David Whitmer’s Unusual Preparation to Meet Joseph Smith

This section comes from “The Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations” written by Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of Joseph Smith. The book was published in 1853 in Liverpool. The original ghost writer of this book is Martha Jane Knowlton Coray who is my great great great grandmother on my mother’s side. Edits were later made to this book and republished as the History of Joseph Smith by His Mother. This below shall be transcribed from the original publication.




We will not return to Pennsylvania, where we left Joseph and Oliver busily engaged in translating the Book of Mormon.

After Samuel left them, they still continued the work as before, until about the time of the trial that took place in New York. Near this time, as Joseph was translating by means of the Urim and Thummim, he received, instead of words of the Book, a commandment to write a letter to a man by the name of David Whitmer, who lived in Waterloo, requesting him to come immediately with his team, and convey himself and Oliver to his own residence, as an evil-designing people were seeking to take away his (Joseph’s) life, in order to prevent the work of God from going forth to the world. The letter was written and delivered, and was shown by Mr. Whitmer to his father, mother, brothers, and sisters, and their advice was asked in regard to the best course for him to take in relation to the matter.

His father reminded him that he had as much, wheat sown upon the ground as he could harrow in two days, at least; besides this, he had a quantity of plaster of paris to spread, which must be done immediately, consequently he could not go, unless he could get a witness from God that it was absolutely necessary.

This suggestion pleased David, and he asked the Lord for a testimony concerning his going for Joseph, and was told by the voice of the Spirit to go as soon as his wheat was harrowed in. The next morning, David went to the field, and found that he had two heavy days’ work before him. He then said to himself that, if he should be enabled, by any means, to do this work sooner than the same had ever been done on the farm before, he would receive it as an evidence, that it was the will of God, that he should do all in his power to assist Joseph Smith in the work in which he was engaged. He then fastened his horses to harrow and instead of dividing the field into what is, by farmers, usually temed bands, he drove round the whole of it, continuing thus till noon, when, on stopping for dinner, he looked around, and discovered, to his surprse, that he had harrowed in full half the wheat. After dinner he went on as before, and by evening he finished the whole two days’ work.

His father, on going into the field the same evening, saw what had been done, and he exclaimed, “There must be an overruling hand in this, and I thing you had better go down to Pennsylvania as soon as your plaster of paris is spread.

The next morning, David took a wooden measure under his arm, and went out to spread the plaster, which he had left, two days previous, in heaps near his sister’s house, but, on coming to the place, he discovered that it was gone! He then ran to his sister, and inquired of her if she knew what had become of it. Being surprised, she said, “Why do you ask me? was it not all spread yesterday?”

“Not to my. knowledge,” answered David.

“I am astonished at that,” replied his sister; “for the children came to me in the forenoon, and begged of me to go out and see the men sow the plaster in the field, saying, that they never saw anybody sow plaster so fast in their lives. I accordingly went, and saw three men at work in the fields, as the children said, but, supposing that you had hired some help, on account of your hurry, I went immediately into the house, and gave the subject no further attention.”

David made considerable inquiry in regard to the matter, both among his relatives and neighbours, but was not able to learn who had done it. However, the family were convinced that there was an exertion of supernatural power connected with this strange occurence.

David immediately set out for Pennsylvania, and arrived there in two days, without injuring his horses in the least, though the distance was one hundred and thirty-five miles. When he arrived, he was under the necessity of introducing himself to Joseph, as this was the first time that they had ever met.

I will observer, that the only acquaintance which existed between the Smith and Whitmer families, was that formed by Mr. Smith and myself, when on our way from Manchester to Pennsylvania to visit Joseph, at which time we stopped with David over night, and gave him a brief history of the Record.

When Joseph commenced making preparations for the journey, he inquired of the Lord to know in what manner he should carry the plates. The answer was, that he should commit them into the hands of an angel, for safety, and after arriving at Mr. Whitmer’s, the angel would meet him in the garden, and deliver them up again into his hands.

Joseph and Oliver set out without delay, leaving Emma to take charge of affairs during her husband’s absence. On arriving at Waterloo, Joseph received the Record according to promise. The next day, he and Oliver resumed the work of translation, which they continued without further interruption until the whole work was accomplished.

Commentary from Brian Nettles:

Lucy Smith says that the party (Joseph, Oliver, and David Whitmer) went to Waterloo. Waterloo is a small town about 9 miles north of Fayette. All other historical records speak of the Whitmers’ living in Fayette, New York. I am not clear of why this minor discrepancy exists. Perhaps Waterloo was the more prominent town at the time expecting that no on really knows where Fayette is.