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Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial (Part 4 of 7)

Thomas Ford was governor of Illinois in 1844 when Joseph Smith was killed. Brian Stutzman will talk about his role in Joseph Smith’s surrender, as well as his role in making sure a trial was held over the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Thomas Ford goes to Nauvoo and he’s got 400 troops up from Warsaw. And he goes to Nauvoo.  This June 27th to scold the Saints, basically.  Word in Warsaw is that Thomas Ford may be in trouble.

GT  55:24  Governor Ford.

Brian  55:25   Yes, Governor Ford. They gather two battalions of men in Warsaw, and one in nearby Green Plains, and that was led by Colonel Levi Williams.  They meet and on June 27th, they gather in the morning and they’re marching toward Nauvoo.  There’s about 300 or 400 of them, and they get to a crossroads. It’s called Golden’s Point. It’s still there today. They are met by a messenger from Nauvoo, the governor’s messenger. The governor heard that there were some troops coming to Nauvoo to make war on the disarmed Latter-day Saints. So the messenger says, “The governor says he knows that you’re coming, and he wants you to disperse and he wants you to go home.” So they meet and they talk and some say, “Yeah, let’s do what the governor says.” One was at the doctor. His name is Charles Hay, and he goes back to [Warsaw.]  His son, John Hay, who was by far Warsaw’s most famous person. He was Secretary of State to several presidents and opened up the Panama Canal and China and did some things and he also wrote about the murder later on. I’ll tell you about that. So Charles Hay goes back with a bunch of people. But Thomas Sharp and a bunch of them stand up and say, “You know what? We’ve gone this far. Instead of going to Nauvoo to rescue the governor, let’s just go and get rid of Joseph Smith.” He’s up talking, and he says, “If we get rid of Joseph Smith right now, the Mormons will hear about it and they’ll kill Governor Ford, and we’ll have two of our problems solved on the same day.” They were having problems with Governor Ford because Governor Ford was kind of playing both sides and wasn’t getting rid of the Mormons.  They’d asked Governor Ford to expel the Latter-day Saints earlier.

GT  57:16  As had been done in Missouri earlier.

Brian  57:18  So they were trying to follow that. So, while Thomas Sharp’s talking, a messenger comes from Carthage.  There’s a guard there named Frank Worrell. Frank Worrell writes a note and he says, “Now is the time to do the deed.” He sends it to Sharp.  Sharp reads it and he rallies the troops and they go on to Carthage and commit the crime of murdering Joseph and Hyrum.

Brian  57:36  That night, they make a beeline back to this Warsaw House Hotel. It’s run by Sam and Ann Graham Fleming. Sam’s out in Boston, but it’s a restaurant, it’s a hotel, it’s a livery and some other things. It’s a big facility. Thomas Sharp’s the first one back at about 9pm on June 27, 1844. He asks a waitress, 18-year-old Eliza Graham. Eliza Graham is the niece of Ann, the owner, for a glass of water. Nobody knew that Eliza and her dad, they were living in Nauvoo.  Eliza came down to help her Aunt run the Warsaw House. She was a member of the church, 18 years old. Thomas Sharp comes in. Other people come in, Jacob Davis. People who would eventually stand trial [came in], and they started talking and bragging about how they’d just killed Joseph Smith. Eliza was like whoa.  Her aunt is in the back, cooking. Fifteen men gather and they go from 9 PM to 2 AM, and they’re all talking about who did what.  “I was climbing the stairs to Carthage Jail and it was my gun that shot Joseph.”  And then somebody else’s say, “No, it was mine.”  Thomas Sharp and Jacob Davis together said, “We have finished off the leading men of the Mormon church.”  Eliza, brilliant, remembers and she later testifies at the trial, and so does her aunt, for the opposite side. About 2 AM they go upstairs, the people who live there, Jacob Davis and another go upstairs.

Check out our conversation….

Brian Stutzman describes Illinois Governor Thomas Ford’s role in the martyrdom and trial of Joseph Smith’s killers.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Brian!

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

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