Tuesday, January 11, 2011
We spent Christmas and New Years in Illinois at Tyler's parents House and one thing we did was take a trip to Nauvoo and Carthage Jail. This is the cell where Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards were held. It was in the very upstairs of the jail.
The day of the martyrdom the four men had been moved into a room just down the hall that was more comfortable. After the mob shot and killed Joseph and Hyrum, Willard found John Taylor(who was also shot, but only wounded) under the bed and dragged him back to this cell and put him under that straw bed to hide him. He wanted him to live to retell the story someday.
Something else I learned about the jail was it was run by a family that actually lived on the main level of the jail(which was a normal house). I can't remember how many kids they had, maybe 3 or 4 small ones, but they actually invited the prisoners to eat dinner with them down in their living quarters while they had them there. They knew they were not guilty. The day the mob came, the owner of the jail had been called out on an assignment and when the mob entered the jail through a door that should have been locked, they actually fired some shots at the mother and children in the room before going upstairs to kill the prisoners. They were not harmed thank goodness. It just goes to show that this was something that was planned out and did not just happen on a spur of the moment.
This is the window Joseph made a jump for but was shot in the process, crashing through and landing on the ground beneath. A neat tidbit that was brought up by the person giving us the tour said, some believe the reason Joseph went to jump out the window was to save the other men in the room. He knew the mob was after him, so he made the jump to get the mob out of the room and focused on him and leave the other men be. It did indeed work because the mob immediately ran back down the stairs to see Joseph's body outside, and Willard Richard's and John Taylor's lives were spared.
The window was also not as high as I thought it was. I always thought, why would Joseph jump out knowing he wouldn't make it, since I thought the impact of the ground would have killed him. But looking out the window it seems as though I could jump out and be fine. Maybe a sprained ankle or a broken bone would be the worst of my injuries, but I certainly would not die from it.
It was a great experience to be there and it actually felt so peaceful just being in this room. It was a great time for reflection and appreciating all that Joseph Smith has sacrificed in his lifetime. The tour guide did not focus on the horrible things of this day but focused on the great men that were in that very room many years before. Of course they did tell the entire story which can be gruesome, but there were many small miracles that happened in getting this room restored so that we can visit it today. If you ever get the chance to go...You should GO!