D&C 14 & 17 The Witnesses to the Book of Mormon

Joseph was elated when others were chosen by the Lord to be witnesses of the Book of Mormon. The following account tells of his relief:

The following account from Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith’s mother, describes how Joseph felt after the Three Witnesses had seen the plates: “When they returned to the house it was between three and four o’clock p. m. Mrs. Whitmer, Mr. Smith [Joseph Smith Sr.] and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, ‘Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer to be entirely alone in the world.’ Upon this, Martin Harris came in: he seemed almost overcome with joy, and testified boldly to what he had both seen and heard. And so did David and Oliver, adding that no tongue could express the joy of their hearts, and the greatness of the things which they had both seen and heard” (History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 152–53).

The witnesses of the Book of Mormon never denied their testimony of its truth. All who seek to know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon can ask God to know if it is true. I have done this, and add my testimony to those that were blessed to see the plates for themselves. Although I have not seen an angel, or the plates upon which the Book of Mormon was written, the spiritual witness that has been given to me of its truth is every bit as real.

The 3 Witnesses

The 3 Witnesses

Martin Harris’ Testimony

The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true. [Martin Harris on his death bed. Cited by George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his descendants, quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 65–66.]

David Whitmer’s Testimony

Though he never returned to the main body of the church, his testimony of the Book of Mormon was solid even until the day he died:

“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.’

“He 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) is true, so you can say that you have heard me bear my testimony, on my death bed. All be faithful in Christ and your reward will be according to your works. God bless you all. My trust is in Christ forever, world without end.-Amen.'” (Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses, p. 16)

Oliver Cowdery’s Testimony

“I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates. … I was present with Joseph when an holy angel … conferred, or restored, the Aaronic Priesthood. … I was also present with Joseph when the Melchizedek Priesthood was conferred by the holy angels of God.” (Journal of Reuben Miller, Oct. 21, 1848, at LDS Archives. See also Richard Anderson, “Reuben Miller, Recorder of Oliver Cowdery’s Reaffirmations,” BYU Studies 8 (Spring 1968): 277–93.)

The Role of Evidence

Though these men witnessed of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, everyone who seeks to know the truth of these things must find out for themselves. The following thought by Austin Farrer makes the point that evidence is good, and it creates an environment where belief may grow. I know this to be true, but also rational argument can only get us so far… it is vital to acknowledge that the witness of the Spirit is the only way we may know spiritual things.

“Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.” (Austin Farrer, “Grete Clerk,” in Light on C. S. Lewis, comp. Jocelyn Gibb (New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1965), 26).

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How Revelation Works: D&C 6,8,9

Sections 6,8, and 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants explain how revelation works. I find it worth noting that in the early days of the history of the church that the Lord outlined for the Saints how this delicate communication works. There are times when young people have expressed to me that they do not think that they have had any interactions with the Holy Ghost. When this happens, I like to point out D&C 11:12 which states:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good- yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed how the Spirit will speak to us when he said:

Elder Richard G. ScottThe Savior said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 8:2; italics added). I would explain to the students that an impression to the mind is very specific.

Detailed words can be heard or felt and written as though the instruction were being dictated.

A communication to the heart is a more general impression. The Lord often begins by giving impressions. Where there is a recognition of their importance and they are obeyed, one gains more capacity to receive more detailed instruction to the mind. An impression to the heart, if followed, is fortified by a more specific instruction to the mind. 1

We see these general impressions of the Spirit working with and through Alma and his people in Mosiah 24:9-15 as they were comforted while in bondage. The pattern is repeated again in Alma 17:10 as the sons of Mosiah were to serve missions amongst a hostile people (see Alma 17:14). We gain confidence as we interact with the Spirit (see D&C 121:45) and strength (Isaiah 40:28-29).

More specific instruction from the Holy Ghost is generally given to one’s mind. In Enos 1:10, we learn that the Lord spoke to Enos as his voice “came into (his) mind,” and Nephi learned how to build a ship (something he did not have experience doing) as the Lord “did show (him) from time to time after what manner (he) should work the timbers of the ship (1 Nephi 18:1).

It is good to note along with the experience Nephi had that the Nephi did what he knew to do first- he first built the tools for the construction project (something he knew how to do) after this the Lord gave him specific instruction as Nephi moved into an area where he did not know what to do.

I like the following examples of specific instruction that the Lord has given to individuals. The first example comes from the life of Elder Russell M. Nelson, who was a renowned heart surgeon, and the second comes from the life of an everyday teenager who listened to the Spirit speak specific instructions to his mind.

Personal Experience with Prayer

051607-nelsonMany of us have had experiences with the sweet power of prayer. One of mine was shared with a stake patriarch from southern Utah. I first met him in my medical office more than 40 years ago, during the early pioneering days of surgery of the heart. This saintly soul suffered much because of a failing heart. He pleaded for help, thinking that his condition resulted from a damaged but repairable valve in his heart.

Extensive evaluation revealed that he had two faulty valves. While one could be helped surgically, the other could not. Thus, an operation was not advised. He received this news with deep disappointment.

Subsequent visits ended with the same advice. Finally, in desperation, he spoke to me with considerable emotion: “Dr. Nelson, I have prayed for help and have been directed to you. The Lord will not reveal to me how to repair that second valve, but He can reveal it to you. Your mind is so prepared. If you will operate upon me, the Lord will make it known to you what to do. Please perform the operation that I need, and pray for the help that you need.”

His great faith had a profound effect upon me. How could I turn him away again? Following a fervent prayer together, I agreed to try. In preparing for that fateful day, I prayed over and over again, but still did not know what to do for his leaking tricuspid valve. Even as the operation commenced, my assistant asked, “What are you going to do for that?”

I said, “I do not know.”

We began the operation. After relieving the obstruction of the first valve, we exposed the second valve. We found it to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind: Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. “The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size.”

But how? We could not apply a belt as one would use to tighten the waist of oversized trousers. We could not squeeze with a strap as one would cinch a saddle on a horse. Then a picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there—to accomplish the desired objective. I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, “It’s a miracle.”

I responded, “It’s an answer to prayer.”

The patient’s recovery was rapid and his relief gratifying. Not only was he helped in a marvelous way, but surgical help for other people with similar problems had become a possibility. I take no credit. Praise goes to this faithful patriarch and to God, who answered our prayers. This faithful man lived for many more years and has since gone to his eternal glory. 2

Go To The Football Field

When Ken was twelve or thirteen years old, he once accompanied his father to the local trash dump. His dad was driving their truck, and Ken was sitting on the passenger side, near the door. As he was looking out of the window, he had a feeling that he should move away from the door and sit next to his father. He ignored the feeling; but it came again so strongly that he immediately slid away from the door. A few moments later, when his father made a turn, the door that Ken had been leaning against flew open. He didn’t think much about it at the time; but later, when he came to recognize how the Spirit operates, he realized that he had been saved from serious injury or death by his Father in Heaven.

Ken had another spiritual experience when he was sixteen. His family had moved from Tooele to the small town of Grantsville, about fifteen miles away. However, Ken kept his job at a clothing store in downtown Tooele. Early one summer morning, as he approached the outskirts of Tooele, he had a feeling that he should drive over by the high school. The high school was not on his way to work, and he had no idea why he should go there; but he decided to respond to this feeling, and he drove toward the school. As he drove slowly by the front of the school, he didn’t see or hear anything out of the ordinary. He felt a little puzzled, but decided to turn left toward town, since it was time for him to get to work.

Before Ken could turn, however, he received a stronger impression that he should turn right, not left, and that he should go behind the school. He followed the direction, but still didn’t see or hear anything that would cause any concern. As he went to pull out from behind the school, Ken heard an actual voice telling him to drive to the far end of the parking lot, next to the football field.

The football field was located on top of a hill. Steps led up to the playing field and to the bleachers. Behind the bleachers the hill sloped down, and the field was surrounded by a chain-link fence. Ken drove past the football field, to the end of the parking lot, and started his return trip. As he rounded the corner of the parking lot, still seeing nothing of any consequence, he saw a body lying by the chain-link fence.

Ken now knew why he was there, but the sight of the body really frightened him. He had no idea who it was. He jumped out of his car and sprinted to the entrance of the football field, up the stairs, and across the field. As soon as he had dashed partway down the hill, he recognized the person lying there as his best friend. His friend’s head, neck, and shoulder were covered with blood, and he was lying motionless.

When Ken saw his friend in this condition, he almost went to pieces. He thought the boy was dead. Then a calm feeling came over him, and he approached the inert body. As Ken turned him over, his friend stirred and looked up to him, and Ken realized he was still alive.

His friend was in a very dazed condition, as if he was just coming out of unconsciousness. Ken picked him up, carried him to his car, and rushed him to the hospital. He was afraid that he might die if he left him alone while he went for help.

Much later, when he had regained consciousness, the friend told Ken what had happened. He had been working with two other men, clearing weeds and debris from along the fence. The two men had left to take a load of junk to the county dump. He was left alone. As he had continued to clear the fence, he had encountered a large rock that he could not budge. He grabbed a pick and took several swings at the rock, but it stubbornly refused to move. He then took an extra large swing with the pick, but the tip struck the chain-link fence and the pick turned sideways in his hand. Instead of hitting rock, the end of the pick hit him in the back of his head and opened a large wound. The doctor said that the wound was severe enough that, if Ken had not come along, his friend might have bled to death before his fellow workers returned.

The gravity of his friend’s situation did not hit Ken until later. He then came to appreciate how the Lord had worked through him, a young Aaronic Priesthood holder, in saving his friend from possible death. He began to better understand the promptings of the Spirit and to cherish the spiritual experiences of his youth. 3

Notes

1. Elder Richard G. Scott, Helping others to be spiritually led, CES Symposium, August 11, 1998.

2. Elder Russell M. Nelson, Sweet Power of Prayer, April 2003 General Conference, or May Ensign 2003, p.7.

3. Allan Burgess & Max Molgard, The Gospel in Action, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1992, p.1-3.

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A Timeline of the translation of the plates

1827

September 21, 1823 – Joseph meets Moroni. Joseph is 17 years old.

September 22, 1827 –  Joseph receives the plates.

Oct.-Dec., 1827 –        Joseph moves due to persecution- he moves to Harmony, Penn. with Emma- 100 miles away, Martin Harris gives him $50.

1828

Jan.-Feb. –                   Joseph translates, Emma scribes.

Feb.-March –              Martin Harris visits Charles Anthon in New York City.

April 12-                      Martin Harris believes and scribes for the Prophet Joseph.

June 14-                       Martin Harris takes the 116 page manuscript to Palmyra.

June 15-                       Alvin Smith born to Emma & Joseph- Alvin dies the same day.

July-                            Joseph heads to Palmyra- Martin has lost the manuscript.

July-September-       Joseph loses the gift of translation- plates taken by Moroni, Section 3 of the Doctrine & Covenants received.

September 22-             Joseph gets the plates back from Moroni.

1829

Feb.-March-                A “few” pages are translated with Emma as scribe, Joseph is told to wait (D&C 5:30).

April 5-                        Oliver Cowdery arrives in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

April 7-                        Translation resumes in full force.

May 15-                       John the Baptist restores the Aaronic Priesthood.

May-June                    Peter, James & John restore the Melchizedek Priesthood.

June 1-                         Joseph & Oliver move to Fayette to complete the translation.

June 30-                       The translation of the Book of Mormon is complete.

1830

March 26-                    The first copies of the Book or Mormon went on sale in Palmyra.

In regards to the loss of the manuscript George Q. Cannon has said:

The work of translating the plates progressed through the two months from April until June; not steadily, for Martin [Harris] was much called away. But at the expiration of that time, on the 14th day of June, 1828, Martin had written one hundred and sixteen pages foolscap of the translation. And at this hour came a test, bitter in its experiences and consequences to the Prophet of God.

A woman wrought a betrayal of the confidence reposed in Martin Harris and a temporary destruction of Joseph’s power.

The wife of the scribe was desirous to see the writings dictated to her husband by Joseph: she importuned Martin until he, too, became anxious to have in his own possession the manuscript. Long before the 14th day of June, he began to solicit from the Prophet the privilege of taking the papers away that he might show them to curious and skeptical friends; and thereby be able to give convincing proof to doubting persons, of Joseph’s divine mission.

A simple denial was not sufficient, and he insisted that Jehovah should be asked to thus favor him. Once, twice, in answer to his demands, the Prophet inquired; and each time the reply was that Martin Harris ought not be entrusted with the sacred manuscript. Even a third time Martin required that Joseph should solicit permission in his behalf; and on this occasion, which was near the 14th day of June, 1828, the word came that Joseph, at his own peril, might allow Harris to take possession of the manuscript and exhibit it to a few other persons who were designated by the Prophet in his supplication. But because of Joseph’s wearying applications to God, the Urim and Thummim and seer stone were taken from him. Accordingly the precious manuscript was entrusted to the keeping of Martin Harris; and he bound himself by a solemn oath to show it to only his wife, his brother Preserved Harris, his father and mother, and Mrs. Cobb, his wife’s sister. After entering into his sacred covenant, Martin Harris departed from Harmony, carrying with him the inspired writings.

Then came about the punishment of Martin for his importunacy and of Joseph for his blindness. Wicked people, through the vanity and treachery of Martin’s wife and his own weakness, gained sight of the precious manuscript and they contrived to steal it away from Harris, so that his eyes and the eyes of the Prophet never again beheld it.

For his disobedient pertinacity in voicing to the Lord the request of Martin Harris, Joseph had been deprived of the Urim and Thummim and seer-stone; but this was not his only punishment. The pages of the manuscript which contained the translation he had been inspired to make, and which thereby became the words of God, had been loaned to Martin Harris and been stolen; and now the plates themselves were taken from him by the angel of the record.

The sorrow and humiliation Joseph felt were beyond description. The Lord’s rebukes for his conduct pierced him to the center. He humbled himself in prayer and repentance; and so true was his humility that the Lord accepted it as expiation and the treasures were restored to his keeping.

Martin Harris was also shamed and grieved; and he repented in anguish the violation of his trust. But, though a measure of confidence was restored to him, he was never again permitted to act as a scribe for the Prophet in the work of the translation.

While Joseph was mourning the loss of the manuscript, the Lord revealed to him many truths regarding the situation to which he had brought himself, and also warning him of the designs of wicked men who plotted to overthrow him and to put the name of God and his newly revealed record to shame in the land.

A rebuke was given at this time in words which Joseph always remembered. (Life of Joseph Smith, 1907, pp. 31-33.)

 

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Joseph Smith heals Elsa Johnson’s arm

 

The following account comes to us from chapter 6 of the book entitled, The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, by Larry Porter and Susan Easton Black:

The power that rested upon Joseph Smith in his prophetic calling manifested itself in many other ways in Kirtland. The power to heal, as taught by James (see James 5:14-15), was also frequently exercised by the Prophet in Ohio. One of the earliest evidences of the gift of healing led to the conversion of the John Johnson family, as well as of a Methodist minister, Ezra Booth. John and Elsa Johnson had come from Hiram, Ohio, with Ezra Booth to meet this man of God they had heard so much about since his arrival in Kirtland. In their first interview, the Prophet asked Elsa Johnson if she believed that God could heal her arm, using him as an instrument. Her reply was yes. Joseph remarked simply that he would visit her the next day. The next day he went to the home of Bishop Newel K. Whitney, where the Johnsons were staying. During a conversation concerning the supernatural gifts conferred in the days of the apostles, someone said, “Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to man on earth to cure her?” In a few moments the conversation had turned to another subject, when quietly Joseph Smith got up from his chair and walked to Elsa Johnson. Taking her by the hand, he said, “in the most solemn and impressive manner: ‘Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command thee to be whole.'” Immediately he left the house. “The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke.” Ezra Booth then asked Elsa if her arm was healed. “She immediately stretched out her arm straight, remarking at the same time, ‘it’s as well as the other.'” 1

This experience helped convince John and Elsa Johnson that Joseph was what he claimed to be, a prophet of God. So impressed were they that they invited him and Sidney Rigdon to move to Hiram, Ohio, and live with them. This invitation appealed to the Prophet, for persecution was beginning to mount, and he was finding it difficult to continue his important work on the translation of the Bible. Once more Joseph gathered his family and his meager belongings and made the thirty-mile move to Hiram, Ohio.

Philo Dibble’s account

Philo Dibble 1806-1895

Philo Dibble 1806-1895

When Joseph came to Kirtland his fame spread far and wide. There was a woman living in the town of Hiram, forty miles from Kirtland, who had a crooked arm, which she had not been able to use for a long period. She persuaded her husband, whose name was [John] Johnson, to take her to Kirtland to get her arm healed.

I saw them as they passed my house on their way. She [Elsa Johnson] went to Joseph and requested him to heal her. Joseph asked her if she believed the Lord was able to make him an instrument in healing her arm. She said she believed the Lord was able to heal her arm.

Joseph put her off till the next morning, when he met her at Brother [Newel K.] Whitney’s house. There were eight persons present, one a Methodist preacher, and one a doctor. Joseph took her [Elsa Johnson] by the hand, prayed in silence a moment, pronounced her arm whole, in the name of Jesus Christ, and turned and left the room.

The preacher asked her if her arm was whole, and she straightened it out and replied: “It is as good as the other.” The question was then asked if it would remain whole. Joseph hearing this, answered and said: “It is as good as the other, and as liable to accident as the other.”

The doctor who witnessed this miracle came to my house the next morning and related the circumstance to me. He attempted to account for it by his false philosophy, saying that Joseph took her by the hand, and seemed to be in prayer, and pronounced her arm whole in the name of Jesus Christ, which excited her and started perspiration, and that relaxed the cords of her arm. I subsequently rented my farm and devoted all my time to the interest of the Church, holding myself in readiness to take Joseph wherever he wished to go. 2

Amos S. Hayden’s account

Ezra Booth, of Mantua, a Methodist preacher of much more than ordinary culture, and with strong natural abilities, in company with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, and some other citizens of this place, (Hiram) visited Smith at his home in Kirtland, in 1831. Mrs. Johnson had been afflicted for some time with a lame arm, and was not at the time of the visit able to lift her hand to her head. The party visited Smith partly out of curiosity, and partly to see for themselves what there might be in the new doctrine. During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, “Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to men now on earth to cure her?” A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, Smith arose, and walking across the room, and taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: “Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command thee to be whole,” and immediately left the room. The company were awe-stricken at the infinite presumption of the man, and the calm assurance with which he spoke. The sudden mental and moral shock—I know not how better to explain the well-attested fact, electrified the rheumatic arm—Mrs. Johnson at once lifted it with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain. 3

Notes

  1. Oliver B. Huntington, Young Woman’s Journal, vol. 2, no. 5 (Feb. 1891), pp. 225-26. See also Amos Sutton Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve (Cincinnati, Ohio: Chase and Hall, 1876), pp. 250-51; Smith, History of the Church, 1:215-16.
  2. Philo Dibble Autobiography (1806-c. 1843),” Early Scenes in Church History, Four Faith Promoting Classics (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 79.
  3. A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:278.
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Church History

A few weeks ago I was blessed to visit some Church history sites that I have always wanted to visit. I came to Palmyra, Fayette, and Harmony (it is called Oakland today) in New York and Pennsylvania. Later I came to Kirtland and visited the temple, John and Elsa Johnson’s farm, and the Newel K. Whitney store. I put together a power point showing some of the sites of interest and thought I would add this here. Thanks for reading!

Church History Sites

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Philo Dibble’s vision of a heavenly city

We then commenced settling Caldwell County, to which I removed, built a house, entered seven hundred and twenty acres of land and bought a lot in town. I also entered land for many of the brethren, and for this purpose had to go the distance of eighty miles, where the land office was located.

On my return home, when I got to Liberty, midway between Lexington and Far West, I concluded I would travel from there home by night, as it was very warm during the day. The road led through a strip of timber for four miles, and after that across a prairie for twenty miles.

When I had traveled about two-thirds of the way across the prairie, riding on horseback, I heard the cooing of the prairie hens. I looked northward and saw, apparently with my natural vision, a beautiful city, the streets of which ran north and south. I also knew there were streets running east and west, but could not trace them with my eye for the buildings. The walks on each side of the streets were as white as marble, and the trees on the outer side of the marble walks had the appearance of locust trees in autumn. This city was in view for about one hour-and-a-half, as near as I could judge, as I traveled along. When I began to descend towards the Crooked River the timber through which I passed hid the city from my view. Every block in this mighty city had sixteen spires, four on each corner, each block being built in the form of a hollow square, within which I seemed to know that the gardens of the inhabitants were situated. The corner buildings on which the spires rested were larger and higher than the others, and the several blocks were uniformly alike. The beauty and grandeur of the scene I cannot describe. While viewing the city the buildings appeared to be transparent. I could not discern the inmates, but I appeared to understand that they could discern whatever passed outside.

Whether this was a city that has been or is to be I cannot tell. It extended as far north as Adam-ondi-Ahman, a distance of about twenty-eight miles. Whatever is revealed to us by the Holy Ghost will never be forgotten. 1

Notes

  1. Philo Dibble, 1806-1895. Autobiography (1806-c. 1843) as found in Early Scenes in Church History, FOUR FAITH PROMOTING CLASSICS (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), pp. 74-96.

 

 

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Philo Dibble miraculously survives a gunshot in Missiouri

The following account from Philo Dibble comes to us from selections of his autobiography contained in Early Scenes in Church History, FOUR FAITH PROMOTING CLASSICS:
In 1832 I sold my possessions in Ohio, and, we being called upon by Joseph to advance monies to purchase the land in Jackson County, I paid fifty dollars for that purpose and also gave Brother Parley P. Pratt fifty dollars to assist him as a pioneer. I was then called on for money to be placed in the hands of Brothers [Newel K.] Whitney and [A. Sidney] Gilbert, who were going to New York to purchase goods to take up to Jackson County, and gave them three hundred dollars.

 

Philo Dibble

Philo Dibble

I joined in with a company led by Brother Thomas B. Marsh, and arrived in Independence, Jackson County, on the 10th of November. I remained in Independence until spring and then removed to the Whitmer settlement, farther west, where I built a house, fenced twenty acres of land and put in a garden.
In the fall of 1833, a sectarian preacher by the name of [Isaac] M’Coy [McCoy] came to the Whitmer settlement where I was living to buy up all the guns he could, representing that he wanted them for the Indians. We suspected no trouble, and quite a number of us sold our guns to him. The sequel of his action was, however, soon apparent to us, for rumors soon reached us of mobs assembling and threats being made to drive us from the county.
When the mob first began to gather and threaten us, I was selected to go to another county and buy powder and lead. The brethren gave me the privilege of choosing a man to go with me. I took with me a man by the name of John Poorman. We thought we were good for four of the mob. We went to the town of Liberty, Clay County, and purchased the ammunition, and returned safely.
Soon after I returned [31 October 1833], a mob of about one hundred and fifty came upon us in the dead hour of night, tore down a number of our houses and whipped and abused several of our brethren. I was aroused from my sleep by the noise caused by the falling houses, and had barely time to escape to the woods with my wife and two children when they reached my house and proceeded to break in the door and tear the roof off. I was some distance away from where the whipping occurred, but I heard the blows of heavy ox goads upon the backs of my brethren distinctly. The mob also swore they would tear down our grist mill, which was situated at the Colesville Branch, about three miles from the settlement, and lest they should really do so and as it was the only means we had of getting our grain ground, we were counseled to gather there and defend it. We accordingly proceeded there the next morning. The following night two men came into our camp, pretending they wanted to hire some men to work for them. Brother Parley [Pratt] ordered them to be taken prisoners, when one of them struck him a glancing blow on the head with his gun, inflicting a severe wound. We then disarmed them and kept them as prisoners until morn- ing when we gave them back their arms and let them go.
The next day we heard firing down in the Whitmer settlement, and seventeen of our brethren volunteered to go down and see what it meant. Brother George Beebe was one of these volunteers and also one of the men who was whipped the night previous. (Brother Beebe carried the marks of this whipping to his grave, as the brethren who laid him out at the time of his death, in December, 1881, at Provo, Utah County, can testify.) When these seventeen men arrived at the Whitmer settlement, the mob came against them and took some prisoners. Brother David Whitmer brought us the news of this and said: “Every man go, and every man take a man!”
[Battle near the Blue River, 4 November 1833] We all responded and met the mob in battle, in which I was wounded with an ounce ball and two buck shot, all entering my body just at the right side of my navel. The mob were finally routed, and the brethren chased them a mile away. Several others of the brethren were also shot, and one, named [Andrew] Barber, was mortally wounded. After the battle was over, some of the brethren went to administer to him, but he objected to their praying that he might live, and asked them if they could not see the angels present. He said the room was full of them, and his greatest anxiety was for his friends to see what he saw, until he breathed his last, which occurred at three o’clock in the morning.
A young lawyer named Bazill [Hugh L. Brazeale], who came into Independence and wanted to make himself conspicuous, joined the mob, and swore he would wade in blood up to his chin.
He was shot with two balls through his head, and never spoke. There was another man, whose name I fail to remember, that lived on the Big Blue, who made a similar boast. He was also taken at his word. His chin was shot off, or so badly fractured by a ball that he was forced to have it amputated, but lived and recovered, though he was a horrible sight afterwards.
After the battle I took my gun and powder horn and started for home. When I got about half way I became faint and thirsty. I wanted to stop at Brother Whitmer’s to lay down. The house, however, was full of women and children, and they were so frightened that they objected to my entering, as the mob had threatened that wherever they found a wounded man they would kill men, women and children.
I continued on and arrived home, or rather at a house in the field that the mob had not torn down, which was near my own home. There I found my wife and two children and a number of other women who had assembled. I told them I was shot and wanted to lay down.
They got me on the bed, but on thinking of what the mob had said, became frightened and assisted me upstairs. I told them, however, that I could not stay there, my pain was so great. They then got me downstairs again, and my wife went out to see if she could find any of the brethren. In searching for them she got lost in the woods and was gone two hours but learned that all the brethren had gone to the Colesville Branch, three miles distant, taking all the wounded with them save myself.
The next morning I was taken farther off from the road that I might be concealed from the mob. I bled inwardly until my body was filled with blood, and remained in this condition until the next day at five p. m. I was then examined by a surgeon who was in the Black Hawk War, and who said that he had seen a great many men wounded, but never saw one wounded as I was that ever lived. He pronounced me a dead man.
David Whitmer, however, sent me word that I should live and not die, but I could see no possible chance to recover. After the surgeon had left me, Brother Newel Knight came to see me, and sat down on the side of my bed. He laid his right hand on my head, but never spoke. I felt the Spirit resting upon me at the crown of my head before his hand touched me, and I knew immediately that I was going to be healed. It seemed to form like a ring under the skin, and followed down my body. When the ring came to the wound, another ring formed around the first bullet hole, also the second and third. Then a ring formed on each shoulder and on each hip, and followed down to the ends of my fingers and toes and left me. I immediately arose and discharged three quarts of blood or more, with some pieces of my clothes that had been driven into my body by the bullets. I then dressed myself and went outdoors and saw the falling of the stars, which so encouraged the Saints and frightened their enemies. It was one of the grandest sights I ever beheld. From that time not a drop of blood came from me and I never afterwards felt the slightest pain or inconvenience from my wounds, except that I was somewhat weak from the loss of blood.
The next day I walked around the field, and the day following I mounted a horse and rode eight miles, and went three miles on foot. 1
Philo Dibble miraculously survived being shot in Missouri, and goes on to be with the saints in Nauvoo, on westward to Utah, and dies in Springville in 1895. His obituary reads as follows:

Elder Philo Dibble, an aged and respected Utah veteran, died at his home in Springville at 2 O’clock this morning. Elder Dibble had been failing for some time past and was perfectly resigned to his position. He was in the ninetieth year of his age, and had very remarkable career. In his death it is thought the oldest member of the Church has passed from mortality. He was baptized Sep 15th 1830 by Parley P. Pratt. He was wounded by a mob during the troubled times of 1833 in Jackson County, Missouri. He was shot in the abdomen. The ball passed through his body and lodged near the backbone just beneath the skin where it remained up to the time of his death. On May 27th, he was visited by some Elders of the Church and among other things he said at that time: “I know, he said, the Church was established by divine revelation, Joseph Smith being God’s Prophet, Seer and Revelator. With him I was familiar and closely associated during his life from 1833 until 1844. When I beheld him as a martyr, shot with four bullets, even unto death; and I now lie here on my death bed with lead in my body at the age of 89, and I shall soon go to meet the martyr, for I now feel that my work here on earth is done, and my desire is that I may soon go in peace where I shall see many others who, like myself, have suffered many tribulations for Christ’s sake.” His funeral will be held at Springville, from the meeting house on Sunday afternoon next, beginning at 2 O’clock. He lived in Springville until Jun 7, 1895, when he died. He was buried at Springville, Utah. 2
Notes
1. Philo Dibble, 1806-1895. Autobiography (1806-c. 1843) as found in Early Scenes in Church History, FOUR FAITH PROMOTING CLASSICS (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), pp. 74-96.
2. Deseret Evening News Vol. XXVII, SLC, Utah – Friday Jun 7, 1895.

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