31764

John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847

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and how easy mankind is lead as tray, notwithstanding the things of God that are written. concerning his Kingdom.
These things grievd the servants of the Lord, and some conversed together on this subject, and otheers came in and we were at Joseph Smith Jr. the seers, and made it a matter of consultation,71

Parley P. Pratt described this meeting: “Feeling our weakness and inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning these spiritual phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph Smith, and asked him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or manifestations. After we had joined in prayer in his translating room, he dictated in our presence [a] revelation.” (Pratt, Autobiography, 65.)  


for many would not turn from their folly, unless God would give a revelation, therfore the Lord spake to Joseph saying. Revelation gaven given Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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May 1831, Printed at Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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first edition Page 134, Section 17. insert the Revelation.73

Revelation, 9 May 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 17, 1835 ed. [D&C 50]. JS had taught the value of spiritual gifts, but as charismatic practices became more prevalent, this May 1831 revelation made a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate manifestations of the Spirit. The revelation cited by Whitmer included a warning that “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world: and also satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold I the Lord have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church, that profess my name . . . and that which doth not edify, is not of God, and is darkness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 17:1–2, 6, 1835 ed. [D&C 50:2–4, 23]; see also Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 16, 1835 ed. [D&C 46]; and Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 136–139.)  


Chapter 7

Chapter VII.
About these days the disciples arrived from State of New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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. To this place Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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state of Ohio. They had some dificulty because of some that did not continue faithful; who denied the truth and turrned into fables.
June 3, 1831, A general conference was called, and a blessing promised, if the elders were faithful, and humble before him.74

An earlier revelation promised that after gathering to Ohio, the Saints would be “endowed with power from on high,” an experience they expected to be similar to the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. Ezra Booth also reported that church members expected that “the work of miracles would commence at the ensuing conference.” (Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 12:7, 1835 ed. [D&C 38:32]; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. IV,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 3 Nov. 1831, [3]; see also Acts 2:1–4; and Minute Book 2, 3 June 1831.)  


Therefore the elders assembled from the East and the West, from the North and the South. And also many members.
Conference was opened by prayer and exortation by Joseph Smith Jr. the Revelator. After the business of the church was attended to according to the Covenants.75

That is, according to the instructions given in the “articles and covenants” of the church. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 2:13–14, 1835 ed. [D&C 20:61–63].)  


The Lord made manifest to Joseph that it was necessary that such of the elders as were considered worthy, should be ordained to the high priesthood.
The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual manner. And prophecied that John the Revelator was then among the ten tribes of Israel who had been lead away by Salmanaser King of israel,76

Shalmaneser was a king of Assyria. (2 Kings 17.)  


to prepare them for their return, from their Long dispersion, to again possess the land of their father’s. He prophecied many more things 77

Minutes of this meeting list Joseph Wakefield as one of those “ordained to the High Priesthood” but do not record any statement directed to him. (Minute Book 2, 3 June 1831.)  


[p. 27]
and how easy mankind is lead as tray, notwithstanding  the things of God that are written. concerning his King dom.
These things grievd the servants of the Lord, and some con versed together on this subject, and otheers came in and we  were at Joseph Smith Jr. the seers, and made it a matter  of consultation,71

Parley P. Pratt described this meeting: “Feeling our weakness and inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning these spiritual phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph Smith, and asked him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or manifestations. After we had joined in prayer in his translating room, he dictated in our presence [a] revelation.” (Pratt, Autobiography, 65.)  


for many would not turn from their  folly, unless God would give a revelation, therfore the Lord  spake72

TEXT: Or “spoke”.  


to Joseph saying. Revelation gaven [given] Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
May  1831, Printed at Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
first edition Page 134, Section  17. insert the Revelation.73

Revelation, 9 May 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 17, 1835 ed. [D&C 50]. JS had taught the value of spiritual gifts, but as charismatic practices became more prevalent, this May 1831 revelation made a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate manifestations of the Spirit. The revelation cited by Whitmer included a warning that “there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world: and also satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. Behold I the Lord have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church, that profess my name . . . and that which doth not edify, is not of God, and is darkness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 17:1–2, 6, 1835 ed. [D&C 50:2–4, 23]; see also Revelation, ca. 8 Mar. 1831–A, in Doctrine and Covenants 16, 1835 ed. [D&C 46]; and Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 136–139.)  


Chapter 7

Chapter VII.
About these days the disciples arrived from Yok State  of New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

More Info
. To this place Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

More Info
state of Ohio. They had  some dificulty because of some that did not continue faithful;  who denied the truth and turrned into fables.
June 3, 1831, A general conference was called, and a blessing  promised, if the elders were faithful, and humble before him.74

An earlier revelation promised that after gathering to Ohio, the Saints would be “endowed with power from on high,” an experience they expected to be similar to the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. Ezra Booth also reported that church members expected that “the work of miracles would commence at the ensuing conference.” (Revelation, 2 Jan. 1831, in Doctrine and Covenants 12:7, 1835 ed. [D&C 38:32]; Ezra Booth, “Mormonism—No. IV,” Ohio Star [Ravenna], 3 Nov. 1831, [3]; see also Acts 2:1–4; and Minute Book 2, 3 June 1831.)  


 Therefore the elders assembled from the East and the West,  from the North and the South. And also many members.
Conference of was opened and by prayer and exortation by Joseph  Smith Jr. the Revelator. After the business of the church  was attended to according to the Covenants.75

That is, according to the instructions given in the “articles and covenants” of the church. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Doctrine and Covenants 2:13–14, 1835 ed. [D&C 20:61–63].)  


The Lord made  manifest to Joseph that it was necessary that such of the  elders as were considered worthy, should be ordained to the high  priesthood.
The Spirit of the Lord fell upon Joseph in an unusual  manner. And prophecied that John the Revelator was then  among the ten tribes of Israel who had been lead away  by Salmanaser King of israel,76

Shalmaneser was a king of Assyria. (2 Kings 17.)  


to prepare them for their  return, from their Long dispersion, to again possess  the land of their father’s. He prophecied many more things  that a[s]king the many, he said that if Joseph Wakefield

7 July 1792–18 Jan. 1835. Born in Dublin, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Son of Thomas Wakefield and Elizabeth Hardy. Married first Eunice Sawyer, 13 Dec. 1812. Moved to Watertown, Jefferson Co., New York, by 1820. Baptized into LDS church and ordained an elder...

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77

Minutes of this meeting list Joseph Wakefield as one of those “ordained to the High Priesthood” but do not record any statement directed to him. (Minute Book 2, 3 June 1831.)  


[p. 27]
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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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, History, 1831–ca. 1847, as found in “The Book of John, Whitmer kept by Comma[n]d,” ca. 1838–ca. 1847; handwriting of 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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; ninety-six pages (two additional leaves missing); CCLA. Includes redactions, editing marks, and archival marking.
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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inscribed his history into a blank book containing leaves ruled with thirty-four blue-green horizontal lines (now faded). Evidence suggests there were originally twelve gatherings of twelve leaves (twenty-four pages) each. The entire fifth gathering is missing from the current volume, and one extra leaf not part of the original text block was inserted between the fourth and sixth gatherings, making 133 interior leaves in the current volume. The text block was sewn all along on recessed cords. The blank leaves measure 12¼ x 7⅞ inches (31 x 20 cm); the inscribed leaves are slightly smaller in width, having been trimmed about ⅛ inch (0.3 cm) during conservation work. The volume was constructed with front and back covers of pasteboard and likely had a hollow-back spine and quarter-leather binding. The outside covers are adorned in shell marbled paper, with gray-green body and veins of blue and red. The complete volume currently measures 12½ x 8⅛ x 1 inches (32 x 21 x 3 cm).
Details of the original state of the volume are impossible to determine because of conservation work done in the second half of the twentieth century. Initially the inscribed leaves were removed from the original boards and from the intact blank leaves of the volume and rebound separately in a modern comb binding. These inscribed leaves were later removed from this binding, reinforced along the bound edge with paper, laminated with thin paper, and bound in a modern case binding. A third conservation effort reversed the earlier work by removing the laminated material and reattaching the inscribed leaves to the blank leaves and the original boards.
The final leaf of the fourth gathering contains manuscript pages 95 and 96. The next two leaves, containing manuscript pages 97 through 100, are missing. They were removed before 1893, when Andrew Jenson, a representative of the Church Historian’s Office in Salt Lake City, inspected the volume and noted that it was missing two leaves at that point. Evidence indicates that the remaining leaves of the fifth gathering were intact but blank when Jenson inspected the volume in 1893, suggesting they were discarded during the first conservation effort in the twentieth century. The first blank leaf following manuscript page 96 does not match the texture or form of the other blank leaves, but it does bear a slight water stain matching staining found on almost all leaves within the book. It may be an extra flyleaf from either the front or back of the volume inserted after page 96, or it may be paper from a different source; in either case, it was inserted early enough to be stained with the rest of the volume. The endpapers are original and currently consist of pastedowns and single flyleaves in the front and back of the volume.
An unidentified scribe, most likely working in the nineteenth century, wrote “Church History” on the top of the front cover. A green adhesive label is affixed to the front cover. At some point, someone attempted to remove the label but succeeded in removing only portions of it. The only writing visible on the label is “HURC”, a remnant of the word “CHURCH”. The current spine of the volume was added during conservation work, and thus it is unknown whether the original spine bore a title. The recto of the front flyleaf contains several redactions or archival markings in graphite in an unknown hand: “John Whitmer | written | 1835–1838 | after 1860” and “MS History of church | 1830–1838”. The verso is blank, aside from offsetting from the first interior page and a stamped “1072” near the bottom. 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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inscribed his history from page 1 through the bottom of page 96, at which point the narrative ends midsentence, suggesting it originally continued onto the next page. When Andrew Jenson saw the book in 1893 while visiting Missouri to gather historical information, he made a handwritten copy of the volume and provided a physical description. He wrote that “four pages or two leaves have been torn off the book, which is seen from fragments of the leaves remaining.” He also noted that “the next page left intact is 101. No other writing, however, appears on this page, nor on any of the succeeding pages.”1

Whitmer, “The Book of John Whitmer,” Andrew Jenson typescript, ca. Mar. 1894, 68.  


Jenson’s earlier draft stated that the page “is numbered 101.”2

Whitmer, “The Book of John Whitmer,” Andrew Jenson manuscript copy, ca. Sept. 1893, 85.  


If this was the case, then the page numbered 101 was part of the fifth gathering and is now missing. At some point, likely during the early twentieth century, the leaf containing pages 95 and 96 was repaired with adhesive tape; the tape was removed during a later conservation effort.3

The leaf currently bears remnants of this tape. Microfilm made of the manuscript in 1974 shows clear evidence of the tape. (Whitmer, “The Book of John Whitmer,” microfilm, Oct. 1974, Research Library and Archives, Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Independence, MO, copy at CHL.)  


Redactions were made by John Whitmer himself, and subsequent editing marks were made that correspond to the early twentieth-century publication of Whitmer’s history by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (RLDS church).4

“Church History,” Journal of History, Jan. 1908, 43–63; Apr. 1908, 135–150; July 1908, 292–305.  


Following his excommunication in 1838, 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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apparently retained possession of the history. In a January 1844 offer to sell his history to the church, Whitmer wrote that the “church history” was “at my controll but not in my Possession.”5

John Whitmer, Far West, MO, to William W. Phelps, Nauvoo, IL, 8 Jan. 1844, JS Office Papers, CHL.  


Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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declined the offer,6

Willard Richards, Nauvoo, IL, to John Whitmer, Far West, MO, 23 Feb. 1844, copy, Willard Richards, Papers, CHL.  


and Whitmer certainly had the “Book of John Whitmer” after January 1844, because he updated the volume after JS’s death.
It appears 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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retained his papers until his death in July 1878, after which his widow, Sarah Maria Jackson Whitmer, sent the “Book of John Whitmer” (though apparently not any earlier notes or drafts) and other papers to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

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, Missouri, where Whitmer’s brother David

7 Jan. 1805–25 Jan. 1888. Farmer, livery keeper. Born near Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Raised Presbyterian. Moved to Ontario Co., New York, shortly after birth. Attended German Reformed Church. Arranged...

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resided.7

Whitmer, “The Book of John Whitmer,” Andrew Jenson typescript, ca. Mar. 1894, [69]; “Report of Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith,” Deseret News, 27 Nov. 1878, 674–675; 4 Dec. 1878, 690.  


David Whitmer had possession of the volume in the 1880s, before his death in 1888.8

“Revelation Revisers,” Missouri Republican (St. Louis), 16 July 1884, [7]; see also “The Book of Mormon,” Chicago Tribune, 17 Dec. 1885, 3.  


In 1893, when Andrew Jenson inspected and copied the “Book of John Whitmer,” it was in the possession of David J. Whitmer, David Whitmer’s son. Following David J. Whitmer’s death, his nephew George Schweich, a grandson of David Whitmer, took possession of the material, along with the Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript and other early Latter-day Saint manuscripts.9

Andrew Jenson et al., “Historical Landmarks,” Deseret Evening News, 26 Sept. 1888, 7; T. E. Lloyd, “The Carroll-Lloyd Expose,” Zion’s Ensign, 15 July 1893, 6; “The Book of Mormon,” New York Times, 21 Sept. 1899, 9; George Schweich, Richmond, MO, to O. R. Beardsley, 17 Jan. 1900, Miscellanea, Marie Eccles-Caine Archives of Intermountain Americana, Utah State University Special Collections, Logan; Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to S. A. Burgess, Independence, MO, 15 Apr. 1926, J. F. Curtis Papers, CCLA; see also Heman C. Smith, Lamoni, IA, to George Schweich, 20 July 1896, CCLA.  


By 1902, the First Presidency of the RLDS church approved the purchase of papers owned by Schweich, including the “Book of John Whitmer,” the Book of Mormon printer’s manuscript, and several leaves that had been separated from Revelation Book 1.10

“Minutes of First Presidency,” 24 Apr. 1902, CCLA; Walter W. Smith, Independence, MO, to the RLDS First Presidency, Independence, MO, 14 Sept. 1925, Whitmer Papers, CCLA; see also Source Note to Revelation Book 1.  


The RLDS church, later renamed the Community of Christ, has maintained custody of the Whitmer history since that time.

Facts