Written January 14 1973, by Almon G. Clegg upon request of his son Almon H. Clegg.
I would like to give credit to Almon and his family for inviting Mom and I to have one of the most pleasant trips to his place in Morton, Illinois. They took us to many places of interest which relate to the early period of the church. One of the most interesting places we visited was Carthage Jail. It was of special interest to me because of the following incidents of my life. The story is related as follows.
In 1923 I was called to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One day while tracking I walked upon the porch of a large white house and there sat an old man. Before I was able to introduce myself he said, “You’re a Mormon Elder”. I replied, “yes”. Then he asked me to sit down because he would like to tell me a story. This is his story:
“When I was a small boy my parents lived in Carthage, Illinois and as a small boy I remember standing in the crowd that had gathered at the jail when Joseph Smith and Hyrum Smith were killed. I saw the men drag the body of Joseph Smith and lean it up against the curb of the well and then a man in the mob drew a large knife from his belt and approached the body of Joseph. At that moment a streak of light or power come from out of the sky and struck this man and he became paralyzed. Then I remember seeing two men come and throw him into a wagon as if he were a sack of dirt and they hauled him away. It was common talk at our table and in our house that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet.”
The old gentleman commented that he was not a Mormon but that if he did join any church it would be the Mormon Church. He said that he had been away from the Mormons for many years but that he could always recognize a Mormon Elder.
This was a valuable testimony to me for it came almost first hand. There are not many people my age that have had a testimony from a non-member of the church. A testimony of one who stood and witnessed the killing of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
What made this so impressive to me was my visit to Carthage Jail in August of 1972. At the time I returned from my mission in 1926 I related this testimony to one of the wards where I was asked to speak. A man came up to me and said he had just visited Carthage Jail and there was no well there. I also heard from others and have seen pictures to the same effect. So I was thrilled to find upon my own visit to Carthage to see the well. Then to hear the L.D.S. missionary at the jail relate and explain in detail the story of what happened at the time of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. He related that Joseph did fall out of the window and was dragged to the curb of the well and of the power that struck the member of the mob. This story was told in almost the same words as was told to me 49 years ago in Texas by this good old man that did see the Prophet die and was at the scene when all this happened in 1844. There stood this man, at the time just a small boy, holding to the hard of his father in a crowd of people that had gathered at that time and he witnessed the death of Joseph Smith.