Carthage Jail

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Carthage Jail is like a pilgrimage for most members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Most people make the trip to see the place that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed. This site is definitely worth a visit on your Church History tour because, unlike Liberty Jail, Carthage is an original building with real artifacts, and a sense of the history. 

There is definitely a feeling of reverence and respect at Carthage Jail.

Carthage Jail has two stories. The bottom level was the home of the jailer, and you’ll receive a brief tour of his family’s quarters, as well as a little information about how they treated the prisoners. Then you travel upstairs for a view of the prison.

The prison has two different types of cells. The first was a dark, barred jail. A heavy door bars this area, and the stone walls are windowless. A few hours before the martyrdom, the jailer even asked the prisoners if they wanted to return to this cell for their own safety. 

This cell was so dark when we went inside that I couldn’t take pictures.
This site is a beautiful memorial to these two brothers.

Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards instead opted for the upper room. This room has a thin door with an obvious bullet hole in it. It is believed that a shot fired through this hole hit Hyrum Smith in the face. You can also see the bed under which John Taylor rolled, and the window sill that Joseph attempted to jump through. 

This is the bullet hole preserved in the original door.
The window where Joseph Smith attempted to jump to safety.

The last stop on the tour is outside the building. There is a small well just below the window of the upper room. Joseph lay at this point when the mob came down the steps to make sure that he was dead. It’s a solemn spot for Latter-Day Saints. 

The outside of Carthage Jail with the well.
The outside of Carthage Jail with the well.

Plan about an hour to see Carthage Jail. There is a short video at the beginning of the tour, and then the missionaries lead your through the building. We really enjoyed our time here. If you’d like to visit other Church History sites, use this link to see all the sites we visited.

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