History of the Church, Vol. 1

Chapter 5. [Apr. 1829 - June 1829]

Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood--First Baptisms.

[For an explanation of the abbreviations see volume 1, chapter 1]
[Copyright © 1997 BOAP all rights reserved]


WE still continued the work of translation, when in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates.(1) While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying:

Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. (2)

He said this Aaronic Priesthood(2) had not the power of laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but that this should be conferred on us hereafter; and he commanded us to go and be baptized, and gave us directions that I should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and afterwards that he should baptize me. Accordingly we went and were baptized. I baptized him first, and afterwards he baptized me, after which I laid my hands upon his head and ordained him to the Aaronic Priesthood, and afterwards he laid his hands on me and ordained me to the same Priesthood--for so we were commanded.


The messenger who visited us on this occasion, and conferred this Priesthood upon us, said that his name was John, the same that is called John the Baptist in the New Testament, and that he acted under the direction of Peter,(3) James and John who held the keys of the Priesthood of Melchizedek, which Priesthood he said would in due time be conferred on us,(4) and that I should be called the first Elder of the Church, and he (Oliver Cowdery) the second.(5) It was on the 15th day of May, 1829, that we were ordained under the hand of this messenger and baptized.


Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father. No sooner had I baptized Oliver Cowdery, than the Holy Ghost fell upon him, and he stood up and prophesied many things which should shortly come to pass. And again, so soon as I had been baptized by him, I also had the spirit of prophecy, when standing up, I prophesied concerning the rise of this church, and many other things connected with the Church, and this generation of the children of men. We were filled with the Holy Ghost, and rejoiced in the God of our salvation.(6)


Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the Scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of. In the meantime we were forced to keep secret the circumstances of having received the Priesthood and our having been baptized, owing to a spirit of persecution which had already manifested itself in the neighborhood. We had been threatened with being mobbed from time to time, and this, too, by professors of religion. And their intentions of mobbing us were only counteracted by the influence of my wife's father's family (under Divine providence), who had become very friendly to me, and who were opposed to mobs, and were willing that I should be allowed to continue the work of translation without interruption; and therefore offered and promised us protection from all unlawful proceedings as far as in them lay.


After a few days, however, feeling it to be our duty, we commenced to reason out of the Scriptures with our acquaintances and friends, as we happened to meet with them. About this time my brother Samuel H. Smith(7) came to visit us. We informed him of what the Lord was about to do for the children of men, and began to reason with him out of the Bible. We also showed him that part of the work which we had translated, and labored to persuade him concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which was now about to be revealed in its fulness. He was not, however, very easily persuaded of these things, but after much inquiry and explanation he retired to the woods, in order that by secret and fervent prayer he might obtain of a merciful God, wisdom to enable him to judge for himself. The result was that he obtained revelation for himself sufficient to convince him of the truth of our assertions to him; and on the twenty-fifth day of that same month in which we had been baptized and ordained, Oliver Cowdery baptized him; and he returned to his father's house, greatly glorifying and praising God, being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Not many days afterwards, my brother Hyrum


Smith(8) came to us to inquire concerning these things, when at his earnest request, I inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim, and received for him the following:

Revelation, given to Hyrum Smith, Harmony, Susquenhanna County, Pennsylvania, May, 1829.[D&C 11](9)[After May 25, 1829]

1. A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2. Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word.

3. Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

4. Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.

5. Therefore, if you will ask me, you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.

6. Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.

7. Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.

8. Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be done unto you; and, if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.

9. Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed.

10. Behold, thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee;

11. For, behold, it is I that speak; behold. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.

12. And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously, and this is my Spirit.

13. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14. And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

15. Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called.

16. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my Church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.

17. And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you.

18. Keep my commandments; hold your peace; appeal unto my Spirit;

19. Yea, cleave unto me with all your heart, that you may assist in bringing to light those things of which have been spoken--yea, the translation of my work; be patient until you shall accomplish it.

20. Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.

21. Seek not to declare my word but first seek to obtain my word and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.

22. But now hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of man in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.

23. Behold thou art Hyrum, my son; seek the kingdom of God and all things shall be added according to that which is just.

24. Build upon my rock, which is my gospel;

25. Deny not the spirit of revelation nor the spirit of prophecy, for woe unto him that denieth these things;

26. Therefore, treasure up in your heart until the time which is in my wisdom that you shall go forth.

27. Behold I speak unto all who have good desires, and have thrust in their sickle to reap.

28. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the life and the light of the world.

29. I am the same who came unto mine own and mine own received me not;

30. But verily, verily, I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. Amen.


About the same time an old gentleman came to visit us of whose name I wish to make honorable mention--Mr. Joseph Knight, Sen.,(10) of Colesville, Broome county, New York, who, having heard of the manner in which we were occupying our time, very kindly and considerately brought us a quantity of provisions, in order that we might not be interrupted in the work of translation by the want of such necessaries of life; and I would just mention here, as in duty bound, that he several times brought us supplies, a distance of at least thirty miles, which enabled us to continue the work when otherwise we must have relinquished it for a season.


Being very anxious to know his duty as to this work, I inquired of the Lord for him, and obtained the following:

Revelation, given to Joseph Knight, Sen., at Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, May, 1829. [D&C 12](11)

1. A great and marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2. Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore, give heed unto my word.

3. Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore, whoso desireth to reap let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

4. Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.

5. Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.

6. Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion.

7. Behold I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and establish this work

8. And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.

9. Behold, I am the light and the life of the world, that speak these words, therefore give heed with your might, and then you are called. Amen.

Shortly after commencing to translate, I became acquainted with Mr. Peter Whitmer,(12) of Fayette, Seneca county, New York, and also with some of his family. In the beginning of the month of June, his son, David Whitmer,(13) came to the place where we were residing, and brought with him a two-horse wagon, for the purpose of having us accompany him to his father's place, and there remain until we should finish the work. It was arranged that we should have our board free of charge, and the assistance of one of his brothers to write for me, and also his own assistance when convenient. Having much need of such timely aid in an undertaking so arduous, and being informed that the people in the neighborhood of the Whitmers were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to inquire into these things, we accepted the invitation, and accompanied Mr. Whitmer to his father's house,(14) and there resided until the translation was finished and the copyright secured. Upon our arrival, we found Mr. Whitmer's family very anxious concerning the work, and very friendly toward ourselves. They continued so, boarded and lodged us according to arrangements(15); and John Whitmer,(16) in particular, assisted us very much in writing during the remainder of the work.


In the meantime, David, John and Peter Whitmer, Jun.,(17) became our zealous friends and assistants in the work; and being anxious to know their respective duties, and having desired with much earnestness that I inquire of the Lord concerning them, I did so, through the means of the Urim and Thummim, and obtained for them in succession the following revelations:

Revelation, given to David Whitmer, at Fayette, Seneca County, New York, June, 1829. [D&C 14](18)

1. A great and marvelous work is about to come forth unto the children of men.

2. Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my word.

3. Behold, the field is white already to harvest; therefore whoso desireth to reap, let him thrust in his sickle with his might, and reap while the day lasts, that he may treasure up for his soul everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God.

4. Yea, whosoever will thrust in his sickle and reap, the same is called of God.

5. Therefore, if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you.

6. Seek to bring forth and establish my Zion. Keep my commandments in all things.

7. And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

8. And it shall come to pass, that if you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance, that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see, and also that you may declare repentance unto this generation.

9. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness;

10. Wherefore, I must bring forth the fulness of my gospel from the Gentiles unto the house of Israel.

11. And behold, thou art David, and thou art called to assist; which thing if ye do, and are faithful, ye shall be blessed both spiritually and temporally, and great shall be your reward. Amen.


Revelation given to John Whitmer, June, 1829. [D&C 15] (19)

1. Hearken, my servant John, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer,

2. For behold, I speak unto you with sharpness and with power, for mine arm is over all the earth.

3. And I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone--

4. For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.

5. Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given you according to my commandments.

6. And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.


Revelation to Peter Whitmer, Jun., June, 1829. [D&C 16] (20)

1. Harken, my servant Peter, and listen to the words of Jesus Christ, your Lord and your Redeemer,

2. For behold, I speak unto you with sharpness and with power, for mine arm is over all the earth,

3. And I will tell you that which no man knoweth save me and thee alone--

4. For many times you have desired of me to know that which would be of the most worth unto you.

5. Behold, blessed are you for this thing, and for speaking my words which I have given unto(21) you according to my commandments.

6. And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen.

We found the people of Seneca county in general friendly, and disposed to enquire into truth of these strange matters which now began to be noised abroad. Many opened their houses to us, in order that we might have an opportunity of meeting with our friends for the purpose of instruction and explanation.(22) We met with many from time to time who were willing to hear us, and who desired to find out the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and apparently willing to obey the Gospel, when once fairly convinced and satisfied in their own minds; and in this same month of June, my brother Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer, Jun., were baptized in Seneca lake, the two former by myself, the latter by Oliver Cowdery. From this time forth many became believers, and some were baptized(23) whilst we continued to instruct and persuade as many as applied for information.

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Notes Chapter 5

1. Oliver Cowdery indicates that the translation of Third Nephi (probably chapter 11 in the current edition) motivated the two men to pray regarding baptism. Cowdery wrote:

No men in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites, from the mouth of the Savior, of the precise manner in which men should build up his church, and especially, when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men, without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being buried in the liquid grave, to answer a "good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

After writing the account given of the Savior's ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easily to be seen, as the prophet said would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further, it was as easily to be seen, that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the gospel. For, the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations? when his testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy? and his religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations in all ages of the world, when he has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger, if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given, "Arise and be baptized."[Oliver Cowdery, MA (Oct 1834), 15]

2. Appears as D&C 13 in current LDS editions.

2a. The use of the word "priesthood" in this context [1829] had a somewhat different meaning that the current usage. At this point (at least according to the earliest records available) the words Aaronic Priesthood would have referred to the priesthood office of Aaron. It was some years later (close to 1835 apparently) before "Aaronic Priesthood" would be understood to mean a kind of authority "pool" from which various offices would be drawn.

Early revelations using the terms priesthood or high priesthood refer respectively to priest in the Aaronic Priesthood and high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood as the terms came to be used (see Joseph Smith sermon of October 5, 1840, found in volume 4 this history). See note 37 chapter 17 this volume, note 5 this chapter and note 4 chapter 15 for further explanation.

3. Joseph Smith later identifies Peter as head of the ancient Church. (E.g., Kirtland Council Minute Book, Feb. 17, 1834, LDS Archives.)

4. RESTORATION OF THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD.--The promise to confer upon Joseph and Oliver the Melchizedek Priesthood was fulfilled; but as there is no definite account of the event in the history of the Prophet Joseph, or, for matter of that, in any of our annals, the evidences of the fact of their ordination to the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood promised them by John the Baptist, are presented now, together with a consideration of the place where, and the time when the great event occurred.

The Prophet Joseph, in a communication to the Church, under date of September 6, 1842, makes undoubted allusion to the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the course of an ecstatic review of the great things God had revealed to him. He said: "And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah. Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets--the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book. The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light. The voice of Peter, James and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times." (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. cxxviii: 20.)

In one of the early revelations given to the Prophet Joseph, the Lord makes most direct reference to the restoration of the higher Priesthood through the ministration of Peter, James and John. The subject matter of the revelation is the Sacrament of the Lord's supper; and in the course of it the Lord promises to "drink of the fruit of the vine" with His servants on earth to whom the revelation is addressed; "and with Moroni, * * * and also Michael, or Adam, the father of all, * * * and also with Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be Apostles, and special witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry, and of the same things which I revealed unto them; unto whom I have committed the keys of my kingdom, and a dispensation of the gospel for the last times; and for the fulness of times." (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. xxvii). This revelation was given some time early in August, 1830, but only the first four verses were written at that time. The rest of it was written in September of that year. (See chapter xi of this volume). These two allusions--the one by the Prophet and the other by the Lord--to the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood not only make clear the fact that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored in accordance with the promise of John the Baptist when conferring the Aaronic Priesthood, but they make it possible to fix upon the place where, and approximately the time when, the event occurred. Undoubtedly the place where the ordination was performed was on the banks of the Susquehanna river, in the wilderness between Colesville, in Broome county, New York, and Harmony, in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania; for it is there the Prophet says the voice of Peter, James and John was heard declaring themselves as "possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times;" for which appearing and declaration there could be no other occasion than the ordination of Oliver and Joseph to the Melchizedek Priesthood in fulfilment of the promises made by John the Baptist. The time at which the ordination took place was evidently between the 15th of May, 1829, and August, 1830. The last named date is the one under which the Lord so definitely referred to the circumstance of having sent Peter, James and John to ordain Joseph and others to be Apostles, even special witnesses of His name, and unto whom He had committed the keys of the kingdom. Hence the time of the ordination must have been between those two dates.

From information contained in other revelations, however, this period within which the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored may be considerably reduced. In April, 1830, a revelation was given concerning the organization and government of the Church, and in that revelation the Lord said: "Which commandments [i.e. to organize the Church] were given to Joseph Smith, Jr., who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ to be the first Elder of this Church; and to Oliver Cowdery, who was also called of God, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the second Elder of this Church, and ordained under his hand." (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. xx: 2, 3.) This allusion to the ordination of these men to the apostleship reduces the time of their ordination to the period between the 15th of May, 1829, and April 6, 1830.

But the time within which the ordination took place may be still further reduced. In a revelation bearing the date of June, 1829, making known the calling of the Twelve Apostles in these last days, and addressed to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, the Lord said: "I speak unto you, even as unto Paul mine Apostle, for you are called even with that same calling with which he was called." As this could scarcely be said of men who had not been ordained to the same holy apostleship as that held by Paul, and consequently to the Melchizedek Priesthood, the conclusion is reasonable that the ordination promised by John the Baptist, doubtless occurred some time between May 15, 1829, and the expiration of the month of June of that same year.

That there was a distinct administration of angels in the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood is sustained by the testimony of Oliver Cowdery. On the occasion of his returning to the Church at Kanesville, Iowa, in the fall of 1848, after an absence of eleven years from the body of the Saints, in the course of the public address which he then delivered, he said: "I was present with Joseph when an holy angel from God came down from heaven and conferred on us, or restored, the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood, and said to us, at the same time, that it should remain upon the earth while the earth stands. I was also present with Joseph when the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angel from on high. This Priesthood, we then conferred on each other by the will and commandment of God." The authority for the foregoing statement is the report of Bishop Reuben Miller, who was present on the occasion of Oliver Cowdery's delivering the address from which the above is quoted. Bishop Miller's notes of Cowdery's remarks were published in the Deseret News of the 13th of April, 1859. It is to be observed that Oliver Cowdery, in this quotation, is represented as saying with reference to the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, that it was by the "holy angel," whereas, according to the statement of the Prophet, that Priesthood was restored by three angels--Peter, James and John. The discrepancy may arise from imperfect recording of Oliver's language. In a signed statement which Oliver Cowdery gave to Samuel W. Richards, under date of January 13, 1849--the statement has been published a number of times in our Church periodicals--being about two months and a half after delivering the address reported by Bishop Miller, he said: "John the Baptist, holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James and John, holding the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, have also ministered for those who shall be heirs of salvation, and with these administrations ordained men to the same Priesthood. These Priesthoods, with their authority, are now, and must continue to be in the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. * * * Accept assurances, dear brother, of the unfeigned prayer of him who, in connection with Joseph, the Seer, was blessed with the above administrations." [Signed] OLIVER COWDERY. (BHR)

5. There is some difficulty in establishing the date on which Peter, James and John came to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. While B. H. Roberts argues in his footnote above that this happened in June 1829, no date was given by Smith or Cowdery, only a location (the same general one where the Baptist appeared). In a review of his experiences, Joseph Smith makes the following statement:

19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the dews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!

20 And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets--the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!

21 And again, the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county, and at sundry times, and in divers places through all the travels and tribulations of this Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! And the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time, all declaring their dispensation, their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood; giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope![D&C 128:19-21]

Note that Joseph is particular to say (and it seems transparent that the text here is dictated by Smith himself) Peter, James and John came (vs 20) before "the voice of God in the chamber of old Father Whitmer, in Fayette, Seneca county," announcing the time to organize the Church (this history, vol.1 chapter 7, p.62). Further, from Joseph's account, the Baptist told the two men that the authority to lay on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost was not possessed by an Aaronic Priest (see text at p. 39.) On the other hand, several individuals were so confirmed at the Church organization. [HC 1:74-76; Richard L. Anderson, "Oliver Cowdery's direct contributions to the restoration scriptures," FARMS, June 1997 symposium] Brigham Young made several statements which appear to be contradictory regarding the time the ancient apostles appeared. For example in JD 10:303-304, (June 4, 1864) he appears to say that the Melchizedek Priesthood was restored after April 6, 1830, while earlier, he declared that Smith had no right to organize a Church without the Melchizedek Priesthood [JD 1:137] and appears to repeat this twenty years later. [JD 18:240] But at the apostle's meetings in late 1847, President Young makes an emphatic statement that Joseph and Oliver were ordained apostles by Peter, James and John prior to April 1830 [Council Minutes, 30 November 1847]. However this may be, the two witnesses to the incident seem to be consistent in indicating that it happened prior to the Church organization. [Anderson, ibid.] Besides the principals, it seemed fairly widely believed by their close associates that the Peter, James and John came before April 6, 1830. [See for example a letter from Hiram Page to William McLellin March 4, 1848, second part, RLDS Archives, Independence, Mo.] And in addition, a number of statements and revelations (prior to 1830) refer to Joseph and Oliver and David Whitmer as "Apostles." Whether this was simply a designation of "messenger" or a more formal acknowledgment is not clear. Some of the early Church elders ordination certificates called them "apostles" perhaps in an informal sense, but possibly with reference to Book of Mormon statements about elders. [D&C 18:9; Cowdery, "A true copy of the articles of the Church of Christ (ms. 1829) publ. In Unpublished Revelations 2nd ed., comp. Fred C. Collier 1979, p. 54f. ] But some early Church members said that ordinations were involved in at least some cases [e.g., JD 6:320; CR April 8, 1898, p. 57; JD 16:294-295; see note 8a chapter 7, this volume].

Although no definite date for the Peter, James and John visit was given by the two principals, Addison Everett [Oliver Boardman Huntington Journal no.14 and letter Adison Everett to Joseph F. Smith, January 16, 1882, JFS collection, LDS Church Archives, publ. in Gunn, Stanley R. Oliver Cowdery, Second Elder and Scribe, (Salt Lake City, 1962)] claimed to have overheard Joseph Smith speaking about the circumstances. Some of the information given by Everett is contradictory. One interpretation of Everett's story suggests that Smith and Cowdery could have received the ordination while on the way back from visiting their benefactor, Joseph Knight, Sr. in May 1829. They did indeed visit Knight about this time according to Knight's own testimony, and were in fact chased by a mob during the night, which echoes Everett's account. [Jessee, "Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History," BYUS 17 (1976), 29ff; HC 5:218-219.]

But Everett's letter and other data may also be interpreted within a summer 1830 time frame. [Bushman, Beginnings, 162-163.]

At least part of the problem here concerns the dating of the text of D&C 20 (which Roberts quotes in the preceding note as proof that Smith and Cowdery were "apostles"). While it traditionally bears the date of April 6, 1830, the form of the text was surely not constant (for example, there was no office of "deacon" in the text until at least one year later). When it was actually written seems to be a matter of debate. The first time the "articles and covenants" (the early title of D&C 20 & 22) became "canonical" was the conference of June 9 (see notes at D&C 20 in chapter 7, this volume). Some historians link the Everett account with the experience mentioned in this volume at p. 97. Nevertheless, evidence also suggests that the visit of Peter, James and John took place in 1829 and certainly before the organization of the Church in April 1830, in particular this is so for the best testimony, the non-hearsay testimony of the two men involved. The performance of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost seems to be a requirement that additional authority be given and the symmetry with the Baptist experience would suggest that further angelic administration was required. It seems unlikely that Smith got mixed up about this matter and the Book of Mormon account of Jesus and the new world apostles (3Ne 18:37, Moro. 2) also suggests the necessity of another ordination. It is doubtful that Cowdery would be unfamiliar with this example and he probably considered it authoritative - the Book of Mormon account of additional laying on of hands for authority to confer the Holy Ghost came very near the point in the text which generated Smith's and Cowdery's questions about baptism and may have been included in their inquiry, suggested by the statement of the Baptist as related by Joseph Smith. Smith also seems clear that the First Elder, Second Elder titles of Smith and Cowdery respectively were known in 1829 and that another angelic visit was necessary before these titles could be used. Finally, Smith claims that Melchizedek Priesthood was a known title to he and Cowdery in 1829 although it is possible that this is retrojective terminology. Even so, the concept of another higher authority was certainly conveyed by the Baptist. Finally it seems simpler and more efficient to have the Peter, James and John visit before April 1830. What purpose would be served by a delay? The April organization events are only consistent with an 1829 restoration given Smith's recital of the Baptist's instructions, assuming there is no conflation of events. In his 1832 history, Smith is clear that multiple angels came to him to lay on their hands to give him authority but whether this was prior to the Church organization or not is unclear. Moreover, Joseph gives the events of this chapter from memory, and the dates he gives are by no means perfectly accurate. A few days here or there could make the difference in fitting the Everett account into the May-June time frame of events. It is also not impossible that in the crush of Nauvoo events and business, Joseph simply forgot to dictate an account of the Peter, James and John visit. Given the Everett letters, Joseph does not seem reluctant to make claims about the experience. It seems that people just never asked him. Smith and Cowdery were both party to the printing of D&C 27 suggesting that neither intended that it should be a secret.

It is unfortunate that neither Smith nor Cowdery ever made the date clear, but they were very careful to testify on several occasions that the three ancients did visit and ordain them, and even though Cowdery became disaffected with Smith, he held to the same testimony through his life. Oliver's 1829 declaration that "I am an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (see note 8 chapter 7 this volume) seems difficult to dismiss as a claim based only on a simile in one of the revelations.

One eyewitness to Joseph Smith relating the story of Peter, James and John wrote:

Yesterday I was handed a copy of the Saints' Advocate, bearing date Lamoni, Iowa, September, 1884, the first article in which was headed, "The Ordinations of Joseph the Martyr." Four and a half pages are occupied under this heading. It starts out by saying:

"Among the many errors which have crept in among those who have fallen away from the faith, since the rejection and disorganization of Church, which was organized in 1830, one is, that the Aaronic Priesthood is done away."

This is news to me. Although nearly 52 years have elapsed since I embraced the latter-day work, I have never heard a Latter-day Saint utter such a word.

The articel goes on to show how Joseph and Oliver were ordained under the hands of John the Baptist to the Aaronic priesthood, but denies that they ever received the Melchisedec Priesthood by any other agency than their own hands, "by the commandment of God; although many, of the various factions pretend that it was conferred, by Peter, James and John. But the history of Joseph proves that to be false."

Now I do not pretned to be posted in Joseph's written history; but what I saw and heard him say in the early history of the Latter-day Saints, is an indelibel history to me, whether he ever wrote it or not. In early times in the Church, and in a public congregation, I heard him say that Peter James and John, came and laid their hands on his hear-at the saem time, to give his sayings additional force, he clasped his own hands on his head,- and ordained him to the High Priesthood, and gave him the keys of the kingdom.

Most likely some others remain yet who heard him make the statement but possibly not.

If the foregoing is of any use, it is freely given by N. B. Baldwin.
[Deseret News Feb. 25, 1885, p. 15. This was Nathan Bennett Baldwin, baptized 28 April 1833. A member of Zion's Camp (he was 24 at the time). Born 27 January 1812, Augusta, Granville, Upper Canada, died Fillmore Utah 1 November 1891.]

[For an extensive collection of documents relevant to the issue see Brian Cannon, BYUS 35 no.4]

6. It may be well at this point to call attention to the singular and important fact that the Prophet, neither in his narrative of the above really great and dramatic event, nor in any of those great visions and revelations which precede or follow it, stops to comment or grow eloquent over the importance of an administration or the grandeur of an occasion. He may never have heard the maxim, "A true tale speeds best being plainly told," but had he heard of it and adopted it as his motto, he could not have followed it more closely than unconsciously he has done in his narrative. He seems to have but one object in view, and that is to get on record the plain truth pertaining to the coming forth of the work of God. Oliver Cowdery, however, who shared in this ministration of the angel, John the Baptist, has left upon record a description of the scene and the impressions it left upon his mind, and which, withal is of such singular beauty and power that I think the history of the event should not go to the world without it. After speaking of his own and the Prophet's desire to hear the commandment given, "Arise and be baptized," he says:

"This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us His will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. "What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted--while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld--our ears heard. As in the `blaze of day;' yes, more--above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, `I am thy fellow-servant,' dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! 'Twas the voice of an angel from glory--'twas a message from the Most High, and as we heard we rejoiced, while His love enkindled upon our souls, and we were rapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere; uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever. But, dear brother, think further, think for a moment what joy filled our hearts and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hands the Holy Priesthood, as he said, `Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which remain upon earth, that the sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!'

"I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as it was delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow man; deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave, but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind! The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel; the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me, past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior's goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry, and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease."--(Messenger and Advocate, 1834.)(BHR)

7. Samuel H. Smith was born in Tunbridge, Vt., March 13, 1808. He was the fourth son of Joseph and Lucy Smith. (BHR)

Samuel Harrison Smith, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, son of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack, born March 13, 1808, in Tunbridge, Orange county, Vermont. In his early life he assisted his father in farming. He joined the Presbyterian church, to which he belonged until he visited his Joseph in Pennsylvania in May, 1829, when Joseph informed him that the Lord was about to commence His latter-day work. He was present at the organization of the Church, April 6, 1830, and was one of the six original members. He was ordained an Elder on that day. On the 30th of June following he took some copies of the Book of Mormon and started out on his mission, to which he had been set apart by his brother Joseph and on traveling twenty-five miles, which was his first day's journey, he stopped at a number of places in order to sell his books, but was turned out of doors as soon as he declared his principles. When evening came on, he was faint and almost discouraged, but coming to an inn, which was surrounded with every appearance of plenty, he called to see if the landlord would buy one of his books. On going in, Samuel inquired of him, if he did not wish to purchase a history of the origin of the Indians. "I do not know," replied the host, "how did you get hold of it?" "It was translated," rejoined Samuel, "by my brother from some gold plates that he found buried in the earth." "You d--d liar," cried the landlord. "get out of my house--you shan't stay one minute with your books." In December, 1830, Samuel was sent to preach in Kirtland, Ohio, and the surrounding country. In the beginning of 1831, Joseph, the Prophet, went to Kirtland to preside, accompanied by Hyrum and many of the Saints, and soon after Joseph Smith senior's family, and the Saints who were located in Fayette, near Waterloo, also moved to Kirtland. Ordained a high priest by Lyman Wight in Kirtland June 3, 1831. Converted William E. McLellin who afterwards became one of the Twelve Apostles on a missionary journey to Missouri. Samuel returned to Kirtland and continued preaching through the winter, strengthening the branches and comforting the Saints. In a revelation given in January, 1832, Orson Hyde and Samuel were called to go East as missionaries. They started in March, and traveled through the States of Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine, returned to Kirtland at the end of the year. Married Mary Bailey, August 13, 1834, they had four children, Susannah B., Mary B., Samuel Harrison B. and Lucy B. Mary died Jan. 25, 1841. Set apart as one of the High Council in Kirtland, until he went to Missouri in 1838. He was in the battle of Crooked river and then fled for Illinois. By several incidents involving Divine intervention, the party escaped. He moved to a rented farm, near Macomb, McDonough county Ill. April, 1841, he was sent on a mission to various counties in Illinois. May 3, 1841 married Levira Clark. They had three daughters, Levira A. C., Louisa C. and Lucy J. C. November 1841 moved to Nauvoo worked as hired farm hand. June 1844 hearing of his brothers in Carthage jail went there and returned to Nauvoo with the bodies. He died July 30, 1844 at 36.

8. Hyrum Smith was born in Tunbridge, Vt., February 9, 1800. He was the second son of Joseph and Lucy Smith, and at this time the oldest son living.(BHR) Born at Tunbridge, Orange County, Vermont. Married Jerusha Barden November 2, 1826 in Manchester, New York. Six children: Lovina, Mary, John, Hyrum, Jerusha, and Sarah. Hyrum was one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon 1829. Ordained priest 9 June 1830. Ordained elder before June 1831. Ordained a high priest 3 June 1831. One of a committee of three to superintend construction of sacred edifices in Kirtland, Ohio. Member of Zion's Camp 1834. Member of Kirtland high council. Worked on Kirtland Temple. Participated in Kirtland Temple dedication 1836. Appointed assistant counselor to First Presidency September 3, 1837. Appointed second counselor in First Presidency in Far West, Missouri, November 7, 1837. After death of first wife, married Mary Fielding December 1837. Two children: Joseph Fielding and Martha Ann. Arrested and incarcerated in Liberty Jail November 1838-April 1839 for treason. No conviction. Located in Nauvoo, Illinois, 1839. Ordained Patriarch and Assistant President of Church 24 January 1841. Received endowment 4 May 1842. Sealed to wife, Mary, 29 May 1843. Sealed to Mercy R. Thompson for time 11 August 1843. Member of Nauvoo City Council. Arrested and incarcerated in Carthage Jail June 1844. Killed by mob 27 June 1844 at Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. Nauvoo Temple proxy sealings to Jerusha Barden and Mary Fielding 15 January 1846, to Susan Ivers (born 1789 in Massachusetts) 29 January 1846, and to Lydia Dibble and Polly Miller (born 1795 in New York) 30 January 1846. [RJS, 20.]

9. This revelation was received after May 25, 1829 since that was the day of Samuel Smith's baptism. The earliest copy available is found in the Book of Commandments (1833). The only ms version is that found in James Mulholland's hand in the ms history. Appeared also in TS and MS, Aug. 1, 1842 and January 1843 respectively.

10. There is no record in the Church annals of the time and place of the birth of Joseph Knight, Sen.

[Lyndon Cook provides family history information as follows: "Son of Benjamin and Hannah Knight. Born 26 November 1772 at Oakham, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Married Polly Peck by 1796. Seven children: Nahum, Esther, Newel, Anna, Joseph, Polly, and Elizabeth. Moved to Bainbridge, New York, 1809. Two years later moved to Colesville, Broome County, New York; remained for nineteen years. Owned farm, gristmill, and carding machine. Baptized 29 June 1830. Family formed nucleus of small branch of Church in Colesville. Moved to Kirtland, Ohio, 1831. Left Ohio for Jackson County, Missouri, June 1831. Resided in Jackson, Clay, and Caldwell counties in Missouri. Located in Nauvoo 1839. Received house and lot donated by high council of Nauvoo. Ordained priest 18 March 1841. Received endowment in Nauvoo Temple 13 December 1845; sealed to dead wife, Polly, 2 February 1846. Sealed to Phebe Crosby (born 1800 in New York) 2 February 1846. Died 3 February 1847 at Mt. Pisgah, Harrison County, Iowa, during Mormon exodus from Illinois." RJS, 21.]
He was well advanced in life, however, when the work of God in these last days began to come forth. From the journal of his son, Newel Knight, it is learned that Joseph Knight, Sen., married Polly Peck; that he moved into the state of New York and settled on the Susquehanna river, near the great bend, in Chenango county, in 1809. Two years later he removed to Colesville, Broome county, New York, where he remained nineteen years. "My father," says Newel Knight in his journal, "owned a farm, a grist mill and carding machine. He was not rich yet he possessed enough of this world's goods to secure to himself and family, not only the necessaries, but also the comforts of life. His family, consisting of my mother, three sons and four daughters, he reared in a genteel and respectable manner, and gave his children a good, common school education. My father was a sober, honest man, generally respected and beloved by his neighbors and acquaintances. He did not belong to any religious sect, but was a believer in the Universalian doctrine." The business in which Joseph Knight, Sen., engaged, made it necessary at times for him to hire men, and the Prophet Joseph was occasionally employed by him. To the Knight family, who were greatly attached to him, the young Prophet related many of the things God had revealed respecting the Book of Mormon, then as yet, to come forth. So far at least was the elder Knight taken into the Prophet's confidence that he purposely so arranged his affairs as to be at the Smith family residence, near Manchester, at the time the plates of the Book of Mormon were given into Joseph's possession. Mr. Knight had driven to the Smith residence with a horse and carriage, and in this conveyance, according to the statement of both Lucy Smith, mother of the Prophet, (See Lucy Smith's History or the Prophet, ch. xxiii), and Joseph Knight, Sen., Joseph, in company with his wife Emma, drove away very early--before daylight--on the morning of September the 22nd. It is presumed, of course, the Prophet drove to Cumorah, and there received from Moroni the plates of the Book of Mormon, the Urim and Thummim and Breastplate, which were, for some time--excepting the Urim and Thummim--concealed in the woods. Mr. Knight remained at the Smith residence several days, and was there the day Joseph brought home the plates; and in company with Joseph Smith, Sen., and Mr. Stoal--who was also present at the Smith residence in company with Mr. Knight--went in search of those men who had assailed the Prophet while on his way home with the plates, but they did not find them. From Joseph's narrative in the text it will be seen that the senior Joseph Knight's interest in the work continued.(BHR)

11. The earliest copy of this revelation appears in the Book of Commandments (1833). The only ms is found in the ms history (produced six years after the BC.)

12. Peter Whitmer, Sen., was born April 14, 1773. Of the place of his birth there is no record in the Church annals, but it was doubtless in the state of Pennsylvania. He married Mary Musselman, who was born 27th of August, 1778; and to them were born eight children. The Elder Whitmer was a strict Presbyterian, and trained his children in that faith. In the early years of the 19th century he moved from the state of Pennsylvania to New York, and settled in Fayette township, about three miles south of Waterloo, where the Prophet made his acquaintance.(BHR) [PJS 1:522 contains the following biographical information regarding Peter Whitmer, Sr. He was b. 1773 in Pennsylvania. Moved to Fayette, Seneca County, New York about 1809. Overseer of highways, 1826-1827. Left Church in 1838. D. 1854 at Richmond, Ray County, Missouri. See also note 14 below.]

13. David Whitmer was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, January 7th, 1805, and was the fourth son of Peter Whitmer, Sen., and Mary Musselman Whitmer.(BHR)

David Whitmer gives some details on how he came to hear of Joseph Smith, Jr. and how Smith came to reside in his father's home:

I first heard of what is now termed Mormonism, in the year 1828. I made a business trip to Palmyra, N. Y., and while there stopped with one Oliver Cowdery. A great many people in the neighborhood were talking about the finding of certain golden plates by one Joseph Smith, jun., a young man of the neighborhood. Cowdery and I, as well as many others, talked about the matter, but at that time I paid but little attention to it, supposing it to be only the idle gossip of the neighborhood. Mr. Cowdery said he was acquainted with the Smith family, and he believed there must be some truth in the story of the plates, and that he intended to investigate the matter. I had conversation with several young men, who said that Joseph Smith had certainly golden plates, and that before he had obtained them he had promised to share with them, but had not done so, and they were very much incensed with him. Said I, 'How do you know that Joe Smith has the plates?' They replied, 'We saw the plates in the hill that he took them out of, just as he described it to us before he had obtained them.' These parties were so positive in their statements that I began to believe there must be some foundation for the stories then in circulation all over that part of the country. I had never seen any of the Smith family up to that time, and I began to enquire of the people in regard to them, and learned that one night during the year 1823, Joseph Smith, jun., had a vision, and an angel of God appeared to him and told him where certain plates were to be found, and pointed out the spot to him, and that shortly afterward he went to that place and found the plates, which were still in his possession. After thinking over the matter for a long time, and talking with Cowdery, who also gave me a history of the finding of the plates, I went home, and after several months, Cowdery told me he was going to Harmony, Penn., whither Joseph Smith had gone with the plates, on account of the persecutions of his neighbors, and see him about the matter. He did go, and on his way he stopped at my father's house and told me that as soon as he found out anything, either truth or untruth, he would let me know. After he got there he became acquainted with Joseph Smith, and shortly after wrote to me, telling me that he was convinced that Smith had the records, and that he (Smith) had told him that it was the will of heaven that he (Cowdery) should be his scribe to assist in the translation of the plates. He went on and Joseph translated from the plates, and he wrote it down. Shortly after this Mr. Cowdery wrote me another letter, in which he gave me a few lines of what they had translated, and he assured me that he knew of a certainty that he had a record of a people that inhabited this continent, and that the plates they were translating from gave a complete history of these people. When Cowdery wrote me these things, and told me that he had revealed knowledge concerning the truth of them, I showed these letters to my parents, and brothers and sisters. Soon after I received another letter from Cowdery, telling me to come down to Pennsylvania, and bring him and Joseph to my father's house, giving as a reason therefor that they had received a commandment from God to that effect. I went down to Harmony and found everything just as they had written me. The next day after I got there they packed up the plates and we proceeded on our journey to my father's house, where we arrived in due time, and the day after we commenced upon the translation of the remainder of the plates. [Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881]

14. The name of the town comes from the Revolutionary War hero, General Gilbert Morier de La Fayette. The place was named Washington, Cayuga County, New York when it was organized March 14, 1800. Seneca County was taken from Cayuga in 1804 and on April 6, 1808, the name of the town of Washington was changed to Fayette.

The Peter Whitmer, Sr., family was one of the many Pennsylvania Germans who had settled in the state. Peter Whitmer, Sr., was actually Peter Whitmer, III. His father was born in Prussia, in 1737, and died in Pennsylvania in 1793. Peter Whitmer, III moved to Fayette from Hamburg, Pennsylvania, about 1809. The family lived in a log house on their homestead which was located three miles south and one mile west of the village of Waterloo.

William L. Powell, an LDS tenant at the Whitmer farm from 1946 to 1952, discovered and excavated the foundation of the old home. He stated,

After a while we had uncovered the shape of a foundation on the south side [of the barn]. And by the end of the next year's hay season we had it pretty well uncovered, the whole foundation. So my son and I completed uncovering it, and we took the measurements. It was 20 feet wide and 30 feet long. It was laid, small, rocks. Very small rocks most of them and they were layed in a trench about a foot wide. Just about the width of a log. Maybe they were just a little more than a foot wide. They were only about 6 inches deep, we determined. Just deep enough to set them under the ground. [Larry C. Porter, "Organizational Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," in Regional Studies in Church History - New York, 151]

David Whitmer adds some detail about his journey from Fayette to Harmony:

When Oliver Cowdery went to Pennsylvania, he promised to write me what he should learn about these matters, which he did. He wrote me that Joseph had told him his (Oliver's) secret thoughts, and all he had meditated about going to see him, which no man on earth knew, as he supposed, but himself, and so he stopped to write for Joseph. Soon after this, Joseph sent for me (Whitmer) to come to Harmony to get him and Oliver and bring them to my father's house. I did not know what to do, I was pressed with my work. I had some twenty acres to plow, so I concluded I would finish plowing and then go. I got up one morning to go to work as usual, and on going to the field, found between five and seven acres of my ground had been plowed during the night. I don't know who did it; but it was done just as I would have done it myself, and the plow was left standing in the furrow. This enabled me to start sooner. When I arrived at Harmony, Joseph and Oliver were coming toward me, and met me some distance from the house. Oliver told me that Joseph had informed him when I started from home, where I had stopped the first night, how I read the sign at the tavern, where I stopped the next night, etc., and that I would be there that day before dinner, and this was why they had come out to meet me; all of which was exactly as Joseph had told Oliver, at which I was greatly astonished. [Smith and Pratt report]

15. Mrs Whitmer (Mary) found the labor of maintaining this enlarged household somewhat discouraging according to David Whitmer. He related an experience of his mother and John C. Whitmer tells the following version [observe that Mary Whitmer claimed that the angel she saw was Nephi]:

[When] Elders Edward Stevenson and Andrew Jenson visited Richmond, Missouri, in 1888, John C. Whitmer, a grandson of the lady in question, testified in the following language: "I have heard my grandmother say on several occasions that she was shown the plates of the Book of Mormon by a holy angel, whom she always called Brother Nephi. It was at the time, she said, when the translation was going on at the house of the elder Peter Whitmer, her husband. Joseph Smith with his wife and Oliver Cowdery, whom David Whitmer a short time previous had brought up from Harmony, Pennsylvania, were all boarding with the Whitmers, and my grandmother in having so many extra persons to care for, besides her own large household, was often overloaded with work to such an extent that she felt it to be quite a burden. One evening, when (after having done her usual day's work in the house) she went to the barn to milk the cows, she met a stranger carrying something on his back that looked like a knapsack. At first she was a little afraid of him, but when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, she was filled with inexpressible joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell. From that moment my grandmother was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, and she felt no more inclination to murmur because her lot was hard. I knew my grandmother to be a good, noble and truthful woman, and I have not the least doubt of her statement in regard to seeing the plates being strictly true. She was a strong believer in the Book of Mormon until the day of her death." Mother Whitmer died in Richmond, Ray county, Missouri, in January, 1856. [See LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.283; sketch of David Whitmer and Peter Whitmer: Historical Record, Vol. 7, p. 621; Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 24, p. 22.]

16. John Whitmer was born August 27th, 1802. He was the third son of Peter Whitmer, Sen., and Mary Musselman Whitmer.(BHR)
Portions of the original ms of the Book of Mormon appear to be John Whitmer's handwriting. [Dean C. Jessee, "The original Book of Mormon manuscript," BYUS, 10, no. 3, 273]
[The following more complete biographical sketch is found in RJS, p.25: Son of Peter Whitmer and Mary Musselman. Born 27 August 1802 in Pennsylvania. Baptized June 1829 by Oliver Cowdery. One of Eight Witnesses of Book of Mormon June 1829. Assisted Joseph Smith in arranging and copying revelations July 1830. Ordained elder 9 June 1830. Served as scribe to Joseph Smith in translation of Bible. Called by revelation as Church historian 8 March 1831; ordained contrary to his wishes 9 April 1831 in Kirtland. Ordained high priest 3 June 1831 by Lyman Wight. Began history of Church, called "The Book of John Whitmer," which spanned years 1831-38. Appointed to accompany Oliver Cowdery to Jackson County, Missouri, with revelations for printing November 1831. Left Ohio 20 November 1831, stopped in Winchester, Indiana, for week, and arrived in [p.26] Jackson County, Missouri, 5 January 1832. Member of Literary and United firms. Married Sarah Jackson 10 February 1833 in Jackson County, Missouri. Five children: Nancy Jane, John Oliver, Sarah Elizabeth, Jacob David Jackson, and Alexander Peter Jefferson. Ordained counselor to David Whitmer as one of presidents of Church in Missouri 8 July 1834. Chosen to receive "endowment" in Kirtland Temple 23 June 1834. Left Clay County, Missouri, for Kirtland 28 April 1835; arrived 17 May 1835. Appointed editor of Messenger and Advocate in Kirtland 18 May 1835, contrary to his wishes. Edited publication June 1835-March 1836. Participated in dedication of Kirtland Temple 1836. Paid personal property tax on one horse and one cow in 1836 in Kirtland. Returned to Clay County, Missouri, by 25 July 1836. In 1836-37, together with W.W. Phelps, began to administer affairs of Church in Missouri independent of high council. With W.W. Phelps, located gathering place at Far West, Missouri; identified temple site; and purchased property in own names with Church funds--all without approval of Church high council or membership. These actions created much confusion and difficulty for Church in Missouri and finally resulted in Whitmer's excommunication.) Held title to hundreds of acres in Caldwell County, Missouri. Despite difficulties, upheld as counselor to David Whitmer November 1837. Rejected 5 February 1838. Excommunicated 10 March 1838 at Far West, Missouri. Left Far West 19 June 1838 and resided in Richmond until after Saints were forced out of Missouri 1839. Recognized as excellent farmer and stock raiser. Resided in Far West, Missouri, until death, 11 July 1878.]

17. Peter Whitmer, Jun., was born September 27th, 1809, and was the fifth son, but sixth child of Mary Musselman and Peter Whitmer, Sen.(BHR)

[Son of Peter Whitmer and Mary Musselman. Born 27 September 1809 at Fayette, Seneca County, New York. One of Eight Witnesses of Book of Mormon June 1829. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery and ordained elder by 9 June 1830. Called by revelation with others September 1830 to preach gospel to Lamanites. Party of four left New York latter part of October 1830. Arrived [p.27] in Kirtland, Ohio, area by 1 November 1830; there made numerous converts. Arrived in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri, 13 December 1830; there employed as tailor. Left Missouri for Ohio after 4 August 1831. Arrived in Ohio 1 September 1831; there suffered few weeks of illness. Attended conferences of Church in Hiram and Portage, Ohio, 11 and 21 October 1831. Ordained high priest 25 October 1831. At conference said, "My beloved brethren ever since I have had an acquaintance with the writing of God, I have eternity with perfect confidence." Attended conferences in Hiram, Ohio, November 1831; there appointed to have inheritance in Zion for assisting Joseph Smith in bringing forth sacred writings, particularly revelations. Returned to independence, Missouri, by 24 August 1832. Married Vashti Higley 14 October 1832 in Jackson County, Missouri. Ceremony performed by Oliver Cowdery. Three children: Emma, Kate, and Vashti P.; last child born 20 May 1837, after Whitmer's death. Appointed to receive "endowment" in Kirtland Temple 23 June 1834. Arrived in Kirtland before 6 January 1836; appointed and set apart as high councilor for Missouri (to fill vacancy occasioned by death of brother Christian). Returned to Clay County, Missouri, by September 1836. Died of tuberculosis near Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, 22 September 1836. RJS, 26]

18. The earliest version appears in the Book of Commandments.

19. The earliest version appears in the BC. This revelation is identical to D&C 16 except for the name of the recipient. (But see the note at verse 5 of the latter.)

20. The earliest version appears in the BC.

21. The word "unto" does not appear in any published version before 1843.

22. Notes in chapter 7 will show that a large number of people gathered for the legal organization meeting of the "Church of Christ" April 6, 1830. However, the eventual membership in the future Church would be essentially three families and their immediate connections: Smiths, Whitmers and Knights.

23. The baptisms prior to April 6, 1830 include:

Cowdery, Oliver
Baptism Date: May 15, 1829
Place: Susquehanna River
Officiator: Joseph Smith, Jr.

Smith, Joseph Jr.
Baptism Date: May 15, 1829
Place: Susquehanna River
Officiator: Oliver Cowdery

Smith, Samuel H.
Baptism Date: May 25, 1829
Place: (near) Harmony, PA
Officiator: Oliver Cowdery

Whitmer, Peter
Baptism Date: June 1829
Place: Seneca Lake, NY
Officiator: Oliver Cowdery

Whitmer, John
Baptism Date: June 1829
Place: Seneca Lake, NY
Officiator: Oliver Cowdery

Whitmer, David
Baptism Date: June 1829
Officiator: Joseph Smith, Jr.

Smith, Hyrum
Baptism Date: June 1829
Place: Seneca Lake, NY
Officiator: Joseph Smith, Jr.

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