Nathan A. Tanner, Jr. reports that David Whitmer told him that he saw the angel place the plates on a table; saw the plates "with his natural eyes."

May 13, 1886
Personal Journal / Diary
Nathan A. Tanner, Jr.

Nathan A. Tanner, Jr., Journal, May 13, 1886, MS 3836 [Typescript MS 4190], Church History Library

Nathan A. Tanner, Jr.
David Whitmer, Nathan A. Tanner, Jr.

Took stage of Lexington Junction paying seventy-five cents for four miles, then took train to Richmond, and after leaving my baggage at the hotel near Depot went to the home of David Whitmer. I was met at the door by his son, David John, a man, I should say, forty-five years of age. I inquired if Father Whitmer were within, and he answered in the affirmative. I asked when I could see him and was told that it would be convenient then as any time.

I was invited in and informed that I could not be gratified with a lengthy talk upon the question of his testimony and history of the translation, Church history, etc., as the calls upon him were too numerous and taxing upon his enfeebled condition physically to admit of this.

The old gentleman was then called in, and arising, I introduced myself, stating I had come from Kansas City to see the man who had been so favored of God as to have been visited by an angel and to have handled the golden plates (my recollection at the time that history said he did handle them).

After an exchange of friendly greetings and a few words about his physical health, I asked him if the table, which the angel brought, and upon which the plates lay when he viewed them, was <were> a tangible one, and he said that he did not touch it. It had the semblance of a table. He then explained that he saw the plates and with his natural eyes, but he had to be prepared for it; that he and the other witnesses were overshadowed by the power of God and a halo of brightness indiscribable.

I then asked him if he ever handled the plates and he said he did not at any time. I referred to his going down after Joseph and Emma to bring the plates and them to his father's, and he said the plates were not in the wagon nor did he see them at all during the translation. He said they were in the possession of the angel during this time.

He said Joseph, and, I think, Oliver, and Emma told about the plates and described them to him and he believed them, but did not see them except at the time he testified of.

The manuscript, by my request, said to be the original manuscript, in the handwriting of Oliver, Emma, Christian Whitmer, was brought out and untied, being wrapped in a sheet of brown wrapping paper, (or between a brown and a buff, the wrapper was) and being laid upon the table, I examined the sheets as many as I chose, also the scrap of paper containing the characters which were submitted by Martin Harris to Professor Anthon, and the certificate of the Clerk of the United States District Court of the Northern District of New York, showing that Joseph had deposited the title to the book with him, claiming to be its author. The clerk's name was R. R. Lansing.

He affirmed his testimony as given in the Book of Mormon, both that he viewed the plates and that the record was true according to the testimony of the angel. And I was under the impression, as he talked, that he had at some time claimed to have handled the plates, but I thought that possibly I might have been mistaken, and as he exhibited evidences of much debility I did not call his attention to it. . . . . . . . .

I subsequently had a lengthy chat with David John upon his father's relations to the Church, and upon the manuscript, and his father's statement is that were in O. Cowdery's possession and at his death were turned over to his father for safekeeping and have ever since been in his possession. In the evening I took the train for Kansas City.

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