WORDS CAN CHANGE
Yes, words tend to change very easily as they become 'handled' through the editing process or set in type for publication at the printer by the type setter. So many variables come into play when the written word or even the typewritten word is going to press - where mistakes unintentionally can and do happen. Typographical errors, although not commonplace, do happen in the printing business. This has been the case and always will be the case.
Thus, printed published statements drawn from interviews have ample meaning, but unless a signed living authentic statement reflecting same lives and exists in the physical realm, the printed statement is not a valid benchmark for the total or finite authentication of anything.
All of this will become fully demonstrated when the 6 May 1877 John Whitmer hand signed and accomplished true and full testimony is presented in its entirety on the pages herein of MormonKey.com.
According to BYU Mormon scholar Richard Lloyd Anderson, there were eight (8) witnesses who left ten (10) specific statements concerning the handling of the plates. This included four (4) by Joseph Smith, Jr's. brothers Samuel and Hyrum and then there were six (6) from John Whitmer's reports and admissions, but all were merely published and put into print.
.This is all while no known signed hand written manuscript documents are known to exist for these printed published declaratory statements by any of these Witnesses. Back in the 19th century, no one really thought of getting and keeping such signed statements. People went on with their lives and assumed the printed publication of a Witnesses' admission, statement or testimony was assumed sufficient.
BYU historian Richard Lloyd Anderson stated in his important 2005 published work that at the time in the 19th century, as Mormanism spread, more people sought out statements from the "Three Witnesses" - "because each had seen an angel" - and their statements became more widely published because of this criteria. Anderson further explained that although the "Eight Witneses" left fewer interviews, "they adequately describe a simple, natural experience."
Conducting a concerted effort to find actual signed written testimonies extant pertaining to the veracity of the creation of the Book of Mormon, this author was astonished to find that everytime he found an actual 'so-called' testimony cited in a book or in a publication from any time, further scrutiny revealed it was drawn merely from a printed interview.
Or if the statement was in a letter form and was even personally signed by the Book of Mormon "Witness" himself and in a church archive, it was not pertinent as to the correct specifics that would qualify it as a valid testimony. This would be a testimony having direct references of substance beholden to the Book of Mormon signed by the one having written the letter. Or if the so-called testimony had substantiative elements linking to the original testimony given by one of the "Eight Witnesses" as found in the Book of Mormon, the letter had become published, but the signed original document itself never survived owing to it being lost or destroyed.
JOHN WHITMER 1877 TESTIMONY BINDS MORMON BIBLE TO GOLD PLATES
The handwritten testimony by John Whitmer is the single most decisive physical element binding and enjoining the sanctity of the Mormon Church and all its people to the now fabled holy Gold Plates of General Mormon that his son Angel Moroni retrieved from Prophet Joseph Smith and on which the entire Mormon religion and its "Book Mormon," as John Whitmer so wrote, is based.
It is handwritten testimony to Whitmer's statements given in the 1830 first edition of the Book of Mormon that has been lost for almost a century and a half since its noble creation. It is actually the only one full true hand written and signed testimony extant existing out of all of the other combined output of both the "Three Witnesses" and of the "Eight Witnesses" testimonies found only mechanically printed in the "Book of Mormon" that has yet to be fully revealed in its entirety in both transcripted form and in physical form for all Mormons and the world to see.
John Whitmer is one of the "Eight Witnesses" found in the Book of Mormon. John Whitmer was present at his father Peter Whitmer's log cabin in Fayette, New York, when the original charter for the Mormon church was created and signed into being on 6 April 1830.
John Whitmer was one of the earliest members and he was ordained an elder of the church on June 9th in the same year of the church's founding. The next year, on 8 March, 1831, Prophet Joseph Smith procliamed that he had received a revelation from God, calling Whitmer to "write and keep a regular history" of the church.
This revelation was printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints as Book of Commandments 50 - and in the Doctrine and Covenants (originally section 63, the revelation is now section 47 of the LDS Church edition).
From that day on, John Whitmer acted as the founding chief historian of the Mormon church, commanded by God through Prophet Joseph Smith.
Then, just a few years later, John Whitmer, the keeper of all Mormon truths, was excommunicated by the Latter-Day Saints' church through decisive actions brought about by Joseph Smith over Whitmer's upholding of his God commanded duty as the very keeper of the Mormon truth!
First Elder John Whitmer was excommunicated from the Mormon church on 10 March, 1838. A month later his brother David Whitmer - one of the "Three Witnesses" found in the Book of Mormon - too was excommunicated. Sorrowful and dejected, bitter over monetary issues, angry at the church as a whole and with Joseph Smith in particular, John Whitmer's faith in the Mormon church as a viable institution in support of what he held in his heart hung now in a precarious balance.
Yet, in despite of all adversity, John Whitmer's bond to God and the truth never waned. It came to be a term of some forty years that John Whitmer's break from the church would remain in force. Between 10 March 1838 and his death on 11 July 1878, John Whitmer would never come to rejoin the LDS church of Mormon ever again.
(Courtesy: Private Collection)
Joseph R. Lambert
On the 6th of April in 1830, the actual charter document for the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was accomplished and signed here at the Fayette, New York State homestead in the cabin of Peter Whitmer, Sr., father of Mormon church co-founders and brothers John Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer and David Whitmer. It was also here at this cabin that the fabled Gold Plates presented to Prophet Joseph Smith by Angel Moroni had been briefly secreted while on their journey by wagon to Harmony, Pennsylvania. There at Harmony, the sacred Plates were eventually translated by Joseph Smith and transcribed by his acting scribes, which included Mormon co-founder John Whitmer. It would be John Whitmer the next year who would be commanded by God and sanctioned through Prophet Joseph Smith - as the first historian of the newly formed religious institution - which today has flourished the world over from these early humble beginnings.
John Whitmer 6th May 1877
Book of Mormon Testimony Discovered
"MORMONKEY: The Key to News and History of the Mormon Faith"
ONLY HANDWRITTEN BOOK OF
MORMON TESTIMONY IN EXISTENCE
Yet in the face of God, just fourteen months before meeting his maker upon his 11 July 1878 death, on 6 May 1877, John Whitmer hand executed the most significant and only living hand signed testimony extant of his tie to the Mormon faith; binding all truth to God and God to all truth. The way Whitmer saw it, it was all one in the same. To John Whitmer, truth is all that always remained.
Whitmer would state first, in part: “concerning my testimony as recorded in the Book of Mormon.” Whitmer then continued: “It is the same as it was from the beginning, and it is true. . . . I have never denied my testimony as to the Book of Mormon, under any circumstances whatever.”
The handwritten testimony had come about as a written response to a letter that Joseph R. Lambert, an Elder (and eventually Presiding Patriarch) in the then newly Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - who had wrote John Whitmer shortly before.
The letter bearing this statement of Whitmer's to Lambert was, some six years later, then copied in part by Lambert from the Whitmer original that was in Joseph R. Lambert’s possession. Such was attested to by Joseph R. Lambert in a letter to fellow Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member E. L. Kelley dated 29 January 1884. This letter to E. L. Kelley from Lambert contained the herein above quoted sentences excerpted from the 6 May 1877 letter Lambert received from John Whitmer.
Today, this original 29 January 1884 letter describing the instance of Whitmer's 6 May 1877 handwritten testimony resides in the archives of the Missouri based Community of Christ Church Archives reference no. P13, f311.
This 29 January 1884 letter written by Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Elder Joseph R. Lambert to E. L. Kelley describing the 6 May 1877 John Whitmer testimony has laid in obscurity in the Community of Christ Church archives for many years until, in 2005, it was found and merely quoted by BYU Mormon scholar Richard Lloyd Anderson in his monograph work “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses” published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Maxwell Institute, Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 18-31. That 1884 letter may never have been actually seen other than by a few. It certainly has never been published in full.
Aside from his book Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, which is widely considered the definitive LDS Mormon work on this subject, the landmark investigation by Dr. Anderson revealed in his 2005 Maxwell Institute paper discussed above further compliments the veracity of the Book of Mormon testimony to date. Dr. Anderson undertook the most comprehensive effort ever executed by anyone to assemble and review the group testimonies between the "Three Witnesses" and the "Eight Witnesses" as provided in the Book of Mormon itself and compare them to later testimonies or supportive testimonies or statements they had variously made in interviews in support of the proclaimed facts describing the incidences and actions leading to the creation of the Book of Mormon.
POULSON INTERVIEW WAS LAST WHITMER TESTIMONY RECORD - BUT NO HANDWRITTEN MANUSCRIPT LEFT
Also, comparisons are made between other significant Mormon histories, including that published most recently in several thick volumes entitled: Early Mormon Documents written by author Dan Vogel. It is from this work of Vogel's and also the interview P. Wilhelm Poulson made back in 1878 of David and John Whitmer, that author Richard Lloyd Anderson draws some of his conclusions. What is most interesting, is that the latter mentioned Poulson interview of 1878 had provided John Whitmer's last interview ever - conducted just before John Whitmer's death, occuring just a few months after the interview was conducted by Poulson.
BYU scholar Anderson has clearly and systematically reviewed and analyzed subsequent passages of supportive testimonies as to their significance or veracity of content.
This 2005 work of Professor Richard Lloyd Anderson also included identifying a number of examples of types of statements the "Witnesses" had given over the years and accessing how many of each group existed, bringing into the discussion as to how many "Witnesses" claimed to have actually seen the gold plates of Angel Moroni - and how, when or where such incidences were claimed by such witness to have taken place. This all said remains a more substancial benchmark over that of assessments by many other Mormon scholars of the past in accessing the veracity of the truthfulness found comprising the Book of Mormon.
From a historical perspective, this does much for and is most important in better codifying or classifying the ongoing substantiation as to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its ever evolving base of study.
JUDICIAL COURTS OF LAW BASE LEGAL CASES ON SWORN TESTIMONY
& SIGNED AFFADAVITS
Significantly author Anderson also has brought forth and argued that as all judicial courts of law uphold legal decisions on given sworn testimony, the same premise should be upheld as wholly sanctionable and applicable to the known extant testimonies that are in support of the Book of Mormon and the existence of the gold plates as handed down to Prophet Joseph Smith by Angel Moroni.
In his 2005 treatise, Dr. Richard Lloyd Anderson cohesively explained how he had found amongst the "Three Witnesses" testimonies that no one discussed handling or seeing the "gold plates" during the transcription process of the Book of Mormon, but however, had seen the Angel Moroni and the gold plates shortly after the gold plates were first delivered from the angel to Prophet Joseph.
But of the "Eight Witnesses," Anderson stated he found 42 statements by these "Eight Witnesses" whereby 39 percent of these 42 statements gave varying details of the experience, such as seeing, handling, or lifting of the plates. Dr. Richard Lloyd Anderson then codified that he had found that 10 of these 42 statements mentioned - actually confirmed handling the gold plates.
By comparing the statements of and circumstances surrounding the events of members of the "Three Witnesses" concerning the gold plates of Angel Moroni juxtaposed against the statements of and circumstances surrounding the events of members of the "Eight Witnesses" concerning the gold plates, provides more in the way of being able to draw more copious conclusions about the Book of Mormon in several instances, than from earlier assessments by Mormon scholars.
According to BYU Mormon scholar Richard Lloyd Anderson, he boiled it down by stating that there were eight (8) witnesses who left ten (10) specific statements concerning the handling of the gold plates. This, historian Anderson stated, included four (4) statements by Joseph Smith, Jr's. brothers Samuel and Hyrum and then there were six (6) from John Whitmer's reports and admission.
All statements by the "Three Witnesses" and "Eight Witnesses" that Richard Lloyd Anderson referenced concerning the gold plates were published and printed in publications of the day and no known signed hand written manuscript documents of these statements are known to have survived. A very valid explanation for this is that the statements that had been published in printed form were essentially only based on in-person interviews with the Book of Mormon subjects that one publication would have studiously conducted.
It should be thoroughly understood that the occurrence of nor necessity to obtain signed handwritten statements from either of the "Three Witnesses" or "Eight Witnesses" subjects simply was not anything anybody of the day ever thought of doing, especially at this time back in the 19th century. Interviewers would just copy down the Witness's statement, and that was that; naturally with room for err.
Also, if on the rare occasion such a statement may have been obtained from a Book of Mormon "Witness" in writing, the original would have more likely than not been provided to the printer for typesetting and not returned to the party who had conducted and authored the interview. Usually these few hand written testimonies, when executed, came by mail in the form of a letter post. How ever the testimony had come into being, it essentially became a handwritten transcript in another hand other than the “Witness” - especially if the “Testimony” was captured in the form of an in-person interview.
PRINTERS NEVER KEEP “COPY”
- EVEN TODAY
The loss of the original handwritten document or "copy" of a Witness testimony at the printer back in the day when a given written testimony had been provided and submitted to the printer for typesetting, is no different than today, just before the advent of the Internet - where handwritten transcripts of interviews or stories submitted to a printer were not returned by the printer to the party conducting and authoring the said interview for printed publication. After a party had sent or dropped off the manuscript or typewritten sheet, one the type was set - the "copy" went out with the trash.
One must remember that the advent of the commercially perfected wide use of the typewriter had not yet occurred in 1850, 1860 or even still yet in the early 1870's. It is only by the 1880's when the widespread use of the typewriter become footed in society.
All of this was in a day when no audio recording devices known such as the phonograph invented by America's Thomas A. Edison were readily for use in transcription. Nor were any mechanical stenograph typewriters.
Thus, outside of Dr. Richard Lloyd Anderson's assessments as outlined above and also found in his 2005 BYU published treatise, for the sake of argument discussed here in the MormonKey.com, it appears that no full testimonies of any of the "Three Witnesses" or of the "Eight Witnesses" have come to surface and come to be known to exist in the physical form for any of these printed published statements known concerning the gold plates, or any other significant aspects concerning testimonies provided in the Book of Mormon - that have been directly written and signed by any respective Witness - whether it be any one of the "Three Witnesses" or any one of the "Eight Witnesses."
The majority of these 42 statements or discussions pertinent to the Book of Mormon collected from statements taken from the various "Eight Witnesses" concerning its creation were drawn from in-person interviews dictated to authors and journalists over the years who in turn took their transcriptions of the testimonies they gathered and proceeded with the publication of same in Mormon church journals, publications and periodicals.
This all ensued over the years that followed the initial 1830 formation of the Mormon church and publication of the Book of Mormon. As well, a lot of these published accounts were done in the 1830's, and by March 1838, as BYU author Anderson clearly states, two of the "Eight Witnesses" had already died. Also, Mormon scholars over the years since that time have argued about different interpretations of the words supporting such published statements.
Another consideration is that inaccuracies may have occurred during the interviews or during the transcriptions transcribed and then in the editing of the interviews.
All of this asserts to the importance of having in-hand a surviving handwritten signed document in the physical realm specifying any discussion specifically supporting the statements made by both the "Three Witnesses" and the "Eight Witnesses'' found in the Book of Mormon after its publication in 1830, whether it be about the gold plates of Angel Moroni, or otherwise.
Thoroughly examining Dan Vogel's masterwork five volume Early Mormon Documents and other finite sources an interesting conclusion has been made. It can safely be said that of all inquiries as to a “Eight Witnesses” testimony to their statements given in the Book of Mormon, outside of John Whitmer, it seems that no original hand written hand signed testimony by any of these ”Eight Witnesses" exists.
It has been found that the few recipients that actually did receive a Witness's hand written hand signed letter, who sought to give such a letter to publishers to publish - never managed to make sure the letter was saved for posterity.
No one thought much of autograph letters back in the day.
THE SECRETARIAL COPY
Some manuscript documents many Mormon scholars use in their work are not original signed documents by the creator or Witness, but rather copies of an original signed document, often being what is known as a 'secretarial copy.'
In the business of historic autographs, often one finds a letter or photograph signed with what is know as a 'secretarial signature,' or in more recent times, what has become known as a 'autopen signature' - a copy signature executed by .a mechanically operated 'autopen' that works similar to a pantograph.
PRINTER’S COPY JUST A
Even the so-called “printer's copy” manuscript for the Book of Mormon is a secretarial copy by Oliver Cowdery. The original is essentially lost. It was put behind a cornerstone at the Nauvoo House by Joseph Smith in 1841, only to become found severely water damaged over time years later when retrieved: Thus 'lost.'
‘LOST’ ORIGINAL HAD AUTHENTIC SIGNATURES OF ALL “WITNESSES”
The testimonies of both the "Three Witnesses" and the "Eight Witnesses" found in the original “lost” Gold Plates transcript manuscript as found reproduced in the original 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon were signed respectively by each Witness in each of their own hands. This would be what as known as a authentic holograph manuscript, i.e.: An bonafide original..
PRINTER’S COPY LACKS
However, in the surviving secretarial copy or so-called "printer's copy" of the Book of Mormon, made for use by Palmyra printer E. D. Grandin, the signatures are not authentic at all. This copy had been made by Oliver Cowdery and kept by him. Oliver Cowdery died in the Richmond, Missouri home of David Whitmer on 3 March 1850. David Whitmer obtained this second generation secretarial “printer's copy” from Cowdery near the time of his death in 1850. Although this copy contained Cowdery’s authentic signature, the Cowdery signature was not ‘Witnessed’ from a legal standpoint.
This secretarial copy is a faithful copy of the Book of Mormon in manuscript form. It is all that remains in this regard, but this copy asserts nothing of substance beyond its value as a handwritten artifact. This is because the only extant 'secretarial' or “printer's copy” of the Book of Mormon does not have actual signed testimony by any of the "Three Witnesses" or that of any of the "Eight Witnesses" - outside of Cowdery’s signature. And again it must be stressed: Cowdery’s was not witnessed or notarized.
BYU author Richard Lloyd Anderson also reveals that of the later statements about the Book of Mormon that are known by the "Eight Witnesses," only a handful are handwritten testimonies which actually amount to around half a dozen, and of these, three are handwritten by John Whitmer.
As stated prior, few of these scant extant handwritten statements found in letters that are signed letters are significant or wholly conclusive in support of the veracity of the Book of Mormon creation. The same goes for the three signed known letters by John Whitmer - the singularly most important "Witness" to the Book of Mormon. But one letter is lost and no longer exists, and the other one which is claimed to exist, makes reference to Oliver Cowdery's testimony only, but not of Whitmer's himself.
Thus, only one original hand accomplished and signed John Whitmer holograph Testimony and letter remains. The world has not seen this letter as yet. It remains as John Whitmer’s only ever lasting Testimony to the Book of Mormon.
In support of this assertion, author Anderson had clearly stated that additionally there are four testimonies penned by three of the "Eight Witnesses" known.
Scholar Anderson also explains that near the end of his tenure on Earth, John Whitmer variously reinforced his prior printed claims in three personally written letters he executed in answer to a number of inquiries of Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints missionaries in the 1870's towards the end of his life. However, concerning Whitmer himself having seen, handled or "hefted" the gold plates - John Whitmer never responded in writing in any specific manner concerning this.
THE JOHN WHITMER LETTER
TO MARK H. FORSCUTT
One of these responses executed in mid-1876 finds John Whitmer having written Mark H. Forscutt where he expressed to Forscutt how he was bedside with fellow Mormon "Witness" Oliver Cowdery shortly before his death in 1850, and that he never heard Cowdery ever deny his testimony over the Book of Mormon. Nor did Whitmer ever hear denials from any of the other "Witnesses."
Towards the end of the letter to Forscutt, Whitmer stated: .
“I have never heard that any one of the three, or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon."
It should be noted that this letter written and signed by John Whitmer himself however said nothing whatsoever concerning his very own testimony.
Thus, the letter, is not treating Whitmer's actual Book of Mormon testimony or experience and has no supporting substance .linking the Mormon bible to the Gold Plates provided to Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. by Angel Moroni. This actual letter in physical form, dated 5 March 1876, is in the Community of Christ Church Library Archives at Independence, Missouri. The letter is also referenced and provided only in the form of a printed transcription in Dan Vogel's, Early Mormon Documents, on page 243 of Book 5.
It is not known however if John Whitmer's 5 March 1876 letter housed in the Community of Christ Church archives in Independence, Missouri is in fact an original manuscript document actually signed by the "Witness" John Whitmer, or executed as a copy in an other hand.
This author has been unable to find an actual reproduction of the Whitmer 5 March 1876 letter in books, publications - or even in the form of a single photocopy.
MORE ON THE WHITMER 1876 LETTER TO MARK H. FORSCUTT
This written declaration that John Whitmer penned to Mark H. Forscutt, although significant in that it is an apparent original living personal document by John Whitmer and has survived, it nevertheless says nothing in support of John Whitmer's own position on this most vital subject of testimony concerning the creation of the Book of Mormon, even though it has been said the letter was executed by John Whitmer himself.
Although stated with great veracity, the letter only supports how Whitmer had never heard any of the "Three Witnesses" or any of the "Eight Witnesses" deny any of their testimonies as to what was stated in the original first edition of the Book of Mormon. The statement was all very clear cut, but frankly says nothing about the testimony of John Whitmer himself, especially it being a signed letter claimed to be in his own hand - but never apparently shown to be publicly. It merely recites a observation Whitmer made of others, but not a statement that supports his position regarding the Book of Mormon in any way. John Whitmer was a 'witness' to some one saying something on multiple accounts - which carries little or no real weight in all reality.
Further to the author Richard Lloyd Anderson's treatise discussion concerning the 42 statements or personal reports of the "Eight Witnesses" concerning the Book of Mormon creation, one must also take note of author Anderson's mention of the letter John Whitmer wrote to Heman C. Smith in 1876. The handwritten letter, which was actually published in Smith and Smith's 1897-1903 "History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," chapter 1, page 57 - bore a solid testimony, though short and non-specific in many ways. It nevertheless stated something directly from John Whitmer about his position on the veracity of the creation of the Book of Mormon.
It should be noted however that this author herein, Richard Warren Lipack - has been unable to locate the actual holograph document in physical form - because it is 'lost.'
Responding to Heman C. Smith's inquiry John Whitmer responded fully as follows;
"Far West, December 11, '76
H. C. Smith, Esq.
Your letter came to hand, and your requests considered. First. . As for giving all particulars that I know of the Book of Mormon, could not be written on one sheet of paper; therefore, permit me to be brief.
Second. From what you have written, I conclude you have read the Book of Mormon, together with the testimonies that are there to attached; in which testimonies you read my name subscribed as one of the Eight Witnesses to said Book. That testimony was, is, and will be true, henceforth and forever.
WHITMER TESTIMONY TO HEMAN C. SMITH "NOW UNLOCATED"
According to the bibliographical reference to this letter in Richard Lloyd Anderson's 2005 BYU discourse, the above letter was "copied from the original that was in Heman Smith’s possession (now unlocated), with italics used for the whole sentence in the first printing."
Essentially, this original letter to Heman C. Smith by Whitmer is now lost. It does not exist in the physical realm at present, so it only actually minimally binds Mormonism to the Gold Plates, as it is not a 'bonding' legal signed affadavit.
The Whitmer letter to Heman C. Smith likely was dropped off at the printer where it was left to be transcribed or "copied" for its ultimate publication in Smith and Smith's 1897-1903 "History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Then, after it the story had been printed including the content of the Whitmer letter, the letter was never returned to owner Heman C. Smith, never asked to be returned, or more simply, was never picked-up and saved for posterity.
After the typesetter set his type, all while consulting and 'copying' the actual Whitmer letter, the Whitmer letter quickly became lost in the shuffle in the busy print shop.
Printers back in the day - just as printers are of current times, are usually not reliable or have any care or concern at returning any original material that they use, copy or transcribe. A printer's lack of consideration in this regard is fairly common amongst the trade, and always has been; considering the nature of the business.
The original 6 May 1877 Whitmer testimony has been considered lost as well. Even Mormon scholars over the entire last century, knew nothing about it, until BYU Mormon scholar and historian Richard Lloyd Anderson was able to find only mere mention of its existance in a old file of Joseph R. Lambert letters holed away in the Community of Christ Church archives at Independence, Missouri.
No knowledge of the existince of the original penned 6 May 1877 Whitmer signed document has been claimed or confirmed in any way by either the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Even more significantly, Dan Vogel's expansive book series entitled: Early Mormon Documents; a masterwork of five thick volumes cumulatively totaling 2,814 pages that was published between 1996 and 2003. At the time of its publication the work was and still is regarded to be the 'bible' of all modern Mormon histories.
Yet Vogel failed to even mention the Joseph R. Lambert 29 January 1884 letter to E. L. Kelley describing and quoting the 6 May 1877 John Whitmer letter to Joseph R. Lambert. It is this letter that Mormon historians can now concretely conclude beyond any shadow of any doubt whatsoever to be John Whitmer's only viable written testimony to the veracity of the Book of Mormon and to the Mormon faith itself, extant.
WHITMER 6 MAY 1877 TESTIMONY IS ONLY HANDWRITTEN TESTIMONY EXTANT
And for all intents and purposes the 6 May 1877 Testimony is the only handwritten Testimony by any of the "Three Witnesses" or "Eight Witnesses," and this fact should never ever be underestimated by any means whatsoever.
Dan Vogel strangely makes ample mention of E. L. Kelley and the one letter to him in 1884 from David Whitmer that resides in the Whitmer file at the Community of Christ archives, and cited on pages 117 and 118 of Early Mormon Documents, Book 5. Then on the next page numbered 119 - in the same volume 5 in author Vogel's Mormon Documents, down at the botton of the page, the following is stated:
"2. Rudolph Etzenhouser was born in Nevada County, California. He was baptized into the RLDS Church in 1867 by E. Henry Webb, and was ordained an elder in 1883 by Joseph R. Lambert and Zenas H. Gurley. He died at Independence, Missouri (Kinsley 1848, "Etzenhouser")."
As can be seen above, reference to Joseph R. Lambert is only a mere mention - all as nothing more than that of an aside comment about Etzenhouser's ordainment as an elder in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1883. Only this scant mention of Joseph R. Lambert is provided between all of the thick five volumes of the Dan Vogel masterwork amounting 2,814 pages!
The slight mention of Joseph R. Lambert is all on the same page discussing and reproducing a transcript of a 4 June 1884 letter to Joseph Smith III from E. C. Briggs describing his interview with David Whitmer that Rudolph Etzenhouser conducted with David Whitmer - all which was published 21 June 1884 Saints Herald. No original handwritten letters or documents are described in this discourse on the page with mention of Joseph R. Lambert.
Then, if one goes again to Dan Vogel's five volume masterworks book series Early Mormon Documents and consults Book 2 and goes to the first "Contents" page "V" and on to section "B" at the bottom of the page, one will see printed as follows: "B - WILLIAM H. AND EDMUND L. KELLEY COLLECTION."
Past the printed introduction entry, one can see and count a total of fifteen (15) entries that flow onto the next page, all pertaining to the William H. and Edmund L. Kelley collection. These fifteen (15) entries include only published interviews conducted by William H. Kelley or Edmund L. Kelley with people like Orlando, Benjamin or Lorenzo Saunders, Orin Reed, Ezra Pierce and several other prominent Mormons that were conducted between the years 1881 and 1884. Edmund L. Kelley was a prominent legal attorney in his day and handled also RLDS church business if the occasion arose, as for example - the issue over the title to the Kirtland Temple in Ohio.
Nothing else is provided from William H. and Edmund L. Kelley collection, even though the Community of Christ Church Archives has on file almost two dozen letters the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims are original letters between Edmund L. Kelley and Joseph R. Lambert - all which the Community of Christ Church will not release or has not released to date for reproduction or publication, directly shown in the physical or in transcript form.
In the case of author Dan Vogel, the Community of Christ church archives did release a letter (or transcript of a letter) dated 3 March 1884 of David Whitmer to Edmund L. Kelley. That we do know, because the David Whitmer letter transcription is found on page 118 and Kelley's 1884 original inquiry letter - asking questions about the so-called 'original' printer's copy to the Book of Mormon that "Three Witnesses" David Whitmer had last in his possession. The discussion of the "printer's copy" made from the "lost" and damaged original Book of Mormon manuscript, is found printed in transcript form on page 117 of Vogel's Book 5.
But this letter, which does reveal some interesting content on the so-called "printer's copy" of the Book of Mormon and talks about whether Oliver Cowdery ever denied his testimony in the original Book of Mormon - is apparently not hand written by David Whitmer nor signed by David Whitmer - who by 1884 was 79 years old.
The 3 March 1884 so-called "David Whitmer" letter, according to the transcription afforded the reader by author Dan Vogel, is signed:
per (George W.) Schweich"
IMPORTANT DAVID WHITMER TESTIMONY
A SIGNED SECRETARIAL COPY
What this means is that this letter to Edmund L. Kelley from David Whitmer is one that was executed by a George W. Schweich, who was acting as a secretary, writing letters for David Whitmer on his behalf. David Whitmer was too old by time and writing became difficult.
Yet again, here is a letter with good Book of Mormon content from one of the "Three Witnesses" - that is unfortunately however, not signed or hand written by David Whitmer.
Also, if one also consults Book 2 of Dan Vogel's Early Mormon Documents, one will find two photographs reproduced of William H. Kelley and Edmund L. Kelley on page 80. These images are stated to be from the Community of Christ church archives.
Now, consideration should be given to all of the research that Dan Vogel made in seeking out, codifying and preparing for publication his five volumous volumes of his masterwork entitled Early Mormon Documents.
Consideration should also be given to the fact that Dan Vogel worked closely with the Community of Christ church archives in Independence, Missouri in preparing his series Early Mormon Documents. Finally consideration should also be given to the notion that author Dan Vogel clearly also had full access to this Community of Christ church archive's William H. Kelley and Edmund L. Kelley archive files.
HOW DID MORMON AUTHOR
VOGEL 'MISS THE BOAT?'
With all of these ample considerations taken by or given to author Dan Vogel toward the preparation of his 1996-2003 masterwork 5 volume series of books entitled Early Mormon History, how can it be explained that author Dan Vogel completely missed publishing the highly important letter by Joseph R. Lambert dated 29 January 1884 to Edmund L. Kelley concerning the perceived 'lost' John Whitmer letter of testimony dated 6 May, 1877 that was claimed to be in Joseph R. Lambert's possession?
How is it that in his 2005 masterwork, BYU scholar Richard Lloyd Anderson was able to find and readily quote from the Joseph R. Lambert 29 January 1884 letter to E. L. Kelley for his monograph work “Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses” published in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Maxwell Institute, Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 18-31? How was able to do this all while author Dan Vogel failed to find the letter even though he had full access to the "William H. Kelley and Edmund L. Kelley Collection" housed at the Community of Christ church archives at Independence, Missouri?.
What explainations can be given for all of this?
Early Mormon Documents book author Dan Vogel, when accessing the E. L. Kelley letter files in the Independence, Missouri based Community of Christ Archives, evidently passed over the Joseph R. Lambert 29 January 1884 letter to E. L. Kelley describing the John Whitmer testimony letter dated 6 May 1877 that Joseph R. Lambert spoke of, quoted from - and what Lambert claimed had in his possession when Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Elder Lambert wrote E. L. Kelley on 29 January 1884. .
The Joseph R. Lambert 29 January 1884 letter to E. L. Kelley describing the John Whitmer testimony letter dated 6 May 1877 is an interesting associated artifact, but forever, it shall remain merely a third person accouut that, without the actual 6 May 1877 John Whitmer testimony in hand, essentially remains only circumstancial evidence based on hope - with little credence on its face - because of a lack of its full manifestion in the realm of physical reality until the dawn of presence this, the MormonKey.com website and this formal proclaimation of its actual existence hereof and herein.
Thus said, the original 6 May 1877 document of John Whitmer's only extant full Book of Mormon testimony has been completely unknown to both churches and faiths, until now. .
The document had been in the possession of Joseph R. Lambert until his death on 17 February 1932. No person on record that ever lived other than the now deceased Joseph R. Lambert has claimed to have ever seen the Whitmer testimony or could confirm of its existence..
The original 6 May 1877 John Whitmer testimony letter is affixed to a page in a third-quarter 19th century "Scrap - Book" journal consisting of printed newspaper clips, fragments of early Book of Mormon pages and several pages predominately consisting of cryptic "Early Pitman's Shorthand" writing.
Nowhere in the "Scrap - Book" journal can be found any name or signature whatsoever of the journal's creator, whether it be in the form of Old Pitman or in textual English long-hand or otherwise, and is legally unidentifiable as to its creator or author.
However, documentation has come forward, which is discussed on
another part of this website more thoroughly, how Lambert was indeed the author of the Mormon "Scrap - Book" journal. This
documentation reveals how Joseph R. Lambert engaged the services of various members of his immediate family who had learned the craft of "Early Pitman's Shorthand" and contributed to the various assorted "Early Pitman's Shorthand" entries found in the Joseph R. Lambert "Scrap - Journal."
The website for the Community of Christ archives states as follows: "The main focus of the library is religion as it relates to the Community of Christ mission. It has an added focus on the history of Christianity, theology, social science, and peace studies."
This is a primary conviction of the church that Elder and past Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Presiding Patriarch Joseph R. Lambert helped found.
Notwithstanding the fact that out of eight of the "Eight Witnesses," it was only John Whitmer out of the "Eight Witnesses" who ever gave testimony that he had "hefted" and "handled" the gold plates, besides being "seen," the latter which the other seven of the Eight Witnesses could rightfully claim as well. Yet, as most all remember, it was the "Eight Witnesses" John Whitmer who came closest to denying his testimony - because he was the first ever to excommunicated from the Mormon church - for telling the truth no less! .
The whole Book of Mormon experience combined with the gold plates encounter as well, and after having been made the Mormon church's founding historian commanded by God through Joseph Smith, Jr,, John Whitmer was abruptly excommunicated from a church he helped found on 10 March 1838, all for simply writing and telling the truth.
This action stunned John Whitmer so much that he vowed never go back to the Mormon church. This steadfast commitment John Whitmer would take to his grave.
This action on John Whitmer's part, is contrary to fellow witness and Whitmer's close friend Olivcr Cowdery, whom, some years past Cowdery himself's own 1838 church excommunication, the honorable Witness Cowdery rejoined the church, and asked to be re-baptised.
To John Whitmer's very life's end, this Witness himself never came to deny his Book of Mormon testimony nor did he ever deny any of his other later public admissions and statements that became published over a forty years span past the church excommunication till finally Whitmer's death in the summer of 1878.
“It is the same as it was from the beginning, and it is true. . . . I have never denied my testimony as to the Book of Mormon, under any circumstances whatever.”
John Whitmer, 6 May 1877
Thus, this letter in the form of God annointed church historian John Whitmer's only and actual ever-lasting testimony, by virtue of this 6 May 1877 letter being signed and handwritten by "Eight Witnesses" John Whitmer himself, and by no other, is the only true and valid document extant, that will wholly and everlastingly link the Mormon bible and its peoples to the Gold Plates.
Behold now: For this is the Mormon Key...............