Front and western side
|Location||Walnut and N. Fayette Sts., Carthage, Illinois|
|Area||0.8 acres (0.32 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||73000703|
|Added to NRHP||March 20, 1973|
Carthage Jail, located in Carthage, Illinois, was the location of the murder of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum, by a mob of approximately 150 men. Fellow Latter Day Saints John Taylor and Willard Richards were also members of the incarcerated party, but were not killed. The group had reported to Carthage, the county seat, to face charges relating to his ordering the destruction of facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper whose only edition had been critical of the Smiths' religious teachings. On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the upper room of the prison and killed the Smiths. Taylor was badly wounded and Richards was scathed, but not seriously injured.
The jail was built in 1839. Constructed of red limestone quarried nearby, the two-story, rectangular, gable-front building measures twenty-nine by thirty-five feet. Like other county jails in Illinois, Carthage Jail was built to incarcerate petty thieves and debtors and to serve as a temporary holding place for violent criminals. It housed a debtor's room in the northwest corner of the first floor, and a dungeon, or "criminal cell" on the second floor, north side. There was also a living area for the jailer's family that included a kitchen, a dining room, and bedrooms.
The Carthage Jail is currently restored to an approximation of its condition at the time of the Smiths' deaths. The site and the city block it stands on is currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been established as a historical site and visitors' center.
- Enders, Donald L. (1992), "Carthage Jail", in Ludlow, Daniel H, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 255–256, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
- Bentley, Joseph I. (1992), "Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith", in Ludlow, Daniel H, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 860–862, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
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