Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith
September 1994

“Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,” Ensign, Sept. 1994, 54–73

Speaking Today:

Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith

Memorial Events

Monday, June 27, 1994, marked 150 years since the 1844 martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, Associate President of the Church, in Carthage, Illinois, where they were jailed and awaiting a court hearing when a mob stormed the jail and killed them.

On Sunday, June 26, wards and branches throughout the United States and Canada held special sacrament meeting services to remember the “contributions and sacrifices” of the two martyrs. The Church’s major commemorative services were held at Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois, that day, at three meetings presided over by President Howard W. Hunter, assisted by President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve:

• These three Brethren spoke in Nauvoo, the city founded by the Prophet in 1839, to an estimated 1,540 persons at a 9:00 A.M. Nauvoo Ward, Nauvoo Illinois Stake, sacrament meeting.

Members leaving the Nauvoo stake center

Members leaving the Nauvoo stake center Sunday morning, June 26, 1994.

• The three Church leaders spoke to about 2,440 persons at a 2:30 P.M. outdoor service at the site where stood the Nauvoo Temple prior to its 1848 destruction by Church enemies. The service also featured the unveiling of a light gray limestone block, one of thirty such blocks original to the Nauvoo Temple. These architectural features were called sun stones because they were carved with the design of a rising sun’s face.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley unveiled a display case containing one of the original decorative sun stones from the Nauvoo Temple. The stones, thirty in number, crowned an equal number of pilasters around the outside of the Nauvoo Temple.

• The three Brethren spoke at the Carthage Jail grounds, now a Church visitors’ center, to about 2,400 persons at a 7:00 P.M. outdoor service which was broadcast by satellite to more than 3,000 locations.

Grave markers in the Smith family cemetery

Grave markers in the Smith family cemetery for, left to right, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith, Jr., and Emma Hale Smith. The Mississippi River is at top right.

Also attending these events was the North America Central Area presidency: Elders James M. Paramore, Hartman Rector, Jr., and William R. Bradford.

President Howard W. Hunter, in his wheelchair, greets Church members prior to the 2:30 P.M. commemoration program at the Nauvoo Temple site.

At the Nauvoo Temple site, Boy Scouts lead the congregation in the pledge of allegiance. General Authorities and guests sit in the sun-shaded rostrum; a choir stands to the right. The Nauvoo Temple sun stone, later unveiled by President Hinckley, is to the far left of the rostrum. Behind the rostrum are stone plaques describing the Nauvoo Temple. Much of the congregation, lower right, sit on chairs on the lawn in an area that was once the Nauvoo Temple basement.

President Hinckley said of Nauvoo: “For one brief, shining moment this to them was the city of Joseph.”

At the commemoration services in Nauvoo, Elder M. Russell Ballard quoted about Hyrum, “It seems … that he felt in some way that there had been placed upon him a guardianship for his younger brother [Joseph].”

President Hunter said of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “He did not go to Carthage bitterly. He did not go to Carthage complainingly. What a marvelous capacity to endure well!”

A television cameraman focuses on the choir at the Sunday evening commemoration program broadcast by satellite to more than three thousand locations.

The second story bedroom in the Carthage Jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were martyred. The jail was restored in 1938. The door (left) still carries scars of the bullets shot on 27 June 1844.

“Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!” sang the choir. “Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.”

The east side of the Carthage Jail, showing the upper window and the well, both locations related to the death of the Prophet. The jail is now a Church visitors’ center.

Missionaries listening to commemoration services in Carthage sit beneath the monument to the two martyred brothers.

Part of the Carthage congregation of 2,400 persons who heard President Hunter: “Come and feast at the table laid before you by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Join us as we seek to follow the Good Shepherd who has provided it.”