Get Locked Up at Liberty Jail
Located in nearby Liberty, Missouri at 216 N Main St., the Liberty Jail is where Latter-day Saints founder Joseph Smith was imprisoned for four months in 1838 – 1839. According to Mormon followers, during his imprisonment Smith received revelations which became sections 121, 122, and 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Today, the former jail encompasses the Clay County Courthouse and is owned by the church. There’s a visitor’s center with a reconstruction of the original jail site with plenty of photo opportunities.
Originally, Liberty Jail was a small masonry and timber structure with double walls. It was just 22.5 feet long and 22 feet wide. The building was split into two levels and the exterior walls were two feet thick. The sole openings were two windows covered with iron bars. Smith and his fellow inmates were held here during the coldest of Missouri months when food was scarce. Oftentimes, the food was toxic and no bedding was available.
A Piece of History
During the era of Smith’s imprisonment, some visitors were allowed. A number of well-known Mormon figures visited including Brigham Young. Smith’s wife, Mary, is also recorded in the visitor’s book.
The jail was torn down in the 1930s and a house was built on top of the land by 1939. By 1963, the church purchased the property and established the reconstructed jail and museum. Admission is free and the museum is open daily from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.