Peter Whitmer Home and Farm, Fayette, NY: Translation, Three Witnesses, and the Church of Christ Organized

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“That house will, no doubt, be celebrated for ages to come as the one chosen by the Lord in which to make known the first elements of the organization of His Kingdom in the latter days.”
(Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 12:88)


Abstract

The site of the Peter Whitmer, Sr. home and farm is hallowed by the Latter-day Saints. Many important events occurred here in 1829 and 1830: Joseph Smith translated 1 Nephi through Omni in the Book of Mormon, an angel showed the gold plates and other sacred relics of the Book of Mormon to the Three Witness, the Church of Christ was organized on Tuesday, April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith received seventeen revelations that are now in the Doctrine and Covenants, and he worked on the Translation of the Bible.




Video Transcript

Interesting Facts

• In early June 1829, David Whitmer arrived in Harmony, Pennsylvania, with a wagon to transport Joseph and Oliver to the Whitmer home in Fayette. During this move, Joseph returned the plates to Moroni for safekeeping. David Whitmer related an interesting event that occurred en route. “When I was returning to Fayette with Joseph and Oliver, all of us riding in the wagon, Oliver and I on an old fashioned wooden spring seat and Joseph behind us, we were suddenly approached by a very pleasant, nice looking old man in a clear open place, who saluted us with ‘Good morning, it is very warm,’ at the same instant wiping his face or forehead with his hand. We returned the salutation and by a sign from Joseph I invited him to ride if he was going our way, but he said very pleasantly, ‘No, I am going to Cumorah.’ This was something new tome, I did not know what Cumorah meant, and as I looked inquiringly at Joseph, the old man instantly disappeared so that I did not see

him again” (From Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith interview with David Whitmer, 7–8 September 1878, Richmond, Missouri, Millennial Star, 49:772; also see David Whitmer Interviews, 48–49). Joseph told David that this pleasant old man was, indeed, none other than the angel Moroni.

• The document required by the state of New York to organize the Church of Christ has never been found. It is not known if the document was never registered, or if it was lost or destroyed at some point.

• A chapel and visitors’ center are located together in a white, wood frame building on the Whitmer property.

• As Joseph Smith was translating the plates, David Whitmer recalled that his mother, Mary Whitmer, was filled with anxiety because of the added burden of hosting so many guests. It was somewhere near the Whitmer home, as she was on her way to the barn, that she met an old man who was a stranger to her. He said, “You have been very faithful and diligent in your labors, but you are tired because of the increase of your toil; it is proper therefore that you should receive a witness that your faith may be strengthened” (David Whitmer Interviews, 28). The man then showed her the gold plates. This experience greatly strengthened Mary Whitmer as many events of the restoration unfolded at her home.

• By 1873 the original Whitmer home was most likely no longer in existence. The Church purchased the farm on September 25, 1926, and years later a team of historians and archeologists discovered the original location of the Whitmer home. Efforts to restore the site began in May of 1979, and the original foundation revealed the dimensions of the Whitmer home. Remarkably, a 150 year-old log home with the same dimensions as the Whitmer home was discovered not too far from Fayette and was used as the model to reconstruct a log home on the property. The 20’ by 30’ replica was completed in 1980 and dedicated by President Spencer W. Kimball during the televised satellite broadcast for the April 6, 1980, session of General Conference. This broadcast marked the 150th anniversary of the organization of the Church. (Larry C. Porter, “The Peter Whitmer Log Home: Cradle of Mormonism” Religious Educator, Vol. 12 No. 3, (2011) 177-201.)

• Although the original home is no longer standing, “the reconstructed log house of Peter Whitmer Sr. has the unique distinction of being on the exact site” of the original home and the chamber has been identified as referring to the bedroom [Sacred Places, Volume 2: New York and Pennsylvania, a Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, eds. Lamar C. Berrett, Larry C. Porter, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 134, 139.) Describing these events, Joseph Smith said, “We had for some time made this matter a subject of humble prayer, and at length we got together in the Chamber of Mr. Whitmer’s house in order more particularly to seek of the Lord what we now so earnestly desired: and here, to our unspeakable satisfaction did we realize the truth of the Savior’s promise; ‘Ask, and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you;’ for we had not long been engaged in solemn and fervent prayer, when the word of the Lord,

came unto us in the Chamber, commanding us; that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ, and that he also should ordain me to the same office, accordin and then [to] ordain others as it should be made known unto us, from time to time: we were however commanded to defer this our ordination untill, such times, as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our thus proceeding to ordain each other, and have them decide by vote whether they were willing to accept us as spiritual teachers, or not, when we were also commanded to bless bread and break it with them, and to take wine and bless it, and drink it with them, afterward proceed to ordain each other according to commandment…” (Joseph Smith, Histories, Volume 1, 326-328).