There was an article published a while back on a popular LDS website that highlighted a few “lesser-known facts” about the death of Joseph Smith. The article lacked some of the more juicy facts, so I thought I would share them here.

1. Joseph drank wine just before he died

John Taylor recalled:Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us. I think it was Captain Jones who went after it, but they would not suffer him to return. I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards” (History of the Church, 7:101).

2. Joseph fired a pistol into the mob

John Taylor also testified:“Elder Cyrus H. Wheelock came in to see us, and when he was about leaving, drew a small pistol, a six-shooter, from his pocket, remarking at the same time ‘Would any of you like to have this?’ Brother Joseph immediately replied, ‘Yes, give it to me,’ whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket. The pistol was a six-shooting revolver, of Allen’s patent; it belonged to me, and was one that I furnished to Brother Wheelock when he talked of going with me to the east, previous to our coming to Carthage” (History of the Church 7:100. See also The Gospel Kingdom, p.358).

When the mob approached the cell, Joseph fired the pepperbox pistol into the crowd, wounding three men (Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith).

3. Joseph’s last words were a Masonic plea

Just before falling out the window, Joseph cried out, “Oh Lord, my God.” This was the beginning of the Masonic “Grand Hailing Sign of Distress.” The full phrase is: “Oh Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow’s son?” Heber C. Kimball said, “Masons, it is said, were even among the mob that murdered Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage jail. Joseph, leaping the fatal window, gave the Masonic signal of distress” (Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888).

4. Joseph and Hyrum died without their garments

“Elder John Taylor confirmed the saying that Joseph and Hyrum and himself were without their robes in the jail at Carthage, while Doctor Richards had his on, but corrected the idea that some had, that they had taken them off through fear. W. W. Phelps said Joseph told him one day about that time, that he had laid aside his garment on account of the hot weather” (An IntimateChronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, 222).



You should read…

No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith

By Fawn Brodie (the niece of David O. McKay)

Tanner Gilliland is a writer, artist, and jazz hands enthusiast based in Salt Lake City, UT. Check out his art on Instagram: @tanner_gilliland, his jokes on Twitter: @tgilliland789, and his poverty on Venmo: Tanner-Gilliland
  • Mark Hansen

    Too bad Joe took off his garments. He would not have died. Many mormons have had such crazy beliefs about garments, and it seems to have started with what happened in Carthage.

    The fact that Willard Richards was the only one who escaped the martyrdom unscathed appears to have led to the belief that he had been protected because he was the only one of the four wearing his garments at the time.

    [Elder Kimball] Spoke of Elder Richards being protected at Carthage Jail — having on the robe, while Joseph & Hyrum, and Elder Taylor were shot to pieces.[5]

    This idea that the garments would have physically protected Joseph and Hyrum was further elaborated on by Hubert Howe Bancroft in his History of Utah. Bancroft notes the following regarding the temple garment,

    This garment protects from disease, and even death, for the bullet of an enemy will not penetrate it. The Prophet Joseph carelessly left off this garment on the day of his death, and had he not done so, he would have escaped unharmed.[6]

    • Mike Coolican

      Don’t call them martyrs. Moronism is widely unrecognized as anything holy or religious by non-morons. Myself included recognize it as nothing more than a fanatical cult, or a ‘racket turned “religion”. Joseph and his cronies were nothing more than treacherous charlatans and deserved their punishment.

      • Brain Spinner

        Why would you say such a thing as someone got what they deserved when they died they are and have been kind people and love god and you call the Mormon religion a cult your ignorance astounds me do you even know what a cult is a cult is a person or multiple people who worship one person or being you are a cult you worship your self the Mormon religion worships the god head made of heavenly father Jesus Christ and the holy ghost three beings i knew you were ignorant but i thought at least you could count to three and your mother got what she deserved you a ignorant man child knowing not of which he speaks and only wishes pain apon those who believe in the Lord I dispise your ignorance and wish you could learn to love someone other then yourself

        • Dave Carnes

          A cult is a relirion where you can screw a 14 year old girl and call it holy

          • Brain Spinner

            No, a cult is a sect that believes in one being as their god and or leader. I wish you would look up a words true meaning before spouting nonsensical hatred. #education is key

          • SkyWhite

            I think he wasn’t really defining the church. he was defining the stereotype cult who do that. lots of cult do inhumane things then call it holy.

        • shock_immuned

          It would be extremely helpful if you used commas and maybe more periods. Your first sentence is 8 lines long and hard to decipher.

          • Brain Spinner

            I will fix this so it does not happen again in the future. Also thanks for the imput.

          • Donna Mildred Rogers

            I was able to read it as written

  • Arwen Undomiel

    Yeah, they don’t teach this on Sunday school. I talked to a mason that knows a lot about mormon history that relates to masonry and he told me that there was a formal complaint brought by a fellow mason, that Jsoeph Smith had copied some of the mason rituals and turned them into a wedding ceremony inside the mormon temple. He also said mason leaders started an investigation about this but Joseph Smith was assesinated shortly after this complaints and the case was closed.

    Since there were mason among the mob that killed Smith, Is it possible that he paid with his life for copying masons rituals? My guess is that this is the reason masons were there with the mob. We know the other reason he was killed was because of the print that was destroyed. I wish I could find this infromation about the masons complaining about Smith in some historical record.

    • Darren

      I highly recommend two books that mention Mormonism and freemasonry, One is “Bloodlines of the Illuminati” by Fritz Springmeier and the other is “Codex Magica” by Texe Marrs.

  • J.T.

    John Taylor’s pocket watch stopped a bullet though, right?

  • J.T.

    “Joseph fired the pepperbox pistol into the crowd, wounding three men”

    There is something weird going on there in Carthage.

    Willard Richards, in Two Minutes in Jail, said this:

    “As he (Hyrum) struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically; “I’m a dead man.” Joseph looked towards him and responded, “O dear! Brother Hyrum!” and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (pistol) at random in the entry from whence a ball grazed Hyrum’s breast, and entering his throat passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed at him, and some balls hit him.”

    Richards claims to see Hyrum get shot while on the floor, with the ball entering his throat and going up into his head. In the same sentence he makes the claim about Smith firing randomly at the mob.

    There is an interesting article on “Physical Evidence at Carthage Jail” ( in which Richards’ story about Hyrum is contradicted.

    “Hyrum Smith’s left shoulder likely was braced against the door when the second ball was fired through the panel. That means his head must have been bent forward, with his left cheek turned toward the door and his face parallel to the floor. The musket ball struck the left side of his face, just medial to the left eye, then exited from underneath his jaw to the right of the midline. Others have misidentified the wound to the floor of his mouth as an entrance wound rather than an exit wound. Had the wound in his neck or in the floor of his mouth been an entrance wound, the ball would have done extensive damage to the top of the skull. The photographs of Hyrum Smith’s and Joseph Smith’s skulls made in 1928 show no damage to the top of either skull.”

    So Richards got basic facts about what happened totally wrong.

    Dallin Oaks, in “Carthage Conspiracy” confirms Richards story about Smith firing at random. But to do so he cites a document from the church archives with a statement by a guy named Jeremiah Willey. Who the heck is Jeremiah Willey? I looked up the only Jeremiah Willey I could find who was in the neighborhood. His autobiography is here:

    Here’s what Willey says: “Finding I could not live in this place, I bought me a house and lot in Nauvoo. At this time, the gentile fury was great. They had taken Joseph and Hyrum and put them in prison in Carthage Jail, and here they were killed by a mob on the 27th of June 1844. The 15th of August I moved to Nauvoo to the place I had bought.” Yeah. Nothing.

    Maybe that’s not the same guy? If he was there at Carthage, he sure didn’t deem it important enough to mention in his autobiography. If it’s a different guy, who the heck is Oaks citing in his book? Did one of the mob go out to Utah and give Brigham Young a statement? Given the opportunity to make Smith look a little better, why does Oaks instead choose to confirm Richards story by using a sketchy source? It’s weird. Is Oaks hiding something worse, perhaps?

    Other than Richards, and Taylor when he wasn’t hiding under the bed, and apparently this Willey person, are there any solid eyewitnesses to what happened that we have names of?

    • Danite

      Willard Richards shot Hyrum.. .

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