31764

John Whitmer, History, 1831–circa 1847

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Editorial Note
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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’s conclusion to Chapter 19, which acknowledged his formal excommunication on 10 March 1838, originally marked the end of this history. At a later time, however, Whitmer returned to the manuscript to cancel his plea for forgiveness; he then added three more chapters. Before he was expelled from Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

More Info
in June 1838 along with other excommunicants, Whitmer was a witness of some of the 1838 events of which he wrote. In contrast, because Whitmer had to rely entirely on the reports of others for his description of developments in 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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from autumn 1836 to spring 1838, in Caldwell

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

More Info
and Daviess

Area in northwest Missouri settled by European Americans, 1830. Sparsely inhabited until 1838. Created from Ray Co., Dec. 1836, in attempt to resolve conflicts related to Mormon settlement in that region. County is transected diagonally from northwest to ...

More Info
counties, Missouri, in late 1838, and in Illinois

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

More Info
beginning in 1839, the final chapters of his narrative exhibit significant historical shortcomings. For example, his comment that the Mormons “commenced a difficulty in Daviess Co.” and his brief explanation of the events leading up to JS’s imprisonment and the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
fail to place Mormon acts of aggression in Daviess County in the context of a broader and rapidly developing conflict, including previous violence against the Mormons. He stands alone among his contemporaries in claiming that an organization resembling the Danites originated in Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

More Info
, and his generalization about “spiritual wife doctrine, that is pleurality of wives” in Kirtland suggests his narrative was colored by a later perspective, one based on charges leveled at the Mormons in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
in the 1840s.

Chapter 20

Chapter 20, 1837.
In the fall of 1836, Joseph Smith Jr. Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
& others of the Leaders of the church 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
Ohio, Established a bank for the purpose of Speculation and the whole church partook of the same Spirit,255

The Kirtland Safety Society was established in January 1837 to facilitate economic development in Kirtland and vicinity. It faltered early and finally closed in November 1837. Other observers, including John Corrill, recalled a prevailing attitude of speculation and greed in Kirtland. (Corrill, Brief History, 26–27; see also Hill et al., Kirtland Economy Revisited.)  


they were lifted up in pride, and lusted after the forbiden things of God such as covetousness, & in secret combination, spiritual wife doctrine, that is pleurality of wives,256

JS’s 1831 work on the revision of the Bible evidently led to a revelation sanctioning polygyny as practiced by Old Testament patriarchs.a Later accounts reported that JS and a young woman named Fanny Alger had a relationship in Kirtland and that JS and Alger’s family considered it to be a divinely authorized plural marriage; Oliver Cowdery later characterized the relationship as adulterous.b John Whitmer could have learned of a relationship between JS and Alger from Cowdery, but the phrase “spiritual wife doctrine” was introduced publicly by dissident John C. Bennett in 1842, indicating that Whitmer wrote this portion of the history after that date.c  


aSee Revelation, 12 July 1843, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 132]; Bachman, “Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage,” 24–28.

bOliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren Cowdery, [Kirtland, OH], 21 Jan. 1838, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 80–83; see also JS, Journal, 12 Apr. 1838; and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, chap. 1.

c“Further Mormon Developments!! 2d Letter from Gen. Bennett,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, [2]; Bennett, History of the Saints, 223–225.

and gadianton bands257

Gadianton was the leader of a band of robbers in the Book of Mormon, which chronicles periodic resurgences of a secret society bearing his name. Whitmer used these same phrases, “spiritual wife” and “gadianton bands,” a few pages later when discussing events in Nauvoo, and it seems that his narrative merged events of late 1836 and 1837 Kirtland and 1840s Nauvoo. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 423 [Helaman 6:18]; see also Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 79–80; Corrill, Brief History, 30–32; and JS, Journal, 27 July 1838.)  


in which they were bound with oaths &c. that brought divisions and mistrust among those who were pure in heart, and desired the upbilding of the Kingdom of God—
J. Smith Jr. & Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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& Hiram 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...

View Full Bio
moved their families to this place Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

More Info
in the Spring of 1838.258

JS reached Far West on 14 March, Rigdon on 4 April, and Hyrum Smith in late May. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, [undated entry]; JS History, vol. B-1, 786; Hyrum Smith, Commerce, IL, to “the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Dec. 1839, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:20–24.)  


As soon as they came here they began to enforce their new organized plan which caused disensions and difficulties, threatnings and even murders. Smith called a counsel of the leaders259

No other record exists of this “counsel of the leaders.” After JS’s arrival in Far West, the high council met several times to discipline dissident leaders and reestablish JS’s authority. Whitmer was excommunicated by this time and therefore was not in attendance. (See Minute Book 2, 12, 13, and 14 Apr. 1838.)  


together in which 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 allusion to the gideanats Gideonites260

The warrior Gideon and his followers are described in Judges chapter 8, in the Old Testament. Whitmer used both “gadiantons” and “gideonites” to refer to the Danites.  


as they were then termed to Justify themselves, in their wicked designes
Thus on the 19th of June 1838 they preached a sermon called it the Salt sermon261

According to Reed Peck’s 1839 recollection, Sidney Rigdon’s 17 June 1838 “Salt Sermon” applied Jesus’s reference to salt that had lost its savor to unfaithful Mormons: “He informed the people that they had a set of men among them that had dissented from the church and were doing all in their power to destroy the presidency laying plans to take their lives &c., accused them of counterfeiting lying cheating and numerous other crimes and called on the people to rise en masse and ride [rid] the county of such a nuisance He said it is the duty of this people to trample them into the earth and if the county cannot be freed from them any other way I will assist to trample them down or to erect a gallows on the square of Far West and hang them up as they did the gamblers at Vicksburgh and it would be an act at which the angels would smile with approbation.” According to Peck, “Joseph Smith in a short speech sanctioned what had been said by Rigdon, though said he I don’t want the brethren to act unlawfully.” (Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 24–25, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA; see also JS, Journal, 4 July 1838.)  


in which these gideonites understood that they should drive the disenters as they termed those who believed not [p. 86]

Editorial Note
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...

View Full Bio
’s conclusion to Chapter 19, which acknowledged his formal excommunication on 10 March 1838, originally marked the end of this history. At a later time, however, Whitmer returned to the manuscript to cancel his plea for forgiveness; he then added three more chapters. Before he was expelled from Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

More Info
in June 1838 along with other excommunicants, Whitmer was a witness of some of the 1838 events of which he wrote. In contrast, because Whitmer had to rely entirely on the reports of others for his description of developments in 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
from autumn 1836 to spring 1838, in Caldwell

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

More Info
and Daviess

Area in northwest Missouri settled by European Americans, 1830. Sparsely inhabited until 1838. Created from Ray Co., Dec. 1836, in attempt to resolve conflicts related to Mormon settlement in that region. County is transected diagonally from northwest to ...

More Info
counties, Missouri, in late 1838, and in Illinois

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

More Info
beginning in 1839, the final chapters of his narrative exhibit significant historical shortcomings. For example, his comment that the Mormons “commenced a difficulty in Daviess Co.” and his brief explanation of the events leading up to JS’s imprisonment and the expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

More Info
fail to place Mormon acts of aggression in Daviess County in the context of a broader and rapidly developing conflict, including previous violence against the Mormons. He stands alone among his contemporaries in claiming that an organization resembling the Danites originated in Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

More Info
, and his generalization about “spiritual wife doctrine, that is pleurality of wives” in Kirtland suggests his narrative was colored by a later perspective, one based on charges leveled at the Mormons in Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

More Info
in the 1840s.

Chapter 20

Chapter 20, 1837.
In the fall of 1836, Joseph Smith Jr.  S[idney] Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
& others of the Leaders of the  church 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
Ohio, Established  a bank for the purpose of Speculation  and the whole church partook of the same  Spirit,255

The Kirtland Safety Society was established in January 1837 to facilitate economic development in Kirtland and vicinity. It faltered early and finally closed in November 1837. Other observers, including John Corrill, recalled a prevailing attitude of speculation and greed in Kirtland. (Corrill, Brief History, 26–27; see also Hill et al., Kirtland Economy Revisited.)  


they were lifted up in pride, and  lusted after the forbiden things of God such  as covetousness, & in secret combination,  spiritual wife doctrine, that is pleurality of  wives,256

JS’s 1831 work on the revision of the Bible evidently led to a revelation sanctioning polygyny as practiced by Old Testament patriarchs.a Later accounts reported that JS and a young woman named Fanny Alger had a relationship in Kirtland and that JS and Alger’s family considered it to be a divinely authorized plural marriage; Oliver Cowdery later characterized the relationship as adulterous.b John Whitmer could have learned of a relationship between JS and Alger from Cowdery, but the phrase “spiritual wife doctrine” was introduced publicly by dissident John C. Bennett in 1842, indicating that Whitmer wrote this portion of the history after that date.c  


aSee Revelation, 12 July 1843, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 132]; Bachman, “Ohio Origins of the Revelation on Eternal Marriage,” 24–28.

bOliver Cowdery, Far West, MO, to Warren Cowdery, [Kirtland, OH], 21 Jan. 1838, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 80–83; see also JS, Journal, 12 Apr. 1838; and Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, chap. 1.

c“Further Mormon Developments!! 2d Letter from Gen. Bennett,” Sangamo Journal [Springfield, IL], 15 July 1842, [2]; Bennett, History of the Saints, 223–225.

and gadianton bands257

Gadianton was the leader of a band of robbers in the Book of Mormon, which chronicles periodic resurgences of a secret society bearing his name. Whitmer used these same phrases, “spiritual wife” and “gadianton bands,” a few pages later when discussing events in Nauvoo, and it seems that his narrative merged events of late 1836 and 1837 Kirtland and 1840s Nauvoo. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 423 [Helaman 6:18]; see also Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 79–80; Corrill, Brief History, 30–32; and JS, Journal, 27 July 1838.)  


in which  they were bound with oaths &c. that brought  divisi[o]ns and mistrust among those who were  pure in heart, and desired the upbilding  of the Kingdom of God—
J. Smith Jr. & Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

View Full Bio
& Hiram [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...

View Full Bio
 moved their families to this place Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

More Info
 in the Spring of 1838.258

JS reached Far West on 14 March, Rigdon on 4 April, and Hyrum Smith in late May. (JS, Journal, Mar.–Sept. 1838, [undated entry]; JS History, vol. B-1, 786; Hyrum Smith, Commerce, IL, to “the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Dec. 1839, Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:20–24.)  


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 the leaders259

No other record exists of this “counsel of the leaders.” After JS’s arrival in Far West, the high council met several times to discipline dissident leaders and reestablish JS’s authority. Whitmer was excommunicated by this time and therefore was not in attendance. (See Minute Book 2, 12, 13, and 14 Apr. 1838.)  


to gether in which 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 allusion to the  gideanats [Gideonites]260

The warrior Gideon and his followers are described in Judges chapter 8, in the Old Testament. Whitmer used both “gadiantons” and “gideonites” to refer to the Danites.  


as they were then termed to  Justify themselves, in their wicked designes
Thus on the 19th of June 1838 they  preached a sermon called it the Salt sermon261

According to Reed Peck’s 1839 recollection, Sidney Rigdon’s 17 June 1838 “Salt Sermon” applied Jesus’s reference to salt that had lost its savor to unfaithful Mormons: “He informed the people that they had a set of men among them that had dissented from the church and were doing all in their power to destroy the presidency laying plans to take their lives &c., accused them of counterfeiting lying cheating and numerous other crimes and called on the people to rise en masse and ride [rid] the county of such a nuisance He said it is the duty of this people to trample them into the earth and if the county cannot be freed from them any other way I will assist to trample them down or to erect a gallows on the square of Far West and hang them up as they did the gamblers at Vicksburgh and it would be an act at which the angels would smile with approbation.” According to Peck, “Joseph Smith in a short speech sanctioned what had been said by Rigdon, though said he I don’t want the brethren to act unlawfully.” (Reed Peck, Quincy, IL, to “Dear Friends,” 18 Sept. 1839, pp. 24–25, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA; see also JS, Journal, 4 July 1838.)  


 in which these gideonites understood  that they should drive the disenters as  they termed those who believed that not [p. 86]
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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...

View Full Bio
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