Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 48, Sun, Oct 19, Keokuk, IA & Carthage, IL

As most of you are well aware, this is the jail in Carthage were Joseph and his brother Hyrum, and fellow church leaders John Taylor and Willard Richards were being held on bogus charges of treason on June 27, 1844 when a mob with painted faces stormed the building, forcing their way up the stairs and with guns blazing, shot through the door, killing Hyrum instantly. Bursting the door open they severly wounded John Taylor and killed Joseph with gunfire from both within and without the building. He fell from the window to the yard, his body landing near the well, mortally wounded. The attackers then fled. Willard Richards was not hit. John Taylor survived his wounds and would live to be the 3rd prophet and president of the Church in this dispensation. He and Willard Richards were witnesses to the martyrdom of the Prophet.

As John Taylor stated in the 135 Section of the Doctrine & Covenants, verse 3: "He (Joseph Smith) lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord's anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood: and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!"

Before touring the Jail we first viewed a fine film produced by the Church regarding the final days in the life of Joseph Smith, based on first person accounts of those who were his contemporaries both in and out of the Church. Then were were escorted on a tour of the Jail by a Senior Missionary, a Sister Evans, who serves at the Carthage Jail Visitor's Center with her husband. Elder and Sister Evans are from Salt Lake City, Utah, serving a 6-month mission. She gave a most effective presentation. As with so many other Church historic sites, this is sacred ground, particularly so when, in your heart there beats a testimony of the truthfulness of the divine mission and calling of Joseph Smith and the reality of the Restoration.

The Chapman's and the Tipton's standing before the statues of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, waiting for the doors to open at the Carthage Jail Visitor's Center.
Brother Tipton said he seems to remember us from our days in the Red Mountain Stake. We resided in the Princess Park Ward and they lived in the Hermosa Vista Ward at the time (early to mid-90's).
At 12 noon we drove the 12 miles over to Carthage, east of the river in Illinois. On our arrival at the Carthage Jail and Visitor's Information Center maintained by the Church we were pleased meet a couple from Mesa who were also traveling: Gary and Janet Tipton. We learned that their son Wesley Scott (Wes) Tipton was the Tempe police officer so greviously wounded in a gun battle some 8 years ago. He suffered 7 bullet wounds at point blank range. You may recall how, despite his severe injury he was able to return fire on his attacker and prevent a further assault upon a woman in the Tempe shopping center parking lot where the confrontation took place. We remembered knowing about this shooting at the time of its occurance. It was quite compelling to stand there at this sacred site of the maryterdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum and listen to brother and sister Tipton tell about the miracle of their son's survival and that he is in good health and doing well. Wes Tipton is, in fact, in Show Low, Arizona. He is a Real Estate agent. In fact he and his wife and family live in Linden! Interesting, uh?

This is the walkway leading from the visitor parking area to the Carthage Jail and Visitor's Center. You can see the bronze statue of Joseph and Hyrum. There has been much of improvement and beautification of the property since we were here some 24 years ago.

Keokuk, Iowa has a National Military Cemetary, one of only 12 such so designated by the U.S. Congress. We spent some time driving through its beautifully cared for grounds this morning. We were vividly reminded of the sacrifice made by so very many to defend our country and maintain our freedoms. Those who have died in defense of country in all branch's of military service are buried here, some of them in unmarked graves.

It is Sunday. We have been staying at a hotel in Keokuk, Iowa, just across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo. We decided that we would attend the local LDS Keokuk Branch Sacrament meeting instead of going over to Nauvoo. A young family named Smith from Minnesota that have been on a school break and staying at our hotel also attended with us. Both his and her parents live in Gilbert. Her maiden name is Mix. They have a boy and girl, really a nice young family.
We didn't get their picture or a picture of the Branch meeting house, but it is a very nice building and a large Branch that is the size of a small Ward. We very much enjoyed meeting and worshiping with them and the blessing of being able to partake of the Sacrament and renew our Covenants. What a blessing it is to travel throughout this dear country of ours and to find the Church thriving and strong in every place we go.
Because the church historic sites do not open for visitors until 12:30 pm on Sundays it gave us an opportunity to visit several places of interest in Keokuk before driving due east across the river to Carthage, IL where the Carthage Jail is located.
This is one of several older mansions that are found along Grand Avenue on the bluff overlooking the river in the city of Keokuk (The city is named after an Indian chief).