, Journal Excerpt, 23–27 June 1844; handwriting of ; nineteen pages; in Willard Richards, Journal, CHL. Portions of some entries were written in pencil before they were overwritten in ink.
JS’s journal, kept by , ended with the entry of 22 June 1844, just before JS left , Illinois, in company with Richards, , and . Richards, who remained with JS until the moment of JS’s death on 27 June, evidently left JS’s journal in Nauvoo when the four men departed for , Illinois. Richards, however, recorded in his own journal many of the events of the last five days of JS’s life. These events include JS’s arrival on the bank in on the morning of 23 June and his trip to Carthage, during which JS and Hyrum gave themselves up to authorities on the charge of treason. Richards’s journal also recounts JS’s activities in Carthage during the days preceding his and Hyrum’s deaths. The material Richards recorded in his own journal during this time is in the same format and style as the record he had been keeping for JS. Richards’s hasty, terse notations and precise attention to details—illustrated by his practice of recording the specific times events occurred—indicate that he continuously carried his journal with him and recorded many of the events as he witnessed them, possibly with the intention of using the record to fill in JS’s journal at a later date. Richards’s journal entries for 23–27 June 1844 provide a contemporaneous firsthand account of JS’s activities during the last five days of his life, and they are reproduced here in full. Richards first inscribed portions of these entries in pencil and then rewrote them in ink. In a few cases, while overwriting, he skipped or altered the original penciled text. The transcription here reproduces the final ink version and does not capture the slight variations in the penciled text.
For additional details on the events leading to the deaths of JS and Hyrum Smith, see Oaks and Hill, Carthage Conspiracy.
Oaks, Dallin H., and Marvin S. Hill. Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975.
1/4 to 8 supper 8 & called,— with. said & officers had held a council & decid[e]d the & troops go to tommow [tomorrow] and return next day. leaving 50 men to guard the prisoners— and the trial to be deferrd to the 29[th].
9 & & retir[e]d to & 9¼ Prayd . . — & staid with Joseph & in the front room.—— [7 lines blank] [p. ]
Ford had decided the previous day to take a large number of troops to Nauvoo and had told JS earlier that he (JS) and Hyrum Smith would accompany him. Ford later wrote that though he had planned to take JS and Hyrum Smith with him to Nauvoo, “a council of officers . . . determined that this would be highly inexpedient and dangerous, and offered such substantial reasons for their opinions as induced me to change my resolution.” (Ford, History of Illinois, 339–340.)
Ford, Thomas. A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847. Containing a Full Account of the Black Hawk War, the Rise, Progress, and Fall of Mormonism, the Alton and Lovejoy Riots, and Other Important and Interesting Events. Chicago: S. C. Griggs; New York: Ivison and Phinney, 1854.
According to James Woods, Justice Robert Smith “altered the return of the subpoenas until the 29th, and continued the hearing until that time, without consulting either their prisoners or the counsel.” (“Statement of Facts,” Times and Seasons, 1 July 1844, 5:564.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.