David Whitmer’s Last Hours:
Statement in Richmond Democrat, February 1888
Source: Richmond Democrat, 2 Feb 1888, cit. Andrew Jenson,
“David Whitmer,” The Historical Record 7 (Oct 1888): 622-24
[David Whitmer, the last of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, died at his residence in Richnmond, Ray County, Missouri, 25 Jan 1888, aged 83 years and 18 days. His last hours are described in an article which appeared in his hometown paper, the Richmond Democrat, under date of 2 February 1888. This article is reproduced herewith in part from Andrew Jenson’s Historical Recor 7 (October 1888):622-624.
[page 623] David Whitmer bore his long illness [page 624] with great patience and fortitude, his faith never for a moment wavering, and when the summons came he sank peacefully to rest, with a smile on his countenance, just as if he was being lulled to sleep by sweet music. Just before the breath left the body, he opened his eyes, which glistened with the brightness of his early manhood. He then turned them towards heaven, and a wonderful light came over his countenance, which remained several moments, when the eyes gradually closed and David Whitmer had gone to his rest.
On Monday last (January 23, 1888) at 10 o’clock a.m., after awakening from a short slumber, he said he had seen beyond the veil and saw Christ on the other side. His friends, who were constantly at his bedside, claim that he had many manifestations of the truths of the great beyond, which confirms their faith beyond all shadow of doubt.
On Sunday evening at 5:30 (January 22, 1888) Mr. Whitmer called his family and some friends to his bedside, and addressing himself to the attending physician, said:
“Dr. Buchanan, I want you to say whether or not I am in my right mind, before I give my dying testimony.”
The doctor answered: “Yes, you are in your right mind, for I have just had a conversation with you.”
David Whitmer then addressed himself to all around his bedside in these words: “Now you must all be faithful in Christ. I want to say to you all, the Bible and the record of the Nephites (Book of Mormon) are true, so you can say you have heard me bear my testimony on my deathbed. All be faithful in Christ, and your reward will be according to your works. God bless you all. My trust is in Christ forever, worlds without end. Amen.”
On Friday morning last (January 27, 1888) at 10:30 a.m., a number of the friends of the deceased assembled at his late residence, to pay a last tribute of respect to the worthy dead. Mr. John J. Snyder arose and read the first fourteen verses of the twenty-second chapter of Revelation, and stated that the deceased had selected the fourteenth verse to be read at the funeral service over his remains. It read as follows:
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
After reading, an appropriate eulogy was pronounced by John C. Whitmer, a relative and intimate associate of the deceased.
It was then announced that all present who desired to take a last look at the remains would be given an opportunity to do so at the house, as the coffin would not be opened at the grave. All present took advantage of this opportunity to look upon the features of the dead.
The following old and well-known citizens of Richmond acted as pallbearers: Joseph S. Hughes, Thomas D. Woodson, Dr. H. C. Garner, George L. Wasson, John B. Quissenberry and Colonel J. W. Black, who then took charge of the remains and bore it to the hearse.
Notwithstanding the cold, damp weather, a large number of friends and acquaintances followed the hearse and mourning family to the new cemetery, west of the city, where the body was laid to rest, and all that was mortal of one of the most remarkable men ever connected with the history of Ray County [Missouri] was forever hidden from view.
David Whitmer lived in Richmond [Missouri] about half a century, and we can say that no man ever lived here who had among our people more friends and fewer enemies. Honest, conscientious and upright in all his dealings, just in his estimate of men, and open, manly and frank in his treatment of all, he made lasting friends who loved him to the end. He leaves a wife and two children, two grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.