Grant Palmer & John Murphy Quotes

(Edward Stevenson in 1877 said that) David claimed in early June 1829 before their group declaration that he, Cowdery, and Joseph Smith observed ‘one of the Nephites’ carrying the records in a knapsack on his way to Cumorah. Several days later this trio perceived ‘that the Same Person was under the shed’ at the Whitmer farm.

— AN INSIDER’S VIEW OF MORMON ORIGINS, P.179


CES Letter, Page 91

A single second-hand source nearly 50 years after the event doesn't make for a very compelling case. Edward Stevenson's 1877 journal is the lone reference to a person 'under the shed.' It's not fully clear what that even means. In that entry Stevenson describes a conversation he had just had with David Whitmer in which Whitmer relates the seeing a Nephite while walking in New York. He added, "On arriveing at home they were impressed that the Same Person was under the Shed & again they were informed that it was So." (EMD, 5:30-31).  Stevenson met with Whitmer again in February 1886 and they discussed the same story. This time there was no mention of the shed discussion and instead Whitmer said, "After their arival home the[y] felt the influence of this same personage around them for he said thare was a Heavenly feeling with this Nephite." (EMD 5:160)

Joseph F. Smith's 1918 journal entry is the only other reference to Whitmer seeing the Nephite (see here). It's unclear where Smith learned his details from. Possibly from when he personally interviewed Whitmer in the 1870s as a young man.

From the three accounts it's clear that Whitmer believed the man walking by in 1829 was a Nephite. It's possible Joseph and Oliver shared that same view as well but we don't have any of their recollections on this encounter. The 'person under the shed' description is uncorroborated by any other sources and rather unclear what it means without more details. Did Whitmer believe he was buried under the shed? 

In 1880, David Whitmer was asked for a description of the angel who showed him the plates. Whitmer responded that the angel ‘had no appearance or shape.’ When asked by the interviewer how he then could bear testimony that he had seen and heard an angel, Whitmer replied, ‘Have you never had impressions?’ To which the interviewer responded, ‘Then you had impressions as the Quaker when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience, a feeling?’ ‘Just so,’ replied Whitmer.

— INTERVIEW WITH JOHN MURPHY, JUNE 1880, EARLY MORMON DOCUMENTS 5:63 (An interview that David Whitmer immediately responded to because he was furious how Murphy represented what he said)

CES Letter, Page 91

The CES Letter demonstrates it willingness to deceive by publishing this quotation that is clearly not credible.

David Whitmer considered this wrote, in response to the misrepresentation by John Murphy:

I have never at any time, denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book as one of the three witnesses.

Those who know me best, well know that I have adhered to that testimony.—

And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do now again affirm the truth of all my statement[s], as then made and published.

He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear; It was no Delusion.  Click here

Some have tried to argue that some or all of the Witnesses recanted concerning their testimony, but this is not true. They were all faithful to their testimonies to the end of their lives, even though many of them had personal disagreements with Joseph Smith that caused them to leave the Church.

The Three and Eight Witnesses often reaffirmed their written statement and referred others to it. Click here

The Witnesses understood that by giving their names to the witness statements, they would be misrepresented as David Whitmer was in this instance. Nevertheless, they resiliently repulsed false reports about the testimonies. Click here

The Witnesses stuck to their claim even in the face of threats or the risk of death. Click here


Additional Resources:

Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant?
Witnesses reaffirmed published statements in the Book of Mormon

Witnesses knew they would be ridiculed and not believed

Witnesses persisted even in the face of persecution or death
Witnesses who left the Church continued to maintain their witness
Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Book of Mormon Witnesses," byu.edu

Richard Lloyd Anderson, "Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/1 (2005): 18–31.

Kenneth W. Godfrey, "David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History," in The Disciple As Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson, edited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2000),223–256.

Kirk B. Henrichsen, "How Witnesses Described the "Gold Plates"," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 16–21.

Jeff Lindsay, "Circumstantial Evidence and the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon: Can They Be Ignored Any Longer?", jefflindsay.com

Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, "The Credibility of the Book of Mormon Witnesses," in Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds and Charles D. Tate (eds.), (Provo, Utah : Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University ; Salt Lake City, Utah : Distributed by Bookcraft, 1996 [1982]),Chapter 9, 213–232.

Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981).

Richard L. Anderson, "Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, edited by Noel B. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), Chapter 3.

Milton V. Backman, Jr., Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book, 1983).

Matthew B. Brown, Plates of Gold: The Book of Mormon Comes Forth (American Fork UT: Covenant, 2007).

John W. Welch and Larry E. Morris, editors, Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness (Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2006).

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 1: Motives (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 2: Oliver Cowdery (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 3: Martin Harris (PDF) by Michael Ash

Book of Mormon Witnesses, Part 4: David Whitmer (PDF) by Michael Ash

The Book of Mormon Witnesses: Evidence for The Book of Mormon

pt 1 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

pt 2 Book of Mormon Witnesses and the Restoration

Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced (PDF) (2006 FAIR Conference) by Daniel C. Peterson

pt 1, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 2, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 3, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 4, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

pt 5, Tangible Restoration: The Witnesses and What They Experienced 2006 FAIR Conference address

Attempts to Redefine the Experience of the Eight Witnesses–  by Richard Lloyd Anderson

Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner–  by Matthew Roper

David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness–  by Daniel C. Peterson

Personal Writings of the Book of Mormon Witnesses by Richard Lloyd Anderson

Articles of Faith 2: Royal Skousen on Book of Mormon Critical Text Project and Mary Whitmer Witness to the Gold Plates, Royal Skousen, 0:38:05

Faith and Reason 7: Book of Mormon Witnesses, Michael R. Ash, 0:15:32

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses, Martin Tanner, 0:19:20

Mormon FAIR-Cast 150: The Apostasy of the Witnesses

Explaining Away the Book of Mormon Witnesses (2004 FAIR Conference) by Richard L. Anderson