On June 27, 1844, when that stage came through Carthage, Sonny saw a mob gathered around the jail. As passengers got off the stage, the shooting started. Sonny drove the stage to the stable and saw Joseph fall from the jail window.
Samuel, who was one of the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon, never made it to the Carthage Jail before the martyrdom.
He lived southeast of Nauvoo in nearby Plymouth, Ill., and was on horseback to see his brothers in Carthage. He escaped after being met by members of the mob who chased him through the woods.
Samuel was part of the 14-person bodyguard of Joseph and Hyrum when their bodies were returned to Nauvoo the next day in his wagon. Just over a month later, Samuel died on July 30 as a result of the fatigue from the chase of June 27, leaving six children behind and preceding by 21 days the birth of his daughter, Lucy J.C.
Other members of the then Quorum of the Twelve as well as two future church presidents were on missions in Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nauvoo at the time of the martyrdom.
Elders Taylor and Richards, the only two apostles who were not away on missions, were in the jail cell of their own accord.
Joseph, in his journal, noted Nauvoo had 15,000 inhabitants. There were between 25,000 and 26,000 members of the church in 1844. Today, Nauvoo has a population around 1,000. Joseph's final journey from Nauvoo to Carthage as one of 15 men took 15 miles. Nowadays, it takes 23 miles on paved roads for a similar route.
The Nauvoo Temple was completed after Joseph and Hyrum's martyrdom, razed shortly thereafter and now rebuilt in 2002. It was closed the afternoon of the martyrdom's anniversary, which also marked the 10th anniversary of the rebuilt temple.
Sources: "History of the Church," Vol. 6; "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith," "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young," "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor," "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodfuff," "Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith"; the LDS Church Almanac; "History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith;" "Charles C. Rich," by Leonard Arrington; "In Old Nauvoo," by George W. Givens; "The Restored Church," by William Edwin Berrett; "The Carthage Conspiracy;" "Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith" by Mark L. McConkie; and "Separating facts from fiction about the Prophet's death," Deseret News, Sept. 7, 2010
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for more than 30 years. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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