A Young Folks' History of the Church
Another farce of a trial was now had. About forty men, mostly apostates, testified against
the prisoners. The brethren had no witnesses, and when the mobber Bogart was sent to
Far West for some, he simply arrested them and put them in prison. The result of the
hearing was that Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander
McRae, and Caleb Baldwin were sent to Liberty, Clay county, to jail. Parley P. Pratt and
others were to remain in Richmond jail, while some others were released.
Joseph with his fellow-prisoners remained in Liberty jail from November 28, 1838, to
April 6, 1839. During all this time they suffered the hardships of prison life, together with
abuses not usually imposed on common prisoners. It is claimed by some that they were
offered human flesh to eat. During this time of trial Joseph was cheerful and told the
brethren they would get out safe. He wrote many letters of instruction to the Saints,
bidding them to be faithful to their religion. The brethren who were at liberty were not
idle. They were appealing continually to the judges and the governor for justice for their
brethren, but it was of little use. At one hearing, Sidney Rigdon was released but he had
to go back to jail for a time because the mob threatened to kill him.
Seeing that it was useless trying to be released lawfully the brethren decided to try to
escape. The evening of February 7, 1839, when the guard should come with their supper,
was fixed as the time to try; but Hyrum wanted to be sure about the matter so he asked
Joseph to enquire of the Lord if it was wisdom for them to make the attempt. Joseph did
so and was informed that if they were all united they would be able to escape that
evening. Therefore all but Lyman Wight agreed to the plan. He wanted to wait till the
next day, and as the brethren would not go without him, they decided to wait.
That evening the guard left the door wide open and gave them a good chance to escape,
but they did not try. The next evening the jailor brought a double guard with him, and six
of the brethren came to see the prisoners. Though it was a very poor chance to escape,
they meant to try. When the guard went to close the door the prisoners followed and tried
to prevent him, but they did not succeed. All but one of the visiting brethren were also
locked in, and he had a narrow escape from the mob outside who soon collected and
made all kinds of threats against the prisoners.
The visitors now thought that they also were in great danger, but Joseph told them not to
fear, as not a hair of their heads would be injured. This promise came true, because at a
trial they had next day they were all set free and nothing was taken from them.
April 6, 1839, the prisoners were ordered to Gallatin, Daviess county. After their long
confinement the brethren were weak, and it was hard to stand the long journey. On the
9th they had another trial or hearing. The jury consisted mainly of men who had taken
part in the Haun's Mill massacre, and most of the time during the trial they were drunk.
The presiding officer, Judge King, was also as bad as the jury. This mock trial continued
for several days. Men who sat on the jury during the day acted as guards at night, where
they boasted of their murders, thefts, etc., to the prisoners. This trial resulted in the
brethren being held for "murder, treason, burglary, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing."