Martin Harris, reputable witness

Martin Harris, reputable witness March 28, 2020


James Jordan's Martin Harris
“Martin Harris,” in a still photograph, taken by James Jordan, from the set of the Interpreter Foundation’s Witnesses film project.


I offer here some additional notes from Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018).


Martin Harris arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, on 12 March 1831 for a relatively brief visit there, bringing with him a large number of copies of the Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith had requested him to do.  Reacting to that visit, Eber D. Howe, the editor of The Telegraph (whose offices were in nearby Painesville, Ohio, and who would, a few years afterward, grace the world with the very first anti-Mormon book), published the following in the 15 March 1831 issue of his newspaper:


Martin Harris, another chief of the Mormon impostors, arrived here last Saturday from the bible quarry in New-York.  He immediately planted himself in the bar-room of the hotel, where he soon commenced reading and explaining the Mormon hoax, and all the dark passages from Genesis to Revelations.  He told all about the gold plates, Angels, Spirits, and Jo Smith. — He had seen and handled them all, by the power of God!  (198-199, unusual italics and punctuation in the original)


According to Mr. Howe’s editorial, Martin Harris preaching at the hotel aroused considerable curiosity and “soon drew around thirty or forty spectators, and all who presumed to question his blasphemous pretensions, were pronounced infidels.”  (199)


When Harris finally and permanently left the area of Palmyra, New York, for Kirtland a couple of months later, Egbert B. Grandin wrote about it in the Wayne Sentinel for 27 May 1831:


Several families, numbering about fifty souls, took up their line of march from this town last week [between May 15 and 21] for the “promised land,” among whom was Martin Harris, one of the original believers in the “Book of Mormon.”  Mr. Harris was among the early settlers of this town, and has ever borne the character of an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor.  He had secured to himself by honest industry a respectable fortune — and he has left a large circle of acquaintances and friends to pity his delusion.  (210, unusual italics in the original)


Edward Stevenson remembered Martin Harris visiting the area of Pontiac, Michigan, in 1833 and bearing witness of the angel and of the Book of Mormon plates that he had seen.  (204)



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