I share with you here another item culled from Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter, Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Studies, 2018). It is a statement from Theodore Farley, who, as a young boy, often greeted Martin Harris when, between his emigration to Utah in 1870 and his death in 1875, the elderly witness would come from Cache Valley to Ogden to visit his nephew, Joseph Mormon Harris. During those visits, Martin Harris would sometimes go over to the nearly shop of Theodore’s father, Winthrope Farley, who was a wheelwright, carpenter, and blacksmith, and who loved to discuss the early history of the Restoration. On such occasions, when the discussion was over, Winthrope would send Theodore to walk Martin, who shuffled a bit and walked with a cane, from the workshop to the Farley family home for dinner. Theodore later recalled that “it was my privilege to hear Martin Harris relate that [i.e., the story of his experience with the golden plates and the angel], time and time again.” (471). Here is one of Theodore Farley’s reminiscences:
And he became miffed with the Prophet Joseph because he thought that he should have been one of the leading men in the Church. He had helped Brother Joseph Smith with means to publish the Book of Mormon and to assist him in many other ways, and for that reason, I say, and what he had done for the Church, he became miffed; but it would nearly always wind up with the testimony that you find here recorded in the Book of Mormon. He stated that he stood in broad day light, when an angel from Heaven came down with the plates in his arms, and he stood side by side with the angel when the angel did turn over leaf after leaf of the book that had been translated into our language — the English language — until he became perfectly satisfied that he had seen enough, and further, that after the angel had shown him the plates and disappeared, he heard a voice from Heaven, that thrilled every fiber of his body, stating that the book had been translated by the gift and power of God, and not of man, and he was commanded by the Lord to so make that statement to the world. And he did. (471)
Those who see the Interpreter Foundation’s forthcoming Witnesses theatrical film will notice a brief but unmistakable allusion to Martin’s disappointed ambitions. His disappointment was one of the factors contributing to his decades-long absence from the Church.