Mormon History 1830-1844

John Whitmer (1802–1878)
One of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon scribe, first Church Historian, member of the presidency of the Stake of Zion, brother-in-law of Oliver Cowdery. With W. W. Phelps (the other counselor in the presidency), chooses Far West for gathering, lays out the city, selects a temple site and appoints building committee, etc. without consulting the high council. Objects to the Prophet's dictating the temporal affairs of church members. Rejected as a president of the church in Missouri with his brother, David, and W. W. Phelps; excommunicated, flees to Richmond, Missouri in June after receiving threatening document signed by Hyrum Smith and others.
Born August 27, 1802 in York, Pennsylvania (Ancestral File)
<i>Journals of William E. McLellin: 1831&#45;1836</i>, edited by Jan Shipps and John W. Welch. &#40;Urbana: University of Illinois Press; Provo: BYU Studies, 1994&#41;.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">McLellin journals, 467 has Fayette, New York
Died July 11, 1878 in Ray county, Missouri
<i>Latter&#45;day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia</i>, Andrew Jenson. 4 vols &#40;Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Co. and Andrew Jenson Memorial Association, 1901&#45;1936; Western Epics, 1971&#41;.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Jenson 1:251 and
<i>Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 1: Autobiographical and Historical Writings</i>, edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1989&#41;.
')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Papers 1:521 have Far West. Ancestral File has Richmond. Father Peter Whitmer (1773–1854) Mother Mary Musselman (1778–1856) Book of Mormon scribe Scribe for Book of Mormon, "translation" of the Bible, Book of Commandments revelations. Baptized [June] 1829 by Oliver Cowdery in Seneca Lake. <i>Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record</i>, H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters &#40;Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1994&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Inventing, 145n50. Eight Witnesses June 1829 one of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Elder June 9, 1830 attends conference as an elder. Minutes of June 9, 1830 Scribe July [4–31], 1830 assists Joseph copy and arrange revelations.

&#34;History of Joseph Smith,&#34; various sources and editors. Serialized in the <i>Times and Seasons</i>, <i>Deseret News</i>, and <i>Millennial Star</i>. Under Joseph&#39;s direction the project reached August 5, 1838. See Sources > History of Joseph items.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">History JS, <i>Times and Seasons</i>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">TS 4, no. 7 (Feb. 15, 1843):108.

Harmony, Pennsylvania August [1–7],1830 Newel and Sally Knight visit Joseph and Emma in Harmony, Pennsylvania. John Whitmer is also present: Newel Knight diary, in <i>Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants</i>, Lyndon Cook &#40;Provo: Seventy’s Mission Bookstore, 1981&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Revelations, 38.   We prepared some wine of our own make, and held our meeting … We partook of the sacrament, after which we confirmed the two sisters into the Church, and spent the evening in a glorious manner. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out upon us. We praised the God of Israel and rejoiced exceedingly." Mission to Seneca county September [26–30], 1830 called on a mission to the region where Philip Burroughs lived (Seneca county, New York). ¶ D&C 30:9–10 To Kirtland with revelations January [6–13], 1831 dispatched from New York in accordance with a now-unknown revelation, John arrives in Kirtland with the newly revealed book of Moses and other revelations reportedly designating Kirtland as the eastern edge of the land of Zion—which extends to the Pacific Ocean—and directing the Saints not to sell their lands, but to purchase as much as they can. <i>From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer</i>, edited by Bruce N. Westergren &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995 &#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">J. Whitmer, 13; <I>Painesville Telegraph</I>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">PT, Jan. 18, 1831. Source

According to Lucy Mack Smith, John was also sent to preside over the church in Kirtland—which is not attested elsewhere. She also states that only when he arrived did the Lamanite missionaries proceed. <i>Lucy&#39;s Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Smith&#39;s Family Memoir</i>, edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books&#41;, 2001.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Lucy, 503–504. The missionaries departed on or about Nov. 23, 1830. <i>From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer</i>, edited by Bruce N. Westergren &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995 &#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">J. Whitmer, 13–14.
  But the enemy of all righteous had got hold of Some of those who profesed to <be> his followers, because they had not sufficient knowledge to detect him in all his devices. He took anotion to blind the minds of some of the weaker ones, and made them think that an angel of God appeard to them, and showed them [14] writings on{d} the outside cover of the Bible, and on parchment, which flew through the air, and on the back of their hands, and many such foolish and vain things. Others lost their strength and some {scooted} <slid> on{d} the floor, and such like maneuver, which proved greatly to the injury of the cause. Establish Nelson church [February–March] 1831 with Lyman Wight organizes church in Nelson, Ohio, 35 miles southeast of Kirtland, 5 miles east of Hiram, returning in time for April 9 conference. <i>From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer</i>, edited by Bruce N. Westergren &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995 &#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">J. Whitmer, 55. Historian and scribe March 8, 1831 called to "keep a regular history" and assist Joseph "translating all things." D&C 47 Church Historian April 9, 1831 appointed Church Historian by a conference of ten elders in Kirtland. Minutes of April 9, 1831 High Priesthood June 3, 1831 ordained by Lyman Wight (h) (swh).

¶ Minutes of June 3, 1831

Begins history June 12, 1831 begins "The Book of John Whitmer," taking over the history of the church from Oliver Cowdery. <i>From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer</i>, edited by Bruce N. Westergren &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995 &#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">J. Whitmer, 56. Go to Independence, travel and record November [12], 1831 revelation: John to accompany Oliver Cowdery taking the Book of Commandment texts to Zion, travel from place to observe all things and record them, take counsel from Oliver. D&C 69 Travel to Independence November 20, 1831 to January 5, 1832 travels to Independence. Editing committee April 30, 1832 named to select and "make all necessary verbal corrections" to Book of Commandments revelations. Minutes of April 30, 1832 To Zion July 1832 sent to Zion to get a count of the number of the members of the church there. Joseph to W. W. Phelps, July 31, 1832 Signs treaty to leave July 23, 1832 agrees with other church leaders to leave Jackson county by January 1, 1833. All Mormons to leave by April 1, 1833. <i>Times and Seasons</i>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">TS 6, no. 5 (Mar. 15, 1845): 835. Endowment June 23, 1834 selected to receive Kirtland endowment.

¶ Minutes of June 23, 1834

Assistant president July 3, 1834 assistant president of the Missouri high council (his brother, David, was president). Minutes of July 3, 1834
Presidents of the Church
Editor 1835–1836 editor of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate. Temple worker January 21, 1836 assists in administering the first ordinances in Kirtland's house of the Lord. Oliver Cowdery, diary, 1836, titled &#34;Oliver Cowdery&#39;s Sketch Book,&#34; MS 2737 box 85, fd. 1 // &#34;Oliver Cowdery&#39;s Kirtland, Ohio, &#39;Sketch Book,&#39;&#34; edited by Leonard J. Arrington in <i>BYU Studies</i> 12, no. 4 &#40;Summer 1972&#41;: 410&#45;426.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Oliver's 1836 diary, 418. Temple dedication March 27, 1836 sits in the third pulpit in the west end with David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery for the dedication of the house of the Lord. <i>American Prophet&#39;s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith</i>, edited by Scott H. Faulring &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987; 2d ed., 1989&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">American prophet, 143. Feet washing March 29, 1836 Hyrum washes John's feet during the all-night temple session. David washes W. W. Phelps' feet. Phelps washes John's feet. <i>American Prophet&#39;s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith</i>, edited by Scott H. Faulring &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987; 2d ed., 1989&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">American prophet, 153. Buys land for Far West August 8, 1836 purchases south half of site for Far West, Missouri (W. W. Phelps purchases the north half). <i>Comprehensive History of the Church of The Jesus Christ of Latter&#45;day Saints</i>, B. H. Roberts. 6 vols. &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret News&#41;, 1930.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">CHC, 1:423. Temple committee November 15, 1836 with W. W. Phelps selects Jacob Whitmer, Elisha H. Groves, and George M. Hinkle as building committed to assist them build a temple. Minutes of November 15, 1836 High council charges April 5–6, 1837 with W. W. Phelps responds to charges from the high council of high-handed, unauthorized, and fraudulent exercise of power in purchasing and selling Far West land, etc. >. Minutes of April 5–6, 1837 One of the "wise men" April 7, 1837 authorized with other "wise men," W. W. Phelps, Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, and John Corrill, to buy land for the church in Clay county. Minutes of April 7, 1837 Reproved September 4, 1837 revelation to Joseph that "John Whitmer & William W. Phelps have done those things which are not pleasing in my Sight. Therefore if they repent not they Shall be removd out of their places. Amen."

Revelation of September 4, 1837

Rejected by general assembly February 5–9, 1838 general assembly in Far West rejects John, David Whitmer and W. W. Phelps as presidents of the church in Missouri for inappropriate use of church funds, violations of the Word of Wisdom. Minutes of February 5, 1838   February 10, 1838 a common council of the bishopric and high council cancels John's right to sign and record licenses. Excommunicated March 10, 1838 excommunicated by the high council with W. W. Phelps Minutes of March 10, 1838 Historical records April 9, 1838 Joseph and Sidney ask John to return his historical records >. <i>Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2: Journal, 1832&#45;1842</i>, edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Papers 2:226–227. Seek lives of First Presidency [June 1838:] "O. Cowdery, David Whitmer, Lyman E. Johnson (h), and John Whitmer [are] guilty of bace iniquities, and that to manifest in the ages of all men, and being often entreated would continue in their course seeking the lives of the First Presidency and to overthrow the Kingdom of God which they once testified off." <i>American Prophet&#39;s Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith</i>, edited by Scott H. Faulring &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987; 2d ed., 1989&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">American prophet, 187. Richmond 1838 moves from Far West to Richmond.   New Church of Christ September 1847 William E. McLellin (h) baptizes David and John Whitmer, Hiram Page, and Jacob Whitmer into "the Church of Christ;" they then reordain David with "all the gifts and callings to which he had been appointed through Joseph Smith." David is not enthused about the new church and nothing comes of it.

&#34;David Whitmer: Faithful Dissenter, Witness Apart,&#34; Ronald E. Romig in <i>Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History</i> edited by Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher &#40;Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994&#41;, 23&#45;44.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Faithful dissenter, 38.

Successful farmer near Far West 1875 John Beadle visits Independence area and reports that John "lives near old Far West and is the wealthiest [man] in that vicinity, owning 700 acres of land in one body, cattle upon a thousand hills, and ready money in abundance." &#34;Jackson County: The Early History of the Saints and Their Enemies.” <i>Salt Lake Daily Tribune</i>, Oct. 6, 1875.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Beadle '75. Source
1836 testimony Oliver's piety, integrity I take occasion here to add, that I rejoice exceedingly that this Herald of truth [Evening and Morning Star, Kirtland] is in being, and I enjoy the privilege of resigning it into so good and able hands as Pres. O. Cowdery whose character and standing in society need no commendation from me where he is personally known: for he is known to be a man of piety, of candor, of truth, of integrity, of feeling for the welfare of the human family, and in short, he is a man of God: God acknowledge him as such in his revealed will: and should we not do so too? <i>The Evening and the Morning Star</i>')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">EMS 2, no. 6 (March 1836): 286–287. Time of restoration

Church
… it gladdens my heart, that I enjoy the privilege of living in this age of the world, when God in his kind providence, has began to work for the good of his long dispersed covenant people; when he has again made manifest his will, and has called servants by his own voice out of the heavens, and by the ministering of angels, and by his Holy Spirit; and has chosen the weak and simple to confound the wisdom of the wise: and to raise up and bring the church of the Lamb up out of the wilderness of wickedness, fair as the sun and clear as the moon. Which church took its rise April 6, 1830; and has thus far come up through much persecution and great tribulation. … Book of Mormon

Handled plates

Translated by gift and power of God
It may not be amiss in this place, to give a statement to the world concerning the work of the Lord, as I have been a member of this church of Latter Day Saints from its beginning; to say that the book of Mormon is a revelation from God, I have no hesitancy; but with all confidence have signed my named to it as such; and I hope, that my patrons will indulge me in speaking freely on this subject, as I am about leaving the editorial department. Therefore I desire to testify to all that will come to the knowledge of this address; that I have most assuredly seen the plates from whence the book of Mormon is translated, and that I have handled these plates, and know of a surety that Joseph Smith, jr. has translated the book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and in this thing the wisdom of the wise most assuredly has perished: therefore, know ye, O ye inhabitants of the earth, wherever this address may come, that I have in this thing freed my garments of your blood, whether you believe or disbelieve the statements of your unworthy friend and well-wisher. Joseph Smith: only reference to the prophet in the article. Clear conscience It is no trifling matter to sport with the souls of men, and make merchandise of them; I can say, with a clear conscience before God and man, that I have sought no man's goods, houses or lands, gold or silver; but had in view for my chief object, the welfare of the children of men, because I know that I have been called of God, to assist in bringing forth his work in these last days … Revelations true, necessary as Book of Mormon The revelations and commandments given to us, are, in my estimation, equally true with the book of Mormon, and equally necessary for salvation, it is necessary to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God: and I know that the Bible, book of Mormon and book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, contain the revealed will of heaven. …
Far West land and council meetings Funds for the poor Thomas B. Marsh and Elisha Groves collected $1,450 to benefit the poor in Missouri and delivered it to John and W. W. Phelps. ¶ Minutes of July 25, 1836 Purchase land instead But the two, without consulting the bishop, high council, or First Presidency, used the money to purchase the tract of land that became Far West, then sold it to church members at a profit. High council investigates On April 3, 1837 the high council, headed by John Murdock, prepared a list of questions for John Whitmer and W. W.: by what authority had they selected the site, appointed and ordained a committee to superintend the construction of a temple, ordained Jacob Whitmer to the High Priesthood, disfellowshipped a high councilman, denied preferential treatment of the bishopric and high council in the sale of lots, and profited from the sale of the lots? Minutes of April 3, 1837 John Whitmer and W W. Phelps before the council Two days later, John and W. W. appeared before the council. First they objected to the presence of the bishopric and apostles Thomas B. Marsh (h) and David W. Patten (h). Phelps threatened to dissolve the council. Marsh countered that he would bring charges against them before the bishop and twelve high priests (an excommunication hearing). John and W. W. acquiesced and responded to the questions. Minutes of April 5–6, 1837 Agree to turn land over The hearing continued through the 7th of April, the two presidents being severely rebuked (including Patten's accusation of fraud). In the end John and W. W. agreed to transfer land adjacent to the commons to the bishop and use profits from the sale of lands to benefit the poor. Minutes of April 7, 1837 Stake presidency superintend temple construction, receive revelations Another session was then held, at which the city platt was approved; John and W. W. Phelps, Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, and John Corrill were authorized to set the price of town lots; the temple building committee was sustained as constituted, as well as the ordination of Jacob Whitmer; and the stake presidency (David and John Whitmer, and W. W. Phelps) were "appointed to superintend the building of [104] the house of the Lord in this City Far West and receive Revelations Visions &c. concerning said house" <. <i>Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter&#45;day Saints, 1830&#45;1844</i>, edited by Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1983&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">FWR,103–104. (These minutes are out of order in the record.)
Secret combinations 1836–1838 Kirtland Safety Society

Polygamy

Gadianton bands
In the fall of 1836, Joseph Smith Jr., S. Rigdon, & others of the Leaders of the church at Kirtland, Ohio, Established a bank for the purpose of Speculation and the whole church partook of the same spirit. They were lifted up in pride, and lusted after the forbidden things of God such as covetousness, & in secret combination, Spiritual wife doctrine, that is pleurality of wives, and gadianton bands in which they were bound with oaths &c. that brought divisins and mistrust among those who were pure in heart and desired the upbilding of the Kingdom of God.
  <i>From Historian to Dissident: The Book of John Whitmer</i>, edited by Bruce N. Westergren &#40;Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1995 &#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">J. Whitmer, 183–185.

1838 Missouri

Joseph: drive dissenters

J. Smith Jr. & S. Rigdon & Hyrum Smith moved their families to this place, Far West, in the Spring of 1838. As soon as they came here they began to enforce their new organized plan in force which caused disensions and difficulties threatnings and even murders. Smith Called a counsel of council. He Stated that any person who said a word against the heads of the church should be driven over these prairies as a chaced deer by a pack of hounds, having an allusian to the [184] gideonites, as they were then termed, to Justify themselves, in their wicked designes.
Salt sermon Thus on the 19th of June 1838 they preached a sermon called the Salt sermon in which these gideonites understood that they should drive the disenters as they termed those who believed not in their secret bands in fornication adultery or midnight machinations. Dissenters sued Therefore they commenced suing at the law of the land by attachment for debts which they knew were paid and Justly paid, according to the laws of God and the Land & thus foreswore themselves in these things. Threatened J. Smith, S. Rigdon, & Hiram Smith were the instigators & G. W. Robinson was the prosecutor—against David Whitmer, L. E. Johnson, O. Cowdery, F. G. Williams, W. W. Phelps and myself—they had threatend us to kill us if we did not make restitution to them by upholding them in their wicked purposes and designs after they had instituted the foregoing suits.
Ousters Dissenters win suits O. Cowdery, D. Whitmer, L. E. Johnson & myself went to Clay Co. to obtain legal counsel to prepare to over throw these attachments which they had caused to [be] sued against us which we were abundantly able to do by good and substantial witnesses.
Cowdery, Johnson families driven from homes But to our great astonishment when we were on our way home from Liberty, Clay Co., we met the families of O. Cowdery & L. E. Johnson whom they had driven from their homes and robed them of all their goods save clothing & bedding &c.
Threats While we were gone Jo. & Rigdon & the band of gadeantons kept up a guard and watched our houses and abused our families and threatened them if they were not gone by morning they would be drove out & threatened our lives if they ever saw us in Far West. Mormons loot Daviess

Old timers repay

War

Only dissenters left
After they had driven us and our families they commenced a difficulty in Davies Co. adjoining this Co. in the which they began to rob and burn houses &c, &c., took honey [185] which they (the Mormons) called Sweet oil & hogs which they called bear, and Cattle which they called Buffalo. Thus they would Justify themselves by saying we are the people of God and all things are Gods, therefore they are ours. The old inhabitants were not slack in paying them in their own coin. Thus war and bloodshed commenced and the result was that the Church driven from this land & the pure in heart and inocent as well as the more wicked, Save a few dissenters who were left here to fulfil some of the former commandments.

Request for the return of records On April 9, 1838, Joseph, Sidney, and E. Robinson write John, <i>Papers of Joseph Smith, Volume 2: Journal, 1832&#45;1842</i>, edited by Dean C. Jessee &#40;Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992&#41;.')" onmouseout="kill()" target="_blank" class="ref">Papers 2:226–227. Please return notes, incompetent historian

Sir. We were desireous of honouring you by giving publicity to your notes on the history of the Church of Latter day Saints, [227] after such corrections as we thought would be necessary; knowing your incompetency as a historion, and that your writings coming from your pen, could not be put to the press, without our correcting them, or elce the Church must suffer reproach; Indeed Sir, we never supposed you capable of writing a history; but were willing to let it come out under your name notwithstanding it would realy not be yours but ours. We are still willing to honour you, if you can be made to know your own interest and give up your notes, so that they can be corrected, and made fit for the press. But if not, we have all the materials for another, which we shall commence this week to write <.


  Family Wife Sarah Jackson (1809–1873) md. February 10, 1833 Children Nancy Jane, b. 1834
John Oliver (1835–1846)
Sarah Elizabeth, b. 1837
Jacob David Jefferson, b. 1844), inherited the Far West temple block from his father
Alexander Peter Jackson, b. 1849
David Whitmer
Peter Whitmer Jr.
Biographies




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