, Col. Markam on one side, myself on the other, with our "switchers" parry'd off the crowding rabble, and after ascending no the Court House much exertion was made by the mob to proceed forthwith with trial without letting the defendant have their witnesses, and as soon as they were overruled, and the trial postponed until next day, the only Justice in the place, the Smith before spoken of, who could grant subpeonas for witnesses, absconded until a late hour, as it purposely to prevent the appearing of the defendants witnesses, and in keeping with the conviction expressed by them the previous day "That the law cannot touch him, but that powder and ball will." In the evening they were again escorted to the prison amidst the whooping, hallooing and denunciations of enfuriated thousands; while some tauntingly upbraided him for not calling a legion of angels to release him, and to destroy his enemies, inasmuch as he pretended to have a miraculous power; others asked him to prophesy when and what manner of death awaited him, professing themselves to know all about it; in fact one was forcibly reminded of the taunting and jeering of the Jews to our holy and meek Redeemer, so similar did their words and actions prove their spirits to be.

During the evening the Patriarch read and commented upon copious extracts from the Book of Mormon, the imprisonments and deliverance of the servants of God for the Gospels sake; Joseph bore a powerful testimony to the guards of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon--the restoration of the Gospel, the administration of angels, and that the Kingdom of God was again upon the Earth, for the sake of which he was at that time incarcerated in that prison, and not because he had violated any law of God or of man.

Late, we retired to rest, Joseph and Hyrum on the only bedstead while 4 or 5 lay side by side on mattresses on the floor, Dr. Richards sitting up writing until his last candle left him in the dark; the report of a gun, fired close by, caused Joseph whose head was by a window, to arise, leave the bed and lay himself by my side in close embrace; soon after Dr. Richards retired to the bed and while I thought all but myself and heaven asleep, Joseph asked in a whisper of I was afraid to die. "Has that time come think you? Engaged in such a cause I do not think that death would have many terrors," I replied. "You will see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed you ere you die" he said. I believed his word and relied upon it through trying scenes which followed. All the conversation evinced a presentiment of an approaching crisis. At midnight I was awoke by heavy treads as of soldiery close by, and I heard a whispering "Who, and how many shall go in?" under our window; upon arising I saw a large number of men in front of the prison, and gave the alarm as they rushed up stairs to our room door; we had taken the precaution to fortify ourselves by placing a chair, the only defence, 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 willing die now as at daylight." Hearing this they retired again, and consulted, advanced and retreated alternately, evidently failing to agree, until the assassins terror--the morning light, chased the murderers with their kindred fiends and the darkness to the abodes where the reveller in crime was the hero of the day.

Early in the morning of the 27th June, eventful day! A day ever to be remembered! The Prophet requested me to descend and interrogate the guard as to the cause of the intrusion upon us in the night, in doing which I was replied by the sergeant, whose name was Worrell, I think, of the Carthage Grays, in a very better spirit that "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." I endeavored to cool him down and to recall those threats which so ill became those who were entrusted with the lives of men, but he insisted the more "You'll see that I can prophesy better than old Joe that neither he nor his brother nor anyone who will remain with them will see the sun set today." With such threats did the Sergeant, in presence of his men, declaim against the prisoners: and one of them levelled and cocked his rifle at me, swearing with an awfull imprecation how he "would love to bore a hole through old Joe." Joseph and Hyrum were all this time listening unobservedly at the head of the stairs to all that was said, and on my return desired me to go and inform Governor Ford of all that I had heard.

While going to his Excellency's quarters I saw an assemblage of people and met Col. Markham who was out of the gaol before me; I listened to what they had to say and beheld one of the mobocrats addressing the crowd saying hat they would make a sham discharge in obedience to orders, but that the Gov. and MacDonough troops would leave for Nauvoo in the forenoon, "Then we will return to town boys and tear that prison down and have those two men's lives before sundown," which declaration was not uttered in a whisper nor in a corner, but at the top of his voice, which echoed in the walls of the Town Hall and public square, and which was responded to by the loud three cheers of the crowd as eagerly as [crease has worn away the words] another barrel of whiskey was called into their midst to the eternal disgrace of the name of sectarianism be it remarked. Accompanied by, whether Col. Markam, J.P. Green or J.S. Fullmore or who I do not remember, I went to His Excellency's apartment in Hamilton's Hotel, where I found several Officers with him in conversation; in their presence I informed him of the threats made against the lives of the prisoners, offering to produce further proof if necessary; to which he at length reply'd "You are unnecessarily alarmed for your friends safety Sir, the people are not that cruel." Irritated by such a remark I urged the necessity of placing better men than professed assassins to guard them; that they were American Citizens surrendered to his "pledged honour"; that they were also Master Masons, and as such I demanded the protection of their lives; when this appeal failed to reach his adamantine heart, whose face appeared to be pale with fright or horror, I remarked that I had then but one request to make if he left their lives in the hands of those men to be sacrificed. "What is that sir?" he asked in a hurried tone. "It is that the Almighty will preserve my life to a proper time and place to testify that you have been timely warned of their danger." All this produced no other visible effect than to turn him round and stroll to the other end of the room. I returned to the prison, and sought to enter, but would not be let in by the guard. I again returned to the Hotel when his Excellency was standing in front of the Mac Donough troops in line, ready to escort him to Nauvoo, the disbanded mob, retiring to their rear at the time, shouted loud in his hearing that they were going only a short distance out of town and would return and hang old Joe and Hyrum as soon as the Governor would be gone out of the way. I begged to call his attention there and then to their own threats which he could hardly fail to hear as well as myself [creased and worn line] for myself and friends to be in prison according to his promise to the prisoners when he declined giving any, but told Col. Demming to give me one to take to Dr. Richards the secretary, by obtaining which I was near being massacred, and was told by Chauncey Higbee on the street that they "were determined to kill Joe and Hyrum and that I had better go away to save myself." I was then alone in the midst of the turbulent mob with whom I contended for the innocency of the prisoners, and for their right of trial, until enraged, they attempted to seize me, but I eluded their grasp. Meeting Mr. A.W. Babbit in the street I informed him that Mr. Smith wished to see him, whither he went with me; he was admitted as Counsel. I tried to get in by means of Dr. Richards' pass, in my hand, but in vain; Joseph, Hyrum,--all endeavoured to get me in but failed; I however informed Dr. Richards who was allowed to come outside, of the threats of the mobs, who reply'd that they deemed my life in imminent danger in the midst of the mob. I was handed a letter from Mr. Smith, with a request to take it to Mr. Browning of Quincy forthwith; the guard aware of the letter informed the mob "that Joe had sent orders to raise the Nauvoo Legion to rescue him," drew the mob around me, and they demanded the letter, which I utterly refused to give up to them; when some would take it by force others objected; the mob disagreed among themselves while some said I should not leave the place alive, others swore that I should not stay longer there; at this the former party said if I left then I should not reach Nauvoo alive, and about a dozen started off with in hand to waylay me where the road runs through the woods. Having previously ordered my horse which was already in the street, I took advantage of their disagreement and no sooner in the saddle than both spurs were to work, and a racehorse and rider were enveloped in a cloud of dust with balls whistling nor saw the second scene until beyond the point of timber stretching into the prairie half a mile; to my right I discovered the road to Nauvoo, and the Gov. and escort about 4 miles off having dined there; proving that I was on the Carthage road, my horse having like myself, lost the waylaid road leading through the woods, and thereby escaped those awaiting me there. I turned across the plain to the order road, and passed the Governor, whereas, as was ascertained afterwards, had I advanced half a mile farther on the Carthage road, I should have come upon a gang of about 300 painted assassins who were then beyond a prairie ridge on that road waiting the disappearing of His Excellency in order to march upon the prison and execute the horrid threats. Thus I was providentially led as if between two fires unharmed. While tediously traversing the sea of grass which separated Nauvoo from Carthage, tho' under all the pressure my craft could carry, my dream in the prison came fresh to view, and this for the fulfillment of it;--the letter actually in my possession,--the troops in full view, myself going to Quincy filled my soul with ominous forebodings of the sequel, so that having left the troops far behind, arriving in the edge of the City I entreated of the crowds who had assembled to meet His Excellency to haste to Carthage and save the Prophet's life--the only alternative. But wiser ones, perhaps, had otherwise decreed, and I with thousands more had the mortification of seeing, formally, greeted within the mourning "City of Joseph" the "Pilate" that should have changed places and doom; had the untold disgrace I say of listening to a man stuck up in front of the Prophet's house, and harrangueing an innocent and inoffensive people with the insinuations applicable only to his own party; anything less than the superhuman endurance of those saints would have been tantalized to retaliate, when in presence of the wives, children, and friends of his victims he declared that "a great crime had been done by placing the City under Martial Law, [which was done only so far as self preservation from the mobs was demanding,] and a sever atonement must be made; so prepare your minds for the emergency." So awful a threat proceeding from the lips of the highest functionary of a State, while the victims had surrendered themselves as pledges of his "honour", drew from bursting hearts of many bystanders a half stifled shriek of horror as it echoed in the walls of the Prophet's house and drew louder shrieks from his wife and mother who later sank into her chair crying "My sons O my sons' lives are means to make the atonement." Even the obdurate spirit of the speaker felt the shock; and appeared to quiver from the effects of his own denunciations, from which he could not recoil. But I forbear to advert to that memorable oration! After which he and his escort were entertained at the Mansion House, and while sitting at the Prophet's table the hands of the assassins were dripping with his blood, and His Excellency might have said "A severe atonement has been made," as doubtless the Prophet and Patriarch were weltering in their own atoneing blood while their doom was being proclaimed to their families and friends.

Late that night I boarded a steamer bound to St. Louis, and landed at Warsaw after midnight, seeing a great excitement on the landing I stepped among them when I heard a mobocrat stating that "Joe and Hyrum were both shot while trying to escape from prison,"--He said that they had sent messengers to Quincy and the lower Counties to raise the Militia to defend Warsaw against an attack from the Mormons: but that "their real object was, when they got them there, to take the beauty and booty of Nauvoo." One, in order to stimulate the others, said, "I know where a chest full of gold is hid in old Joe's cellar." The general feeling manifested there was of rejoicing at the crime committed, and of exulting in the horrid act shedding innocent blood, which reminded me of the sequel of my dream; altho' I hoped against hope that they boasted of their desires, rather than of overt acts. Then I got hold of a "Warsaw signal Extra," a slit of paper a little larger than my hand, was just issued, containing nothing but the news of the massacre; commencing by putting the letter J for Joe upside down; it stated "that the Mormons attacked the prison;--that the guards were compelled to shoot the prisoners in defense of their own lives, and to prevent their escape;--that three of the Citizens of Hancock were shot by Joe;-- the Mormons have killed Governor Ford--and suite, burned Carthage; and we look for them to attack Warsaw every hour; will not the inhabitants of the surrounding Country rush to our defence before we, our wives and children will be massacreed." In order to dupe the public to believe this tissue of falsehood, without even a shadow of truth in one statement of it, to my positive knowledge, they had sent a number of women and children in their night clothes on a previous down Steamer to Quincy, merely to raise their sympathy in their favour, even when the mob acknowledged the whole as got up purposely to create alarm, and even boasted of "Tom Sharps" long headed shrewdness in the scheme, and exulted in the prospect of heralding forth that first impression on the public mind so as to justify the horrid deed; and singular as it may appear to a sane mind that the above account of the tragedy took the lead through all Newspapers through the States East, West, North & the Canadas, South & Texas, and then through Europe it went, thence around the world; and even to this day we find Clergy, Priests and Editors who either know no better, or knowing, willfully reiterate these glaring falsehoods to the ends of the Earth.

While on this passage down to Quincy 60 miles distant, I met a steamer crowded with soldiers and other passengers being the Militia first sent for by the mob to Warsaw,--the Boats neared and stopped; and to the disgrace of civilization, when the Captain of our boat reply'd to the enquiry for the news from above, "Nothing only old Joe and Hyrum are killed: "it was responded to by hearty cheers and swinging of hats by all that Boatfull of--what? As our passengers and crew had hats off to return the salute, I shouted at the top of my voice although inadvertently--"Shame Gentlemen, shame on such cruelty, will you by cheering approbate the blackest crime recognized by the law of even barbarous nations--will you as civilized men tolerate the cold-blooded murder of American Citizens, and that while laying in prison untried, while the honour of the State was pledged to protect them? Gentlemen desist, or whose lives will be safe if Republicanism is swallowed up by such a blood thirsty spirit as that? All this was spoken in much less time than writing and with other power than mine which carried shame to their faces, and paralized the arms that still clenched the hats tho' drooping by their sides, and sent them sneaking out of sight. On our arrival we saw the Carthage families in a crowd on the banks of the Mississippi as monuments of the sincerity of the blood stained crew, whose actions were admissable of the inefficiency of their testimonies to sustain their foul cause. Quincy was all in an uproar,--a crowd of Militia waiting for a steamer to take them to the scene of supposed action--the Warsaw mobs' emissaries inflaming the populace and distributing that infernal Budget of Tom Sharp the "Extra" already noticed. A meeting of the Citizens was convened in the City to which I repaired, and after listening to the death almost, to the exciting lies of the mob emmissaries of Warsaw--I jumped up and demanded a hearing--that I could prove all the statements made to be known falsehoods purposely to excite false alarm; a fuss followed "Down with him" Order, Order."--"Hear the stranger;" the "Hear" carried and on I spun my tale; as if with a voice of fearless little thunder, characteristic of truth alone; I denied that the Mormon had attacked the prison, that I was the last Mormon but one from Carthage yesterday evening--left all the Mormons peacably at Nauvoo about midnight that Gov. Ford not any of his suit were neither killed nor wounded when they left Nauvoo early in the morning--that it was palpably false about Carthage being burnt;--that the Mormons had no intention of attacking Warsaw and that neither Militia nor any other need not trouble themselves about Warsaw or go there; unless they wished to attack Nauvoo, that was the only object mob had in calling them there; and I also told them what I had heard at Warsaw--carried a strong influence, and the Chair decided "No cause of alarm, all go about your business." Soon after this a Steamer came up the river having a company of Militia on board; again my antagonist mounted the wheelhouse and preached his infuriating sermon, who, before he could put it in the amen, found another alongside of him tearing his Bwcibw by piece meals, as he had done in the Court House, to his irremediable chagrin, and swayed a similar proselyting influence, so that instead of embarking more Militia on board, those already there landed and remained there. My noble friends (the mobocrats) just alluded to, forseeing the end of their campaigne in that field, concluded to leave on that Boat for Warsaw threatening veangeance on my head. Having accomplished my mission thereto, I was about going also had not the Captain of the Boat, who was an intimate friend of mine informed me that I had better wait for another Steamer, as the mobocrats had concocted a plan to take my life if I went up with them, to revenge on me for defeating their object. I accordingly waited till evening when I started up on another Boat. While on the passage, the hostile spirit of mobocracy was rife among the passengers, which caused much dispute because I would defend the innocency of Joseph and Hyrum; only occasionally I found a truth seeking person amongst them. Before we reached Warsaw the Captain and Clerk of the Boat, who were old friends of mine Boating together, informed me that some of the mob on board intend to inform at Warsaw that I was on board, and that "the mob there will take you ashore and hang you without Judge or Jury"--I remonstrated against going on shore, because if landed on the Illinois side I must travel up through the heart of a mob country who would hunt me out like hunting a wolf; whereas if I landed on the Missouri side it would be like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire."--I could not escape them. They said that the fury of the mob was such that they would fire their cannons into the Boat, as they had done on other Boats bound for Nauvoo but they would do what they could. I told them I would risk the result with God if they would act up to my instructions which they promised to do; to the credit of Capt. Atchinson of the "Ohio" and generous Officers they did; for while the mob rushed on board as she landed crying "Where is Capt. Jones; where is he; bring him out; out with the d-d Mormon;" and while I could hear a general hallooing on shore "Bring him out, hang him up" &c., and I had crawled under a mattress alongside of which many more laid on the Cabin floor owing to the crowded state of the passengers, the Captain and Officers stood like lions in the Cabin floor keeping a drove of wolves from a pet lamb, declaring that they had landed me below the town. Turned off thus the mob returned on shore and back again only to be repelled the second time, while the mate was busily landing what freight they had for the place, the Engineer being ready to start by the sound of the bell for which I listened with breathless silence, nor dared to breath freely until the signal bell rang, and the Boat pushed off; nor did I regret to hear the mob plunge into the river splash, --splash after each other making for the shore without their prey, to the great disappointment of hundreds of blood thirsty mobs on shore, who had prepared a gallows on a tree on the bank and eagerly anticipated seeing the morning sun shine on a Mormon suspended by it. Fairly afloat--the God of my Salvation received the tribute of a grateful heart. I particularize on these scenes to illustrate the spirit prevalent amongst the mobocrats generally which seemed to sanction by their toleration the sacrifice of the lives of the Martyrs for the Gospel's sake; and altho' alone in this scene, surely I will be an incompromising witness against them.

In the forenoon I landed at the welcome shore of Nauvoo, but Oh what a scene! Never to be pictured or painted by the pencil of art! Sad as the tombs, cheerless groups mourning wend their way by closed stores and windows of former busy life towards the place where lay the bloody[cor[p]ses of the martyrs! Old, young, male and female together bewail the day--their much loved Prophet and Patriarch from their embraces by ruthless assassins were untimely torn--how can they be comforted? The Sun and the Moon of the City's moral hemisphere are untimely set behind a cheerless bank of storm clouds. The wonted buoyant atmosphere seemed impregnated with death by suffocation--nor could heaven maintain its usual smiles; its face it vailed, and commiserating wept a shower of tears to comingle with those of the Saints below. Heart rending as was the scene beggar description until within the dining room of the Mansion House, statue like I stood, and saw in their coffins on tables laid the Prophet and Patriarch! Ah yes, fond hope no longer found a place to doubt, they are they--the lips from whence flowed the words of life like rivers that quenched the thirsting souls of thousands are closed in death--those eyes, the heaven lit torches, are dim and motionless, the spirit has fled. At the head of the one, bathed in tears, was seen the wife of the Prophet with her little boys and adopted Julia--at the other no less so was the Patriarch's wife surrounded by six little children who alternately with the grey haired Mother while kneeling in a pool of the comingling dripping gore of the Martyrs on the floor, with her streaming eyes first on one, then on the other cry "My husband, my husband too." "My father in blood". "And my father is dead too," and "My son, my sons" were the pitiful murmurings of the anguished widows and orphans that echoed in the walls which as but yesterday danced at the music of the Prophet's voice. On, on in solid columns the moving throng moved steadily to and off the solemn scene to take the last long look on those they loved most dearly--like the inexhaustible current of the mighty "Father of waters" as it for ages flows to the ocean appeared the passing current of mourning friends. The holes of the bullets, the bleeding gashes of the fatal bayonet need not the finger to point them out; nor need the assembled millions[as[k] Who are they? When their "Elder Brother" from them will be distinguished by the prints of the nails in his hands and feet. But why linger o'er the horrid scene of humane fiendish conduct they are free, the Prophet and Patriarch have soared on high beyond the rage of mobs, their testimony sealed with their hearts blood when they could have escaped if they would, but heroic like demi-gods they firmly trod the road to death and glory; they boldly leaped on the scaffold with eyes open and souls unsullied--forever honoured be their memories.

 

Immigrants:

Jones, Dan

Comments:

Introduction and translation by Ronald Dennis