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Beacon of Hope

On this Day in Church History the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. was born (December 23, 1805)

Today marks the 217th birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. My family and I visited the historic Carthage Jail and took our kids on the tour for the first time. I enjoyed watching their inquisitive faces as they explored the rooms and listened to the captivating stories.

This year has been a whirlwind of change: new country, new home, new school, new ward, new neighbors. Before we moved from Germany to Nauvoo I started this blog as a way to document our experience, but also as a way to stay grounded.

Writing about church and family history has blessed my life. Amid the storms of change, uncertainty, fear, and even doubt, the testimonies of my ancestor’s have been a beacon. It’s like they’ve been calling to me—their voices pointing me in the right direction.

One such example came in my discovery of my ancestor Eliza Clayton Margetts (read more about Eliza here). She only wrote six paragraphs in her “Reminiscence,” but those six paragraphs are packed with power. I was especially touched by her recollection of the martyrdom of the Prophet and his brother.

Her family lived in Carthage, and she writes of a “terrific storm” that arose that fateful day. They could hear the guns firing at the jail from their home. She explains that her sister Lucy was living with the jailer’s family at that time. The next day Eliza went with Lucy to the jail. Eliza describes the scene:

“We found the doors and windows open and everything in confusion as tho the people had left in great haste. We went upstairs to the room in which the Prophet and his brother had been shot. Everything seemed upset. There were some Church books on the table and portratis of Joseph and Hyrum’s families on the mantle piece. Blood in pools on the floor and bespattered on the walls, at the sight of which we were overcome with grief and burst into tears. After becoming somewhat collected we gathered up what we supposed belonged to the inmates of the room at the time of the murder, and placed them together on a trunk that was in the room.”

The mantle piece that my ancestor Eliza wrote about.

The detail about the portraits of Joseph and Hyrum’s families on the mantle piece really struck me. These were good men who loved their families. But today isn’t a tragic remembrance of their death, but rather a celebration of their lives. They didn’t live long—Joseph was 38 and Hyrum 44—but they accomplished much in their lifetime. They loved the Saints, their families, and their God until their very last breath.

Joseph Smith said, “When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.” (History of the Church, 6:308).

I know that we have a Father in Heaven. He loves us and he sent us our Savior Jesus Christ.

I pray that this Christmas we can feel this love and share it.

Merry Christmas,


How will you come unto Him this Christmas?

My family visiting Carthage Jail on the anniversary of the Prophet’s birthday.

2 thoughts on “Beacon of Hope”

  1. Fabulous account and great pictures of your family building and strengthening testimonies in the hearts of your children.

  2. Love this Justi. Your picture with Joseph and Hyrum bring back sweet memories of your family and grandma and grandpa with us taking that same picture.

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