August 29, 2023

Visiting Carthage Jail, Know Before You Go

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Carthage Jail is a very important part of the History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Carthage Jail is the location where the prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed.

Carthage Jail is about a half hour away from Nauvoo, Illinois.

Carthage Jail is one of the most memorable stops on the Church History Trip for my family, the spirit in that location was evident from the moment we got out of the car, it feels somber and sacred. There were large Church History groups with busses full of people, along with other smaller groups and families, all were very respectful of the sacredness of the area. Everyone was quiet and some were even emotional while one the walk up to Carthage Jail.

When you walk to the jail from the parking lot to the visitors center the walkway is lined with monuments of quotes given by the prophet Joseph Smith. Each marker has beautiful words of the prophet Joseph Smith, and reminders of what happened to the prophet in Carthage.

The town of Carthage is a small town, but it does have a couple food stops and gas, if needed.

Carthage Jail, Know Before You Go

During the summer it seems like there is a steady stream of people coming to see Carthage Jail. It was pretty busy the day we were there. There were three large groups of people at Carthage Jail when we arrived at 10 am and six busses pulled up to tour the Jail when we were leaving.

Don’t be too worried if you see large groups of people when you pull into Carthage Jail, the missionaries have a very good system, to get through the people efficiently. Go into the visitors center and put your name on the list to go through the Carthage Jail Tour. The visitors center has wonderful sister missionaries ready to help and answer questions and the sisters will set up where you can watch a movie while you wait.

The Church Website for Carthage jail:

Carthage Jail Tour Overview

The tours are led by a senior couple who are very well educated the History of Carthage Jail, and the events preceding the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The missionaries were so wonderful with a great spirit about them. They wanted to share their knowledge and their own testimonies of the sacredness and importance of Carthage Jail.

The Carthage Jail Tour starts outside of Carthage jail, with explanations on how the jail was purchased by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

As you enter the first floor of the jailhouse the missionaries explained the background of the arrest of Joseph Smith, who the jailers were, about the jailers family, how the jailer did his best to help Joseph and his group, and more. This tour was packed with fascinating and informative information. They do not allow recordings, but I wish they did, because there was so much information packed into this tour!

In Carthage jail the missionaries show you the original door that the prophet and his friends held to keep out the mob, with the bullet hole from day of the murders. The missionaries also play the song “A Poor Wafering Man of Grief”, when they are share the part of the account when the jail was stormed. It was all a very moving and spiritual experience hearing about the first prophet of this dispensation murdered with his dear brother.

Carthage Jail Take Aways

It was surprising the powerful spirit of Carthage Jail. The respect of the patrons and the missionaries is evident in the feeling of Carthage. Carthage Jail is one of the most heartbreaking locations of the History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and you can feel the sorrow as well. The beautiful take away was how the work of the Lord continues on, a new prophet was called and the work of the Lord continued to grow. Member of the Church are reaping the blessing of the members who continued on, even in terrible situations. It is a great blessing to see what the Lord has done for His people. Remembering the sorrow, the miracles from God and the strength of those who continued on through the difficulties.

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