Peter Whitmer, Sr. Farm Home, Fayette, New York, USA
The Peter Whitmer, Sr. Farm Home served as the location for many important events in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much of the Book of Mormon was translated here, the Three Witnesses were shown the plates in a wooded area on the Whitmer Farm, and the Whitmer home was the location of the organization of the Church.
In late May 1829, David Whitmer received a letter from Joseph Smith requesting him to come to Pennsylvania and bring Joseph and Oliver Cowdery back to Fayette where they could finish the translation of the Book of Mormon. David had a unique experience which helped serve as a witness from God that it was necessary for him to leave his crops and travel to Pennsylvania.1 He arranged for Joseph and Oliver to move to Fayette and board with his father, Peter Whitmer, Sr. until the work of translating the Book of Mormon was complete.
Shortly after his arrival in Fayette, Joseph received a revelation in June 1829 that Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris would obtain a view of the plates, the breastplate, the sword of Laban, and the Urim and Thummim.2 The four retired to a forest near the Whitmer home where Moroni appeared to them and showed them the aforementioned items.
Key Events at the Peter Whitmer, Sr. Farm
On Tuesday, April 6, 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized with six members: Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Samuel H. Smith, and David Whitmer.3 In relation to the meeting, Joseph stated the following:
“On Tuesday, the sixth day of April, A. D., one thousand eight hundred and thirty. Having opened the meeting by solemn prayer to our Heavenly Father, we proceeded, according to previous commandment, to call on our brethren to know whether they accepted us as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God, and whether they were satisfied that we should proceed and be organized as a Church according to said commandment which we had received. To these several propositions they consented by a unanimous vote. I then laid my hands upon Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an Elder of the ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints;’ after which, he ordained me also to the office of an Elder of said Church. We then took bread, blessed it, and brake it with them; also wine, blessed it, and drank it with them. We then laid our hands on each individual member of the Church present, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be confirmed members of the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost was poured out upon us to a very great degree-some prophesied, whilst we all praised the Lord, and rejoiced exceedingly. . . .
We now proceeded to call out and ordain some others of the brethren to different offices of the Priesthood, according as the Spirit manifested unto us: and after a happy time spent in witnessing and feeling for ourselves the powers and blessings of the Holy Ghost, through the grace of God bestowed upon us, we dismissed with the pleasing knowledge that we were now individually members of, and acknowledged of God, “The Church of Jesus Christ,” organized in accordance with commandments and revelations given by Him to ourselves in these last days, as well as according to the order of the Church as recorded in the New Testament. Several persons who had attended the above meeting, became convinced of the truth and came forward shortly after, and were received into the Church; among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized, to my great joy and consolation; and about the same time, Martin Harris and Orrin Porter Rockwell.” 4
In 1926, Elder B. H. Roberts purchased 120 acres on behalf of the Church at the location of the Peter Whitmer, Sr. farm.5 The original location of the site was located in 1946-47, and in 1979 a replica was constructed.6 President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the site on April 6, 1980 in a General Conference broadcast commemorating the sesquicentennial of the organization of the Church.
1 Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996).
2 See Doctrine & Covenants 17.
3 Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), 1: 80.
4 Ibid, 1:74-79.
5 Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History, edited by Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, & Richard O. Cowan (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), 1339.
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Articles & Resources
Various Accounts of the Experience of the Three Witnesses
Author(s): Joseph Smith, Jr., Luck Mack Smith, & David Whitmer
Type: First-person accounts
Source(s): Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), 1: 54-55. Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996); B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 1: 142-143.
Not many days after…. we four, viz., Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and myself, agreed to retire into the woods, and try to obtain, by fervent and humble prayer, the fulfilment of the promises given in the above revelation-that they should have a view of the plates. We accordingly made choice of a piece of woods convenient to Mr. Whitmer’s house, to which we retired, and having knelt down, we began to pray in much faith to Almighty God to bestow upon us…
Luck Mack Smith's Account of Three Strangers Who Helped David Whitmer
Author(s): Lucy Mack Smith
Type: Third-person account
Source(s): Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Revised and Enhanced, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996).
One morning as he applied it to his eyes to look upon the record, instead of the words of the book being given to him, he was commanded to write a letter to one David Whitmer, who lived in Waterloo. This man Joseph had never seen, but he was instructed to say to him that he must come with his team immediately, in order to convey Joseph and Oliver back to his house, that they might remain with him there until the translation should…
Dedicatory Prayer of the Structures on the Peter Whitmer, Sr. Farm, April 6, 1980
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. On this anniversary day, we are met where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized under revelation from thee 150 years ago. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for thy marvelous blessings, so generously bestowed. As we review the past…
Peter Whitmer Farm, at LDS.org
Peter Whitmer Farm, at JosephSmith.net
Peter Whitmer Sr. Log Home, at Doctrine & Covenants Revelvation Sites Website
Richard Loyd Anderson, “The House Where the Church was Organized,” Improvement Era, 1970.
Richard Loyd Anderson, “The Whitmers: A Family That Nourished the Church,” Ensign, August 1979, 35.
Dale L. Berge, “Archaeology at the Peter Whitmer Farm, Seneca County, New York” BYU Studies, 1973.
J. Orvall Ellsworth, “The Birthplace of the Church,” Improvement Era, April 1924.
C. E. Grant, “Peter Whitmer’s Log House,” Improvement Era, 1959.
E. Cecil McGavin, “The Whitmer Home: A New Addition to the Church’s Collection of Historic Places,” Improvement Era, September 1927.
Keith W. Perkins, “True to the Book of Mormon-The Whitmers,” Ensign, February 1989, 34.