Martin Harris, testifying in 1870

Martin Harris, testifying in 1870 September 9, 2020


MoTab and OTS
The Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle


Here are some further reports about Martin Harris just before and following his arrival in Utah in 1870, from Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018):


Edward Stevenson first heard Martin Harris bear testimony that an angel had shown him the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated near the town of Pontiac, in Oakland County, Michigan Territory, in 1833.


Now, thirty-six years later, Stevenson met with Martin once again on February 11, 1870.  He saw him coming out of the Kirtland Temple and observed, “He took from under his arm a copy of the Book of Mormon, the first edition, I believe, and bore a faithful testimony.”  He heard Martin say, “it was his duty to continue to lift up his voice as he had been commanded to do in defence of the Book that he held in his hand, and offered to prove from the Bible that just such a book was to come forth out of the ground.”  Martin confessed to Stevenson that “he was daily bearing testimony to many who visited the Temple.”  (417)


Eventually, Edward Stevenson brought the aging witness westward to Utah Territory.  En route by train, they reached Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, 22 August, 1870.  There, the president of the local LDS branch invited him to speak to a “special meeting” of the congregation.  “Martin responded by bearing ‘testimony as to viewing the plates, the angel’s visit, and visiting professor Anthony [Charles Anthon.”  (425)


On 4 September 1870, arrived in Salt Lake City, Martin Harris gave a public address during which, according to a contemporary account written down by Edward Stevenson, he related that “Martins Wife had hefted them & felt them [the gold plates] under cover as had Martin.”  (433)


Wanting many to hear his confirming testimony, Edward Stevenson took Martin to meetinghouses throughout the Salt Lake Valley.  In each place, Martin testified of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  (440)


During the morning session of the semiannual general conference of the Church in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday, 9 October 1870, according to a record of the conference,


“Mr. Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, arose and bore testimony to its divine authenticity.”  Joseph Hunter was in the congregation and was impressed to record Martin’s declaration:  “Martin Harris bore his testimony to the truth of the book of Mormon and also that an angle [angel] of the Lord laid the plates before them.”  Mary Ann Weston Maughan, wife of Peter Maughan of Cache Valley, wrote in her journal: “Martin Harris bore a faithful testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon.  I was there and heard him speak.”  (442)


President Brigham Young concluded the session with a rehearsal of the “manner in which the witnesses of the book of Mormon left the church.  He related circumstances showing that none of those witnesses had ever denied their testimony.”  (443)



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