Separating facts from fiction about Joseph Smith's death

The size of the bullet hole in John Taylor's pocket watch that was with him in Carthage Jail was the last detail Joseph Lynn Lyon needed in his research about the 1816 muskets that were likely used by the mob.

The pocket watch had been damaged during the shootings that resulted in the deaths of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum and the hands had stopped at 5:16.

The answer he received: "There isn't a hole in John Taylor's watch."

That started a new search to separate the facts from the myths surrounding the events of that day in Carthage, Ill., on June 27, 1834, Lyon said during a BYU Campus Education Week presentation on Aug. 16.

"Some well meaning people want to enhance such an event by adding the miraculous," Lyon said. "While others want to attack it to destroy faith."

Fortunately, there is still evidence from the shootings, including the jail with the original doors and the room still intact, the death masks of Joseph and Hyrum, and photographs of their skulls, Hyrum's clothes and watch, John Taylor's watch and statements from those who survived or treated the men.

John Taylor's watch

To see how a watch would withstand being shot, Lyon, a University of Utah professor, began buying old watches for a Mythbuster-style test.

Read the rest of this story at deseret.com
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