A miraculous harrowing

A miraculous harrowing June 20, 2020


Whitmer and Kelly from Richins
A notably reluctant David Whitmer (played by Paul Karkarian) being interviewed by reporter Edwin Kelly (played by Ted Charette) in Whitmer’s Richmond, Missouri, livery stable. (A 2019 still photo by James Jordan during filming of the interpreter Foundation’s “Witnesses” film project in Old Sturbridge Village, in Massachusetts.)


Here are a couple of additional passages that I’ve extracted for my notes from Ronald E. Romig, Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer (Independence, MO: John Whitmer Books, 2014).  Ron Romig is a historian and archivist who is affiliated with the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and who retired in 2017 as director of that church’s Kirtland Temple Historic Site:


[T]he . . . account of angels who helped David Whitmer harrow and fertile [sic] his spring crop, was a favorite in the Whitmer family.  Helen Van Cleave Blankmeyer, David Whitmer’s great-granddaughter, tells this somewhat romanticized but colorful version:

When Peter [Whitmer Sr.] heard David planning to go off to meet Oliver [and Joseph Smith in Harmony], and in mid-week too, he protest: “Na, na — not till the south field is harrowed and the plaster spread!  That is your job, as you know, and it will not take less than two full days, maybe more.  Duty first, duty first.”  David agreed, but he was sad, and the little Elizabeth . . . grieved for her brother’s disappointment.  She watched him through the next day as he drove the harrow hard, his long body and broad shoulders contesting with the earth as with a strong wrestler, but at evening the task was scarcely half done.  Rising early on the second day to prepare his breakfast, she stepped into the yard and glanced toward the field.  To her amazement it was all evenly harrowed, and the lime neatly spread, while two strange men, just visible through the morning mist, were leaving the place at the far side.  David came out of the house, and stood entranced beside her.  “Elizabeth? . . .  Elizabeth! . . .  It must be, it can only be . . . ”  “Yes” she breathed . . . “angels.”  (30)


The story is briefly portrayed (with some obvious differences from the great-granddaughter’s account) in the first five minutes or so of a really quite well-done 23-minute Church film entitled A Day for the Eternities.


Late in life, David recalled Joseph Smith as “a man of great magnetism, made friends easily, was liberal and noble in his impulses, tall, finely formed and full of animal life, but sprung from the most humble of circumstances.  The first good suite of clothes he had ever worn was presented to him by [my brother] Christian Whitmer.  (27)



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