Joseph Smith Jr. Is Imprisoned In Liberty Jail

The Historic Liberty Jail is where Joseph Smith and five other Mormon leaders were held from December 1838 to April 1839.

They were helpless while knowing that the Latter-day Saints were being driven from Missouri under an "extermination order" from the governor. The Jail was a rough stone dungeon measuring 14 by 14 feet, with a ceiling just over 6 feet high. Only two small barred windows allowed light and air into the cell. They suffered from winter weather, filthy conditions, hunger, and sickness.

In 1838, a prominent local attorney, Alexander Doniphan, who was also a brigadier general in the state militia, along with General Samuel Lucas, led a large force of state troops to the Mormon community of Far West in Caldwell County. They had been ordered by the Governor to arrest the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders. After what General Doniphan considered an illegal court marshal, General Lucas relayed an order from the Governor to have General Doniphan execute Joseph Smith and other church leaders. Doniphan refused and threatened to prosecute General Lucas before “an earthly tribunal” if HE carried out the order. General Lucas reconsidered and Joseph Smith’s life was spared. Judge Austin A. King sent Joseph Smith and others to the Liberty Jail to await trial in the spring.