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David Whitmer
Photo of David Whitmer
President of the Church
(Church of Christ—Whitmerites)
January 28, 1876 – January 25, 1888
SuccessorJohn C. Whitmer[1]
President of the Church
(Church of Christ—Whitmerites)
September 7, 1847[2] – ca. 1848[4]
ReasonWilliam E. McLellin asserted Whitmer's claim[3]
End reasonSeparated from McLellin.
President High Council
July 3, 1834 – January 1838
ReasonElected by vote of the Council.
End reasonVote of the Council.
President of Zion
July 7, 1834 – February 5, 1838
End reasonVote of members.
Latter Day Saint Apostle
June 1829 – June, 1838[5]
End reasonSeparated from the Church
Mayor of Richmond, Missouri[6][7]
In office
23 May 1867 – 1 January 1868
In office
pre-1867 – pre-1867
Personal details
Born(1805-01-07)January 7, 1805
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedJanuary 25, 1888(1888-01-25) (aged 83)
Richmond, Missouri
Resting placeRichmond Cemetery
39°16′44″N 93°59′10″W / 39.279°N 93.986°W / 39.279; -93.986 (Richmond Cemetery)
Baptism DateJune 3, 1829
Known ForBook of Mormon Witness
Founding Church Member
MonumentsDavid Whitmer at Find a Grave
Notable worksA Proclamation (1881)
An Address To Believers in the Book of Mormon (1887)
An Address to All Believers in Christ (1887)
Spouse(s)Julia Ann Jolly (m. January 9, 1831)
ChildrenDavid J. Whitmer (1833-1895)
Julia Ann (Schweich)(1835-1914)
ParentsPeter Whitmer Sr.
Mary Musselman Whitmer
RelativesChristian Whitmer (brother)
Jacob Whitmer (brother)
John Whitmer (brother)
Peter Whitmer Jr. (brother)
Hiram Page (brother-in-law)
Oliver Cowdery (brother-in-law)

David Whitmer (January 7, 1805–January 25, 1888) was an early adherent of the Latter Day Saint movement who eventually became the most interviewed of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon's golden plates.

Early life

Whitmer was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the fourth of nine children of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Whitmer's ancestry on both sides of his family was German, and the family spoke with a German accent. His grandfather was George Witmer, who was born in Prussia, and his great-grandfather was born in Switzerland.[8] By the 1820s, the Whitmer family had moved to a farm in Fayette, in New York's Finger Lakes area. On March 12, 1825, Whitmer was elected sergeant in a newly organized militia called the Seneca Grenadiers.[9]

Role in the early Latter Day Saint movement

Whitmer and his family were among the earliest adherents to the Latter Day Saint movement. Whitmer first heard of Joseph Smith and the golden plates in 1828 when he made a business trip to Palmyra, New York, and there talked with his friend Oliver Cowdery, who believed that there "must be some truth to the matter."[10]

Book of Mormon witness

Photo of Whitmer By R. B. Rice, c. 1864
Photo of Whitmer By R. B. Rice, c. 1864

Whitmer eventually accepted the story and brought his father's family to join the Smiths in Palmyra. Whitmer was baptized in June 1829, nearly a year prior to the formal organization of the Church of Christ. During that same month, Whitmer said that he, along with Smith and Cowdery, saw an angel present the golden plates in a vision. Martin Harris reported that he experienced a similar vision with Smith later in the day. Evidence places this event near his father's home in Fayette, New York, on June 28, 1829.[11] Whitmer, Cowdery, and Harris then signed a joint statement declaring their testimony to the reality of the vision. The statement was published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon and has been included in nearly every subsequent edition.[12]

Whitmer later said that Smith had received a revelation that Hiram Page and Cowdery would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon in Toronto. After Page and Cowdery returned from Canada empty handed, Whitmer asked Smith why they had been unsuccessful, and Smith received another revelation "through the stone" that "some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil."[13]

Founding church member

When Smith organized the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830, Whitmer was one of six original members. (In his 1838 history, Smith said the church was organized at the home of Whitmer's father, Peter Whitmer Sr., in Fayette, New York, but in an 1842 letter, Smith said that the church was organized at Manchester, New York.)[14]

Church offices

Whitmer had been ordained an elder of the church by June 9, 1830, and he was ordained to the office of high priest by Cowdery on October 5, 1831. Soon after the organization of the church, Smith set apart Jackson County, Missouri, as a "gathering place" for Latter Day Saints. According to Smith, the area would be the "center place" of the City of Zion, the New Jerusalem. On July 7, 1834, Smith ordained Whitmer to be the president of the church in Missouri and his own successor, should Smith "not live to God".

By virtue of his position as President of the High Council in Zion, David Whitmer was sustained as "the president of the church in Zion," not merely as a Stake President. Since the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Quorum of the Seventy had not yet been organized, this meant that there was a short period of time—from July 3, 1834, until February 14, 1835—when the High Council in Zion stood in an administrative position next to the First Presidency. It also meant that from July 3, 1834, until December 5, 1834, at which time Oliver Cowdery was made the Associate President of the Church, David Whitmer, as President of the High Council in Zion, was the Prophet's rightful successor."[15]

Although a revelation dated June 1829 referred to Whitmer and Cowdery as receiving the same calling as the apostle Paul,[16] Smith had not yet started a church or created the office known today as apostle. Cowdery and Whitmer did have a visionary experience and like Paul, were called to preach.[17] They were also called to "search out" twelve "disciples",[18] who later were called "apostles." None of the Three Witnesses were ordained to that apostleship.[19]

Separation from the church

Advertisement for Whitmer's livery stable
Advertisement for Whitmer's livery stable

Whitmer continued to live in Kirtland, Ohio, and his counselors, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer (Whitmer's brother) presided over the church in Missouri until the summer of 1837. After the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society bank, Smith and his counselor Sidney Rigdon, battered by creditors, moved to Far West, Missouri, to evade arrest.[20] The ensuing leadership struggle led to the dissolution of the presidency of the church in Missouri. Whitmer resigned and separated from the church.[21]

Whitmer and the other excommunicated Latter Day Saints became known as the "dissenters." Some of the dissenters owned land in Caldwell County, Missouri, which they wanted to retain.[22] The church presidency and other members looked unfavorably upon them. Rigdon preached his "Salt Sermon", which called for their expulsion from the county. A number of Latter Day Saints formed a secret society known as the Danites, whose stated goal was removal of the dissenters. Eighty prominent Mormons signed the so-called Danite Manifesto, which warned the dissenters to "depart or a more fatal calamity shall befall you." Shortly afterward, Whitmer and his family fled to nearby Richmond, Missouri.

Whitmer, other dissenters, and Mormons loyal to Smith complained to the non-Mormons in northwestern Missouri about their forcible expulsion and the loss of their properties and began to file lawsuits to recover them. Non-Mormon residents were alarmed by this and a revelation by Smith which said:

29 Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood, otherwise there is none inheritance for you.

30 And if by purchase, behold you are blessed;

31 And if by blood, as you are forbidden to shed blood, lo, your enemies are upon you, and ye shall be scourged from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, and but few shall stand to receive an inheritance. (D&C 63:29–31)[23][24][25]

Tensions escalated, bringing about the 1838 Mormon War after which Governor Boggs issued the Mormon Extermination Order in October 1838, authorizing deadly force in the removal of Mormons. Consequently, most of the Latter Day Saints were expelled from Missouri by early 1839.[26]

In response to "persecutions" from a "secret organization" formed within the church that denounced "dissenters," Whitmer used his position as one of the Three Witnesses to condemn the church: "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon," wrote Whitmer, "if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens and told me to 'separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so it should be done unto them.'"[27][28] Whitmer interpreted God's command to include both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (RLDS Church, now known as the Community Of Christ): "God commanded me by his voice to stand apart from you."[29]

Whitmer continued to live in Richmond, where he operated a successful livery stable and became a prominent and respected citizen. In 1867, he was elected to fill an unexpired term as mayor (1867–68).

President of the Church of Christ (Whitmerite)

Portrait of David Whitmer by Lewis A. Ramsey
Portrait of David Whitmer by Lewis A. Ramsey

After the death of Smith in 1844, several rival leaders claimed to be Smith's successor, including Brigham Young, Sidney Rigdon, and James J. Strang. Many of Rigdon's followers became disillusioned by 1847 and some, including apostle William E. McLellin and Benjamin Winchester, remembered Whitmer's 1834 ordination to be Smith's successor. At McLellin's urging, Whitmer exercised his claim to be Smith's successor and the Church of Christ (Whitmerite) was formed in Kirtland, Ohio. However, Whitmer never joined the body of the new church and it dissolved relatively quickly.

Around this time, fellow Book of Mormon witness Oliver Cowdery began to correspond with Whitmer. After traveling from Ohio to Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Cowdery attended the Kanesville Tabernacle meeting, called to sustain Brigham Young as the new President of the Church. Cowdery bore, with conviction, his testimony of the truthfulness of everything that had happened spiritually regarding Smith and the Book of Mormon. Meeting with Young at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, he requested readmission into the church, and he was re-baptized into the church there. Cowdery then traveled to meet with Whitmer in Richmond to persuade him to move west and rejoin the Saints in Utah Territory. Cowdery, however, succumbed to tuberculosis and died March 3, 1850.[30][31]

In January 1876, Whitmer resurrected the Church of Christ (Whitmerite) by ordaining his nephew, John C. Whitmer, an elder, and giving him the title "First Elder".[32]

In 1887, Whitmer published a pamphlet entitled "An Address to All Believers in Christ", in which he affirmed his testimony of the Book of Mormon, but denounced the other branches of the Latter Day Saint movement. Whitmer died in Richmond. The Whitmerite church survived until the 1960s.

Religious views

Address to Believers
Address to Believers

Whitmer stated his religious views in three publications: "A Proclamation" published March 24, 1881, "An Address To Believers in the Book of Mormon" published April 1887, and "An Address to All Believers in Christ" also published April 1887.


I do not endorse polygamy or spiritual wifeism. It is a great evil, shocking to the moral sense, and the more so, because practiced in the name of religion. It is of man and not God, and is especially forbidden in the Book of Mormon itself.[33]

High Priests

As to the High Priesthood, Jesus Christ himself is the last Great High Priest, this too after the order of Melchisedec, as I understand the Holy Scriptures.[33]

Name change

I do not endorse the change of the name of the church, for as the wife takes the name of her husband so should the Church of the Lamb of God, take the name of its head, even Christ himself. It is the Church of Christ.[33]

The most interviewed Book of Mormon witness

Photo of David Whitmer, Ca 1880s
Photo of David Whitmer, Ca 1880s

Because Cowdery died in 1850 at age 43 and Martin Harris died in 1875 at age 92, Whitmer was the only survivor of the Three Witnesses for 13 years. At Richmond, Missouri, he sometimes received several inquirers daily asking about his connection to the Book of Mormon, including missionaries of the LDS Church who were traveling from Utah Territory to the eastern United States and Europe. Despite his hostility toward the LDS Church, Whitmer always stood by his claim that he had actually seen the golden plates.[34]

Some of the 71 recorded interviews he gave between 1838 and 1888 contained different details than others.[35] Recounting the vision to Orson Pratt in 1878, Whitmer claimed to have seen not only the golden plates but the "Brass Plates, the plates containing the record of the wickedness of the people of the world ... the sword of Laban, the Directors (i.e. the ball which Lehi had) and the Interpreters. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed".[36]

In 1880, John Murphy interviewed Whitmer and later published an account suggesting that perhaps Whitmer's experience was a "delusion or perhaps a cunning scheme." Murphy's account said that Whitmer had not been able to describe the appearance of an angel and had likened Whitmer's experience to the "impressions as the quaker [receives] when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience."[37] Whitmer responded by publishing "A Proclamation", reaffirming his testimony and saying,

"It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Mo., that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the BOOK OF MORMON. To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement: That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that Book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all of my statements, as then made and published. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; it was no delusion!"[38]

To the "Proclamation" Whitmer attached an affidavit attesting to his honesty and standing in the community.[39] Whitmer ordered that his testimony to the Book of Mormon be placed on his tombstone.[40]

In response to a question by Anthony Metcalf, Whitmer attempted to clarify the "spiritual" versus "natural" viewing of the plates:

In regards to my testimony to the visitation of the angel, who declared to us Three Witnesses that the Book of Mormon is true, I have this to say: Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time. Martin Harris, you say, called it 'being in vision.' We read in the Scriptures, Cornelius saw, in a vision, an angel of God. Daniel saw an angel in a vision, also in other places it states they saw an angel in the spirit. A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled at noon day, and there in a vision, or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon. I am now passed eighty-two years old, and I have a brother, J. J. Snyder, to do my writing for me, at my dictation. [Signed] David Whitmer.[41]

Interviews of David Whitmer

The following table shows which interviews were cited in the following publications:

  • Kenneth W. Godfrey, "David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History," in The Disciple As Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, Provo: FARMS, 2000, pp. 223–56.
  • Lyndon W. Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, Grandin Book, 1991.
  • Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. V, Signature Books, 2003.
  • John W. Welch and Erick B. Carlson eds., Opening the Heavens, Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844, Deseret Book, 2005. Twenty-one interviews were cited, the "x-#" refers to the document number in this volume only.
  • Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, Deseret Book, 1981.
Interviewer Interview Date Name of Publication Publication Date Godfrey Cook Vogel Welch Anderson
Eber D. Howe 1834 Mormonism Unvailed 1834 x
Lumon Andros Shurtliff 21 August 1836 Autobriography, LDS Church Archives 1852–1876 x    
Thomas B. Marsh 1838 Deseret News 24 March 1858 x x    
David H. Cannon 1861 Beatrice Cannon Evans and Janath Russell Cannon, eds. Cannon Family Historical Treasury, 250. 1967 x  
David H. Cannon 1861 A. Karl Larson and Katherine Miles Larson, eds., Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 1773—74, (11 June 1894). 1980 x x x
Davis H. Bays 13 September 1869 Saints' Herald 1 November 1869 x x    
Henry Moon 9 January 1872 Deseret Evening News 10 April 1872 x x   x
Eri B. Mullin 1874 Saints' Herald 27, 76 1 March 1880 x x x-83  
James Caffall August 1874 Saints' Herald 15 September 1874 x x    
Mark H. Forscutt 2 March 1875 Scrapbook, 16–17, reproduced in Inez Smith Davis The Story of the Church. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 75 1964 x    
Chicago Times reporter August 1875 Chicago Times 7 August 1875 x x   x
Dr. James N. Seymour 8 December 1875 Saints' Herald 26, 223 (Letter from Whitmer) 1879 x x   x
Thomas Wood Smith January 1876 Fall River Herald (Massachusetts) 28 March 1879 x x-80  
Thomas Wood Smith January 1876 Saints' Herald 27, 13 1 January 1880 x x x-82  
Edward Stevenson 22—23 December 1877 Diary of Edward Stevenson, LDS Church Archives x x x
Edward Stevenson 22—23 December 1877 Journal History, LDS Church Archives x x
Edward Stevenson 22—23 December 1877 Salt Lake Herald 2 February 1878 x x    
Edward Stevenson 22—23 December 1877 Reminiscences of Joseph, the Prophet and the Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon 1893 x
Joseph Smith III 2 February 1878 Community of Christ Library Archives (letter)   x x    
P. Wilhelm Poulson 13 August 1878 Deseret Evening News 16 August 1878 x x x-79 x
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Joseph F. Smith Diary, LDS Church Archives x x
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Deseret News 16 November 1878 x    
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Orson Pratt correspondence, LDS Church Archives x x x
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Andrew Jenson, Historical Record 6, 1886, 210. 1886     x-78
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Joseph F. Smith Collection, LDS Church Archives x
Orson Pratt, Joseph F. Smith 7—8 September 1878 Brian H. Stuy. Collected Discourses, Burbank: B.H.S. Pub. vol 2 1987–92 x    
William E. McLellin June 1879 William E. McLellin Collection, New York Public Library. (Letter to James T. Cobb) 14 August 1880 x x    
J. L. Traughber Jr. October 1879 Saints' Herald 26, 341 15 November 1879 x x-81  
J. L. Traughber October 1879 T. A. Schroeder Papers, New York Public Library. (Letter to Theodore A. Schroeder) 21 August 1901          
Heman C. Smith 5 December 1876 Community of Christ Library Archives (Letter)   x x
John Murphy June 1880 Hamiltonian 21 January 1881 x x
John Murphy June 1880 Kingston Times 16 December 1887 x
E. S. Gilbert 1 August 1880 New Light on Mormonism by Ellen E. Dickson, New York: Funk and Wagnalls. 1885 x
David Whitmer 19 March 1881 "Proclamation" - Leaflet 19 March 1881 x x
David Whitmer 19 March 1881 "Proclamation" in Richmond Conservator 24 March 1881 x x
David Whitmer 19 March 1881 "Proclamation" in Hamiltonian 8 April 1881 x
David Whitmer 19 March 1881 "Proclamation" in Saints' Herald 1 June 1881 x
David Whitmer 19 March 1881 "Proclamation" in "Address to All Believers in Christ" 1 April 1887 x
Jesse R. Badham 20 March 1881 Diary of Jesse R. Badham, RLDS Church Library—Archives x x x
Jesse R. Badham 20 March 1881 Saints' Herald 1 April 1881 x x x    
Kansas City Daily Journal reporter 1 June 1881 Kansas City Daily Journal 5 June 1881 x x-84 x
David Whitmer's corrections to Kansas City Daily Journal (13 June 1881) Kansas City Daily Journal 19 June 1881 x x-85  
Chicago Times correspondent 14 October 1881 Chicago Times 17 October 1881 x x-86 x
Edwin Gordon Woolley 1882 Diary of Edwin Gordon Woolley, BYU Library—Archives x x x
Edwin Gordon Woolley 1882 E. G. Woolley Biography, BYU Library—Archives x
William H. Kelley, G. A. Blakeslee 15 January 1882 Saints' Herald 29, 68 1 March 1882 x x-87 x
Joseph Smith III et al. 4 April 1882 Saints' Herald 1 May 1882 x x x    
John Morgan, Matthias F. Cowley 13 April 1882 John Morgan Diary, LDS Church Archives x x x
John Morgan, Matthias F. Cowley 13 April 1882 Arthur M. Richardson and Nicholas G. Morgan.The Life and Ministry of John Morgan. 323 1965 x x x
John Morgan, Matthias F. Cowley 13 April 1882 Diary of Matthias F. Cowley, LDS Church Archives x x x
J. W. Chatburn No date Saints' Herald 15 June 1882 x    
S. T. Mouch 18 November 1882 Whitmer Papers, Community of Christ Library Archives (Letter from Whitmer).   x x    
Moroni Pratt, S. R. Marks, et al. 30 June 1883 Bear Lake Democrat 3 & 14 July 1883 x x x    
Moroni Pratt, S. R. Marks, et al. 30 June 1883 Deseret News 19 & 21 July 1883 x x x    
James H. Hart 21 August 1883 James H. Hart Notebook (see Mormon in Motion: The Life and Journals of James H. Hart, 1825—1906 [Windsor Books, 1976], 216) x
James H. Hart 23 August 1883 Deseret Evening News 4 September 1883 x   x
James H. Hart 21 August 1883 Bear Lake Democrat 15 September 1883 x    
James H. Hart 21 August 1883 Contributor 5, 9–10 October 1883 x x    
James H. Hart 21 August 1883 "An Interview with David Whitmer in August, 1883" (poem) 1883 x  
George Q. Cannon 27 February 1884 George Q. Cannon Journal, LDS Church Archives x x-90
George Q. Cannon 27 February 1884 Instructor 80, 520 1945       x
James H. Hart 10 March 1884 Deseret Evening News 25 March 1884 x x-89  
James H. Hart 10 March 1884 Deseret Evening News 10 April 1884 x    
James H. Hart 10 March 1884 Bear Lake Democrat 28 March 1884 x    
E. C. Briggs, Rudolph Etzenhouser 25 April 1884 Saints' Herald 31, 396–97 21 June 1884 x x-88  
J. Frank McDowell 8 May 1884 Saints' Herald 22 July and 9 August 1884 x x x    
Heman C. Smith, William H. Kelley 19 June 1884 Saints' Herald 31, 442 12 July 1884 x x x   x
Heman C. Smith, William H. Kelley 19 June 1884 Joseph Smith III, Heman C. Smith, and F. Henry Edwards. The History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 4:448–49 1968 x x    
Joseph Smith III et al. mid-July 1884 Saints' Herald 28 January 1936 x    
St. Louis Republican mid-July 1884 St. Louis Republican 16 July 1884 x x-91  
Unknown July 1884 "The True Book of Mormon" unknown newspaper clipping in William H. Samson Scrapbook, 18:76–77, Rochester Public Library. July 1884 x
B. H. Roberts 1884 Contributor 9, 169 March 1888 x  
B. H. Roberts 1884 Millennial Star 50, 120 20 February 1888 x  
B. H. Roberts 1884 Conference Report, 126 October 1926 x  
Editor 9 January 1885 Richmond Conservator (statement) 9 January 1885 x x  
Zenas H. Gurley 14 January 1885 Gurley Collection, LDS Church Archives January 21, 1885 x x-92
Zenas H. Gurley 14 January 1885 Autumn Leaves 5, 452 1892     x
E. C. Brand 8 February 1885 Kingston Times (Missouri) 23 December 1887 x
Franklin D. Richards and Charles C. Richards 25 May 1885 Charles C. Richards, "An Address Delivered by Charles C. Richards at the Sacrament Meeting Held in SLC, UT, Sunday Evening, April 20, 1947," signed. LDS Church Archives. 1947 x
James H. Moyle 28 June 1885 James H. Moyle Journal, LDS Church Archives x x
James H. Moyle 28 June 1885 24 November 1928 reminiscence x
James H. Moyle 28 June 1885 Conference Report April 1930 x    
James H. Moyle 28 June 1885 Deseret News [Church Section] 2 August 1944 x    
James H. Moyle 28 June 1885 Instructor 1945 x   x
Chicago Tribune correspondent 15 December 1885 Chicago Tribune 17 December 1885 x x-93 x
Edward Stevenson 9 February 1886 Diary of Edward Stevenson, LDS Church Archives x
Edward Stevenson 9 February 1886 Millennial Star 8 March 1886 x    
Edward Stevenson 9 February 1886 Utah Journal 10 March 1886 x    
Nathan Tanner, Jr. 13 April 1886 Nathan Tanner, Jr. Journal, LDS Church Archives x x
Nathan Tanner, Jr. 13 April 1886 Tanner reminiscence, LDS Church Archives x
Nathan Tanner, Jr. May 1886 Nathan A. Tanner, Jr. to Nathan A. Tanner, LDS Church Archives 17 February 1909     x-98  
Omaha Herald correspondent 10 October 1886 Omaha Herald 17 October 1886 x x-94 x
Omaha Herald correspondent 10 October 1886 Chicago Inter-Ocean 17 October 1886     x-94
Omaha Herald correspondent 10 October 1886 Saints' Herald, 33:706 13 November 1886     x-94
D. C. Dunbar 10 October 1886 Dunbar correspondence, LDS Church Archives x
M. J. Hubble 13 November 1886 Missouri State Historical Society, Columbia, Missouri x x-95
Edward Stevenson 2 January 1887 Diary of Edward Stevenson, LDS Church Archives x
Edward Stevenson 2 January 1887 Juvenile Instructor 15 February 1887 x    
Edward Stevenson 2 January 1887 Millennial Star 14 February 1887 x    
David Whitmer   "An Address to All Believers in Christ: By a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon", Richmond, Missouri 1887 x x-96 x
Edward Stevenson 2 January 1887 Juvenile Instructor 1 January 1889 x    
Sister Gates 11 February 1887 Whitmer Papers, Community of Christ Library Archives. (Letter from Whitmer) x x
Robert Nelson 15 February 1887 Whitmer Papers, Community of Christ Library Archives. (Letter from Whitmer) x x
Anthony Metcalf March 1887 Ten Years Before the Mast, 74 1888 Malad, Idaho     x
Angus M. Cannon 7 January 1888 Angus M. Cannon Diary, LDS Church Archives x x x
Angus M. Cannon 7 January 1888 Deseret Evening News 13 February 1888 x x x   x
Chicago Tribune correspondent 23 January 1888 Chicago Tribune 24 January 1888 x    
Unidentified Chicago man [No date] Chicago Times 26 January 1888 x x x   x
Richmond Conservator report 26 January 1888 Richmond Conservator 26 January 1888 x x x   x
Richmond Democrat report January 1888 Richmond Democrat (Borrowed from Omaha Herald. Article written by Joe Johnson) 26 January 1888 x       x
Richmond Democrat report January 1888 Richmond Democrat (re-run) 2 February 1888 x-97 x
John C. Whitmer September 1888 Deseret News 13 & 17 September 1888 x    
John C. Whitmer September 1888 Saints' Herald (Reprint of Deseret News) 13 October 1888 x    
George W. Schweich 1899 Woodbridge I. Riley. The Founder of Mormonism. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1903, 219–20. (Letter from George W. Schweich to I. Woodbridge) 22 September 1899 x x    
Philander Page January 25, 1888 George Edward Anderson Diary, Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, 27–28. 1907 x    
John J. Snyder 1886–87 W. H. Cadman. A History of the Church of Jesus Christ, Organized at Green Oak, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., in the Year 1862. Monongola, Pennsylvania: The Church of Jesus Christ, 1945, 24–25. 10 October 1928 x    


  1. ^ There was no formal beginning. John C. Whitmer was baptized at the age of 44 on September 15, 1875, then ordained an Elder January 28, 1876 and commissioned to "go forth and preach the Gospel...organize a new church...was to be the first Elder." (Jenson, Andrew; Stevenson, Edward; Black, Joseph S. (26 September 1888). "Historical Landmarks". Deseret News (37). p. 579. Retrieved 17 February 2021.)
  2. ^ On this day David was "re-ordained" (according to his previous ordination by Joseph Smith on July 8, 1834) by William McLellin, Hiram Page, Jacob Whitmer, & John Whitmer. This entailed "holy priesthood," "high priests," and a "presidency" framework. See McLellin, William E. (August 1849). "Our Tour West in 1847". The Ensign of Liberty. 7 (1). Kirtland, Ohio. pp. 99–104. Retrieved 17 February 2021..
  3. ^ Whitmer did not seek the position but acknowledged that he was in fact ordained by Joseph Smith to succeed him. Whitmer was ordained a "prophet, seer, and revelator." (Bringhurst, Newell G.; Hamer, John C., eds. (10 September 2007). Scattering Of The Saints: Schism Within Mormonism. Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-934-90102-1.)
  4. ^ McLellin was based in Kirtland, Ohio. Whitmer however never traveled to Kirtland or assisted McLellin to grow his branch. McClellin did have a publication called Ensign of Liberty which the Whitmer branch refused after June 1848.[citation needed]
  5. ^ For the date Whitmer said he left the Mormons: An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 8.
  6. ^ Richmond Conservator. Richmond, Missouri. 22 June 1867. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Johnson, Liz (1 September 2017). "A Witness becomes mayor" (PDF). Richmond News. Richmond, Missouri. p. 1. Retrieved 17 February 2021. It is believed that upon the death of Mayor John Shaw, who was shot in the chest during the robbery of the Hughes & Wasson Bank in Richmond on May 23, 1867, Whitmer became mayor to fulfill Shaw’s mayoral term until Jan. 1, 1868.
  8. ^ Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, Vol. V, 2003, p. 9.
  9. ^ Seneca Farmer, March 23, 1825.
  10. ^ David Whitmer interview with Kansas City Journal, June 1, 1881, in Early Mormon Documents 5:74.
  11. ^ Anderson, Gale Yancey (Spring 2012), "Eleven Witnesses Behold the Plates", Journal of Mormon History, 38 (2): 146–52
  12. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 77-79.
  13. ^ "Joseph looked into the hat in which he placed the stone, and received a revelation that some of the brethren should go to Toronto, Canada, and that they would sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery went to Toronto on this mission, but they failed entirely to sell the copyright, returning without any money. Joseph was at my father's house when they returned. I was there also, and am an eye witness to these facts. Jacob Whitmer and John Whitmer were also present when Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery returned from Canada. Well, we were all in great trouble; and we asked Joseph how it was that he had received a revelation from the Lord for some brethren to go to Toronto and sell the copyright, and the brethren had utterly failed in their undertaking. Joseph did not know how it was, so he enquired of the Lord about it, and behold the following revelation came through the stone: 'Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil.' So we see that the revelation to go to Toronto and sell the copyright was not of God, but was of the devil or of the heart of man." David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, in EMD 5: 198.
  14. ^ For evidence regarding these contradictory statements, see Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 109, 586, n.2.
  15. ^ Hyrum L. Andrus, Doctrines of the Kingdom, Bookcraft, 1973, p. 195.
  16. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Covenant 18:37
  17. ^ Galatians 1:1,12,16
  18. ^ Doctrine and Covenants, Covenant 18:27,37
  19. ^ The Three Witnesses did not ordain the apostles: "The First Presidency anointed only one apostle, the Twelve's president Thomas B. Marsh. Marsh then anointed the other apostles, and Smith spoke prophetic words to each one but did not anoint them." (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p. 60; see also Joseph Smith diary, 21 January 1836, in History of the Church, 2:379–83; Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, 118–21, in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 145–46, and in Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith, 2:156–58.)
  20. ^ Van Wagoner, Richard S. (1994). Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess. Signature Books. p. 193.
  21. ^ David Whitmer separated from the church and was never excommunicated. See Far West Record, pp. 123–25; Ebenezer Robinson, "Items of Personal History of the Editor," The Return, (Davis City, Iowa: Church of Christ), Vol. 1, No. 9, September 1889, pp. 134–35.
  22. ^ David Whitmer did not own land. See Saints' Herald, vol. 34, No. 7, February 5, 1887.
  23. ^ Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, chapter 27, pp. 374–76
  24. ^ Bushman, Richard L. (Autumn 1960). "Mormon Persecutions in Missouri, 1833 – BYU Studies". BYU Studies. 3 (1). Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  25. ^ David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 55.
  26. ^ Bushman, 328–55.
  27. ^ ("All[permanent dead link] Believers In Christ", by D. Whitmer, 1887)
  28. ^ Ellis, Jonathan (28 December 2017). "Primary Sources in Mormon History: David Whitmer's An Address to All Believers in Christ". Medium. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  29. ^ (Metcalfe, 1993, p. 176)
  30. ^ David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in the Book of Mormon, 1887, p. 1
  31. ^ Scott H. Faulring, "The Return of Oliver Cowdery," Archived 2011-10-21 at the Wayback Machine Maxwell Institute, Provo, Utah.
  32. ^ Deseret News; The Return, vol. 3, no. 3, October 1892, pp. 3–5; George Sweich, "David Whitmer and the Church of Christ," Magazine of Western History, New York, vol. 14, May 1891—October 1891, p 520.
  33. ^ a b c A Proclamation
  34. ^ The earliest known signed testimony of Whitmer was recorded in a letter to Mark H. Forscutt of March 2, 1875: "Dear Sir: My testimony to the world is written concerning the Book of Mormon. And it is the same that I gave at first, and it is the same as shall stand to my latest hour in life, linger with me in death and shine as gospel truth beyond the limits of life, among the tribunals of heaven. And the nations of the earth will have known to[o] late the divine truth written on the pages of that book is the only sorrow of this servant of the Almighty Father." (Davis, 1981, p. 75)
  35. ^ Lyndon W. Cook ed., David Whitmer Interviews, Grandin Book, 1991, p. xxvi.
  36. ^ David Whitmer interview with Orson Pratt, September 1878, in EMD, 5: 43.
  37. ^ Hamilton Newspaper, January 21, 1881; Kingston (Missouri) Times, December 16, 1887; "David Whitmer Interview with John Murphy, June 1880," Dan Vogel, ed., Early Morning Documents Signature Books, 2003, vol. 5, p. 63.
  38. ^ Richmond (Missouri) Conservator, March 24, 1881; Hamiltonian (Missouri) Newspaper, April 8, 1881; Saints' Herald, June 1, 1881, vol. 28, p. 168; David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, 1887, pp. 8-10; LDS Church Archives; Ebbie Richardson, "David Whitmer," M.A. Thesis, BYU, 1952, pp. 178–80; "David Whitmer: The Independent Missouri Businessman," Improvement Era, vol. 72, April 1969, p. 79; Lyndon W. Cook, pp. 79–80; Dan Vogel, ed., Early Morning Documents Signature Books, 2003, 5:68–71.
  39. ^ Vogel, Dan, ed. (2003). Early Mormon Documents. 5. Signature Books. p. 63. Archived from the original on 13 July 2012. Retrieved 17 February 2021. Excerpt
  40. ^ David Whitmer at Find a Grave
  41. ^ Letter of David Whitmer to Anthony Metcalf, March 1887, cit. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Idaho, 1888) p. 74; cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1981) p. 86. ISBN 0877478465.


  • Cook, Lyndon W. (ed) (1991). David Whitmer Interviews, A Restoration Witness. Orem, Utah: Grandin Book. ISBN 978-0-910523-38-7.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

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