At the very end

At the very end September 13, 2020


Wuthrich and Hoppe, when things were good
Joseph Smith (Paul Wuthrich) and Martin Harris (Lincoln Hoppe), at work on the translation of the Book of Mormon in a scene from the Interpreter Foundation’s forthcoming theatrical film, “Witnesses.”  Still photograph by James Jordan.


I return yet again to Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018).


This extract comes from a letter written by Martin Harris Jr. to President George A. Smith, dated 9 July 1875:

He has continued to talk about and testify to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and was in his happiest mood when he could get somebody to listen to his testimony. . . .  We begin to think that he has borne his last testimony.  The last audible words he has spoken were something about the three witnesses of the book of Mormon but we could not understand what it was.  (509)


William Homer gave this description of Martin Harris’s final moments.  Martin died at 7:45 PM on 10 July 1875, in Clarkston, Utah:

I stood by the bedside holding the patient’s right hand and my mother at the foot of the bed.  Martin Harris had been unconscious for a number of days.  When we first entered the room the old gentleman appeared to be sleeping.  He soon woke up and asked for a drink of water.  I put my arm under the old gentleman, raised him, and my mother held the glass to his lips.  He drank freely, then he looked up at me and recognized me.  He said, “I know you.  You are my friend.”  He said, “Yes, I did see the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written; I did see the angel; I did hear the voice of God; and I do know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood.”  This was the end.  Martin Harris, divinely-chosen witness of the work of God, relaxed, gave up my hand.  He lay back on his pillow [“he gasped two or three times for his breath”] and just as the sun went down behind the Clarkston mountains, the soul of Martin Harris passed on.  When Martin Harris, Jr., and his wife returned to the house they found that their father had passed away, but in passing, Martin Harris, favored of God, repeated an inrefutable [sic] testimony of the divine inspiration and the prophetic genius of the great Prophet, Joseph Smith.  (510-511)



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