Simon Smith recalls hearing Martin Harris bear testimony of the BOM on his deathbed.

Dec 29, 1880
Simon Smith
2nd Hand

Simon Smith, Letter to Joseph Smith III, December 29, 1880, rep. Saints' Herald 28, no. 3 (February 1, 1881): 43

The Saints' Herald
Simon Smith, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Smith III
Joseph Smith III, Reading Public


On the 5th day of July, 1875, hearing of his sickness, I visited him, and as I entered the room where he was in bed he held out his hand, shook hands with me and said, "I am going to leave you now, Bishop," meaning that he was going to die. At the time he was very low; and, apparently, it was hard work fer him to talk, but he was perfectly rational. I laid my hands on his head, and asked the Lord to give him strength. I then commenced to talk to him and ask him questions respecting the Book of Mormon and your father, and he revived and talked to me very freely and with much earnestness for about two hours. I will here give you in substance the answers he gave me to a few prominent questions respecting his knowledge of your father, the plates, &c. 1st. I asked him if he could still testify that he saw the plates and the angel of God. His answer was that he could; and he did truly testify to me that he both saw and handled the plates that the Book of Mormon was translated from, that an angel of God did lay them before him and the other two witnesses as recorded in the Book of Mormon, and said he, "I tell you of these things that you may tell others that what I have said is true, and I dare not deny it; I heard the voice of God commanding me to testify to the same." He said also he knew not the reason why the Lord had suffered him to live to such a great age unless it was that he might testify of these things. He was nearly ninety-three years old. He said also that he acted as scribe for him, when your father was translating from the plates by the Urim and Thummim, for nearly one third of what is published. He mortgaged his property to get the first edition of the Book of Mormon published to the world. He, by command, took part of the manuscript with the translation thereof to one Professor Anthon, Professor of Languages, in New York City, to get his opinion in regard to the language and translation, and said that what had been published concerning the same by the Church was true. I asked him your father's education at the time of those circumstances, and he said: "Joseph Smith's education was so limited that he could not draw up a note of hand."

These were Martin Harris' exact words to me. I do not mention this part to throw any gloom upon your father's mission; but to the contrary. I mention it to show that it was out of his power with such a limited education to produce such a book as the Book of Mormon, much less to translate such a book from foreign language, unless he did it by the gift and power of God. I might mention more than he told me; but it is so irksome for me to write, and will give you too much trouble to prepare it for the press, even if you thought it proper to publish it. One more item, however, I will mention. He (Martin Harris, Sen.) assurred me that polygamy was not taught or practiced by Joseph Smith (your father) nor was it a doctrine of the Church in his day.

Before the mortal remains of Martin Harris, Sen., were conveyed to their last resting place in Clarkston grave yard, I placed in his right hand a Book of Mormon, which was buried with the remains. Some may think that a strange affair; but I did it out of respect for a man so highly favored of the Lord, and because of the interest he took to help bring forth to the world that record of divine truth. I also had a head board placed at his grave, and on it written his name, nativity, and his age; [also his testimony concerning the plates, &c., as recorded in the forepart of the Book of Mormon.

Your brother in the cause of truth,

Simon Smith

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