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For Emma Smith, the months after Joseph’s arrest and imprisonment at Liberty Jail were especially difficult. In February of 1839, she packed her meager belongings and her four children and journeyed to Quincy, Illinois with the other Saints that were being forced to leave Missouri by Governor Boggs with the issue of the extermination order. She traveled nearly 200 miles in winter weather conditions, including crossing the frozen Missouri River.
Emma’s horrific flight from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois, only intensified her feelings of separation from her husband, Joseph. Her patient suffering, her unremitting anxiety, her fears for the future, and her irrepressible love for Joseph found voice in the long letter she wrote when she reached safety in Quincy. 1 “The walls, bars, and bolts, rolling rivers, running streams, rising hills, sinking valleys, and spreading prairies that separate us and the cruel injustice that first cast you into prison and still holds you there, with many other considerations, places my feelings far beyond description . . . No one but God knows the reflections of my mind and the feelings of my heart when I left our house and home and almost all of everything that we possessed excepting our little children and took my journey out of the state of Missouri, leaving you shut up in that lonesome prison. But the reflection is more than human nature ought to bear, and if God does not record our sufferings and avenge our wrongs on them that are guilty, I shall be sadly mistaken . . . I shall live and am yet willing to suffer more if it is the will of kind heaven that I should for your sake… I am ever yours affectionately. Emma Smith.
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