James Holt Reveals Martyrdom of Joseph Smith on 27 June 1844

James Holt was my 3rd Great-grandpa.  Here is an experience he had in 1844:holt-james-missionary-martyrdom-revealed

Published, LDS Church News “Historical Vignettes” Date, unknown.

An overflow crowd had gathered in the Lebanon, Tenn., courthouse to listen to two Mormon elders. It was early evening on June 27, 1844. Elder James Holt, preaching about Joseph Smith and the first principles of the gospel, suddenly stopped. The crowd was puzzled by his strange action.

Then, in an earnest and commanding voice, the young elder solemnly declared: “It has been made known to me that our Prophet Joseph Smith has been martyred, and you may take this as a testimony that what I have told you this night about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in true.”

The meeting was dismissed. Elder Holt and his companion, Elder Jackson Smith, pondered this strange revelation as they returned to the home of Elder Holt’s parents for the night.

Two months before, the young elders had left Nauvoo for missions in Tennessee, hoping they could convert Elder Holt’s parents, Jesse and Elizabeth, and other relatives in the Lebanon area.

What they wondered, would Joseph Smith’s death mean for the future of the Church? and what should they do now? Elder Smith decided he would stay there, and agreed to continue teaching Elder Holt’s family. But Elder Holt felt impressed to return to Nauvoo to find out what the Church leadership now might want him to do. He left the next day.

He took a steamer for Smithland at the mouth of the Cumberland River. When he arrived, there was not a boat going up the Mississippi river to Nauvoo, so he crossed the river on a ferry boat, thinking he would go to his former home, about twenty miles away, where he first heard the Gospel.

After he crossed the river and had gone a few hundred yards, he saw a house off to the left and a man sat reading. The house was a few yards from the gate and he asked the man for a drink of water for an excuse. The man told him that there was a cup and a bucket of water and to help himself. He never took his eyes off the paper he was reading.

After he drank a few swallows of water, James spoke to him saying, “You seem to be quite interested in what you are reading. Is it anything special?” He said he didn’t know. It was concerning the death of the Mormon Prophet. James asked him where the Mormon Prophet lived. The man said he lived in Nauvoo and had been taken to Carthage and killed.

James asked him if there was any truth to the report. “It must be true,” he said, “for the Governor’s signature is on it.” This confirmed his impression and inspiration he’d had, by the Spirit, the day before. He had not doubted, but it strengthened his testimony of Joseph Smith as a true Prophet of the most High God.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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