Hyrum Smith wrote in December 1839 of his recent sufferings in Missouri
I had been abused and thrust into a dungeon, and confined for months on account of my faith, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. However I thank God that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to . . . ; and I can assure my beloved brethren that I was enabled to bear as strong a testimony, when nothing but death presented itself, as ever I did in my life.
These were not empty words. Four and a half years later, Hyrum Smith sealed his testimony with his blood at Carthage, Illinois, when an armed anti-Mormon mob with painted faces assassinated him and his brother. The historical evidence indicates that Hyrum understood his likely fate, and that he went to it willingly.
Multiple writers recalled Hyrum’s testimony:
- [W]ee wass talking about the Book of Mormon which he is one of the witnesses he said he had but too hands and too eyes he said he had seen the plates with his eyes and handled them with his hands.
- “[Mary Fielding Smith] bears testimony that her husband [Hyrum] has seen and handled the plates, &c.”
- Another writer heard Hyrum “declare, in this city in public, that what is recorded about the plates, &c. &c. is God’s solemn truth.”
- “When I was but ten years of age, I heard the testimony of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, one of the eight witnesses, to the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the appearance of the plates from which it was translated.”
Hyrum Smith’s Character
Richard Anderson wrote:
[Hyrum] was respected by his neighbors, for he served as school trustee in his neigborhood in 1828. Elected to this office in the local school district, he with two other trustees managed school affairs and funds, including hiring of teachers. Hyrum’s non-Mormon reputation became clearer after the work of Masonic scholar Mervin Hogan, who published the Navuoo Lodge minutes indicating that Hyrum Smith had been a Mason in good standing in the Mount Moriah lodge No. 112, which met in Palmyra, New York. Further research shows that Hyrum indeed appears on the Palmyra report covering the period to June 4, 1828, just a year before he became a Book of Mormon witness. He is one of fifty-nine members, and is not named as newly initiated that year. This means that normal Masonic procedures of unanimity had admitted him on grounds that his character would honor that organization—a judgment made by the large Palmyra group, among whom were young printer Pomeroy Tucker and respected physician Alexander McIntire.