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The following was written by Jannalee Rosner for LDSLiving. To read the full article, click here.
We recently went to the Church History Museum and discovered some interesting artifacts, from Hyrum Smith’s sunglasses to Eliza R. Snow’s pocket watch. But there are two additional historic items that have a story all their own: the death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Read on to find out more about what a death mask is and how the Church came to have these special memorials on display.
1. Hyrum’s mask still shows his fatal injury.
Latter-day Saints are fairly familiar with the story of Joseph and Hyrum’s martyrdom and the fact that Hyrum was killed when a bullet entered the left side of his nose. Because the masks were made soon after their deaths, there is little post-mortem distortion. However, the bullet wound on Hyrum’s face is distinguishable as a small distortion on the mask.
2. The death masks were a key part of identifying the remains of Joseph and Hyrum in the 1900s.
The remains of Joseph and Hyrum Smith were moved several times after they were buried. After they were found in 1928, they were reburied next to Emma Smith’s grave. When there was controversy over the correct identification of the bodies in 1994, Curtis G. Weber used the death masks to more closely study and confirm which remains belonged to which beloved brother in Church history. You can read more about his investigation in his article, found onmormonhistoricsites.org.
To read the full article, click here.