Three Witnesses Monument, Richmond, Missouri, USA

The Three Witnesses Monument Photo courtesy Steve Mortensen
The Three Witnesses Monument
Photo courtesy Steve Mortensen

Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer were appointed to be three special witnesses of the Book of Mormon in June 1829. Every copy of the Book of Mormon includes the testimony of their experience in which the angel Moroni appeared and showed them the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. Their testimony is as follows:

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.

Although each left the Church, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris eventually returning, they never denied their testimony of this experience.

Oliver returned to the Church in 1848 after having been absent from membership for ten years. He visited the Saints in Kanesville, where he was rebaptized. He hoped to travel west with the Saints, but his health failed him and he died in 1850 in Richmond, Missouri. This monument is located over his believed gravesite.

The Three Witnesses Monument was erected in 1911 under the direction of Junius F. Wells. A metal casket within a concrete base was placed under the monument which contained copies of the History of the Church, Volume 1, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, the Cowdery Family Geneology, the Contributor, Volume 5 containing George Reynolds’ “History of the Book of Mormon,” and engraved portraits of Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, & David Whitmer. The dedication of the monument occurred on November 22, 1911 and was performed by Elder Heber J. Grant.1

The monument remains a symbol of the truth of the Book of Mormon and restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith.


SOURCES

 

1 Junius F. Wells, “The Oliver Cowdery Monument at Richmond, Missouri,” Improvement Era, Vol. 15, No. 3, January 1912.

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Hours of Operation: Daylight to dark

Admission: Free

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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…

Dedicatory Prayer of the Three Witnesses Monument

Author(s): Heber J. Grant
Type: Dedicatory Prayer
Source(s): Junius F. Wells, “The Oliver Cowdery Monument at Richmond, Missouri,” Improvement Era, Vol. 15, No. 3, January 1912.

O God, our Heavenly and Eternal Father, we approach thee at this time in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, and we pray thee that thy Spirit may be attendant with us. We pray thee, Father, to accept, as an offering from our hearts, the monument that has been erected to the memory of the late Oliver Cowdery, in the …

“The Three Witnesses,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, October 1927-October 1929, Vol. 18-20, 5-part series.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, Testimonies of the Three Witnesses, (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1994).

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Did Oliver Cowdery, One of the Three Special Book of Mormon Witnesses, Express Doubt About His Testimony? Ensign, April 1987, 23-25.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Most Interviewed Witness,” Improvement Era, May 1969, Vol. 72, 76-83.

Preston Nibley, Joseph Smith and the Three Witnesses, (Provo, UT: Adult Education Center, Office of Special Courses and Conferences, BYU, 1962), 15-21.

Janne M. Sjodahl, “Credibility of the Witnesses,” Improvement Era, September 1923, Vol. 26, 969-79.

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