, 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.
12 befor 1. oclock P.M. intilligen [intelligence] was givn Joseph that the Laws— Higbees &c was going to to plunder— calld at our door with some gentlemen. & Joseph infrmd [informed] him.— arrived.— requstd [requested] the to send a guard to protect the . wrote
1½ o,clock P.M.— dinner— <of > called to see Joseph.—
2—30 Communicated that he would send a company— to to co[o]perate with the Police in keeping the peace. & call on the Legion if necessary—
Robrt Ayres.— calld to see Gen Smith.
Report 2d— from Israel that he had hea[r]d resoluti[o]ns odedes [orders] of the troops read to to retu[r]n to 3 P.M. to Thu[rs]day— then— to —
12 mi[nutes] to four— -[p m W. Law.—— &— said should not go out of th[e] .— alive [p. ]
According to William Clayton, residents in Nauvoo at the time “generally believed that the mob intends to make a run on us in the night.” In addition, Clayton reported that a letter found in Francis M. Higbee’s hat spoke of an attack from Iowa Territory planned for the night of 25 June. (Clayton, Journal, 25 June 1844.)
Thomas Ford later dispatched to Nauvoo a company of sixty men under the command of Captain James Singleton. The men were instructed, according to William Clayton, “to protect the City in case a mob should come with orders to command our police and use such other measures as he might consider necessary.” Having heard of Ford’s plan, JS wrote Emma Smith that he wished the men “may be kindly treated. They will cooperate with the police to keep the peace.” The Nauvoo police met with Singleton at eight o’clock the following morning and voted unanimously to obey his order from Ford “to come to Nauvoo & preserve the peace.” Singleton and his men remained in Nauvoo until the evening of 27 June. (Gregg, History of Hancock County, 348; Thomas Ford, “To the People of the State of Illinois,” Times and Seasons, 1 July 1844, 5:564; JS, Carthage, IL, to Emma Smith, [Nauvoo, IL], 25 June 1844, copy, JS Collection, CHL; Clayton, Journal, 26 and 27 June 1844; see also “To the Public,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 9 Jan. 1845, 3.)
Gregg, Thomas. History of Hancock County, Illinois, Together with an Outline History of the State, and a Digest of State Laws. Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1880.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.