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October 25-26, 2013 — Morris Thurston

Morris ThurstonMiller Eccles Study Group Texas is excited to announce that Morris Thurston, chair of the Board of Directors of Dialogue Foundation, and host of the Orange County (CA) Miller Eccles Study Group, will be speaking to MESG TX on October 25 and 26.

Friday, October 25, 7pm.
McKinney Location:
2806 Pinnacle Drive, McKinney, Texas 75071

Saturday, October 26, 7pm.
Arlington Location:
3804 Indian Springs Trail, Arlington, Texas 76016


“Kidnapping” at Palestine Grove: Missouri’s Final Attempt to Extradite Joseph Smith.

June 23, 1843. Joseph and Emma Smith and their children are visiting with Emma’s sister and family in Palestine Grove, Illinois, about 170 miles northeast of Nauvoo. They are just sitting down to dinner when a knock is heard on the front door. The visitors pretend to be Mormon missionaries, but in fact, they are lawmen – Joseph Reynolds, a sheriff from Jackson County, Missouri, and Harmon Wilson, a constable from Hancock County, Illinois. They had carefully tracked Joseph down while he was away from his Nauvoo home and friends and plan to take him as a prisoner to Missouri to stand trial on a charge of treason, a capital offense.

The appearance of Reynolds and Wilson sets in motion a fascinating string of events – an attempted escape, unusual legal maneuverings, a “rescue” by the Nauvoo Legion, and a habeas corpus trial. It is an exciting story, front-page news at the time and worthy of cinematic treatment, but one that has largely been forgotten by the world at large and even most members of the Church.

As Morris Thurston tells the story, he visualizes how it might be portrayed as a Hollywood movie and offers ideas for the actors he would cast in the leading roles. You won’t want to miss this entertaining presentation.


Morris A. Thurston is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Harvard Law School. He spent his legal career as a litigation partner in Orange County office of Latham & Watkins, retiring in 2006. He has an abiding interest in life story writing and has published two family histories. He and his wife, Dawn, jointly authored the book, “Breathe Life into Your Life Story”, which has become a Signature Books bestseller.

Morris has served as a legal consultant to the Joseph Smith Papers and was an assistant adjunct professor at BYU Law School. He is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of Dialogue Foundation, publishers of Dialogue Journal, and is host of the Dialogue podcasts. He and Dawn also host the Orange County Miller Eccles Study Group in their home.

His paper in BYU Studies titled “The Boggs Shooting and Attempted Extradition: Joseph Smith’s Most Famous Case,” which concerned an earlier attempt to extradite Joseph, received a Talmage Jones award of excellence from the Mormon History Association.  Dawn and Morris have four children and five grandchildren and live in Villa Park, California.