Carthage Jail

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Carthage Jail
Carthage Jail from southwest.jpg
Front and western side
Carthage Jail is located in Illinois
Carthage Jail
Carthage Jail is located in USA
Carthage Jail
Location Walnut and N. Fayette Sts., Carthage, Illinois
Coordinates 40°24′57″N 91°08′20″W / 40.41572°N 91.13884°W / 40.41572; -91.13884Coordinates: 40°24′57″N 91°08′20″W / 40.41572°N 91.13884°W / 40.41572; -91.13884
Area 0.8 acres (0.32 ha)
Built 1839
NRHP Reference # 73000703[1]
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.[2]


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.

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  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Carthage Jail and Visitors Center". Historic Nauvoo. Retrieved December 7, 2013. 

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