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Remembering the martyrdom: 5 articles about Joseph and Hyrum Smith, 178 years after their deaths


Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyred in Carthage, Illinois, 178 years ago today. To remember the event, which took place June 27, 1844, below are five articles reflecting on the death of the Prophet and his brother.

1. What President Ballard hopes Latter-day Saints will appreciate about the martyrdom

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his office in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his office in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

President M. Russell Ballard, great-great-great-nephew of Joseph Smith and the great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, shared what he encourages others to appreciate about the martyrdom: “My feeling is we have to stand in awe, in reverence and deep appreciation for their courage, their spirituality, their integrity and their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As a 10-time visitor of Carthage Jail, President Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, noted the spirit that may be found there, learning about and being in the location of the martyrdom. He invites all Church members to learn about the work of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, as well as the love, dedication and sacrifice the men exhibited.

Read more about President Ballard’s feelings on the martyrdom

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with his wife, Sister Mary Cook, tour the Historic Carthage Jail in Carthage, Illinois on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles with his wife, Sister Mary Cook, tour the Historic Carthage Jail in Carthage, Illinois on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

2. Video: From Carthage Jail, Elder Cook remembers the Prophet Joseph Smith, the martyrdom and his witness of the Savior

Similarly, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, shared their testimonies about the two brothers. Both turned their thoughts to the Smiths’ sacrifice and their willingness to give of themselves and their lives to Jesus Christ’s gospel.

Elder Cook testified: “My faith and my testimony is in Jesus Christ. I bear my solemn witness that Jesus Christ lives, that it’s the doctrine and the principles and the ordinances that He provided for us that will allow us to return to live with the Father and the Son.”

Watch the video

3. ‘Millions shall know Brother Joseph’: Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr. explains how

Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration

Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a General Authority Seventy and Church historian, analyzed the mark that Joseph Smith left, affecting generations to come. He noted that people have gotten to know Joseph Smith by different means. Some of these include Doctrine of Covenants and Pearl of Great Price study, reading Joseph Smith’s history in the Book of Mormon or reading and praying about the book itself, visiting historic Church sites, as well as through technology and more recent historical publications.

Elder Curtis said, “By the time Joseph was killed by mob violence in 1844, the everlasting gospel had been restored and was rolling forth across the earth.”

Read more from Elder Curtis

4. Face to face with history — the death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith

The pedestal death masks of Hyrum and Joseph Smith are photographed at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

The pedestal death masks of Hyrum and Joseph Smith are photographed at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

This article walks through the journey the death masks of the Prophet and his brother have taken. Shortly after the death of the two brothers, face masks were made to preserve a remembrance of the men, something commonly practiced at the time for people of importance.

The masks have proven to have a sense of sacredness about them. A scholar, who is not a member of the Church, is quoted as saying, “Wow, that’s like looking at the true cross of Jesus Christ.”

After being exchanged through many hands, the masks now reside in the Church History Museum on display for visitors to witness for themselves.

Learn more about the death masks

Portraits of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Portraits of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

5. A timeline of the 96-hour period surrounding the martyrdom

The Church News collaborated with the Church History Department to put together a timeline explaining the events surrounding the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

This timeline maps out the details and information from at or near the time of Joseph and Hyrum Smith’s martyrdom. With dates, names and places, these facts help to make the martyrdom a bit more meaningful.

See the timeline

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