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While Freemasonry as a rule avoids religious discussion, the history of Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has definite masonic points of interest.
The death of the Smith brothers
Mervin B. Hogan has perhaps best compiled the facts surrounding the death of the Smith brothers in 1844. He notes that the resolution of the question of Joseph Smith’s last words rests solely on a single contemporary account, published July 24, 1844 and much embroidered later:
As the physically fit survivor of the murderous attack, Richards at once wrote the only contemporary account by a participant in the fighting within the jail. It is titled "Two Minutes In Jail."1
Recent research of Dr. Dean C. Jessee2 has determined that prior to August 7, 1856, John Taylor wrote his own lengthy and comprehensive report on The Martyrdom of Joseph Smith. Sir Richard F. Burton, another Mason, first published this account in 1861 as Appendix III of the English edition of his reputable volume, The City of the Saints.3 Apparently Burton was furnished a copy of the manuscript while he was in Utah Territory between August 25 and September 26, 1860.
Dr. Charles Hay was a member of Warsaw Lodge No. 21 at Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, and also surgeon of the Warsaw regiment of militia. His son, John Hay, had a distinguished career which included serving as Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He was an intimate and esteemed friend of the author of The Education of Henry Adams, which amply attests to his intellectual and scholarly abilities. As a young but mature scholar, John Hay published his classic "The Mormon Prophet’s Tragedy," Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 24, No. 146, December 1869, pp. 669-678.
Mervin B. Hogan speaks his mind clearly:
"A highly complex intensely emotional and unrelenting determination arose among a certain segment of the Illinois citizenry to rid the State of the two Mormon leaders. That Freemasonry was involved in the murders has never been questioned. That individual Masons were aggressive proponents, instigators, and executors of the scheme to incarcerate the two brothers by deceit and literally cage them in a defenseless and impotent position, then to proceed as a lawless mob to murder them in cold blood, seems equally well authenticated. It will be seen that the publications of the Illinois Grand Lodge amply implicate Illinois masonry of involvement in the unsavory deed."
Mervin B. Hogan later concludes:
"In all accounts of the foul deed, the names of Mark Aldrich, Thomas Coke Sharp, Jacob C. Davis, and Levi Williams are always tightly linked together as the principals in the Carthage lynching. The above records prove that Warsaw Lodge No. 21 was unquestionably involved in the entire undertaking."
1."Two Minutes In Jail" appeared first in the four page Nauvoo Neighbor, Vol. 2, No. 13, Wednesday, July 24, 1844, p. 3. It was immediately reprinted in the Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, No. 14, Thursday, August 1, 1844, pp.598-599. It is reproduced for convenient reference in the Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 619-621. It served as the basis for the religious presentation of the martyrdom by the Mormon Church in its scripture The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 135, pp. 252-253.
2."Return to Carthage: Writing the History of Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom;" Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 8, 1981.
3.The City of the Saints and Across the Rocky Mountains to California; Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, London, 707 pp.; Appendix III, pp. 625-667. The American edition,—same title—Harper & Brothers, New York, 1862, 574 pp.; Appendix III, pp. 517-547. Reprint edition—same title—edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by Fawn M. Brodie; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1963, 678 pp.; Appendix III, pp. 586-634. With a few slight deletions, this primary source account was published in 1881 as a portion of the "Introductory" to Daniel Tyler's A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War 1846-1847, pp. 10-64. It is now readily available in full under the original title in the Documentary History of the Church, Volume 7, pp. 53-126.

Excerpted from "Freemasonry and the Lynching at Carthage Jail By Mervin B. Hogan. College of Engineering, University of Utah. Salt Lake City, UT 84112. September 1, 1981. mastermason.com/masonicmoroni/Documents/fmlyncarth.htm See: Mervin B. Hogan Papers (Ms 241) University of Utah Marriott Library, Manuscripts Division : "The Mervin B. Hogan Papers (1725-1996) contains professional and personal correspondence; bulletins and organizational material for the Utah Committee on Masonic Education and Instruction; the missionary journal of John Hardie (1967-1968); Hogan’s class notes (1925-1938) from his college education; professional reports and papers (1959-1970) presented at a conference on Masonry; bulletins of the Masonic Service Association of the United States; and articles, speeches, and publications written by Hogan on Mormonism and Masonry. After Hogan (born 1906) received his undergraduate degree in engineering at the University of Utah in 1927, he worked as a design engineer at the Westinghouse Electronic Corporation in Pittsburgh. Then, after obtaining his masters' degree in mechanical engineering in 1929, he moved back to Utah and progressed through the teaching ranks at the University of Utah. He was the Mechanical Engineering department chairman from 1951 to 1956. Through his writings, Hogan became an accepted authority on the relation of Mormonism to Masonry. A subject on which he gave many speeches, wrote two books, several articles, and research papers. An indexed register is available."
Mervin B. Hogan (1906/07/21 - 1998/04/08) received the Philalethes Society Literature Award for 1976, the same year he was elected to the Society of Blue Friars. He later became a Fellow of the Philalethes Society in 1983.


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