Samuel Richards reprints Oliver Cowdery's testimony from 1849, written shortly before his death.

Dec 1898
Samuel W. Richards
Scribed Verbatim

Oliver Cowdery, "Testimony," in Samuel W. Richards, "Oliver Cowdery," Improvement Era 2, no. 2 (December 1898): 93–96

Improvement Era
Joseph Smith, Jr., Orson Hyde, Oliver Cowdery, Samuel W. Richards
Reading Public

Without apparently making any effort to recover his standing or even visit the Prophet Joseph, he removed to Ohio, where he spent his time mostly in the study and pursuit of law practice, and other practices of a literary character, as he could not, with the knowledge he had, think of connecting himself with any of the religious sects of the day. This position he occupied until after the Prophet's death and the removal of the Saints from Nauvoo to the mountains in 1847.

In 1848, a yearning which he had for the society of those with whom he had once been so familiar, caused him to visit Kanesville, Iowa, where Elder Orson Hyde, then President of the Twelve Apostles, was residing, and make application for a reunion with the Church, which was granted by his being baptized and duly admitted into the Church by Elder Hyde officiating.

Soon after this, with the view of joining the Saints in Salt Lake Valley the next season, he, with his wife, desired first to visit her brother, David Whitmer, then living in Richmond, Missouri. For this purpose in the winter month of January they started on the journey by team, but were overtaken by a severe snow storm which compelled them to seek shelter, which they obtained with the writer of this article, then temporarily residing in the upper part of that State. Here they found it necessary to remain some length of time on account of the great amount of snow which had fallen completely blockading the road, and for a time preventing travel by teams.

This detention of nearly two weeks' time was extremely interesting and made very enjoyable to both parties participating in the social and intellectual feast so unexpectedly provided.

I had but the fall before returned from my first mission to the British Isles, and was in the spirit of inquiry as to all matters of early history and experiences in the Church, and soon found there was no reserve on the part of Oliver in answering my many questions. In doing so his mind seemed as fresh in recollection of events which occurred more than a score of years before as though they were but of yesterday.

Upon carefully inquiring as to his long absence from the body of the Church, he stated that he had never met the Prophet Joseph, after his expulsion from the Church, while he lived, apparently feeling that the Prophet could with equal propriety enquire after him as for him to visit the Prophet, and as his pride would seemingly not allow him to become a suppliant without that inquiry, it was never made; while he felt quite sure that had he ever met the Prophet there would have been no difficulty in effecting a reconciliation, as a feeling of jealousy towards him on the part of his accusers had entered largely into their purpose of having him removed, which he thought Joseph must have discovered after going up to Missouri.

In what had transpired with him he now felt to acknowledge the hand of God, in that he had been preserved; for if he had been with the Church he would have undoubtedly been with Joseph in his days of trial and shared like fate with him; but being spared, he now desired to go to the nations and bear a testimony of this work which no other man living could bear; and he decided to go to the Presidency of the Church and offer his services for that purpose.

This indeed seemed to be his only ambition, and he was now going to visit his wife's brother, David Whitmer, and prepare to go to the mountains and join the body of the Church the following summer and unite with them. For some cause this was not permitted, and he died in Missouri among relatives, before realizing the intent and purpose he had cherished of again testifying of the great work and dispensation which he had been instrumental with the Prophet in opening up to the world.

To hear him describe in his pleasant but earnest manner the personality of those heavenly messengers, with whom he and the Prophet had so freely held converse, was enchanting to my soul. Their heavenly appearance, clothed in robes of purity; the influence of their presence so lovely and serene; their eyes that seemed to penetrate to the very depths of the soul, together with the color of the eyes that gazed upon them, were all so beautifully related as to almost make one feel that they were then present; and as I placed my hands upon his head where these angels had placed theirs, a divine influence filled the soul to that degree that one could truly feel to be in the presence of something that was more than earthly; and from that day to this—now almost fifty years ago—the interest of those glorious truths upon the mind has never been lost, but as a beacon light ever guiding to the home of their glory for a like inheritance.

Before taking his departure he wrote and left with the writer of this the following statement, which we believe to be his last living testimony, though oft repeated, of the wonderful manifestations which brought the authority of God to men on earth:


"While darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people; long after the authority to administer in holy things had been taken away, the Lord opened the heavens and sent forth His word for the salvation of Israel. In fulfillment of the sacred scriptures, the everlasting Gospel was proclaimed by the mighty angel (Moroni) who, clothed with the authority of his mission, gave glory to God in the highest. This Gospel is the 'stone taken from the mountains without hands.' John the Baptist, holding the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood; Peter, James, and John, holding the keys of the Melchisedek Priesthood, have also ministered for those who shall be heirs of salvation, and with these administrations ordained men to the same Priesthoods. These Priesthoods, with their authority, are now, and must continue to be, in the body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Blessed is the Elder who has received the same, and thrice blessed and holy is he who shall endure to the end.

"Accept assurances, dear brother, of the unfeigned prayer of him who, in connection with Joseph the Seer, was blessed with the above ministrations, and who earnestly and devoutly hopes to meet you in the Celestial Glory.

"Oliver Cowdery.

"To Elder Samuel W. Richards, January 13th, 1849."

Thus, by the foregoing testimony which he bears, as his last written, and virtually his dying testimony, is secured the promise made to him by the Lord in the early part of his career, that "the gates of hell should not prevail against him; and he should be lifted up at the last day."

He went to his rest March 3rd, 1850, entitled to a glorious resurrection and crown of eternal life, such as the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to all those who keep covenant with Him.

Citations in Mormonr Qnas
Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.