Mother Whitmer and the Angel
It is one of the most sacred sites of Mormonism—the Peter Whitmer Cabin in Fayette, New York. It was here that the Book of Mormon translation was completed. It was here that three men were chosen as special witnesses and granted the opportunity to converse with an angel, view the plates, and hear the witness of God in regards to the Book of Mormon. It was also here that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized on April 6, 1830, and many other great revelations were received. Considering the incalculable souls eternally blessed by what happened here, truly this is a holy place where the mercy of God was abundant.
But there was a day when this glorious future almost didn’t happen here. Joseph Smith came to Fayette in June 1829 at the encouragement of Peter and Mary Whitmer—whose home and farm it was. It was their generosity that opened up an upper room in which to translate. It was the food at their table and a place to sleep that sustained life while the work progressed. With Joseph came Emma and Oliver, as well as an innumerable train of visitors and the curious, and all of this weighted the burden on Mother Whitmer who felt the responsibility to care for them.
One day she was particularly tired. She went outside to attend the evening chores and milk the cow. She saw Joseph and Oliver nearby skating rocks across the pond—an activity they often did to relax and relieve the tedium of translation. It annoyed her and she thought to herself, that they might just as well chop some wood or carry a bucket of water as skate rocks, and according to her family, she was about to order them from the home.
She came out of the barn carrying two buckets of milk when she was met by a stranger, an old man, heavy set, with a knapsack on his back. At first she was frightened, but “when he spoke to her in a kind, friendly tone and began to explain to her the nature of the work which was going on in her house, she was filled with unexpressible joy and satisfaction. He then untied his knapsack and showed her a bundle of plates, which in size and appearance corresponded with the description subsequently given by the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. This strange person turned the leaves of the book of plates over, leaf after leaf, and also showed her the engravings upon them; after which he told her to be patient and faithful in bearing her burden a little longer, promising that if she would do so, she should be blessed; and her reward would be sure, if she proved faithful to the end. The personage then suddenly vanished with the plates, and where he went, she could not tell. From that moment [Mother Whitmer] was enabled to perform her household duties with comparative ease, and she felt no more inclination to murmur because her lot was hard.”
Taken from an article by Royal Skousen in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 10 (2014)