Sesquicentennial: Visitors turn thoughts to Joseph and Hyrum

Realizing where they were and recalling the events that occurred 150 years ago in the area put throngs of visitors in a subdued mood as they toured Nauvoo and Carthage on the sesquicentennial of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith on June 27.

"People were eager to be in the martyrdom room, to hear the story, to feel the spirit in the room," said Elder John Moulton who is serving a mission with his wife Barbara at the Carthage Jail Visitors Center."They were wondering why something like that would happen to a man as great as Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. And they couldn't understand how people could be so cruel in their religious persecution."

Unfortunately, many of the visitors were only able to walk through the Carthage Jail without hearing the full presentation of the tour. Elder Moulton explained that the tour had to be cut down because of the number of visitors. He said that missionaries lost count early in the day, but estimated that 1,500 people went through the visitors center, about double what would tour on a regular "heavy" day.

Elder Moulton believed there would have been an even larger crowd if so many people hadn't visited the day before during the Church's official commemoration.

Although the visitors didn't get as much attention as missionaries hoped they would, they were receptive to the message in Carthage, according to Elder Moulton.

Adding to the regular activities of the Carthage visitors center, the local postmaster and other postal employees were there to cancel stamps with a special Carthage cancellation designed to commemorate the martyrdom.

In Nauvoo, crowds were also heavy on the anniversary of the martyrdom, according to Elder William Elrey, director of the visitors center there.

He said that for the first time that he knew of, the local Church stage show "Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo" required a third evening performance to accommodate the crowds.

Elder Elrey reported that the people in Nauvoo were in a subdued, solemn mood as they remembered Joseph and Hyrum while touring the city.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed