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Appendix 5: Testimony of Eight Witnesses, Late June 1829

AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT
WITNESSES.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people,1

See Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:51]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 326 [Alma 37:4]; Revelation 14:6; and Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829.  


unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr. the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

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of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen: and we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
CHRISTIAN WHITMER

18 Jan. 1798–27 Nov. 1835. Shoemaker. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Anna (Anne) Schott, 22 Feb. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. Ensign in New York militia, 1825. Constable of Fayette, Seneca Co., 1828–1829. Member...

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,
JACOB WHITMER

27 Jan. 1800–21 Apr. 1856. Shoemaker, farmer. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Elizabeth Schott, 29 Sept. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS...

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,
PETER WHITMER, Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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JOHN WHITMER

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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HIRAM PAGE

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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JOSEPH SMITH, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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HYRUM SMITH

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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,
SAMUEL H. SMITH

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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. [p. [590]]
AND ALSO THE TESTIMONY OF EIGHT
WITNESSES.
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peo ple,1

See Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:51]; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 326 [Alma 37:4]; Revelation 14:6; and Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829.  


unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr.  the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the  plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

View Glossary
of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance  of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has  translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw  the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of  ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear  record, with words of soberness, that the said Smith has  shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a  surety, that the said Smith has got the plates of which we  have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to  witness unto the world that which we have seen: and we lie  not, God bearing witness of it.
CHRISTIAN WHITMER

18 Jan. 1798–27 Nov. 1835. Shoemaker. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Anna (Anne) Schott, 22 Feb. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. Ensign in New York militia, 1825. Constable of Fayette, Seneca Co., 1828–1829. Member...

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,
JACOB WHITMER

27 Jan. 1800–21 Apr. 1856. Shoemaker, farmer. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Elizabeth Schott, 29 Sept. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS...

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,
PETER WHITMER, Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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JOHN WHITMER

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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,
HIRAM PAGE

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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,
JOSEPH SMITH, Sen.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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HYRUM SMITH

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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,
SAMUEL H. SMITH

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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. [p. [590]]
This document is a statement by eight men who testified that they had seen and handled the gold plates

A record engraved on gold plates, which JS translated and published as the Book of Mormon. The text explained that the plates were an abridgement of other ancient records and were written by an American prophet named Mormon and his son Moroni. The plates ...

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. It was published at the end of the Book of Mormon, alongside a similar statement by three other witnesses.1 A passage in the Book of Mormon translation

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
, likely dictated in May 1829, may have anticipated these additional witnesses. It stated, “Ye may be privileged that ye may shew the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work; and unto three shall they be shewn by the power of God.”2

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 548 [Ether 5:2–3]. In this quotation, John Gilbert, the typesetter of the Book of Mormon, supplied the punctuation. The semicolon marks a division between two separate clauses, which suggests that there would be two groups of individuals who would view the plates. A modern linguist, Royal Skousen, concurs that the two clauses were originally intended to be divided, indicating that two groups would be shown the plates. (Skousen, Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, 685.)  


Additionally, in mid- to late June, shortly before the translation was finished, JS dictated a passage mentioning three witnesses but also hinting at others: “And there is none other which shall view it, save it be a few, according to the will of God, to bear testimony of his word unto the children of men.”3

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 110 [2 Nephi 27:13].  


In accordance with these passages, two groups, later known as the Three and the Eight Witnesses, were shown the plates. Although others had also assisted to “bring forth” the book and therefore might have met the criterion given in the Book of Mormon passage to be witnesses, Christian Whitmer

18 Jan. 1798–27 Nov. 1835. Shoemaker. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Anna (Anne) Schott, 22 Feb. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. Ensign in New York militia, 1825. Constable of Fayette, Seneca Co., 1828–1829. Member...

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, Jacob Whitmer

27 Jan. 1800–21 Apr. 1856. Shoemaker, farmer. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Married Elizabeth Schott, 29 Sept. 1825, at Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS...

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, Peter Whitmer Jr.

27 Sept. 1809–22 Sept. 1836. Tailor. Born at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, in Seneca Lake, Seneca Co. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Among six...

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, John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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, Hiram Page

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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, Joseph Smith Sr.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

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, Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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, and Samuel Smith

13 Mar. 1808–30 July 1844. Farmer, logger, scribe, builder, tavern operator. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, by Mar. 1810; to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811...

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were the “few” chosen “according to the will of God” to see the plates and testify of them.4

Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 110 [2 Nephi 27:13]. Among those who materially assisted but were not chosen as witnesses were Peter Whitmer Sr., Joseph Knight Sr., Emma Smith, and Lucy Mack Smith. One additional person is said to have seen the plates. According to David Whitmer, his mother, Mary Musselman Whitmer, was shown the plates by an angel after JS moved from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to the Whitmer home in Fayette Township. (Stevenson, Journal, 23 Dec. 1877.)  


According to the account in JS’s history, the Eight Witnesses saw the plates in late June, “soon after” the Three Witnesses had seen them.5

JS History, vol. A-1, 26. Both David Whitmer and Lucy Mack Smith later reported that the Eight Witnesses’ experience occurred just days after the Three Witnesses’ experience. (“Mormonism,” Kansas City Daily Journal, 5 June 1881, 1; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 9, [1].)  


After the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, JS traveled to the Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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area, where the eight chosen witnesses, all from the Smith or Whitmer families, were shown the plates.6

Hiram Page was married to Catherine Whitmer, daughter of Peter Whitmer Sr.  


Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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related later that the eight men “repaired to a little grove where it was customary for the family to offer up their secret prayrs,” and there “those 8 witnesses recorded in the Book of Mormon looked upon the plates and handled them.” She also reported that after they were shown the plates, “that evening we held a meeting, in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts.”7

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 9, [1]; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 157. According to this account, “Joseph had been instructed that the plates would be carried there [to the grove] by one of the ancient Nephites,” but the witnesses themselves reported only that they were shown the plates by JS.  


Several later reports affirmed the witnesses’ published statement. For example, John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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stated, “I have most assuredly seen the plates from whence the book of Mormon is translated, and . . . I have handled these plates.”8

John Whitmer, “Address,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Mar. 1836, 2:286–287.  


Decades later, he provided further details: “At that time Joseph showed the plates to us, we were four persons, present in the room, and at another time he showed them to four persons more.” Whitmer reported that this event occurred at the Smith family’s log home near Manchester

Settled 1793. Formed as Burt Township when divided from Farmington Township, 31 Mar. 1821. Name changed to Manchester, 16 Apr. 1822. Included village of Manchester. Population in 1825 about 2,700. Population in 1830 about 2,800. JS reported first vision of...

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.9

“Death of John Whitmer,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 14 Aug. 1878, 434. In 1878, not long before Whitmer’s death, P. Wilhelm Poulson interviewed him and reported that Whitmer gave this account.  


Luke Johnson

3 Nov. 1807–8 Dec. 1861. Farmer, teacher, doctor. Born at Pomfret, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of John Johnson and Alice (Elsa) Jacobs. Lived at Hiram, Portage Co., Ohio, when baptized into LDS church by JS, 10 May 1831. Ordained a priest by Christian Whitmer...

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recalled hearing that at a 25 October 1831 conference, “the eleven witnesses to the Book of Mormon, with uplifted hands bore their solemn testimony to the truth of that book; as did also the Prophet Joseph.”10

“History of Luke Johnson,” 3, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL.  


The witnesses were often questioned about their experience handling the plates. John Corrill

17 Sept. 1794–26 Sept. 1842. Surveyor, politician, author. Born at Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Married Margaret Lyndiff, ca. 1830. Lived at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1830. Baptized into LDS church, 10 Jan. 1831, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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, for example, wrote, “After getting acquainted with them, I was unable to impeach their testimony, and consequently thought that it was as consistent to give credit to them as to credit the writings of the New Testament, when I had never seen the authors nor the original copy.”11

Corrill, Brief History, 11.  


Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

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, in giving a “testimony to the world of the truth of the book of Mormon,” wrote, “I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast.”12

Hyrum Smith, “Communications,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:20, 23.  


The text featured here is from the first printed edition of the Book of Mormon, representing the statement’s likely purpose as a testimony to be included with the book. The earliest extant copy of this document is found on the last page of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon and is in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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.13

Book of Mormon, Printer’s Manuscript, 464.  


It is unknown whether the Eight Witnesses signed the original statement, and it is likewise unknown who wrote the statement. Unlike the earlier testimony signed by the Three Witnesses, which borrowed most of its language from the Book of Mormon, this statement reads like a legal document. Its language distances the Eight Witnesses from JS by referring to him as “the said Smith.” Whereas the testimony of the Three Witnesses described a visitation by an angel and attested to the authenticity of the translation, this document describes a sensory experience that involved both sight and touch as the witnesses handled and lifted the plates. Though it is unknown who originally composed this statement, it is included as an appendix in this volume because a JS document, the Book of Mormon, mandated showing the plates to witnesses, and this statement was published in the Book of Mormon.

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