For several years, the third president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ John Taylor’s pocket watch chain theories remained, finding answers as to what caused the damage to the historic item where it reportedly blocked a fifth potentially deadly— bullet from penetrating his chest.
Pocket Watch Chain Story Flashback
The pocket watch chain story continues to stir the interest of researchers in the Church History Department. The pocket watch chain story can be traced back to an attack in Carthage Jail in 1844 where two brothers named Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed by a mob. Reports said that Taylor was in the same room with the latter and was shot four times. Taylor was wearing a pocket watch in his vest where fragments of its glass were ground to powder afterward, sparing him from a fifth fatal shot. Currently, the pocket watch chain story has become a hot pot for experts attempting to find clues and evidence as to what really brought the damage to the controversial item.
Pocket Watch Chain Theory Number One
The dominant version of the pocket watch chain story was conducted in 1998. According to Church History Museum, the pocket watch was not hit by a bullet. Historians adopted this pocket watch chain story claiming that the damage was caused by a windowsill that Taylor fell onto after being shot.
Pocket Watch Chain Theory Number Two
In 2020 and onwards, the availability of forensic methods helped historians seek the answers to the pocket watch chain story. These methods include reviewing related research articles about the watch; X-rays taken of the watch’s components; field test results, in which watches of a similar age and manufacture were shot, dropped, and struck with rocks and wooden boards; and reports from various other scientific analyses, including electron microscopy. However, this attempt failed to acquire a definitive answer as to what caused the damage to the pocket watch.
Pocket Watch Chain Theory Number Three
The result from the latest investigation led by Brian Warburton, a Church History Department historian, in his presentation at the 2023 Mormon History Association Conference, revealed that a small projectile at a speed of 200 miles per hour, for instance, a bullet ricocheting or already passed through a solid object, thus reducing its velocity was what caused the damaged to the pocket watch. Simply put, the cause was indeed a bullet that was traveling at a slower pace that might have severely hurt Taylor if it was not stopped by the pocket watch.