Edward Stevenson to John Taylor,
7 January 1878
Source: Edward Stevenson to John Taylor in Journal History, 7 Jan 1878, pp. 2-3.
[Under the date of 7 Jan 1878, the Journal History of the Church included a letter from Elder Stevenson to President John Taylor containing substantially the same information with the following addition:]
Hickman County, Tenn.
President John Taylor,
Salt Lake City
I am happy to say that Brother Clark and myself arrived at this place December 28th, 1877, in safety and in good health. We stopped over at R. and L. Junction, Missouri, five miles from Richmond, Missouri where after putting up at the Hadgin’s Hotel, we found David Whitmer, the only surviving one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. With the exception of rhumatism he seems to enjoy good health, possessing fair and prominent features. After being kindly received we held four hours conversation, and met again, and spent four hours more in the evening; the next day Sabbath, two hours more. We found him quite communicative and cheerful, and seemed pleased to receive us. After some conversation he showed us the original manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon written by Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Emma Smith and Christian Whitmer, it was about two inches thick, of foolscop and clean and well preserved. It fell into his hands through the death of Oliver Cowdery, who died and was buried north of Richmond where lie the remains of Peter Whitmer and his wife-both are father and mother of David Whitmer. We asked him regarding the manner of the six at the organization of the Church, April 6th, 1830 he stated as follows:
1st, Joseph Smith, Jr., 2nd, Oliver Cowdery, 3rd, David Whitmer, 4th, Hyrum Smith, 5th, John Whitmer, 6th, Christian Whitmer. There were about forty of fifty present, many of whom had been baptized, this took place about noon.
I also desired him to state his present faith in regard to the Book of Mormon and the organization of the Church. He stated in the most prestine times that he saw an angel, golden plates, and the urim and thumim, etc. The plates were opened leaf by leaf, he saw the characters and heard a voice from heaven bearing record, that he also knew that the Prophet Joseph did translate the Book of Mormon by the power of God, that he did receive revelation and that the Church was built on the Rock, and that it was revealed [page 3] that there were to be Twelve Apostles, long before they were chosen and ordained. From his only son David, who was born at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, in 1833, I learned that the first difficulty or dispute between his father and the Prophet was in 1836 about the name of the Church, objecting to calling it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he wishing it to be called the Church of Christ. He related many very interesting items of seeing one of the Nephites in company with the Prophet and Oliver, when Joseph’s countenance became almost transparent, etc.
Since our arrival at this place we have held several meetings at Shady Grove, Lady’s Bend, 10 miles north, and Greenfield’s meeting house, three or four miles south, and also in the evening at the Groves, the continuation of the subject of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon in fulfilment of prophecy, one baptist preacher being present three times. Tomorrow we start out in the new field to break in new gound. Brother R. R. Church and family are very kind to the elders in furnishing houses and taking care of them. In this he is doing a good work.